You are your passions

  • Tea time on a Wednesday, today! Who knew?

Every one of us is different, that’s what’s so brilliant about relationships, that’s what keeps them interesting. A lot of factors play a part in who we become: genetics, the place we grow up in, our friends, teachers and families, crucial life events, society and so much more. In my point of view, there is a way to understand a lot about a person from one particular preference: their interests.

Our interests define us in some way. They also shape us. Interests are what makes the basis of a friendship very often or what brings people together to take something to the next step. Usually, our interests play a big role in the outcomes of our lives, the people we chose to be in it, the career we want to pursue and also qualities of our personalities. When we make the right choices, interests balance the practical part of life and the fun one.

People who are passionate about their interests are usually considered more charming, especially if they have a way to communicate what fascinates them and make other people feel how they feel about a particular subject.

In our age more than any other one before, someone can enjoy what they are passionate about easily. The internet provides us with information, courses and chances to engage in conversations around pretty much anything. So, whether you are an Astronomy enthusiast who goes crazy over the study of the universe and its galaxies or you are a 50’s music fanatic and you like to research the story behind every album released at the time… you can do so from the comfort of your own sofa.

The downside of it all is that at the same time, since there is so much free information waiting for us to explore, sometimes, even our  own interests can seem a little bit chaotic, so instead of actually taking the time to get more into what we love, we chose to numb our minds from the pressures of everyday life while doing something that requires the least possible amount of energy – such as watching a show that even us ourselves consider stupid. That’s great… if it doesn’t take over someone’s life and make them forget what they were truly passionate about from the beginning.

People who have the opportunity to turn their interests into a job are lucky but they are also the people who usually succeed. That is because they are passionate about what they do and they also care enough to engage and try to take what they love a step further. For example, if you are very passionate about physics, you will probably try to contribute to what already exists. You want to experiment with new theories and test your instincts.

Even if you cannot turn your passion into an everyday job, you can always have it as a hobby, which sometimes can be even better because a job sometimes becomes an obligation but a hobby rarely does. It doesn’t mean that you cannot be as great at anything if you are not a pro.

Either way, make sure to have interests. They define you, they give your personality elements, they bring you closer to other people and they make your life more productive and fun. Try not to seat in front of a screen watching passively 100% of your free time. Do it – we all do! – but also… don’t forget your interests. Get up and devote some time to them, it will pay off, I promise.

 

have a magical day,

glance-at-the-sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

To fall in love with Cities

We fall in love with people, we fall in love with books and films and flavors of ice-cream that we want to have all the time but sometimes we fall in love with places and that is one strong feeling, my friend. This week we are talking about the bond a between a person and a place.

Who doesn’t love to travel? I mean, come on! It’s 2018 and flying from one side of the planet to another is easier than ever. How can anyone be satisfied with what their little spot on the map can offer them? We want to see everything, every little street in the tiniest village somewhere far. Since I was little I dreamt of seeing the whole world. I didn’t manage to achieve it so – since it is a plan that needs time! – but I have seen a few places around Europe and I am very happy with that.

prague.jpg

Actually, our first love tends to be the place we grew up in. Even if it’s nothing special or we get bored of it, it’s still home and it is usually filled with memories and a sense of familiarity, which is nice. There’s something special about knowing every corner of a neighborhood, the shortcuts, the people, the shops…

But I am not a person who believes in spending your life in one place. I like to travel, I like to explore and make memories in different places, speaking different languages. So, let’s talk about love at first sight, which I do not believe in when it comes to people but, I totally do when it comes to places. London was my very first love. It was instant. The busy streets, the fast rhythm of living, the beautiful buildings… that amazing combination of modern and classic…. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt the first time I walked in Covent Garden.  It was a cold – but surprisingly not rainy – November evening and I was only sixteen.  We had dinner and we listened to those fantastic street musicians. Then and there I knew: there would come a day I would live only a few subway rides away from that spot and I made that promise to my self and to the first city I ever loved.

I could go on for days talking about the places I love

-if you would like to see that I have two more articles related to the subject! One about Prague and one about Paris. Take a look!-

…but that is not the point of today’s post. The point is that every place you visit gives you the chance to discover a new version of yourself and it makes who you are clearer. Each place offers a different culture and a different way to look at life. Take advantage of that, see everything and find out which suits you the most.  Don’t settle for what you know, go further!

Do it because to fall in love with places is to know more versions of you.

have a magical day,

 

 

glance-at-the-sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Between the lines: Call me by your name

You know I don’t usually do reviews but I do talk about art and especially about the kind of art that has an impact on me. So, I had to talk about this film. Last week I went to the cinema to find out what all the talk was about. Who doesn’t love a good love story when it’s well made and different? Well, I was amazed to discover that this film is not just a love s tory, it is so much more than that. This week we are talking about a beautiful piece of art, Call Me by Your Name, the movie – I have not had the chance to read the book YET.-

Spoilers are about to pop up so in case you haven’t watched it yet, go watch it now and come back. I cannot think why someone wouldn’t love this one!

elio and oliver

What stands out the most for me – apart from the acting, which we will examine in a minute! – was the montage and the attention to detail from Luca Guadagnino – that is the director in case you don’t know! – . The way he builds the surroundings and he makes everything feel so familiar was spectacular but also the focus on the little things needs to be commented on. I adored those brilliant shots where we can see only a part of Elio’s hair or half of Oliver, or those scenes that allowed us to see everything from different angles, like we were there, wandering around the characters, observing. Other times the camera was so still and there was no need for the slightest movement.

I am going to mention a particular scene, the one when Elio is waiting for Oliver to return as he seats outside. The music (Futile Devices by Sufjan Stevens), the camera focus and the change of colours as the sun sets and his anticipation grows is one of the best sequences in the entire film in my opinion – actually one of my favourites in cinema history! -. The way everything builds up to that moment just makes you feel so close to the character, you find yourself waiting with him, wondering if Oliver is even coming back.

Since it was a film about a young man’s sexuality waking up, we could say it was built around bodies. Of course, this was even more highlighted through the shots of the statues they were supposed to be studying. The body and even more so, in case of this film the male body, is an important theme of the film – and we do get to admire it for more than two hours in one of the sexiest films I’ve ever seen! It is the amazing chemistry between the two actors that makes such an atmosphere.

elio

So, it is time to talk about the acting and… I don’t think there is any point to waist time and refer to anything else but the last four minutes of the film. Yes, you know what I am talking about! Timothee Chalamet coming face to face with the camera and showing the world what acting is about. It is definitely one the strongest endings we have ever seen. This indescribable performance is completely captivating and will not allow you to look anywhere else.What Luca Guadagnino does here is, he makes Elio turn his back to his parents (and the audience)  in order to isolate himself so he can cry. This highlights how personal this moment is. It has happened to me and I bet it has happened to you. It is a familiar feeling to feel like you want to isolate yourself so you can express your emotions freely. But as soon as he does that the camera invades this privacy. Us, the audience manage to sneak a peak of something few directors dare to show. Well, I’m sure not every actor is able to pull off what Chalamet does here, which is four minutes of letting us into his mind without words.

The aesthetics of the film is in my opinion perfect. That is a very personal opinion but the colours and the photography is magnificent. I love how slowly and organically it goes on from one act to another. This is not a short film but I wished it wouldn’t end. I just couldn’t get enough of the characters and the simplicity and familiarity of everything when at the same time I was unable to comprehend how carefully put together everything was.

Lastly, I want to mention a few more moments that led me to call this “my favourite film of the year”. When Oliver and Elio say goodbye, they actually don’t. They don’t speak at all. It is magnificent how everything up to that moment has made words unnecessary. When Elio watches the train leave, you expect Oliver to jump out somehow and start saying all the things we didn’t hear but silence remains. Silence as the gap that Oliver leaves in Elio’s life. That is not the moment I wanted to talk about though. It is that one shot when he gets home, the one he opens the door to confront the empty room. There is no need to show anything else. That one moment is enough to make the viewer feel the absence.

Of course, I couldn’t complete this article without mentioning the monologue of Elio’s father near the end. It is a beautiful moment that makes you realise things even about your own self. The end of course is devastating but still after the father’s monologue and after seeing Elio dancing around in his funky shirt, we kind of feel hopeful and because the film with all those little scenes like the one with the bicycles and the one with the piano – a personal favourite! – captures the feeling of falling in love for the first time perfectly, it also leaves you with a smile and in the mood for love.

have a magical day

glance-at-the-sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

(I do not own those pictures)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(always late) Arrival to Ithaka

 

Glimpse into my life: A few days ago I finished university. I am now waiting for my graduation ceremony and there is a lot I am planning for the future: an MFA degree, as much travelling as possible, lots of writing and some work experience, of course. It is the very first step, a small victory allowing me to try for the next one. How much does it feel like one, though? – enough about me!

There is always a bittersweet taste when something ends, especially a part of your life you enjoyed as much as I enjoyed university. Of course, there is always someone with that typical saying  at the tip of their tongue: “one thing ends and another one begins”. Well, as much as this sounds helpful in the movies, in life things tend to get a little bit more complicated than that. There are people, places and habits you leave behind and the separation can be hard.

So this Sunday afternoon we are talking about the irony of dream-chase. I read a quote by Neil Gaiman recently and it instantly brought tears to my eyes because I now know how truthful it is: “the price of getting what you want is getting what you once wanted”. I usually forget quotes even the ones that really impress me but this one felt like a punch in the stomach and I don’t think I will ever be able to let it go. So let’s talk about it Let’s examine the tones of wisdom hidden in every word. 

Being people, we are made to evolve. We are made to change day by day, minute by minute and that change depends on our experiences. We’re not goldfish, we learn even from the slightest experience. As we change, our dreams alter so do our priorities and our values. That is very healthy and we should be open to it. It is  after all the only way in order to become better. But we also become more and more afraid because aside of the brilliance of independence, the always-growing strength, the depths of human affection and the beyond-the-sky levels of actually being when falling in love, we discover the edges of our pain tolerance – and there’s no such thing! -, the fear of being less than enough, the certainty that we never were enough in the first place and the realisation that life has a way of trapping us like mice inside our own choices, our own rights and wrongs, inside our minds. 

All the above make our dreams change. You wish you would dare to be that childhood fantasy of yourself and it now seams completely… impractical? Even crazy! Who are the brave ones who will dare to be it? The “brave ones” or the idiots, who will end up regretting their lack of reason in their decisions?

And so, when you reach the mountain top. It now looks like a different place than the one you once had in mind. It’s not. It is usually exactly that. It’s you! It’s your eyes that look at it differently now. With a little more fear, a little more practicality and maybe – if you’ve been smart enough to understand the paths this journey led you through to get you right here – with a little more wisdom.

So, since you’ll always end up in the wrong place because your desires will always be one step ahead of you, just try for the best and appreciate what the steps you took to get there gave you. That’s why the beautiful quote we discuss today is not pessimistic at all, when you read it a second time. It would be a curse to be completely satisfied with what you have, because the only true gift humanity was ever given is no other than curiosity!

p.s. Sorry I’ve been away! Exams were a lot to handle. I’m back to stay!

Relevant recommendationC.P. Cavafy discussed what we are talking about today lots and lots of years ago in a beautiful poem, if you haven’t read Ithaka, you can enjoy it easily. Google it!

 

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Between the lines: Piano Man

It was around midday last Sunday, I was putting my make-up on when a song started playing on the radio: Piano Man by Billy Joel. I usually really like songs that tell a story, so it caught my attention. While it was going on I realized it talked about something that has been on my mind a lot lately: the feeling that you don’t belong where you are and that you could be in a better place if circumstances were different or if you had handled situations better. I have come to realize that most if not all people feel like this in one way or another.

I played the song over and over to discover its secrets and since I wanted to make a blog post referring to this, I thought I could start from those wonderful lyrics.

The song builds a very atmospheric image of a piano bar on a Saturday evening. We see everything through the pianist’s eyes although we never learn much about him compared to what we hear about the rest of the people who are spending the night in the bar. The figures are almost stereotypical and we can probably recall them in our memory. We have probably come across them at some point.

As the pianist begins to explain what he sees, he starts describing an old man who seats near him drinking his gin and tonic – he actually uses the words “making love to his tonic and gin” which emphasizes his dependency on alcohol. The old man asks him to play a melody he knew as a young man. This person is the first one who is being described and is probably somehow the future self of everyone in that place. He listens to the piano full of nostalgia, missing a life he had but he was never able to appreciate at the time just like the younger people in the bar. He looks back at what everyone else turns away from and what he probably had turned away from when he was young: his life. Now, he only lives in memories hanging on a bottle and the tunes of the pianist that will somehow let him return to what he once was.

The next person we meet is John, the barman. He comes across as a very cheerful man He always has a joke to tell but deep inside he just feels trapped. He is a friend of the pianist so he can confess to him that he’d be a movie star if he wasn’t stuck at the bar. In this case, we, as the listeners, feel like he could change that. He dreams of being an actor but remains there doing nothing about it. Of course, we know nothing much about John’s life but we assume that if he wants it that bad, he could take a risk. He says that this life “is killing him”, so does he have something to lose if he takes a risk? Is his phantasy of being a famous actor really a desire? Or is it just something he uses to make himself feel somehow like a failure?

Two men are sitting somewhere near, Paul and Davy. Paul is a novelist who doesn’t have a family. We can assume he is a cynical and practical man, since the pianist describes him as a “real estate novelist” and he is taking to another man named Davy who still works in the Navy “and probably will be for life”. Of course that “still” is the magic word that changes the meaning of the lyric. It instantly gives us the sense that Davy wasn’t intending to stay at this job but for practical reasons, he stayed. He probably had bigger dreams. Maybe he would be a movie star just like John would but he’s there now and he’ll never know.

Lastly, Bill, our Pianist, refers to the waitress who speaks with a stoned businessman. They are both lost in their loneliness trying to fight it in meaningless conversations. In the end of the song, as we are almost seeing that bar in front of us, feeling the loneliness of every single person in there and knowing that they can only get away from it for as long as a song lasts – a song by the piano man  – something devastating happens. Someone approaches Bill and gives him a tip. Then he asks him “man, what are you doing here?”.

After we’ve seen everyone else through Bill’s eyes realizing how they’ve wasted their lives and they’ll probably never be happy, someone else comes to ask the question we’ve been too busy – thinking about everyone else – to ask. What is he doing there, in this sad, little bar filled with unhappy people looking to drown their problems in alcohol instead of admitting their wrong choices? Was that his dream all along? Is anyone where they were supposed to be? Is life an endless chain of mistakes we just keep trying to cover up? Is loneliness inevitable?

I thought of the song lyrics for days. I started noticing people around me wondering how they were experiencing loneliness or what were they settling for out of fear. Let’s not lie. At some point we all do. Or… can we chose not to?

have a magical day,

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

A little something you forgot to consider

When you look at the world you see a combination of brilliance and dirt altogether. It makes you want to get out and explore every single part of it, every possible human emotion and at the same time, it makes you want to run to bed and stay there forever. It’s like being in a huge library with a billion books. You wish you’ll choose the most fascinating ones, those that will teach you a lot and make you a wiser person but still… you cannot know the ending in advance. There’s always a risk.  It’s scary – terrifying actually – but I suppose life can give you a few things that are worth the “pain and the aches of the outcoming fortune” in the words of the Danish Prince.

It is incredible that you have all these choices concerning who you want to become and how you want to use your life in order to contribute to society. But what most people forget to mention when they talk about the endless possibilities is risk and fear. The smallest choice you make has outcomes. There’s never a win-win situation. You always have to face consequences, responsibilities and stand up for the path you took and for the person you are today.

We chose friends, behaviors, careers, lovers, places to live in and even ways to approach situations. Every little thing is crucial but there are some choices bigger than others. These are the choices that will change your life. When you stand in front of a choice this big, I tell you, it’s scary. Nobody mentions that. Everyone goes on and on about doing the right thing but… when you’re actually standing a step away from opening one door or another, you can’t see “right” or “wrong”. You can only see the regret at the end of each way and you’re afraid of it. There are paths that guarantee security and others that involve greater risk.

street artist.jpg

Making the step is hard. But no matter what you have been thinking so far, no matter what all the voices around you have been going on and on about, you have to take a step back and put yourself in the microscope. I don’t mean endless hours of worrying and re-thinking – which is something I am guilty of, to be honest – but to really stand across your deepest desire and ask yourself “Where do you want to go?”.

This process is usually so hard because we forget to keep in mind the fear that goes with it. It’s what we forget to consider when we make plans. Fear is usually a huge part of our choices but it shouldn’t be. Go with your gut. There is an instinct inside every one of us, we’ve just learned to ignore it over the years while trying to rationalize everything.

Remember back when you were a kid? You took one look at a person and you knew if you liked them or not. You went to ballet lessons for a week to find out you want to quit and then you tried piano and Italian and none of those were right for you. You knew and you were not afraid to admit you changed your mind. Nobody would call you a loser. Then, you finally tried tennis or playing the tuba and it was fun. You couldn’t see the time to go to practice. That’s what we suppress over the years, our pure instincts. We learn to like what we should like but, how will we ever be happy if we don’t risk walking the road our heart tells us it leads to happiness?

Charles Bukowski said “Go all the way” and he was right. If you don’t go all the way, you’ll never know. It takes a huge amount of courage to stop thinking of every little thing that can go wrong and focus on your pure desire. Don’t be afraid of it. Take a step on the path your heart points at. There must be some reason. Show it some trust and you’ll eventually find out why it took you there.

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Scientific or Social?

For more than 2.500 years we’ve been evolving. We’ve been progressing in way’s no one could have thought of. We can access any information from any point of the world, we can get from Africa to America within hours, we can see our friend who lives miles away and talk to them every day, we can go to the moon! We are even preparing to explore other planets and eventually, some day.. the universe! It’s all so fascinating! Incredible, really… is it enough though? Have we forgotten about something even more important?

We’ve been progressing for more than 2.500 years… and it took more than twenty centuries to give women the right to vote, it took as much to start treating people of color as equals, it took even more to legalize homosexuality. Humanity had the technology to build airplanes, telephones and cars but the same people couldn’t realize what they were doing during the second world war.

Have we focused too much on scientific and technological progress? Have we forgotten to invest in more basic human needs? I meet people every day. They’re young people, students wanting to be scientists, teachers passing on their ideas, parents forming the future generations and… they are racist, misogynist and homophobic while they can use an i phone and handle the trickiest programs of a computer just fine. The problem is not in their minds. They have focused too much in one thing and forgotten about the other. They’ve left their humanity at home while working at the computer all day as they were an extend of it. As they were a machine. We execute commands one after the other just like a computer program. We don’t think. We act.

The education systems all around the world do not focus equally on science and the development of critical thinking. A kid who is doing great in math-class will be awarded. On the other hand, a kid with an extraordinary sense of justice or with a talent in abstract thinking won’t even be noticed. Science is what makes our lives better in so many ways but how could focusing only in one aspect be right? Human rights are just as important – or, I dare say, even more important – and by giving them priority, we will finally figure out how to use all those extremely precious scientific discoveries the right way.

We have to look at science critically and responsibly decide how to use every good that it gives us. Anything scientific, from medicine to technology is meant to serve humans. Humans are not made to serve it and it is only supposed to be used for good causes. Each person, whether you’re a lab scientist or just an i-phone user, has a responsibility. We are all part of this world and responsible for its future.

Maybe it’s time to start wondering why we do what we do and leave the how to do it aside just for a while. We’ve spent too much time focusing on technological progress -which is undoubtedly important and has made our lives a lot easier in many ways – but we’ve completely forgotten about working on our minds and our children’s minds in order to use the tools they have in the best way possible.

have a magical day,

 

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou