In the middle of a headache, as stress intertwined with the muscles on my back, a memory came unbidden to me, carried by the scent of flowering trees in the night. And suddenly— you probably know the feeling— I wasn’t old anymore. I wasn’t stretched or the mere byproduct of a lifetime of paying bills and ignoring dreams, pushing them for later, always later…
I was young again, and a little new.
Then some unknown feeling washed over me. An urge I had not felt in a long time suddenly gripped me by the heartstrings and pulled me outside, seemingly back in time.
I hadn’t seen stars in a long time.
It had slipped my mind that such things existed. And just like that, I had forgotten all about the world. In the face of this, of an ink-black sky staring back at you and millions of stars burning through the darkness like it’s nobody’s business, how can anything else feel important?
My big dreams, the ones that had accumulated after being swept under the rug over my years, they were are nothing next to those.
Stars, they are just dots in the sky, fireballs that have been dead for eons. But look at how they can make the world stop.
And maybe, maybe I want to be just a little like that. Maybe I want my light to burn long after it has gone out. Maybe I want to take all those dreams from under the rug ,blow on them like a dandelion and watch them spread out into the night and grow in between cracks in the cement, in places where dandelions shouldn’t be, in places where dreams don’t grow.
Have you ever heard the sound of a boat hitting the waves as it sways? Have you ever felt that sense of vertigo, this light-headedness as you rock from side to side, this feeling that can only be called beautiful— a wild, true kind of beautiful? Because sometimes, sometimes it is what I dream of.
This is what I see flashes of in between lectures and assignments, the white foam of the sea, the deep blue waters…This is the calling that reaches me as I plan for the future— “I’ll work for 2 years at X company and learn a language because firm Y, which will be hiring then wants polyglots and then I’ll wait another year to become a permanent employee and then…”
This is the feeling that makes me read reports a hundred pages long without understanding a single word because sometime into the reading, my hand slipped to the side of my head to support it and I found out that if I cupped my ear with my hand, I could hear the sea and its waves crashing into my ear.
And the scent…the scent of ocean salt, I can smell it when I close my eyes, when I put down my pen and push aside all those papers that mean nothing. It lures me in like a mermaid-song, wraps around my being and pulls me inexorably to where adventure lies.
It’s usually the middle of the week when these visions assail me, and suddenly, just like that, I don’t belong to the week anymore. I don’t belong to 5-year plans, to office etiquette and broken coffee machines.
I belong…to the world. To the deep blue seas and green pastures.
But it’s still the middle of the week, still Wednesday when I think that, and as much as I long to run, to swim, to fly— it’s still Wednesday. And I’m still very much “part of the system”. My life is still a 9 to 5 job. And my dreams…still dreams.
“But I am all this fire that has nowhere to go. I am a fire that is roaring, but in the end, all I do is burn myself. In the end, my fire doesn’t matter because I am a sun with no solar system. I am a volcano that does erupt. There is fire, but there is no way to tame it.”
Sometimes, I feel like I’m grieving without knowing why or for who.
But then, what else would I be grieving for but all the versions of myself I could never be? For all the dreams that never were, all the planes I could not catch, all the loves that never crossed my path?
I am all this energy, all this fire that I am almost combusting from the inside out. I can feel the flames of a thousand suns blazing beneath my skin, and with all these wild visions fluttering behind my eyelids — God, the things I could do.
The things I could do…
But I am all this fire that has nowhere to go. I am a fire that is roaring, but in the end, all I do is burn myself. In the end, my fire doesn’t matter because I am a sun with no solar system. I am a volcano that does not erupt. There is fire, but there is no way to use it.
There is “potential”, and somehow, for now, it ends there.
It is here again, this feeling that makes me want to flee.
Back to the hearty breakfasts, the sounds of honest laughter, Grandma’s hugs and the sweets that would drop from her hand to yours under the table. Days of simple happiness and sadness wiped away with a single kiss.
Adult life is so cold. It is a time when even dreams become burdens that stack up on your back. Dreams depress more than they encourage. They serve as reminders of all you have not accomplished, because you’re what, 20, 23? And you’re nowhere near where you thought you would be. Nothing is going to plan, nothing is going right. You don’t even know what you want to be and somewhere along the way, you’ve lost sight of who you even wanted to be. Now it’s just deadlines and survival. You have to work but you’re young so you also have to have fun but you’re also supposed to fall in love now so that you can get married at the right age later. And then there are also those dark feelings that inhabit you and that you don’t really know how to deal with.
But somehow, all your friends seem to be doing fine, judging by all those Instagram posts. They have internships, and they’ve even started their own companies, and you’re just here, with all this fire in you that you don’t know what to do with and you’re trying, trying, flailing pathetically at this point. Anything. You would do anything to just move forward a little. But the most depressing thing is that it actually feels like you are doing anything, everything and somehow nothing all at once. But the Universe just doesn’t want to acknowledge that. It’s like the Universe just wants to blow away that flame within you, to extinguish that fire you hold.
But it’ll be okay. Things are always more difficult in the moment than in retrospect, you’ll do better, you’ll get better. Your luck will turn, and your work will pay off. It has to, right?
“…I might be a bird too, in my own way. I am a dreamer, after all, whether I like it or not. I cannot change this without somehow eliminating myself, like birds cannot hope to live after pulling out their wings.”
I’ve always been envious of birds, haven’t you?
This feeling is an old one, back from when I was a child and we had this house with the huge open garden and the rooftop you could sneak to when Mum wasn’t looking.
And then, in the tall grass you could see these little sparrows flying in, swooping down as though it was the most normal thing. They would stay awhile, peck around and explore— it truly was a wild, beautiful garden brimming with the joy of childhood. And then, just like that, they would fly away into the afternoon sun, beyond the clouds, reaching the kites strung far away and if they looked down, they would see the world.
I envied them, child that I was. It was so natural for them— to have wings, to fly away on the slightest whim. Whereas I could only watch.
But then, the thought occurred to my younger self and I can assure that it was from watching so much Tom & Jerry, that being a bird, being so small, even with wings you could be killed anytime. Birds are prey. There are cats, dogs, humans from whom they are not safe. The thought filled me with sadness and I went back in the house, sitting quietly on the couch and resumed being the shy, reserved child that I’d always been.
I am older now, and I don’t live in that house with the garden and its adventures anymore. In fact, the garden isn’t even there, they built another house on it and only a meager patch of the tall grass and strange plants remain, a fading testament to my younger years.
But I still watch birds as they fly into the evening sun, landing atop buildings, in fields, at the beach, on cliffs or maybe still in another garden filled with children.
Although now I think that I might be a bird too, in my own way. I am a dreamer, after all, whether I like it or not. I cannot change this without somehow eliminating myself, like birds cannot hope to live after pulling out their wings. And I am prey too, as much as the birds are. Reality is cruel. The world is full of cats who want to eat you for dinner and humans who throw stones at you for fun. Dreamers don’t have it easy. On one hand, there are those who hate you, who don’t believe in you and on the other, those who want to exploit you and the tenderness you possess.
So, either dinner or a bird in a cage.
But if I could, for one insane moment, talk to the child I was (And perhaps I can after all. I did not let that child die. That child lives on in me.) I would tell that young little thing with the quiet dreams and big, innocent eyes that in the end, even though Mum and Dad never hid it from you, everything actually dies. Everything goes away, like the garden has. Even if the cat doesn’t get you, there are other things that will; Death will.
So I would rather be a bird who can fly for even a day— an hour, a minute than live a whole life not knowing how to fly.
You are 18. An adult. You have begged not to be. But you realise that you either get old, or you die.
So now you are 18 and the world you have known for 18 years minus one day is crumbling down. It feels as though not just adults, but the world in general, have been plotting against you and planting explosives all over the place, waiting for 18 years to pass.
And now, you’re having to escape that exploding world, your exploding world, and leap into another foreign, hostile land, all the while unsure you’ll make it or die trying.
And you can’t even look back.
You can’t look back to take in, one last time, the sight of your favourite teddy bear, or the worn copy of “The Little Prince” that you keep — kept. Because it’s all debris now. If you turn to look, you’ll blind yourself.
So you jump.
Not with much of a choice, afraid of the leap, afraid of falling and afraid of reaching the ‘new world’ all at once. And you’re so afraid that you wish that someone would take your hand. But now, you’re afraid of trusting too. Now, it seems that all you trust is yourself, but even then, not really.
You make it to the new world.
Bruised. Battered. Ugly. Crying. Numb.
Suits, ties and grim expressions abound. The world is grey, and no one cares. People bustle around and they don’t seem to want to notice that you’re weak and lying on the sidewalk.
The only happy ones are the drunks. But even then, not for long.
Someone reaches out for you and reflexively, you think it is a helping hand. But it’s not. Hands, you learn from then on, are either for stealing or harming.
But still, as desperate and dreadful as you feel, you think 20.
At 20, you’ll do it.
You thought at 12, that when you were 16, Life was good.
At 16, people had boyfriends and girlfriends. They bunked classes and had fun. They smoked, they ran away. They rebelled. All in a frenzy of leather jackets and sloppily applied, yet proudly-worn makeup. At 16, they broke hearts and wore all black and adults looked at them differently.
At 16, you struggle with your grades and hope that the guy you like will bother to remember that you exist. At 16, you stutter and have acne. You start thinking that being fat is wrong and that everyone knows you’re ugly but never told you.
At 16, you feel complicated feelings and nobody cares. Or so it seems.
At 16, adults stop hiding. At 16, you see how ugly people really are, and think that soon, you too will be like that.
But you have hope that being 18 will be a much better experience.
I imagined, when I was 15, that my 5 a.m’s would be different.
I imagined waking up with nature, cold but content.
I imagined 5 a.m walks along a solitary lake bordering the forests.
I imagined my reflection in that freezing water.
I saw eyes filled with promise and a desire to change the world.
I saw beauty. And peace.
I heard, in my mind, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet as I neared a warm wooden cottage.
I remember…a face and a smile. I can only recall the way they made me feel.
It felt like someone had opened a window into my soul and light was pouring in to overflowing.
There was a laugh too, rich and deep, and it seemed to ignite that light within me into endless tingles, setting that forlorn soul of mine in motion.
And I could hear, quite clearly, the one question in my mind:
“When has a cold, cloudy 5 a.m morning ever felt this warm?”
“His life, in truth, was a mess of empty coffee cups, half-written novels and sleepless nights spent wondering about the meaning of his existence.”
He looked at them with an ugly, uncertain kind of emotion.
They were talking, the lot of them, about things he had only dreamed of.
The shortest one was speaking of his latest travels, while his brother enthused over his newest job. Next to him was the one who had always been soft at heart, always with stars in his eyes, and now even more so as he spoke timidly of a girl who was more beautiful than all the stars and moons. And then beside him, was the tough one of the group; the rebel during their school days, who would somehow manage to come up either with mischief or with a new tattoo or piercing every other week or so. He was listening, with a look of uncharacteristic fondness as his friend talked about that girl he swore did not belong to this world.
Silence fell on the group as the question was asked. And it suddenly felt like they were all looking at him, all waiting, expecting.
And him, what about him?
His life, in truth, was a mess of empty coffee cups, half-written novels and sleepless nights spent wondering about the meaning of his existence.
But he couldn’t say that, could he?
And me, what about me?
And then, at that moment…
That was it, that was the ugliness that had been growing in him. It had fallen on him like a drop of ink on a white sheet of paper, and then it had spread and spread and spread…
This blog is dedicated to beauty in all things,because beauty soothes the soul, and appeases the demons that rage within us all, it needs to be shared and celebrated, probed and examined, and turned into art. This blog in particular attempts to convey such beauty in writing, using poetry and story-telling to share experiences of the world and its people to those willing to listen.
But beware, for beautiful things come in all shapes and forms. Beauty may be joyful and light as it may be dark and all-consuming. The writings on this page will surely reflect both sides of the coin, and all the layers that exist, jammed in between the two.
Of All Things Beautiful is a creative space where self-expression and discussion are welcomed and encouraged, with the hopes of making the world a more beautiful place.