There is a burning sensation rising from my ribs, a sting keen enough to draw soft hisses each time my curious fingers graze the inflamed skin.
In the shower, I realised I didn’t just get hurt: I actually managed to scratch myself to the point of leaving marks. It’s usually what happens when I let my nails grow out: dotted red lines, like constellations, start meandering across my body.
“Much of your pain is self-chosen.” wrote Kahlil Gibran.
My fingers press a little harder on the swollen skin, stopping at the rigidness of the rib bone. The pain is sharper, but still burning somewhere along the pleasure-pain scale. It is the kind of minor pain that lights your consciousness, that offers a heightened sensitivity to life and to the experience of it.
You know, I chose to like him.
I chose the 5-hour long conversations, the crazed 2 a.m. ramblings, and the delicious warmth of not-quite-friends. I chose my pain when I chose my joy: that is how these things work. But it’s not quite pain, not a devastation; I haven’t cried for him though I’ve sighed into many golden afternoons and blue nights. It is not pain but rather something more faded, subdued.
Newspaper clippings of past moments. Out of focus memories. The smudged ink of this dying story.
It stings but not quite enough to truly hurt, the pinprick of it a proof that I have lived.
Much of your pain is self-chosen. Yes, very much so.
My eye is attracted to the shiny flame, the exciting spark of something new in this old, worn world. What a beautiful fire; warm and gentle, it burns bright like stars in the night and I want to drink it in, drink it in. I want to pull it apart and understand it, hold it in my hand, keep it at my side, tucked in my heart.
My love is like a small child: curious, insistent, true but unable to handle fragile things with the care they deserve. So without thought or permission, eager to know, my fingers reach, my hands grab for that fire dancing so prettily before me.
My skin burns red, and the air is choked by the smell of something gone dark. A broken spell, a dead fire and a choked out chain of I’m sorrys, drowned by tears.
I wasn’t lying, I am a child when it comes to love. But even children must grow up, one day.
Note: It has been a very long time, hasn’t it? I haven’t even been able to write a birthday post this year, even though I have for the last 3 years. A lot has happened, as it tends to when one disappears like that. I hope you’ve been doing well and that you’re spending your time happily this holiday season.
“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.
These days, when I’m silent and staring off into space, I think a lot about you. Not other worlds nor imagined sanctuaries. Just you.
In the blur between my dreams and reality, symbolism says that you are a wind chime.
Delicate, with a kind of beauty only something so obviously fragile can have. I approach you timidly, fearing that I may step on the wind’s path and break the spell that is keeping the very atmosphere on edge. Yours is a song the universe has waited a long time to hear again, so even the birds hold their breath. The clouds do not move for fear of casting a shadow and depriving the world of the sight of afternoon sunlight dancing off your stained glass.
Summer’s breath carries the ocean spray, freedom flies with the winds. Honeyed light mingles with music, and the world sighs : “At last.”. Theuniverse sinks into your melodies, finds itself in the tinkling of glass in a little seashell house by the cove.
A feeling of undeserved privilege washes over me. But when life gives you music, you dance.
Yes, you are a wind chime of a person. You turn the wind into song, the light into elusive patterns beating to your rhythm.
But when you break, you cut all those around you with your angry shards. Distantly, it dawns on me then that you are just glass, like I am just clay, in the end. You are straying fragments picked up from the ocean floor, as I am scattered remains of a star — both of us longing to be whole. You are like me, earthly, normal.
It was foolish of me to see in you more than there was. Or maybe it wasn’t. But it’s hard to think straight with glass shards in my hand and the silent accusation ringing traitorously in my head: “I should never have trusted you.”
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.
“Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.”
I am learning to listen to my unconscious mind and self. And all it wants to listen to right now is breakup songs. When my conscious mind slips in transit somewhere beyond the scenery, my fingers all-too naturally reach for the melancholy songs, the blue shelves of lonesome piano music and scratchy records, featuring voices hoarse and grainy from withheld tears.
I can remember the good old days // when you and me used to hide away
I wake up to these and an emptiness when I reach my stop, like something has been clawed from me. As though someone had amused themselves to a claw machine game in my chest and had come out victorious, against all odds.
‘But don’t you know claw machines are rigged?’, some part of me accuses, ‘you only win if they let you.’
So who’d you let win? Who’d you let in?
We don’t, we don’t need to talk about this now // Yeah we’ve been down that road before
All day, this feeling follows me, all blue and shadowy. It trails behind my laughter and cuts my smiles short; it pulls a greyness from inside of me and makes me wear it like a truth. Like a sweater in the summer, it is, on its own, a statement piece : something that lets everyone know how I feel.
But I am perfectly alright. And it’s not a breakup! It’s not.
I mean, it’s not a breakup if the other person was a friend.
It’s not, it’s not. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be.
But it is, isn’t it?
And that’s what hurts most, what you run away from : the absurdity. How it should never have happened at all, never could or would have but it still did. Against all odds.
The crowds in my heart they’ve been calling out your name, but it just don’t feel the same
So it’s easier to deny, to make yourself think that needing to wear a sweater in the summer is nothing, least of all a sign of an inner ailment. Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.
You were a moment in life that comes and goes // A riddle, a rhyme that no one knows // A change of a heart, a twist of fate // Couldn’t fix it, it’s too late
Then comes the violent hatred most people don’t move on from, like an infection that festers and remains uncleaned all through life. But I can’t do that, can I? I am still young, and I will not deprive myself of others just because of you. You’ve had your time and you’ve had your piece and I suppose I have, too.
I guess it’s over, yeah we’re done
And so it is that I’ve been listening and listening and listening to these songs. All the while cleaning out the fragments of you that are left over, like picking out bits of gravel from a skinned knee. It will scar, yes. And it might hurt, little phantom aches or very specific pain when it rains or when I watch a movie that reminds me of you.
But it’s okay. Somehow, I can say that it is. I will be alright.
Note: This is Day 8 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. 4 days behind schedule, still trying to catch up! Find my entry for Day 7 here.
“I’ve been clay in each of their hands, every one of them giving their own twists and turns to the unfinished piece. “
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 🙂
These afternoons, as the sun warms my desk in streaks of golden light, as the end of the working day is near, and yet so far away, when I get to take a break from being an anonymous intern, I keep remembering the days when I was young and tragically beautiful.
When I was there but never quite so, all swept up in my own world, walled off by all the books I would read. Back in those days when the character from my book was the perfect representation of the romantic hero, and that being the case, so was I. He was beautiful with sad eyes. With longings only he could understand and dreams only he could reach. And all the others, wary and awed, watched his life unravel, secretly wishing they were in on that marvelous secret that was his world.
He sat in quiet, blooming gardens or by a stream, behind the school yard or in places no one would ever look for him in. The sunlight falling through the leaves like freckles on his face, the wind softly blowing the overlong hair back and forth across a cold, pensive face. And often, I would be somewhere under the shade of an ancient tree, a book or journal tucked safely under my arm, utterly detached from this Earth though being so close to its roots. I read about a shy young boy, yet to be a man and the way he only started living in the summer of his 15th year.
I remember the afternoons that were golden and too warm, when we spoke together of hidden castles and a love that vanished without a trace of having ever been. I remember the heaviness in our stomachs as we breathed in the scent of death that now covered young, innocent love. As our eyes clouded with grief and something gripped at our ribs, wanting to pry them open. I remember closing my eyes and hoping the words would change—that, somehow, love would grow and so would life. But no tears can rewrite a story, even as they spill on the ink and distort the writing.
Before the tears, I remember falling asleep to the soft, droning voice that read the freshness of the woods, and the clearness of blue eyes and a fantasy that happened, hidden somewhere between cities that had not yet been built. I slowly faded out of consciousness, reality blurring with the warmth of the evening. That moment, it was something fragile and quiet and all my own.
I remember being saved by people I would never meet. Characters that once might have been alive, but who died with the people who brought them to life on cream-coloured paper. People whose fates are now forever lost. Somewhere in a plane crashed in the Mediterranean sea, or in the French woods, covered by moss.
“He did not desire her,” I remember the soft voice saying, “No, they loved each other in strong bonds of friendship.”
I had never read something so deliberately. Nor, I suspect, will I ever. I was tragically young and hungry, hungry for words and experiences that I know well enough now. There is no mystery left. No tragedy to my ephemerality. Too old, too weary now to be that person with the sad eyes.
But even now, I want to eat the book sometimes. Or find some other way to swallow the pages, to find some means to make it stay with me. There were other times, too, when I looked at the name on the front of the cover, traced it and thought: ” I am touching a part of your soul. If only you knew.”
“If only you had known what you would be, maybe, maybe…”
Note: This one is about a book that is very dear to my heart. Something I studied as a teen, as part of my French literature classes. If you’d like to know the title, leave me a message (Aha, I’m a little protective over it) and I’ll get back to you ^^
There was no choice. We had to. Being thrown to Earth, it stripped us of knowledge. I was just a word. And there was no reason to think I was once part of a greater thing, dare I say, a sentence. Let alone an entire universe. Even now, it is blurry. A sound I hear far, far away, the way light seems unreachable when you are deep beneath the ground.
That became all that was left of you: an echo that might not exist. But I feel you somewhere still. I know this because I am whole, and yet I feel an emptiness. The say the heart is an organ quite like the stomach, you know. It stretches to fit your hunger and whatever you put into it. But some hearts, I’ve seen, only know how to grow bigger. They never seem to know what to do with the empty space left behind. They do not know how to shrink, have never learnt to. And it is in this place that you live.
And ah, have I mentioned: we may never meet.
But I will always know. I don’t remember much. Not your face, not your voice, your eyes. Everything has been stripped from my knowledge. Save for the most important bit: you exist. And lately, I’ve been thinking.
I have a theory.
You might have split, travelling to Earth.
You might exist in more than one body, in a way. What I’m trying to say is that there might be pieces of you left in many people. Knowing you, it was probably intentional. You have always been a fool, with too little brains and too much heart. You saw how the others were struggling. And you gave them a part of yourself. And again, until there was more of you in other people than there was in you.
It makes sense. The emptiness makes sense, too. I’m talking to versions of you, pieces. Never the whole thing at once. I am a whole and you a fractured mess. And yet one I love dearly. You exist in every person I love. And the world might tell me that soulmates come in pairs, but I find you, every so often,when life is kind, in people with warm eyes and goofy laughs. People who have picked up on your little habit of teaching me things.
If you were a word before, then now you have dispersed into letters. Letters that I keep finding in people Life sends my way. Right now, I am trying to rearrange them so I can know your name. So that, finally, I can know what my own means, too.
Note: When conceptualising the idea of a calling, of the emptiness of not having found it (yet), I do not usually make that calling a person. It’s usually something like a book or a passion as yet undiscovered. But I wanted to try my hand at the opposite for a change. So there it is, my take on ‘soulmates’. I don’t write a whole lot about romantic love either. So this attempt is also me trying to do that. In the hopes it wasn’t cheesy >.<
When you lay inert in the Universe, hanging like a star in the milky way, and life had not yet been breathed into you. I have a feeling we were close by. That we were born together, from the same breath. Or first it was you, and then me. You saw the world before I did. You couldn’t believe it. You couldn’t comprehend that you couldn’t believe it. Because a moment before, you were nothing. And then all at once you burst into existence. You didn’t exist and then, just like that, you did. You beheld the universe, everything, when moments before you had never seen.
And then I was born. My eyes new, and you knew then that you wanted to teach the world to me. What little you knew of it was mountains to my still flat consciousness. You taught me all the things I did not know, showed me stars and silence. We held hands as we explored the universe, like children but also like souls that had long been conserved in the same patch of sky. If life were a sentence, then you would be the word that came right before me. Your whole existence gave meaning to mine. And mine to yours. And one meant little without the other.