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The sketch depicts my friend and me in our newly found N95 (probably fake) masks and in a state of shock during the first days of our unexpected lockdown life in India. We were looking at some cheap but magnificently detailed and downright golden stickers in a shop and Inna ironically observed while browsing through the stickers: "Yeah...which God will save us now?..." So we chose one goddess that looked promising under circumstances and I put her on this sketch.

Apparently beautiful Durga on a tiger with multiple hands happened to be a Hindu goddess of war. And indeed this situation sometimes makes me angry and I do understand people who went to the streets protesting against the Covid-1984 rules. But in this chapter, I'd like to offer you an alternative way to combat restrictions. Much more peaceful. Infinitely more powerful. Infinity technique. Please allow me this lofty title, I love it so.

The lockdown restrictions are only an example and an inspirational departure point for the technique. In this chapter, I will be speaking about any perceived restrictions in your life. Anything that you desire but do not have yet. Anywhere you want to be but can't go. Anyone else you desire to be / to be with...etc.

The method is very counterintuitive and my take on it I promise will make you smile. In order to describe the infinity technique, let me simply take you on one illegal walk along the jungle in the North of India, shall we? Off we go!

6 AM, the most precious morning you have ever stumbled across. Twice as precious due to the fact that such a cloudy cold morning is so rarely found in this season in this part of the world. I am heading towards the third bridge, the one in the wilderness. The two main suspension bridges in town are already shut down and I am on that "other" side, away from food supplies, from the hospital, from the main market, away from Delhi, and from aeroplanes. Behind my apartment, the world we've built actually ends and the realm of leopards, elephants and freely flying peacocks - begins. So I am following the grey morning serpentine, slightly uphill. On the right is the jungle (watch out for a peacock!). On the left dressed in her silver morning gown gracefully flows the Ganga. Direction opposite to ours, which means we go direction Himalayas.

I will not attempt to cross the big bridge for large vehicles today. I am going only to see the incredible beauty of it confidently connecting the two opposite banks in steel and striking a metallic counterpoint to the softness of lines all around it. Besides, there sure would be police at the big bridge and I would have a hard time explaining to them what essential food supplies am I looking for in the middle of nowhere.

But then what I have suspected had happened. The police were not only at the bridge. They were also patrolling the jungle road on their motorbikes and big square white jeeps. In order to check that the road was empty and our case, it was not.

I was politely but strictly told to turn around and to walk home with the reference to the certain law with the certain number that the policeman even remembered. I can not recall the number now, there was some 1 and double four I guess and some dots, but anyway it is that law that was so swiftly implemented in India to close 1.3 billion people in their homes overnight. It says you are not allowed out other than for essential food supplies nearby. And there I was, on a road leading only to the big bridge, the leopards and the peacocks.

Strangely enough, I found myself not turning around and successfully convincing the policeman that my reader and I do have the right to walk along the jungle of India in the early cloudy morning like this and contemplate the silver dress of the Ganga reflecting the skies. (They definitely must implement a law defending such a right. It is essential for artists. And for a human soul, I would argue. We artists always argue for that. )

So why would the strict policeman let me go further with my jungle walk illegal according to the fresh fancy Indian law with dots and a double four. This is the time we need to go beyond the surface and introduce the infinity technique that is great not only for the joyous continuation of one's illegal walks but for anything you might desire but feel restricted from aka not having it right now.

The core point here is that this was no random walk. It was intentional. I went out direction Himalayas on an inner mission. Simple, secret and grand. Which is the infinity technique I am teasing you about half the chapter. But not in vain. Listen: I went to see the world as the universe would see it.

Yes, I have focused all the power of my attention, each single second every single calorie on accomplishing this task. I now see the world as the universe would see it. For the length of 1hr walk in the nature. This is the setting that makes it so easy for me to imagine being the universe. Because nature is obviously alive and I can feel its feelings. So why on earth the spirit within a tree or a river would not be the same one as mine? Highly believable as far as my instinct for truth is concerned.

I also hear that many people here in India and in Nepal exercise somewhat similar techniques just sitting in the darkness of their caves and looking at the infinity of soul. Formless. This is the next level I would say. For now, I went into nature to imagine or to see that I am the world, using my own method. Which is again, not new. Jiddu Krishnamurti, the modern age Buddha, did that a lot. It is documented in his published notebook. The whole book is about him walking in nature and observing inner sensations. Maybe you should join us and give the infinity technique a shot?

After the first few turns of the beautiful serpentine road, I have achieved some success on my mission. You see, I have started smiling. Just because it felt good, to be the world...and so I smiled at my worries dragged from yesterday life inevitably vanishing as darkness vanishes immediately and entirely as one lights even the smallest candle.

I went on. A few more turns of magical serpentine going slightly up. At that point, I have noticed that the grey hues all around me on this masterpiece of a morning are not quite grey in fact. In my mind, I have now called them Indian greys as you know there is an Indian Yellow colour when one chooses oil tubes in a shop. I have no idea what it is made of. Must be the Indian Sun. The Indian greys, on the other hand, are made of Ganga's dress reflecting the cloudy skies between 6 and 7 AM and many other things. Including the peacock secretly watching me from the jungle and not being lit up quite enough to appear blue and green at this point. So many hues, hard to describe even though while seeing as the universe I can effortlessly perceive them all at once. In their totality the Indian greys are strikingly different from the Russian greys, I must say. They are rich. They are versatile. They give you a silent warning of being able to go loud and bright and start celebrating at any moment they damn choose. What a match for an Indian soul! I smiled at the Universe's precise choice of colour to paint India this morning. Ah! It was my choice...Wow, I smiled again. Just as I smile in silence contemplating a painting in progress when I get the shades right. Was that also what Buddha was smiling about?

And the next turn, after inventing the Indian greys - is right where I have met that strict but polite policeman with a good memory that you are already familiar with. In fact, we should give him a name. Sudeep, alright? And I should also note that he has a rather strange brown colour of the uniform, as in fact, every Indian policeman does. Such brown, you know...not light and not dark, not cold and not warm. In-the-middle-of-nowhere brown. Or as we would say in Russia neither fish nor meat, meaning it tastes like neither. But in India, this would be a totally wrong approach to describe a policeman's uniform. Neither beetroot nor spinach nor radish... if I am mixing the colours right.

So the strict Sudeep tries to stop me. And I am in the middle of that inner game, 1hr of infinity technique. What bad timing to stop someone! He makes a good claim to change my plan for an hour walk but is now just a character painted by me he has absolutely no power to do so. We exchange some vague lines on the value of exercise in nature for one's immunity. Reality takes a turn, melts a bit and a policemen character Sudeep aligns with the Universe's will to marvel at herself on a perfect morning along the jungle road pairing the Ganga in its stretch. As it should be.

When you know you are the universe there can be no restrictions no barriers no lack of anything at all. Say for example I as Inessa desire to go on the other side of the river to get a strong americano that they make in the Brew Master coffee shop. And now the Indian authorities choose to restrict me from doing so. But as the universe, I am already on all the opposite banks of all the rivers in the world. And if I get bored with the story of the virus and authorities and no aeroplanes I may as well write something else in the next chapter of the world. Or else for a handful of humour I can make up a friend who illegally makes me that strong americano every morning in the closed coffee shop on my side of the river. He would pass it down into my hands from a balcony in the backyard. Ah, alright, the last one I already did. But I won't give out his name.

Practically speaking, I do this technique every morning as I wake up. I am almost always awake at 4:40 AM, sometimes without an alarm, but this deserves the whole another chapter, which I will do later. So I wake up, go in nature and give the best shot of my intense focus to being the universe in motion. Creating and contemplating herself at the same time. I do dedicate such diligent passion and drive to this task that I would give to no other. In fact, in comparison to the Infinity technique, all the university and school and work tasks are so intimidatingly small to the infinite soul. Why play small. Why not give yourself to the task of your universal scale for at least an hour every day?

Behind the scenes. I have actually picked this technique up in the two books, mixed the advice and put it to work. The first book is called "Krishnamurti's notebook" by Jiddu Krishnamurti himself. The second one is "Dollars flow to me easily" by Richard Dotts. What a strange company you might observe. Well, the second one is way less poetical and grand but essentially on the same topic...of infinity. More practical and easy to implement as well, I would say. As it was written for the reader, the notebook I think was not. I was quite amazed at the resemblance of content and thoughts to Krishnamurti. In his book, Richard would prescribe this technique for 15 min 3 times a day just in the room in silence with closed eyes and he would advise to "open your inner eyes to recognise the inherent abundance that is already here". Boom!

In my experience, an hour in the early morning and nature and imagination all mixed together to give a whole new twist to it. But yes, dollars will flow easily as well in case that is what you'd like to create as the universe. (If so, don't wait, grab Richard's book and put his techniques to use.) Or if you want as Krishnamurti - to facilitate a revolution in the human consciousness. Any goal is liftable here. This is what "infinity" stands for. I make my own take on their techniques. And I welcome you to make your own on mine. Whatever goal you're after.

Customise it, personalise it, Journal about it, call it your own, give it a name.

See. Reality. Melt.
Then Smile.
And pass my cheers to our common friend, Buddha.
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A shift in perspective

The sketch depicts the Laxman Jhula bridge in Rishikesh on 4th of April 2020, one day before it was shut down because of the protests against the curfew in India. The country locked down 1.3 billion humans overnight with no warning. We found ourselves shocked , in difficulty to cross the Ganges and to believe that what is happening - is real.

I have said in the preface to this sketchbook that my chosen superpower is to imagine worlds. Now being locked down in India in a biggest quarantine in history is such a perfect place to start. And a lockdown is the right time for a breakthrough.

What do I mean by breakthrough? Let me picture it to you because your breakthrough and mine I think are the same thing. They would take different shapes of course, but the shape does not really matter. Its essence of being a bridge between imagination and reality - remains.

This is how paintings come to this world, by the way. I do not think I am supposed to tell it to anybody...but I will go on in whisper nonetheless. This is how talking about a revolution sounds.

You see, it feels quite strange to look at things that you have once painted. A tiny mistake in fabric of reality. The black cat passing by you twice. You have painted something, you have brought it back to the world of image, fiction, where it belongs. After that the thing's claim to be real looks rather weak. It almost makes you laugh and say to it: "You don't fool me! I've just painted you, I know what you are! Just a combination of imagined colours and shapes, rendered by are not real! "

It might have happened to you many times, like those little strange details that make you lucid in a dream. Life is overflowing with strange things and connections that are impossible to explain. A musician will tell you even more. A Filmmaker would ask you "Reality?...which reality you mean?"... A mystic would yawn at you and ask over and over again an ancient question "What is reality ?"

Consider this: if you can make reality into a sketch, why not otherwise - from sketch to reality? Why in the wide world not? The process must be essentially the same.

If you would find a blank sketchbook and you would know that anything you draw there would come true, how would it make you feel? Happy? Scared? Overwhelmed, excited?
Imagine for a are holding a brush or a pen and anything you decide to draw will come into being. And then imagine you already have it and you do not use it do you feel now?

But back to lockdown in India. Ganges flowing surprised at her deserted banks with disappeared worshipers. A neighbour calls me from the balcony above on the opposite building, just a couple of metres far. I sit on my balcony in a plastic chair writing this, my legs conveniently placed on the steel fence. I look up from my notes at him, a 50-year old slender yogi, all the way from Russia, simply named Vlad, a massy volume of dreadlocks hairstyle. What a perfect person to ask the most pressing question of lockdown:

- So Vlad, do I have control over my life? Can I imagine my future and then watch it unfold?

- You have zero control, you are watching the movie designed in advance by your higher self or the universe or the spirit - whatever you choose to call it. - we are far enough, he is not wearing mask and I see that my question makes him smile. I challenge him:

- But yesterday as we were shopping for vegetables downstairs you have told me that I am the universe and I am the spirit and that I need to realise it. Which makes for me having total control over my world, does it?

- Well, from that perspective - yes, if you are at one with everything, than yes, it is your movie. - he looks at me kindly but ironically as if with the silent question: "So did you realise you are the universe, since yesterday?..."

Well, maybe not just yet, but who chooses the perspective? And which one would you prefer? What if you can simply choose?

-goes Pavamana mantra from the Upanishads.

Now well, to begin with, LEAD ME FROM SKETCH TO REALITY !
It fascinates me so, draws in my entire soul, that it must hold the key for the above breakthrough described ages ago.

Because the ability, the choice to imagine your world is the new perspective. A breakthrough perspective I would say. What if it is way closer to the REAL, LIGHT and IMMORTALITY pointed out by sages? What if it is the way things are and we are just not paying enough attention?

I am not really a yogi, and I will not head for the caves in Himalayas and talk to cobras as Vlad is so used to. My definition of a breakthrough would simply be to take the perspective of the genius painter of your life. To imagine and then to witness yourself walking into your own images. From sketch to reality. Let's take it from there, shall we?

A composer or movie director if you'd prefer...form does not matter. Just walk that bridge from imagination to reality and turn thoughts and feelings into steel so as you won't fall. Galvanise your intentions. The rapid mountain river is real. I now live right next to it and the only way to cross would be the imagined bridge with no guards.

Let's practice the shift of perspective. It will start the process. It might be an insane thing to do but try tell me the worldwide lockdown is less insane. I think we might agree here, that this the perfect place to start imagining new worlds.

We are locked down now and you and I and everyone are experiencing something unprecedented in history. You might be asking yourself "And so what happens next, to me and to the world?".

I think the answer is: "nobody knows". And the question is: "What will we imagine?"
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And who are you to do that?!

Living on the foothills of the Himalayas is very much like living on the magestic staircase of rooftops and terraces emerging from the jungle as altitude drops. So why not explore one step further, I thought and climbed down from my terrace to the rooftop of the Sri Harihar Peeth Ashram. There I was on the empty rooftop meditating, my loyal friend Inna filming me from our terrace. 6 AM. An early adventure for the sake of the view in the shot. It was a nice morning with clear skies. I have closed my eyes and imagined thunder. Its grand roar filled the entire universe.

I very much like the shabby chic architecture of Sri Harihar. The building behind it which is the T... temple...yes, let 's please call it the T temple, because you will not remember its incredibly long and difficult name anyway. I can neither remember nor pronounce it after a year spent looking straight into the poor temple's facade and also needing to give its name as a pick up location to taxi drivers countless times. It's just not the name that sticks. T temple is cool, right?

So the T temple they say was built in 1950s, somewhat two decades in advance for John Lennon to come and contemplate it while writing the White Album. Strictly speaking, this temple has rather hideous architecture. ( I wonder if John would agree to this...) But you can make your own mind about it: just take a moment to observe the difference in the silhouettes of their domes in the sketch. Sri Harihar Ashram is the one in the foreground with its domes on the right with the three flags weaving on the top.

A chilled and free-spirited musician of the band "Tantric Monkeys" originally from Ireland that I have met on the rooftop that morning remarkably called the T Temple "The spiritual Disneyland" with a tangible lack of respect. My architectural education confirms his concern but as an artist I have fewer canons and limits and therefore I must make a confession: I love the T temple so much just the hideous way it is.

Because it is so into your face, exaggerated and made up is always just one moment away from revealing the underlying code of the universe. This is what I guess the newspaper Hindi scripts stand for in the sketch. Matrix scripts and ages of fictional stories of the so-called reality.

It also has the words "Mission Trust" written on it in the English language which opens up the whole other dimension of mutually exclusive meanings. Trust in divine stories of temples all over the world and in good intentions of those who build them? Or trust in the reality of consciousness that you know the instant you close your eyes and look within? I am curious which one they've meant.

Whatever the implications of "Mission Trust" could be, today I wanted to tell you of Indian thunders. Because really, they are the reason to come and see this land. So before they hopefully open the borders and you can choose to come and see India and its surreal storms for yourself, I'd love to share one storm with you in writing.

I was sitting quietly in meditation on my terrace in the sacred Indian night under the deepest indigo skies full of stars. I was also aware of the people on the rooftop of the Sri Harihar Ashram below. They were playing drums, faster and faster. Excitement was gradually building up. Some of them I knew were dancing. They were shouting out in exaltation greeting the swiftly approaching...the one and the only...Indian Night Thunder.

Indians say that when thunder comes it means that Gods are celebrating. And indeed a storm in India is like no other. It has no intention to threaten. It does not make one feel cold even when cojuring the wall of rain.

It comes to merely remind one of one's inner power.

In an instant the thunder cuts off the electricity in the entire town on both banks of the Ganges. It calls on winds to mix up the shades of skies and paints whirlpools on the river. The river responds in its low bubbling roar and joins the symphony of storm. Thunder goes on painting the skies with an astounding bright shade of purple with a tiny drop of pink. Lightnings strike so frequent, so intense. Each time the skies light up with that purple for less than a second, which is perfectly enough for one to perceive the entire universe in all its eternity and let the heart be overflown with primal rapture and wonder and infinite joy of being.

You can see the whole creation in this special light, it is like the magic vision. It is the thunder whispering to you in its loving growl: "Look at what we're creating! Now let us celebrate!...".

The Indians apparently know this - the purple'n'pink thunder is running through their veins - and so off they rush to the suspension bridge over the Ganges, spreading their hands towards the whirling purple skies, their clothes soaked in heavy warm rain to the point of becoming liquid. They laugh and they sing vibrant Hindi songs and they shout out in Joy, celebrating the creation together with all of the 33 million Hindu Gods.

I love meditating on a terrace when the entire city goes dark. The rain and the river go loud and roaring in unison while the Indian people celebrate loudly and without fail. What an infinite moment!

India is rich in such experiences. As if the big gaping holes in the man-made grid of order needed to be urgently filled with something. So dear Indians creatively covered the holes with first things at hand in their land: some sheer unexplainable miracles, to make the fabric of stitched up reality look at least whole even if hardly perceivable by the common sense due to all of its beautiful contrasts of contradiction.

And now one observes us being confined to the perimeter of a room, arguably on a way to self-identifying way more with a piece of furniture rather than a thunder. With the media crafted to make one shrink in fear and low swamp-like feelings. I have stopped watching the news. The intuition tells me they're fiction. Along with all the other stories that had been helping us to make sense of the world.

Stories have been reigning our minds for thousands of years, haven't they? Well, I love stories! This is so part of being human. In view of the recent events I even came back to my favourite one, because the reality seems to start resembling its plot line in a way. With people comparing our current world to 1984 and Brave New World my irresistible love for Lord of the Rings looks like a confident claim for hope. I must make a disclaimer here though: these are only my personal feelings, Tolkien himself unequivocally rejected any metaphors or parallels of his creation to the real world. But I am willing to approach it creatively and still trace some connections for the sake of depicting our today's sketch 2 reality (S2R) technique.

The most astonishing idea in the Lord Of The Rings story I think is this: someone small and insignificant can change the entire course of history, can literally save the world. Tolkien even invented the special race to picture that concept vividly.

This fascinating and empowering thought can be interpreted in the whole new light now. Watching us retreating to rooms, playing it safe, playing it furniture - while the world as we know it might as well be falling apart forever - I am asking myself: "Great, so what can I do?" I feel insignificant and small in the midst of these grand events. How does Tolkien's thought playing out here for me? Through what exactly?

According to my understanding of his book, the answer would be somewhat like: through personal courage, great friendships, some of those with powerful wizards, magic equipment here and there, a good deal of luck and the coordinated teamwork of all these factors. And this is the very common answer of the way of a story. Of the Heroes Journey concept.

I loved that story way, I lived that way. But now this leaves me doubtful. Because in my view it still does not explain how the intentions of one person can affect the world. So the hero's journey no longer satisfies my quest for truth. These days, through the inspiring absurdity of the world's events, I am tempted to explore a different answer. And I invite you along to explore it with me.

The world can be changed and everything can be completely turned around in very significant ways and moulded into miracles that we do not even yet dare imagine: not due to anyone's personal courage and not even thanks to great friendships with wizards.

Big change at one's own accord is possible simply because the one contemplating the thunder also is the thunder. The one in you, in me observing the world also is the creator of this world. Just hiding masterfully in everything we see. Too humble to take the credit.

This is no story. In fact, it contradicts the very foundation all stories stand upon. It hacks the code that sustains the matrix. Because it reveals the storyteller and handles them a mirror. The storyteller is now free to stop telling stories and just look at oneself and encounter reality for the first time. And then what? Well, either tell the most beautiful story ever because of now having to take the credit for it or...or something else entirely that can not be described in terms of words-stories, length-width-height, and time-space.

P.S. Notice in the final sentence how the painter does not burn the bridge behind her and farsightedly reserves a chance to describe the next level reality with line and colour, taking musicians along for a great joyful company in our Real New World.

S2R Technique: This technique is of course meditation. I have learned the Vipassana technique which I can highly recommend doing. My next quest is to learn the TM, Transcendental Meditation given that I am now in Rishikesh next to T... ah, Trayambakeshwar Temple (Thanks, Google, thanks Copy Paste! ) right next to Maharishi ashram, where John, Ringo, Paul and George learned the TM technique a few decades earlier. But there are centres in many places and one of Vipassana or TM is sure to be next to your home and should be opening soon.

Let us orchestrate thunders and mould our world(s) into miracle(s).
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Casting Spells Over Water

"The more I look at you, the more you look like Frida Kahlo" - my new acquaintance Anastasiya said to me. We were sitting in a cosy wood-finished kitchen in the centre of St. Pete, Russia, as an old-style tram was turning around the corner from Marat's Street to the Lane of Candles making a loud and very atmospheric sound. She was probably referring to my dark-red hairband similar to those Frida used to wear as well as my passionate speech about painting.

We were living indeed in the street called "Lane of Candles" in the very centre of the Russian Cultural capital and our apartment had an extensive amount of candles of various colours and shapes. Over time, they melted into magnificent sculptures of wax and light.

Besides, Inna and I brought some 10 kg worth of art materials and sketchbooks to this flat, filled the walls with our schedules, precious books, dream boards, and a majestic leopard Amir that I have bought from a street artist in the North of India and framed here.

"You have created magic here" - concluded Anastasiya.

Despite her royal name, Anastasiya did not own this apartment. She rented it from someone else, then Inna rented it from her, then Inna invited me and together we invited Julia, our successful vegan blogger friend. Inna left for business to another city for a week, Anastasiya came to an apartment for a couple of days, so there were three of us, (To Say Nothing of the dog, japanese chin Hans, who was adding up to the overall magic )

Frida Kahlo or not, I was still struggling with the idea of becoming a full-time artist. I do not think it is objectively hard to be an artist. Maybe it is the most natural way one can live in harmony with nature, with Gods, and with one's fellow humans, who need art, of course. But art career has been deemed destination nowhere in the post-Soviet era and I was still in the process of embracing my true artistic identity.

I though it appropriate to relate my entire destiny to a stranger Anastasiya, who came to pick up her things with her fluffy companion Hans. She said I was clearly three feet from gold, as most people kept saying to me for the last 2,5 years, as I have taken on painting as a profession. Her blue eyes shined sincerely.

St Petersburg was in lockdown so in order to be refreshed, I went to a secret illegal party with a contemporary dance performance. My friend Katya was dancing. She was so daringly beautiful and she performed the choreography of her own invention to a room of somewhat 100 other illegal guests, who were shouting in rapture as she made a stylish pause before removing her coat, under which…well, was that daring outfit.

After the performance, she found me in low spirits in the corridor. I have explained to her that she was most gorgeous, it was just that particular period of my life that was challenging. She said it was her first dance performance with her own choreography ever.

"So I am 35 and I've allowed it to happen." - she said matter-of-factly and then looked at me. She was well-acquainted with my feelings, I did not have to explain.

"Thank you, fellow rebel-heart", she added.

I thanked her, excused myself from joining the afterparty and headed to the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island: a fascinating half-circled piece of an island cutting into the blackness of Neva River, opening up to a grand panoramic view framed with lines of majestic royal palaces, which the river refused to reflect clearly due to the strong wind.

As soon as I reached the water my heart was soothed by the Van-Gogh-like reflections of street lights and a bridge. The bridge was lit up with an impressionist primary blue and together with the yellow of the street light they've mixed a wonderful palette on black Neva waters.

I headed straight down to the very Spit of an Island, right next to the water. The lanterns, the trees, the crowd were all on the level above, so I enjoyed a dark tête-à-tête with the river and an opportunity to cast a spell out loud above her waters without being thought of as crazy ( Which I guess would be fine in this city anyway ). I had my hot wine to warm myself up to stay in the street for so long on the last day of October, ate my Chinese noodles using chopsticks, took out a piece of purple paper. I looked at those beautiful reflectios and then moved from deep within, started writing.

Essentially, I wrote a letter of forgiveness to myself. I have never done this before and I have read in a book* recently that one is heading nowhere without doing this first.

People always work to forgive someone else: parents, ex-lovers, colleagues, business partners…But really, nothing could be done to us what we did not comply with. And the core grief is for that compliance I think. That we allowed some undesirable things to happen to us and did not allow for some other things that we really wanted.

So that evening I decided to go straight to the core. I wrote it hastily, almost in the dark, benefiting slightly from a faraway yellow street light from the level above.

Then, I read it out loud to the river, framed with lit up palaces:

I forgive myself for not becoming a painter right away when I have discovered I wanted to be one when I was 18 and heeding my parents' advice. For not knowing being a painter was absolutely possible. I forgive myself because now is the perfect time to do this anyway.

I forgive myself for blaming my parents.

I forgive myself for using a lot of their help

I forgive myself for going out of may way too much for helping them

I forgive myself for my pride and my ambition and for despising anyone who does not do what they love.

I forgive myself for overworking myself almost to death in architecture, for nothing

I forgive myself for thinking I am only valuable when I make good money

I forgive myself for being harsh with my younger sister out of my own pain and for influencing her for a while in a direction she maybe did not need to take

I forgive myself for being in Russia again and breathing the cold, humid, maddening Neva air, even though I know I want to be elsewhere.

I entirely, completely and fully forgive myself, as the Peter and Paul Fortress rings its bells, and as the purple paper, filled on both sides is being torn and entrusted to Neva. I gave to the river my pain, I asked for it to be transmuted into something else. I said to pass the word to the Thames that I am coming. I know rivers of the world have their ways of talking to each other and that they would always listen to a sincere heartfelt spell. Which you now know how to cast. If you do it truly and if you feel it deeply, it might be as well the single most valuable thing you did up to that point in your life.

Try it, write a letter forgiving yourself for EVERYTHING that you ever held against yourself. Go somewhere close to the water. SPEAK TO IT. Out loud, if you can. Water is powerful for carrying grief away and for transmuting old worn-out feelings into new beginnings.

Forgive yourself and be renewed, be lit up! Sending you a few matches - in the form of words - from the Lane of Candles.

*I found this in the book "Love yourself like your life depends on it" by Kamal Ravikant. The next step he suggests is taking a Vow of loving yourself completely, truly and deeply, in your own words, writing the wow down and placing it in a visible place next to your desk or something. I will do this tomorrow as I wake up.