Interstices of time.

Art by: Eleni Debo

09 May 2019

In the interstices of time, the forgotten minutes of the day, I sneak in a few reflections on my phone. In a corner of one greying office, imagination blooms. It takes over my desk, growing like vines of voluminous flowers all about; every curling vine can be traced back to me, back to my pen where the words flourish and new worlds are born.

But that is all in my head.

In reality, it would be too conspicuous to even draw out a sheath of paper or my white notebook. So I quickly jot down a few thoughts, passing musings like clouds in my head that are inexorably moving away…

Tap.tap.tap.

It’s not quite the same experience though. There’s traditional writing: balancing a pen between my fingers, a notebook laid out before me, anticipating the gush of words, the opening of new otherworlds. Then there’s this, a rectangular black device with a keyboard already filled with letters, where penstrokes give way to tap tap taps on a writing app. It’s useful and practical. Simple, as it should be.

It’s different, though.

It’s less intimidating, for one. Nowadays, my brain stutters before a blank page, feels the weight of expectations before pen touches paper. There have been times when I’ve opened my journal, poised to write and empty my heart out, only to close it moments later, pages still blank, the pen discarded.

Here though, as with anything related to smartphones, there is a sense of urgency (I’m already stealing time away from my work as it is), to pin the slippery idea down asap. The inclination to delve deep stays away. Sometimes it is just the beginning of an idea that makes it to the app. I type it down, and wait for the idea, a sapling, to grow until I can transplant it in my notebook.

And yet, I am so grateful for it. So grateful that thanks to technology, there is no season to writing. No predetermined creative hours. The door to imagination is open at all times of day and night. Even in the business park where I work, the smartphone and writing app lend me this inconspicuousness, making me look like just another head in the crowd.

Binary.

I am currently processing difficult things, and finding joy in others.

Is it terrible of me to not simply be sad?

It’s a terrible, sublime, ecstatic experience to be able to hold both grief and joy so closely to my heart. To have a current and a counter-current running their own separate courses in one vessel, never being in the other’s way. Maybe this is the most authentic I have felt. Being able to hold both with grace β€” to not be keeled over with grief, to not be carried away by joy β€” perhaps this is the way inwards and outwards, closer to the universe pulsing with hidden life.


Listening to: Welp, YouTube videos are currently refusing to be shown here. But recently, TikTok (yes) has brought me some of the most soulful Indian and Pakistani music and it’s just πŸ‘Œ

Where we belong.

Suspended in what Banana Yoshimoto calls the ‘cosmic darkness’.

Humans cannot be let free to roam. We cannot be untethered. The image I have in mind is that of an astronaut drifting in space. Free, by all means, of all bonds. But she is left alone to wonder, to gaze upon the cosmos, to reach the ends of time and space, and ultimately to surrender.

That is how I feel now: adrift in loneliness, unbound by responsibilities or impositions. I stare into space, conjure a bit of it wherever I go. It’s deep and dark, like the bottom of the ocean, where I’m walking. I wish there was a lamp in my hand, one of the old ones fueled by oil. Something heavy to weigh me down and help me feel the comforting Earth beneath my feet. To bring me back.

Who knew there was a balance in this too? That too much freedom is a curse, and we were all meant to belong somewhere.

Cut off a kite string and it is lost, forever. Pull it too tight and it never fulfills its purpose. To fly, while being planted in the ground. To be a tree, rooted solidly in place, but with flowers that dance with the breeze.


Note: A few years back, someone on this blog kindly shared some book/author recommendations. Among them was Banana Yoshimoto, who I started reading just a few days ago. “Kitchen” was the exact book I needed at the time to make sense of myself. Totally recommend it.

Free your will.

Stills from the movie “Whisper of the Heart” by Studio Ghibli

As surely as the water must meet the shore, and the seed must rise from itself to greet the sun β€” as surely as our destinies are written in the stars, this was ineludible.

That I should struggle against my restraints, try to dislodge myself from the mould of pre-made decisions. It was meant to happen. It was either this, or a life like drawn-out death. A death that would look like success but never feel like it. What is success if you’ve lost your spark? What is success if your most violent passions, the ones lusting for fulfillment, have dulled into what-ifs that punctuate the daily routine? Days that are different, surely, but all look the same… What is a life if April 23rd and November 16th are one and the same?

It is no easy thing to seek freedom.

How much simpler would it be to sit back in life and bear the drudgery, the grating injustice and follow the path? The congratulations would have flown in, drowned me. The awe and the envy would have made it all utterly delightful.

“So young, to have reached this far at this age?”

“How did she do it?”

Like expensive cocktails, I would have sipped on these words delicately…

Even now, I am still drawn, hypnotised by the path, like a fly to the light. How desirable. How endlessly pleasant to knock yourself out for the day, and emerge after-hours and in the weekends? How delicious would it be to fall in the ranks and make no hard decisions, to flow like water in a stream.

It’s madness, a form of insanity to leave that safe mould.

(Yet I have.)

Another comfort zone smashed.

Another state of weakness, back bared to the world.

I still ask myself what I’ve done, what I think I’m doing, what I think I could possibly achieve this way.

But it’s too late for all that now. The only way is forward.


Note: I really said New Year, New Me πŸ˜‚ I hope you are all doing beautifully πŸ’•

Listening to:

Twenty twenty too.

Art by: Haranikala

Even now, I almost write ‘2020’.

Like everyone else, I think, I am still living somewhere in the past, finding no noticeable distinction from the present. Roaming the dark tunnel of these past two years has made me lose my sense of time. More of the same everyday. And the next day, and the next. Is it today or is it still yesterday? Ah, it’s already tomorrow?

But again, summer is upon us. And not just any summer – a December summer.

Sticky days with a punitive, skin-burning sun and sultry nights that have you tossing and turning, unable to sleep from the heat, the airless atmosphere. Still, summer calls us to it, in spite of all its inclemencies. It is a summer that hides a lot of pain β€” not the summer of love or discovery, but the summer of time lost and adventures unhad. A summer of grieving all that could not happen, and all that did.

Still, and perhaps most cruelly, life goes on. On the remains of yesterday, the seed of the present grows.

Our other freedoms cut short, we partake in the remaining rituals of summer… We grab on to ripe mangoes of different varieties: some round and firm like apples, others mushy and fibrous, with that signature curve. Then, we hunt down laden branches of plump litchis at the best price, we pick sweet-smelling pineapples and haul heavy watermelons, the kind that have juice dribbling down your chin.

Here it is, another summer of hanging on, worse for wear.

And yet, and yet, we are lost if we do not believe.

If we do not believe that tomorrow will be better. That, like the summer, this darkness is a passing thing.

Beautiful days come if you believe in them, so believe.


Note: Merry Christmas to all those of you who celebrate and Happy Holidays! I’m going to stop saying I’m back to posting more regularly because I feel I’ve been jinxing it πŸ˜‚ (And now I am going to pretend like me not writing is the result of some jinx and not, you know, me making excuses not to write 😬)

Listening to:

Polaris.

Art by: Eyely Design

A blue night suffused with warmth.

There is only me and this Truth I’ve been rubbing shoulders with. It’s been keeping me company, engaging me in conversation β€” a faithful little light. I don’t know it and yet it feels altogether familiar, like Polaris, the North star: almost swallowed by distance, and yet also home. How can you feel so close to something that is so far away?

Still, still.

A hush falls on the room and I would say that in that moment I grow silent, but rather, it is in silence that I grow. Like leaves leaning towards light, my consciousness reaches for the stars, my inner self grabs for the many secrets the Universe keeps.

Reveal yourself to me, I ask.

Tell me who you are because I suspect that if you do, I’ll know who I am, too.


Note: Just me writing weird, semi-sensical things again πŸ˜‚ But hey, self-expression.

A kinder sentiment.

Art by: Kyutae Lee

Trigger warning: death ideation.

Odd and contradictory as it may be β€” in moments of joy and beauty, I have often found myself thinking I could die then and there. There are other times when I have wished against all reason that the moment would never end, that I be allowed to spend the rest of my mortal years in it. But inexplicably, there has also been this.

It usually happens when I am at the right distance from everything: the people in my life, my daily routine, the names I respond to and all my attachments to this world. No longer am I the name on my identity card, the colour of my eyes or even the madness of my hair. No longer am I a girl in the bus, a vision or a tangible thing. My soul instead flies like a kite into the boundless skies, and the string keeps tugging, pulling, unraveling from the spool, like a scarf endlessly lost to the wind, dancing an infinite dance.

In these moments when I am so far away that all I know are the brushstrokes of clouds, I become the feeling I am experiencing: the blueness of the sky, the golden quality of sunlight, the faint rustling of leaves… I melt and become a mere mirror of experience and sensation, an echo-room for the beauty of the world.

I’ve often mistaken this feeling as a desire for death β€” a longing to stop existing beyond this point, having achieved the purest form of existence.

But it is not that, the Truth in me supplies. It is a kinder, softer sentiment, a freer one.

Yes, I echo, gentle and honest like a tired child.

I do not want to die. I want, instead, to dissolve into the sky and become the material of clouds. I want to be taken apart, memory by memory, and come undone like a tangle of threads until my soul is free to join the ether.

Like foam to the sea. Dust to Dust. A breeze in the infinite sky. That is my soul, a grand mystery solved, a stuffy room now breathing with light.

It was never about dying, it was always an unbecoming, a journey back home. But there are no words for that in the common language. The closest approximation has always been ‘death‘, but it is not that.

My soul is this feeling of light. Light in both ways: weightless and honeyed, like that one spot of light that falls on your desk one afternoon and in which particles of dust or matter rise, rise, rise as if called to some greater purpose.

I do not want to die. I want to be this, I’ve caught myself thinking.


Quote of the day:

“You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!”

β€” Pablo Neruda, A Song of Despair

It’s 00:27

and I’m writing a book review/analysis/blurb in an attempt to make something of myself.

I have work to wake up for in 7 hours,

but somehow it doesn’t matter right now in this dark-blue night

and these thoughts that pierce far into the future.

Overtaken by the reality that we won’t all be okay,

that we won’t all make it together.

But somehow, somewhere, someday,

at the edges of the Universe,

there must be a place,

beyond Time, and the years we never got to share,

where we will meet again.


Listening to:

Forever ago. (Part 2)

young adult old soul magical realism pascal campion
Art by: Pascal Campion

We are still at the foot of the mountain when the sky clears and the first hints of a sun appear.

And here it is.

The city and the paths of our lives.

Somewhere out there, our lives are unraveling in our absence. The baker is rushing on her feet, carrying out trays of bread for us to buy later. The hyperactive ophthalmologist is probably up already, checking to see that I have an appointment later today. The bank is investing my savings away; light sunrays must now be dancing in the spaces between my thick, bunched up duvet, left in a hurry earlier. Police officers are milling about by the barracks; stray dogs are already wandering the uneven streets of this reckless city in search of a life.

This is where we have been born, where we live, where we will die.

It’s a bizarre experience: to have lived in one place all your life.

Where others might associate a garden to one moment in time, one summer, one person, this whole landscape is a gallimaufry of memories to me, each one piled on top of the other. 24 years spread too thickly over these same buildings and streets. Memories from all the ages and transformations of our lives layer every corner of this city; every park bench, bus stop and hole-in-the-wall restaurant bears a distinct patina of nostalgia.

Out there in this maze of lives are the people we used to be, stored in the minds of people who once knew us. People who don’t know what we’ve become, for whom we slowly stopped existing, erased by absence.

I no longer have the courage to take the road where we walked together, forever ago now, a lifetime back. But there are days when I still have to. Days when I must push past the rush of memories, the thickness in my throat and walk all over my feelings because Life simply calls for it.

It’s never easy to be the one who stays. There is no place to hide, nowhere to run to.


Listening to:

Forever ago. (Part 1)

young adult old soul magic realism writing pascal campion
Art by: Pascal Campion

Trigger warning: death, grief

Here it is, below us: the paths of our lives, the layouts of our existences.

It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning and the city is still blissfully asleep, not yet rubbing its eyes nor tossing in a half-awake state. It is so dark out that we need to measure our steps, to scrutinise the path ahead before advancing onto it.

It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday and we’re climbing a mountain.

It’s not much of a climb, if I am honest. A long, serpentine path has been carved into the mountain, and asphalt laid smoothly on top of it to see joggers safely to the peak. But still, the way up is steep, the early morning air biting.

There are much better things to do at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. There are warmer places to be.

Yet here we are, hearts stuttering, beating briskly in the misty heights overlooking the capital. A cold drizzle has cut through the air and a smell of molasses is rising from the bushes, concentrated in the textured mass of thick, yellowing vegetation.

Fungi.

Dampness.

The smell of a flooded apartment.

Earthy and pervasive yet so very oddly soothing. There is a reminder enclosed in this scent, tugging at a memory in the far recesses of my mind. Remembering it is akin to pulling at a root buried deeply and firmly in the ground β€” it is tough and unyielding, refusing to be taken from the comfort of its situation. Then all at once, after rigorous tugging that seems to have done nothing to dislodge it, it loosens traitorously and gives way, sending me reeling.

And as I am reeled back, I fall into the depth of a moment passed, a memory once silenced in the graveyard of memories.

“We will all die.”

His voice is deep and rich; long stretches of silence settle between his words. There has always been something about the way he speaks, the way he delivers his thoughts that draws people in. I have never been able to emulate him in that or in much else, really.

“Young or old, rich or poor, today or tomorrow. We will all die. One day, I will die andβ€””

And it will all have been for naught. The homes we built. The love we harboured. The traces we left.

We make but ripples in the water β€” thrown by some mysterious Hand, our lives skim the surface of existence, disturb its deep waters before we run out of whatever magic lights up our eyes. Some of us get in multiple ricochets before falling, the kind that inspires awe, that makes you think there was more to us than flesh and bones. For others, it is the exhilarating feeling of flying, followed by a rapid and unforeseen descent. Most of us, though, make quiet ripples, lost in the herd movements of life. But one way or another, we all end up on the ocean floor, nothing but the fading comments (“This was a good one!”, “It didn’t go very far.”…) accompanying our slow descent into the deep unknown.

“One day, I will die and you will stay. And then one day, you too will die, and your children will stay.”

The smell of freshly-turned earth hung all around us, damp and tangy, so strong it bottled the moment, sealing it with this scent.

One day, this smell will get stronger. One day, I will be wrapped in it, in the stiff white robes, indifference and camphor crystals of death.


Note: So this one is going to be posted in several parts, as every part talks about a different theme and it’s all quite long. About this first part: I am very frank about the idea/topic of death. The way I was raised, death was not something that was hidden from me,Β  it was not seen as something that should not be talked about. Death is a part of life and that’s…that. But it is a heavy theme all the same so I hope it wasn’t too disturbing to read!

As always, sending lots of love and good vibes your way!

Listening to:

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