My cat

I love you.

I love you being around me all the time. No. Not all the time. In fact, that’s why I love you even more. You don’t always care for me. I mean, at all. Sometimes you don’t give a shit about me. You just wander around in my room, sometimes you’re actually hiding. Not from me in particular, but from everything. You just go behind the clothes (you shouldn’t do that, by the way), lay down there and just sleep. Sleep all day.

But I’m in the room and I know that you’re behind the clothes sleeping. And I love you for that. I love you for not giving a fuck about me. Your best state is when you just don’t give a crap that I’m there. You’re just minding your own business, not even looking at me. And for some reason I love that.

I wonder why that is. Probably because other times, when you actually come up to me and jump in my lap (while I’m trying to play through DOOM II for god’s sake), I feel real attraction. Mainly because I see the contrast between your two states. Or, no. That’s not it.

That cannot be it because that would mean that you don’t really love me half the time, but I know that’s not true. I feel real attraction for you precisely because I know you love me all the time, no matter what you or I do. I mean, most of the time I’m trying too hard loving you. I go up to you when you sleep on the furniture, and I stroke you. I stroke you and pat you with all my heart – I used to put my big ugly face on your beautiful soft fur, just to show you how much I need you. And you are really annoyed these times. You don’t want me there, especially not my head resting on your whole tiny body. Most of the time I’m just loving you too much. I know, but it’s really hard to resist.

And it’s not because you’re a cute animal with big eyes and tiny nose and nice fur. It’s not like that at all. You’re much more than that. You mean much, much more to me than that. The way you don’t care, the way you just live next to me. The way our lives are just happening at the same time, in the same place, without any further interaction. That means something for me. The fact that we can live next to each other without a problem. The fact that you tolerate me. I’m not like that; as I said, I love you really much. But I love you because you tolerate me. And that feeling of being okay for someone – someone like you – is one of the greatest feelings.

I’m okay for you. You’re okay with me being there. And you don’t want to make a fuss about our relationship. I’m the one who does that, but I’m just a stupid human being, unable to control my feelings. And you… you’re just a cat. A simple, calm cat. When at night you’re already sleeping in my bed and I lay myself down next to you, and when in that moment you don’t go away – that’s the moment when I know I made it. That’s the best thing you can give to me. The biggest gift of all. The gift of love: not caring, not giving a fuck, just being okay with me without any preconceptions, any expectations. Just being there next to me all the time. I don’t need anything else in my life. Just someone being there next to me, lying in the bed careless. Like my cat.

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Szerencsére néha a Vidám Vasárnap is kimutatja a foga fehérjét

Néha szeretem bekapcsolni az ATV-t és nézni a Vidám Vasárnapot, figyelek, hátha elhangzik valami érdekes, na most totálisan beletrafáltam. Van egy ilyen szegmens, hogy “nézői” (hívői) leveleket olvas fel a nézőtér előtt Sándor atya, ezt a részt szeretném most szó szerint idézni. Először az olvasói levél, majd az atya válasza:

„Tisztelt Lelkész úr, nagy rajongója vagyok a dínóknak, de sajnos nem találok semmi leírást róluk a Bibliában, kérem segítsen nekem megtudni, hogy mit mond Isten róluk. Nagyon kíváncsi vagyok a válaszára! Egy 14 éves fiú Marosvásárhelyről.”

Akkor ezek szerint itt a környéken nem találtak dínó csontvázat. Mert állítólag találtak ilyent Amerikában – Észak-Amerikában, Dél-Amerikában -, tehát, nem tudom a választ. Egyet tudok: hogy vannak föltételezések, hogy Ádám előtt is volt korszak, volt élővilág a Földön, és sokan feltételezik azt, hogy Lucifer bukása után katasztrófa érte az ősföldet, és az élőlényei elpusztultak, és nagyon sok lelet ezzel áll összefüggésben. Ezt szintén nem kategorikus kijelentésként mondom, csak, szeretném hangsúlyozni, ilyen feltételezés, teória. Teória és Isten igéje között nagy különbség van. Tehát van ilyen; kétségkívül föl van adva a lecke, mert azt látjuk, hogy a Földnek az összetételét tanulmányozzuk, nagyon nehéz elhinni, hogy a Föld 6000 éves, de biztos vagyok abban, hogy a korszakunk, az embernek az eddigi pályafutása 6000 év, akármilyen számok jelennek meg az emberiség történetéhez. De egyelőre semmilyen olyan tényt nem találtak a tudósok, a kutatók, amely azt támasztaná alá, hogy 6000 évnél idősebb lenne az emberiség.

Nagyon nehéz megértenem, hogy mi jó származik a tényszerű világ tagadásából, főleg 2015-ben, amikor ilyen alapvető infóknak mindenki utána tud járni maximum tíz perc olvasással, és habár a célját nem is értem az effajta viselkedésnek, az okát igen. Ahogy ennek az amúgy élelmes 14 éves nézőnek is, úgy valószínűleg másoknak is egy idő után eljön az a pont, amikor észreveszik, hogy a Biblia írásai a természeti világról összeegyeztethetetlenek a valósággal. És ahogy a legtöbb modern hívő vagy akár vallási vezető is elmondaná, a Bibliát, főleg az ezen részeit, nem illik szó szerint venni. Sándor atya ilyen tekintetben nem túl modern. Mondhatjuk, hogy nem okoz nagy károkat, mivel gyülekezete (A Hit Gyülekezete) kb. 15-20.000 tagot számol (18 220 – 2011-es szám), és ki tudja, ebből hányan veszik be ezt a fasságot, ami fent elhangzott, lehet, hogy még kevesebben – de hogy őszinte legyek, szerintem már az is baj, ha akárcsak egy is. Éppen emiatt térek ki csak egyetlen pillanat erejéig erre a dologra – meg amiatt, mert ha ráadásul tévében hangzik el mindez, az mindig nagy tragédia szerintem (az ATV persze valamiért szereti a lehető legszélsőségesebb kereszténység-értelmezéseket képviselni; Pat Robertson amerikai lelkész gyökér csodálatos műsorát, a The 700 Clubot is adják, ahol rendre nagyon szimpatikus vélemények hangzanak el a világ dolgairól).

Jó kérdés, hogy Sándor atya tényleg elhiszi-e, amit mond, vagy szándékosan ferdít ennek a 14 éves nézőnek – egyik lehetőség sem megnyugtató. Fogalmazása szándékosan ködös, szinte fél kimondani az igazat, vagy hát, ahogy épp az imént mondtam, lehet szimplán csak ő sem tudja ezeket, de abban az esetben, ha Sándor olvasná a blogomat, szívesen reagálok tételesen az állításaira. Remélem, ezt senki sem veszi arroganciának, főleg, mivel, csak hogy véletlenül se tévedjek, gyorsan felugrottam Wikipédiára leellenőrizni a tényeket. Tehát, akkor még egyszer, Sándor atya válasza.

Akkor ezek szerint itt a környéken nem találtak dínó csontvázat. Mert állítólag találtak ilyent Amerikában – Észak-Amerikában, Dél-Amerikában -, tehát, nem tudom a választ.

Tudom, ez egy improvizált válasz volt, nyilván ha van ideje gondolkodni rajta, kicsit összeszedettebben fogalmazza meg a véleményét. De a gondolkodásmódról, amit képvisel, meg amit terjeszteni próbál (szerintem), sok mindent elárul a szóhasználat. “Mert állítólag találtak ilyet Amerikában…” Komolyan? Állítólag? Csak, hogy ezt a kérdést hamar félretehessük, íme pár fotó:

Triceratops mounted skeleton at Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles, United States of America. Forrás: Wikipedia

Mounted Allosaurus fragilis skeleton cast, San Diego Natural History Museum. Forrás: Wikipedia

Herrerasaurus and Eoraptor skeletons, plus a Plateosaurus skull, North American Museum of Ancient Life. Forrás: Wikipedia

Nem, szóval tényleg találtak ilyeneket.

Egyet tudok: hogy vannak föltételezések, hogy Ádám előtt is volt korszak, volt élővilág a Földön, és sokan feltételezik azt, hogy Lucifer bukása után katasztrófa érte az ősföldet, és az élőlényei elpusztultak, és nagyon sok lelet ezzel áll összefüggésben.

Nos, inkább úgy fogalmaznék, hogy vannak ember, akik feltételezik, hogy nem volt Ádám előtt élet, sőt, vannak emberek, akik feltételezik, hogy volt Ádám meg Éva (kivéve). Ha megegyezünk abban, hogy létezik szénizotópos kormeghatározás, meg léteznek tudományok, akkor elismerhetjük, hogy a Föld kb. 4 és fél milliárd éves, az élet kb. 3-3,5 milliárd előtt jelent meg, az Univerzum meg uszkve 13 milliárd éves. Persze feltéve, ha megegyezünk ebben. Ugye megegyezünk?

Ezt szintén nem kategorikus kijelentésként mondom, csak, szeretném hangsúlyozni, ilyen feltételezés, teória.

Már nálam nevesebb írók (tehát írók) is elmondták előttem, hogy mi az alapvető különbség az elmélet szó két értelmezése között. Bár hétköznapi értelemben elméletnek nevezünk minden olyan feltevést, ami még bizonyításra vár, tudományos értelemben az elmélet szó majdnem pontosan ennek az ellentétét jelenti. A Wiktionary definíciójában:

(sciences) A coherent statement or set of ideas that explains observed facts or phenomena, or which sets out the laws and principles of something known or observed; a hypothesis confirmed by observation, experiment etc.

Azaz: a tudományos elmélet egy feltevés, elképzelés, amelyet alátámasztanak kísérletek, tapasztalatok. Összefoglalva hívhatjuk ezeket bizonyítékoknak, azt hiszem. Az alapvető félreértés abból fakad (nem Sándor atyánál feltétlenül, de sok “tudománykritikusnál”), hogy azt hiszik, a gravitáció elmélete vagy az evolúció elmélete valamiféle bizonyításra váró feltevést jelent, holott ennek pontosan az ellenkezője igaz. És bár Sándor atya nem ezt a vonalat követte érvelésénél, így is meredek azt állítania, hogy az Ádám előtti létező világ csak egyfajta teória, elmélet. Mondjuk ha elfogadjuk a tudományos konszenzust, akkor azt hiszem, ezt a kérdést is megoldottuk. A hiba persze pont itt rejlik, hiszen Sándor atya (vagy legalábbis az a gondolatrendszer, amit közvetíteni akar) nem fogadja el a tudományos konszenzust. Hogy miért? Valószínűleg azért, mert az tökéletesen ellentmond a hitének. De már rég rájött egy csomó ember, hogy ez a kettő működhet együtt, hát miért olyan nehéz ez neki? Ez utóbbi már költői kérdés.

Teória és Isten igéje között nagy különbség van.

Ez tény.

kétségkívül föl van adva a lecke, mert azt látjuk, hogy a Földnek az összetételét tanulmányozzuk, nagyon nehéz elhinni, hogy a Föld 6000 éves

Pontosan. Nagyon nehéz elhinni – sőt, nem is kell. Fel van adva a lecke, ha mindenképp annyira elvakult vagy, hogy a hited és a valóság ilyen terű konfliktusában mindenképpen el akarod hajítani az egyiket. Még egyszer mondom: nagyon sokan döntöttek már úgy, hogy ez a kettő megfér egymás mellett. Hozzáteszem, voltak már olyanok is, akik a hitüket hajították el ebben az esetben, és ha teljesen őszinte akarok lenni, nekem is ez a szimpatikusabb cselekedet ebben az esetben. De nem kötelező ennyire szélsőségesen kezdeni az átállást.

de biztos vagyok abban, hogy a korszakunk, az embernek az eddigi pályafutása 6000 év, akármilyen számok jelennek meg az emberiség történetéhez. De egyelőre semmilyen olyan tényt nem találtak a tudósok, a kutatók, amely azt támasztaná alá, hogy 6000 évnél idősebb lenne az emberiség.

Kivéve persze a tucatnyi különböző előembert, akik több százezer és millió éve éltek. Ja, hogy a modern, civilizált, kultúrákba szerveződő emberekről van szó?

Göbekli Tepe (Turkish: [ɡøbe̞kli te̞pɛ], “Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. […] The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE. […] Through the radiocarbon method, the end of Layer III can be fixed at about 9000 BCE but it is believed that the elevated location may have functioned as a spiritual center by 11,000 BCE or even earlier.

Az egyik része az, hogy persze, tudom, ez nem kizárólag a Hit Gyülekezetére jellemző hozzáállás. De a másik része meg pont az, hogy tudom, ez nem kizárólag a Hit Gyülekezetére jellemző hozzáállás. Nagyon nehéz megmagyaráznom, hogy miért zavar mindennél jobban az, ha tudományos tényeket elutasítanak és szándékosan félreértelmezve tálalnak emberek. Még ennél is jobban zavar, ha mindezt vallási motivációból teszik. Tényleg, nem tudom, mi erre az ok. De ugye ti is ezt érzitek?

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Drunk confession

My mind is running amok.

I can’t control it, I can’t tame it. I can’t put an end to it.

I can’t stop thinking of you, although I’d really like to. But my mind is running amok.

Alcohol destroys walls, it demolishes all the barriers. I can’t stop you from invading my mind. Although I’d really like to. I don’t want you. But you’re here. Because my mind is running amok.

I can barely write, but my mind will make me write down a thousand times how I want you, how I love you. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to do that. Still, I will do that.

Please, leave me. Leave me alone. This is pure suffering. I don’t want you. But I do. Then I don’t. But then, again, I do. Just leave me forever. I hate you. I fucking hate you. Just go. Go. Go.

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‘Are you gay?’ – Or how men defending feminism will fall victim to sexism

Our world will slowly turn into something better, but it definitely takes some time. In the more civilized parts of the world the Zeitgeist is slowly shifting as more and more people realize the problems arising from sexism.

Sexism, to put it simply, is what used to put the ‘woman’ in women and the ‘man’ in men; this is the idea that used to separate the two sexes completely. Nowadays – at least I hope – it is becoming less and less fashionable to hold on to your sexist views, mainly because in the past few thousand years women were abused by men in every way possible. No other group of people endured so much oppression, haterd, abuse and violence throughout history as women, and not just physically but ‘culturally’ as well (if this is the right way to put it). Just think about how even on the tiniest scale imaginable, for example on a grammatical level in most languages, men are preferred to women! Males feeling superior to females is something that is – just barely irreversibly – burnt into our culture, our way of thinking, our way of life, in nearly all cultures in the world. The realization of this fact is one of the most important issues of humanity today.

For a lot of reasons the word ‘feniminism’ can have a lot of negative connotations to a lot of people, even though the word itself is defined on Wikipedia as

a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.

I can safely say that anyone deeming themselves civilized and modern will have to be a feminist. Being a feminist simply means that you agree with the (recent) idea that women are not inferior to men. That’s why I can safely say that I am a feminist, and so should be everyone. But, strangely, the fact that I am supporting this idea had some weird effects on my life, as I realized lately. Let me just briefly explain it here.

What I truly think is that my support of feminist ideas is not something I, at some point of my life, decided to do. I was always that way, or more precisely: I was never the other way. I never ever thought that just because girls are girls they are less or worse than me. The same applies, of course, to any minority facing the same issues in the past or present. I just wasn’t brought up that way to feel superior to other kinds of people – if anything I always felt inferior to others. But this feeling of inferiority is actually the result of the sexism present in my social circles.

The way I always interpreted feminism – even before I heard this word – was the following: I never really thought girls (you see, I was quite young most of the time) should feel obliged to be “girly”, or that women should feel some sort of pressure to have exceedingly female looks. But this way of thinking was a direct consequence of the fact that I never felt exceedingly male in the first place. I never actually felt that I am a man or, at a younger age, a boy; except for my obvious physical appearance I never thought of myself as a male person. Furthermore, I always felt quite frustrated when people around me expected me to be manly, to act manly, to do manly things or to like manly things. For a start, I never had great athletic or sport skills, I’ve always been quite bad at handling balls (please, do yourself a favor and try not to come up with a hilarious gay joke), I sucked at football or any other sport. And funnily enough this whole frustration with sports comes from one single occasion when, at the age of around 7 or 8, we were playing football in school and I couldn’t kick the ball the way I was expected to kick it, and after accidentally kicking it out of the sideline, my teacher exclaimed: “You idiot!”. It was quite a harsh experience to me and I always recalled it when getting near a football pitch or a game later in my life.

You see, I should have kicked the ball properly because – I guess – I was a boy. And boys just do that, they play football, and they play it well. Actually, boys should be good at almost any type of sport, but especially team sports. Moreover, boys should have good handling skills when it comes to nearly anything. This goes for sports as well as (as Jeremy Clarkson would put it) “manual labour”, but in a broader sense of course: boys and men have to be good at practical things as in repairment works around the house, physical activites and everything that can be associated with the skills of your hands.

I was despised by some elements in my high school only because I sucked at sports. I can clearly remember the looks and frowns of certain people whenever I was around them. I’m pretty sure that they laughed and pointed fingers at me a lot – luckily, bullying never went further than this. But there was a very hostile atmosphere created only because I lacked certain “values” society would deem manly.

Of course my general appearance lacked any kind of stereotypical male qualities – I wasn’t muscular, I never had a very masculine face and I still don’t. You could argue that in high school most people, especially guys, will lack all these qualities simply because they are very young. But even to this day I feel that I could be much, much more masculine.

One especially hot topic these days is beards. And I’m not sure if this is something that has to do a lot with fashion or sexism, or both, but I have to be honest, my teenage frustrations seem to have a weird resurgence because of it. Thanks to the everlasting influence of pop culture dominant web sites like 9gag, beards are everything today. If you don’t have a beard, you’re simply a nobody – obviously this is not how the actual, real world works, but in pop culture it is more than a trend to show off your beard, and – more painfully – to diss people who don’t have one.

theres-a-name-for-people-without-beards-500x500

Because, let’s face it, not everyone is able to have a glorious beard. I am, unsurprisingly, one of those people. My beard just doesn’t grow, or when it does, it does not look good or manly at all. And I, once again, have to put up with this side of sexism nearly every day on social media. “There is a word for people without a beard – They’re called women.” I’m sure this only started out as a joke, but for some men it can be a real pain to see trends like these. Mainly because some men don’t want to be defined by their manliness at all. I don’t, that’s for sure!

Another interesting point is that according to nearly everyone (at least where I live), it is socially unacceptable for a man not to make the first move when interested in a woman. Even the most liberal people would agree that if you’re a man and you’re interested in a woman you have to make the first move. Even women agree with that, strangely! And not just some women: all of them. It was always like this and it will always be like this. And people can come up with quite convoluted reasons and explanations for that, and they will defend this opinion to the end of times,  but clearly, isn’t this just a prime example of sexism towards men? Why would I have to be the one who initiates, apart from reasons like “just because”? The answer is simple: there are no good reasons for things like that; these are social standards that were burnt into our culture a long time ago, and trying to stand up against them will leave you an easy target. There was a bizarre case a few years ago in my country, Hungary, when a young man openly attacked the socially accepted phenomenon that in clubs men have to pay a higher entrance fee than women. I thought this was a no-brainer, but interestingly nearly everyone shared the view that this guy was a total jerk, an idiot and most probably gay. Apart from the fact that women having to pay less for entry is a simple marketing decision by clubs, the social and cultural implications of it were rightly realized by this guy. Still, when he decided to bring his opinion to the public, he was demolished not just by social media, but by the mainstream media as well! (I remember one host of a popular radio station dissing the guy as a lunatic)

I always hoped that I could be someone who is more than just a man, the same way I hope most women realize that they can be more then just women. Being judged by some ancient standards of your gender is something we cannot have in a modern society, at least that is what I believe in. I’ve always believed in it, and that’s why I never showed any sign of being a boy, or a man. And I know exactly what kind of effect this attitude had on my life. I think that, thanks to this, I never had the same impact on the opposite gender than people who actually endorse their gender stereotypes. And that is simply biology, and I completely understand it and I’m aware of it. Still, I never wanted to be someone I could never be: a man. Because I’m not. I’m a human being, and if I will ever be judged by others, I hope they judge me based on the set of skills and knowledge I acquired through learning, studying, reading, and also by things I done and created as a would-be artist. But as of today, sadly this is not the case.

For several reasons I bought a pack of cigarettes lately, and I intend to finish it. Without going into the pros and contras of smoking (there are no pros, I know), I just want to tell you a funny but revealing story. Whenever I smoked a cigarette in the past I always went for those very thin ones, and moreover, cigarettes that have some sort of an artificial taste in them like mint. There’s a simple reason for that: that is the only type of cigarette I can inhale without coughing. I like the fact that I cannot feel deadly smoke burning my throat and filling up my lungs, and regular “thick” cigarettes make me feel this exact way. So that’s why I’m preferring the thin ones. But you know that thing about the thin cigarettes? It’s only smoked by girls. At least, according to urban legend. And when I was smoking one of these on the streets while talking to a guy, he, after seeing the thin cigarette in my hand, immediately turned to me and asked, in the most serious way possible: ‘Are you gay?’

I don’t really think that sexism towards men is such a striking issue as sexism towards women. Women had to endure thousands of years of aggression towards them, so it’s definitely not a 50-50 share of the problem between men and women. But whenever you expect a guy to be manly, whenever you expect him to act and look masculine, you should consider the option that he simply doesn’t want to. Why? Because he’s gay? Because he’s weak? Because he’s a whiny little prick? No. Most probably because he just hates the idea of being called a ‘man’. He prefers to be called a human. And so do I.

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An honest account of my panic attacks and the fear of death

“Ooh, this sounds extremely dark for my taste” – don’t worry, I feel the same. I never really wanted to talk about this quite difficult era in my life, but what made me explain it to you nevertheless, dear reader, is the fact that I’m bumping into more and more people who live through the same thing. And I’m not talking about random strangers or people on the Internet: I’m talking about my actual friends, some of my closest, to be honest. And it made me think: if I don’t have to look too hard to find people who have thoughts surprisingly similar to me, how many people could actually share these thoughts with me? I’m pretty sure that the number is way, way higher than someone would ever imagine.

And that is the point of this essay: I always thought that I’m peculiar with my problem. This must be a special case, I thought. I must be the only one, or at least the member of a very, very small group of people who go through the same exact thing as I do. Turns out, I was wrong. And I just recently realized this fact (in the past one or two years, since my actual panic disorder “disappeared”); as I was casually talking to some of my closest friends, at least three of them, separately from each other, brought up the same thing in these conversations: that sometimes they experience these dreadful, quite inexplicable moments in their everyday lives. Suddenly they feel terrified, they feel the world is empty and old, they almost feel dead. And there is, even more surprisingly, a common thought that always leads to these terrifying moments – but that part comes later in this essay. Now I want to give an account of my own panic attacks, moments that made my life in the past years (or even decade) quite difficult. And my main and honest goal is to show people, maybe even you yourself, dear reader, that people who go through this are not alone. In fact, there are more of us than me or you could’ve ever imagined.

I experienced my very first panic attack at a very young age. I don’t remember when exactly, but I must’ve been at least 6 and not more than 9 years old. So, around that time, I was sitting in my bed and suddenly felt quite afraid. Terrified is a more suitable word, I think, I felt the worst fear I ever experienced in my life. I was actually fearing for my life. I got up from the bed very quickly, stood up in my room and started crying. My parents ran in and asked me what happened. And I didn’t tell them. I was ashamed of it for some reason, which I can’t really explain, even today. I told them that I accidentally hit my elbow in the door and I even pointed out where exactly, just to be more convincing. I think they believed me, although the perspective of a young child can be a misleading one. Still, we never brought up that scene again.

Years passed and I didn’t have an attack like this for a while. I cannot give you a detailed account of the date of my panic attacks, especially because at the time I had no idea that these were panic attacks, but in the upcoming years, when I was between 11 and 18 every year or two years I experienced the same thing occasionally. And I have to tell you: these were the absolute worst moments in my life so far. And this is were I have to turn very honest, because so far I was reluctant to explain what the main reason for these attacks were. I think it’s easier if I get it out now, so that the rest of this essay can make sense: the main reason I experienced very harsh panic attacks is because I was afraid of death.

What I realized while talking to some of my friends is that they all experience this type of fear one time or another. I remember that the way this feeling worked was a very peculiar one – that’s why I never thought anyone else would share it with me. But some of my friends’ account of the same feeling were so uncannily similar to what I felt, that I had to face the truth, which is that I am not, in fact, alone in this.

So, what is this feeling like and how does it work?

I realize that some of you may have great difficulty reading about this, so if you want to stop reading now, I don’t blame you. I was in the same exact state for a few years, and I know exactly how it works. As doctors and psychologists would surely tell you, having a panic attack in a certain place, at a certain time, in a certain situation can put a stigma on that place/situation forever. You will try to avoid getting into that same scenario in the future, because you’re afraid that you will get a panic attack again. And you don’t want to do that. So that’s why I was pretty much avoiding discussing this thing for years. Talking or even reading about it made me feel really, really anxious, and sometimes it directly resulted in another attack. So, once again, if you’d feel better not reading about this now, you should stop reading and do something else. For the rest of you, here’s what it was:

This feeling was an absolutely terrifying fear of death. Not death or dying itself, to be honest, but the fear of not existing anymore. That detail is a peculiar one that I happen to share with these aforementioned friends of mine. They all explained the same exact thing to me: sometimes they thought about the future, the very far future, how they will die sometime and not be anymore, and in that moment they snapped. They started to feel the classic symptoms of a panic attack. That is the same thing that always happened to me. And to make it even more absurd, the whole feeling had a very cosmic quality to it. As someone very interested in cosmology, astrology and physics, I was always reading about the Universe, our planet, the Solar System, etc. And I always knew a lot about – as Wikipedia puts it – “the ultimate fate of the Universe”. The knowledge of irreversible cosmic events and catastrophes was a huge burden to bear. It actually still is, although, as I said, I’m quite over my panic disorder now (or, at least, I hope).

Every panic attack I had was a direct consequence of me thinking about the future of mankind, our planet, the Sun and the Universe itself. In a hundredth of a second, in my mind, I travelled to the outer skirts of the Universe and I also travelled tens of billions of years in the future. I think my mind just couldn’t handle it and simply snapped. I literally felt that I was falling out of existence. I suddenly felt that reality around me was just a memory, and I felt outside of everything. I belonged to a huge, empty void with no light and sound in it and the world around me (usually my bedroom but sometimes the shower or, unfortunatley, a public place) didn’t exist anymore.

This is actually the worst feeling I have ever felt, and I will be surprised if anything surpasses this feat. And when I was experiencing these attacks every one or two years, I never realized that these were actual medical phenomena. How would’ve I known? It wasn’t until later, when I was 18 or 19, that I developed a panic disorder.

According to Wikipedia (I always trust Wikipedia, just so you know)

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring panic attacks, causing a series of intense episodes of extreme anxiety during panic attack.

What it means is that, unlike a panic attack which can occur as a “single event” in your life, or maybe a few times in the course of a year or a few years, a panic disorder is when you experience wild panic attacks in a very short time. And that is what happened to me – if I remember well, I had this disorder for more than one year.

I remember how it started, and it wasn’t a pleasent experience. In fact, it was so terrifying that you will surely think I’m overexaggerating it. As I said, I was around 19. I was attending a choir rehearsal with my family (we all went to the same choir that time), when, for no reason in particular, I started thinking about these things again. And then, of course, a panic attack hit me, but it was the most violent one I have felt so far (and ever since). At the end of the rehearsal I started crying quite uncontrollably. My mother was quite shocked to see this happening to me, but she (or we) didn’t realize what this was. As we were going home it was impossible to calm down for me. Quite the contrary, I was feeling worse and worse. My sobbing wouldn’t cease and my mind was quite somewhere else – somewhere in the most darkest corners of the Universe, sometime in the terrifyingly distant future. As we were waiting for the metro to arrive – and as my mother realized that I will not be able to take the metro in this state – she asked me what the problem was. I think she was also crying, probably out of desperation to see her child be like this. And at that moment, for the first time in my life, I gave the honest answer to that question.

I don’t want to die.

At that moment my mother realized that this problem was beyond her skills to fix. I’m not sure how I survived that night (I remember watching Heat from Michael Mann later that night, and for some reason it calmed me down. Funny.), but the next day we went to visit a therapist. She was the one who explained to me that I’m showing the classic symptoms of a panic disorder.

The next year (or few years) of my life were quite difficult. What this disorder meant was that I was experiencing panic attacks (though not as harsh as the “original”) at least every week. My everyday life was overshadowed by these attacks, to say the least. In fact, I was quite paralyzed by them. I’m not sure how I got through my everday life (I was attending school, for example, and I don’t remember having an attack in class), but every moment I spent home was beyond depressing. I distinctly remember the feeling of not being comfortable with anything. Sitting in a soft chair or sofa didn’t give me any comfort at all whatsoever. I always felt uneasy. But that was the least of my problems, because the major part of it was that I always, always felt immeasurably sad.

I was afraid of upcoming attacks, but at the same time I was still very much afraid of the original thought, you know, the thought of death. I always felt it around me, I could never get it out of my head. Not once. Watching TV, using my computer, walking on the streets, I was always thinking about that same thing. It was actually like one elongated panic attack.

There came a time when I could never sleep at anyone else’s place. I could only sleep in my bedroom, and whenever someone invited me over their place for any reason, I just had to refuse. Obviously I never told them why. I still felt quite ashamed for this whole thing, I was trying to hide it very hard. To be honest, sometimes even my closest friends or family members didn’t prove too helpful. Although I never explained to them in this great a detail (I never could, you see, because then I would’ve immediately develop an attack), but they knew I was having this problem. Still, sometimes even they couldn’t cope with how reluctant I was to spend a day somewhere else other than my own bed.

My therapist helped me to cope with these attacks, though. She taught me this very simple technique of taking big, slow breaths when I felt an attack approaching. Doing this results in your soon-to-be-elevated pulse slowing down, thus avoiding the upcoming attack. You see, these panic attacks have a quite “simple” mechanism: for whatever reason (in my case, my fear of death) your body initiates the “Fight or flight” response. It is a reflex common in highly developed animals (mammals, I suppose, maybe even animals lower in the scale of evolution). When in danger, the body of animals initiates this response by releasing a huge amount of adrenaline in their blood, which results in high pulse, anxiety and panic. What this does is that it makes the said animal have a very quick and agressive response to a dangerous situation and the animal, thus, either makes an attack in self-defense or flees from the danger. This response exists in humans as well because of its benefits – but the thing is that humans don’t really have to face the dangers of Nature. So even though science is not entirely sure why panic attacks occur in people, we can safely say that the “Fight or flight” response is quite the unnecessary reflex to have in certain situations.

When having a panic attack, your body initiates the response. The incoming adrenaline elevates your pulse to high levels and you’re starting to feel terrified – just like an animal cornered by a predator. But if you delibaretly start to take these huge, slow breaths and start to focus on your pulse (you can feel your pulse just to help the process), your heartbeat will slow down quite quickly, and after the panic goes away (because it actually does!) you will start to feel really good. Since my panic disorder ceased to be “active” (I didn’t experience a fully grown panic attack for at least 4 years now), sometimes I could feel an attack approaching, but thanks to this technique I was able to avoid it. It worked for me in the past years really well. I urge you to try it next time you’re starting to feel bad.

Having a panic attack is one of the worst things a person can experience. And developing a panic disorder is beyond bad – there’s no word in the English language I could use here to describe it with. The reason I’ve written this all down is because in the past few years I realized that I was not alone with my problem. And I don’t mean panic attacks in general – many people experience attacks or a disorder, I’m not oblivious to that. But what I realized was that many people experience these attacks as a consequence of the same exact thoughts I had. The same thoughts about existence, death, the Universe and the future. And, once again, I wonder how many people share these thoughts with me, or with “us”. I didn’t want to cause uncomfortable moments for anyone with this essay – all I wanted to do is give some comfort to people that they are not alone. Not at all. This problem, this feeling you have is real. And it can be a medical emergency. If you ever experience something resembling an attack, or a full grown attack, don’t hesitate to talk to someone about it. And I know it can be difficult, difficult to go on about your worst fears and thoughts. It is not easy at all. In fact, I left my therapy sessions for the same reason: I just felt uncomfortable talking about the whole thing. But what you should never experience is the worsening of this situation. It should never develop into a panic disorder.

One of the most memorable qualities of this state of mind was the feeling that I will never be able to resolve it. I felt that with these thoughts I will never be able to be “healthy” again, because to the questions raised in me (about life, death, etc.) there is no good answer. Because, to put it very simply, we are all going to die. And I always felt that I will never be able to reconcile with this fact. And I know that many of you feel the same. You are confident that there is no resolving to this problem of yours, because you may or may not experience a panic attack, but the thoughts behind them will be there forever. Mainly because these thoughts deal with eternal problems. Problems every human in history had to face, or will face eventually. But what you have to realize that, sursprisingly, once the attacks cease to come, and the disorder goes away, you never really think about this thing for a while. And after a few years, maybe you will start to think about it, but in a wholly different manner. Right now I can talk about death and the Universe as much as I want, because I don’t feel threatened by the implications of these things. I honestly think I actually purged myself of these horrible feelings. Maybe not for good – maybe they will come back eventually, I cannot be sure. But at this moment I am very confident that I am alright now. And so you should be.

Experiencing a panic attack is normal. A lot of people do. Being afraid of anything is normal. Most people are afraid of something. That is how humans work in general. But don’t let anything cripple your way of life. If you feel threatened by your thoughts, if you feel paralyzed by anything you ever felt or thought, seek help. Because, quite possibly, people around you experienced the same thing as you do now. And you will never be alone in this.

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Ezt muszáj kiadnom magamból – Egy vészesen beteg történet az Ószövetségből

Épp a tévécsatornákat pörgettem unalmamban, amikor láttam, hogy az ATV-n kezdődik a Superbook című animációs rajzfilmsorozat. Ez egy 2009-es felújítása egy 80-as évekbeli rajzfilmszériának, melyben – azon epizód tanulsága szerint, amit ma láttam – két kisgyerek (és egy robot, ez nem fontos) bibliai történetekbe utazik, hogy azokat átélje, megélje, és ezek kapcsán tanulságokat vonjanak le a saját életükkel kapcsolatban.

A cél szent, az eszköz már ijesztőbb. Nem olvastam végig még soha a Bibliát, de kultúránk kollektív tudatába jó sok Ó- és Újszövetség-beli történet bekerült már, olyannyira, hogy ezekre nyugodt szívvel reflektálok. Sajnos nem ismerem az összes írást és történetet az említett könyvből, de az biztos, hogy a most következő az egyik legbetegebb az összes közül. Erről szólt a Superbook mai epizódja.

Nagyon röviden összefoglalva (amúgy ennél részletesebben a rajzfilm se bontotta ki) Ábrahámnak időskorára és hosszú várakozás után megszületik fia, Izsák, aki lényegében Isten ajándéka Ábrahámnak. Később azonban, amikor Izsák már idősebb, Isten megkéri Ábrahámot, hogy áldozza fel fiát őérte. Abban a pillanatban, amikor Ábrahám kezébe veszi a kést, hogy kikötözött fiát felkoncolja, Isten közbelép, és megnyugtatja a férfit, hogy ez csak egy próba volt, nem kell feláldoznia a fiát mégsem, de most már Isten bizonyossá vált a tekintetben, hogy Ábrahám istenfélő. A történet itt véget ért, Ábrahám is és Izsák is boldogan mennek haza.

What.

The.

FUCK.

És az oké, hogy a Bibliában ez benne van, de hogy egy gyerekeknek szóló rajzfilmben? Felfoghatatlan számomra, hogy 2009-ben (amikor a rajzfilm készült), de felteszem még ma, 2015-ben is, ez az ószövetségi történet bárkinek bármiféle tanulságot vagy megnyugtató vallásos igazságot közvetítene. Egyszerűen a legbetegebb horror, amit ez a történet kínál, és hihetetlen, hogy nemcsak, hogy ezt nagyon sokan nem veszik észre, de még bátorítják is az embert, hogy megismerkedjen ilyen és ehhez hasonló történetekkel a Bibliából.

Milyen gonosz, elvakult, veszélyes és káros felindulásból jut el valaki odáig, hogy gyerekek agyát arra mossa át, hogy Ábrahám és Izsák története bármilyen szempontból pozitív kicsengésű? Hiszen ebből a történetből az ártatlan gyereknéző megtudhatja – és a készítők és a gyerekek szülei reményei szerint örökre belevésheti morális eszközkészletébe -, hogy:

– amit Isten mond, azt MEG KELL TENNI

– VAKON kell követni Istent, tilos megkérdőjelezni

– Isten többet ér, mint a szeretteid, pláne a gyerekeid

– megölni a saját gyerekedet bizonyos körülmények között nem ütközik morális problémákba

– ha meg akartad ölni a gyereked, de utána meggondolod magad, boldogan élhettek tovább mindketten

– csakis akkor gondold meg magad a gyereked megölésével kapcsolatban, ha Isten azt mondja

Ezek olyan parodisztikusan szürreális elemei a történetnek, hogy számomra felfoghatatlan, hogy még mindig léteznek emberek, akik fontosnak és tanulságosnak tartják. Tudom, ez nem általános, hiszen a kereszténységnek is annyi formája és (újra)értelmezése van, hogy bizonyára ez csak egy szegletükre jellemző, de nekem már az is durva, ha egyetlen egy ilyen ember van, aki elkészíthetett egy ilyen sorozatot, és ezt utána leadhatták fényes nappal vasárnap az ATV-n.

Ez a gyerekek agymosásának egyik legveszélyesebb formája, persze önmagában is megkérdőjelezhetnénk a gyerekeknek szóló vallásos filmek és rajzfilmek létjogosultságát, de még ha ezt el is fogadjuk (én speciel nem, de ebben engedni tudok másoknak), akkor nincs az az isten, hogy bárki értelmesen elmagyarázza, hogy miért nem teljesen egészségtelen és káros ezt a beteges és borzalmas történetet gyerekeknek a fejébe tömni.

Milyen beteg szülő az, aki a gyerekének azt a vallásértelmezést szeretné az agyába vasalni, hogy Isten egy diktátor? Mert ebben a történetben kétséget kizáróan az. Egyik kedvenc íróm, Christopher Hitchens érvel többször is azzal, hogy bizonyos vallásértelmezésekben Isten kifejezetten egy totalitárius diktatúra vezetője, ahol a rendszerből nem léphetsz ki, csakis büntetés fejében, gondolkodás nélkül meg kell tenned, amit a vezetőd mond, csakis az ő parancsára cselekedhetsz, és már azért is megbüntethet, amit gondolsz (amiért Orwell követeli a jogdíjat). Távol áll tőlem az, hogy ezt minden vallásra és vallásos emberre ráhúzzam, de hogy ez a történet, ráadásul ebben a formában tálalva, ahogy ebben a mesében is volt, ezt a világképet tálalja, az is biztos.

Aki szeretne egy olyan világban élni, ahol Isten parancsára fancsali képpel bár, de meg kell, hogy öld a saját gyerekedet, és szeretne egy olyan torz érzelmi közösségben élni, ahol a majdnem-gyilkosság nem is számít gyilkosságnak, és egy ilyen eset után szülő és gyereke között talán még szorosabbá is válik a kapcsolat, az nyugodtan tartsa meg magának, de ha lehet, a saját gyerekére ne erőltesse ezt rá. Persze pont egy olyan szülő, aki képes tanulságosnak értelmezni Izsák történetét, ne akarná Isten parancsára a gyerekét is ebbe belenevelni? Mit is hittem.

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Nitpicking – Chapter 2: Ignorance is a curse

People share hundreds and hundreds of motivational images on Facebook, Instagram or even my all-time favorite, 9gag, and I rarely see one that is worthy of notice. Most of them are cheesy, clichéd and vague philosophies of teenagers (or grown-ups with the mindset of teenagers), but nevertheless – or precisely because of this – they are very popular. I encountered the following image on Facebook the other day, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this with you:

bullshit1

Of all the motivational posters and images I see on the internet every day, this one caught my eyes immediately because it propagates the hugely popular idea that children are a source of infinite wisdom, and also that “magic” (whatever that means) should be an everyday part of your life.

I really can’t grasp the idea of children being incredibly wise, and that they see the world as it should be seen by everyone else, every grown up, every politician and every scientist. It doesn’t make any sense on any level whatsoever. What are children really? People who were born quite recently, a few years ago. These are people who have the least idea about the world they’re living in, they are the ones who have read the least amount of books, met the least number of people, and had the least amount of conversations with anyone.

Children, therefore, are notorious for being ignorant of how the world really works. But it’s no surprise, since they don’t know anything about other people, about arts, literature, science or literally anything. Why in the love of god should I trust the judgement of a person like that?

The irony in this above statement – that if you could see the world as a child sees it, you could see the magic in everything – is that “magic”, even in its broadest sense, is by definition a phenomenon that you only deem magic because you have no idea of how things work. Some very obvious examples, from the life of a child, would be the existence of Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny, or that your toys and pets are secretly talking to each other when you’re not around. It took an insane amount of time for me to finally give up on the idea that my toys have personalities. When I fully realized that toys are made of lifeless plastic and when I fully understood the concept of life and lifelessness, I could easily arrive at the conclusion that toys most probably are inanimate objects.

I understand that the above image uses the word “magic” in a slightly different sense. In this sense, magic is benevolence, goodwill – the fact that children are able see the good, the exciting and the wonderful in everyone and everything. But is this a good thing?

My argument is that for some reason reality has become a taboo. It always has been in the past, and even in our comparably modern present it persists to be a taboo. People who don’t believe in magic, people who don’t believe that there is something beyond the material world, people who don’t believe in the soul and in the mighty wisdom of nature and all sorts of things like that are on the brink of society. These people are considered losers – in the sense that they have lost the ability to see this extra layer of existence. This layer of magic. It’s easily understandable why we’re always trying to shelter our children from the reality of earthly existence. It’s because it’s not a happy thing. We make our children read and watch tales and cartoons, we tell them that gifts are brought by Santa Clause and that after you die you go to Heaven. We think if they knew the truth – that none of these are true -, they would end up being miserable and sad.  And who knows, it may be true! Maybe if you gain knowledge about the real world at a very early age, your mind collapses under the pressure of it. But the problems start when grown-up people continue to endorse ideas about the non-existing world of magic.

I’m pretty sure that, even now, if someone read this article and read the words “non-existing world of magic” they would be really upset. They would argue that I’m ignorant and selfish to declare magic and other unscientific things false and non-existent. But that is my main concern, that people who only deal with the physical, material, scientific world, are considered freaks.

Reality is a taboo.

I’m not allowed to say that there is no such thing as a soul.

I’m not allowed to say that emotions are chemical and biological reactions of our bodies.

I’m not allowed to say that Nature is just a huge world of chaos without a purpose, consisting of a body of blindly acting plants and animals.

I’m not allowed to say that gods don’t exist.

I’m not allowed to say that nothing happens after you die.

Because talking about scientific reality is a taboo. People who say things like that are seen as fools, even by the most educated people sometimes. And people who are on the other end of this argument, people who DO think of Nature as a wise entity where all men should return to, and people who do believe in miracles are considered “good people”. How many times have you heard that if you explain something in great detail it loses its “magic”? I never felt this way; actually, I always felt it was the other way around.

A lot of people say that if you don’t see the magic in our world, you can never enjoy its beauty and wonders. They never realize that there are people who are amazed by how things actually work. Most people think reality is boring, and magic and superstition is exciting, but you know why the latter is really boring to me? Because it’s not real. It’s made up. And let me give you a glimpse of what reality means to people like me:

At this moment I’m sitting on a planet, a huge body of rock that levitates in the middle of nothing, in the very middle of darkness and void. Doesn’t that sound unbelievable? You cannot begin to imagine the scale of the universe, or the scale of atoms, still: they remain real. And the proof for me that the realm of reality can be just as powerful and exciting as the world of fantasy is the overview effect, often experienced by astronauts who see the Earth from a distance for the first time. There they actually see the world as it is: a planet sitting in the middle of space. And suddenly they experience a shift of awareness, their problems and everyday annoyances seem to disappear as they realize the inexplicable absurdity and wonder of reality.

From the moment of birth we are forced to hear and read about the Unreal, and for years and years our bias towards fantasies are actively reinforced. And even today, most people still think that seeing reality quite differently from what it actually ever offered us is a gift where I most definitely think it’s a curse, a virus, a disease. And I honestly hope that times will come when parents will raise their children by introducing them to all the good and bad elements of reality at a very early age, so that they can grow up to appreciate the sheer wonders and achievements of the material, physical world, thus preferring facts and scepticism to tales and beliefs in second-hand accounts of miracles. But even then I wouldn’t want to see the world through the eyes of a person who is afraid of a dark room.

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