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Monday, 17 May 2010

“So, Berlin, huh?”

Right now, I am in my tiny but yet very space efficient room in a Hotel in Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

Right now, I should be showering and getting ready for the day ahead. Our organizers said 9 am sharp…and I do hate to be late.

But honestly, right now, all I want to do is write. I haven’t done it in so long, and the words seem stuck in my mind. Unable to communicate. Unable to let the words bleed and flow… I used to be able to vomit entire paragraphs and pages, and now I have to beg those words out. Where the creative juices used to flow, now a lubricant is necessary, and it’s out of stock at every local pharmacy in the vicinity.

It sucks because I feel out of practice.. Because I feel bland….because I feel tapped out, and no matter how much time off I take I can’t seem to recharge.

Uninspired is not the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind….

The thing about writing is this, it’s just like working out. When you are young and filled with energy, it’s easy. What you lack in experience you overcompensate with Stamina..until you know you can write..Until writing becomes like that 45 minutes run you never thought you would be able to finish.

But then you stop…and you whine about feeling uninspired, and you end up only writing for your own amusement…and you let posers and imposters take your place..and you sit silently unable to express all the ways in which everything you ever cared about gets twisted and corrupted and manipulated into something unrecognizable and perverse. And you let it go, because the people seem to buy it. The same people you started this for in the first place. Now, you just kind of hate them, because more than anyone else in the world, they are the ones that truly proved to you that you are nothing more than a Don Quixote. Hey, wanna fight windmills? Stand in line and take a pill!

So, you give up…you become complacent…you start making fun of people that you know are Wankers and Liars on Twitter, but you don’t do much else. There is black smoke where your heart used to be, and you fear that if you let it beat again, you will unleash clouds of tar on everyone in your vicinity. Good or bad…all will be punished.

And you know that’s not right.

It’s not depression…because I am pretty happy.

It’s not being disheartened or bitter…because whenever I do see a new idea that needs to be supported, or someone who still has that glint in their eyes and that belief that they can change the world..I want to do nothing more than protect them and give them whatever “wisdom” I managed to acquire over the years.

It’s …jadedness….too much cynicism…and general exhaustion. “Exhaustion from what? you don’t do much of anything anymore.”, you may ask. And you would be right to wonder. The answer is simple: From caring..

From Believing…

From knowing too much about the nature of the political scene in Egypt, of the civil society scene in DC, of every Hero I have ever had or championed…

But I ignored all that, buried it deep down..because no one wants to hear it. Can’t be showing weakness, not with the vultures are lining up all around you, wanting to get rid of you once and for all. And they have good reason to worry, for you know too much and been silent for too long…but more on that later.

I ignored all that, until I met her yesterday, and I was confronted with everything I wanted to ignore for so long.

She comes from Azerbaijan, which, from what she told me of it, might as well be called Egypt. And she suffers from the same ailment that I suffer from. Too many years fighting, too much time in the trenches, and nothing really changing.

She, as well, tried being an activist, and found it nothing short of masturbation.

She, as well, tried walking away and focus on making money and a career, but even that felt empty…

She, as well, didn’t feel peace of mind for the longest time, until she came here to Berlin.

Why Berlin?

Because it’s a city that is on a constant journey of self-healing…

Because it’s a place that has seen lots of heartbreak, oppression and death, and made it through..

Because it has the energy of a soldier who spent too many years on the frontline, and actually won his peace, without firing a single bullet.

You walk in Kreuzberg, you watch the tourists pretending to be running away to the American sector in Checkpoint Charlie and buying GDR memorabilia, you see the wall and how it became a living breathing testament to art and freedom of expression, you pass by every monument, statue and museum detailing the bloody and violent history of a city that despite all of its battlescars is standing proud, smiling..and, you, for the first time in ever, feel ok about yourself and the world.

We create mental walls for ourselves…psychological walls that keep us from finishing our Journeys….emotional walls of cynicism to protect whatever little idealism you have left in your jaded heart, and we try to ignore those walls daily to go about your life, and party, and love and be happy. Just pretend they are not there, and they won’t remind you of their existence.

And the Lesson the people of Berlin taught me is this: DON’T IGNORE THE WALL, BECAUSE IT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE IF YOU DO.

Just see it every day, remember what it means, and know in your heart of hearts that it won’t last forever. One day, you will get to turn the wall into a canvass, and the no-man’s land, into high-rise modernistic apartments, and the symbols of oppression? Shit, you will sell them to tourists, who know nothing of your struggle, and if they do, they consider it a little more than a cute story.

It will all come to an end one day. The law of Entropy affects everything, even oppression. It just takes slightly more time.

So, Berlin, I love you…for not looking away…for not walking away…and for proudly wearing those scars, that remind everyone, and especially you, that your past is real.

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40 Responses to ““So, Berlin, huh?””

  1. Mahmood Al-Yousif Says:

    Welcome back my friend! It’s a pleasure seeing you physically at last and am happy that like me, Berlin inspired you to tap some keys.

    You will forgive me however for not sharing your love of Berlin, I can’t get mg head around it yet. To me it’s like the Field of Stalae – still lost, still grey, still sad.

    I can’t find the reason yet to come back. But with another week to go, I’m open for more inspiration.

    Welcome back my friend.

  2. Craig Says:

    Welcome back :)

    It’s …jadedness….

    I’m going for that one!

    too much cynicism…

    No, this one is the cure. It’s what will let you keep at least a little of your idealism…as long as you keep it secret. Otherwise, if you keep trying to force it you’ll end up one of those crazy old birdnest-hair bastards who run around naked in San Francisco waving nutty placards thinking they are being relevant. Or whatever the equivalent in Egypt is.

  3. Jon Claerbout Says:

    So, tell us her story, if she’s willing, and if you’ve tired of your own.

  4. Ralph Boyd Says:

    It is so good to have you back with us. Be well my friend.

  5. NewMe Says:

    welcome back..
    this post has summon up a lot of confused yet so strong emotions struggling to be released inside my head!
    to be trapped in ones own thoughts! still trying to get around this..
    thank u Berlin..

  6. Azoul Says:

    Well dude, I don’t have much to say, cept your words have inspired me to reflect again on my own self, and my own jadedness.

  7. rositta Says:

    Ah yes Berlin… as a 17 year old I stood in front of Checkpoint Charlie and couldn’t go across. I had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on the other side. By the time I finally could afford to go two years ago there were not many left. My mother never saw her parents again after emigrating to Canada. What is so sad for me is that even with the freedoms that have been achieved there are too many citizens of the former East Germany who wish for the “old time”. I found that profoundly disturbing…ciao and welcome back.

  8. rositta Says:

    Your spam filter caught my comment???

  9. Yogi Says:

    Welcome back!

  10. Zendette Says:

    Welcome back! I’ve been waiting to read your commentary again. I hope you continue in the same vein. Visiting Germany was interesting, to me, as a Jew. I enjoyed examining my own feelings when I saw historical landmarks familiar from old black and white newsreels. But Germany is a different country today, and I personally enjoyed my visits, especially to Munich. Now THAT’s a city for you!

  11. Ali Says:

    So are you back or not?

  12. Opally Says:

    Thank you Sandmonkey. I think you are inspiring and smart and spiritually courageous. Facing walls and letting go and transcending are what there is to discover. Honesty requires disillusionment, but that’s where real hope lies. (gawd, this sounds like pseudo-spiritual nonsense, the kind of jargon I despise. Would be better to write a poem instead or say something in the right way… such as, “I really liked this post!”)

  13. Helian Says:

    Don’t despair. Even the superhuman Instapundit finally had to take a break. His site is being run by guest bloggers at the moment.

  14. nora Says:

    Please please don`t disappear again!

  15. Infidel Dane Says:

    Ahhhh…. Berlin, Jadedness, Weltschmertz….. been there, done that. Welcome to adulthood, my young Jedi. Allah yabarik feek.

  16. Melissa in NorCal Says:

    It is good to hear from you from time to time even if you don’t feel like writing. It is kind of like calling your mother. Even if, you’ve got nothing to say, or don’t particularly want to talk, you always need to call. Thanks for catching up with us.

  17. Jonathan Levy Says:

    Always good to see a post from you, Sandmonkey, even if it’s a sad one.

    If symptoms persist, I recommend one (or more) of the following fool-proof cures:
    1) Move to the U.S.A.
    2) Get married.

    What could go wrong?

  18. LN Says:

    Hey Sandmonkey, great to read you again here!
    Gave up reading the responses, but still stopped by yr blog every few weeks, and finally, here’s the trigger – in Berlin of all places – interesting.



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  21. baresytapas Says:

    I reached this blog by accident, but I found that has a very interesting information. Good job. A greeting.

  22. modernjan Says:

    Welcome back Monkey, I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and most of the time agreed with your rants.

    Have fun in Berlin!

    BTW, how can I become an affiliate of your blog (in the links section)?

  23. Adam B. Says:

    Welcome back! Been off for some time as it tends to get a bit repetitive when you haven’t posted something new for months… Actually, it gets repetitive even when you do, but of course through no fault of yours! :D

    Good to hear that you’ve found your spirits and your desire to write again – nothing like a trip abroad and meeting new people to widden one’s horizon!

  24. lynne Says:

    I clicked over to your blog, expecting to see that old post and to experience that wistful feeling that I could read your words just one more time.
    I do understand from your post how you have been feeling. Your words do make a difference though, and in this troubled world every bit of difference is meaningful.
    Your words are inspirational.

  25. MikeyMike Says:

    What’s strange is that I’ve been checking your site for years with the hopes of reading some new posts.

    So, good to hear from you. Keep writing!!!

  26. Marlin Says:

    So, Berlin, eh?

    You still here?

    I find Berlin stinks, but well, I can have it as long as I want. :P

    But nice thoughts you wrote. I hope Berlin (especially its inhabitants) is/was nice to you.

  27. CarpetCaptain Says:

    WB Monkey! Hope you’re writer’s block is gone for good!

    Not to hijack the thread BUT I thought there would be a feeding frenzy here with all the convoy fodder…..c’mon people… fight! hahahaha

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  29. abdul Says:

    wow, I think after all this time its slowly dawned on u that u been chatting shit all along, why dont u go 2 israel or new york and blog from there??

  30. Adam B. Says:

    It seems abdul is here to set the record straight! :D

    Great solution – if you don’t agree with how things are going in your native country, then leave; don’t try to do anything about it!

    Oh well, at least you didn’t ask for his head on a platter… this time! ;)

  31. Yaeli Says:

    Sam, be well my friend. You are missed. Hope Berlin rejuvenates you fully. And cynical? Nah, clear-eyes realist I’d say.

  32. » Blog Archive » Hopefuls line up for a shot at televized stardom Says:

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  34. Sue Says:

    Oh. I share the same sentiments for Berlin..

  35. Claire Says:

    Nice :)

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  38. Berlin Says:

    Ahh Palestine…the next Berlin, to be emancipated in great fashion one of these far off days!

  39. Steynian 423st « Free Canuckistan! Says:

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  40. DNA Says:

    Welcome to my world. Now you now :)

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