I have known Erol Hasan a while now and in that time I've been blown away by the way he comes up with thought-provoking pieces month after month. Poems, stories, plays and, as illustrated below, think pieces designed to get the grey matter working. I asked him for a short biography. This is what he sent me:
I think, I read,
I talk, I listen;
I frame ideas in my head,
And reframe them;
I fantasise creating work,
That is better than anything
That I have actually produced;
Thinking , comprehending,
Formulating and mastering ideas;
All of this seems easy,
When it is happening in my head;
But more difficult,
When trying to relate to another person,
Orally or in writing;
But the mental input,
The focus and the ideation,
Become a resource;
Accessing this is difficult,
So I concentrate on concentrating,
And let the thoughts flow,
From the reservoir of knowledge and intuition
That I have accumulated;
My conscious mind steering and sculpting
The outpouring of the subconscious;
This is how I write.
It is the same way I play sport;
And if I played a musical instrument,
The principle would be the same...
Absolutely perfect, Erol!
I don’t know what,
When it arrives
I may not be ready,
But I shall be
In a prepared state of mind.
I shall face it,
And accept it;
Whatever it is.
It may be unpleasant;
And I may be afraid;
It may seem,
As it often does,
That life unloads burdens
On those least able to bear them.
Change the wording;
Talk of “challenges” and “experiences”
(Detached, existential, if you like);
View pleasure subjectively,
But also as something to be shared
(It is not about just me or you),
And pain objectively;
Observe with interest;
Feel it lightly.
Do not observe time;
Otherwise time will be all there is
In your mind-space;
And life will seem long and desolate;
And, whatever happens in your world,
Your thoughts will be bleak,
And they will hold you captive.
So, remind me,
Next time I fret and seek escapism,
To go with the flow;
And to experience, as flow,
The passage of life;
And there will be no waiting;
And the journey will be exciting,
Wherever I am taken.
You are troubled,
Always carrying a burden;
Your mind is highly active,
But either looking inward,
Or peering outward, seeking trouble;
And then crashing in on itself.
I know you are no masochist,
And want to be happy;
But you are afraid – so afraid,
And totally accustomed to this existence;
Not to have something to fear,
Would seem unnervingly unfamiliar;
The uncertainty of it,
And the possibility of being caught unawares
By a pang of fear,
Is more terrifying to you
Than your relentless drip-feed
Of predictable stimuli,
Even though they torment you,
And destroy your quality of life,
And render a talented person dysfunctional.
What is your dominant anxiety today?
Fear of loss of control-
Fear of rejection,
And thus also of failure?
Or that your weaknesses,
Many of them merely idiosyncrasies,
Render you strange and unacceptable;
Whereas those of other people
Define a personality?
Your anxieties interchange,
And your moods likewise oscillate,
Between extreme intensity
And utter desolation;
Like unbearably severe tunes
Alternately ringing in your ears.
You are so self-punitive;
Do you fear that, if you are not,
Some other force will hit you even harder?
To let go seems more daunting than all of this;
Your world might spin
Out of control;
Or mutate, or be carried away
By a sinister force;
You dare not let this happen.
You fear death and continued living in similar measure;
Ditto, your conscious experience and loss of consciousness;
Small wonder that you suffer insomnia.
You have not looked at death face-on;
You have not confronted anything squarely,
In spite of your incessant thinking.
Let go, my friend;
Let life happen;
Make yourself available;
Do not substitute one fear for another;
Instead experiment with focus.
You will not fail at everything;
Nor be let down by everyone;
Cherish the best parts of your past,
And look with optimism to the future;
Do not endlessly reiterate and recycle the worst parts of your life;
Just take life as a gift,
And experience as a learning resource;
And let the music you play in your head
Gravitate to a pleasant, soothing tone;
You will soon become a reflection
Of that attractive melody.
“I’ll do it later;”
But then “later” becomes “now”;
It does not happen.
There are no clever words to offer;
No escaping the reality;
The loss of a loved one
Is what it is;
It has to be borne;
Death is a part of life;
So, too, the accompanying bereavement;
See other people, and remember that
It is simpler to accept suffering,
Than to try to delay or offset it;
It may return,
Perhaps in a confused or mutated form,
And at a time when
You do not expect to grieve,
And others are less tolerant of it from you;
It will then be more difficult to deal with-
Like a sting or infection that has not been removed,
And that has come to affect
All parts of your being;
People will notice your neurosis,
But not understand the cause.
Therefore, grieve at your loss;
Accept your current suffering,
However cruel and overwhelming it is;
Do not try to make sense of your life now-
That is for a later date;
But maintain yourself;
Everyone who loves you would want you to;
Do not try to force clarity;
Just maintain your faith;
Clarity will emerge with the passage of time;
Everyone has to endure grief,
And most find a way of coping;
So keep going,
And may God bless you.
No one knows
How another person feels;
Nor can they be aware of
The history, the experience, of that other;
Nor intuit what issues are most pressing
And pertinent to that being.
None can interpret
What love means to another
(No, not what it really means);
Nor hate, nor envy,
Joy or sadness;
We invent words and concepts,
To make a connection
But we do not really know.
We all share a common trait-
Awareness of being alive;
Yet some are more anchored in this phase than others;
We should all understand how life matters
To all who possess it;
Yet, the experience of one
Is mysterious to another;
We create theories , theses,
And technical jargon,
That have to be continually modified,
Because none of us really knows.
If I could be you for a day,
It would make no sense;
For it would be I being you,
Not you being you-
And they are different things;
And, to that end, this physical and mental life
Is not all there is;
For it does not define or describe
Our soul, our essence;
So, who are you, and who am I?
And who are the legions of living beings,
That pass through this life-space,
Most of whom we shall never be aware of,
Let alone know, let alone understand?
Yet we depend on one another;
Relate to each other;
Are constantly changing, and altered by,
The source and the sauce
Within which we operate;
How can we make sense of this life,
So rich and abundant
And full of delight,
Albeit punctuated by fear and despair?
Life may be claustrophobic; it may also be agoraphobic.
The expanse of matter is overwhelming;
But so, too, the limitations of my mobility,
Or of my permitted access;
if I am disabled, or incarcerated,
The more so.
My finitude is frightening,
But the thought of living forever
May also be unnerving.
If my mind is unquiet;
if I fear existence;
if I dwell on the past,
Or try to construct a future,
For which there are so many possibilities,
That it would be a miracle
If I guessed the one that happens,
I shall necessarily be tormented,
And drown in fear,
Borne of my own conceptualisation;
But I can relinquish all these concerns,
And experience life as it happens;
For life, in its infinite variety,
And in our capacity to perceive and appreciate,
Is beautiful and wonderful;
This transcends the events and situations,
Some of which are not good;
And loss is not total loss,
Unless we perceive it to be so;
And that is a choice we have.
Therefore, I shall relish life,
As much of it as I can get,
And hoping that it will last forever;
Trusting its source,
And not trying to overcomplicate things,
With delusions of being myself
A master of life and destiny;
I am a tiny part of the whole;
But, as such,
Of unquestionable importance.