The thing about shaking off the shadows and reaching for light is that it cannot be done in silence.
I had hoped I wouldn’t have to roar to announce that I had arrived, finally, through adversity and darkness, into the version of myself I was always meant to be. Naively, I had hoped that perhaps this transformation could pass unnoticed, like the water that quietly steals away under one of the city’s bridges — drowned out by all the other manifestations of life, melting into an indistinguishable symphony of sounds.
But to be yourself is to create ripples, echoes. And people listen, they pay attention.
The other day, I realised while watering a thriving Zenith the Zealous, that weeds had only started growing my little chia plant when I started caring for it. And I think it’s as simple as that: life attracts life. When you push through the darkness, discontent with the safety of mere existence and seek light, weeds will grow vicariously through you, envious.
So yes, I have attracted a whole lot of shallow attention.
People who call me pretty disbelievingly. Formerly indifferent men who now give long looks. Others who notice every little change as if it had been made on their own bodies.
I stepped into the light hoping to be seen, but instead, I am being viewed.
It’s disconcerting, to be sure. More than that, it makes me want to crawl back to where I came from. To safety. To comforting darkness. To being alone in my own little world, my lonely little planet of thoughts.
But these reactions are just passing distractions. My quest for light goes farther than them. There is more to me than what they see: I cannot be boxed into words like ‘pretty’, I offer no explanation as to why I am the way I am.
So naturally pink! It looks like the sky has been dyed in cotton candy colours, like you could reach out, pluck a piece of the sky and put it in your mouth. It is the exact shade I rave about endlessly in my blog posts and I cannot get enough of it.
I tried going up the roof to capture that colour without any inconvenience, but it just did not look the same. And I found myself being grateful for being exactly where I was in life. I was suddenly grateful for how the whole day had gone, for how it lead up to me looking up at the right place, at the right time to witness that sky.
Most days I have so many regrets. So many forever unanswered what-ifs that taunt me. Yet today, I was grateful to be just where I was. And to have been where I have been because without it, without the good and the bad, I would not have today, as it is.
Note : I realise on certain screens the pink colour does not really appear. Plus, I’m not really a photographer either so bear with me kindly.
How long has it been since I’ve written just for the sake of writing? Not to make something beautiful, not to get better at it, but just to let go?
Writing for the blog, I always try to make a point (consciously or not). But I am now going to write pointlessly again. To write a lot, to not erase one single thing I am writing as I write it because I think one word would be better suited than the other. I’ve removed all the barriers between me and writing, between me and myself. Between the me I present to the world, this façade and the me inside. Both are equally real but would not survive without the other.
I like having the liberty again to not make sense, to just conjure images that I like, that crop up in my head. I like writing and exploring my own unconscious desires, like just now I realise I really would like to visit a castle, to own a small island for solitary getaways and small adventures. I want to retreat more inside myself. Ironically that is the follow-up to my wanderlust. An acute sense of introspection, a desire to find within the things I witnessed outside. To point at a map and the feelings the location procured and finding it in myself.Like pointing at a star and then to its vestiges in myself.
Is it strange?
I don’t much care if it is.
I am writing for myself. In no way am I obliged to make any sense to anyone, not even myself. I write the way you test out a new pen: all scribbles and intelligible ink blots. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s freeing and word-vomit and nobody cares. Nobody should. How freeing to not have others’ opinions attached to something I do or write.
I love that I’ve found the door to this kind of writing again. It allows me to do what I’ve said I would this year: write the things that truly matter. So I don’t look back and wish I’d written this thing that is still on my mind. So I don’t look back and think that I can’t see myself in the things I have written or created. That’s also why I got the piercing : not to have regrets.
I’ve always had a little Rock’n’Roll in me. A little bit of an “I want to be different” kind of streak. A “rebel against the establishment” vibe even as I dutifully sat in a classroom made of neat rows and columns, even as I completed the picture, the perfect square. Something in me always cried “F the system.”.
So now, 20ish years later, as cliché as it sounds, the piercing is a way to go a little against the grain.
“At first, overthinking feels almost intelligent, like : “Oh, look at me, my thoughts have thoughts.””
In a number of ways, I’ve found myself already.
The constant flow of “Who am I”s that clashed with my bloodstream has quietened, softened to a dull roar. Like the sound of the ocean in your ear when you place a shell there — it is an echo of something it used to be, something from the past.
I could honestly not fill out a form about what I want to be, though. I couldn’t say where I want the next 5 years to take me. But I could write my name proudly on top of the paper. I don’t know where I’m going or how, but on this solo quest, I at least know who I’m travelling with.
So, I’ve finally discovered who I am, although how much of it is discovery and how much of it is memory is really hard to tell. I think, in a way, it is more of a rediscovery than anything else. Either way, I’m still not able to provide short-cut answers (“I want to be a writer.” or “I want to write a novel.”) or very clear answers at all. My…truths are not easy for me to casually explain. They are still a little muddled, like water that is only now settling after its surface has been disturbed by multiple ricochets. So these…truths come in unusual ways : in musical scores and vocal tremors in songs, very precise bits of writing, insignificant words, wispy feelings, moods and other such nameless things. It is nothing quite concrete, but is still so overwhelmingly potent just for existing. The few moments I can catch are such delights to have, so crisp they are, so startlingly clear.
At this point, if someone asks me who I am, I will just point to a song that speaks to my soul and say : “That is what I am.”. I’m not ashamed of it : I have caught with quite slippery hands the bits and pieces that I am now holding onto. But really, it was easy. Once I let go of the overthinking, the truth rose from the silence and I followed it to the things that matter most.
But who am I kidding, overthinking is the hardest thing at first. Overthinking is a storm in your mind that leaves debris in its wake. It is a man-made disaster, the number one mind-polluter : it turns the place inside out, enshrouds any markers that could guide you back to the places you’ve been before. But not overthinking is also hard in a world that always leaves you guessing whether you are doing things right. Simplicity is not easy. When sophistication is dangled like a bait in front of you, you start asking yourself what is wrong with you for not wanting it. If everyone else is fighting for it, why am I not ?
I used to think simplicity was boring, like it was just the beginning stages of a painting. A bare canvas waiting to be doused in colour. Simplicity is monochrome in a world of splashing colours. It is empty, lacking substance. I only thought that because I never imagined simplicity could come from sophistication. I thought simplicity was plain, unadorned, that blank spaces didn’t belong on a canvas. But that’s not true. Simplicity is focused, calm where overthinking is excessive or scattered. If simplicity is monochrome, then overthinking is like mixing colours : you keep adding touches and dashes of this and that shade, and in the end all you’re left with is a pool of muddled black. Simplicity knows what it is and what is out there and still chooses to be itself.
I’ve learned to do the same. I’m still learning, still struggling to keep it simple and keep it real. At first, overthinking feels almost intelligent, like : “Oh, look at me, my thoughts have thoughts.”.
It feels right because you are weighing in all your options, learning as much as you can about them, double, triple-checking…At one point though, you just turn into a hoarder. You stockpile thoughts and hide behind them like a dragon sleeping under a mountain of gold coins.
Your thoughts have thoughts. Cool, but is any one of them doing anything for you? Or do they all just look pretty in your head ? Simplicity in thought is having a thousand choices and going through the effort of keeping only the right one. Or, at the very least, the one or two that feel the most right of them all.
With some of the debris cleaned up, my journey inward can now be resumed, its paths unclogged, unobstructed. I can begin again to uncover all the wonderful things that give meaning to life, for me.
And again, it’s the simple, not always quiet things. It’s music by people whose artistry I adore. Loud laughter. Fearing nothing but fear itself.
Note : This is an entry for NaNoWriMo Day 2. Also, I realise some parts of this may sound harsh, but I’m mostly talking to myself when I write down things like these, so…
“Back then, the summer, happiness —they were the truth of that time. Now, we live another truth. A different one, but the truth all the same. And being true, I have decided, will always mean more than being happy. “
Thinking back to the honeyed days of old, they say to me:
“Take me back to the place of a thousand summers. The palace made of moulding planks held in the branches of a tree. Can we go back to when we were young and beautiful? When we did not wonder our worth, when we were pristine and whole. When we hadn’t yet learnt that without wanting to, we could plant arrows in each other’s backs? Let’s return to safety, to not arguing about whether happiness exists or not, because back then it did. Let’s go back to a time when we don’t have to wish it was another time. Let’s go back. Back to when time didn’t exist, did not even matter.”
I can’t. And now, I’m not sure I want to.
Back then, the summer, happiness —they were the truth of that time. Now, we live another truth. A different one, but the truth all the same. And being true, I have decided, will always mean more than being happy. Remember, back then we’d ask our parents for their share of cake, knowing they would give it to us out of love, but also knowing they really wanted it, too. It made us happy, that extra piece of cake. But I wouldn’t do the same now. The happiness of children and the happiness of what we are now—it is different. Part of that happiness is ignorance. Besides, there are things you can value more than happiness. And I am happy to live in a world, as a version of me, where I have learned that.
We can always return, you know. To the summer, to the swings. But I would rather go somewhere else. Somewhere we’ve never been before. And there we may come upon a string of Fate that leads us to where we are meant to be. But I do not want to linger back. To revisit an old happiness and decide to stay there, as though it were reality. True happiness does not exist in lies. It is an illusion. A reflection in the water that is disfigured at the slightest ripple.
I realise, too, that back then, we relentlessly relied on other people to make our happiness. We clung to their backs and added to their burdens. Burdens they made light, truly. But I don’t want that happiness now. I don’t want to rely on other people’s hard work for me to be happy. I think it’s time we gave back. Time to become the people who made us happy. You see, the world would be a much better place, if only we took turns in giving what we usually receive. If only we do not take all of the summer for us. With happiness as with many other things, one never loses in sharing.
Note: On this note, happy (belated?) new year! I hope you have all had a wonderful time during the holidays. And thank you for sticking with me all this time. You can look forward to some new things this year (Hint: more series types of writing coming your way…aaand some other stuff 😀 )
I saw you today, in the velvet of the lavender sky. In the dragon of clouds that coiled proudly in it, in the iridescent puddles that spelled your name. You didn’t lie, you know, when you said that there was nowhere you could go that you wouldn’t be with me. (Do I believe that you’re up there looking at me from above? Probably not. But you’ve planted a piece of you in me. And that seems to have done the trick.)
—17 December 2017
There remained no sky that night. Merely clouds shrouding the moon. No moonlight touched us and our eyes laid cloaked in a darkness that would never come.
—20 December 2017
I can’t begin to guess why, but even the night is rose-tinted. Like darkness just could not be bothered. Or like we’d done something so good (not right) that it made even the night luminous.
—22 December 2017
Fireworks, by all rights, should be arrogant displays. But they’re really just naive, aren’t they? Humans trying to imitate stars, to light up the sky with their own kind of energy. And creating instead flashy copies, the beauty of which is equaled only by their ephemerality.
—31 December 2017
The sky woke me up at 4:15 today. Thunderous, alive, hurting. So I whispered poetry into the vanishing night but the sky wanted to be heard, and not reasoned with. So it exploded, all in lightning bolts and endless heavy rains, both angry and desolate, even beyond the sun’s reign. And all throughout the day, there remained traces of its tears, but never of its anger.
—03 January 2018
Note: That is an inordinate amount of sky-related thoughts to have in such a short (?) time period, I thought to myself. Might as well make a post out of it, I shrugged.
I feel like I’ve sat on a chair and have been spinning around for light-years. And nothing I see is willing to settle. Everything still appears in duplicates and colours that don’t exist. The world now, is a juxtaposition of 10,000 others right before it. The lights of 10,000 dawns and dusks, all painted in one stroke. And I am constantly grabbing at old versions of what it means to be alive. My shaking hand comes back empty but for a mound of dust and dying light.
My head has been spinning on itself, too and has been orbiting the moon, pushed by the gusts of Saturn. I just have to close my eyes and my body floats, weightless, as though it has never known gravity, never wondered what it felt like to be grounded. My body does not feel like my own. My hands are too weak-willed, too loose, too free to be mine to command. My body is like a kite without a string—going wherever the wind wills. So it’s not mine anymore. Was it ever? Was there ever a moment when that kite was bound, when all these thoughts made sense, when they were arranged in order? Did they ever not orbit around my head like moons in utter chaos? And I am left now to pluck them, in disarray, attempting to string them into not-gibberish. But the sentences don’t make sense. Nothing does.
For a moment there, I feel like I am the sun. With all these thoughts-turned-planets and their moons circling me, each at their own rhythm, each at separate stages of their journey. Too much, too much.
But grabbing at other planets did not work. So I am now peeling back the layers of this world to reach a substantial core, something unmistakably material, but my hands are weak. They, too, are the juxtaposed reflections of 10,000 years of being. So holding onto some form of sanity, because that’s really what this is about, is proving to feel like trying to contain water in a fishing net. Or trying to catch smoke with the spaces between your fingers.
This night has turned into a search for grounding, for anchoring. But the Earth itself is dissolving into cotton balls and I am floating away with its remains.
Note: How to become high: be in that stage between sleep-deprivation and developing an actual sleep pattern.
How one word can express the maze of thoughts and emotions that inhabit us. How extraordinary that language can represent feelings—these deep, emotional complexities that have no physical form. Language creates. In a breath, it gives a body where emotions make up the soul.
Earlier, I came across the japanese word “Yūgen”, which means: “An awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.”. We have words to describe what we cannot describe. How wonderful, how ethereal.
Today again, I was writing (in my head, because that’s where the writing is most beautiful) about how people let go of themselves come December. How their shoulders relax, their expressions slacken, how their voices soften and their eyes gain a mellow warmth. But only the word “Délier” came to mind. It is a french word, meaning to untie. The one word describes the phenomenon better than any one-paragraph description ever could.
“Délier” is to release, to let go of and untwist, to give freedom, to become unstuck, to let tongues wag. “Délier”, to me, is the feeling when you take off heels that have been burning the soles of your feet all day long. “Délier” is to break the mould, “Délier” is not having to sit ram-rod straight and instead being able to sink back in the comforts of home. “Délier” is a thousand birds launching themselves into the skies. It is nothing the Larousse will tell you, but words have the meaning we give them. Language doesn’t live in books. It is a rebellious teenager that will always find a window to climb out of.
“People let go of themselves…” I write. No that’s not it. Strike-through. “Les gens se délient lorsqu’arrive Décembre…”
“here are days when you won’t be able to make it all better. Days when you just have to play with the hand you are dealt, even if that means you have to sit this round out and wait for the next one.”
Sometimes there’s just no other way around it. There’s no shedding light on the darkness, no driving the negativity away. There’s no miracle cure to all of life’s problems.
Sometimes, it’s like a bad case of the flu. You just have to stick with it. Break out in a cold sweat, hurl all you’ve eaten out, have a fever, shiver but also feel too hot. You just have to eat soup and crackers and take lots of fluids. But even then, it’s no cure. There are days when you won’t be able to make it all better. Days when you just have to play with the hand you are dealt, even if that means you have to sit this round out and wait for the next one. Even if that means you get to feel bad when you watch your friends or people you don’t like cash in those sweet, sweet opportunities. Some days, you just…have rotten luck. And you just have to drag your sore, beaten up corpse of a body to bed and call it a day.
And it’s okay if it lasts longer than that. It’s okay. Because you aren’t meant to win all the time. You aren’t even meant to win most of the time. All you are meant to do is try your best. No one can ask any more of you than that. And it so happens that some days, your best involves you staying in bed, recovering. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Note: This is Day 19 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. Granted, writing everyday is becoming a little grating, but I’m sticking with it. I’m seeing this through even if I have to crawl to reach that finish line. Aha…hahahah…ha. But hopefully, I’ll be seeing things in a different light before November ends 🙂
“Since when did I need to have all my senses occupied, confounded all at once? Since when have I been fighting the silence of my own soul? “
I wonder who I was before I had a smartphone? It might seem silly but…how did I take my meals before, if not before a phone screen? (Probably in front of the TV, my mind supplies). But why do I need a distraction from food? Food is delicious. An all-consuming kind of experience all on its own. And yet why?
Since when did I need to have all my senses occupied, confounded all at once? Since when have I been fighting the silence of my own soul? The kind that is without distraction. A silence of the eyes, the mouth, the ears, the mind. I feel as though all these voices from outside have shut the one from within, drowning it out in noise, its message lost in the static. No, truly, it has become hard to do nothing. It has become hard to just be. Scrolling down newsfeeds, giving likes, that is the new nothing.
But lately, I have been longing for a deep breath the way a smoker craves the scent and feel of nicotine in their throat. I have been yearning to do nothing. To air out my mind the way you air out a dress that has been stuffed in the back of a closet for too long. The insides of my brains have turned musty. So now, I have this wild desire to have my brain cells caressed by the breeze, to let the coolness of a zephyr tickle my thoughts, turning them crisp and fresh again. I have had enough of this prison of the senses. I do not want to be entertained. I do not wish to be distracted from myself, from the truths swirling inside of me.
I kindof just want to be, away from this unromantic little addiction.
Note: This is a late entry for Day 16 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 15 here. This is a bit different from what I usually write, a little less whimsical and not something I expected to write for NaNoWriMo but hey, phones might not be very romantic to write about but they’re still a thing.