You know, sometimes I want to be one of those odd objects you discover in abandoned gardens. Somewhere amidst the overgrown grass grazing your calf, a rusty bicycle or a tin box, an old chair with a gaping hole where there used to be a plush seat. A bicycle with vines twirling around the handles, almost struggling to breathe under the weight of the flowers wildly blooming over. The small, inedible mushrooms that poke through the chains, the dandelions that grow in between the crisscrossing wheel spokes. And the wheel itself, hanging in the air, unmoving, stopped by Time and rust a long time ago.
It’s something that feels like it has been pulled to the Earth. It seems such a peaceful thing to be. Bathed in warm sunlight, watered by rain, kept company by wildflowers that giggle in the wind. Overwhelmed by nature, uncaring of Time. For something that was formerly abandoned to bloom like this—Ah, it is wildly enchanting. Like something you could mistake for the beginning of a fairytale.
It is in this sort of garden that breathes eternity that we meet every now and then, in the realm of dreams that try very hard to be reality. We set up wooden swings on the wheel spokes, watch as the vines curl around metal and contemplate how Nature always takes over. We wonder if, when it happens to us, it will be as peaceful as this. Imperceptibly, your hand tightens around mine.
“We could whisper to the stars and tell them what happened to other stars, billions of years ago, tell them how they shattered and turned into people. Do you wonder if stars tell their children that when you die, you become a human? A faraway life, on a small blue planet. “
I can already imagine it, with starry complexity. We will linger at the space station, floating around to haunting piano music softly diffusing across the universe, echoing down lonely black holes and asteroid fields. We’ll hang the clothes to dry on one of Saturn’s rings. On Saturdays (Or however we decide to name it) we’ll have barbecues on the sun and plant artificial roses on dwarf planets and dying stars for a pilot whose plane has crashed to find someday. We’ll pluck stars from space and rearrange the cosmos, play tennis with asteroids and write messages with our fingers across nebulae for Earth to see.
We can hide on the moon, sometime. Lie down in the sea of tranquility and tell corny jokes about how we aimed for the moon. We can close our eyes and move to the dark side, and pretend Earth doesn’t exist. We’ll live out our days in an alcove on a planet no one will ever discover.
We’ll make paperboats, watch them sail and burn in a constellation of stars. We could even reach inside one of them, our hands travelling all the way to the molten core, and touch someone’s consciousness. We could whisper to the stars and tell them what happened to other stars, billions of years ago, tell them how they shattered and turned into people. Do you wonder if stars tell their children that when you die, you become a human? A faraway life, on a small blue planet. So, children if you want to say hi, all you have to do is shine bright and they will know who you are? I wonder if humans are star-ghosts?
We could also hollow out one of the planets, and make home inside.
Trust me, we will never get lost. I have the universe inside of me. Did you know that there are more synapses in the human brain than there are stars in our Milky Way? And there are more possible brain connectivity patterns than there are atoms in the Universe? Our minds are larger and more infinite than the Universe. We are multitudes, eternal matter in perishable bodies.
“When we die,” you ask “do you think we go back to being stars? Do you think that some part of us goes into space? Like, the parts that used to be our eyes, when they rot and become dirt and minerals in the Earth, then feed a tree that later gets turned into wood brought on a spaceship—do you think I could see the universe then? Do you think I could get to be a part of it then? That I will be welcomed, like a missing limb, and I will finally remember? And slowly, like that, the Universe will start being whole again.”
“But you’ll forget me then, you’ll forget Earth.” I say.
“Not if you come with me.” you smile “Then we’ll forget about the lives we had here. But it’s okay, because you and I, we go way back, we were stars together. Then, we can remember who we were meant to be all along.”
Note: This is Day 25 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. I’m afraid with this one, I totally pretended like Science wasn’t a real thing. Don’t shove your hands down molten cores of stars, kids. You’ll be dead before you even get to try. You can read my previous entry for the challenge here. Also, ‘more infinite’ isn’t…really a thing. But eh, dramatics amirite.
I have been so busy questioning Life that I can’t seem to live it.
My tenderest years I spent feeding my doubts, utterly taken by greater-than-life hypotheses about Meaning and Existence. The questions grew large and looming, dwarfing me in the process, until one day I fell into one of them, into the black hole of one “Why” too many. Further down the rabbit hole I fell, to the point where it became all I knew; I could only vaguely recall there ever being some other life before it.
And so I spent many years surrounded by a kind of darkness, in the search for “Truth” (although, in reality, it was more complicated than that). I was looking for the Truth, the kind humans have been searching for since the dawn of Time, but also for my own personal truth, my own story. I was looking for myself, trying to see, through the very limited lens of my consciousness, the whole truth of the human condition, the efforts of mankind sketched against the then-vague concept of the Universe.
Ironically, by trying to widen my worldview and deepen my consciousness, I became monomaniacal, so astoundingly focused on the task I couldn’t see what I’d become.
Life graces us all with at least one piece of irony.
Then, I spiralled.
Days blurred into nights and Time melted under the sun until Life became Existence, and I did not know myself anymore.
I’d love to say I woke up one day to the sunlight caressing my cheek. I’d love to say its warmth shook something in me and jolted me awake.
But I stayed locked in the dark. I let my teenage years just go by. I never truly celebrated the year when I was 18. This feeling was all I was; it erased everything else, every other kind of identity. And it was so hard to explain — how could I when I didn’t even understand it myself?
But slowly, unwillingly, I crept out into the sun. I opened my eyes to it, its brightness burning my retinas. Then I crawled back inside for months in a protective darkness, in a safe stillness. Then I came out again. I would spend a day in, a day out. Now the days have turned into months, the months into half-years. And slowly, I am converting Existence to Life again.
This time around, I believe I am going about existentialism the right way: I ask questions and in so doing, uncover dark rooms, encounter still, darkened worlds within my consciousness. And in the midst of all this darkness, I try to find the light that shows me around it.
It is this simple: do not get eaten by the dark. Always carry some light with you, within you.
We all have that spark, no matter how dire the circumstances, how extreme our suffering. As long as there is life, there can be light.
Do not let the darkness overwhelm your light. Even if it is flickering, light always overpowers darkness.
Note : I remember when I started this blog, I was still in the throes of all this dark existentialism, of these huge concepts I could not fully comprehend, did not know how to handle. And now I am all “A kaleidoscope of butterflies” and “Warm, honeyed sunlight”. Whodathunk.
Did you know that during winter, you can still see stars at 05:30 a.m?
When I woke up to them, still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I thought I might still be dreaming or that I was seeing these strange light visions you get when you rub your eyes. I thought I might have woken up on one of Saturn’s 9 unnamed moons (out of a total of 62 moons with enthralling names: Thrymyr, Ijiraq, Telesto, Lapetus, Titan…) and was seeing the universe laid out before me, all engulfing darkness and lights that shine all the brighter for it.
It felt decidedly surreal, to be visiting the universe one dawn in my pyjamas, hair ruffled and warm from sleep, my fluffy eye mask snagged in one direction around my neck.
It was an honest mistake, and a beautiful one to boot. But the world was silent, the city young and asleep. Not even the sound of an altered motorcycle exhaust. Not even the barking of a dog. Nothing. It was quiet, like how I know the universe must be. In the hour before dawn, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, stars have this ethereal pinkish glow, something a little peachy and warm. I woke up to the universe outside my bedroom window, to moons hanging low in my backyard, grazing the balcony overlooking the city.
Or so it seemed.
Of course, I would realise they were stars as time went by.
And yet somehow, instead of disappointment, I felt all the more thankful for them. For how they accompany us even in the last hours of the night, fearing we might lose our way.
Finally, finally, after a lifetime of contemplation, under the protective glow of pinkish stars, I realised that stars are for me companions, friends, who see me through the darkness of night, holding my hand until the small hours and beyond.
I am never alone when the stars are with me, when the Universe sends them my way to guide me through the dark.
Slowly, reverently, I trace my fingertips over the patterns of stars in the lightening sky. One, two, three, four and a few hundred more. Though side by side, sharing the same skies, they never meet.
Perhaps it is true.
I trace over the patterns of lights on the apartment complex a few blocks away. Every window that is lit up is at least one person.
It really is true : that each star represents a connection I will never make, a friend I will never meet. We are all strangers under one big sky, learning our own orbits, navigating our loneliness.
That morning, there must have been someone else like me. Another one or more, staring at the pinkish lights, keeling under the revelation of 5 a.m. stars, their questions floating in the sky, not unheard but still unanswered.
Is there someone out there like me?
Quote of the day :
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
— Frida Kahlo
Note : I have to admit though, Lonely Stars and Unnamed Moons is a pretty amazing band name. 10/10 would listen to their music if they existed 😂
I am waiting for watercolour wreaths to dry on a birthday card. Another hour will probably go into that card, crafting a message, trying to make it look dainty. I am trying to send something beautiful to someone dear to show her how she makes me feel. She sends me messages, telling me the family misses me. She makes me feel like pouring hours into painting watercolour, even though I’ve never learnt how and I am not good at it. She makes me want to spend my time on her, to weave my time grains into every brush stroke that makes up this little aquarelle.
I want her to think: “Oh, she spent so much time on this because she cares.”
A while back I swore off this kind of self-expression. Personal, involved, intimate, the kind I gift to other people.
Once bitten, twice shy.
I had invited someone in, given her a “Drop by whenever you need” card. Yet after several years of beautiful friendship, her actions, like mud splatters, ruined all my delicate aquarelle feelings, shattered my porcelain-like vulnerabilities in one fell swoop. Even now, a year later, I cannot begin to figure out my feelings. I keep switching between denying the pain and feeling it. I struggle with forgiveness and moving on. Some days I tell myself to forget it ever happened. Other days I feel like apologising even when I’m not wrong just so I can get her back.
Heh, who said friends can’t break hearts.
I remember how I refused to even write “letters to read on the plane”, which for years was a personal tradition I treasured. A last, lingering forget-me-not, a relic from the time spent together in my city that would follow loved ones on their plane journey home, sealing all the memories we’d made that summer.
I wished I could tear all the ones I had given her. I wished I had written something different in them, as if that would have changed anything.
But hope grows like a weed in my heart. No matter how many times I pluck it out, it somehow always finds its way back there. So I am flinchingly trusting other people again, writing letters against my better knowledge. I’m holding back on emotion, but at the same time giving so much more than I thought I would.
I am learning to accept that this is who I am, regardless of what other people are.
“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
This is something Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi once said. Or wrote, I’m not sure. I just happened upon it one day, like an ancient gold coin glinting in a modern world.
Unconsciously, I have always held the notion that old civilisations were wise. Through their connections with the earth, the spiritual, the travellers of the world, they must have had such knowledge of their own selves. What they lacked in physical comforts, they made up for with the richness of their spirits. This is all, of course, unfounded assumptions, general impressions. In reality, it is more likely that I view them so much as “civilisations” or “peoples” that it does not occur to think of them as individuals. To see them as more than the most illustrious of their people.
Even now, I find it hard to believe that Rumi wrote this for someone of his time, to remedy issues had by people he knew. No, instead, as all marvellous writing ever has, it makes me feel as though it has been written for me. As though it were the solution to all my highly specific, 21st century problems. It fills in all my worries, like molten gold poured over the cracks of my consciousness. It smooths over every wrinkle of thought, each crease of worry.
I cannot believe sometimes that I received it, to speak crudely, for free. Who would give you an old gold coin to begin with? The world doesn’t work like that.
And yet here I have it, a gold coin glinting in my hand. Sometimes I consider my own views on Fate and reflect with deep gratitude that perhaps this is a piece of the universe that was sent to me. Maybe these words made it through the ages and civilisations, crossing borders, surviving modernity and translation to reach me, their meaning unscathed.
My fingers absent-mindedly turn this piece of gold over, mulling, considering, tracing over its engravings. I’m waiting, waiting without knowing how this gold coin will decide my fate once I set it free.
I didn’t grow up rich or poor, but we were always trying to pinch pennies, to make the most of what we had. For one, we’d never been able to go on holidays as a family, it wasn’t even an idea we could entertain. I am aware that as I describe this middle-class setting, I am already more privileged than I can fathom.
I was fortunate enough to have all my basic necessities covered, allowing me to long for more. Still, we had to be careful with our things and would not think to ask the latest things from our parents. So like everyone else, I grew up wishing for things : the newest clothes, cars, holidays.
At some point though, it stopped mattering.
Now that I am able to have these things, I realise I do not really want them, I do not wish to hang on to them. Owning things weighs me down. A little like when you have had a too-heavy meal, and realise you overdid it. My arms hurt from carrying all this…stuff (nameless, characterless objects) and all I want is to go straight to what is essential. Everything else is just add-ons; I wouldn’t, couldn’t be happy with more.
So no, I do not want these markers of “success”, these…accessories. They distract from what is truly important. Like gaudy jewellery and shiny baubles that divert the attention from a simple, elegant dress.
Pare everything down, strip it to the core. I do not want more than what is essential.
Owning things does not fulfil me. It does not make me happy or content. It could never rival the simple things in life that I adore : rain, a worn, comfortable shirt, warmth, time spent with family and friends.
In fact, things come in the way of all that. Material gains make you forget what you were looking for truly, all this time.
And by that, I do not mean I will not buy material goods. It does not mean that I will not own a phone. It means I will not rush headlong into buying the latest iPhone, just because it is the latest iPhone.
I will not listen to what the world says I need in order to be happy. I know what I need. And it is not material possessions bought for the sake of owning them or impressing others.
It is the simple things. Always has been, always will be.
Quote of the day:
« On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. »
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The nights are growing cold here, and I’m using old memories to kindle a little warmth.
Just enough to feel my fingertips, to not let my heart freeze over.
There was a time when I would have lit a blazing fire, enough to outlast the wintry winds, the night shivers. There was a me who would have fed off of the warmth of another time, who would have nurtured back to life the smouldering remains of dying fires.
But you see, I am not this me anymore. I am brave enough now to venture into the cold, to let the chill crawl up my bare arms and invigorate me.
Now, if I want warmth, I have just enough spirit to reach for it, trusting that it will not burn.
(Because that’s the thing about memories, isn’t it? They warm without burning. But you can never tell what it will be with the present, you can only experience the full shock of it when it happens.)
Do you ever feel that this life is not really yours?
I have this deep, unsettling conviction sometimes that one day I will wake up, and it will all have been a dream.
I must have wandered off one late summer day, probably during a family picnic at the beach. Trying —without knowing— to touch a moment of infinity, to connect to the strange energy swirling inside of me. I tried to talk to the ocean, to understand the hidden language behind its ebb and flow, and the eons-old story it tells.
“Tell me what you know about the stars.” I whispered.
I let the washed up shells guide my steps, imagined waking up within one of them, bathed in a pinkish glow. All around me, the world was telling a story and I was listening. To the winds that told me where they go to rest, to the rocks that have only ever felt life, to the sands that murmured stories of when they were corals settled deep in the ocean.
I must have wandered so far as to get utterly lost. But I was unaware. Too taken by the secret magic of the world to notice. I wandered for years following that inner light, only looking up much later, far away from the beach, from any sounds of laughter, from any comfort of family.
And ever since, I’ve been trying to find my way back. Have been trying to connect to that same energy from that day on the beach, many summers ago, in the hopes that it will take me back.
So far, I have reached a desert, where seashells have been swapped for fennecs and other desert dwellers. The desert sand tells a different story : one of dunes and unfathomable mysteries buried in its breast. And again, losing a few years, I listen.
Once or twice, I think I collapsed from heatstroke. And in between my barely open eyelids, I glimpsed the beach from another world, another time. The backs of the people I love are turned to me, and even though I’m so near, they can’t see me, they don’t even know I’m gone. Or that I will be gone.
But then, on the third time, I wake up.
All the years I’ve lived in the desert dissolve into dust; they were never real. That is how life feels some days. An imaginary journey, something I was too young to embark on, something too dangerous. I’m constantly straying from the things that brought me warmth and comfort, and my whole life is spent seeking that lost haven, never knowing whether I will find it.
Note : Did that even make sense? 😂 I don’t know, but it’s good to be back posting.