Of moderation and penetration – finding happiness through limitation

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Legend says that once Alexander the Great conquered the mighty Persian Empire and dethroned “the King of kings” he wept dearly, for in his mind there were no more worlds left to conquer. It had been his life’s sole purpose to defeat his enemies and one day there were none. Eventually this led him to ever more insane undertakings and his own loyal men rebelled against him. It wasn’t defeat which led him to ruin, but victory itself.

I believe there is an Alexander in all of us, for we all crave in conquering the unconquerable be it love, fame, riches or life itself, but I don’t think we actually understand what that entails. Our very physiology doesn’t help us either, as from an evolutionary perspective, we never quite evolved to live in a world of plenty. In essence we were given unquenchable thirsts for certain stimuli because our biological systems knew they had to assign a high importance to them given their relative scarcity, with the caveat being that we were never meant to succeed at satisfying them.

Hence we enjoy sugar to the point of becoming diabetic, hence we enjoy rest and relaxation to the point of lethargy and decline, hence we enjoy sex to the detriment of other aspects in our lives and so on and so on. These were not vices we were ever meant to fully satiate.

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The Comfort Trap

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Well, it’s been almost half a year since I last updated this collection of my writings, last we spoke I’d recently thought I was getting drugged and robbed in the desert, and I had made a fool out of myself on that last leg of climbing a mountain. But overall, I lived in terror, trying but failing miserably from escaping my destiny of having to go back to Mexico.

Fortunately for me though, one of the several hundred job applications I’d sent out in the last few months actually bore fruit and I got an online interview. Unfortunately for me though, at the time I was in one of the hippiest hostels I’d ever been at, where it wasn’t uncommon to see the guests making opium tea and smoking pot whilst sometimes screaming about their drug use to anyone in earshot.

Needless to say, this wasn’t the ideal place to have an interview at; but I managed to find a corner of a room where I more or less pretended everything was in order, and it all went according to plan.

Fast forward a couple months, where I had to go back to Mexico for the UK visa and I’m finally back in London working as a financial journalist. It took over a year of struggling, applying to dozens of jobs per day (with the final tally being upwards of 800!) but it worked out, despite having essentially given up at one point. To say I’m ecstatic does not begin to cover it, not only did I beat the odds but managed to come out on top as well.

There was certainly a sizeable portion of luck involved but this would’ve been close to impossible without putting considerable amount of effort on my end as well. I guess this the key to life: to take enough punches and keep fighting until you get a lucky break.

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People you meet on the Road VI: Disappointment, Charlie Chaplin and Yogurt

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Whosoever said that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover was a hypocritical son of a bitch. Humans are programmed to desire, rarely to appreciate. We may not like this side of ourselves, but pretending to be immune to it altogether is silly. In all likelihood these pretensions to the moral high ground may even lessen your enjoyment of things, as you force yourself to do things you don’t particularly enjoy just to prove a point. Truth be told, the performance of an experience is almost as important as the content thereof.

To easily illustrate what I mean, I shall say that I recently had a wonderful meal at a Moroccan restaurant. Yet not content with this, I decided to top it all off with a dessert. Last time that I’d been there someone had talked me into trying the yogurt, and I must say that it was a delicious experience.

This time around though they lived up to the Moroccan lifestyle far too much, as empires rose and fell faster than the time it took for me to get my dessert. Eventually I decided that my sweet tooth wasn’t worth the wait; hence I stood up and went to the cashier to pay, rather than wait a second more. On the way there, you had to pass through the kitchen and I saw one of the cooks spooning out a yogurt from a shop container into a bowl.

When my waiter saw me attempting to leave he tried to get me to stay, and I did, but by then the spell was broken. I saw the farce for what it was, far from the homemade traditional yogurt I thought it was, it was simply a store bought one in a fancy presentation and with nuts and berries to further disguise it. This realization should not have altered my enjoyment of the final product in any shape or form. I had, after all, been more than satisfied with ordering it on other days. Yet it suddenly didn’t taste as well as it once did, because it left behind the bitter taste of lies.

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Meditations on Toubkal Mountain, the highest point in North Africa

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Much remains the same when you grow up, many of the childlike dreams, hopes and aspirations still hold true. Perhaps we may coat them with a veneer of respectability or adulthood, but at their core, they still remain much the same. The main thing that changes though is how we seek to satisfy those drives.

Had you talked to my thirteen year old self and told him that one day, a decade later, I would decide to climb during the winter the highest mountain of North Africa on a whim, I would’ve likely called you mad. I still remember when, on a nature walk that we did on a school trip, my teacher essentially had to push my back then morbidly obese self the whole way. As otherwise, I would’ve never managed to do so.

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Bittersweet Endings and New Beginnings

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After finishing university the other day, I can now pompously call myself an economist. Nowadays, when I go to a social gathering, I will almost be able to hear sphincters nervously clench when asked what I studied, and they hear what I have to say on the matter. I will now see the terror in their hearts when I answer that I profess the trade of Adam Smith, as they hope to god almighty that I don’t talk about inflation or currency exchange rates, or how the Brexit is a stupid idea.

I didn’t get to wear a silly Harry Potter gown, or attend graduation, because I put my degree to good use and calculated that the value (gotten out of essentially paying £80 for a handshake, a boring speech I wouldn’t remember, and a hastily taken photograph) was simply not worth it. Instead, I’ve been travelling with my father and yesterday I showed him Canterbury, the city where I’ve been living in for the last three years.

I showed him the fields where I walked with a lovely girl with whom I was with for a while; I showed him the discount supermarket I used to greedily shop at once a week; I showed him the pigsty that we used to call our student flat; I showed him the campus and all its labyrinthine quirks; I showed him where I took my first salsa classes;  and I showed him a coffee shop where I must’ve had well over a dozen dates – I showed him home.

If there’s anywhere that I’ve lived in that I could’ve called “home”, with all the pageantry and positive feelings that are bundled with the word, it was there. Frankly, I did not have a happy upbringing, and it took to well into my adulthood to find the peace and happiness that people seem to ooze from every pore. Nowadays, I know that is mostly an act – a lie they eagerly fan on their social media accounts to promote the cult of themselves. Yet, I was joyless for most of my existence, doubly so when I suspected everyone else was happy except myself. If home is where the heart is, I was homeless for most of my life.

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Hostel Fondle – or why all miseries shall soon pass

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I’m writing this article on my phone from my hostel bed late at night, because this is how I deal with stuff – I write. I’m currently in Split, Croatia. Wishing that the infernal creaking of the bed springs next to me would stop.

In the bed adjacent to me there’s a pair of irrefutably drunk tourists having sex. Paying no mind to any passing soul that comes by. A part of me feels angry, disgruntled that they don’t have the decency to go to a romantic toilet stall, just like any other proper fellow might have done (Truth be told, I have never understood bathroom pulls either, smelly and disgusting is not on my sexual bucket list). But if I am quite frank, what I think most people would not admit to, but I will, is that I cannot help but feel jealousy just as well.

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Lusting for Love – Why People are Unhappy with their Love Life

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I’ve been reading Casanova’s autobiography as of late. It’s multiple volumes worth of his life adventures. In a lot of respects I admire him, as he was rarely afraid to stand against the tide and live the life he wanted. All too often we get caught on labels and forget to see things as they are.

We call him a womaniser yet simultaneously forget that he fell for a good number of the 133 girls he ended up with. I don’t think seduction is mutually exclusive with affection. There is a time and place for either one. Guys, contrary to all stereotype, get much too fixated in affection before sex. I think that’s our gender’s little secret. Whether we admit it or not, we can have a perfectly self sufficient sex life with the internet, we can see more naked women in an hour than the most depraved Roman Emperor in a lifetime. What we can’t get is affection, that is our true vice.

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