Distant summers.

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Art by: Zuoji

Balmy summer nights. Condensation trickling down glass bottles no sooner are they popped out into the heat. Glistening droplets sliding down, making the bottle slippery, one moment away from crashing onto the floor.

There is a warm, orange tone to life. The everyday scenes have changed to reflect that. Dripping mountains of coloured shaved ice, necks glowing with perspiration, a looseness in the limbs, the general air of summertime carefreeness and mouths that sigh, sigh, sigh: at the heat, the late buses, the sweet, good times.

I feel like I am living in a metaphor. That somehow, this moment is more than its apparent sum, hiding more meaning than I am able to decipher. Summers always feel a little far away somehow; I know there is a large part of them I cannot touch even as they unravel underneath my fingers in waves of summer tunes and late-night conversations. There is a depth I cannot feel, a susurration my ear is not attuned to. But I believe that life happens twice: once in the moment, and then again in retrospect. So I stay up nights not to understand, not to grasp and pursue this vast unknown expanding in my chest, but to experience, simply. To sigh at the cricket concerts, at the humidity sticking to my skin like a layer of cling film, at the gentle smile of a summer love.

Whatever meaning there is, whatever lesson or symbolism lays dormant in these moments, they will come to me when they need to.

Presently, I am filling up on the sticky sweetness of right-nows, enjoying my gentle metaphors, my odes to freedom and pink-peach summer skies.

 

Time in tangles.

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Art by: 9jedit

All my dreams have already been accomplished. Somewhere in the future, everything that is meant to be has already happened. My job is only to remove the obstacles in my way, to clear the path my future self has already walked and meet her there, on the other side of fear.

Lately, I have been plucking at the tangles in Time (mostly because I’ve grown significantly older), wondering at how many of my worries I can actually control. Michelangelo believed that the sculpture was already present in the block of stone, that you only had to find your way to it. In the same way, I must carve a path to what is already there. I tell myself I am not stepping into newness, not plunging headfirst into the unknown. No, it’s strange but I am actually going home — home where I am meant to be, a home that has always, always been waiting for me somewhere in the future. My longing is for the person I am to become.

And yet much of who I am going to be comes from who I was before.

Much of adult life has been a slow return to old loves, to passions gone cold. Once I had graduated from the watchful eye and stern disposition of formal education, I simply bounced back in shape to what I had been before. Like a rubber band, I was stretched out over the years, meant to fit every kind of shape (a diligent student, a good daughter, a promising member of society, a “success”…). Now that I’ve bounced back, I am not the same. Of course. But there’s nothing to do about that. You can’t change the past. You can ignore it or remember it differently, you can add or subtract meaning, you may write it or tell it whichever way you wish, exaggerating or undermining any number of details. But you can never change that it happened the way it did. Besides, what a waste of time it is to chase the past, to look at it not to learn from it but to live through it. Very much like a dog chasing its own tail, it is a futile endeavour and you only end up hurting yourself…

Now to make myself understand what I already know to be true… It’s a slow journey, it always is. Yet ironically, you can only tell how far you’ve reached by looking back to where you were before.


Note: I’m still alive! 😂 And happy to be posting again ^^ And as I read this post again, I realise part of the first paragraph is very likely inspired from the poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi I mentioned in a previous post:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

On writing.

young adult old soul writing magic realism

Do you know how your voice gets rough after you have just woken up? I think something similar happens with writing when you don’t write for a while. My language gets rough from disuse, my pen gets tongue-tied. It takes a little time for me to regain my bearings, to know where I am going with an idea once it has passed through my head and has flowed to the tip of my pen. I experience momentary amnesia, as though I had never written before in my life and had just been handed a pen. How do I operate this contraption? How does one write? How did I manage to do it before? How can I replicate my earlier writing?

It’s always like this in the beginning: an initial awkward phase, an embarrassed attempt at catching up.

“Oh hey, how have you been? Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Yeah haha, just…been busy and stuff, you know how it is.”

“Yeah, tell me about it, hah…”

“Soooo, what have you been up to?”

But after a while, it’s like falling into the familiarity of an old friend. After the habit of writing has taken form again, I no longer have to tiptoe around it, afraid of committing another faux-pas. I can be honest, too. I can say:

“Writing, you’re great and all, but I kindof hate you sometimes.”

And writing will be honest and say:

“Yeah, me too. You’re so flighty sometimes — you jump from one idea to the other and you don’t finish half of what you start. Your notebooks are filled with stuff you’re never going to finish. And we need to talk about all those run-on sentences and complex structures you use. Also, that’s not how you use a semi-colon.”

Writing is a terrible passion to have; I wouldn’t recommend it. But I’ve said it before: I am helpless to it. I have surrendered utterly and completely after years of denial, of convincing myself I was better off as something else, nurturing some other harmless passion like puzzle-making. It’s what I feel called to do, in a way. And it’s time I stopped rejecting the very thing I’ve been praying the Universe for.

Besides, there are benefits to it, too. Writing keeps me real — in no uncertain terms. It tethers me to myself, helps me to process things I would otherwise never notice. Writing provides a peek into myself, a reflection from the corner of a mirror. It is one of these things without which I feel I am incomplete. It’s like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips. At this point, it is that central to my identity.

I wish it wasn’t, truly. Life would be so much easier without this kind of passion hindering me. I would be great at not writing, better than I am at writing, actually. I wouldn’t have to try to explain what it is I write about. I wouldn’t have to dissuade people from wanting to read my writing by saying:

“It’s just…it’s weird. It’s not fictional, but it’s also not non-fictional. It’s based off of reality, you see, but actually…”

But you know, que será, será. Or in the words of Lemony Snicket:

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”

So I’m embracing it wholeheartedly: I’m a writer.

I’m not the best one around, my stories aren’t the prettiest, my characters aren’t that well fleshed-out and I could use some help with semi-colons and sentence structure. But in spite of all that, I am a writer. An imperfect writer. Before, I was an imperfect person who happened to write. Now, though the difference may seem small, everything has changed.


Note: I have used a semi-colon in this blog post and I am hoping against all hope that I have made correct use of it 😂. It’s just my favourite kind of punctuation. After the dramatic interrobang (?!), of course.

A piece of the Universe.

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Art by : Michelle Theodore

“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.

 

 

 

Time, spare change and pocket lint.

You won’t be hearing from me for a little while, and I hope that’s okay— is something I should have written 3 weeks ago, before my sister’s wedding completely engulfed my timetable, when I knew already that I would be too keen on 2 a.m. conversations and too tired from them to write anything, to want to write anything.

But in my defence, I didn’t worry about it much, entirely too concerned with living the present moment for everything it was. Man, I’ve lived these past 3 weeks. So much so that for a long minute, it seemed impossible that it had been 3 weeks and not 2. It’s like reading a novel and getting really into it, so that when you reach the end, you think : “Is it over already?”. In a way, it makes me think—why aren’t my weeks usually packed with as much meaning? Why is life wishy-washy, the waters so low and still that any movement, however small, becomes a major event? I should always be living. Be it in the great or small ways. This is the kind of battle I am leading these days : pushing meaninglessness out of my life. Making every second worth it.

This is something I’ve realised ever since traveling abroad for the first time, I’ve understood just how much a day can hold. I’ve re-evaluated my perception of Time, and —most amazingly, most importantly— of the realm of possibility. I’m not careless about my minutes now, I don’t leave them behind in my pockets with the lint and stray change, don’t forget them in the slack of the workload. Instead, I string them together like a beaded necklace, giving all moments this continuous flow, where they succeed one another in a stream of events that is memorable, that does not make me feel as though I’ve woken up from a 2 or 3 hour spell, not remembering where the time has gone and who has robbed me of it…

I am the worst planner I know, in my defence. All that daydreaming and world-building has to come at a cost, you know.

But I’m learning. I’m trying. It’ll work out, somehow.

Honouring Time.

Young adult old soul magic realism writing anna macht art
Art by Anna Macht

I’m sorry.

I apologise for all the minutes I laid to waste, all the hours I let slip through my fingers. I apologise for all the days I ignored adventure’s call, when I chose fear over living and let precious youth waste away. I apologise for all the days I stayed in—not to sink in the warm comforts of home, not to enjoy restful solitude, but to lose myself in a nameless void that leaves me with burning eyes and the sinking feeling that I have done nothing for myself. Like I’ve done nothing with the time that, everyday, is loaned to me.

I’m sorry for not going to cafés alone for fear of judgement, for not spontaneously slipping into old, cobbled roads when I wanted to because I let myself be afraid of what could be out there.

Most of all, I apologise for all the people I never met because I did not reach out. I couldn’t bring myself to speak past the lump in my throat, past the bad experiences that make it hard to talk to people. I apologise for all the wonderful lives I’m not living. I’m sorry for not picking up the phone, for not dialling up that number. I’m sorry for not taking up that scholarship offer.

Truly I apologise for all the time I did not honour. I apologise for all the times I believed fear was more important than life, not realising that life is only passing and fear is its death sentence.

I now believe that you stop living when you let fear take over. When you would rather exist in safety than take one step out of bounds. I’ve done that. For years, I let all manners of fear rule my life. Well, guess what? I’ve traversed to the other side of fear. I’ve been through some of my deepest, darkest fears and still I live.

I can hide all I want. The worst will still happen. The day will come when fear barges in through my door, shatters all my walls. And I will not hide.

Watermelon pink.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing
Art by : Awanqi

Today, life is sweet and refreshing, lightly tinted pink. Like sipping watermelon juice that has run down the side of my hand. Cool, sweet without being sugary. And sticky too, but all the more memorable for it.

1 or 2 years ago, I never believed I would think this but even with all the things going wrong…I don’t think I can get enough of Life.

This is the summer of my life: beautiful, somehow timeless, not without its storms and rainy days, not without reasons to wear gratitude every day that goes by.