Bookmark #820

They often instruct you to avoid cliches, to stay away from the pesky repetition of writers, of humanity, but how can you? In the end, people fall in love the same way, which is very similar to how they get drunk. You take it in cautiously, slowly, and then, you get impatient—nothing’s happening, of course. And then, you gulp it all down as if there was no tomorrow. But something was happening, and now it is all over the place. There you are, flailing, trotting, no sense of direction in your head. That is how it happens, I tell you. That is how people get intoxicated—the only difference is in the poison they choose.

But why am I blabbering about love when there is nothing but a lack of it in my life? How cautious have I become, after all, during all these years of finding myself!? Too cautious, sadly, too careful. But here I sit with my heart open still, and whatever is left is covered by the many glasses of wine. It is Friday, after all. And what about finding myself? Well, not for the lack of trying, but I have found nought. I have but confirmed the parts I knew were true; I have proved them over and over, like a scientist who conducts the same experiment out of self-doubt. So, why the blabbering? There is little else to do.

In hindsight, my life has been as cliche as the falling of rain. I have not avoided it. In fact, I have run headfirst into it. To sit here and argue for anything else would be lying, and I despise lying. Yet, I have to do it now and then, as we all do. I have to lie by omitting, the worst of the bunch. I often tell others when you lie by omission, you steal the right to find the truth, and that is the worst theft in the world. But I lie. I lie about how I feel all the time. I lie about the state of my heart. I lie about how there is more to this life. (There isn’t). And I do not speak of alternatives, no. I only keep it all to myself.

There are only cliches here, stacked like layers of a cake, topped with a cherry to call it complete. In the end, it is all garnish, though. There is nothing complete about any of this life. It is a hodgepodge of bits lifted from all around—from music, from films, from people, from stories, written and told.

Bookmark #819

I wish I could tell other people how I truly feel, but my memory tugs at my jumper and pulls me a step back, like the loyal friend who has seen you make a fool of yourself at the bar for enough years to stop you from ordering that last drink. It is funny, too, for it fails me when I need to remember crucial things, for I require a plethora of notes and lists to even pretend to be a person. But now, I often tell people what they want to hear, and my feelings seem to not fall under this label if I deem them unnecessary or irrelevant, and if I observe that my pouring my heart out may cause more harm than good, I keep them to myself. And then, they boil over for a little bit, and then they turn into regrets. I have a proverbial box chock-full of unsent letters, tightly sealed within dusty covers in some corner of my heart. And if you asked me where that corner was, that, too, I would not be able to answer.

My poor heart has been silent for so long I do not know what to tell it, but even now, the apologies echo. You see, it was not always this way. It was not always that I kept my thoughts to myself. I did not always regurgitate all I heard in one place into another. You see, my mouth was twice as open as my heart, which itself knew no restraint, and I blurted words at the first thought of them. I told people I loved them before I knew what it meant; to even begin to understand, it took me years of quiet. And now, I feel it. I feel it as deeply as my love for life itself, and I open my mouth to tell them, “I love you,” but all that comes out is an apology.

You see, I blurted things too often, and I blurted all things wrong, and when the words did not betray me, my tone did, and when the tone did not betray me, the moment did, and when that, too, was in my favour, fate intervened, and what can you tell fate but “sorry”.

“I am sorry, I am sorry,” the valves of my heart open and shut and all but apologies reverberate through them.

“I am sorry; I love you. I am sorry that I do.”

Bookmark #818

These threads of my life, and sometimes exaggerated fiction, are now woven into a narrative. I wonder if there is some benefit to this ordeal. It may be hubris, but sometimes, I think about how this is a golden volume of the quintessential experience of being a person in this day and age. And if it may not be everyone’s experience, I would still say some bits here are more pedestrian than others. When I say pedestrian, I do not mean it as some negative, run-of-the-mill quality but as common as the air we breathe, as regular as laughter, and as present as time itself.

But all that aside, it is an archive if it ends up being nothing else. If my life turns out so that I never write stories or books and maybe even wholly cease this practice as time treads on, I could still return to these words, and they would still remind me of things. And if I become someone celebrated for all the tales I lived to tell, these words would serve the same purpose still.

Often, conversation around a dinner table moves into my writing. “Are you not writing anymore?” Someone pops the question. “Oh, I am; every day, in fact, only I do not talk about it now,” I answer earnestly, trying my best to not sound pompous. Then, I sense it: the gasps and sighs, the rolling of the eyes. I sense it immediately and spontaneously, and I sense it all. Then, I remind myself of how those who want to read my work do so without a loaded question, and those who do not (and, perhaps, never do) find a way to tell me how I ought to find ways to get these words into more hands, how I ought to write more about things people often think of, how I ought to make it all approachable.

I do not know what people think about, but I reckon they think about their hearts here and there, and I feel they worry about others sometimes, and I am sure they struggle to find their place in the world. If my assumptions are valid, then these words are precisely what people think about, and the banality of my work is its appeal. But then, I wonder if facing what you think about often is even desirable. That could be the case. I, too, wish I could escape the unnecessary burden of being a living, thinking person now and then.

Bookmark #817

Although I am beginning this piece now, I am aware that all dressed up as I am, I would need to stop abruptly when I get a call, and so I must type quickly. The sentences can stay broken. I will fix them later. But it is crucial to get it into writing that weddings often make you think of love and that this does not help you, and neither does this harm you, but you think of it for a few moments, and then, I would bet, for a few days. And how you think about it changes based on whether you have someone you love at the moment or not. And how you think about it changes based on how sour or sweet love has been for you. And if it has been more sour than sweet, you may be someone who avoids attending these events of flair and fervour, and if, by the distance of your association with the people getting married, you cannot avoid them, you may find yourself in the quiet comfort of a drink too many at the open bar, or the rather noisy disquiet of dancing till your feet hurt, or sometimes, both of them.

I believe I would not be able to one-up the passage above today even if I tried, so I must stop here and force myself out of this room with a smile. After all, my friends wait for me at the bar, with varying proportions of how love has treated them sweet and sour, and so, we will all drink in those capacities tonight, and then, we will all get on the floor and dance our hearts out. There is little that can go wrong with a night like this, I reckon. The plan is set; the drinks are poured. Now, we go and celebrate the two others who have found one another with only one feeling in our hearts: not everything has to be about us. Tonight, we tuck all our sorrows, big and small, behind our Sunday bests. Tonight, we surrender all ourselves to them—the lucky ones.

Bookmark #816

There are many things to think about when you meet friends you have not met in a while. You notice the little shift in them and their mannerisms. The realisation that despite your apparent absence in their lives, their lives have moved forward, that we are only as crucial to a life as the amount of time we get to spend in it, starts to sink in slowly, at first, but then, abruptly and almost instantaneously. I have felt this many times before, and the last day has not been different either. But it always takes me by surprise; it almost sweeps the entirety of the Earth below my feet, and the last day has not been different either. But then, you cannot be in all lives at all times. We can only move in and out of them like characters in a stage play, doing the little we ought to do, talking just enough to push the story forward, not more, not less. So, now, after this wave of unimportance has lashed over me and washed me ashore, I can finally drink and have a merry time with people. Perhaps dance a bit if the opportunity allows.

It has come to my realisation that this slow dance with my thoughts, as I stare right through them, is something I end up doing each time. And no, I am not conceited enough to think that lives should pause till mine intersects with them. Even hinting at an idea like that would be a disservice to how much I adore people despite my nitpicks and never being able to meet them eye-to-eye on most things. In the end, there is no doubt in it—that I love all the people I have spent time with and ever broke bread with, that I sometimes feel uncomfortable that I was in their life till a particular year, a specific day, and that it has passed and I will only see them in passing, on events, in a chance encounter in another city.

But then, what can you do? You move forward with your life as people move with theirs. The cast changes, the story twists, but the heart remains, and the heart remembers. Perhaps there is some solace in this, then, that we can try and pick up where we left things off, only to get out of touch again. But then, there is solace in it, too, because then we can try again. At least, one could hope and try to see it this way.

Bookmark #815

I woke up about thirty minutes ago, and it is still early. I have enough time to do everything I wanted to before leaving. Looking in the mirror, I noticed how the number of greys on the sides of my head had grown rampantly. Nothing I can do about it, though, except accepting that I am getting older, and so are all my friends. Played a board game with my friend the other day, and talking during the game as you often do intermittently while talking about the game, he said he was considering treatment to get his hair fall under control. Of course, I encouraged him. When someone we know wishes for something, our sole duty as a person in their life is to encourage them. The caveat that the wish is not harmful to anyone else stands, of course. To live in a world where we have to spell this out each time, a world without nuance, breaks my heart. Then, there are those older than you who remind you that nuance left this world long before you were born. It is a gift not bestowed to all. In any case, I thought about how, all of a sudden, time passed so quickly that it zoomed right through all of us, causing a dramatic and unbridled ageing that had been absent until two or three years ago. The great greying, as I often dub it, has begun.

What can you do? Time passes regardless. I am sure those far older than me have more things to say about it than I can at the moment. All I know is that I have never felt more unprepared for life than I do lately. There was this steadfast certainty in my life that has dissipated like the early morning fog of November in front of the sun. It seems I have no plan whatsoever for the years to come. I have thoroughly internalised the presence of possibilities I struggled with a few years ago. Once a plague of indecision, it is now hope I feel, but then, it shakes me up that there is no way you can prepare for everything. I reckon I understood it all wrong all along. To be ready for everything is not about contingencies; it is only about being open to whatever time leaves on your doorstep before ringing the bell and running away.

Bookmark #814

I walk across the street that crosses into the main road. I notice the half-paved sidewalk. They seem to have covered more of it, but a few patches remain. Near them is a cairn of cement blocks stacked and balanced perfectly. A reminder of what this city was before and how it lived and died. Now, this city has changed, as have the people living in it, as have I. The fact remains, however, that change is good. They are making it better in every way, but the old bits have to come out, like weeds, like drywall, like the people we discard when we move onto better avenues, like how we, too, are left behind by others. To go forward and grow is a weird dilemma. There are parts you would want to retain, but keeping them would eventually remind you nothing has changed. It is not until you wipe the slate clean that you can chart a new course. But alas, the loss of leaving things behind is seldom talked about, yet it is still loss.

I reach the cafe, occupied morosely by this thought of change, of cutting out parts of the original like we do tumours, so I thought to call a friend, get my mind off things. The barista—who is new, too, and has replaced the old guys who I reckon have moved onto better things than making coffee for strangers and curating a wonderful list of tracks to play—brought me my coffee along with a sugar bowl to which I thanked her and said, “I would not need sugar,” something I have not had to say for years, not that I mind it but when you are lamenting over how things are changing, you might need your reminders spaced out by hours and not minutes. She smiled, and I nodded, and then she went back in. All said and done, I called my friend and asked how things were on his side of the country. We talked for a bit about this and that. Then, unprompted, he remarked about my willingness and receptiveness to change, of how effortless it was that I have always made decisions without regard to the comfort of familiarity. I chuckled.

I did not tell him that I was tired of fresh starts. I did not tell him how all this change around has discombobulated me. I did not tell him anything of this sort, but I did think of it.

I thought about it till the moment I slept.

Bookmark #813

The day has long since ended, but as long as I am awake, I can still write for today. For all intents and purposes, I am still thinking about the things that were on my mind until two hours ago when the clock struck midnight. What does the clock have on these words anyway? This is, after all, a deeply personal venture.

Earlier today, as I realised some irritation growing in me because of an impending trip, it was pointed out to me that my habitual unwillingness to visit other people, regardless of the reasons for their invitation, always falters in front of the fact that I go there anyway, but that I do not go there quietly. I throw a tantrum, and I bitch and moan about it. It is true, of course, and for good reason. The reason, as it always stands, is that my own life often gets derailed owing to an invitation. When I return and rest my bags on the floor, there is dust not just on the desk or covers but on the routine I so passionately adore. To make a life you enjoy waking up to is a never-ending exercise in consistency. It stands then that a trip I did not plan for would hinder the flow of my days, would spray water over the minute adjustments I have made in the days before the trip, which I will inevitably lose track of by the time I return.

But alas, I know myself too well. I will go there and have a merry time and come back and cry about it. This is a film I have watched enough times to know every frame of it by heart.

Creatures of habit do not pick and choose what they are bound to repeat. People like me—those who swear by their ability to repeat things—are no masters of their fate. We are but a set of instructions, like a script or a program. This, too, I am deeply aware of. I am bound to repeat all things major and minor. I make coffee a certain way no matter how much I try to change it, and I fall in love the same way, no matter how many times I try, too.

Continually, I find that people get on my nerves, and continually, I find it in me to get out and visit them still. Bound to go in circles, here I sit, writing two hours after midnight for a habit is a habit, and once you find yourself caught in it, there is little anyone can do to get you out.

Bookmark #812

Before I got a sense of myself, a measure of the minutiae of changes in me, the year ended. Now, December waits outside my balcony window. In a while, it will begin knocking. Perhaps I have taken things lightly. I have been wilfully aloof; now, I will bear the fruit of it or lack thereof. I should have been more strict with myself this year.

There is a specific brand of person, and I happen to be dead centre in it, who will do everything to fault themselves, and it has been this way for more years than I can consciously count. After all, until it hit me about twenty minutes ago, I thought November had just begun. I can keep track of time as deftly as I can find love in this life; the jury’s out on the latter, but the survey does not appear particularly gleeful or encouraging.

Major and minor disappointments have nothing on this night, which feels beautiful, energetic, almost impossibly larger than life. I feel this force surging through me. It tells me everything will fall into place. There is a calm touch to it, almost like a hug from a long-lost loved one, but there is also a fierce call to arms. At this moment, I feel I can do anything, yet I have made the conscious, somewhat pointless, decision to sit and write.

I feel my love for banality course through my veins again. How often we lose ourselves, I wonder, along streets and alleys of cities we may never visit again, in crowds of people who do not even know our name, in the dreams of others who rarely, if at all, give us a second thought? I reckon something like that must have happened to this little wayward soul of mine, wandering off into the strangest dangers like a toddler stumbling around in a new place.

Or perhaps it is the sun. Two afternoons in a row, I have stolen a moment to sit under the golden light sliding into my room and lay under it. Perhaps it is nothing but stolen warmth. I had nothing to do for an hour today, so I lay there, waiting. For what? Time to pass. Perhaps I had fewer of these moments this year. I ought to make time for this tête-à-tête with the sun more often.

“Four in the afternoon?”
“No, I would be terribly busy.”
“What will you be doing?”
“Nothing, nothing at all.”

Bookmark #811

Today, I could think of one thing and one thing only: how the world comes together every day. I walked down the street this evening and saw the grocer arrange the fruits in a particular pattern. Of course, he could chuck them in baskets, and they would sell still, but he takes his time, moment after moment, sale after sale, day after day, to find harmony in it. I do not know why he does this, and I would not presume to know why anyone does what they do. To fail to acknowledge it, though, would be a mistake more grave than presumption. And all I could think was the world at large, of how every life is infinitely more complex than I could imagine, that I could never get it right even if I tried my best to describe it. We can only observe parts and make sentences out of them. A life is larger than a few adjectives.

And today, all I could think about was these other lives: of how people who may not have done right by others still get favourable endings to their tables so long as they allow goodness in, of how random the lottery is to happiness, and how the train to joy is unpredictable, and how it makes stops you could not have known, and how often it breaks down in the middle, and yet, bills get paid and processed, tea and coffee continue to be served, the beer keeps pouring, shoes continue selling, offices fill with people and empty, computers and laptops are turned on, strangers working for each other for all time, always. The world, despite each one of its faults (of which there are many), is a beautiful experiment that continues to go on and on.

And today, all I could think about was how those whose tongues slither in shifty hyperbole sell us the snake oil of greater heights or larger purpose, but, I reckon, a cashier who sits day in and day out at a bank, regardless of why they do so, has more meaning than any guru telling you to unlock your potential, and there is no greater height you can reach than bending down to pick something up and hand it to the stranger who dropped it.

Today, I could think of one thing and one thing only: that the planet may spin on its own, but this grand collaboration makes the world go round.

Bookmark #810

Woke up completely out of sorts with myself and walked about the apartment like a man out of time, not knowing if it was the year on the calendar or the one I suddenly remembered. Stood on the balcony and tried to find parts of myself, personal effects of my soul, knick-knacks lost along the way. Walked back in empty-handed and kept waltzing into the same turmoil, running into the same wall over and over. It was not going to be an easy day but made it through. Won once again at the balancing act of being a person.

There is so much I do not share. I tell people the comings-and-goings of the day, the fluff and piffle, but the things that get me out of bed and going are reserved for myself and these words. That is what talking has devolved into. In many ways, one would call me a recluse, not because I live on a mountain like a hermit, but because of this public privacy I have in my life, this veil no one can lift from all of it, this invisible tarp that hides what is underneath it. And there is nothing nefarious, of course, but one does not need maleficence to be private, unlike what popular films have people believe. Sometimes, we are just tired, but often, habitual.

I could swear it is not for the lack of trying either. I begin conversation, and then, I find all my faculties sink into the background. If a thought arises, it is too far from my mouth for me to vocalise it. There was a time when I would talk about my greatest dreams and fears. Now, I tell people I do not have them. But I do. They keep me company in simple moments. Today, my fears woke me up—well, fears and failures. They told me things I do not wish to hear anymore. And then, they coloured my day as they preferred. There are days like this in all lives, I reckon. To be a person is to sign right above the line under a long agreement without reading the fine print, which often says there will be days like this, too.

“It’s nothing,” I have said so many times I do not need to think of it to verbalise it anymore. It camps at the tip of my tongue through days and nights, waiting to flood the conversation, inundate it completely with banal balderdash, in case I dare to open my mouth.

Bookmark #809

To make a decision, to decide on anything at all, even remotely, is to set things in motion, things we may not want to happen by the time they have snowballed into something we could not have known. This is what life is about. There are moments when we must decide something, and there are times we must bear whatever they brought forth. But between them are days, which often stretch to absurdly long stretches of years and decades, where we can only sit and watch things unfold, when we simply have to adjust day after day to the sinuous meanders made by the river of time, to the many blockades made by the boulders of circumstance, to the debilitating exhaustion of existence.

Sometimes, you are propelled early into a decision; you jump the gun as if running a sprint as the people watching, in the stands of your life, snicker at you. You reach it before your time, like the friend who persistently arrives an hour before everyone else. It is impatience, not punctuality, that causes this, and while it is as absent in my life as dew on grass on a scorching hot afternoon, there once was enough impatience in me that it trickled down into everyone. Haste was all I knew, and panic was all I could induce in others. Now, it is different, of course. A few decisions led me here, but I did not know that was the reward at the end of the tunnel. A reward may be hyperbole, of course, because as consequences often tend to be, the ones I faced were heavy and ponderous, and, fittingly, they taught me there is no place for haste when the road is long and dark. All of that is in the past, of course, and is now but a reminder of all the platitudes I have about patience, the importance of taking a breath now and then, the significance of stopping, of where I got them from.

And now, I have made a few decisions, too. What they are is irrelevant, but I know I have set things in motion again. It scares me a little, but there is no other way. I must live through the in-between again before seeing what has become of them. But the pebble has begun rolling downhill. That much, I am certain of.

Bookmark #808

I wonder what portrait these words will paint of me when they are read in one go, considering that it spans several years from the first piece to wherever I stop (if I stop). And this is not some want for assurance. There is no fallow, no dearth of assurance in my life. I am as steadfast, as surefooted as they come. At least, when it comes to knowing myself; it is other people and their intentions I doubt at all times, always—not to say I have gross mistrust for the world, only that I am cautious as one should be. To look at the world and see its potential is noble, but to see the world as it appears is correct. In my experience, for how things transpire, it pays far more to be correct than to be noble. Noble expectations only make your heart writhe in pain because they are rarely delivered on. To be clear, however, this is not an argument to not have them, only to temper them. We must all look at the world with the same measure of potential a devoted parent sees in their child as they take their first step. But we must also be wary, as the parent is, that the child may stumble still. But to return to what began this thought, which seems to have lost its way like a puppy who does not recognise its home yet: what picture do these pieces—all eight hundred or so—paint? I could never answer it, but I hope they paint a colourful one. The mood it invokes is not up to me, but I hope it is brilliant, vivid, and bleeds of colour. I hope that is the case.

The other day, I bought a red jumper to the shock and awe of most people I know or, at least, who happened to see me in it. This sudden onset monsoon of colour has trickled into my life and has not gone unnoticed. But when they ask me for a reason for this change, I tell them their guess is as good as mine. I wonder if this has caused my inquiry into what these words represent. Perhaps the answer for why I change when I do or what I become will be apparent when someone reads them in their entirety. That even if I cease to change, this chronicle of an irrelevant life will remain—I hope.

Maybe they will laugh because it would be as obvious as the sun in the sky. And through space and through time, they will let me know.

Bookmark #807

To be capable of admitting you do not know something is a blessing rationed over humanity. Perhaps, as babies lie in the newborn nursery in hospitals, a fairy flies in and showers them at random with sparkles and dust. Perhaps that is the crucial event which decides the course of their lives, who they will be as people, but most importantly, the angst and frustration they spawn in those around them. Sometimes, I like to believe this so I can tolerate the antics without changing my opinion of them, but then, I remember that fairies do not exist, and it is very much their own fault that it is, more or less, a garden of misery around them.

But enough about others, what do I know why people do what they do? All I know is that I woke up earlier, around ten or so, and then I went back to sleep. It is on days like these, when the air is light, when my shoulders are drooping as I make a cup of coffee, when the sun has already completed its first shift of the day like a diligent employee always on time, that I feel there are no complaints I have with life. I get to work on things I do not particularly detest. I get to find time to write. And every week, I get at least one day when I can wake up impossibly, inhumanly late. What else would I want from life? Well, a lot more now that I have materialised this question. But then, the heart never knows to stop. So, I see this life as a good bargain. It could have been much worse. If anything, I could have become someone who does not know to say, “I do not know much about that; can you tell me more? ”

All things considered, this afternoon, with its golden glow on everything it can touch, even remotely lay a little speck of light on, reassures me. Things have turned out as well as they could have. Now, to get ready and face whatever is left of the day. Perhaps, read a bit or exercise a little. It is a personal pleasure, if there ever was one, that there are always things to do in life, and when they are done, there are more things I know nothing about.

Bookmark #806

Today, I got out on the wrong floor because someone had pressed both buttons for the elevator. If you do not know why that is a problem, I am envious of you and would very much wish your life, or at least, your obliviousness to this based on whatever the reasons may be. But thanks to this, and yes, I am thankful, and I will tell you why in a minute, I got out on the third floor instead of the seventh, and since I was too preoccupied with thought, I got out of the lift. I saw the gallery to my apartment—all the floors have the same layout as they often do, as dystopian as that sounds—filled with boxes and cartons. Suddenly, I felt odd and out of place. It was then that I realised I was on the wrong floor. When I came to my floor and walked to the apartment along a gallery built in the exact same way as the one on the third floor, I could not help but notice how the many, many pots and planters kept and taken care of by a neighbour were a surprisingly welcome sight.

You see when they first started encroaching on the space in this gallery and began creating this colonnade to their door three years ago, I was a silent critic. I would tell friends and family about it but never raise it as a true issue. Perhaps a part of me knew it was a non-issue in the first place and that until someone makes it one, it does not matter. But today, today I realised how beautiful their Chinese evergreens seemed peeking down from the balustrades, how tall their Snake plants had grown, and how the Spider plants caressed the stems of the Peace Lillies as if they were timid lovers walking in public. All in all, in the few moments it took me to cross over and reach my door, I had a newfound appreciation for all the years they have taken care of those plants.

And I decided I would end my day on only this thought: that beauty is beauty regardless of who is responsible for it and that there are things we do not realise the importance of until we see how the world would look without them. There is little to say now; all I have to do is make a cup of chamomile, sit and read Of Mice and Men, which has graced my lounger for over a week. What a day, indeed.

Bookmark #805

The soporific air of satiation lingers softly through these stolid weeks of November. I was drowsy in the afternoon. It is the night, and I am still drowsy. A whole day has passed, and my disposition has changed little. The sun during the day has nestled itself in my heart. The only thing I had any energy for today was games with my nephew that he invented. Oh, how he acts as if he were some king and we were his subjects—rightfully, of course, because that is the case. But for everything else, I had nothing to give, not even a tiny piece of my existence, not even the little, stray crumb which manages to escape unseen. All of myself is my own now. The little I give, I give selectively.

What have I accomplished this year? What was there to accomplish in the first place? There are years we set the motions, and there are years we go through them. This was the latter. It began with a flicker and ended before I saw to most things on my countless lists, like a matchstick that burns before you can light the candle. Now, I wait for this month to end, and the next, to take another stick out of the box.

Recently, I began getting this apartment in order. Pictures and letters waiting to be framed were framed. The plants that died a while ago were pulled out of their planters. The balcony remains undone, but I will get to it. There is always something to do. There is the balcony now, and then, once I am done with it, something else will take its place. This, again, is no complaint. This is but a description.

Often, when you make a remark, it is perceived as confession. You tell them you are sleepy, and they will ask you to work less, eat properly, or have fewer cups of coffee during the day. To do what, I wonder? To what end should people change themselves so others can take their remarks as they are? Life is a balancing act, the suspended animation you feel as you lay on the couch for the little time you get between dinner and sleep.

This is the in-between.

When December knocks on my door asking for an inventory of my days, all I would do is look at it with my gaping mouth and ask:

How are you already here? I must have lost track of time lying on the couch again.

Bookmark #804

I sit here, out of thought. I have, after all, just woken up. I must wait for a bit to have an opinion. It is absurd how I expect this out of myself as if it is perfectly normal: to have something to say, day after day. Mostly, my thoughts are slices of leftover pizza from last night: things I had to say to someone else but did not to maintain decorum, or avoid bringing a flood over their day, or keep a job. To keep mum is also a palpable talent if you do not get used to it and become someone who never says it, whatever it might be. We must learn to balance it out, like long, winding sentences stopped by short ones. But balance begets stability.

Now that November is here and the end of this year looks at me like a child peeking from behind the wall, I start to count if this year was any good. But these are complex problems in mathematics: putting time, almost kneading it, into a word. Prosperous, deplorable, celebratory, sadistic, transformational, cataclysmic; you could use so many. It is not an easy problem by any means, but we do it year after year. Then, when someone asks us, we tell them how it was such and such a year, almost as if none of what truly happened matters enough to count, only the big things, and sometimes, not even all of those.

But whether you agree or not (depending on if you have found a word to sum up your year in), the year will still have had three-hundred and sixty-five days. Well, it will have one more now and then; that but strengthens my position. I think it is a bit unfair, then, is it not, to put it into one word?

Or perhaps I am sour because I have been unable to define this year thus far. It was as run-of-the-mill as the sixth brand of cereal in the breakfast aisle of the supermarket. It was as regular as the expensive cup of coffee my tongue has gotten used to. It was as consistent as the haircut I have had for the past five years. It was as overbearing as time itself, as joyful as a new start. It was all that and more and a little bit less in places. Now, I sit here and wonder what comes next. There is no answer.

(The question, however, echoes in the silence of my apartment.)

There is still December.

Bookmark #803

Lately, I have missed words and lost them at the tip of my tongue. It is an unfortunate ailment if you call yourself a writer. Were I to paint a picture for you with my words, it would appear that when I sit to write, I often find myself lost in my mind. It is a stroll through the woods I know like the back of my hand, only this time they are filled with dense fog, and blinded as I am by it, I fall into a creek and lose all semblance of who I am.

Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but it indeed feels like I am losing a part of myself when I struggle to find the word “prolific”. It took me about twenty minutes to find it when I last went looking. This is new to me, and perhaps I am mulling too much over it, but it worries me. Haziness of my mind aside, I need to press on still, but the days—which often feel like a deck of playing cards filled with duplicates of the most inane cards like a three of clubs or a seven of spades—are not helping me much in their duplicity. It was just yesterday that I realised I had not an ounce of knowledge about what day or date it was, not that it would have made a difference, but there is knowing something unnecessary and not knowing something at all, regardless of its value. I would much rather live a trivial life filled with the former than the latter.

Perhaps this would be nothing, just torpor. For now, however, it is a pain in the ass, a thorn in my side, an albatross around my neck, a monkey on my back. If my predicament seems tiny, let me draw you a comparison. What would a boxer be if they forgot, all of a sudden, the difference between a hook and an uppercut? Would a driver ever forget the order of their pedals? Would a musician ever forget their chords? Would they sit in the middle of a performance thinking which is F and which G? There is no conclusion until it arrives. But it has become a problem. It would only increase from here unless I intervene. Well, here is my intervention! I have written about it, made it real.

Just today, I wanted to say something, but that was three hours ago, and I have yet to find the word. “What is the word for it?” What a disturbingly ironic catchphrase for a writer, I reckon.

Bookmark #802

Why do I write these words when I know no one reads them? My answer to this has gone from conviction to purpose to a lack of understanding. I could stop right now. I could have stopped yesterday. It would not have made a massive difference in anything—my life, perhaps, but what is one person among eight billion?

In many ways, I have been making meaning out of nothing. The things that get me excited are the insignificant parts. I looked at a picture of a singer recently, who has a picture of himself on his album’s cover in his heyday, and all I could think about was the passage of time, how two people who look almost nothing alike are indeed the same person only separated by decades. Or the fact that it is a sunny day outside today. Why does this matter so much to me? When I can safely assume, it does not matter to anyone else. People care about their money, their dreams, their little make-believe of the next shoe from some multinational corporation, and here, I get excited about a poem I do not know the writer of. Money matters little to me, maybe because I have always been able to earn my share. At least, until now. This juxtaposition of being fully aware of how easy life could be with some more of it and yet not being able to care about it feels like something is fundamentally broken in how my mind processes things. And this is but one example of the gross irony that my personality is, or perhaps, has become.

I work diligently without wanting great success. I write prolifically without wishing to be published. I love deeply, and yet, I have no wish to be with someone. Purposeless action—this is all my life has amounted to thus far. I have done so much, seen so much, made strides and leaps, and to do what? You tell me. I do not know the answer to this looming question. It plagues me day after day, but it also frees me. I have no shackles of expectation on me. I cannot say I am imprisoned. The world is open to me.

But are you also not arrested when you have nowhere to go?

Bookmark #801

Here is some advice for those who, like me, tend to walk out of step with the world while doing their best not to stand out. To never stop looking for things similar and dissimilar. The similar keeps you human and never lets you stray too much in your way, and the dissimilar tells you there is work yet, that you need to understand more, and walk more until it all makes perfect sense.

It never will, and this is what you must have realised by now, but optimism is crucial. We do things not because they will not work, but because they just might. Something I have learned over the last few years, something I wished I had learned much earlier, is that, at some point, we must learn to play along. We must learn the rhythm and walk along with others. If not for the entire stretch, then a part of it, but we must try. This is, after all, an orchestra, and we are but a small part of it, almost insignificant without the whole thing. Focus too much on one corner, and you only hear the noise. The music lies in the big picture. That much, I can guarantee.

Once you have that locked in, all you have to do is say hello often and to as many people as the opportunity allows. I would recommend wearing a smile and enjoying the little moments you do not belong to. If you see cashiers having a bit of a joke going on, and if you somehow hear it, you should not resist the laughter. Instead, you should embrace the sheer humanity of the moment and laugh. They will be glad for it, and, trust me, so will you. You must also realise that simple acts, not grandiosity, are what most people live around. While not being pushed around, you must try and make everyone’s life a bit easier, and it does not have to be something big. Sometimes, holding a door open is all you will need to do. That these are trivial instances is the beauty of it. There is an incredible surplus of trivial opportunities in a day. You cannot miss them because of the sheer amount in which they appear—countless moments to get back into step with the world, even for a little bit. That is all you need on most days.

If we do not look for the music, we will never find it. We can only see what we know ourselves.