Bookmark #399

Last night, I stood on my balcony under the moonlight. I started thinking of the lowest point on it. Naturally, to someone who has not lived my life, it would be all but a single plane. But there is a topography to all things in life. There are mountains and valleys in homes. There are oceans in coffee shops. They are mapped in our memory. They help us remember. This balcony, I thought, was a lake spread through time. Towards the corner that faces the hills is the lowest point; I recalled how I sank there a while ago. I stood beside my silhouette, beside where I had stood that day. I told him it was okay, that he was only learning to swim. There was always the fear of drowning. It doesn’t mean we’ll not try.

And as is with moments when you’re standing by yourself, drinking wine, I was transported back to a distant memory, the moment I could have changed everything. There are moments like that—sometimes seconds—that we know were formative to the people we are today, crucial to the lives we lead. They seem like the tiniest slivers of time, but you know in your heart: this moment, I will remember this, and you do. I remember it clear as day. All I had to do was get off my chair. A few seconds, that was all I needed. We have a habit of asking for time, but a few seconds is usually all we need. That’s all we ask for, and that’s all we’re denied.

And then, I thought of my life today and how, for better or worse, I refuse to trade everything within it anymore. There was a time I would have given everything away for some seconds. Now, I was deeply, madly in love with my days, with the life I lead. And so, this correction brought me back to the balcony, and the topography faded. There was nothing but the envelope of the night sky and the echo of leftover life—bats, some birds, the intermittent honking. In that moment, I thought of change, of how it is encompassing and whole; to want a different life was to lose everything first. Few could make the trade; the others learned to live regardless, with their victories and failures alike, one day at a time.

I was among the others. There is no other place I would rather be, I thought and went inside.

Bookmark #398

I did not want to wake up yet, but then it began raining outside. I felt in me a sudden happiness. The same happiness I find in myself when I look at flowers now, or perhaps, trees and even a wedge of sunlight in the room. And so I got up and out of bed, made some coffee, and walked over the cold comfort of the moist grass for a good ten minutes. The past has a terrible way of masking the little joys of life. It isn’t until we’re all here in the present, feet on the grass as it rains outside, no matter how wet the grass is or how slippery, that we realise what we have missed. It is impossible to be happy, though, if we don’t get out of bed. We have to permit ourselves to smile. So what if some things did not go per plan? It is only life. The scaffolding around our dreams is never as steady as we’d want it to be—it does not mean we stop building; it only means something is being built.

They are building a library in town. At least, from what I could see and read. I do not much know about these affairs of the world. They often use the wrong words for things. It isn’t until when something is built that you see the error. They often use love when they only mean fondness, for example, and empires, kingdoms have collapsed because of these errors—what is a life in comparison? There have always been more Lancelots than there have been Arthurs. Only that there are fewer stories. As I catch the lamentation catching up with me, I look at the hills ahead. The morning shower has drawn a sheet over the valley—a gradient of colour, the details of which I will never remember as accurately as I want to—but it makes me happy to wake up to this sight. It makes me happy to wake up at all.

It was imperative to live in this way—to have within ourselves a light that always pointed toward the flowers, the sun, the rain, and the little joys this life had to offer! The murmuration of unbuilt dreams and libraries often caught up with us. It is important to remind ourselves the day has just begun, that there is work to do still. After all, there are libraries to build and dreams to fulfil.

Bookmark #397

It is funny how a song sounds different at night compared to the morning. It makes me think if I’m even the same person when the day changes. We change a little after every night as we begin anew into every morning that comes after. If the day does not have enough pull on who we are, dreams get the job done. For me, dreams were a repetition of my general days. It had always been this way. I was perpetually living two of the same life. I did the same work I was engaged in, lived in the same place, the same town, with the same people. Of course, there were slight, dreamlike variations, but the general feeling was the same. I had my theories for this. Mostly, it was just my obsession with doing things right. A day was rarely enough. I had to live them twice, at least. I have always dreamt of my own life—it was an irritating affliction.

Yesterday, I sat on the patio, and I read my Pessoa, which seems to be finally showing signs of a book that becomes your friend. There are cuts on the pages, the corners bent out of shape, the pages are yellow, and there are spots here and there. As I read, the wind blew about from all directions, the grass swayed in perfect choreography, the discarded leaves and petals circled and formed twisters that amounted to nothing, and the trees shook violently as if performing some shamanic dance. It was a moment of pure, natural passion. I kept reading as the coffee got cold and dusty. Then, I spent the rest of the day with some discomfort here and there. No day could be perfect—most days found a way to give you some sort of pain.

In any case, in my dream yesterday, I wrapped my work up to go out and read on the patio. It was stormy still, and I still read for an hour or two.

At night, after working at a stretch in lieu of sleep, I watched the full moon in all its glory. Sleeplessness was a noble excuse to get things done. Then, I hit the bed. I saw the full moon again in my dream and hit the bed again, turning the music out—I had been listening to the same song for hours. When I woke up a few hours later, the song was still playing.

I shook the feeling off, made some coffee, and sat writing the first draft of the day.

Bookmark #396

I was deeply in love with the world. It wasn’t something I had; it was a cup of coffee—something I had to brew every morning. It was a deliberate series of delicate steps performed in complete mechanical repetition. And while it was something I relished every day, on some days, even with all my attention on the process, the result was a little bit bitter. It did not matter. There was always tomorrow. There was always going to be another chance. I would love the world still—everything tastes bitter once in a while.

I don’t believe in some god or higher power. I have had no reason to yet, and I haven’t found one for all my searching. I only believed in people—in their potential to be better, in their ability to choose grace, in their trivialities. It was not as easy as it seemed. It was much harder to believe in something you saw every day. The fallibility of people was not something you could ignore, and yet, I believed in them regardless. It was a naive position to hold, but it was the only one I was bent on holding. Gods have it easy with their absence from the affairs of the world—try being a person for a day and see how difficult it is to be good. Then, watch someone be good regardless. There is no better sight.

Goodness—a thank you said softly, an apology for an elbow rubbed off, offering someone a bite from your sandwich, the small talk at the bus stop or in a cab, an unspoken friendship at the bus or a cafe, the way someone stops to pet an animal, the countless jokes and laughter over tea. The shrines of my belief are all around me, and I visit them, one by one, as I ask them about their day, and they tell me they’re trying to do better, and like a believer, I take their word for it. I only wish I could show myself this kindness I so easily extend to others.

Bookmark #395

Perhaps, I was a bit early, or maybe I was a hundred years too late, but I could not talk all day about the surface-level depth of my contemporaries. I could not do it, and I had to pay with my share of disappointment. I could not write a thousand poems about loving oneself without talking about or touching upon individual responsibility or consequences and reparations. I did not have in me shallow words of inspiration slyly manufactured to make people entertained, not persuaded. I did not, could not write in titles and words that will sell. I could not write for a market. I did not, could not subscribe to an idea served to me on a platter. All I could do was show a mirror to the life that awaited all of us tomorrow, and that was all there was to me.

I often thought because of these limitations and them alone, I would be the death of me; for how long can one brave the tide, and for how long can one say: I shall not move? Now I know it is this zeitgeist, these present days. The times will end me in all possible ways. And years from whenever that happens, when all is said and done, when the time is right, if it ever arrives, they will look at all this and say, he was one of them, the ones who braved the tide, and even though he drowned, he drowned honestly. And in it, in that moment and no other, I will have done what I was here to do. And in it, I will have served my purpose, whatever it may be, but until then, I have to keep swimming against the current to share the truth the way I see it, for months, for years, for decades.

They talk about the gift of being able to knit words together; they never talk about the curse of anachronism. Most of us were out of time, out of place in the grand scheme of things, out of the present day, and entirely out of touch with everything. We were a little bit early, but mostly, we were centuries too late.

Bookmark #394

There is some impulse in me to struggle. I do not know where this comes from, but given the choice of peace and its unfortunate alternative, I have a habit of siding with the latter, and in that, all of my life is defined. In the two most vital things I have for myself, questions come first, and love comes second. All I have are questions: why can I not resist the pull of a longer, more arduous day? Why do I intend to use all of my faculties until they stop working? The other night, after a spell of working non-stop on trivial things—only some pay my bills, some help me feel I’m making a difference with my life—I looked at the screen but could not read. All my sensibilities, all my words stolen, I sat there in disbelief, looking at symbols I felt I did not understand. These very words were lost. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes, and when none of them worked, I went to sleep. There was no answer, only exhaustion. When I woke up, I did so with a terrible headache, and after a few cups of coffee, I began again.

In some twisted, some grotesque way, this was my peace. It was also my great moral dilemma. The world wanted me to believe there was peace in the not doing of things, but my body, my mind, and my wits said otherwise. There will be answers, and when they arrive, they will be glorious, but there are just questions for now. For now, I am unfaithful to my desires—I only want to live days without doing much in particular, but I deny myself of this very thing over and over again—not in words, no, but in action. I feel happier when I am exhausted. There is little I can do about this. I do not know where it comes from—this wanting to do things—but we did not have to know where a tool comes from to use it well, and much like a hammer, I shall too use this gift, in all ways possible, for even destruction appears peaceful, beautiful, when looked at from afar.

Bookmark #393

You have to die a couple of times to live properly. Sometimes, you had to die by your own hands. In some places, we call it change. I have spoken a heartwarming eulogy before I buried myself, and over and over again, I have done this, and there is little I remember from who I used to be—only glimpses of specific days. The affairs of the every day and my general disposition are all forgotten, lost. To grow older was to grow anew, to say hello as you look in the mirror; nice to meet you, we shall have some good times together. There is a graveyard in my mind. I look at an endless span of eerie graves, each with an epitaph describing who I used to be and who I am not anymore. I walk around them as if there was something I forgot to say, and often, I find myself with no words but three: I am sorry.

It was a twisted thing—to grow, to change, to begin again. There were parts of me I have had to put down like we have to put down a sick animal. The whole act is an expression of mercy, of fondness, and yet, it does not feel this way. It was how we changed: with a great deal of effort and friction. True change was a conscious decision; everything else was a response to the world around us. I can sometimes remember the month and year or, on some occasions, the precise date for when I chose to become someone else in some regard. I clearly remember the before and the after, and sometimes, I dream about it all; I dream about how my life would have turned out if I had not made a decision. And sometimes, I wake up with regret.

I dreamt of a different life last night. In it, I had chosen differently several times, and at some point, I gained control of myself in the dream—realising I was in one—and then I decided to change myself again. At that very moment, it occurred to me that as long as it were up to me, I would always find something amiss, something skewed. I would always try to fix it, and in perfect irony, it was the only thing I would never be able to change about myself, inadvertently trapping myself in this cycle of mourning all the people I have ever been.

Bookmark #392

I slept in—I was on the phone with a friend last night, and we talked about many things. I had slept in, and the same window I left open to make the room airy and cool had turned it muggy. The trick was to wake up on time to close the window. If you slept in as the day got hotter, you worked up a sweat even in your sleep. Even sleep is exhausting work sometimes. At first, I was a little irritable because of this somewhat expected delay in how my day would go. Then, as I stood with my hands at the kitchen counter, water bubbling in a kettle on my left and a shot of espresso slowly dropping into the cup on my right, I thought, this is what it is to be in the middle of happiness.

I took my coffee to the desk and opened the window again. Humid or not, there was no replacement for the fresh air of the day. Before I began writing, I sat staring at the white wall before me, remembering. It was no particular thing to remember, only how we remember the colour. I remembered a blur of lavender and blue and grey and green and red and yellow. It has been a colourful life; there has been a lot of colour, and the canvas looks so empty still. There is so much to fill. I did not think of this in a panic or in haste to fill it, but I was grateful. There was so much to live for still. The same gratefulness had carried over from my evening at the patio yesterday as I sipped my coffee by myself.

I believe some part of me always knew I would be here, in these exact days of my life, not in respect of what I do with them but with how I feel in them. I believe some part of me always had an inkling about it all, about there being someplace, far away from where I was, where I was at an unmatched peace. Time is the only distance. That was the part I did not know at the time. So, I went to a thousand places, only to return to the same town I grew up in; only to realise I have been here forever, and I don’t know a thing about it, for I have never looked. I have always been in a hurry to leave.

It occurred to me yesterday when on a walk, I saw a tree near the school I spent years going to, day by day. I knew there was a tree there. I never realised it had flowers.

Bookmark #391

I’m not in a hurry anymore. I walk much slower on most days. Sometimes, I’m late here and there, like all of us are now and then. Besides those days, I enjoy this intentional, deliberate spending of time. I’m spending time like the rain.

Sometimes, the rain pours for days because it wants days. Sometimes, there is no storm, although the sky looks ripe for a shower, grey and maleficent. The brewing is merely a farce. Nothing transpires; the rain comes and goes in minutes. The grey changes to a bright yellow immediately. It is all as if there was no storm in the first place. All that is to say, I do not know what I want from most days. Just that, I act on my softest whims. If I have to pour myself into something, I do it for days—no sleep, no rest. And if I only want a soft thump of activity with a long charade, that’s all I do.

These days of not being in a hurry have taken over my plans for my life. It has occurred to me that waiting for happiness ensures it never arrives. Happiness only comes in one moment—the now. It was pointless to remember the past, the happy days. It was a tragedy. It was as if you were twisting a knife into your own gut. It was unwise to look at the future for it. It was undue pressure on time—asking for happiness before the day arrived. The only way to let joy in was to find some of it today. I often find some stuck in between the grass on my balcony.

I watched a child ride his bicycle the other day, free and unhinged; if you want to see happiness idolised, you must watch a child riding a bike at ease, with his unparalleled freedom; rarely is any moment so pure, so magnetic!

All my life exists in these chance happenings or the repetitive actions of the every day. Vocations, jobs, and pursuits are all things I do not much worry about. It is not to say I don’t give them their share of attention, only that I don’t do it in a hurry anymore. There is a restfulness unbeknownst to me earlier. All things end, and most things end earlier than anticipated. I shall not allow events of barely any significance to take my happiness away. There is little that carries weight in front of it.

What a sweet turn of events this life has been so far.

Bookmark #390

There was a world within me. I did not have to go anywhere. I could just keep wandering in the fields in my mind. This sentence has appeared in my notes as if by some magic. I do not remember writing this, but it caught my eye when I saw it earlier this morning. I often go over my notes—it is both a pleasure to see what I had written in the heat of the moment and a deep sadness that I had now long forgotten how I felt to do the words justice. I can’t know for sure when I felt there to be a world within me. My mind was but an apartment, with the general markings of a house well-lived in. There were soft spots on the walls here and there, little dirt in the corner, a few gaps of paint where the walls meet the floor, and dust in some places reachable but not usually seen and hence, not dusted.

But since I wrote the words, I know there may be a field, and I must have wandered it. There is one thing I would never write: a lie. I only wrote what I felt and saw, so I know there is a field. I must exit this apartment of mine. I must go out to where the field is, and there I will wander and remember why I wrote what I wrote. And if I said there is a world, there must be a world, too. There must be a bustling life filled with thousands of little details. And there was, all I had to do was get out of my head. The mind was a perfect mirror. It only reflected what it saw. To see an ocean was to feel the infinite within you; to see a mountain was to ground yourself; to see a field was to feel its vastness. The mind was colloquially the room we require. It could be what we want it to be, but we first have to know what we need. You could not reflect what you could not see.

And if it is an apartment I see today, then it is this apartment I must need. There is work to do, and there are books to read. When I see the fields next, I will walk amongst the grass, the reeds and the crickets long enough to come back home to write a sentence I would forget writing again. And over and over, I will do this. It was the only way I knew to live.

Bookmark #389

It was the greatest illusion I had somehow managed—that these words were all my life, that all I shared with the outside world was all there was to see. The truth is these vignettes of my life were just that—vignettes. There was much I did not write about; there was plenty I left outside the realm of these passages. Like how writers often wish to eliminate the regular, the quotidian from their words, I eliminated the fantastic, the remarkable. It was not the easiest thing to do. It was selective work—this choice of words, moments, and feelings. Perhaps, the purpose of my writing these words was not to describe the life I lived. They were potpourri in an intricately blown glass bowl, set on the table, only there to spread the gentle fragrance all around, and like potpourri, they were designed to have some purpose but not be the most important thing in the room. This unbothered presence, this veiled existence, is how I lived my life—or preferred it. It was how I wrote these words.

The careful obscuring of the rest of my life was vital to the process; the process was vital to the careful obscuring of my life. They had served each other for years now. Even my writing these very words, at this moment, is a subtle betrayal. I do not intend to cause confusion. By no means is my life some epic adventure; not that any life is a continuous adventure; everyone has to go to some office or the bank or to some building to get something done. I have seen people travel all over the world only to return to fill out a form. There was banality to all our adventures, and there was an adventure to all of our days. All journeys started with a visit to the ATM, some coffee shop, or the grocery store. I wanted to keep reminding myself of this everydayness of life, so I wrote these words, these passages of nothing but the normal.

All words, including mine, were a careful process of sharing just the right amount—to tell as much is required and not a letter more. All life, including mine, was a series of waves softly coming and going, a constant back-and-forth between the shores of repetition and the waters of novelty. The trick was not to forget the shore; there were others there.

Bookmark #388

I don’t need more than a blue sky to make me happy. We need a lot in life, naturally, but to be happy, the sky does the job well. There has been an odd sort of indulgence in my life lately. I believe this happens once we learn to let things be; I have seen many others go down this path earlier, and it did not make much sense to me then. Now, however, I understand. I once was deeply in love with someone who went through similar motions. I could not quite comprehend what they felt at the moment—not that I loved them any less or more for it. We do not have to fully understand people to love them. We love them, and we understand what we can. Beyond that, our only job is to not hold them back—the love takes care of that—so long as we don’t force our world onto theirs.

This indulgence I mentioned has me lost in a daze of absolute pleasure and happiness. I never knew life could be so giving, so overflowing with the little joys that never end. The other day, at lunch with a friend, the french fries on our table were served rather hot. I did not see a point in waiting for them to get cold. It burned my mouth. I was glad for it. It was a delectable decision. It’s been the same for so much lately; I see so much now. I now know how this and only this is the solution to living life—this immersion, this dive, this permissiveness; to let things destroy you was the only way to enjoy them. There’s a whole world I was missing out on—an entire city within a city. It is a simple observation, but if we were to catch ourselves at any moment where nothing was devastatingly wrong, even if the moment was filled with some general irritant of the everyday, who was to stop us from smiling?

I’ve started to notice this a lot. If there’s no frown on my face, why not smile instead? There is no reason not to, and perhaps, many excuses to do just that—the flowers, the people, the coffee, the food, the music, the laughter, the life. If nothing else, the blue sky is worth smiling about on its own. I am here; I am still here under the sky; what more could I want?

Bookmark #387

When I walk home, I often think of running away. It usually happens on days when I feel I have given all I have to offer. I play with the idea of how if I were to leave everything I call my life, go someplace and start again, who or what would I become? Humouring myself with the ideas that come from all directions, all possible futures, I finally realise how even if things were different for a few months or even years, I would eventually end up with a life quite similar to the one I have, and when I say life, I mean how I feel about my days, what I do when I’m not given something to do, and who I am when nobody is watching. All else is a farce—the vocations changed like seasons, as they should, and everyone acted a little different around other people, as they do. Life was what we lived despite the world.

My feet were rooted in the everyday. It was because I knew magic existed, and it takes time, and when I say magic, I only mean the serendipity, the randomness of the world. There is no grand scheme at play. No person is meant to be anything they are not currently, and if they become something eventually, they were whatever they become to begin with. Life was not a process of becoming; it was a process of uncovering. I am already all the people I have been and all the people I will be; I will just meet myself again at different times. If some paradise, some future which bleeds of colour, did exist, the road to it was as much in the simple act of doing dishes as it was in the journey of a lifetime. It was all about how we sculpted our time with our hands. No one had a say in what our life was about.

Running away, then, was a fool’s errand. I would go for miles only to end up at some cafe, to sit still and ponder over things in the evenings, and if I didn’t find one, I would sit and think anyhow. I would do this in every corner of the world, in all worlds possible, in all times, and all lives I ever live.

Bookmark #386

We did not remember people in memories. We remembered them in an aftertaste. We remembered the last thing we felt, the last thing we tasted, and then it took over all memories. Anger made all memories red, and indifference made them all blue. This aftertaste, this colour, is what we remembered. It is what’s left forever. All good is forgotten if the last word is sour. All bitterness is gone if the last smile is sweet. When we think of them from that point on, we only remember the last thing we tasted. So many who cut me open are now lavender memories of walking together in crowded promenades with cups of coffee in our hands—love in our hearts.

My mind, my memory was a Pollock painting—a complex, intricate map of colour and emotion; the further you went, the more you saw. I could not know how I moved from one to another. I would be happy, and like how we walk too far over the edge sometimes, I’d realise I was immersed in sadness. I was happy a minute ago; I would ask myself: what happened? Nothing did. I walked too far. It was all there was to it. Memories were not files in a cabinet. They were a canvas of every emotion we’ve tasted before. In all my happiness was my sadness; in all my anger was my peace.

I asked my friends a long time ago: do you also think of a day detached from the current moment? Do you see it vividly like you see this day in front of you? They said they did not care too much for the past, and the little they did, they wanted to forget. I did not understand it, but I did not press. When people don’t want to talk about something, it’s best not to pry, lest they walk too far into the graveyard of what came before. I wondered, how could I forget the first taste of sweetness? And if I had to remember it, I would remember what came before and what came after. I would have to remember it all or nothing.

Everything that has happened before has caused everything that is happening now. Forgetting one to was to forget, to be unaware of the other. Perhaps, that is why people often feel lost. They remember too little; they are too busy forgetting.

Bookmark #385

Each living person had an impossible demand from the world, an insatiable desire. It is something they kept asking of others and something they did not ever fully receive. There was always space for more. They valued it so deeply, so honestly, it is beyond any living person to be on par with it. For most people, this is love or peace or some definition of worldly success. I, on the other hand, needed consistency. I craved it—a consistency of experience, of behaviour. It was something seldom granted and often denied. In my limited experience, most people were terribly unpredictable and unreliable. It made my life much harder than it should have been.

Being impossible as it was, I still wanted it—a simple agreement, some obvious pattern that would tell me what I could look forward to when someone offered me a hand with something or a handful of love. For I was quick to form habits, and how we often grab a cup from the shelf while talking to someone or lost in thought, only by knowing how it is always in the same place, I would try to grab at what I was offered once only to find it was not there anymore, that it was only there once, that once was all most people could muster. And so, my life was filled with a constant wave of soft disappointment, kissing the shores of my days, leaving me for a minute, only to flood back in continually.

Like a concession or a lie to tell yourself, I formed a philosophy around this personal pain. The world was not here to give what we wanted; it was only here to give what it gives. To expect otherwise was to have failed in understanding our unique role: what we crave, we are only supposed to provide. In being loyal, a dog often gets loyalty in return. If there was hope for a consistent world, if there was ever such a world in the first place, it had to start with me. And so, in a world that was fatally inconsistent, I was a corner of sameness, of predictability, of habitual presence. And if I changed, I did it as if handing something over after a sale. And these words were the deed, the contract filled with all the intricate particularities—my fine print.

Bookmark #384

I woke up with laughter today. It was a ridiculous dream about the old school campus from all those years ago. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in my apartment, much older and far away from those classrooms. I laughed at the insignificance of all that used to worry me at the time. Then, I got out of bed and made myself some coffee; I turned some music on, and the little time I did have, I used to dance and look at the sky outside. The weather was fantastic, and I did not have much time to write in the morning. Between promising to help out and sleeping in longer than I intended, I had missed out on the fresh hours of dawn. I wrote a little and left for the day.

Life always gets in the way, eventually. It was the only truth. Anyone who discounted the importance of these external events—other people’s desires, unexpected failures, inclement weather—had not lived a single day in honest existence. In the war of the external and internal, the external always carried more pull. To be human was to be around other human beings. We were not creatures of the hunt; we were a species of community.

Having woken up with a disposition that had unevenly bolstered me for the day ahead, I braved the general frustration of the daily creeping into me. The wind was blowing. I found myself between the skirmishes of dust and leaves amidst the traffic. There is an unmatched urgency on stormy days, with everyone trying to get to safety before it begins pouring. How could one lose their grip on a day like this? It was all so destructively beautiful.

Someone asked me if I loved this town a while back. I told them it was a relationship of love and hate; it depended on the day. It was love today. With all its frustrations, all I had for this place was love. I felt like an integral part, not just a person walking on the street. I was a part of the unique orchestra that was this gloriously inconsequential town, with its trivial history and unimportant urban monuments. In this regularity, we were alike: both run of the mill, with a few redeeming qualities. For me, it was my patience. For the town, it was the rain.

Come evening, both of us had poured what we could, in perfect balance.

Bookmark #383

Like how we often lose grip of ourselves, the other day, I too lost my disposition to nothing in particular. It was a blur of emotion, so I decided to walk to the nearby cafe, which seems to be a panacea at this point. As I sat on the chair and sipped the coffee, I suddenly felt my wits come about me. My smile returned. It was as if I had just woken up, at that very moment, and that the day up until then had been a bad dream. As far as dreams go, it was not a nightmare, only a little unnerving.

Perhaps, it was the song floating about the grassy patio or the flowers, all around, in all colours possible. It may have been the exhaustion, but I felt the urge to tell someone I loved them. Then, it occurred to me how I could not think of anyone when I thought of romantic love. There were no lingering promises—all of them were broken, and no chronic wound—all my cuts had closed and healed. I did not know what to do with this love I felt so suddenly, and in having no one to give it to, I decided to write a letter to no one in particular:

While the world convinces you to go through it all alone in the name of some agenda of their own, I want you to know you can call me at the oddest hours, and I will be there. If it has to be five-thirty-five in the evening, so be it. I seldom have trouble making time. While my culinary talent is limited, I will fix us up a sandwich and some coffee. We can sit on the balcony talking for as long as you’d want to, and if it is silence you’d want, then we shall sit silently and watch the sky change colours and smile at the birds going to-and-fro.

And while the world convinces me not to show an ounce of emotion and keep my truth to myself, I will lay all I have ever felt for every second of my insignificant life in front of you. I am terribly tired and utterly exhausted of us being poster children for those who carry their pitchforks in their back pockets; we could clearly, and much more happily, be in love instead.

I wonder if this was some forgotten, leftover feeling from years ago. I could not have known. I do not know still. I finished my coffee and walked home. Even love, I believe, tends to rot when kept inside for too long.

Bookmark #382

In the evening yesterday, we talked about autumn. I said it was still far away; it’s April still. It’s May, I was corrected. It is May already. April has ended. I did not realise it, I said. I was too happy to notice the changing of months. Time zooms past when one is too happy or too sad. I do not know where my days have gone, but I do not want a tally now. For the first time in my life, I am okay with days passing me by, for I know I am making the most of them. I don’t know where April went. I am okay with it. There are flowers in May. There is music, too.

May. It was a beautiful word; a goddess turned to a month, turned to a sign of hope, of possibility, of chance. To be in your May was to be in full bloom. The simplest words have the happiest origins. They are elaborate stories of silent collaboration, of cultures lending vocabulary to one another, of confusion between what came first and what later, of an unsaid agreement over this is how we shall use it going forward. There was beauty in language; you did not need a dictionary to notice it. If I was, by some magic, sent back to live years ago, they would tell me I was in my May. I would smile and tell them they were correct.

I remember last May: how I struggled to breathe with a foot in sickness and the other in uncertainty. We could never know the extent of how things transform us. It was the only thing that made us human—this instinct to find meaning. It was all we had; it was all I had. The meaning often arrived a year later. That is why repetition was necessary; we needed the days to repeat, the months to repeat, over and over. It was not important to know how seasons changed; it was imperative to know how they changed us.

Hope burgeons all around; some of it has sprouted in me, too. I could not have known it had I not known it was May already. In a blink, it will be autumn, and I may sit in a coffee shop, remembering these words, these weeks wistfully, and then, before I know it, May will arrive again.

Bookmark #381

Last night, after working at a stretch, I lay on my lounger, reading. As much as I did not want to sleep, for I had worked and I had earned this time of relaxation, I felt my eyes get heavier. Slowly, I watched myself descend into sleep on the lounger itself. It was one of the perks of living alone—you could sleep anywhere. I have slept on the rug one too many times. The couch has only doubled as my bed, and the lounger has seen me doze off on enough occasions for me to quickly drift into a deep slumber while reading or taking a breather during the day. I have even dozed off on the faux grass on my balcony on pleasant winter afternoons. It was also one of the pitfalls of adulthood—you woke up where you slept. Perhaps, it was the only thing I missed about being a child. You could fall asleep anywhere, but you would end up in your bed. We don’t miss being a child, perhaps, but we miss this submission to safety.

Nonetheless, when I woke up, I woke up to a spilt cup of chamomile tea. I had knocked it over in my sleep, so I woke up in a burst of adrenaline to get everything in order, get ready, and leave. As I walked to the cafe in haste, I saw a shockingly blue butterfly that slowed me down. Its giant, angular, cobalt wings had me forget everything. Like a very distracted puppy, I followed it until it flew away to do whatever it was that butterflies do on Sunday mornings. In meeting my friend after all these years, I realised how it felt as if I were opening a capsule long buried in the fields of time. People remembered things about you that you had long forgotten. Their questions and stories told us how different we were; we were the first to forget ourselves.

As we got ready to leave, I saw the same butterfly perched on the glass door, looking inside. Of course, it could have been another one that looked the same, but it helped my case and disposition to think it was the same. I came home and made myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Then, I turned on the TV and watched some old cartoons I grew up watching, for no reason in particular besides the fact that I could and that I suddenly missed Sundays from decades ago.

Bookmark #380

If you want to start walking down an uncharted path, and all paths walked in the spirit of your own unique experience are uncharted, you will want to let the weight down before you begin. There will be plenty of resistance from the get-go; it helps to travel light. How far can you drag all the weight before the single, taut rope starts to cut into your shoulder and hand? You must let it all down; everything that once was is no more, and you are alone. It was a blessing, even if it did not feel like it at first. On resistance, there will be others who will not understand. You will hear the echo through the woods, the anxiety of danger, an inkling of someone peering at you. A hive mind of collective misunderstanding will wait for you in the shadows, every day and every night, ready with a pitchfork or two. You must keep walking.

You must walk through the sound, the unease, the loneliness. It was going to be a long hike from when you began, and you may have to walk years before you get lucky. It was all in getting lucky. Many have walked toward this untravelled unknown, and many have disappeared. But if you did get lucky, and if you kept walking, you would reach the clearing. The clearing is where you will build a home. You will go to sleep, and you will open your eyes one day, well-rested and true. There would be happiness, and there would be joy, and the light will play a game of peekaboo with your face as the curtains wave back and forth. The breeze will be soft, and it will slowly enter the room and gently wake you up. It was the only reward there was: a good night’s sleep.

But first, you must walk, and for it, you must let go. The woods are dark and filled with terror, but there is a light in the clearing—flowers grow there.