Bookmark #895

We had dinner, which did not burn a hole in our collective pockets for a change, and then, we lay on the grass talking about all things in the world, but mostly books. A friend asked, as friends often do if I could name my favourite one of all time. I dodged the question like you often dodge an inquiry for favourites, not because there is no answer but because there are many. Then, I told him the truth and asked if he had read Le Petit Prince. He had not. Then, I noticed that despite the light all around us from balconies in the hundreds of apartments and lampposts around, I could see a sole star in the sky, and for a second, I lost my train of thought. Once I found myself back in the land of the living and out of the abrupt delirium, I told my friend he should read it. Then, for a few minutes, I listed books and why I loved them. And among them, there were so many, and it was such a diverse list, I felt somewhat proud of myself for having grown the way I did, for living a life that had led me precisely to that minute on the grass.

And it could have been more diverse, but you see, you talk to people where they are, you meet them in those places, and you often leave them there. My friend, you see, does not enjoy fiction or books where there is more between the lines, and that is fair, of course, not everyone needs to be the daydreamer sort. I gladly take it upon myself to shoulder that responsibility, so as diverse a list as the one I gave him, it could have been more varied had I found it in myself to include fiction or philosophy or anything that did not spell things out for you.

Regardless, it was a satisfactory answer, for we stopped talking about books and spoke about other things as we all walked around. But it stayed with me, the night sky, the moment with no start and end, that I was lying on the grass in another city, that at some point in the last months, a voice in my heart asked me to leave, and that I said I was going to do it, and then, I left.

How wonderful it is that nothing is as permanent as we think it is at first, and how curious it is that when we think of things at first, it never occurs to us that they can change?

And then, they do.

Bookmark #894

Often, when I meet people, and they tell me their stories, incredible as they seem to be, the stories are linear, and one thing leads to another in the simplest of ways. But this life, the one I live, is convoluted beyond measure, with time blurring between each crucial moment, overlapping arcs and chapters, and a malleable, ephemeral history that changes depending on where you begin reading. Like the uncertainty Heisenberg so aptly pointed out for matter, the life I have led can also be investigated with limitations slapped onto it. To know the story and my state of mind at any given moment and to do it simultaneously has become impossible. And thus, I envy those who have simpler stories to tell. And I lie to myself sometimes and make myself forget this absurd nature of it all, but the illusion and veil rarely last longer than a fortnight. I am reminded, again, in the most random, most unpredictable of ways, of how things are. This has exhausted me today, by four in the afternoon. And now, I need a drink, and now, I know that is a terrible way to go about things, so I shall settle for a walk so I can once again pump my mind with the chemicals it needs to mask everything under a ridiculous, oft perfunctory joke. It is a beaten metaphor, I reckon, of clowns and clouds that hang over them. But then, I see it is a comparison beaten to death for good reason.

Regardless, for no particular reason except the torpor in the air and the general, lucid pointlessness of life, my heart has suddenly sunk to unimaginable depths, and so, I have no more words to waste. And while I celebrate this quality—the aimlessness of what we do here—on most days, today, it has gotten the drop on me, caught me off guard and bested me. We cannot win every day, after all. Some days, we must merely live and get through.

Bookmark #893

What is community? I often think about this and have thought about it for months, if not years. Is it the friends you grow up with, or is it your family who you cannot live without? Is it the stranger from halfway across the world you write letters to? Is it the friend of your friend who does not seem like a stranger simply because the vastness of the common ground between them and you is immeasurable? Is it a field full of daisies, acres on end, going on and on, burgeoning like a grassland on the advent of spring? Is it all of them, or none of them, or some absurd combination of everything you experience as a person? I would not know. I am a mere person, and these are questions far beyond my pay grade. The answers to these are found at the end of a life or at the end of understanding, both of which I am impossibly removed and away from. To be a living, breathing person is to have a dearth of answers. We are alive in the mundane confusion, the ever-present, effervescent cluelessness that gurgles and fades like waves on the beach. The human experience has many parts to it, but the not knowing, the erroneous is the largest one. It is not the ability to think, but the ability to err that makes us human.

But there are a few things I do know. I know that the laughter is real no matter where it is, no matter who is there to listen to it, and all I know is that hope, care and concern are found in myriad ways, unpredictable and often surprising. I know that to sit by yourself is often a choice and rarely a necessity, and I know often it is that the absence of something is simply a distorted view of being within it, that a person among people can feel alone merely because they cannot see the picture like a cat in some old painting does not know the scene it so wonderfully adorns, and that once they leave, which they must, and once they look at it all from the outside, which is easier to do, they learn that what they sought was around them, too, and that, they can rest easy that wherever they are, it is there too. I know all this, and I also know something else, that a breath of fresh air does many things, but the most important thing it does is make you look.

Bookmark #892

When sitting and braving a blank page, there are a few tools at a writer’s disposal. Then, there are the frivolities—bells and whistles many writers put into their routine—like a favourite drink, a scented candle, and other things which have little to no impact on the work. The work only depends on three things that you can bring to the page, and you must do it honestly, and you must do it earnestly, and only then will the words ring truer than the gust of wind on a muggy day, bringing with it much-needed refreshment, only then will the words be, put colloquially, a breath of fresh air.

A writer must bring four things in total to the table on a good. Themselves, of course, and not in merely carrying their body to the desk, but they must be fully present, fully involved with the act of writing, and you can often tell the work where a writer was aloof from the work where the writer brought themselves in their entirety. It is, at times, the most apparent thing to note in a body of work. And what if you, the writer, cannot fully be present? Then, make do. What is ideal and what is possible often have a wide berth between them, like two strangers on a train who do not wish to be acquainted and, thus, let each other know this without saying a single word. Still, you must strive and greet the ideal as much as you can, and sometimes, it smiles back.

And once they have brought themselves, they must also bring the three tools with them: experience, knowledge and tenacity. On most days, for most pieces and passages, one or two will suffice. When you do not have knowledge, you will find that experience lets you fill in the gaps well, and the other way round works as well. What of the tenacity, you ask? Well, to brave through when you have neither of the other two and what is braving? It is acquiring the other two. It is going out of your way to experience things. It is reading and reading and reading for hours to gain the knowledge you lack. But most importantly, it is to sit and write without either of the two if push comes to shove, and it is seeing the words through till the end.

Bookmark #891

Motivation is a funny thing. They often ask me about it, and I do not know what to tell them. Some things come to us as naturally as breathing does to everyone. A painter sees colours in everything. No matter how you put it, to them it will be as natural as the rain. And I find in me a hunger for knowledge and understanding, and I find in me the intrinsic motivation to do things, anything, to be consistently and often perversely interested in things. I use ‘perverse’ since I know it often has detrimental effects on my well-being and often bodes poorly that I want to do everything, to be all I can be and more, and to continually get better at living. A hamster who designs his own wheel and then runs in it. It is a funny way to live, and often, it makes no sense to me either. But this hamster has a compulsion, and if it were living in some hole under a garden or if it were living in some dirty street that reeks, it would always find the compulsion to build the wheel and then to run in it, and then, to make it all better, and try it all again. And that it is as natural to it as gnawing, and there is not a thing in the world it can do about it.

Now, I believe there was a career in this for me—a guru, a speaker at a seminar preaching sugar-coated platitudes. It is the only thing that makes sense to do, and here I am, making things no one needs, writing words no one reads. It is a unique talent to not just be out of touch with reality in how you think, but even if you could somehow reach a widely accepted conclusion, you would not be able to act upon it. Some of us are ill-adjusted to the world in this way. We are this way because we are absurdly well-adjusted and entirely in tune with ourselves. Our existence is a declaration of rebellion. They can never put us into boxes, for we would fit in all of them and none of them at the same time, and to be this way and to not reject it, to not fight it, to be incongruous and to be proud of it silently, like a flower growing in a garden stands tall for no other reason but because it can. This is what I have learned about myself, and perhaps it is what motivates me. How else could you answer a question like that?

Bookmark #890

Got excited by the most mundane things today, almost thoughtless happiness as it crept over to me, caught me off guard and announced itself as if playing a game of hide and seek. The perfectly smooth, laminar flow of water as I did the dishes, the synchronised reflection of myself in the glossy refrigerator door as I exercised on a mat before it, and the kindness of a client at work of all places. Many other things, of course, followed suit, big and small, but there was nothing but joy and a sort of restfulness to the day that, while not unbeknownst to me, is always welcome.

Lately, no thought has come to my mind owing to the supremely busy, jam-packed days I have led. And since there is not much to think about, there is even less to write about. And now, I must sit and invest a piece and tell you about something incredible, something novel and, perhaps, dazzling. But there is nothing like that here, no insight. All I have are days after days, and each one better than the next, and if not better than the same, which is never a bad thing to have either, in my experience. When I wake up here, the sun is strained through the beige curtains and today, groggy as I was, I clicked a picture of it, and when I say it, I mean the nothingness of the first light of the day. I did not remember the picture because I fell asleep right after, but then, in the evening, I saw it again and recalled how it was so compelling a sight; lost in the blanket of sleep as I was, I had to take a picture. It told me a thing or two about the state of my mind and informed me of my happiness, like a friend gives you a compliment when you are beaming.

Little else to say, and the night has already gotten on, so I must stop here. Perhaps tomorrow, something will happen, and I will have a crucial thing to talk about. Until then, all I have are the mundane ramblings of a mirthful man. These words will one day be read, and, at first, they will find them overflowing with feeling, and when they are done reading them, to their dismay, they will find the sum total to be nought. All of it will add to nothing. And the words will, at that moment and no other, become an honest depiction of a life lived.

Bookmark #889

The days have been long here—in an almost magically good way—but I must rein things in and balance them a little. It has become a habit to push my writing towards the end like it were some undesired flavour of cake left over in almost its entirety at the buffet or spread at a party. While it is a vital part of me, living will always supersede writing because the latter follows the former, and since the days rarely end on time and, sometimes, rarely end at all, I have dozed off twice at this desk already. It is not looking good, I tell you, and I must change things. All this inspiration inundates my mind, yet my body betrays me every night. I must make a change to accommodate all these changes lest all I have built change for the worse.

I spent the entire evening in a bar last night solving puzzles with strangers and friends alike, and for a little bit, for the first time in a long time, I felt a belongingness I had not before. I wondered if this was how most people felt when they went about their days, and that was a puzzle, albeit the only one, I could not solve last night. When I got back home, it stuck with me, this feeling of community, of being around people who are naturally the way I am, and once again, all it did was reinforce my belief that I am in the right place now. Perhaps it may be the novelty talking, and once it wanes, I will go back to the misery of never finding those I could call my own, and if that happens, I will have no choice but to take all I saw here and pack my bags again. What of it? We can always keep trying. There is no other strategy to life, I reckon. The only sound course of action is the art of the attempt. And it is an art, mind you, for like every form of art, you have to be deliberate. You must sit or stand or what have you, and then, you must do the act. I live how I write, or I reckon I write how I live. Nothing else comes to mind. Nothing else matters on this lovely afternoon.

Bookmark #888

The stubborn artist—I am sure this is what they all thought at dinner when I declared I would rather have ten people read my work religiously than change a single word for the market. Only good artists make for the market. The great ones have other, often more important, things to do. Greatness is the fortunate situation of the market being ready to accept what you can naturally, almost instinctively put out. It is also the tenacity to stand your ground waiting for the market to come around, patiently.

But, of course, merely being out of touch, out of step with the market and the zeitgeist does not a good artist make, and to claim greatness before you are in the vicinity of such a title would be a rather stupid thing to do. But then, it bodes well for those of us who are adamant about what we want to make, and more, how we want to be consumed. That is, I reckon, a sign of what may come. But again, not all omens are worth mulling over, and so, the only course of action I have—to the dismay of people who consider these words too long, too roundabout—is to keep treading the path I am walking on. And if it leads me to some great hall, the proverbial Valhalla, I will walk through the gates and I will take my seat earnestly. And if it does not lead me anywhere, and becomes but a path I have walked like how we all walk on a path or another, my steps will have remained true to themselves, and my words will have stayed mine. I reckon it is but achievement in a different order of magnitude, but it is achievement nonetheless. And so, I sit alone in this cafe and I write another one of these endless pieces with my eyes shutting like some broken blind on an old, dilapidated window. There is little else to say or claim tonight. The day is over. I have written something. Tomorrow I will write again.

Bookmark #887

As we drove around in a packed car last night, a song came on, and it reminded me of a friend I have not met in years. Not because the song was notable in particular but because of how my friend who was driving was bopping to it. And it was so eerily similar that all I could think of for the next ten minutes was how all our friends are a glimpse of all others and how we are drawn to the same kind of people, often with the same, absurdly specific quirks, and this happens by no additional effort by us. Most of it is just an uncanny coincidence, and yet, it is true, and then, I went through a mental list of all my friends—those in the car, those back in the city I left a month ago, those in cities all over the world. What a confusingly wonderful thing it is to be a person, I wondered, and now, eighteen hours later, I am still wondering.

But I have found a weight off my shoulders lately, despite the heavy lifting of work last week, the never-ending series of chores, the urban loneliness you often feel when you’re combing back home in a cab from streets you do not fully recognise, despite all of it, I have felt belonged because of these pockets of time. The banter and laughter flow along the river of beer and whiskey endlessly. The days feel long, and it would have been frustrating once, but now, as if by some big magic, I welcome them with open arms. To come back home late in the night or early in the morning, given how you put it, has sparked indescribable joy in my heart. I have never been more glad to pack my bags and leave as I am in this first fortnight here. This new life seems unnervingly promising. Hope has trickled into my days and built a fortress around my life more than ever. So much hope, so much joy, what can you do about it but smile like an idiot as you write a few words down? I will keep my fingers crossed and my heart light with humility. A lot has happened, I believe, but something tells me a lot might happen just yet. For the first time in a long time, it is not merely my saying it. This life feels, truly feels like it is just getting started.

Bookmark #886

Ah, a Saturday with no fires to put out, only words to write, only streets to walk on, only films to watch and books to read. This is precisely what I was looking forward to, like a child looking forward to the ice cream truck appearing from the far end of the street after hearing the first jingle in the distance. But of course, there is always something to do, and if it is not something that chips at your mind like a thousand miners slamming their pickaxes at a stubborn rock, then it is something that exhausts you for no reason other than that you are one person who can only do so much. I reckon my life is an oscillation between greater things to do—not to strive for greatness, but for some stubborn writ, imaginary, in my head, and unwritten, of course, but with strict instructions telling me to never pass up on a chance to do something, anything—and the banal trifle of being a person—the laundry, the cooking, the dishes, the cleaning, what have you. And then, there are days—no, hours—like the ones I am in right now when I am, like the pendulum on an old clock, right in the middle. And then, of course, like the same pendulum that experiences this joy for a second or so before it swings, out of its volition, to the other end, and to and fro, and to and fro, it moves until it gives out or the clock gives out, running it out of time, like that pendulum, my fate, the course of my life is sealed, too. And I shall forever look for that temporary suspension in the middle, like today, like the early hours of a bland Saturday, like the hour between three-thirty and four when the sun is out and about but is on the precipice of diving headfirst into all the nothingness we could ever imagine with a fading amber glow, like the moment your destination is arriving as you notice the car slowing down, and how you wish with all your heart that it would break down right before, a few steps away so you get a moment for free, without paying in mind or body, without anything at all, only the natural luck of it all, like that extra day on a leap year because we could never find a neat, logical way to wrap the quarter left hanging on all the others.

Bookmark #885

How you move about your day with sublime grace and finesse I would dare not try to put into words, and yet, you asked if I could write you a note.

It was less of an ask, more of a demand, of course. As it should be, and it is a privilege to have been asked to do such a thing. Now, I could write a handwritten note, and I could scribble my words with the legibility of the terms on a crucial document where the slightest ambiguity would be a matter of life and death. I could do that and do it right. But I must insist that I am at my most honest when my fingers glide over this keyboard, over its keys with smudges of where I hit them the most and hit them often. I reckon you have to take my word for it. I bow in front of you and ask for this reservation.

For reasons beyond what I can possibly articulate, for all my obsession over finding the right word or two for every feeling and situation, lying to you, even in accident is out of the question. To do something as performative as writing a note in today’s world, when it is reduced to a message in a gift hamper sent overseas to a friend you have met twice, or stuck to the expensive paper bag with an even more expensive bottle of wine in it, is simply a risk I am not willing to take, not when it is about you. So, you must bear with me and take these words as best I can give them to you. And now, it is best I make good use of the lines left; yet, I wonder if I have already said the most essential parts.

To know you is a privilege, to laugh with you for hours on end is a delight, and to talk to you and tell you about the pointless ludicrous thoughts I have is a luxury. To be able to sometimes share even a minute with you makes me ecstatic, and to get to share the simple gift of a song with you is often the most important thing I do all day. Now, all of this may appear, as my words often do, like some self-indulgent, back-handed way of talking about myself, at first; it is but only about you. It is about you like how light is about the Sun; that it is cast on any of us is what makes us look up. But I wonder if you will have to take my honest word for it again. Come to think of it, it is the only thing I know to give.

Bookmark #884

Once again tonight, like many nights before, I sit face to face with the silence and the obsessive spirit in my heart to get things done. I do not know where it comes from, this disease-like presence that engulfs me when something sits undone, when I can think of nothing but checking it off, when I forget to sleep, to eat or drink, when I do not know if any time has even passed. How ugly this looks when it is happening, and they tell me how they wish they, too, could be as unbothered by distractions, as absurdly motivated as I tend to become, and I do not know what to tell them. It is not something for the faint-hearted, not that I had any say in being the way I am; only I know it is not the end all. If there is any good in it, it is in the minute right after, the first sixty seconds of completing some undertaking. It is all you get. It is all that stands between relentless effort and the ever-present pointlessness of life.

Now that things are done, what can I do but sleep? I have finished myself and exhausted every ounce of energy in me. It will take me a week to even get out of bed properly. I will linger under the duvet and pretend I still need to sleep for most mornings that will follow now. And what came out of it? Probably nothing; satisfaction for a little bit, I reckon, but that is all. And now, I sit here writing, which is yet another instance of this precarious nature, a glorious banging of my head on the wall as the letters from this keyboard fade away, having been struck over and over, over and over. I only wanted to sleep, but I had to write, and so, having no spark of energy in me, I lay on the couch gathering enough so I could pass muster, so I could finish one piece. And what will come out of it? Nothing. Thirty more minutes of shut-eye would have been a better trade, as is always the case, and yet, my mind refuses to succumb to common sense. I am a prisoner of my own body and mind.

I wish, with all my heart, that I could just let things be, but it behoves me to act on what is undone, what is broken, what seems ajar or awry, let sleep, let hunger, let thirst, let all go to hell.

Bookmark #883

Before I lose this train of thought and get dragged down by the ins and outs of the general life, be bogged down with the things I had to do that remain undone, I have to write this down: in this moment, I am nothing but happy. There is good reason for this, of course, and some of it is like happiness always is: inexplicable and sudden. For the parts that have reasons behind them, I must try to softly list them on this page like you move a sleeping puppy from one corner to the other to not wake it up. I must carry this feeling, this joy, in my heart in the same way to not disturb or shake it off. I must preserve it as I write about it.

Now that I have attempted thrice to list things down, I realise there is an uncountability to it. The moment I list down walking down the street peppered and glazed with neon lights, cafes, and groups of people here and there, I think of something else. When I write that down, I think of the consistent burst of laughter spread through these past two hours. How can you list down joy? How can you measure it? I am happy. It trickles into my cup of coffee like an accidental cube of sugar I did not intend to put in. It is an attempt sabotaged from the get-go, a pointless exercise to even try, a botched attempt to begin listing down that there is so much beauty all around me, in the middle of the day, in the middle of every moment. It is almost as if I have lived my life again and found the secret to doing it correctly but have forgotten this absurd knowledge either by circumstance or time, or by choice, for I imagine if someone could relive their life vouching to pay more attention to things, they would want to forget that very decision after a while, not as some sort of test, but because to be in the moment, they would have to let go of their self-imposed instruction, too. Perhaps this has happened to me. Maybe this is some sort of rewrite, a redo, a second wind. Who could be sure? I would not know about it.

But I know my nature, and I know that if it were in my means to be able to do this, and if I did it, I would surely want to be rid of the knowledge, too. Yes, that is how it would go, I am sure. Perhaps this is a second chance.

Bookmark #882

To be a little bit kind is all I want to do in this life. A little bit kinder than I was yesterday, and if I find in me the boiling and broiling of unsuited emotion, to be patient enough to stay my tongue. And why am I thinking of kindness at the banal time of thirty minutes past noon? Because it occurred to me how people have been kind to me innumerable times before and that this life would not be half of what it is if someone was not patient with me when it counted, if they did not lend a hand when they could, if they did not stop their words from shredding me entirely. We are at the behest of the kindness of others, and so, we owe the world our hearts not because it is the right thing to do but only so we do not break the chain. That is all this is, a long chain of events, of favours pushed forward for millennia until it somehow reaches someone today—like us. Kindness is then a moral responsibility for no reason besides that it is a story bigger, much bigger than we will ever be. There is nothing else to it. We ought to be kind because others have been kind before, and if not to us directly, we must hold the fort still. Who knows what a little detour to help a person might lead to? Doesn’t it make you a little bit curious? Doesn’t it spark a little joy?

For all my wishes for all things in the world, I wish for patience the most, and I would be lying if I said it has not been granted to me. Granted, the methods were not favourable. They were, dare I say, heartbreaking and extreme. Milder attempts could have achieved the same results, and if not precisely the same ones, then similar still. Regardless, not to dwell on it now, I feel I have still gotten the long end of the stick when it comes to blessings and curses. Things do tend to get worse for a lot of people, and I wish, with all my heart, that I do not, on accident, even in error, make them worse for them. Of all the terrible things there are, owning the hands that accidentally break a resolve, a belief, or a heart is the most terrible of all.

Bookmark #881

Does it feel like home yet? A friend asked me this morning, and I did not have an answer at first, so I did not respond to their message. Then, as I got out of bed and walked to the desk with a cup of coffee, I replied, “Beginning to.” The idea of a home is so confusing. I am states away from my family, so a part of this will never feel like home, no matter how soft the rug is and no matter how sturdy the mugs are and regardless of how energetic the life is, and yet, all of those things add up and make it a home nonetheless. I often remark how we have homes in all cities where we know people, and no, I do not mean this as the friend who shows up unannounced and expects lodging in those places. It is a crude and cruel thing to do to people who, as we often forget, have their own lives to live, but mainly deal with. I simply mean a place where you can share some grub and some drink with someone is a home. That is all I mean.

It is an interesting time in this life, I reckon. Change is afoot in the most wonderful of ways, and I could not know what my life will look like a few months from now even if I tried. This unnerves me and excites me in equal measure. This is a far cry from my consistent and ever-growing demand for certainty. These are uncharted waters where there is no surety, not an ounce of it. There is no plan. There is no reason for this abrupt shifting of the sand beneath my feet, and yet, something about it feels astutely correct. Perhaps, I will have more to say about it in a few months from now. I truly hope the hope remains till then. That is the only thing I can expect. Often, things are well and good, and if they are not well and good, they are tolerable, but hope is the ringmaster. The amount of hope in us changes how we look at things. I have seen it recede into the shadows firsthand, so I know the colour of days when it is not by my side anymore, when it leaves without any note on the table telling why or where it has gone. So, if I were to do a thing as foolish as making a wish, I would wish for the hope to stay. It is up to it, after all, how this circus unfolds.

Bookmark #880

It is a quiet Sunday, and I am waiting for a truck to arrive with the odds and ends that will make this flat a home. And not much, no, but what is a home without a few mildly unnecessary things? And as I wait, the music is playing, and it is soft and compassionate, like a friendly stranger in your new apartment building who tells you their name and then says it twice, knowing all too well how people often need repetition for things like these, especially when they are on their way up in the elevator with boxes in their hands and things on their mind. All in all, the morning treads along to become afternoon, and the truck is not here yet. How long will this day remain in this state of actionless limbo? All I know is to wait, of course. For all our flailing and crying, some of us are attuned to indescribable levels of patience. I believe it is something latent, and the only role of experience is to bring it out and activate it, like the right measure of heat needed to get the test tubes gurgling with activity in some chemist’s lab. And if I am wrong, and if this is but some inaccurate and somewhat forced metaphor, thinking of it is still an effective way to pass the time.

There is so much to do, and yet, often, one thing blocks the flow of your day like a pebble in the pipeline, stuck and struggling to pass through but preventing everything else from moving, too. Regardless, I believe this is a pointless problem to dwell on, but between things you ought to think about but do not want to and things that are easy pickings but do not matter, the latter seems more enticing on most days. And today is a day like that, so instead of spending the day worrying over things out of my sheer control, I shall worry about the truck bringing the rug, the towels, the racks, the trays, the mugs, the cutlery, the sheets, the curtains, the duvet, the many things between and around all of them. To new beginnings, I guess, whatever that may turn into.

There is little I can fix in this life; most things I can but watch unfold. And yet, in the first ten things I bought for this new life, I bought a toolkit, too.

Bookmark #879

Decided to catch up with some old friends in a new city, and what better place is there than a bar? The three of us left the bar at around one in the night and came home talking about things that led to talking about other things. Then, we walked around the neighbourhood in our drunken haze, and we talked with the pints of stout still fresh on our breaths. It was precisely the buzz I wanted to walk off, frankly, and the weather was not particularly the walking kind, not that it was any bad.

It was alright, as was the stout, and as was the conversation, but then, it is not clear who said it, but we went from talking about nothing to a conversation that turned into an argument, and it was not until the morning at around five when I realised there had been a window. Not that the argument remained. All my friendships are contentious ones, and most, if not all, conversations end somewhere near the middle ground. But all I had to do was keep my mouth shut for a few minutes; that is all it would have taken for things to take a different direction. But then, confrontational as I am, I said something before it passed.

Regardless, it was alright, and then, I went to sleep and woke up with the glaring sun and a throbbing head. There is rarely any feeling more debilitating than a hangover, after all, and so I spent the day only lazing around this new flat, without curtains, without cushions on the couch, without any detail that makes it a home, makes it lived in. And so, without much to do except watch some TV and drink coffee, I kept looking out the window, thinking about how I tend to miss it in all things.

I thought of all the women who had told me I had been utterly clueless, that there was a time when all I had to do was say the word, and I thought of how it did not occur to me until years later when I heard them say it. With nothing to do and a mild headache, I thought of all the conversations in this short life, of arguments big and small.

I did this until the sun went down. Like some accountant who only points the errors out, I kept thinking about this and this only: of how aloof I have been, of how there is always a window with things—for love, for opportunity, for quiet—and how I have missed it over and over, always waiting too little, and mostly, too much.


This piece is a part of the The Soaring Twenties Social Club (STSC) Symposium on Windows, written a few hours before the deadline ended, finished haphazardly, and perhaps, poorly, in fear of missing yet another window in life.

Bookmark #878

I have learned there are certain peculiarities in the way I live myself, in the way I carry myself through my days, and it is about time I think of trying to put them down. Of course, I will fail at this somewhat vain task since I can, not in my own voice, capture the absurdity of my decisions, but that there is an absurdity is true because I can often see it on the faces of people—those I know and strangers alike. But what I have learned about myself is that there are two parts to it all. The first is an obsession to be completely, absolutely and entirely ready. The second is a supreme resistance to the inner friction of waiting. These two traits make up about a third of my entire personality, and they are unequivocally responsible for everything I do, big and small.

That it takes me two days to build a semblance of a life, all with a routine and music to go along with it, is but a tiny yet significant example of this nature. That I obsess over being in a position to pay what price it costs, that it may be a little obsession over always being capable (barring a few which we do not talk about), and that by the last hour of the second day, I have already taken enough walks in the unfamiliar neighbourhood to not use that adjective anymore, that I know by midnight on the third day where I will go for coffee, what streets will I frequent, and what my day would look like before I shut my eyes to wake up into a routine I do not remember building is but this nature in all its glory—that I am ready for everything, and that nothing holds me back when I have my eyes set.

This is not gloating by any means; this is but a description of it all; it is but an admittance that I see the eyes that look at me and think, “Where is the hesitation?”

What hesitation? It is all a farce, anyway. We always know what we want. The bottom line is being ready for it, prepared for everything that has the capacity to hold us back; what else is there? What use is even waiting if time continues to tick? Time ran out. It ran out before we made a wish. We are all running late. Get up; we might as well pick up the slack; we might as well still make it.

There is nothing more urgent than this.

Bookmark #877

When you begin building a new life, you consider everything from the colour of the curtains to where the keys will be kept, and this makes me absurdly ecstatic, that change is this simple and within our reach: not a mountain to scale, it is but doing things differently. But alas, it is exhausting, especially when parts of your life are ongoing, when the things to do increase tenfold, and now I sit here having spent my wits along with the money I spent today. A payment here, a delivery there, and that is when you realise everything costs money. But it is but a minor setback in a long life. This image I get to carry with me is forever. Moments like sleeping on the couch because your mattress has not arrived yet carry no price tags, and sharing your penchant for the aesthetics when a friend points the miserly attitude out is precisely why this attitude is a gift that keeps giving. So many stories out of a single moment—what good could a hotel room have done?

We must go out of our way for these paintings of time; the easel of life awaits us. All the stories we get to tell others are written in the moment. And if you have nothing to tell when someone asks how your life has been, it is because you did not seize the opportunity to create a memory worth sharing. The trick is to knit the strands of time, to nudge it all into the right place, to play God for the little things.

It was a lesson given to me by life in the most insulting way, but a lesson is a lesson and, once given, must be upheld forever, that in the deepest valley between right and wrong, a garden burgeons, and that most life is there, and that most of it is colourful, vibrant and worth telling someone about, that it is not in our myriad beliefs but the stories we tell that most lives are realised, and so, I made it a point to sprinkle it all with some paint, and since I forbid myself from lying, I made it a point to go out of my way to make sure I wrote it all the way I would tell it, that the days are how I write about them, that the life is how I will share it when I share it.

Not the easiest of pursuits, but would you look at that? What a life it has been so far!

Bookmark #876

It is funny how you feel hesitation not when deciding things, not when they have begun, not days before them, not at all more often than not, but right at the precipice, when you could lean in for the first kiss, when you could book that ticket, when you could punch someone in the face, when you still could make a decision that goes either way, almost as if it was the universe telling you one last time choosing will change things, and that not choosing is choosing, too. I have almost always chosen to avoid complications, to not leave where I am, to not go in for the punch, but I reckon it is high time I ought to change some of that, that I should gamble with fate a little bit more, roll the bones a bit more. I reckon that is the only thing I can think of today, that and some troubles, big and small.

What a beautiful morning today, I reckon. I am glad the sun has begun its conquest over the sky these past few days. It would have been awfully depressing to leave through a fog-filled town. The hills, consistently at a beeline from this balcony otherwise still hide, though. Well, we cannot have it all now, can we? But then, I want to have it all. Is it a crime, I wonder. Perhaps I have ostracised the idea so much that it has started to feel evil to want. Maybe that is now, but it is something I must change. I must learn to grab what I can. I must, at least, be open to wanting. A constant meditation now, I must put this into action, too. So much I have wanted, and so often I have told myself no citing morality, citing ethics, citing caution, citing risk, but now, I want to want. Enough years on the sidelines, I will now be proud and loud for my share in this world, and I will be kind enough to know to quiet down when it cannot be given to me, but then, I will learn to ask regardless. Too much has been lost in this complacency, this self-imposed restraint.

What is a little bit of risk, after all? The worst that can happen is that my world could end. It is nothing I have not seen before for all my talk of safety.