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Wild Blooms

carflower
Photograph by: Unknown

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.

 


Listening to:

 

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Starry Complexities

“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. “

luviiilove
Art by: LuviiiLove

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.”


Listening to:

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.

 

Breakup songs.

“Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.”

I am learning to listen to my unconscious mind and self. And all it wants to listen to right now is breakup songs. When my conscious mind slips in transit somewhere beyond the scenery, my fingers all-too naturally reach for the melancholy songs, the blue shelves of lonesome piano music and scratchy records, featuring voices hoarse and grainy from withheld tears.

I can remember the good old days //  when you and me used to hide away

I wake up to these and an emptiness when I reach my stop, like something has been clawed from me. As though someone had amused themselves to a claw machine game in my chest and had come out victorious, against all odds.

‘But don’t you know claw machines are rigged?’, some part of me accuses, ‘you only win if they let you.’

So who’d you let win? Who’d you let in?

We don’t, we don’t need to talk about this now // Yeah we’ve been down that road before

All day, this feeling follows me, all blue and shadowy. It trails behind my laughter and cuts my smiles short; it pulls a greyness from inside of me and makes me wear it like a truth. Like a sweater in the summer, it is, on its own, a statement piece : something that lets everyone know how I feel.

But I am perfectly alright. And it’s not a breakup! It’s not.

…not really.

I mean, it’s not a breakup if the other person was a friend.

…right?

It’s not, it’s not. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be.

But it is, isn’t it?

And that’s what hurts most, what you run away from : the absurdity. How it should never have happened at all, never could or would have but it still did. Against all odds.

The crowds in my heart they’ve been calling out your name, but it just don’t feel the same

So it’s easier to deny, to make yourself think that needing to wear a sweater in the summer is nothing, least of all a sign of an inner ailment. Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.

You were a moment in life that comes and goes // A riddle, a rhyme that no one knows // A change of a heart, a twist of fate // Couldn’t fix it, it’s too late

Then comes the violent hatred most people don’t move on from, like an infection that festers and remains uncleaned all through life. But I can’t do that, can I? I am still young, and I will not deprive myself of others just because of you. You’ve had your time and you’ve had your piece and I suppose I have, too.

I guess it’s over, yeah we’re done 

And so it is that I’ve been listening and listening and listening to these songs. All the while cleaning out the fragments of you that are left over, like picking out bits of gravel from a skinned knee. It will scar, yes. And it might hurt, little phantom aches or very specific pain when it rains or when I watch a movie that reminds me of you.

But it’s okay. Somehow, I can say that it is. I will be alright.


Note: This is Day 8 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. 4 days behind schedule, still trying to catch up! Find my entry for Day 7 here.

People.

“I’ve been clay in each of their hands, every one of them giving their own twists and turns to the unfinished piece. “

kat
Art by : Katherin Honesta

I don’t write much about other people, I realise.

My writing, much like my internal discourse, is a constant stream of “Me, myself and I”—which I don’t think is unusual or alarming. As human beings, we find ourselves to be an endless source of interest.

Most of the time though, I fail to acknowledge that I am a product of my encounters with other people. That befriending them, engaging with them has changed me into the person I am today. I’ve been clay in each of their hands, every one of them giving their own twists and turns to the unfinished piece. For the good and the bad. I mean, sometimes you take a walk down the street and people put a dent in you. They elbow you and push you, and it’s infuriating not to have that kind of control over yourself. You could, though. Harden, toughen up in the scorching sun and let yourself become cold so that no one will be able to change who you are. So you can elbow back anyone who elbows you. But then, you also shatter that much more easily, and it’s much harder to build yourself back up.

And isn’t that why it’s so essential to be surrounded by well-meaning people? To let them, their kindness and willingness, shape the parts of you you can’t really reach? Let the gentle heat between their palms reach you, soothe and put back in shape the parts that were squashed and dented. That’s something else that happens when you toughen up, you don’t feel a lot of warmth anymore. It doesn’t reach you; it doesn’t stay because you don’t let it.

This is why I I choose to be an endless work in the making. Not simply because I am in perpetual discovery of myself, but because there are always other people out there, softening the edges, roughening them, turning me into some other version of me. I am changing but I am also always myself. I mean, it doesn’t change what I am made of, just how I present myself. People dull or accentuate parts of you. That’s their power.

Mine is…everything else. I can change what I am made of.

So if my friends bring out the laughter in my sadness, deep down it is only I who can decide to change that sadness into something else.

In conclusion, I am not all myself, not all mine despite how I wish to be. But perhaps that’s for the better. Sometimes you lose control or you are simply not wise enough to see more than one end. Friends and family help with that, endlessly.


Note: This is Day 7 of my NaNoWriMo writing challenge ! Slowly but surely catching up 🙂

Listening to :

Caught in Time

“It’s magic, you know; it’s got to be. Maybe it’s just magic we take for granted, and that’s why we can’t see it.”

9
Art by: 9jedit

 

Life has really been moving forward lately. Left and right, I suppose it is that period in one’s life where big changes happen. Friends are getting married, moving away, working big jobs, travelling, falling in love. And for once, I have not been assigned to the bleachers : I am doing things I didn’t think I would ever get to do.

I am moving, moving, moving.

Until, that is, I reach the village caught in time.

It is somewhere I have not been in a good number of years : 10, maybe 11. I can still see myself there, flared jeans and a pink plaid shirt, unruly hair braided, sticking out in gravity-defying tendrils. No glasses, that was the time when wearing them was bothersome, when they had not yet become a refuge. The eyes not weighed down by dark circles, by loss or obscurity skimmed all around like a hummingbird buzzing with energy. A still tender face gazed upward, mesmerised even then by that light. The one that escapes through the branches and leaves of the trees overhead, falling generously like a waterfall, the glorious golden light shifting the way water scintillates.

No time has passed since then.

Everything has stayed much the same, as though I had only left the village for a few hours and had returned somewhat older, but not for long. The place strips me of my years, these weights that have been shoved in my hands that I do not know what to do with. Even now, being older than 20, I still feel a little bit 19. I am still approaching my twenties as though an alien notion. Comparing the 20-year-olds I’d met at 13 to the me from now. They seemed so much more advanced in life than I am, so much more grown-up. Doubtless though they were enduring the same inner turmoil.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m the only one like that.

But who cares about that when you’re 11 and are in a village surrounded by never-ending streams, where seabirds land and take off every other hour; where there is a perfect open space, made to fly kites in. I will be like that sunlight too, I will scatter into a thousand lights, not stopping to warm the foliage and instead dancing with the wind.

I have a small theory about this village. I think it’s not actually real all the time. Sometimes it vanishes for years. You could drive here and at times find only a mound of dust, and no sign of homely houses, of pastoral beauty. It detaches from the earth and flies away, mooring itself to a town with an ocean view for a little while. Wouldn’t that explain the seabirds after all? Maybe they carry it on their backs when they migrate. Who can be sure? I do not know how else to explain it, how this village is so lost in time.

Or how it takes away the years as though they were layers of rust hiding something much younger than it actually looks. It’s magic, you know; it’s got to be. Maybe it’s just magic we take for granted, and that’s why we can’t see it.


Note : This is Day 6 of my NaNoWriMo writing challenge. I’m a bit late this year, but it’s a little harder with work now and trying to figure out publishing times, too. But I’ll try my best to catch up this weekend ! 🙂

A girl in the city.

“And yet who is to say that kind of things churned behind your eyes ?”

pascal
Art by : Pascal Campion

Who even looks up anymore?

Some days I do; most days I don’t. I’m busy trying not to lose time, to make the few hours outside of work count double, triple. Honestly, I am a bit too busy planning my first trip abroad to pay attention to airplanes in the sky. Or to stop in the middle of the unending human flow of the city to gaze at planes weaving soundlessly through clouds. I must have missed more than a couple of these flights, these vanishing doors to daydreams. If this sends a twinge of disappointment in me, I am learning to ignore it. I cannot rise to every occasion. There are just some trains you are going to miss in life, some planes you will never catch.

But then again, there are those that you do seize.

Like today, in the late evening. The sun dipped its toes in the ocean and let out a sigh that was all golden light. A soft caress of warmth at the back of trees, an aureate glint on satellite dishes, a light underlining the otherwise anonymous beauty of you in this loud city.

Did you have any idea what kind of image you made for? You, on the fourth and last floor of an apartment building, sitting by the open window on the windowsill, pale blue curtains fluttering around you; your head resting on one knee, your face upturned. You, one human in a jungle of a city, unstirring where everyone else always moves, moves, moves. And yet who is to say that kind of things churned behind your eyes ? What kind of plane your small hand must have caught.

How many years have you been here, dreaming? To jump on the first plane to pass by your window and to fly away into the night, to wake up to some view other than the one you’ve come to know?

More beautiful than a plane in the clear blue sky, a girl with big dreams in the city, looking out of her window.


Note : This is NaNoWriMo Day 6. You can find Day 5, “Another name for wonder” here ! 🙂

Another name for wonder

“My wonder was not quite so proactive; it was just leftovers from childhood, like stubborn dregs of idealism that remained stuck to my brain…”

what_you_will_never_be_by_jmfenner91

Art by : James Fenner

Wonder is such a rare, rare resource. Somehow, it is something I’ve only realised now that I am losing mine. Wonder is something you cultivate, which you train your eyes to see even when it is hidden deep under a pile of grime and waste. It is to believe that there is good in the world, even when the actions of its people say otherwise. My wonder was not quite so proactive; it was just leftovers from childhood, like stubborn dregs of idealism that remained stuck to my brain, even after it was upended and prepared for the real world.

In a way, my wonder grew like an insurgence, a rebellion; like something that rose stronger after someone tried to kill it. A weed growing back with a vengeance, truly, wishing to overcome everything, to layer it in green. Or pink, as it so happens with wonder. But rose-tinted glasses do shatter, I’ve learnt. And when they do, the contrast is striking. Nauseating. All around is oozing darkness and filth, even the most beautiful souls host some kind of festering illness, most things seem ugly, ugly, ugly.

So, is this what I’ve not been seeing all along ?

Hidden behind bullet-proof, rose-tinted glasses, is this what the world truly looks like ?

Is wonder not just a deception, then? A weed, truly, growing over more than just your sight, but your vision, your perception? A truth-obscurer. How can anyone find any beauty in a world like this? A world that kills and hates, discriminates—a world that hurts so, so deeply; somewhere deeper than any muscle tissue, deeper than the very marrow of your bones. An ache so profound it continually rings through your skeleton, there with you at your every step, at your every glance at this desolate, capsizing world. And through your ache, you feel others’ aches, too. Millions, billions hiding their own pain. The old Earth even aches, and its pain is something so profoundly sad, most of all because it is a wordless cry. It is the sound of trees being felled, of the surface of the Earth being clawed at, of oceans being poisoned.

Beauty?

Beauty, if it ever was, is withering now.

Nothing is beautiful, nothing is good anymore.

The world is all one hollow crater resonating with the cries of all who find themselves in it.

Idealism was a beautiful lie, while it lasted.

Losing wonder is very much like losing one of your 5 senses. The world is never quite the same afterwards. Or maybe it is more like gold that loses its shine with the years.

As I trail past the abandoned Earth, past the desertification of this world, I realise I am not sure what to do at all. Where to start? With the starving, with the injured, the children, the old people? With…myself? The Earth is bleeding, and I only have two hands to stop a haemorrhage larger than all the life I have led up until now.

Soon, night falls in this deserted Earth, like everything else. Everything falls, and decays and dies. Life is a downward spiral, a slope too steep to climb. I let go of myself, slumping into the dunes, the biting cold of the desert at night.

Above me is this huge void, an all-encompassing darkness ready to swallow us whole. The sky will one day fall on our heads and take us all.

Tears, salty and cold and prickly sting my eyes. All of this desolation has welled up into something terrifyingly large on the inside, something that will come out one way or the other. And I can feel it already, lodged in my throat, straining, struggling to be let out.

Then, the first tear falls.

And another and another, and another.

As I rub furiously at my eyes, irritating them even further, something…stands out in the distance, in the corner of my eye.

There, scintillating in the void of night, the first star to appear in the night sky. Something you have to train your eyes to see amidst all the darkness.

Wonder. Wonder blooms in the night like a desert flower.

Quietly, another star alights.

And another and another, and another.

All of the night is alight with stars, blinking from light years away.

And it strikes me then, lightning-hot. Do you know what another name for wonder is? Hope.

Slowly, the blank spaces around me fill up with humans who are stargazers like me, too. The starlight reflects in their eyes, and they, we, can see clearer now.

You know what Hope and stars have in common? They help humans find their way in the dark.


Note : This is NaNoWriMo Day 5. You can find Day 4 here. Also, if you thought this was going to have a bleak ending, well, surprise ! It does happen though, that our idealism dulls. Sometimes you realise again how messed up the world is. Like everything else, wonder has an ebb and flow. But it is so important to not be stuck at one stage or the other and to keep moving forward. Also, side-note, this is the most complete blog post I’ve ever written lol. One very relevant cover photo, a quote of the day AND a song to boot? #Productivity.

Quote of the day :

“There is some good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

Listening to :

Under the shade of centenerian trees

“In nature though, it is the opposite that happens : you breathe out the smell of the city, expunge its taste from your tongue; you cough out the second-hand cigarette smoke and carbon monoxide and gorge your lungs with crisp air from down by the stream.”

heikalaa
Art by : Heikala

I am rather short in stature, and most days I stare with murderous intent at anyone who dares notice the fact out loud.

Even so, there are days when I dream to be much smaller than I already am. So that I may slip through the bars of reality and expectations, through the blinds barring the windows at work, straight into a refreshing stream sparkling with sunlight. I would lie on my back like I’ve done innumerable times at sea, let myself get carried away and just stare up at the skies until my eyes water and I have to blink away the tears, to look away from the blinding light of the sun. How wonderful would it be to gaze up from the passing stream to find masses of leaves rustling with the wind — helping to hide you from the eyes of the world— instead of the vast openness of the sky at sea and sunlight piercing streaks through gaps in the foliage.

Then, a large, waxy leaf would gently detach from a branch, fluttering quietly, anonymously to the ground, down into the stream. And quite naturally, I would reach for it, climb on its veined surface and rest, whilst tracing over the sinewy marks branching away from its centre. Limbs splayed out, drying under the sun, what would worries be but some faraway memory, like a muffled cry under the water?

The most beautiful part would be that no one would know. They might look for me at work, but I do think I’ve earned a day off. It would be a stolen moment then, deliciously anonymous. Lazy and slow, entirely too deliberate to be called a waste of time. Moments like these are called “Nurturing your soul”, filling it with peace; not having to remind it to take deep breaths and not suffocate on the city air. These moments are pockets of bagged oxygen floating in the smog of everyday life. Sometimes, you don’t realise you are being poisoned until you run into one of them, and it strikes you suddenly what you’ve been missing out on this whole time. In nature though, it is the opposite that happens : you breathe out the smell of the city, expunge its taste from your tongue; you cough out the second-hand cigarette smoke and carbon monoxide and gorge your lungs with crisp air from down by the stream.

You breathe it all out in clear bags and send it flying to a black hole ways beyond, at the ends of Time.

I could bring a book, too. Or my sketch book and some watercolour. And cool peach iced tea sloshing in a mason jar mug, droplets of condensation rushing to the bottom. Maybe there could be a few music notes too, floating over my head.

I could hang onto them and fly away for a little while under the shade of centenarian trees.


Note : This is NaNoWriMo Day 4. I couldn’t publish it on time because of some setbacks. Day 5 is coming soon ! 🙂 Meanwhile, you can read my entry for Day 3.

Some advice to myself

typewriter
Gif by : Unknown

Reflecting on my failures in writing, there is one thing that I understand I have been doing wrong. And that is to cry out for ideas, attempting to pull complex stories out of thin air. That’s the whole problem : stories like these are not rooted in anything. They are just streams of words preceding each other, rushing to make a point, to pool into the ocean. They have little authentic meaning and instead look like a patchwork of ideas, not all yours.

Instead, what I should have been doing is to be quiet, and let the ideas rouse from where they are buried. There is plenty to go around on the inside : 20 or so odd years of submerged reflections, of things learned consciously and unconsciously, of lessons tangible or not, of people met and loved and left.

That is how you call upon your inner self, you stay silent and instead of planting other seeds—let the ones that are already buried deep in your ribs sprout up. In so doing, you let yourself speak and understand why you are the way you are. And when these stories emerge, you need to prune them, water them, de-weed, make sure they don’t grow sideways. You need to take care of the stories that spring from such depths; you never know how great they will grow. As unruly as they are though, as much as they leave you exposed, these stories have roots, so they have meaning.

They are irrigated by the blood flowing in your veins—these stories are yours. Not a tale could be told that resembles it, even if they both speak of the same themes, because what is yours is yours. They are your stories, straight from your gut.


Note : This is Day 3 of my NaNoWriMo writing challenge. Here are the entries for Day 1 and Day 2.

My thoughts have thoughts | NaNoWriMo Day 2

“At first, overthinking feels almost intelligent, like : “Oh, look at me, my thoughts have thoughts.””

halloween
Art by : Unknown Artist

In a number of ways, I’ve found myself already.

The constant flow of “Who am I”s  that clashed with my bloodstream has quietened, softened to a dull roar. Like the sound of the ocean in your ear when you place a shell there — it is an echo of something it used to be, something from the past.

I could honestly not fill out a form about what I want to be, though. I couldn’t say where I want the next 5 years to take me. But I could write my name proudly on top of the paper. I don’t know where I’m going or how, but on this solo quest, I at least know who I’m travelling with.

So, I’ve finally discovered who I am, although how much of it is discovery and how much of it is memory is really hard to tell. I think, in a way, it is more of a rediscovery than anything else. Either way, I’m still not able to provide short-cut answers (“I want to be a writer.” or “I want to write a novel.”) or very clear answers at all. My…truths are not easy for me to casually explain. They are still a little muddled, like water that is only now settling after its surface has been disturbed by multiple ricochets. So these…truths come in unusual ways : in musical scores and vocal tremors in songs, very precise bits of writing, insignificant words, wispy feelings, moods and other such nameless things. It is nothing quite concrete, but is still so overwhelmingly potent just for existing. The few moments I can catch are such delights to have, so crisp they are, so startlingly clear.

At this point, if someone asks me who I am, I will just point to a song that speaks to my soul and say : “That is what I am.”.  I’m not ashamed of it : I have caught with quite slippery hands the bits and pieces that I am now holding onto. But really, it was easy. Once I let go of the overthinking, the truth rose from the silence and I followed it to the things that matter most.

But who am I kidding, overthinking is the hardest thing at first. Overthinking is a storm in your mind that leaves debris in its wake. It is a man-made disaster, the number one mind-polluter : it turns the place inside out, enshrouds any markers that could guide you back to the places you’ve been before. But not overthinking is also hard in a world that always leaves you guessing whether you are doing things right. Simplicity is not easy. When sophistication is dangled like a bait in front of you, you start asking yourself what is wrong with you for not wanting it. If everyone else is fighting for it, why am I not ?

I used to think simplicity was boring, like it was just the beginning stages of a painting. A bare canvas waiting to be doused in colour. Simplicity is monochrome in a world of splashing colours. It is empty, lacking substance. I only thought that because I never imagined simplicity could come from sophistication. I thought simplicity was plain, unadorned, that blank spaces didn’t belong on a canvas. But that’s not true. Simplicity is focused, calm where overthinking is excessive or scattered. If simplicity is monochrome, then overthinking is like mixing colours : you keep adding touches and dashes of this and that shade, and in the end all you’re left with is a pool of muddled black. Simplicity knows what it is and what is out there and still chooses to be itself.

I’ve learned to do the same. I’m still learning, still struggling to keep it simple and keep it real. At first, overthinking feels almost intelligent, like : “Oh, look at me, my thoughts have thoughts.”.

It feels right because you are weighing in all your options, learning as much as you can about them, double, triple-checking…At one point though, you just turn into a hoarder. You stockpile thoughts and hide behind them like a dragon sleeping under a mountain of gold coins.

Your thoughts have thoughts. Cool, but is any one of them doing anything for you? Or do they all just look pretty in your head ? Simplicity in thought is having a thousand choices and going through the effort of keeping only the right one. Or, at the very least, the one or two that feel the most right of them all.

With some of the debris cleaned up, my journey inward can now be resumed, its paths unclogged, unobstructed. I can begin again to uncover all the wonderful things that give meaning to life, for me.

And again, it’s the simple, not always quiet things. It’s music by people whose artistry I adore. Loud laughter. Fearing nothing but fear itself.


Note : This is an entry for NaNoWriMo Day 2. Also, I realise some parts of this may sound harsh, but I’m mostly talking to myself when I write down things like these, so…

November showers | NaNoWriMo Day 1

tamaki
Art by : Tamaki

Where I live, November marks the beginning of a long, humid summer. All day long, the atmosphere hangs on your back like the sky has fallen on its head and cracked open all its contents on you, fragile human that you are. November makes you feel like you’re always wearing too many clothes and that your face can only be seen through a layer of sweat and grime.

Things are no better at night until, that is, it begins to rain. It feels like a sea spray, all salty and fresh and shiver-inducingly cold on your face after a day spent in a boiler room. It’s also inevitable that it should rain. What with all the humidity the sky has been holding in the whole day, like a balloon gradually being filled with air until it is about to burst. It’s inevitable, truly. Rain is a result, a consequence, a logical follow-up. If it is humid, it will rain.

In that sense, I have been seeing the ends in all things lately.

This rain that I catch with my outstretched hand will evaporate or will be had by the Earth. Ultimately, it will go back up to the sky and fall again. It will rise and fall, rise and fall. Like the chest of someone who is sleeping, like a heartbeat. As people do : we live, we die. Then we are reborn in some way or other. Our bodies become food for the earth and the earth uses it to grow beautiful things. (I wish some part of me could help grow a forest one day). Our lives never end though, it is an infinite loop of life and death and life and death. Rise and falls, ups and downs, ebbs and flows, even the sea churns the same waters over and over again.

But somehow, this feels special.

This feels like I’ve stepped just the littlest bit off-course, outside the loop. As though I’ve just derailed infinitesimally from the endless circle. I fear I may have broken the cycle but I also think this is the culmination of all the lives that came before me, all the energy that was cultivated over light years so that I could be as I am now, on this earth. I could be a star in the sky right now, grazing one of Saturn’s rings. But here I am.

How wonderful that I can be. That now I can be aware of more than nameless survival. I can now point to what I am doing, to what I am—my hands, my face, my heart, my lungs— and breathe I live. I am.

When I was younger and had stumbled unprepared on this, the door that led to the end of all things, I had been horrified. Sick to my stomach. Utterly refusing to even consider, let alone believe. That things are so simple, that death comes as swiftly (no, much more swiftly, much easier) than life. Because death is bad. Death is wrong. How can it be so easy?  I’ve embraced it over the years, unconsciously. I have assimilated it deep inside of me, or rather I’ve finally let it expand from where it was all along. “Survival” is “not dying” after all, so we do have a notion of the concept—our fear of death just makes us ignore it altogether, hoping it is an illness that will pass.

I’ve been learning about it, because fear leads to ignorance. I’ve learned so far that all of me will turn into dirt one day : not just my body, but all my ideas and thoughts too, will be reduced to dirt.

But I’m telling you, this feels special.

We are all born and will all meet our ends, timely or untimely as they may be, but the difference now is we get to choose what happens in between. We get to write stories, and be more.


Note : This is Day 1 of my take on NaNoWriMo : one blog post a day every day of November ! There have been known to be cheerier themes to start such challenges with though lol.

Good enough

murakami

I hate everything I am writing lately.

I hate the way I can’t seem to get my words out, the way my writing never flows.

It just doesn’t come as naturally as before.

You know how when you’re drawing, and you keep trying to draw a curved line a certain way, or are attempting to make an identical “other eye” and it doesn’t work ? And you keep erasing it over and over, tracing it back on with the mechanical pencil and erasing again until the paper just—tears ? Rips apart under your fingers ? And the frustration builds up from your gut, rushes out in a guttural roar, and you just, tear, tear, tear. Swear you’ll never do this again.

Well, the paper is my brain.

Or feels like it.

But that’s my own fault, sortof.

I keep trying to make everything I write “good enough”. Keep trying to stamp ‘perfection’ on everything that leaves my brain. So before the idea even starts out, takes shape, it is garbled up, mashed into a mould it doesn’t fit into, trying to be what it is “supposed to be” : good enough. I don’t know what the standard is, what “good enough” really looks like. It’s just a vague idea that has been built into something immense. Like a balloon dressed in a crisp, black suit. Like the biggest matryoshka that has been emptied of all its other dolls. It stands tall, intimidating, daunting with the knowledge of all that it entails, but is just so damn empty inside.

But the image is enough to tie all the faucets of my imagination shut.

Ideas are meant to be like this, I almost say, pointing to my memory of anything that has ever made me feel anything worthwhile. But there are examples (of writing, mostly) that are far too precise as well, down to the sentence. It has not yet devolved into anything matching an “I wish I’d written this.” spirit, but I wonder how close I am to that.  If I had to envy other writers, I don’t think I would envy their intelligence or their finished works. But rather their capacity to be both authentic and interesting. Two things I don’t think I can manage at once.

‘If you’re not the kind of idea that looks like this,’ I almost say to myself, ‘if you are not this kind of authentic, please go away.’ Sometimes, I look back at things I have written and wish I could write them again. Why can’t you be like this idea ? See how good it was ? Why can’t you write like how you wrote back then ?

And it’s all because of the (not-actually-stupid) stupid writing contest I’ve been trying to get into. It’s huge and amazing and it’s the first time I’m actually going to do something like this and it has to be amazing and breathtaking, revolutionary and so interesting that every word drips with meaning because what’s the point if it’s not, right ?

I’m not in it to win.

I could never win. 

I thought saying that would remove me from the idea of a “race”, a “contest”. That I could then go on my merry little way and dissolve into one of the ‘worlds’ I am so keen on writing about. But if I’m defining the whole artistic venture that is a writing contest as not even a prize to be won, but as a prize that cannot even be won, you can clearly see how peaceful writing removed from internal pressures is not a thing that’s going to happen. Because at this point, I am facing an impossibility. It’s not even a boolean “You’re going to win” or “You’re going to lose”, it’s a : “You’re going to lose. What are you going to do about it?”

Try to make it so perfect I can’t lose. 

If, by nature, I am a perfectionist, I am also someone who sees far more possibilities in something than there actually are.

I might not win, but boy am I going to learn so much from this experience.” 

That is my train of thought, often enough.

But not now.

I’m an idiot, in that sense. A perfectionist idiot who’s afraid of time running out and so is  constantly rushing into doing things. But I am also one among to many others like me.

Like people who thought they had to be a certain way, to write in a certain way. Good stories are written like this, and here’s an 800-page guide on how to do it…said nobody ever. 

Maybe it was fortuity, maybe it was Fate, but not knowing what they were about, I started reading Haruki Murakami’s first works “Hear the wind sing” and “Pinball” this past week. Accompanying them is an introduction from the author, the first time I read anything of his that isn’t fictional. And it’s everything, everything I needed to hear.

Give up trying to write something sophisticated. Forget all those prescriptive ideas about “the novel” or “literature” and set down your feelings and thoughts as they come to you, freely, in a way that you like. 

I am no Haruki Murakami, but perhaps that’s the point. Haruki Murakami did not know he was going to be Haruki Murakami. He just learned, in writing, to be himself. And everything else arranged itself around that, good or bad. I think I need to learn something similar to that. Something that applies to me.

I have so many ideas though, so many things I want to write about. NaNoWriMo’s even coming up and there’s so much I want to do. I keep jotting things down, from keywords to sentences and summaries ( “observatory”, “A cat’s life”). I still need to overcome my overthinking, still need to work on so many things.

But maybe I just needed to say it, because thinking it wasn’t enough.

Anyway, if I have to choose between being authentic and being interesting, I would rather be authentic first. I can learn to be relevant and impactful later.

Meanwhile, I’m still going to try for the writing contest, because it would feel like giving up at this point. It ends November 1st, the day NaNoWriMo starts. Ends are beginnings, always, so I’m going to count on that.


Listening to :