“How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal?”
“How long has it been since you’ve been loved? Since you’ve been seen for who you truly are? How long have you been hiding—cutting off pieces of yourself and burying them in places no one would find them? How long have you been scared of people finding out about your story? How many times have you wished they would? How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal? These memories, these bookmarks of your story—if you bury them, they will only grow. And like baobabs, their roots will find their way to your heart. They will entrench themselves so profoundly that they will take over. Until one day, you will not even see the blueness of the sky. How long until this carefully constructed lie falls apart and you realise how empty you’ve made yourself?”
Note: This is Day 17 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 16 here. If you enjoyed this, I’ve also written about similar themes previously.
‘ “I understand that you want your time here to matter in a hundred years …but it is only enough to have existed at all, kid. To have stood face-to-face with Time, and looked that bastard Oblivion in the eye.
Your mark, is that you will have walked this Earth, will have sought its mysteries and found yourself along the way. Your mark is that you will have had time. It is enough, to truly have lived and that—” he smiled wryly, eyes twinkling ever so bright, “is the real challenge.”‘
“I am afraid of a great many things,” he began “but not of Death. Not of Oblivion. See, I think…that this is the cycle of life: we are all born, we live, we die, then we are forgotten, eventually.
“Of these 4 stages, we only exercise control on one. So shouldn’t it be the only one to matter? Truly, who’s to say that even if you changed the world, you would not be forgotten? I imagine there are many kings —and queens—” he added with a nod and smile to her, “that we do not know the names and lives of today. And yet conversely, look at Kafka. Look at Van Gogh. Dude lived his whole life underappreciated and miserable. He died and he didn’t know the world would love him. He died, probably, thinking very little of himself. See, thing about Oblivion is, you wanna know people will remember you after you die. That’s how you win, right? So, if you don’t know, then it doesn’t matter. You don’t win at all. What’s the point of people loving you or remembering you when you’re dead? What’s that to you? You’re dead.
“I understand that you want your time here to matter in a hundred years—people might remember, they might not,” he shrugged “but it is only enough to have existed at all, kid. To have stood face-to-face with Time, and looked that bastard Oblivion in the eye.
Your mark, is that you will have walked this Earth, will have sought its mysteries and found yourself along the way. Your mark is that you will have had time. It is enough, to truly have lived and that—” he smiled wryly, eyes twinkling ever so bright, “is the real challenge.”
“To worry about people remembering who you were is all good and well, but how about living so fully that you can’t think of anything else? The distant future, the looming end… How about living so hard you could burst? I’m not afraid of being forgotten. I’m a simple man, I only fear not seizing the moment. Not taking a stroll because I’m worrying. Not going for a drive at 2 a.m. because I’m worrying and that’s not what I should be doing at 2 a.m.. I deal in hypotheticals, but not when they stop me from leaving the house.” he laughed.
Note: Day 2 of the (sortof) NaNoWriMo writing challenge
“You see,there are days that even the coldness of life cannot reach. Days that are safe, far, far away from the darkness of everydays.”
There is something so delicious about residual warmth.
Heat muffled in between sheets
Warmth that smoulders, woven in the wool
The wonderful heat that hangs on a coat that is loaned to you
It is so easy to catch and hold. Something that looks too precious to be free. Too precious for me to have, this tranquility within arm’s reach.
But here it is, like a gorgeous, red ribbon that beckons me to pull it open and watch as it unravels. Then it turns out the ribbon was closed around a bouquet. So with a single touch, an effortless tug, the world blooms red with this glorious heat and I have an inexplicable, breathtaking warmth pooling around me. There is happiness fluttering in my veins, residual warmth seeping in this heart.
You see,there are days that even the coldness of life cannot reach. Days that are safe, far, far away from the darkness of everydays. Days when I live inside a snow globe or a bottle thrown at sea, the kind of bottle made from almost opaque dark green glass. And the glass is so thick that from the inside, I cannot even hear the roars of life. There is no world outside, save for the soft waves that undulate to-and-fro. But if I try, if I should want to try, I would drift to sleep to the gentle sound of waves crashing in my ear—and warmth all around.
“‘Important’ does not mean what it used to mean anymore. Now, smiling is important. Unstoppable laughter is important. Comparing the size of our hands, marveling at the length of our hair or how sun-kissed and sandy-toed we are is important. Or perhaps none of it is and that is what is delightful…”
I am living to the rhythm of lazy days, long days that stretch and stretch along the horizon line. Warm days lost on the world, bereft of meaning and yet ridiculously indispensable.
But really, what could be more important than watching algae swish to-and-fro with the tide? Or finding out just how long I can hold my breath? To be honest, I am vaguely aware of some ‘important’ matter I am meant to overthink about—something, something about finding out what to do with the rest of my life. Yeah, that. The waves shrug off the thought though, they send it rolling far away from the shoreline and deep into dark blue waters.
‘Important’ does not mean what it used to mean anymore. Now, smiling is important. Unstoppable laughter is important. Comparing the size of our hands, marveling at the length of our hair or how sun-kissed and sandy-toed we are is important. Or perhaps none of it is and that is what is delightful. Everything is optional; I am free from consequences, free even from the restraints my dark thoughts set around my heart.
You know, maybe the sound of freedom is not the sound of the sea after all, but rather the sound of this heart going: “Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub” so calm and unbothered that it sounds vaguely, vaguely like: “Free-dom, free-dom, free-dom”.
“But he realised he did not want to be fed to the Darkness. He did not want to help that monster grow and lure in other stray souls into that painless, lifeless vacuum. “
And at that moment, he felt like giving in, like letting his body fall back into the eager arms of Darkness.
He could already imagine how delicious it would feel to not be lonely anymore—and who cared really, if his companion, the one to break the curse of all this sadness and melancholy, was a demon? …So long as he had someone, so long as he drove away the maddening loneliness, what did it all matter? Good,bad, dead or alive…
He could already taste the relief on his tongue, could feel the chill of Darkness seep into his bones. Who needed warmth when the cold could numb you over and never make you feel pain?
And just as he was about to let himself go limp in the waiting arms of Darkness…
He had been down this road before, knew what it entailed: momentary comfort in exchange for added pain. It was senseless; no one would agree to it. Yet all the same, it was so tempting to fall into Darkness’s loveless embrace.
But he realised he did not want to be fed to the Darkness. He did not want to help that monster grow and lure in other stray souls into that painless, lifeless vacuum. He did not want to add to numbers that were already so full of grief, did not want the sound of his name to evoke choked gasps ans watery words.
“But he looked so happy.” “He was so young.”
He wanted, he realised, to be as happy as he pretended to be.
As he walked away from the abysses that lied beneath his feet, he thought that perhaps happiness was worth suffering for.
When you are world-weary and submerged in the darkness you swore you could keep at bay, when you feel like you can’t go on and nobody in the whole world cares about you, when you feel insignificant, just one negligible existence in a torrent of other more important, more valid existences: turn to your heart.
Close your eyes and place your hand on it, and feel it beat the words:
“”But there are cases where the mere act of fighting is victory in itself. The darkness you fight here—” he remarked, tapping his wrinkled finger against the boy’s beating heart, “is an example of that.””
“You know,” stated the teacher “I have always said that the world would not be kind to you. You will have to fight an unjust system and all kinds of monsters masquerading as men, knowing that you, being a single unit fighting a system, a single soul wrestling with the universe, are severely disadvantaged. There will be times when your best will not be enough, when trying hard will mean nothing if you do not succeed. You will have to be tough beyond what human softness you may possess. Because the world does not care for your struggles. It is win or lose, live or die, but—” he stopped, drawing in a sharp breath.
Behind his half-rimmed spectacles,blue eyes narrowed in on the boy. The teacher’s mouth was drawn in a thin, taut line and for the life of him, the boy could not discern what the hard,scrutinising look meant. He feared that it meant he was in trouble. He dreaded the idea that perhaps…perhaps he had shown weakness. Or worse yet. Perhaps he had shown himself to be irreparably weak, broken. Perhaps…and he dared not think it was true, he had let the man down.
The latter, with his strong, set shoulders, slicked back grey hair and the usual cunning look in his eyes, did not help any and made him want to croak an apology and then run far, so far into himself that there could be no way back.
The older man’s eyes softened, their blueness now calming, a bit like the sea on a beautiful day.
“But there are cases where the mere act of fighting is victory in itself. The darkness you fight here—” he remarked, tapping his wrinkled finger against the boy’s beating heart, “is an example of that.”
“I do not say this lightly. You are strong, my boy. Whether you win or lose, it is your refusal to give in to these dark times which makes you strong. And even if the battle never ends, this is already a sign of victory. This is you reclaiming what is yours, even if you may never get it back the same.”
And then, something happened.
The old man smiled at him.
And in that moment, the boy knew that what he was doing was right. He knew with a burning conviction that people were strong not because they had no weaknesses, but because they fought to rise above them.