Game of Life

What are you living for? Do you have “THE purpose” in life? You know, the one that defines you and your existence on this planet?! Everyone is shouting how you are supposed to figure it out, have THE goal of your life, and confidently go towards it, step by step, brick by brick. Sometimes life seems like not about the actual living, but trying to follow the perfect model, formula, “rules” of living. And you do it day after day, and you are supposed to be “happy” and “fulfilled,” but all it does is leaving you feeling fake, an imposter. You are not living your life. You are playing the game called Life. It is all pretending.

Living a life: what does it actually feel like? Enjoying life without the “must-have” purpose or passion or far-reaching goal? What is life all about? What is the purpose of life if you do not have a purpose?

I have recently watched new Disney movie Clouds, and it affected me profoundly, struck pretty hard. It is a movie about a kid with cancer, terminal stage. He is questioning his purpose of little time he has left on this planet. The story touched me to the deepest mostly because of how it makes us question what we are all doing here. We can be so caught up with things to do, things to accomplish by certain age, things to prove to ourselves and others that we forget about the very question: so what? if you were given a terminal diagnosis, what would you do? what would you focus on? would you still care about money? appearance? status? promotion? Is that what life is all about? Just think about it. What would you actually do if you were given a few months to live?

Fuck, sometimes I ask myself: do you really need to know you are dying to realize it is time to start LIVING?! Why cannot we be born with this realization that life is painfully short, and that you have a definite amount of time, so stop wasting your time, energy, emotions, thoughts on bullshit. Things that will never matter had you less than a year to live.

Even though I am an atheist, when I come across a story, a book, or movie about someone who dies young, but leaves an invaluable legacy behind, I always feel this person was “sent” to our planet for a short period of time to teach us something greater than us. Angels, do you exist?

Apart from these “messengers,” I also believe in ART. I believe it can unite people. It can make us relate to each other. It makes us pause our game of life. Art breaks the rules of any set game.

That’s why I am so obsessed with books, and poetry, and movies, and music, and any artistic expression. It surpasses our ego, our mind, brain, any man-made entity. It is something we cannot touch or explain, but it is the biggest achievement of humanity.

Art is life. No rules, no games. Pure, raw, and painfully beautiful.

audiobooks…greenlight

Ok, I have to admit from the start that I have never been into audiobooks before. In fact, I used to be a book snob and look down on people who opted for audiobooks instead of “real” physical hardcopied with words printed on pages books. And I feel bad about it. This year I have completely changed my opinion about this format of reading/hearing books. Since I have an amazon account, I thought I might as well use my free 9 credits in the audiobook app. This exposed me to a whole new experience. Listening to the voice of the original author. Tuning in with what a writer says in his or her book. Driving a car and completely losing myself in the world of spoken thoughts, uttered truths. Now I truly believe some books are best to be listened to. Sometimes you need to hear the authors to hear their message. Sometimes listening is more powerful than reading.

I feel like some kind of a paid promoter, but I swear I am not! However, I am still going to encourage you to get your hands (or ears) on one audiobook. It is called Greenlights. The author, the narrator is Matthew McConaughey. The actor. Turns out Mr. McConaughey is also a brilliant writer and storyteller. Who would have thought?

I haven’t finished the audiobook yet, but I already have so much to say about it. It is so different, so refreshing, so…weirdly…optimistic. Matthew takes you on a rollercoaster journey, sharing the most personal, hilarious, enlightening, serious, absurd stories of his life. It is not a linear story of success. It is a messy, unpredictable, but ingrainedly beautiful memoir which makes famous people – actors – look like all of us. Ordinary people with ordinary problems, ordinary crises, ordinary moments, and ordinary feelings and thoughts.

I say this book is so refreshing to me because I mostly read highly dramatic books. Not to say that they are pessimistic, but they usually take things very seriously and deal with pretty hard topics. McConaughey’s book Greenlights touches upon many heavy issues, but he does it with such a light tone that it makes you take life less seriously. It makes you feel it is OK even if you are not always ok. After every red light, there is a long-awaited greenlight. All it takes is some hard work, perseverance, and undeniable and unstoppable belief in the good turn of events.

I have instantly fell in love with Matthew’s idea of breaking walls and roofs someone else (or you yourself) has set up for you or other people. This book is all about breaking limits, stereotypes, boundaries, and any other unhealthy restraints on the path towards success. This book is about living, not “over-living” or “under-living.” How liberating is it to live a life without overthinking? How mind-free would it be to accept a lesson from any life situation without overanalyzing? No, I am not saying Matthew is shallow. Not at all. On the opposite, he is very insightful and often existentialist, but he knows how to move on and enjoy the life the way it is at the very moment. He knows how to focus on greenlights. Forget about red lights.

Matthew McConaughey is not just reading a book. He is acting it. Acting his own self. And it is absolutely magnetic. It is a show of one person. It is a show of one life.

So, yes, sometimes you need to listen to a book to feel its power. Audiobooks – greenlight.

Ode to Books

I have always loved books. Truly, sometimes books are more loyal than best friends. In many ways, they are.

Always available, always there for you. They understand you, and you try to understand them.

They make you laugh. You cry with them. They are next to you, ready to share an intimate moment any time of the day. They are ready to talk whenever you need it.

Books do not lie. They do not betray. They chose to tell the truth even though nobody asked them to.

Books are not jealous. And you are not jealous of them. They belong to everyone and no one.

Good books leave a mark on you. They become part of your heart. Great books become part of your family.

In so many ways, books are our loyal friends. For some, they become best friends.

So many times I thought this or that person would be my best friend forever. So many times, it did not happen.

Only books can make “forever and ever” truly possible.

My first experience with YouTubing

I have recently started my own YouTube channel, a Booktube (natable books) – yes, it is all about books, reading, and reviewing the new releases in literature! I am both excited and terrified. I have never thought I could have the courage to talk in front of camera and then put myself on display for the whole world (I have 10 subscribers now, 9 of them are my family members, lol).

There are two main reasons I started my channel.

First, as long as I remember myself, I have always been reading. From the very early childhood to my adult life now. Books mesmerised me. I loved getting new books, touching their pages, looking at how words made sense on a page, and diving deep into the stories. Before I always had my mom to share this hobby with. We would read the same books and discuss our feelings about them. It felt satisfying not just to read a book, but also to have someone read it simultaneously with you and discuss all the moments of the story when the impressions are still fresh. I moved away from home long time ago, and even though I constantly talk with my mom on the phone, we do not really discuss the books the way we did before. We have different time zones, different regimes, and even different languages we read the books in (I started reading more in English). Where I live now, I do not really have a close friend who chooses similar books as I do. I wish I had someone to share all the reading moments. So…that is why I decided to find it in the online reading community. It would be great to meet similar readers and thinkers and literally read the same books together. Just like it was before.

Second, I started the Vlog as a chance to tackle my greatest fear – public speaking and being in front of people/camera. I grew up in the society that did not teach the skills of speaking with confidence, defending your position, and being free-spirited and free-minded. When I moved to another country, I understood how the world is different and how it is so much more fun to live a life with no fears or anxieties. Being in front of a camera is one of the biggest fears for me. I often freeze, forget all my words, and cannot think of anything smart to say. It is so much easier for me to write than to speak. But I do not want this to be a part of my personality. I believe you can become who you want to be if you take risks. Right now I am taking a chance and we will see what is going to come out of it.

My YouTube journey has just begun, and I hope it will be an interesting and unforgettable ride!

Link to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMnQ20MloYorPpKUpp7w-rw

Instagram: @natable.books

what’s your passion?

I think that most people have something they are really passionate about in life. For me, passion lies in books. I love shopping for books, googling new releases, talking about the recently read texts, smelling new books, holding them in my hands, and simply having books in my life. I am genuinely happy when I come across a unique book. It becomes part of me. Sometimes I feel that I consist of bits and pieces of the books, which have influenced my worldview and my identity. And the beauty is that it is a never-ending process: every new book brings something new to my character. But today I do not want to talk about my passion. Rather it is more interesting to discuss the passion I see in people around me.

My boyfriend is really passionate about food. He is a natural foodie and a believer in enjoying life through food. I’ve noticed how his eyes light up and a smile plays on his lips in the following situations:

  1. When in the restaurant, he notices the dish he has ordered is coming out the kitchen and the server is approaching our table to deliver the order;
  2. When in butchery, he sees a beautiful piece of raw marble meat and imagines how this medium-rare steak will taste in his mouth;
  3. When at home, he reads a food blog or watches a YouTube food vlog and finds a new way to cook traditional dishes;
  4. When he pours himself a glass of Malbec and starts improvising in the kitchen while I sit at the bar table and watch this creative process of food transformation;
  5. When he plans the trip to Europe and makes a list of restaurants (instead of a list of museums) we should absolutely visit there;
  6. When we drive around the city and randomly stumble upon a small family restaurant, authentic and original in its method of cooking.

In all these scenarios (and many more), his pupils dilate wider than normal. Food truly makes him excited and happy. Happy the way a child is when getting a new toy from the parents. I see this happiness in him and it radiates so much that I get affected by that. I start looking at food from a different perspective as well: not only as means to satisfy hunger, but as another reason to be alive.

What is your reason to be alive? What is your passion?

Fiction or Not?

Do you think reading fiction is obsolete?

With such an abundance of audio and visual material nowadays, reading itself is struggling to keep its niche. We watch everything. We listen to everybody. It is a visual turn in culture – it is a digital age. During the day, we do some reading: scrolling down news, checking emails, and peeking at social media posts. With so much information intake every day, our brain refuses to keep working at night. We often opt for watching another episode of this new TV show or for aimlessly streaming YouTube videos about cars, fashion, food, or design. It is relaxing and easy. It is what everyone else is doing after a hard day of work, we think.

Reading practice is slowly becoming an endangered species. And reading fiction, particularly, feels almost extinct. Why read fiction? Many people told me that fiction was useless. It does not give you direct practical advice on life. It does not teach you about present realities. It is imaginative and, hence, unrealistic. It is boring. If it is good, it will probably be adapted to screen, so why bother reading it when in a few months, there will be a movie? Recently my boyfriend was genuinely surprised when he heard me laughing my head off while reading a fiction book. It was strange for him to see me peacefully reading a book, having my solo experience, and then all of a sudden cracking up with laughter and breaking the solemn silence of the room. Yes, I told him, fiction can make you laugh. In fact, it can be as funny, if not more, as a TV comedy.

It is sad that fiction does not have the same status as it used to be. Out of my 85 students this semester, only 10 said they were reading fiction occasionally. What about the rest? Very often people do not like fiction books because they had a bad experience before. They might have hated their English teacher, or maybe they were forced to read the books they did not want at school. They might have just picked the wrong book at the store and developed a dislike for literature in general. Or they failed at finding their genre and style of writing. They got disappointed. They did not give it another try.

Fiction literature deserves a chance. Once you find the right book, the right author, and the right moment in life, you will understand the power of fiction. It can give an experience no other medium can. Fiction is only fictional until you read it and make it real for yourself.