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Bratislava New Years Fireworks

Year in Review: Ekostories 2013

2013 was an eventful year, bringing about a full gamut of experiences. Writing has emerged as an integral part of my life, and being able to share some of my work on Ekostories has been immensely rewarding on both an intellectual and emotional level. On the eve of this new year, I want to take this time to express my gratitude to everyone for reading and to highlight some major 2013 milestones: There are now 63 essays and 115 posts on Ekostories. The website has doubled in traffic over the past year, and according to WordPress stat monkeys, has garnered readers from 153 countries. Never thought I could keep going at this pace when I started, but here we are. Exploring environmental issues through Chinese aesthetics, Past Meets Present: Shan Shui Environmental Art was selected by the WordPress editorial team in April for Freshly Pressed honours. It was later featured on WordPress.com’s Weekend Feature on longform content. I was and still am deeply honoured by the choice. Exploring the ideas and themes within The Planetary …

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On Handling Praise

I am terrible at accepting praise. Those who know me will know that this is not a boast, but rather a hard admission to a deep character flaw. When offered accolades, my first instinct is to deflect and downplay their significance. But I have come to realize that this is a dishonest impulse, a drastic, dramatic form of self-effacingness that not only hides my true feelings, but can actively damage my relationships with others. To reject praise from others for the sake of being humble is, in a sense, to negate their opinions, to call them liars. Rebuffed by this constant dismissal, I see how even genuine goodwill can eventually turn sour. I don’t want that to happen. With gentle but firm reminders from friends and family, I am working to accept praise better, especially when it comes to writing, partly out of a desire to better respect the opinions of others, and partly because I believe my work is worthy of recognition.  Orwell once wrote in his famous essay, Why I Write, that “it is …

Shifting Themes

With the popularity of browsing from tablets and mobile devices nowadays, I’ve decided to switch to a new theme.  I recently got the chance to play around with an ipad and was dismayed to find how poorly formatted the site was. It was borderline unreadable. I like Quintus, but to be honest, it was always a bit finicky to deal with. So I’m going with a more minimalistic theme called Runo Lite. Some changes – I’ve removed the sidebar to provide a better overall reading experience; I think a full-page setup is better for essays.  Topics, links, and popular entries will be at the bottom of the page in the footers. Hopefully everything will be easier to navigate, quicker to load, and more intuitive. Comments and feedback, as always, are greatly appreciated. Let me know how you find the new layout of the site in terms of aesthetics and accessibility, especially if you’re a tablet user. Personally, I’m wondering if I should spend the 30 dollars a year to get the WordPress customization package and …

Year in Review: Ekostories 2012

Ten Months. Thirty essays. 61,218 words, give or take a few. I’ve learned a lot since the launch of Ekostories. I’ve come to respect good blogging as both art and a discipline; it’s a challenge to generate original content that strives to be useful, entertaining, and relevant on a consistent basis. I would like to thank you all for your readership along with your thought-provoking comments and suggestions over the past months. Ekostories has surpassed 20,000 views, which is not too shabby for an essay blog that gets updated once or twice weekly. Here are some interesting facts and stats: Dinosaurs still rule the earth: A 90’s Flashback: Dinosaur’s Changing Nature is the runaway most popular Ekostory, receiving over 4,000 hits. I am a little surprised, but glad. I like the piece myself, so it’s nice that it’s getting a lot of attention, even if most of it is probably from dinosaur-loving spambots. A double dose of Miyazaki: Both My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke proved to be consistently and enduringly popular. I’m not surprised …

Ekostories Back from Hiatus

“And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. You need distance, interval. The way to see how beautiful the earth is, is to see it as the moon.” –  (The Dispossessed, p. 190) Hello all! I’ve just returned from my six-week trip to Nepal. To be quite honest, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but it turned out to be a fantastic trip, full of opportunities to explore varied landscapes, immerse in local cultures, and be exposed to very different worldviews. Nepal gave me a chance to break away from the routine, to see things from another vantage point, and to build appreciation and understanding not only for others, but for myself. At the expense of sounding clichéd, I suppose that can be attributed to the transformative power of travel: One can’t help but see the world a little differently afterwards, to come away slightly changed. What those changes are and how they will affect me I can’t say. What I do know is …

Ekostories Reconnect: A Hiatus

Hello all, I will be travelling to Nepal for a volunteer vacation for approximately six weeks. Computer access will most likely be extremely limited, as will most of the many modern conveniences I normally take for granted. This unfortunately means I will not be able to keep up with my weekly essays until I get back. Sorry about that. What I have prepared in advance though is a six-part series titled Ekostories Reconnect. Since this blog is all about exploring connections, I thought it would be interesting to group together some of my existing entries that share similar themes and ideas pertaining to nature, culture, and self. Each part will be scheduled to go live on a weekly basis.  I hope new readers will find something interesting in these older entries, while more regular readers can perceive new patterns and gain fresh perspectives by looking at things a little differently. I’ll try to respond to comments to the best of my abilities. Thanks for your support! Isaac

Ekostories: An Introduction

“… A person who had never listened to nor read a tale or myth or parable or story, would remain ignorant of his own emotional and spiritual heights and depths, would not know quite fully what it is to be human. For the story- from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace – is one of the basic tools invented by the mind of man, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” (Ursula K. Le Guin, Language of the Night, p. 22.) Few things move us like a captivating story, told by a master storyteller. Stories can be grand and epic narratives that guide the thoughts and actions of entire societies and cultures. They can also be of a smaller quieter nature – tales of personal trials and tribulations, comedies and tragedies. They can range from light-hearted escapist adventures to deep meditations of the human condition. Regardless of their scope, the stories that endure share the …