A true sadness.

young adult old soul magic realism 9jedit writing
Art by: 9jedit

I have been looking into myself this past month.

After a few weeks of dedication to the task, I have come upon something a little troubling: a well of deep sadness. Not a deep well of sadness, either but very much a well of profound sadness.

It’s hard to admit that this is the result of decluttering my heart and clearing my mind.

But I should have known. I have reached here before, I have come across this precipice and turned my back to it, preferring a mellower life and sweet, honeysuckle days. But whatever I do, I ultimately return to it. Whatever paths I take in life, when it matters most, it is this silent force I encounter.

Should I continue running, turning from it ? Perhaps I can avoid it all my life?

Bu really, what else is there to do but accept it?

This sadness, it’s not fun. It’s not exciting and definitely not what I want. But it’s true. It’s authentic.

And so, it deeply characterises me. I’ve been writing about it, scratching its surface, knocking its door for a long time now. And I think it’s time. I have enough strength that now I can choose a true sadness over a distracting joy. I’ve reached a point now where I can accept whatever this sadness says about me.

I suspect it’s a lot of grief for the world, an idealist’s mourning of injustice. But perhaps there is regret too, resentment.

But I must go there. I must face myself, I must accept who I am, whoever that is. It is the only way, the true way.

I would be lying if I said I was unafraid, if I wasn’t clinging onto old joys, onto materialism and comforting clutter— all those things, really, that I turned to so I could avoid facing that sadness.

I am so scared of losing myself. It is so difficult to surrender, to let these waves of change carry me away —or worse yet—to let them wash over me, carrying away the parts of me they want, keeping the parts they want.

And yet,tremulous as my heart is, it feels right. My heart can stand up to this.

Every path has led to this. Every crossroads, every person I have met, every event and non-event, every stranger I have ever wondered about, every 2 a.m, every night I shivered on the balcony.

Every turn in life has led here. If I back out now, I lose myself again. I wander, no, I err again, uncertain to my core. I drown again in shallowness, chasing moments of infinity forever.

All I fear is touching an energy too raw for me to handle, of stumbling on an emotion too close to my heart.

But wells run deep, I tell myself. Their depths do not spring out of nowhere. It means that as long as I follow this sadness, I get closer to myself.


Listening to:

Black hole matters.

young adult old soul magic realism writing dionmbd
Art by : Dion Mbd

I have been so busy questioning Life that I can’t seem to live it.

My tenderest years I spent feeding my doubts, utterly taken by greater-than-life hypotheses about Meaning and Existence. The questions grew large and looming, dwarfing me in the process, until one day I fell into one of them, into the black hole of one “Why” too many. Further down the rabbit hole I fell, to the point where it became all I knew; I could only vaguely recall there ever being some other life before it.

And so I spent many years surrounded by a kind of darkness, in the search for “Truth” (although, in reality, it was more complicated than that). I was looking for the Truth, the kind humans have been searching for since the dawn of Time, but also for my own personal truth, my own story. I was looking for myself, trying to see, through the very limited lens of my consciousness, the whole truth of the human condition, the efforts of mankind sketched against the then-vague concept of the Universe.

It was a lot.

And it didn’t help that I was so young and weirdly empathetic.

Ironically, by trying to widen my worldview and deepen my consciousness, I became monomaniacal, so astoundingly focused on the task I couldn’t see what I’d become.

Life graces us all with at least one piece of irony.

Then, I spiralled.

Days blurred into nights and Time melted under the sun until Life became Existence, and I did not know myself anymore.

I’d love to say I woke up one day to the sunlight caressing my cheek. I’d love to say its warmth shook something in me and jolted me awake.

But I stayed locked in the dark. I let my teenage years just go by. I never truly celebrated the year when I was 18. This feeling was all I was; it erased everything else, every other kind of identity. And it was so hard to explain — how could I when I didn’t even understand it myself?

But slowly, unwillingly, I crept out into the sun. I opened my eyes to it, its brightness burning my retinas. Then I crawled back inside for months in a protective darkness, in a safe stillness. Then I came out again. I would spend a day in, a day out. Now the days have turned into months, the months into half-years. And slowly, I am converting Existence to Life again.

This time around, I believe I am going about existentialism the right way: I ask questions and in so doing, uncover dark rooms, encounter still, darkened worlds within my consciousness. And in the midst of all this darkness, I try to find the light that shows me around it.

It is this simple: do not get eaten by the dark. Always carry some light with you, within you.

We all have that spark, no matter how dire the circumstances, how extreme our suffering. As long as there is life, there can be light.

Do not let the darkness overwhelm your light. Even if it is flickering, light always overpowers darkness.


Note : I remember when I started this blog, I was still in the throes of all this dark existentialism, of these huge concepts I could not fully comprehend, did not know how to handle. And now I am all “A kaleidoscope of butterflies” and “Warm, honeyed sunlight”. Whodathunk.

Listening to:

Hello Darkness, Don’t Call Again

‘ “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.”‘

albumcover
Art from the album cover of All Our Favourite Stories by Dog Is Dead

“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

The Lost Red String of Fate

“Yes, somewhere—somewhere that is not here, some time that is not now— there is quiet, there is peace. There is a touch of happiness, slight as the sun before it finally disappears into the horizon line. Better than, there is home. “

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Art by: nile-can-too

The thing I want exists somewhere in this world. Somewhere, somewhere in this vast blue planet (and I dare not think, maybe even beyond that), it is waiting. For me.

Yes, somewhere—somewhere that is not here, some time that is not now— there is quiet, there is peace. There is a touch of happiness, slight as the sun before it finally disappears into the horizon line. Better than, there is home. But miles and years stretch between us and I am left with all these thoughts.

All these doubts, this longing— I wonder, I wonder— is it going to be too much to ask from the Universe? To plot the graphs of lives, to tangle the winding web of Humanity and the Tapestries of Time just right, so that one day…One day, while walking down the street, I can catch a silver, an atom of this feeling, this loose thread of Fate I have yearned to catch?

But dark thoughts have embittered my heart and I doubt. Inexplicably, I think that if Life is made of intersecting threads, then part of the thread of me is still hanging on the old, wooden spool.

 

 

I am not a soul.

“No, we are not souls, you remind me. Not merely that. We are souls with bodies; we wound up having both our feet on the ground and our heads in the clouds. “

bysoeymilk
Art by Soey Milk

I often stress the superiority of the inside versus the outside. Of the mental versus the physical, the intangible sketched against the tangible.

I get swept away by the idea of ideas and boast about existing on a higher level— a dimension that is transcendent of bodies made of clay, dismissive of the ritual physicalities of life.

“I am more! I am more!”, goes my cry to the Void, “I am a soul anchored to this earth by a body heavy enough that I cannot drift away to the place that calls to me (this place somewhere between the stars). I am more—more than what you see me to be.”  

But I am wrong.

I am not a soul.

And you prove that to me without even a word.

Because there are days when I do not need the sharpness of your wit, the complexity of your stance on Divinity or your knowledge of the stars and the ocean and all else that lies in between.  It is those days when my head aches from the weight of my own thoughts and I cannot talk—for Lord’s sake, some days I can’t even be.

Those days, as much as my meaningless ego loathes to admit, I need the warmth that gathers within your palms. I need the sound of your heart thumping in my ears, the rise and fall of your chest against mine. And your fingers that draw patterns and tangles into my hair, your voice that cracks sometimes, imperfect and warm when you hum a little something under your breath.

I am not a soul.

In those moments, I am glad that there is this body. These bodies, both yours and mine and all the ones that have loved us til this day.

No, we are not souls, you remind me. Not merely that. We are souls with bodies; we wound up having both our feet on the ground and our heads in the clouds.

Ah, but when these days are past and Life is back to this lie that we can ‘normal’, I will argue otherwise. I will insist that our bodies – yours at the very least- are guided by an inner gentleness, a kind of ‘light from within’.

And that is who we are.

 

A Gust of Existential Angst

“The memories one day will flare, bright and summery, whirling through this body, all the way to my fingertips, to the strands of hair your fingers pushed back one stolen afternoon — and my whole being will remember what it means to be.”

ExistentialGif
Gif by: Francisca Borzea

Ungrounded. Not floating—not flying and yet not rooted, I am caught in in-betweens, enmeshed in threads of Fate or Entropy I do not control. This heart, gushing hot, red blood is stoical. Everything tastes grey and I’m lying because I don’t even remember what life has been like these past 24 hours. This body is not mine, these memories— these small, distant touches of warmth— do they really belong to me? Or are they just electrical signals that buzz through ‘my’ brain? Mere pieces of data that can be forgotten, erased out of existence? How important can my existence be if it can all be reduced to such fragility?

All I am, all I know is this voice. It echoes thoughts in a dark room, raises questions, throws around truths that cannot be faced or acknowledged. I, I think I’ve gone and done it— I’ve overthought myself out of existence.

It’s not good.

It’s not bad.

It is what it is.

And it too, will come to pass as all things must.

The memories one day will flare, bright and summery, whirling through this body, all the way to my fingertips, to the strands of hair your fingers pushed back one stolen afternoon — and my whole being will remember what it means to be.

But that is not now, so when you ask, kind and unsuspecting, if I am fine, what other answer can I give but yes?

 

The grief in her eyes

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Art by: Maria Ngyuen

If Grief is a look, then I saw it in the eyes of someone not much older than I today. And it was only a flashing moment, only in the slight squinting of eyes against the harsh sunlight did I see the mark of Grief painted there. She sat, leaning into the hard seats of the moving train, her eyes closed, as if nursing the pain that had been gathering for 3 years now.

3 years. That’s what her arm tells me. 1967-2014 and a few birds flying away into freedom. I could not catch the name written across her skin, but I have a feeling it is something in between “Mon Coeur” and “Mon Amour“. My heart, or My love.

The dulled tingle of Grief awakes again now. I imagine how it must have been, 3 years ago. I imagine the shock, the disbelief.

Then plummeting into reality, crashing into the overwhelming truth and thinking that you did not sign up for this. This wasn’t meant to happen. It is a breach of all human laws and of all fairness, all decency — and the person you have known and loved all your life, the person you have not had time to cherish yet, is “no more”.

But what does “no more” mean when they have never existed more wholeheartedly for you than in that moment?

But I, 3 years ago, I was probably stressing out about an assignment. 3 years ago while she cried, I was probably binge-watching some show. The day she went to get her skin inked, I was probably lying in bed, quietly contemplating the meaning of my existence at unruly hours, my gaze shifting to the stars for guidance. It always baffles me how your world can change and turn on all its axes three times over in a day without it ever meaning anything to anyone else. To others, it’s just a regular Tuesday that will soon be lost in a sea of everydays, gasping for breath in the foam of memories and ultimately sinking into nothingness.

How strange a thing it is, to exist.

How much stranger it is to be when Grief claims you. When all of the sudden, there is all this love that has nowhere to go. All those ‘Be careful’s, ‘Have a good day’s and ‘See you tomorrow’s that have no place to be. So you keep them in, you close the lid. You close your eyes one day in the stuffed train and let the world be.

3 years is a lot of time for anything. But not for Grief.