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Today I have learned about being insouciant, carefree, and playful, and to accept my own je ne sais quoi instead of being tortured. I have tried to simplify life into black and white categories and be clear on my moral values, but there is only so much such analysis can do. Only so much setting goals and making plans can do, and only so many things we can change about our fundamental selves, or maybe, we find there are things we DON’T want to be so changeable. Apparently it is even possible to lose your mother tongue. Talk about lacking roots to the past, the present just being our own creation. That being said though, as Pablo Nerudo says, “Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, youll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.” There is some aspect of the self that, fixed or not, does not WANT to be fixed or altered.  This isn’t about hanging on to your pain or the priviledges of your birth, it is about acknowledging the raw materials you are made from. Blissfully or not, there are only so many permutations we can make with those elements, and only so much effort we are willing able to spend in changing ourselves at the most basic level.

For me, this has translated into the knowledge that much as I love France and Europe, and much as I feel like I fit in better here in some ways and love the lack of social control that I feel here as an insider-outsider, French speaking American girl in Paris. Having multiple layers of identity is confusing, and knowing that you are the outlier in your home group (America, or so I think) can be difficult. But now it occurs to me that I could be the exception that proves the role, or something positively exceptional in an arguably exceptional country. Big takeaway is that feeling of belonging and acceptance by a group is nice, but you also have to want to join the group yourself. Just like no one can give you the love and support you need or want if you don’t want to be in a relationship with them, and that’s okay. Our allegiances then are of our own choosing, our affirmation or negation of a former self. But the former self is never really discarded, just like energy is conserved. You can liberate yourself, break all your chains, cut all ties, but until you recreate your affinities, you can’t be otherwise than as you have always been. You can reprogram your language and culture, but do you want to? Are you more yourself as a stranger in a strange land or a prophet who is never believed in his own land? Perhaps these are some dire characterizations and false dichotomous, but I believe they illustrate the point.

When you get the chance to live in your fantasy world, do you go back? Yes, if you are conscious it is a fantasy, if what is real and true for you is elsewhere. The funny thing is, living in the fantasy helps you understand reality better, what you are and what you are not. Everyone eventually comes out of the rabbit hole or the looking glass or faerie or what have you, it is just a question of one which side. We could live in books, movies, drugs, fantasy, confusion, etc, all these things that numb yet can illuminate the real. What is the real life? It’s yours to decide, in your own life.

Bref, we are not limited by what we can do, but by what we WANT to do. The real question is, what is real, and what is just a symbol?