That kind of love.

 

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing
Art by : Sasha Ignatiadou

Have you ever started missing someone all of a sudden? Someone whose absence you have been used to, who has become a voice on the phone, a collection of distant memories or a set of highly specific things that remind you of them.

But then years down the line, something inside of you throbs out of the blue. You start missing them, missing, missing, like something’s just not right, like you’ve lost a limb or some crucial part of your life. Years of conditioning and being far from that person have lost all meaning. You just miss and life won’t go on as usual until you are fulfilled again, until everything falls back into place and the stray planet in your solar system realigns.

In that way, I really miss my sister.

She’s my eldest sister and quite honestly knows me better than I understand myself. She’s always been kind and caring and terribly proud of her siblings; the kind of big sister you find in movies. But now she lives terribly far away. I mean, if I ever missed her and decided to jump on a plane to get to where she lives, I would be travelling for about 2 days. I thought I’d gotten used to it, to her not being there most days, or months and eventually years.

But as I grow older, I value her more. And I add that love to my understanding of love as a whole. How naive it is to think that romantic love is somehow superior to all these other kinds of love. Or more powerful, more meaningful, more important — most important even.

I romanticise a lot of things, but not romantic love.

Romantic love is a facet of love, not the whole concept. I can think of so many other loves that have been as and even more important in my life. That’s also why I am not rushing into romance now, however wonderful the idea may be. Love will come, it will grow safely, steadily. Like a seed sprouting from the earth, it will lean toward the sun and with great care will unravel its colours, its leaves and flowers. Love will be slow and will take its time to grow roots, to progress naturally everyday.

Maybe I am boring for thinking that. Maybe I am boring because I don’t think romantic love is that special. But hey, I’m willing to run the risk of being boring if that means I get to be who I am.

Notes to myself : happiness.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writer
Art by : Pascal Campion

At the very beginning of the year, stood on my rooftop and watching the fireworks explode from afar, I did not think I would be where I am today. Much of the year would pass as it had begun : with me staring far-off at something I would much rather have been a part of.

Hasn’t life mostly been this way, after all?

Slightly dreamy and all the more disappointing for it.

But Fate twists and turns, and takes its sweet time setting lives up. It’s funny how now that things are going in my favour, I think of Fate. Otherwise my thoughts are just a mumbo-jumbo of nihilist thoughts and awfully potent pessimism.

I mean, my “Why would life make me dream of things I can never have?” has turned into “Good things happen in life.” and even now, I don’t know which is right. If one is righter than the other, if both equally apply. But I am trying not to think too much though : if there is one thing I have learnt, it is that “happiness” (whatever it means) is precious and that one should give one’s full attention to it when it presents itself.

So, to myself I say :

Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Don’t wait for things to turn sour and then exclaim “Aha! I knew it!”. Maybe things turned sour because you weren’t paying them the right kind of attention. Besides, you know “happiness” doesn’t last, so savour it, every last bit of it like a juicy fruit you can’t get enough of, like a drink that makes you slurp so you can get the last drops of it.

Most of all, meet “happiness” half-way. I don’t think it likes to be met with mistrust and shifty eyes. Besides, even ephemeral “happiness” leaves lasting traces. Like scars, but the good kind.

 

A stretch of sweet eternity.

Magic realism writing blog young adult old soul
Gif by : Unknown

I want to live forever inside that moment and never have to say goodbye.

Living life inside a raindrop of a self-contained moment, sliding down a glass window past countless other raindrops — all these other moments being had by so many others. I never want any of it to end. Instead, I want to progress slowly, gently, because that is the only way I can reach the endless places I want to be. Journeys change the destination, I believe. Running and taking a stroll to someplace make for an entirely different experience. How much of what is around us do we miss when we run, how many times is the preamble lost on us, fast-paced and erratic as we are.

The places lacking Time, devoid of it — that is where I’ve always yearned to go. These places where it feels like the world is suspended inside another dimension, like a raindrop that is just about to fall but never does, frozen in mid-air.

Eternal

That is how these moments feel. Even as they last mere seconds, barely even minutes. It feels like Life has stretched the rules of Time to accommodate this one moment, to give me this one lingering thing : a taste of eternity in a life so ephemeral.

But all raindrops fall, all moments end in puddles on the floor.

It is a long time though before we reach the end of all things.

That is what I thought as I sat in an ever-transiting bus, head laid to rest against the glass pane, night-sky hair fluttering out of the window between two glinting metal bars.

In all sweet irony, this could look like a prison. As though I were trapped in movement, in transit, in travel and liberation would be to return home, to fall into the arms of the routine waiting for me at the bus station.

I would find myself trapped in routine and travel both if I was not careful. If I did not try to find the beauty in them, to not see them as prisons. Outside of my head though, there are forces greater than my will, my perception. Forces that reroute my trains of thoughts in one single movement.

For instance, the setting sun is pouring in my eyes, as though the sky had tipped and was emptying our universe’s largest star in my irises. Bit by bit, my dark-set eyes are absorbing the light from the sun, drinking it one ray at a time until ultimately, there is nothing left to take and the sky is left in darkness.

But we are not there yet, not yet home, not yet in darkness.

Light is flowing where Time is not, and I am floating a little ways above Earth, one or two parallel worlds away from real life. And ah, what a wonderful place to be : living inside a stretch of Eternity, like a raindrop perpetually about to fall. Falling, falling, falling gently; falling like night on the city.

 

A greenhouse in the city. (1/2)

“You have to duck a little if you want to daydream too, at least if you don’t want your iridescent bubbles to get caught in the stark black powerlines.”

plantyyyyyyy

Art by : Unknown Artist

I watched most of my teens go by, like a bad movie that made me cringe too much.

Now, in my 20s, life is a movie where someone else is endlessly playing with the controls, fast-forwarding through the boring weekday bits : the content-adding drudgery, the repetitive daydreaming of similar scenarios, the nameless longing. Fast-forwarding through the week, I am propelled into the weekend, a rocketship strapped to my back, flying effortlessly past Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays.

The dates on the calendar pass me in a blur, tiny and unrecognisable, like houses when you’re up high on a mountain or on a plane. Did we just pass this neighbourhood ? I could ask. I go ’round and ’round the same weeks, a wave of fresh amnesia hitting as I round the corner of yet another Monday. Then I stumble with burning feet into the weekend, pulse still racing, my body gearing for that fast-forward, that breakneck pace.

I am gushing unspent energy all over the place, pacing with a fury. All my energy brings me out into the city, my city. This brouhaha of smoke clouds and business, where all roads begin and all roads end, where so many paths intersect that you have to be careful not to get your feet all tangled up in other people’s overlapping lives. You have to duck a little if you want to daydream too, at least if you don’t want your iridescent bubbles to get caught in the stark black powerlines. It’s like Icarus’ conundrum : go too low and you will never take off, get too high and you will burn down.

My city, my old city welcomes me like a daughter, like she welcomes the thousands, millions that came to her at all times of days and nights —like a lighthouse during a storm, she is a refuge to many a soul lost at sea.

My footsteps echo through her alleyways the same as they’ve been doing for so many years now. Slowly, she drinks  in my restlessness, the fury seeping through my feet to her very heart, where she no doubt redistributes it to the other high-strung people in her purview.

The city takes me to her tenderest places, where trees are still saplings and…


 

Blue-hued and blurry

eq
Art by : Elliana Esquivel

I’ve got the blues, got the blues, got the blues.

No matter how many times I say it,no matter how many times I try to expel these blue feelings with my breath, they simply won’t be forced out, and I am left blue-hued and blurry. It is as though my body has gone up in fumes, like I was walking down the street and a stray witch’s spell hit me right in the chest, turning me into blue smoke.

And what’s left to do when you’re smoke but to wander and disperse? To dissolve into particles in the thin night air—to never be whole again. Endlessly scattered, like the foam of the sea when it crashes onto black volcanic rocks.

My mind is all sorts of foggy now, so I am staying in and waiting for clearer skies.

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 :

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 :