A World Away From The World

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Photo by: Masashi Wakui

I went jogging in the evening to eventually go up my trusty, 10-minutes-away-from- home hill. But the same streets I have walked for give-or-take 20 years now, the same faces I have watched the baby fat melt from, the same eyes that I have seen growing weary, seem so alien to me. Like I don’t quite know what I’m recognising.

The reason —and it’s a futile one—: I am wearing workout clothes.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes, the littlest things are enough to set us apart? In a sea of grey, a red string —however thin it may be—will always stand out. With just that, I am foreign.

I am going away, too. Spiritually at least, far, far away from the mindset sat on the heads of most of these people. I feel as though, if I were to stumble into someone, that I would just walk right through them. Like we were in alternate universes not meant to meet, sharing the same space on different planes of existence. I feel like that explains my clumsiness. I’m constantly going up a road you’re only meant to get down from and bumping shoulders with invisible people from other worlds.

I feel as though, in their universe, that quiet little green space has stopped existing. Or it never did. It wasn’t that big of a hill to begin with. But it was never about that. It only ever mattered that it was there, like its existence proved a point. That we weren’t simply city people. That there was more to us than deadlines and schedules and social status.

As I jog away, I wonder what their world is like. A world of neon signs and chit-chat, waiting for the clock to reach 5 pm, date night and TGIFs every week.

A world that is, most days, also mine.

No matter how much I tell myself that it’s different for me. Because I’m aware. Because I’m dreaming of some other place. Because I could be something, something. I could outgrow this tiny, cozy place.

Yeah, but life isn’t lived on intention alone.

That world unraveling before me is mine; there is no doubt.

But just not now, it isn’t.

Just not now.

 


Note: My body can’t seem to comprehend that it doesn’t have to write anymore now. At least not everyday. It seems all I’ve done this weekend is jot down half-born ideas. Also, I am planning on making some changes to the blog. Refine the category area and re-define barely-there publishing schedules. And haha, I’ve gotten used to writing these little notes at the end of posts. Another habit to shake off, I suppose.

A Silence of Intense Thoughts

“It was always a pause, and then the silence of intense thoughts that crossed the room, the sounds of minds opening, being filled not with words, but with the emotion in between them, brimming not with verse and lyricism, but with memories of their beauty, their rhythm that sounded like music”

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Art by: Pascal Campion

When I first studied literature and poetry, I was struck by the intentional silence left in between sentences and stanzas that were read out loud. The teacher was giving us a moment to contemplate, to wonder, to pin down a feeling, or capture a thought process, to appreciate it within a larger context, making us question whether any one thing was truly random or whether it all connected into another sub-layer of meaning.

It was always a pause, and then the silence of intense thoughts that crossed the room, the sounds of minds opening, being filled not with words, but with the emotion in between them, brimming not with verse and lyricism, but with memories of their beauty, their rhythm that sounded like music. And I like to think, even with the indescribable essence of a novel or poem that is not the same for any one person.

We broke down stories into parts, then parts into chapters, chapters into passages. Passages into paragraphs, paragraphs into lines, lines into a sentence. And further even, sentences into words and silences. Quietly, we filled the blanks in between the words with deeper meaning wrought from our own experiences. We wrote our lives in all the stories we read, in all the verse we learnt. To read is not passive; we use our own lives to  understand that of others’. We create silences to fill with the unknown.

And that silence, that is when I would stop being in a classroom, wearing an ill-fitting uniform, just a name among so many others. On the outskirts of fiction and reality, there would exist, for a few stretches of silence, a complex world that would perish at the first word spoken.


Note: This is Day 29 (Already!) of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. Tomorrow’s the last day, so I hope you’ve been enjoying it. Meanwhile, you can check out the entry for Day 27 here 🙂

Goodbye, Nostalgia. 

“Sequestering myself in a memory, hiding away like this…I lived vicariously through the person I used to be. “

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Art by: Chiara Bautista

I need to surrender to reality.

To release the past from my grip because the flow of Time is inescapable. There is nothing anyone can do about it. We shouldn’t cling onto it, onto memories and past versions of ourselves and the people we loved. I cling to the past because the present is scary. Because the pain from an old wound is better than whatever new ache this unknown world could bring me. Sequestering myself in a memory, hiding away like this…I lived vicariously through the person I used to be. But I cannot live there anymore. The past is not a place where anyone can grow. It is like trying to fit in clothes you’ve long since outgrown. No, it will never satisfy my heart.

No, no more dusty happiness, no more borrowing from the past for me. The present is ineluctable. Running from it means nothing. It is like trying to outrun a treadmill— you can’t. You just can’t. No matter how much you try, you’ll never be able to catch up.

So I will not fight this anymore. I will grow old, as I dreaded. I will be an adult. Someday, I will fade out, I will go out of fashion. I might live enough to have grey hairs and wrinkles. It is not just that I will be old, but also that I will no longer be young. Facing Time, facing the Present, I will lose everything. But I only lose everything if I have nothing to replace it with.

There will be other happinesses, other versions of me to be. There will be new adventures, new people to share them with. There will be another golden age, if only I seize the day.

Goodbye, Nostalgia.

 


Note: This is Day 13 of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can find Day 12 here.

Young Adult…Old Soul

“But dreams are bubbles: beautiful, flimsy and with a certain habit of drifting away, far away into the sun. And I have drifted with the winds and the currents, have touched the skies and stars, possibly in sleep. I have felt nebulas bursting underneath my skin, lighting up rooms in my mind that were never before there. I have had lights and darknesses poured over me in equal measures, have had fires ignited in my heart and extinguished in the same minute. I have touched a little bit of infinity. “

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Art by Narae Kim / 김나래

I never thought I would live to be an adult.

Never thought I would be roaming the Earth for as long as I have now—20 years and then some. I didn’t think I would “die young”. No, I just never saw it coming. It was all just so far away; an abstract future I told myself to not worry about just now. But I also never thought I would change, evolve, and sometimes even…bloom.

But between then and now, in that time when I was supposed to learn how the world works, how to put on make-up and make connections, I dreamed. Days and nights that were simultaneously long and short, I was tucked away in a world of my own making. And I invited a few people in sometimes. They were called Saint-Exupéry or Frost, Rowling or Tolkien, Kahlo or Jalāl ad-Dīn( Yeah, first-name basis).

But dreams are bubbles: beautiful, flimsy and with a certain habit of drifting away, far away into the sun. And I have drifted with the winds and the currents, have touched the skies and stars, possibly in sleep. I have felt nebulas bursting underneath my skin, lighting up rooms in my mind that were never before there. I have had lights and darknesses poured over me in equal measures, have had fires ignited in my heart and extinguished in the same minute. I have touched a little bit of infinity.

I have drifted back, now.

Into what turned out to be a forced landing into adulthood. I did not have the pleasure of pulling an Icarus, of reaching for the sun earnestly, of knowing how to fly and never wanting to go down again. I did not have the pleasure of loving the thrill of zeniths so much I would die in the pursuit, refusing to go anywhere but further ahead. I was not prepared, so it was not a graceful landing. I was all fumbling limbs, bruised knees and awkward words. Like when you crash a party and everyone stares at you.

The days of wandering, and indeed the days for wonder are not all lost now. But even so, adulthood comes with a few restraints. Restraints which I balk from calling shackles (For fear that is exactly what they are). Yet here I am now.  A young adult. Slightly unlike, I’ve been told (at times pityingly or with a sneer, at others kindly) other young adults I know. There are only few my age who do not find intense passions for words, spoken and unspoken, a little weird. They are not many, those who view solitude as a season to blossom, a door, an adventure.

At times too, without pretension, without arrogance—without wanting to disrupt the smooth flow of normalcy—my hand catches onto the inherent sadness of life. I breathe in the history of places, I let the dust and the memories of forgotten lives settle in. In crowds, I let the untold stories of the world wash over me. So, at times, I am older than I really am. Old, ancient, almost. And all the odder, too.

Because what a mess of many things I am.

A young adult, ambitious, eager to see the world yet unwilling to succumb to the cold, harsh ways of the adult life that comes with it.

Young, then. But also old. As if it was not enough, there is also a child’s laughter, bubbling to the surface. The world through a child’s eyes, brilliant, full of wonder, yet also eyes that are calm and a little weary, even distrusting.

The story hasn’t come to an end. Even now, as I am writing it, I watch it unfold. And I write it, I do, in part for others, and in part to reach myself.


Listening to:

The Promise of Youth

“So now we are sad adults, you and me, experiencing not Life, but the drudgery of everydays, reminiscing. Reminiscing about a pair of teenagers, wild and eternal, whose footsteps echo ever so briefly in the hollows of our chests.”

HowlsMovingCastle
Gif from: Howl’s Moving Castle

This beautiful life is no longer without consequence. Time has begun taking its toll out on you, dear. The late nights are now mapped out on your face, the sorrow weighing down the skin under your eyes. The memories of us have turned into sadness, who would have known?

Who would have known that one day on a roadtrip with no destination would change us so? You see, not even Youth is without consequence. Every happiness is to be paid for. So now we are sad adults, you and me, experiencing not Life, but the drudgery of everydays, reminiscing. Reminiscing about a pair of teenagers, wild and eternal, whose footsteps echo ever so briefly in the hollows of our chests.

Perhaps this is grief. Perhaps this is regret.

Because we killed them. The people we used to be. The dreams we used to have. We gave in to the world. We bowed to the storm and let it strip us of all we were.

So we go through this cruel existence, paying the penance for our crimes with unhappiness and misery. If you are miserable, then their deaths will mean something, right? If you feel hollowed out, soulless, then it is because you deserve to be, right?

Right?

But even now you appear right when I have scrubbed my memories clean of you. In the supermarket, outside a café. Grocery bags in hand. Sadness in your eyes. And for a moment there, I see the spark of the 17-year old you used to be. I see this tingle of Life that wants to awaken. And for a brief minute, Life allows us this repose. This breath of Youth that erases the fine lines and the great walls alike. And all disappears. As though Life had an undo button, a ‘restore to previous version’ option that could take us back to that summer when we were 17. Where the sunlight was warm on our faces and our days were boundless. The grass was tall, and the pink carnations swayed in the wind as the nearby brook ran its course.

But you chose, long ago. So you turn your head and in a heartbeat, take the sunlight away with you.

To All You Idealists, Dreamers and Lost Wanderers…

Gif Source: Tumblr (Artist Sadly Unknown)

The sun is shining down hard on my head today. My ears burn red under the heat, but I continue to wander my way through Life.  The people around, they all seem to know where they are going. No-nonsense business suits and straightened hair; their ties are smoother than the road ahead.

“Put-together”

They do not hesitate. Their gait is sure, their shoulders firm. They are not afraid of the road. They rule over it. They decide where the road will take them.

Which is why sometimes, it feels like their eyes are boring through me. As I slip in and out of alleyways like a needle through a piece of cloth, as I wander and then abruptly stop to look around me, panic-stricken and lost.

I am not yet like them. My hair is a tangle of dreams, my steps wobbly from fear at times. But also from joy, at others. And I don’t look at the road sometimes, because the huge palm tree that tickles the skies is too beautiful to ignore. Because the port is not too far away and if I strain my ears enough, I will hear the boats with their multicoloured flags rocking, splashing in the water. And the birds. The birds are soaring. The wind is blowing, carrying the smell of salt and the sea.

The sun is shining down so hard, but I’m still looking up.

And I wander.

I look on the world like a wayfarer.

I breathe in; I am not yet like them.

But every so often…Every so often, I will see a soul in a business suit. A young man with slicked back hair, still curling at the edges, still a little light from the sun. I can never look at the eyes. Full of drowned hopes and dying dreams. And yet eyes that are still searching.  Still searching the sea of people, still hoping with a last thread of Hope that the tide will bring something.

I am not yet like them.

But wanderers are a dying breed. And soon, soon… The sun will be too much. And I will stop looking up.

 

Cup of Life, Anyone?

The tea leaves swirl in the old porcelain cup, Her wrinkled hand, darkened from long hours in the sun, energetically draws circles of steam in the air as She tries to infuse the dried, blackened leaves in the boiling water. In the old days, She would often predict your future after one hard look at […]

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The tea leaves swirl in the old porcelain cup, Her wrinkled hand, darkened from long hours in the sun, energetically draws circles of steam in the air as She tries to infuse the dried, blackened leaves in the boiling water.

In the old days, She would often predict your future after one hard look at the remains once you’d had your cup.

But right now, I cannot think of futures. I am the leaves twirling inside the hot water. I am losing my essence, and all of me is becoming undone in the stifling heat, in the dizzying turns the cup takes and the growing tornado threatening to gulp me whole.

Storm in a teacup, Life in a nutshell.

I am being stirred, dissolved into something else. They hope to take the elixir that hides beneath the obsidian-clad body and then discard what is left of it.

Squeeze the soul out, throw the body away. It’s a consumerist society. Fast-food, fast-everything.

So now, She tosses the tea leaves in the bin even before the old, knowing eye can even take a look.