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"Most of the time, I’m happy— that is if I’m not surrounded by the people that make life difficult. I spent the last 4 years in Toronto and the 18 years before that traveling around Europe. It’s been rough at times; I tend to be the target for a lot of negativity. But look on the bright side: you get more determined." - Darwish, Persian musician/busker, Bloor West and Ossington.
"I am a sensitive person. I feel really hard and feel easily. There's this quote that I think about that best describes me. 'It's both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply'. I think that's the story of my life. The work I do, the life I live is centred around that. I feel guilty a lot...for not being supportive enough. I feel guilty when I lash out or get upset at someone. I think a lot; think about what I should have said or could have done. Sometimes I get so sad and I don't even know why. There's this from the huge injustices of the world to wondering about the slightest change in attitude of a loved one, I feel it all. It gets exhausting I must admit; but at the same time I feel good feelings deeply, too. My friends mean the world to me. I don't know who I would be without them. They contribute to my growth everyday. They make me laugh and know me. It's nice to feel known." - Hanan, Somali Canadian/model/counsellor/grad student from Toronto
I asked my aunt: "if your life could restart, what would you choose to undo?"
She said: "I've thought about this numerous times. Rather than changing anything, I've embraced it all and believed in karma. What goes around comes around. I've seen Karma come after everyone eventually. How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." This powerful woman sacrificed her entire youth to support her family- financially, emotionally, and physically-- all while fearing that she might be sent away again. Early on, she was adopted by a poor peasant family as her original family couldn't afford to raise her. Since her early 20s, she faced ruthless shaming from her community because she chose to divorce an unfaithful husband. I was never able to sense her suffering from severe depression because she never complained. Taiwan's patriarchal society did not lend women much respect, requiring them to work without rest. Despite her hardships, she exuded a wisdom and a unique grace— an incredible intelligence and determination to learn.
"The thought of anything bad happening to my mom makes me anxious. I worry that maybe she didn't drive home safely from work...maybe she forgot to lock the front door - lots of irrational thoughts. I jokingly (not so jokingly) refer this as onset adult separation anxiety. She's become aware of my anxiety (who wouldn't after getting 'you good?' texts at 4 am). So when I text her now, she usually sends me something short and reassuring. Most recent one: no need for worries. All good here. You've still got me and my persistent prayers." - Bridget, graphic & web designer, born in Uganda, grew up in Switzerland and now resides in Toronto.
Delight was Her Middle Name
"I am seeking, I am striving, I'm in it with all my heart."
- Delight, art instructor/educator/actress/dreamer from Vancouver
"I just decided to stop taking shit from people. I spent way too much time being tolerant and forgiving, blaming myself for others' shortcomings. But now I know the difference between my problem and yours. I surrounded myself with the wrong people--and now I know better. Everything is about to change, because I've changed." -Lindsay, writer and promoter of the arts, Toronto.
"I get anxious when facing things because I'm always in pain due to my back injury. I want to do things but my doing is limited. So sometimes I get frustrated but then I go back in and say I'm grateful to be alive, I'm grateful to move, I'm grateful to have this little job in this little flower shop and that I never go to bed hungry. I always give thanks." - Elfard, flower expert from Loblaws supermarket.
"I am a 65-year-old mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. Born and raised in Tasmania, but have lived in Queensland since 1975. I have been a teacher and environmental manager and am passionate about growing local native plants. I established a botanical garden/ environmental centre to promote local plants and wildlife in 2000 called the Redlands Indigiscapes Centre. I am now retired onto a farm growing walnuts. I live to create paintings, quilts, natural dyeing, gardening, and fairies at the bottom of my garden. And the best thing I have ever done was canoe down the Yukon last year.
I used to have problems in any confined area, movies, shops, buses, traffic jams. I am now a lot better and only have problems flying now. I practice mindfulness which really helps. The thing that most makes me happy is creating, particularly painting! I feel like I am flying after a day painting. I feel free when I let go of my guilty conscience telling me I am not entitled to take time off. This is my year of letting go and I think I am doing reasonably well." - Rosalie, teacher/environmental manager from Queensland, Australia
"When I came out west, the nature of my situation ('A Room of One's Own') allowed me to throw more of my thought into metaphysics, and the dissolution and deconstruction of the self that I loathed to the point of suicide. In a way, I did kill myself. I killed the parts of me that needed to die to make room for the woman I wanted to be... I realized that the microdecisions involved in art were the literal movements of my heart, which manifest real moments with great effect, rippling fractals into the future. It clicked for me that each moment is an opportunity to take control, to decide whether to push reality in one direction or another, just like whether to push the paint a little to the left, or whether to darken a shadow. These decisions are just as meaningless as a careless brushstroke, and just as beautiful. Life doesn't need meaning. Life can be Art, by taking ownership of every moment; grasping the swordhilt of true freedom.
Choosing not to destroy myself was my commitment to push each moment to be the most aesthetically pleasing version of itself I could sense it could be, because that is the standard I hold myself to in order to balance the overwhelming weight of suicidal ideation with an equally weighted satisfaction at the aesthetic of my life. Only Love can outweigh all that black cynicism. So I seek to manifest an aesthetic of Love, and I never feel obliged to justify the process or the result. If I haven't died, the Love is self-evident.
Now, suicide is the last weapon of freedom that I hold in my heart, reserved for political protest should that become necessary, if for instance I was under inescapable oppression and the true freedom of my life as an Artist, and my children's birthright to claim this freedom, were to be oppressed. I hold great power, and I know that I am not the only one who does. So, when my mind screams discerning that this disastrous world is too cruel and evil to live in, I don't kill myself; I create, to feed Freedom screeching like a harpy bitch for proof that it exists." Amy, editor and astrologist from Toronto
Me: "Fred, how could you manage to stay so positive and crack jokes all the time while being in a wheelchair in the hospital for so long?"
Fred: "Ha, I discovered that I can't fly. I tried but it didn't work. I used to work with many staffs here from where I worked before. They all want me to put my name down to apply a job here. There are also lots of visitors and it's been wonderful. Jojo (his wife) visits me everyday for several hours and we go for walks. She pushed me in my wheelchair and thought I've lost some weight. The food in the hospital is too boring but I'll get a pass to have dinner with with my son next week. He's visiting me from Jasper."
Me: What's the toughest time in your life?
Fred:...(5 minutes passed by) I don't know! I'm having a wonderful life!
Me: Okay, what's your saddest moment then?
Fred: When Jojo and I traveled to India, we saw mothers begging with their babies. The babies were already dead. I didn't know for how long, maybe one or two days but they had to beg for food for other children. That's pretty much the worst thing to see. From our perspective, we have no idea and this goes on."
"The secret to getting ahead is getting started & The secret to having it all is believing you already do." -Jeremy, Musician/Producer from Harlem, New York City.
"I've raised my three children here and they are all in their 30s now. Despite the fact that I couldn't fit into Canadian society, I managed to settle in Markham where I can deliver authentic Taiwanese bakery goods and provide immigrants a sense of home through my baking. When I feel anxious, I simply go drink a cup of coffee at a cafe and I immediately feel recharged. I work with other women who are also from my hometown. It's always very peaceful at my bakery."- Lisa, bakery owner with 3 children (age 30+) from Toronto.
"When you march to the beat of your own drum and live in your truth, it makes others uncomfortable because they're not living in theirs. People will always try to dim your light when they're not shining in their own." -Justina, Bartender/Musician from Brooklyn, New York.
Apricity Magazine is a budding global literary and arts magazine seeking to showcase new voices, visions and creative expressions through the literary, performing, and visual arts.