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Edition #10
Other Voices, Other Rooms
Alitza Cardona
Edited by Faustas Norvaisa

Story plots on the subconscious altar

What do we sacrifice when we believe? Motivated by self-preservation, we continue to take each step, hoping to be among the chosen who get saved. This essay is not questioning what we think we deserve but the precious architecture of processes we carry within us, making us essentially social and intrinsically flawed. The way we idealise certain things builds an image of what success looks like, whether in love, career, or life. At the inevitable crossroads we face in life, planning, questioning, and leveraging ideas and aspirations merge with our cultural and social programs, bridging the sense from the opinions of the people we love, those we admire, and our fears and insecurities. It is at these crossroads where we also ask ourselves: 'How much will this decision cost us?' 'How much are we serving others when we forget to serve ourselves?'

 

I will not be the person who writes that the pathway to success is built from the walls like a selfish person who constructs to benefit from another’s experience. I will not talk about building facades but about how we are the builders of internal altars made of ideas dressed as morals. I will explore how our internal altars shape our perception of what options look like and how we may be ignoring miracles built from things we fail to recognize outside of our version of the perfect image. Daring to discover beyond a set path comes with the price of insecurity that characterises uncertainty. In life, there is no real planning for pain, confusion, or even anger. Especially the anger that follows disappointment when we realise that much of what we are not experiencing stems from inaccessibility to that which we did not get to know in time. Crossroads are valuable because they are the most inopportune circumstances the universe presents to us to prove our faith in our decisions, despite providence, not at the cost of it.

 

No matter how much we try to design our memories and control every decision, the true value of our experiences shines through when we embrace adaptability and curiosity. Exploring with curiosity helps us understand why it's so tough to let go of the ideas we once believed defined us. It might seem contradictory, but each step in this journey holds the power to glimpse the moments we'll miss, carrying the echoes of their feelings with us. As we act, we unknowingly lay the foundations for countless future moments. At the end of each day, we face complex decisions without realising it. What kind of memories will we cherish on our deathbeds? When we reflect on our actions, we'll ask ourselves: did we leave the world better than we found it? How much does that matter? Creativity is the shadow of perception, shaping the reality we desire. Sometimes, we disguise our creativity as a fair discourse for others, but in doing so, we sacrifice the excitement that contrasts can bring. Some beginnings might seem unattainable without an ending, though they are impossible without hope. In this sense, few become believers, even though hope surrounds us all. To end something means to let go of what no longer serves us, making way for new possibilities.

 

I began thinking about this essay in the middle of a cathedral, basking in the light streaming through a stained-glass saint. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, young lives are burning, and many are losing their lives due to ongoing wars. Conflicts, no matter how painful, seem to carry a sense of destiny and closure. This is the conclusion my friend and I reach during her cigarette and coffee break, as we share continuous stories about love and the crossroads life presents us. We revise many past crossroads while sitting on the stairs. Between the bombings shown in the news and the multiple crises sustained within the socio-cultural productions of this reality, every day, freedom loses a battle in each life taken away without living enough experiences that carry meaning. Built from the moment, untimely demises leave a space of unfulfilled futures. But what is untimely for those who believe in destiny? The symphonies of laughter echoing from the empty spaces left carry information of a future that considers the consequences of imposition and the traumatic effects of uncertainty. There is no real justice where there is no equitable recognition of everything that can spark a reality worth experiencing. We all embody a destiny of meaning. "The heart did not lie [about] what it saw" (Qur’an 53:11).

 

In the corner of the world I inhabit, I do fear forgetting what the histories of my ancestors lost before me. Nature is built in the margins of the forms we communicate, while we, as active individuals, try to find ways to inhabit a method of sustaining experiences through our invented philosophies and conquests. Change and need become the unforgettable basis of our processes, in many cases bound by fears or uncertainties. Threaded by these attitudes, we build internal altars where we idealise and pay tribute to the images of what could potentially be perfect in our lives. Yet, can that be true and attainable in our times? What is most sacred to us, and in striving for an idea, we continue to march on. We inhabit the ritual of an aspirational hunt where the illusion of serving as a judge of others becomes the death of our humanity.

Our imperfect humanity is recognized and admired by the stars, but it becomes unfathomable in our quest for moral perfection. Away from any attachments to the stresses that affect my mind, I delve deeper into those that shed light on the shadows of my heart.

At one of life's crossroads is the memory of a friend whose mind I love. He continues to be a part of my life, and in a game of seduction free from ego, his curiosity fuels my creative existentialism. I often think about our paths and how they contrast. He is my shadow, and I am his. I admire how he's anchored in the present through his sense of security, while I am tethered to mine by a fear of it. Coming from different cultures, our processes complement each other, filling gaps left by experiences we haven't yet imagined. Our cultures forgot to make words for the worlds we carry and could possibly connect. At this crossroad, recalling is the attitude the memories take every time we choose to undertake side quests driven by questions that fill the complexities of living. It continues as we share our altars of what we understand to be sacred. The conversation will never end until curiosity settles and desires fade. This light can only be sustained by a fire of sheer motivation; we can burn or shine through it. Our cultures are the same thing but with a different book, I say. But sometimes, I see how his eyes get lost in translation. I guess, some might say we can get lost in the illusion of what shines through the cracks we do not dare to question as part of our suffering, making valuable the little of the times we have chosen to keep smiling amidst a reality threatened by death and the pleasurable moments that will inevitably end through transformation. This crossroads is not only ours; we see how it gets repeated through humanity, as difference is the necessity of conquest. However, it is forever ours what we create through it.

Architects talk about the edifice and the building, both sharing a foundation and the concrete manifestation of an idea that holds space to satisfy needs while creating others. If the edifice articulates a societally significant purpose, the building reveals the habits of its social sustainability. Ignoring the many other voices that once inhabited the buildings shouldn't be an option because, within the sounds of its rubble, notes preserve the conversations that once held space for those we keep forgetting. It's inevitable to fall in love when questioning, exchanging, and liberating. If water floods through the cracks, emotions fill the scars that make empathy the poetry of ruin. Remembering what we imagine is a process I compare to the lingering beauty within the balancing act that makes sense of his appreciation for the geometrical forms, containing his illusions, and the chaos that organises my passion to explore the virtue of it all. Even if nothing in this interaction is certain, I will forever carry my newfound prayer for the many unbounded conversations that once held the stories of discoveries shared without fear. I've learned that without fear, there is no pause marking the passing of time, leveraging the potential of an eternal in-between.

The in-between is the endless space of potential, where my creative existentialism is born. With its genesis in the many transitions, we go through and the many altars we carry inside, I define this creative existentialism as the act of remembering what could be imagined of the potential alternatives lost to historical memories, death, and power. Inventions like this are certainties I share with him, with her, and with the many other containers of altars I have yet to encounter. Why we have met, I don't ask, but I do constantly wonder how this encounter can form a fractal of possibilities. What would others think of these conversations? Well, I don't think we will get burned at the stake, but how many others have lost it? Life does not have to be a consequence that hangs by a rope of fear. How can we see the difference between a building designed with the knowledge of a God and another made to kill those who do not follow an un-accessed version of him, manifested through practice? Does not compassion share the same source?

 

I believe actions are born through invention. As we continue to be shaped by forms of territorialization, I observe humanity's tendency to exploit resources not owned by any master. Yet, the desire to build from intangible altars inspires us to create, develop, and reveal. Why does the world persist in destroying bridges that strengthen connections through fear? I may never know, but I still pick up a brush to write what shouldn't be confined to words; painting remains a verb limited by experience. In these paintings, perception serves as evidence of my humanity. Neither in our conversations nor in the conflicts fuelled by differences do pure black or white exist, but rather a spectrum of shades framing our love for each other.

 

Between the building and the edifice, architects' foundational elements were never steel, but words. Many tales of sunsets have been told. This is life's promise: conversations and experiences expand with each encounter, where differences negotiate in meeting halfway. The art of creating something from engagement and encounter lies in the craftsmanship of its permanence. I find consciousness resting in this thought, and in every detail, our versions of God manifest. Scrolling through a feed, I watch as photos taken from each monument become shrines to some aspect of humanity and decisions are made about the forms we choose to remember. Nonetheless, from the corner I inhabit, I will continue to consciously remember what I continue to create with others in the endless art of becoming.

 

Returning to my corner, I look into your eyes through yet another inevitable crossroad. You are different, yet I feel a connection. My feminine nature feels the urge to care for you. I grasp the concept of destiny, but it requires a witness for the divine justice that sacredness implies. Meeting you was destiny for me, as I'm sure it was for many others. My brush remembers, adopting an alphabet of your geometry. If the values of consequences demand pain and sacrifice to understand their significance in the present, I've come to know it all too well with you. I don't doubt that we can be the miracle of a transforming present, but the burden of being its sole believer is too heavy for one human heart to bear. Daring to love beyond desire expands the capacity of countless hearts to continue transforming. And I believe there are worse sins than being loved.

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