A piece of the Universe.

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Art by : Michelle Theodore

“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.

 

 

 

Not all fires burn.

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Art by : @cadmiumyellowdeep

The nights are growing cold here, and I’m using old memories to kindle a little warmth.

Just enough to feel my fingertips, to not let my heart freeze over.

There was a time when I would have lit a blazing fire, enough to outlast the wintry winds, the night shivers. There was a me who would have fed off of the warmth of another time, who would have nurtured back to life the smouldering remains of dying fires.

But you see, I am not this me anymore. I am brave enough now to venture into the cold, to let the chill crawl up my bare arms and invigorate me.

Now, if I want warmth, I have just enough spirit to reach for it, trusting that it will not burn.

(Because that’s the thing about memories, isn’t it? They warm without burning. But you can never tell what it will be with the present, you can only experience the full shock of it when it happens.)


 

But Gone Before Them (2/2)

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Art by: Pilar Zeta

And then we parted.

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.


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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 >.< 

Born With the Stars (1/2)

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Art by: Pilar Zeta

I know I knew your soul from way before.

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.

And then we parted.

 

Dodging Arrows…(1/2)

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Art by ceruleanwax

That night, I let a part of me slip, and in so doing, also gave it to you. But you were too young to understand.

Too naive, too afraid. You understood that this was new, different. But you didn’t have the courage to hold the truth between your hands, like a bird with a broken wing. That kind of courage hadn’t been born in you yet.

I gave you a part of me, and you didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t the usual piece of ‘wisdom’ or healing. It was something I collected not from my experiences, not from having existed this long, but from somewhere riskier: myself. And I think that’s what scared you off. Not what I could have done, but what it meant for you now. It was the idea that I could be something you were uncomfortable with. Something you would have to be strong to even hear about. You were young and you didn’t want to venture in it, because some part of you knew that life wouldn’t be the same after. That your image of me would be changed forever, and so would you be. And we would never get back what we had then, the golden days.

And you didn’t want to give that up.

You were somewhere on the cusp of awareness, nearing truth. Faltering in the bliss of ignorance, about to have the rug pulled from under your feet. But you stayed the hand of Life, and the rug remained. You were too young to have the world taken from you. Yes, that’s what it was.

But I showed you a part of me that you didn’t want to see. An unwanted truth. A darkness you wished wasn’t there so you wouldn’t have to deal with it. Awkwardly, I held out my hand, and you pretended you were looking somewhere else.

I gave you a part of me that you were too young to understand. I gave you a part of me I was too young to have, anyway.

No, it wasn’t you.

It’s not you; the fault lies with me. Unable to hide my own intensity.* 

I was the one firing truths, but it felt as though you were the one with the bow in your hands.

You know, that day, I was selfish for offering. It slipped past my lips unwittingly, that much is true. But I ask myself sometimes, if there wasn’t some part of me that had planned it all, in the end.


Note: * This line is from this song:

…And Receiving Them (2/2)

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Art by: ceruleanwax

At the breaking of dawn, you could not take it anymore. Could not start even another day with the burdens of the past. So as the sun awoke and its first beams caressed the scenery, your tears fell, and your truths bled all over the kitchen counter. The good, the bad, the vulnerably honest, the dark, the nonsensical, the raw, the accidentally poetic. And you looked at me then, as if you had placed your beating heart in my palm. You waited to see what I would do with it. I could crush it, without even saying a word. But what does one say when exposed to the very thing all people learn to hide from others, from themselves? What does one say in the face of others’ soul-deep pain?

All you need sometimes is an “Okay”.

You don’t need an: “Oh… I’m sure it’ll turn out fine in the end.”. There’s something that’s often…dismissive about these ready-made phrases. Like, here, take these formalities. No, sometimes, I find you don’t need many words. Just a singular, sincere one. You just need an “Okay”—strong, steady, sure.

Because any other words will fall flat.

“You’re suffering, but move on.” Isn’t that what it means sometimes? “You’re suffering and I can’t sit with you while you do.” or “Your pain is a burden.”

We want people to be happy not because we love them, but because we can’t handle them when they’re sad. It’s hard to love a sad person, because loving means a whole other thing when someone’s not happy. Loving means wiping away tears not knowing if and when they will subside. Loving means looking behind the mask and risking yourself in the cracks and dents of their soul. Loving means facing uncomfortable truths and not looking away. It means looking so far into their fears, you start facing your own. Sometimes, it is to find the courage to do for them, what you could never do for you.

That’s why you need an “Okay”. You need an “Okay” that says: “We will not move on. We will sit down and feel this together. You might still be sad at the end of this. You might never be the same person again. But at least you’ll be you. At least you won’t be hiding. You won’t endure because you think that’s what will make others happy. You won’t feel guilty about being in pain. You won’t feel like you have to face it all by yourself. You will learn, that pain does not have to turn into suffering.”

All in one “Okay”. An “Okay” that sees you, that understands. That will stay with you for longer than an entire speech would.


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Note: The year’s first series! (Is it still a series if it’s only 2 parts?🤔) But, to my defence, this was going to be 3 parts. Until the idea for the last part just slipped out of my brain and wandered into the great, wild world without looking back. 😒 Oh, well. I still hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Fleeting Little Phenomenon

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Art by: David Ng

“Aren’t you angry,” you asked “that we met only now, and we already have to say goodbye?”

I would have been grateful for even one day. For even the blink of an eye. Shooting stars and meteor showers are fleeting, too. Should we be angry that they couldn’t last longer? And yet, with these goodbyes, it’s so hard to focus. All I can think about are all the hellos they will bring with them. We have too little time to be upset. Whether it is a week or 60 years. It will never be enough time. Only infinity would ever satisfy us.

Am I angry? I haven’t given myself time to be.

It’s so rare, this. I can’t complain. My days are filled with thank yous to the Universe.

It is paradoxical, too.

That there will never be enough time. And yet however much of it we will get will be enough. Because this, this is like a comet we could have never caught at all. Something that only happens every hundred or thousand years. The requirements for this to happen were something along the lines of: to have been born on a Sunday at 13:03:56, gone to 3 different high schools, have had a friend called Dudley, seen a peacock every 2.5 years, worn green every other Tuesday, taken the bus 156 times a year and hated watermelon for half your life. If even one day had happened differently, could you honestly say life would have happened the same?

This thing we have is as beautiful as a meteor shower. And how lucky we are to have caught it. How lucky we are, that we do not have to spend the rest of our lives wondering.


Note: Ahhh, today is the last day. This is Day 30 of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. I wanted to end on something that said: “Ends are beginnings”. I’ve strayed a little from the intended goal, but I hope you liked it and that you’ve been enjoying these 30 days of writing. It’s certainly helped me understand my writing better. And with this, I guess this is the end of NaNoWriMo this year. Who knows, maybe next year…