an authentic storyteller, a humble learner of nature.

Infinite Mediocrity

Posted: March 28th, 2014 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Reasons | No Comments »

Really can’t consume more info right now after watching the whole TED 2014. Every time it will disrupt my universe and value system, and this time particularly it leads me to a more fundamental level of reflections over my relation with the world. Besides the normal personal stories echoing the inner me like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Home is writing, regardless”, Andrew Solomon’s “Forge meanings and build identity”, David Brooks’ “Lose yourself to find yourself”, philosopher Jim Holts talked about the reality–Infinite mediocrity, but deity perhaps.

I believe time goes by exponential, not by plus, that you get new understanding based on the previous one vertically, not simply added on horizontally. Last month I was dwelling on Thandie Newton’s “Embrace yourself, embrace otherness”, but now I am thinking over so deeply on mediocrity, which is the essence of the world, everything I was disdaining, composed of the world I survived, and humanity only resides on those mediocrities.

I like being a storyteller because I can upgrade a new layer of understanding, spiritually. Somehow, being too metaphysical sometimes blind your eyes to truths, or true wisdom. Still, I gradually connect it to the bigger world. There’s been strong intuition on my natural connection with “storytelling”—before I was dwelling on the obsession over curation, these months I’ve been exploring vaguely on “future of storytelling”. Now I believe it’s the “Content” and the whole industry.

Embrace infinite mediocrity and get your hands dirty, now!


February

Posted: March 3rd, 2014 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

1. Embrace Otherness

Thandie Newton stood less than 1 meter on TED stage in front of me a couple of years ago, telling her powerful story—”embrace otherness, embrace oneself”. I’ve been struggling with the latter literally for a long time, but it’s just a week ago I realized the “self” issue was solved and I need to extend my arms to the world and embrace the world for the very first time. The one who isolated and separated herself voluntarily should be gone.

2. Passions

I trust connecting dots, and I found I am right now actually combining my passions on storytelling and executions on it together. The new narrative should showcase sophisticated elegance, beautiful intricacies, and true wisdom uncovered from artificial norms.

One of my dreams is to tell stories(through magazines, movies, or any other formats) to the ones, who are not only beautiful but owning sophisticated elegance, not only consciously confident but owning the strongest power inside, not only smart but owning true wisdom, like rational political views and authentic empathy.

3. Substance

Work is the only thing that gives substance to life. Substance, is meanings, is what you fill in your life, the opposite of emptiness.

4. Feel

The way I like TED is, it’s more like a game of discovering the undiscovered lust and hidden sensations. Those several sentences are the most authentic, and I will know who they are, and become friends with them because of their vulnerability, innocence and enrichment.

I also feel every stranger, every acquaintance, and start to see the old world with a fresh perspective.


你的暧暧内含光/Eternal Sunshine of Your Spotless Mind

Posted: January 28th, 2014 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

世誉不足慕,唯仁为纪纲。
隐心而后动,谤议庸何伤。
无使名过实,守愚胜所臧。
在涅贵不缁,暧暧内含光。
–《座右铭》,崔瑗

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;
–Eloisa to Abelard, Alexander Pope

我们无话不说。完全信任。
我一直认为,最重要的是去感受,比如千里之外的战争伤痛,抑或咫尺之近的人情冷漠。逻辑,解决的只是信任问题。但我们之间的交流,从来不需要逻辑地去分析,那是自作聪明的掩饰和累赘。感受,简单如此。
或者很难用具体的词语来描述你,真诚、善良、大气、豪迈、随性、热烈,甚至全世界流传最久远的诗歌,在最真实的你面前都太乏力。因为你没有既定而刻板的人生规则,生活对你来说就是生命的意义本身。
你像感受自己一样感受世界的伟大与孤独,跟人物们毫无距离,与王小波称兄道弟然后痛心疾首某个点子居然他比你先想出来,模仿《红楼梦》里的花袭人唱腔抖着嗓子说那只燕儿飞走了,为了忘却的记念提笔写下318同学们今天一定要记念鲁迅笔下的刘和珍君,喝得酩酊大醉后突然说威廉·福克纳的《喧哗与骚动》把你感动得痛哭流涕,好姐妹Amy Winehouse离去时安静地喃喃道「我特别爱她,但我只是想说Oh finally…just finally」,伍迪·艾伦和昆汀·塔伦蒂诺也只是能拍好电影的两老爷儿们……仿佛所有的严肃、深刻、凝重、秩序都像苏联帝国修正主义一样土崩瓦解,最后只有我们俩穿着学士服在图书馆前扮演拉斐尔《雅典学园》柏拉图和亚里士多德,还换着手指向天空。
当然,你也有无比认真的时候,我年满20岁生日好吃到爆炸的生日蛋糕和一根一根亲手点上的蜡烛,拥抱我告诉我一定不要放弃自己的梦想,倾听年幼无知的我鼻涕带泪的自我表达。因此,也是在毕业时班里收集个人信息时有个问题说你在大学里最喜欢和佩服的人有哪些时,我的答案中出现了「李畅」两个字,而你还会去美国之前时候发了标题为「明天晚上出发。嗯。」的邮件,

突然很想听苏联歌曲。。。。于是下载了共青团之歌,主要是因为忽然觉得歌词很好:
再见了亲爱的故乡,胜利星会照耀我们,再见了妈妈,别难过莫悲伤,祝福我们一路平安吧。
与程艾伦小盆友共勉。
李一钝  8/11/09

后来偶然读到了希腊诗人康斯坦丁·卡瓦菲斯的那首诗《伊萨卡/Ithaka》,「当你启程前往伊萨卡 但愿你的道路漫长, 充满奇迹,充满发现。」虽然这个伊萨卡不是你就读的康奈尔大学所在地Ithaca/绮色佳,但其中的奇迹和发现也许却超越了故者。而你也会用Google地图算出Ithaca到北京的距离,郑重地写下,算法说两者最近的距离,中途得经过白令海峡。
半年后和你爸妈去机场接你,纽约到北京航班晚到,而你乱着头发背着大包第一个冲过来,两天后数落纽约市长Michael Bloomberg说这厮居然禁止在大街上打开可乐甁,所以一定要在北京使劲地开各种各样的甁儿仪式般的让汽水像香槟一样喷涌。再之后就是经常周末拉着我在碰巧离我家5分钟步行远的男友家喝酒,有时候神聊到透我们就席地而睡。听你说话就像观看一部快进的独立艺术电影,创伤、玩笑、白日梦、倒叙闪回、吐槽、对吐槽的负罪感、一句两句鸡汤级的古典智慧警句。一般来说,第二天你会像没事儿一样清晨能量充沛,而我便开始了最痛苦的大白天宿醉。
当然,所有的对话中,你的更丰富和通透,我的更懵懂和忘记雕琢般的纯粹。这在2013年3月的某天我偶然闯入WFC的星巴克买咖啡时遇上你显得像一部史诗般的邂逅。后来才知道你刚回北京,而这中间我们一年多断了联系,各自前后经历了人生中极大的危机。一个月后我们一起吃着墨西哥玉米片和喝着Margarita,我突然发现我们能够更加地感知彼此的悲伤,因为当经历过以后,它让我们能够定义自己感性的边界,它比事实更真实,让我们能更强烈而专注地去享受快乐本身。
说到快乐,它在你身上是那么地浑然天成,上帝在创造你的时候毫不客气和多余,你比古希腊时呵斥国王挡住了自己阳光的木桶哲学家更能放大享乐本身。你的独特远非刻意,那是种自我世界的完整,以及恰到好处的优雅。你不止是在寻找快乐,你更会发明它。它和爱一样重要。因此,当豆瓣才刚刚开始在文艺青年内部流行时,你已经开始在上面勾搭各种小众电影放映会和吃喝玩乐组织,也会拉着我去张自忠路听小河的演唱会—我极其佩服你的一点也在于此,那时候的小河还没有被芸芸众生所发现,而你只是安静地聆听然后说你被感动到了。那种纯粹的快乐就是新季T台上华服的气息,是无所畏惧的自由,让人尖叫,对你保证说,你无所不能。
因对生活的认真,你对生命的领悟也异常深刻和超脱。你崇拜爱的力量,也怜悯它的无常。你的灵魂敏感而强烈,因此朋友是爱人,而爱人,便成了神,他们也因你拥有加冕般的无上荣光和骄傲情怀。于是我们逆潮流而行,不停歇地驶向过去,而所有的一切都会永远定格在异常温柔的旧时光,我们像旋转木马一样往返于过去与现在,像孩子一样一圈又一圈的旅行,寻找和保存属于我们的梦想—-在那里,只有你,暧暧内含光。


The year of 2013

Posted: December 30th, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

I’ve received lots of gifts from TED, but I’d say one of the best among all is a TEDTalk from TEDxMet, Andrew Solomon, a writer who suffered from depression and learned to combat it later on. He shared about the darkest elements of depression, but the story itself became extremely powerful at the end. He said:

I have learned in my own depression how big an emotion can be, how it can be more real than facts, and I have found that that experience has allowed me to experience positive emotion in a more intense and more focused way. The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and these days, my life is vital,even on the days when I’m sad….I think that while I hated being depressed and would hate to be depressed again, I’ve found a way to love my depression. I love it because it has forced me to find and cling to joy. I love it because each day I decide, sometimes gamely, and sometimes against the moment’s reason, to cleave to the reasons for living. And that, I think, is a highly privileged rapture.

This quotation might draw a perfect end of my own detachment from myself. I never treated my own depression quite seriously(It’s not that serious since I still haven’t had regular medication like Joey) until several months ago I told him how great I felt after combatting it myself—before it I just found a silent corner of my office building, sitting and crying, keeping telling myself how bad I was, I hate myself, people hate me too because I was a load of shit.

However when I look back I found I could not be more grateful for this experience—-I’ve honestly let out my feelings either by running or writing, and I’ve been defining the greatest emotions through reaching its boundaries. I’ve also learned to feel ZY from this new perspective, that all of the things make sense despite he never told me before he had depression.

I should feel lucky since I met ZY at the worst of my life, and he appreciated and inspired me from the scratches. That darkness led me to learn the essence of life for the very first time, and I myself started to run like him. I still remembered last autumn when I looked at the sky every time on the 32th floor I would imagine myself jumping into the extravagant beauty, and last winter I was so scared of the nights. Life is hard, sometimes rewarding, but most of time it’s just hard. It’s the purest despair led me to explore and struggle with finding what I truly want, fearlessly. Ultimately I suddenly realized I want to live gorgeously and substantially, just like what he told me in the last email.

After all of these life is never just a lighthearted game, but a missionary adventure with an anchor of courage. Now I am living, and I want to live to some greatest virtues of the time, either the greatest accomplishment, or the greatest love.


To the sweetest soul

Posted: November 24th, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

Dear Changchang,

Few people might notice your words left on the Facebook wall of Steve in late Oct–”Cant tell you how much i miss u.” Even me. I only learned it after several days you were gone when I followed your page to get some clues. These words became all I said when I put the rose near your photo yesterday, when I sent you off in your memorial service. It’s been sad since it’s the only thing I can do for you at the moment.

When I initially learned the tragedy, I became so heartbroken and cried extremely hard. You are my best memory in college and we were so true to each other. I could not be more grateful when I think of what you’ve done to me—Later I realized it’s you who trust me so much, lift me up and encourage me to follow my nature the very first time. I still remember you told me, “Hanhan, I really love you so much, you are so unique, so great.”, which really, really means a lot to me. But sometimes you can also choose to be silent, combing my eyebrows and hugging me with no words. Thank you so much, babe.

I’ve witnessed your sensitiveness, your craziness, and your desperate needs on love. You are so vulnerable and so authentic. I feel so sorry because I can only listen to your self-expression but could only offer limited solutions—I am as a big problem as you—That’s why we are besties, right?

I could not blame you like your parents—I might have done the same thing if I were you, seriously, since the situation was so similar and it made me fearless. I survived perhaps because I was stuck at some point while you are completely enlightened. Somehow maybe everything happens for a reason, when I traced back my writings on social media, it’s the second day after you are gone, I suddenly realized I should live gorgeously and substantially, and explore the answers to life as well as follow my missions on changing the world. It’s a rebirth to me.

I still remember the last time when we met. We were having wine, and that time Steve was also calling you from Yunnan. You told me you were very happy, and hugged me later asking me to understand my mom and talking to her and loving her—Perhaps you already forgot how miserable you were when you told me your unhappy childhood and how harsh you dad was on you.

Both you and your parents are my family, even beyond family when I wandered in Beijing. I promise you I will get married and have kids and do what you haven’t got time to do, I will treat your parents as my own since the divinity might ask me to try again on family things. I will love them the same way you left before.

Babe, I will miss you, toast you, cheer with you and celebrate you on my way. You will be with me forever.

Love,
Hanhan


Nature

Posted: October 26th, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

It was in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I had my first TED Conference. It was tremendously overwhelming, and later I realized where my incessant obsession over the ultimate mission of living in the world comes from. That week intensified my past exploration over the meaning of life itself, beyond the academic education of political science and economics I received from top 1 college in China, or the long journey searching for fundamental solutions to human predicament in India. I still remember at TED when I sat watching those soulful figures expressing in the greatest authenticity and confidence how they changed the world, just in front of me, I was so in awe and wished some day I could also own the stage, telling a powerful and beautiful story like them.

However, when I was so inspired by TED and the world it opened up, I found I could no longer bear the daily mundaneness around me. I’ve been truly craving for a more meaningful and impactful life and work, and it conflicts so much with my powerless existence currently. My life started to become turbulent with my questions over my job that time, a leading media and platform serving internet startups in China. I found I was lost on the role I was going to play though I succeeded at leading its brand events to Silicon Valley and Hong Kong as well as building strategy partnership with giants like Tencent and Microsoft. Ultimately I left the company, determined to go to Tibet for a while helping a blind school. At that time I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, and believed I might be able to solve my problems by exiling myself remotely. Somehow it did not work quite well—-It haunted me that I still can’t find what I wanted. I went through a phase of overloaded distress, and later learned I shouldn’t escape from my problems but face with it, in a hard way.

Somehow I started to run, giving myself one hour every day to meditate over this simple and monotonous body movement. I gradually learned to manage my emotions through controlling my body, and I found running is like living the life, that one shall never numb neurons no matter how painful it is. Furthermore, life itself is never too light-weighted to bear a simple solution and a short answer—-I am now more willing to take pains struggling with my own autonomy, and I’ve been ready to spend an unreasonably long amount of time to find the best thing for me, despite the battle between patience and desire. It also makes me understand what Elizabeth Gilbert truly means in Eat Pray Love, that everyone should take on a journey from losing the “self”, separating the “self”, to really embracing the “self” and getting the “self” back through finding balance between the world and oneself.

Although I lost the battle with my vulnerability, it made me feel fearless. I never stopped searching and trying, and I did rediscover some wonders. I’ve been continuously breaking through my own edges—I produced more sophisticated and emotion-arousing TEDx events, I challenged myself bringing TEDx to disadvantaged groups, I started to lead truly “making” project like the first INSIDE OUT project by JR in China and script-filming for Girl Declaration documentary. Meanwhile, my continuous involvement in internet startups at Beijing led me to trust the power of technology and how it can radically change people’s lives in every way. The cross-disciplinary explorations in every way makes me more capable of distinguishing boundaries between the contrasts, but always pushing the rigid lines forward every time to promote cross-pollination collaboration.

Immersed in technology and art world, I found all innovations are disruptive, they destroyed themselves once and gained rebirth afterwards, and despite the miserable, torturing and heartbreaking process, there’s always hope that you could create something truly powerful and beautiful, like life itself. I’ve also gradually been enjoying curating, since it presents a brand-new layer of understanding to ordinary stuff, and I’ve also been amazed at how great I am at it, like when I was young I always took a painting brush sitting with canvas the whole afternoon and indulging my inspirations flowing out randomly. I found this might be the way I objectify myself to the world, and being someone disrupting and reconstructing in both art and technology, and creating meanings from them might be my nature.


Born in 1978

Posted: September 26th, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

It might be time to tell some stories about 3 persons who has inspired me most in the past year. One interesting fact is they were all born in 1978, 11 years older than me—What a pressure actually since I am not sure whether I will be able to reach their level in 11 years. What’s more interesting is they know each other, all through me, somehow I regret that I never had an occasion to put them literally together. They are from various fields, but some of elements intervene in each other’s realms. Plus I’ve never regarded myself as someone who’s resourceful(except once I was so amazed by my ability in searching for hosts in Tokyo, since I was pushed by Joey who kept saying “Ellen be resourceful!”, and it turned out I did not spend a penny on accommodation for my 7-day trip there).

1. Y Feng

It’s possible to be a rigorous interaction designer and wild contemporary artist. He has always treated me as an artist like him and uncovered my inner nature as well as strength in this way. It’s him who first brought the essence of “interaction design” to me and guide me exploring the unseen  souls beyond worldly doctrines.

2. Z Yong

A top scientist/engineer who’s more interested in working with artists and help them create great works with cutting-edge technology. In his mind, the best interaction ever happening is a random dance between him and an anonymous girl, since there was no rule and everything was so natural. The beauty lies in the spontaneous stuff, perhaps mistakenly, or even fucked up. And in the modern times, a director might never need a script written in advance.

It occurred to me that I might experience the most elegant moment of interaction. It’s not a dance, but it’s about love. It was awkward, but it’s so beautiful that memory lingers, never gone.

3. Z Yi

She defined happiness as sharing with people who are able to love and behave in a consistent and coherent way. That’s so true since I just realized you are not defined by what you have, but what you give and what you present to the world. Simply owning stuff while lacking of its self-expression, means nothing.

She might help me find the possibility of how a girl pursing both political science and economics degree ultimately find a way to express herself, since that’s what she did before in Europe. But she is more talented and knows what she wants earlier than me. I once said the reason I still can’t let go completely might be because I haven’t solved my own fundamental problems, like I still don’t know what I want, but I am still ambitious and fearless. She particularly liked the way I said “fearless”, and I replied, “I believe you have the same feelings before.” She smiled.

4. Me

They are not the most intimate ones. But when I talk to them, message them, or simply check up their social media status, I can feel the connections and shared aspiration. The trust in between, the courage, and even the vulnerability are so precious.It indeed gave me a new angle of looking at my own sensitiveness, spontaneity, and loads of emotions. I can still feel my strongest desire, craving for creating something authentically beautiful and powerful.


Mid-August

Posted: August 16th, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

1. Reasons V.S Emotions

I gradually believe reason and logic exist to solve the issues of “trust”. This came out from a random conversation on WeChat(or Whatsapp) with Joey, since I suddenly realized I trust him completely. Sometimes feeling is more important than thinking.

That might be why I’ve been addicted to your writing — “If you can’t understand it, feel it”. Yes, I can feel you, just like I feel Joey’s dream — he forwarded a description of his dream and it’s been so true. To me these are so authentic, so honest, so rare that I have been struggling so hard to capture them and enshrine them. Although right now I guess I can let it go, just like I didn’t cry when Joey left again.

However, they mean a lot to me, really a lot.

2. People

Joey—Only with him did I know what true freedom means. For him there are no such things called limitations. He can really try every means to get things done. He has all the time been so inspiring, and he’s been really changing me, fundamentally and radically.

Richard—I’ve been respecting him a lot and he’s always been a great mentor to me. For me he is the one who’s closest to “Perfectness”.

We had a pleasant talk. “If you are in TEDx, you will really find everything around you is not cool any more, your work, the guys, and other mundaneness.” “Yes, that’s my problem, I can’t really settle down, and I’ve been really working so hard to find what I want. I really tried.”"It disrupts my life and really changes who I am.” “Me, too.”

Cara–I think we are at the same age. She has been working in Venice Biennial for 6 years and right now can curate her independent exhibition there. I asked about her drive on being a professional curator. She said “Well, I don’t think I am working to discover unknown artists, or change something. Once I worked for money but did a really poor exhibition. I hated mentioning this exhibition afterwards. Now my only goal is to make the best exhibition and work with the best artists.”

3. End

I cried very hard when I read The Great Gatsby on Gatsby’s retrospect on Daisy: “And all the time something within her was crying for a decision. she wanted her life shaped now, immediately – and the decision must be made by force- of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality- that was close at hand.” I still don’t know why I felt so helpless at that moment. I only know I shall continue to live with insecurity so that I can learn to love.

To love someone, means to deliver solution to his/her fundamental problems out of your own natural passion and faith. And vice versa. Love can be unconditional, but not unconditional sacrifice, which is another banal version of claiming high moral ground.


Long Time

Posted: July 21st, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

It’s been a really long time since I put up my last entry here. Life hasn’t really changed much in the past month, except I am now temporarily living with a cute dog and I start to empathize her profoundly—how to hug her, feed her, walk her and appease her. I have been enjoying her companion, waking up every morning with her by my side.

Yes, a dog, might make me a more complete person the very first time in my life.

Several days ago, I also got an email from Matt, my ex-colleague now pursuing grad-study in Law School at Columbia, with a simple title “Long Time”. Yes, it’s been two years since we departed, and it’s been a couple of extremely intense years for me. It freaked me out since I actually don’t know how I would summarize my these two years in a rough dinner—I would sound very much tired, destroyed, frustrated, with a bit slice of being hopeful.

There might be a point I would focus on tremendously: I know how to position myself as low as a dust, for I have been through the moment of death, deepest despair, and loving someone unconditionally, so that I have been continuously in awe of the world, with the most humble soul.

But for potential question from him saying “What do you want?”, I might not be able to answer still. I have been working really hard on learning coding, and from trying it from scratch on my own totally, I learned how the interaction between humans and computers could be as consistent as such. At least this new thing might open up a window for me ultimately–that the thinking line could be as straightforward and beautiful as such, leading to a brand-new layer of understanding of the world again.


I have been always, with the most profound authenticity, hoping you will find what you want.

Posted: June 2nd, 2013 | Author: Ellen | Filed under: Stories | No Comments »

I am not fully confident with my English skill—I all the time end up writing in English since I want to protect my own vulnerability at some point—My life has been filled with so much insecurity, and I just want to keep the balance so that it won’t fall down.

It’s June, already. 2 months ago I was so scared, that It’s been such a long time but I still can’t get rid of my deepest despair, or lust. I always believe my life is doomed. However I am still struggling every day, awakening from millions of nightmare, because I might also need to take a slice advantage of my fearless status so that I can do something no one dare to do. I am not afraid of death, and loneliness, and darkness, and end of world, and inability of falling in love again.

Luckily I survived, through endless torture. I have the greatest gratitude to all the people helping me navigate through the process. Thank them so much,  who helped me cherish life itself, that when I really live in the world, I have hope, though it’s far, far beyond your sight now.

It’s said true love shall go through anti-dependency and adore independence ultimately, and two people shall co-exist after each walks long-winded road. I once had an illusion that we are our each other’s parallel self, that we will help each other grow remotely in the process. Right now I am in awe of my independence so much.

I should also feel grateful that I lost you once, and it endowed me more courage of finding you somewhere else in the world again, with all unexpected surprise and ecstasy.

I have been always, with my most profound authenticity, hoping you will find what you want.