Bookmark #529

If you have a lot to say, you may as well share it with a friend before you are left with nothing, and then, and only then, should you sit down to write. It is not about having a lot to say that people become writers; it is the opposite. If there is a question on my mind, it is about how life is the same on most days; how do I find something special in it? And for better or worse, my disposition to look at things, ordinary things, only so I could write about them with an earnest appreciation, has saved me from the perils of what most people call finding the meaning of life. It is a fool’s errand.

If life has meaning, you make it like you make coffee in the morning. You make it on your own, and you do it repeatedly; sometimes, when someone stays the night or if you are with others, you do it for someone else. And like coffee or tea, everyone else has their own preferences, which you must remember if you ever have to make sense of things for them, which is why they will never quite enjoy your preferred flavour. There is no grand meaning; what comes close is a strictly independent motivation to create it in the most mundane things. All writing is about looking around and being amused by it all. The meaning of my life is whatever makes me not pull my hair out and go mad. There is so much that fits this description—I am overwhelmed by how much sense it all makes.

And what of happiness? You can be happy with the simplest excuse. It is raining outside. There’s a good excuse. I am here, writing on a Saturday afternoon. I am still young, and there is still time. Those are excellent reasons to feel a sense of meaning, and what is even better, those are all fantastic things to write about because when all the details are stripped away and all the preferences removed, this is what remains in common.

You must not talk about the syrup, the sugar or the milk; you must talk about what remains when they are removed; you must always talk about the coffee. The rains, the coffee, the feeling of time passing and the reassurance that a lot is still to pass. It is why people read the classics. They all find a bit of them in it, and in searching for meaning, a bit is all you need.

Bookmark #528

I stood outside the bar on a Friday a few Fridays ago and waited for a cab. I thought of going in, of cancelling the ride and blowing off some steam. It was still about five minutes for the car to arrive, which meant I had to use this time judiciously to decide what to do next. The music was enticing, and truth be told, I could have used the ambience; the hospital rooms are terribly depressing for people like me—those who think too much. But no, I told myself, there was so much else to do, and the day was ending already. I must get home. Of course, that was over a few weeks ago. Time blurs faster than we can keep a tally of the days. In the end, we don’t remember much, only a few specific moments and a general idea of how our lives were in certain seasons or certain months in certain years. We do not remember much; if I had not written about it, I would not remember this ordinary moment of contemplation. But now, I have written it down, and in many ways, I have a doorway to these weeks, too. All I have to do is read my words again, and I will be here: in a September which began with rain and is still caught in it, and somehow, still passing by. I can always return to this even if I do not see any reason for it now. We cannot predict what we may or may not want to do in the future.

But all this, what we go through, and this act of writing it down, makes me think. It makes me think of how proud we are, how conceited, to think things only happen to us and no one else, that we are so unique and special, and then we watch a film or read a book. Almost instantly, it drags us down from our pedestal and into the muddy ground. We are reduced to what we are: a human being with a beating heart, still living. All that we go through, all life is about humbling us into oblivion. The final plea goes like this: I shall not be proud from now on, I promise, I swear. In whispering this, over and over, most life is spent.

Bookmark #527

You get happy for a little bit and you posit foul play. Surely, you tell yourself, it cannot be like this forever and just like that. Clearly, there must be a catch. There has to be something that goes wrong soon enough, and you wait for it, on most occasions, rather ardently. It prevents you from immersing yourself into the sea of what is good and noble, and it brings you nothing but disappointment in the end. But, which is worse, it brings you the proud feeling of correctly predicting the demise of your joy for it is never the same; life always finds a way to change itself. And then, when the inevitable and rather obvious comes to pass, you think this is the correct way to live—to always second-guess your happiness. I believe I am more than guilty of squeezing the life out of pleasure softly, day by day, only because of my belief that things will turn sour eventually—which they did, as they must. I have done this a long time until now.

Now, in some cruel irony, when I find myself facing even an ounce of happiness, I think of the same thing. Surely, I tell myself, it cannot be like this forever and just like that. Clearly, there must be a catch. Since there is a catch, I must revel in this ounce of joy like I devour fresh honey on a crispy toast. I must not let even a single bite escape me. I must taste each molecule of that honey and I must savour each crumb of bread, and I must remember this snack, and with it, I shall remember this moment as it looks to me right now. Things go wrong, as they should, and then, they get better, as they should, and in the end, we only remember the honey on the toast, and we remember the evening, and we remember nothing much beyond that. Life has a way of helping us forget. We remember to laugh in the end, and we remember the meals and the moment and the stories.

Do you remember? We almost lost hope that day if it was not for that talk of honey. Almost. All hope is almost lost, and then, it is found again, and somewhere within that is the story of humanity, of all of us who have ever lived, and perhaps, all of us who are yet to begin.

Bookmark #526

When you walk by a garden that seems to be well-tended on all occasions, you appreciate the beauty. You tell a friend about this peculiar garden with no weeds and bushes, almost as if it were sliced out of Eden, and if that is too religious a comparison, then out of a film or book. But just because you cannot see the garden in an unkempt state, and just because you cannot see anything that does not belong there, does not, in any way, suggest some magical property in the soil. Neither does it say anything about the plants. It only means someone pays attention and tends to it regularly with almost surgical precision. All good things that seldom change have someone working inexplicably hard to ensure it stays that way.

But even having a grip on things is a curse. It is the most terrible thing to have it together, for, despite their reservations against it, people crave change and motion. It is unfortunate for a person to not budge in the face of trouble. It is unnatural for them to not go mad or lose their wits over misfortune nor celebrate any achievement with some pompous flair of parties and fanfare. In fact, when all things are as they appear, at all times, to most people, it is a sign of apathy, of not caring. It is unfortunate only because to have things stay the same, no matter what, you must care, you must care very much, about everything. There is no other way.

This is the only thought on my mind for the past few days; that is just about it. The very reason people like the garden is why they despise the owner. It looks the same, they say; nothing ever affects you. Oh, but it concerns me very much, you tell them. It affects me so much I cannot stop working on it. I do not know what to do. It is all I think of and dream of, so I must keep tending to it. If you see no change in it, that is my reward, my glory, and now that you have given me a piece of your mind, that is also my sin.

Bookmark #525

The other day I looked into the mirror, and for a minute of strange disassociation, I could not recognise myself. It was a feeling unlike any other. Like, how you meet someone after a long time and when you look at them, you realise time has changed their face a little. There are specks where there weren’t any, and they look familiar but new and strange. Or perhaps, when you open an old box of pictures or an album and look at pictures of your father and mother, of how different yet similar they were and how young they had been, too. And then you look at them, and for a second, it occurs to you they may not be the same people. And you feel this odd sense of being tricked by time. That is how, I believe, I felt when I looked at my face in the mirror, like I had met myself after a long time.

Time had changed a lot of things over the years. I had only just noticed them.

For someone like me, this is a contradiction. If there is one thing I know more than anyone else, it is myself. I know my own self like muscle memory. I know myself like my favourite passage from a book and favourite bit in a song. I know myself like the cocktail I always order and how I like my coffee. I know myself like the bench you prefer when you go to the park, the one you are inexplicably drawn to and the one you feel most comfortable in, even when the other benches look the same, even if all are equally enticing and empty. So, for me to be shocked, and if not shocked, then surprised at how I had grown up was strange, to say the least, but we seldom say the least; it was absolutely baffling in that regard.

But what am I if not my contradictions? At least, that is what I told myself after returning from this trip of disillusionment and when I could feel like I still knew myself. I believe, now and then, we see ourselves in light so new and different that what we look at changes on its own. To be a person is to be a million people, all different in their little, peculiar ways. To be a person is to be made aware of this fact without warning.

Bookmark #524

At the edge of a mountain of hope, a little voice pulses through the valleys of my heart: these days will amount to something. It is all for more than I know. We are too naive to pretend we know where we’re going and too foolish to pay attention to the signs. Even on uncharted hikes, in places no one dare visit, there is a wooden milestone, dilapidated but dangling, with directions, and if nothing else, then the distance ahead. It is not about where you’re going but whether you notice the signs and continue walking. And if there are no signs? Well, look harder, and if you cannot find them still, congratulate yourself. You are the first one here. You must do as the others have done; you must leave something behind. The next time someone feels lost, they will come across what you left, given it stands the test of time, and they will know. You will be their sign. There is no greater glory.

I am not so special, however. I know the road I walk has been walked a million times before. And all the signs tell me there is still a ways to go, but with every step, I get closer to the summit. If I have learned anything, it is this: there is only one instruction for walking—taking one step at a time. All else is philosophical tomfoolery. But one often feels lost even on charted roads, even on hikes with trodden paths that have begun to resemble city roads. Now and then, when I have walked far too long through the forest without a clearing in sight, I, too, feel the wave of doubt like all those who came before me. And then, out of nowhere, on a rock or a tree or a little signboard, you see, something is scribbled. It asks me to keep going, and so I comply cordially. And not too far from it is a clearing.

I found a clearing and a sturdy place to camp. I have caught my breath. How does it all look, you ask? It is the greenest clearing I have ever seen, and when it rains, flowers grow. But I would not have reached here without the signs and if I had not kept walking. And soon, I will begin walking again. There is still a long way to go. And just as I make my preparations, a whisper echoes through the forest: these days will amount to something. There is no bigger sign.

Bookmark #523

I sit down to write and think: there’s too much on my mind to write properly. Then, it occurs to me: that is what it is about. It is taking the too much and chipping away at it like a madman with a hammer. It is not our job to imagine new things; it is our job to remove the excess. And so, I navigate through it all, finally arriving at a memory of a beach from years ago. The night sky and us walking under the moon’s gentle glow, tracing the ever-changing curves of the sea that crept up to our feet and descended quickly, almost embarrassed, like an indecisive lover. I remember the walk, thinking if I could keep walking here forever, if by some magic this night does not end, I would not mind. I would be content. I would be happy with the life I had up until that point. In hindsight, it seems like youthful folly to have thought this; life has blossomed into such a joy. But all joy gets tedious sometimes, and you are left to reminisce.

Often when you meet someone, a good question is whether they prefer the mountains or the sea. When people ask me this, I tell them I prefer cities, that I am too fond of the crowds, people, and chaos, but if there were no cities, a beach would be it. Yet, the way I live, how my life has transpired up until now, and how it goes, in general, do not reflect this in earnest. As much as I adore the sea, it is the mountains where I always end up; the hills keep pulling me towards them. I can never seem to build a life where I end up on a beach. Perhaps, some esteemed speaker at a seminar could blame my agency for this turn of events, and I do not plan to dispute them. They are, of course, correct in their shallow and accurate analysis. It is this way because I have chosen, several times, against living near a beach in favour of the mountains. But if I were to make a defence, I would say our choices are painted by our circumstances and limited by the extent of possibility.

The timing, not the decisions in themselves, has prevented me from living near the beach. And so, I long to live a life where walking on the sand at night would be as tiring as staring at the hills feels now and then. For now, it remains a memory, and a dream.

Bookmark #522

There are times I feel like this world is not as great as the pitch made it out to be, that the marketing was off, and if I must say, it was deceitful. The poets were all selling lies and snake oil. There was so much that was promised, and it seems little of what was promised is here. And no matter how far you walk away from trouble, it seems to always be in the line of sight. But then, I remember how we must keep walking. I once read research that said the human body was designed to walk. And my first question was: to where? Then, it occurred to me that the first humans walked to nowhere in particular. It occurred to me how it was the start of civilisation: walking. But what use is walking when we cannot see where we’re going? Even so, we must keep walking. Each step we take makes our ancestors smile. “They have not forgotten the greatest lesson, even after all this time,” they may say to each other in languages we won’t even understand today.

And so, for all my complaints with the world, I often think of a just and kind place. The irony of how seldom those two agree with one another is not washed over me. But I imagine it. And then, it occurs to me, if I can imagine a world like that, then surely, I must continue to be here; I must continue to walk towards it on my own path. Perhaps, the world I think of may still come to pass. I may still get to lend a hand in its creation.

I reckon it is a bit early to call the fate of everything; we have not seen all the cards yet. We have not seen how things unfold. It is too early, and we are the lucky ones. We get to change it, even by a smidge, even if a little. If a world that is kind exists, it must begin with us, and if a world that is just comes to pass, it must start with us, too, and they must come together—a chore even the greatest rulers have failed at carrying out, but we must try.

There is still some fight left in the world. It is too early to call it. There, look, hope has just gotten off the ground. It seems to me it won’t go down as easily. Not yet, not yet, not ever.

Bookmark #521

There is only one phrase that reverberates through the corners of coffee shops and bars: same old, same old. And I used to think this was a flaw, and perhaps, it still is: to not tell others how you are in earnest is the cause of all fights between lovers, all schisms between friends, and all feuds, in general. It used to baffle me because if I remembered someone to be out of sorts and met them a year later, they repeated the same beat. How does nothing happen in an entire year? It did not make any sense to me then. And now, it makes perfect sense. Now, there is so much new that I could keep writing about it for years. Only, there is just not anything to tell anyone about, for no matter how good or bad something is, telling someone makes it worse. The good wanes quickly when shared. The bad goes to worse in just about a quick moment or a quick, audacious question.

And from this point on, I understand all those who told me nothing had changed. If I were observant enough, I would know it, and if I could not, well, what is the use of giving me an opportunity to take it away? So, let us rejoice, talking about nothing in particular. This banality is our happiness. The coffee is coffee, always warm and necessary, and the weather is the weather, always changing, always glorious, always beautiful. We do not need to talk about anything if there is just so much to experience. Let us first go through life, and when we’re old and we’re tired, maybe just then, we will be able to talk about what we remember. And what of everything we forget? It shall forever belong to us. I do not want to tell anyone about anything anymore. I do not want to share who I am and what I am. There is little other people can do about anything. That is all they are good for: to run into on the street years after months and years have passed. Those who know what is new will know it already.

My days are my own, in my hands, safe and secure, and the trouble that keeps coming now and then, keeps leaving now and then, too. There really is no use in talking about it, so I add to the echo. “Same old,” I chuckle along, “same old.”

Bookmark #520

Halfway through September, I opened the curtains to find the hills covered with whipped cream clouds, and the day looked like a delectable snack waiting to be devoured. But as is with all snacks, a cup of coffee was due first. Once I spent a moment staring at the cobalt hills surrounded by the bluest sky, engulfed in clouds, I began the day. This was the first day that seemed a little normal since I had arrived back into my life. There is always a period of adjustment in all things. No matter how familiar something feels, you must fit yourself back into it. It made me think of how when you had come back and said Hello, I immediately jumped back from where you had left me.

Now that I know better, I should have taken some time. Like an old jacket you dust off as autumn comes into the picture, I should have worn your presence gradually. But you see, it rains here in September, and it carries over till October. It rains here till people are tired of the rain. And so there is rarely an opportunity to dust jackets off. Here, we do not get winter like it is handed to places where it snows, where you can see winter arriving slowly and setting where the glass meets the windowsill. We only get a brief respite from the rains, and then they begin again. As much as it was the better thing to do, even with all that I know now, I would have worn your love—or scraps thereof—quickly, desperately, with an inexplicable urgency. It always rains here, and sometimes, it gets too cold.

But then, when it rains, especially when you are safe and sound and warm, and it continues to rain through the night, the mornings are always spectacular. The mountains and the hills always find a new visage, despite never moving an inch, and waking up is always a joy. That is how my life has felt for the better part of the year. It is the morning after the rain, over and over again.

There is no other way I would want to live. There is no other way I would have wanted things to go. I believe, in the end, when all is said and done, and when enough time passes, even a closed door is a gift, even if it always rains in the city where nothing ever happens, even if we are drenched from time to time.

Bookmark #519

I come home and find myself standing in the middle of the room, thinking, my unbuttoned shirt still hanging over me. Of course, first, I lose myself in it all. It is only after I have been standing for, by my estimate, fifteen minutes that I find myself again. I would say this happens a lot, and some platitude about life and growing up may fit well here, but there is no use for it, so it would be wasting valuable words.

But there is something about growing up, about standing in a silent room, lost in all aspects of my thought and none of them at the same time, that takes me by surprise. If someone quizzed me about what I was thinking, I would not have an answer for them because, frankly, I don’t remember. I wonder how I got here and where did all the time go. There is an official letter I must reply to or at least address with an email. It has stayed on my desk for a while. I have sat on the desk repeatedly, day after day, but never gotten around to it, for it wasn’t urgent. The letter reminds me of how old I have gotten from what I remember as myself, where I started from, which, if you ask anyone much older than me, would be the equivalent of chump change in years.

Ask the old, and they have more years they have probably wasted than you have lived and considered crucial, even formative. Yet, it does not change anything; it does not stop me from standing by myself, thinking.

So, now, I am freed from my daze of whatever I was thinking about, which, if I were to do a loose inventory, would be whatever I don’t much talk about: a sliver of a memory from a long time ago, how I feel after living another day, of the little and big things that are happening, of the little and big things that have already happened, of life, in general, of other people, and perhaps, as always, of how little I can control. And now that I am freed of this without finding any conclusion and forgetting most of it, I must brew a cup of coffee.

This is, perhaps, the simplest way to tell what people think about when they are stopped by themselves in the middle of the room. This is, perhaps, how we get older: one solitary moment at a time.

Bookmark #518

Most people—perhaps, influenced by films or books—perceive life to be a single state of being. If something tragic is going on, it is only going to be that way, at all seconds of the day. A peculiar thing, which many fail to learn on time, is that a day is too broad, too large a chunk of time, regardless of how quickly it passes. All of it exists together; even the most stressful of days can use a joke or two, and no good memory exists in isolation—there is always some scuffle or trouble in all of them. All my days are chock full of emotions smouldered into one another to create a rather colourful alloy. And that is for the better because if life were really as it looks to be in films and books, it would be more tedious than we know it to be, and it is tedious enough already.

On days when I was listless and entirely out of my wits, I found joy in strangers and serendipity. And if there were no people around, even the sky does an excellent job lifting you up. And today was such a sky, in the middle of the month where nothing ever happens, over the city where nothing ever happens, the sky beamed and glowed with the brightest of blues, and now, it has turned pale again. But it was blue earlier, and what a blue it was! All of my days are brilliant in their own way, and all of them remind me of something tragic, and all of them are an amalgam of the two. And this is how life is, and this is how it always will be, as long as we don’t forget to laugh amidst tragedy and lament in happiness.

It is the simple irony of life: we are too small to understand the large things that happen to us. But we can, for all intents and purposes, keep an open mind.

Bookmark #517

If something is not urgent, if you can stop for coffee, then, by all means, do so. Life is too short, and things will always get a bit ruffled, but you must stop for coffee if they are not yet on fire. Slight tardiness is allowed when all we do is on time. It is even appreciated. You must learn to stop for coffee if things are not wholly on fire. This is the only way that you can find a pocket of peace. When I could not, for the life of me, find a day for myself, I learned to steal these little pockets of respite. I was often late to a meeting by a minute or five because I stopped for coffee. Often, you do not need it, but in the time it takes them to make it, and by the time you drink it, about ten minutes have passed. A cup of coffee is rarely about the coffee. This is the trick to taking an undisturbed moment.

There is a reason they call it making time. You can make it like you make coffee. You must only know the method and the ingredients, and like coffee, they, too, vary from person to person and from time to time. And so, experimentation is in order. Once you know, you know, and then you will not have it any other way. This is true for both making time and making coffee. I sat at the coffee shop for five minutes in the evening yesterday with nothing but a warm americano in my hands. It was the only moment I remember where I forgot what it was like to be a person. All people must have moments where they are nobody with no connections, with no strings stretching them in all directions. To be alive is to be a part of an intricate web. And yet, even the bug stuck in the spider’s traps stops its violent buzzing now and then. We must all stop buzzing now and then.

There is but a moment’s peace in it; sometimes, that is all we need. We must all stop for coffee or tea—the drink is never important. It is the stopping. The stopping is the most important thing of all.

Bookmark #516

If there is any want, any craving in me, it is to have an uneventful day, over and over. If there is anything the world is hell-bent on stealing from me, it is the opportunity to do so. And because of this, some part of me is furious at the world, and no matter what happens, it always will be. That is what it is to be a man, even today, yes, even today, as I sit and write these words. It is to be needed, and it is to be needed to grow up a little bit earlier.

I wish they had let us stay children for a little longer. All men I know could have used another year, and if that was too much, another month, and if that was too big an ask still, then a day. A day would have sufficed, too. And this is what all men ever want: a day without being needed or required to do things. And silently at that: there is little vocabulary for the troubles of a man, and if there were enough words, most would not know where to begin. But all men I know have grown up too quickly. I see this in the stories of my father. I watch this in my brother and my friends. I find this in the stranger at the bar at the airport who is from a world apart and tells me the same story I have heard over and over.

But we may not ask, we may not ask another question lest we be showered with opinion and so much more, yet not be granted what we silently beg for, never receive the thing we truly long for: a day without being needed, without being directed, a day without our marching orders, a day in the sun with no one calling out for us. To be a man is to nod in agreement at the world and say, “I will get it done.” Even today, yes, even today. To be a man is to look at your father getting old and, for all the talk all around you, know that you’re living the same life he had, only in a different flavour.

It is to lend a hand to it all, day by day, yet, be remembered for what you could not do. All boys I have ever known have grown up too quickly. Callouses on their hands and ache in every corner of their body, most men I know still ask, “how can I help you?”

Bookmark #515

When I woke up, I wanted to lie down on the lounger and read for a bit. It was a Saturday, and while I was not sick now, I was still awfully tired. In many ways, I am almost always awfully tired. It does not stop me from living my life. Some of us have exhaustion running through us like blood. We do not deem it a different state of being. I looked at the lounger, and it was flooded with clothes I was yet to move to the cupboard. They had been there for a few days now, and each day I had told myself I would do it the next day. Now, the day had come, and I could not read. With the sigh that accompanies all adults forced into doing a chore, one by one, I folded and kept all the clothes in the almirah, each in its proper place. And now, the lounger was clear, but my motivation to read had waned entirely, so I made some coffee and sat down to write instead.

When I had written a little, and I felt distracted, I got off the chair and stood on the balcony with the cup of coffee that never leaves my side. I looked at the tree in the building complex beside mine. I often look at it for no reason in particular. It was still completely green, and this disappointed me a little. It meant how autumn still had some time before it was fully here. It was time before we would start seeing it in the leaves on the ground in all flavours of green and brown, in pumpkin spice lattes and hot chocolates, in the evening breeze that never seizes, in the scarves and the jackets, and in things large and small. It was still a bit before autumn.

All life is waiting for things to happen, and when they arrive, waiting for other things. For a long time, I have waited for calm and peace, and now that I have some semblance of it, I now wait for the seasons to change. A person must wait for something. To wait for things, to do it patiently is the definition of living. I am alive because I am waiting for something to happen. I am alive as long as there is this wait. To be alive is to look forward to something.

Bookmark #514

I do not have anything else to say about grief except that there comes the point when it becomes a muted tone in the background. Like the September sky, it takes a dull blue hue and stays far away from the big picture but is also a part of it. The parts inadvertently broken and hastily put together still have cracks in them, but like how things that once irk you become invisible given enough time, the cracks have disappeared too. The ones which have not yet done so are covered in plants and leaves. Anything that breaks becomes a good home for a plant. That has to mean something. I may not be sure what that means, but it says something much bigger than me and my life.

But that is all I can say about grief. I do not see much of it; the little that is perennial is so invisible that I could not tell you which parts of me still hurt. Beyond that, all I see is life, sprouting in all corners of my being, all cracks I could not fill, and all days of future and past. At some point, talking about grief becomes like the sixth drink you have at a party; there is little reason for it, and you do not much need it, so you realise it is only going with the flow. Like all drinks, one must know how much grief one can handle. Like all booze shared with the right people, one may realise they can take more than they thought.

Now, I wait ardently for the year to end. There is, of course, no reason for this want. In many ways, I want this year to end only because I would not want to entertain the possibility of things going wrong. Even preservation can wish for the end of things. If I could, I would like to make camp and stay here forever.

But we must be careful when wishing for things; I am a realistic optimist. As quickly as things can get better, they can also get worse. I shall make a statement as bold as this once we tuck December away into an archive of things that have happened to us and, if life is willing, of how we happened to things.

That is all the more reason to relish in this calm joy of muted greens and subtle blues between summer and autumn. It may get worse; let us laugh now. We will not remember our worries, but the echoes of our joy will always pull us through.

Bookmark #513

I woke up feeling much better than I had in the evening before. A little ache in the body and temperature can do that to you. But even though I had woken up feeling better, I was still languid and slow. And so, I did not write until the day had gotten on already. It was afternoon. It began to rain. I was not expecting it. I was not expecting many things, yet here we are, and yet, this is my life. It is rare to get what you expect, but that does not make it better. In fact, I feel in most cases, it makes it worse. To get what you wanted—what a tragedy. Most life happens in the gap between the wants and what is received in the end. The trick, as there always is a trick with things like these, is to accept it kindly. If it rains on a September afternoon, you must smile at it; if you expect rain and it is sunny, you must do the same. We rarely get what we expect; most life is lived this way; it is the only way to live.

It is evening now, and this is a day like countless others, but that does not make it worse, as most would think. In fact, it only makes it perfect. To have the same day over and over again may be tedious for many, but it is a blessing. When nothing goes wrong, we must stop and acknowledge it.

The world is coloured in the sweet sepia of the sun setting behind the haze of the city, and here I sit with my coffee, working. What a life, I tell myself. I will remember this day, or at least gather a vague memory of it years from now. It will be when things get tumultuous and turbulent. Amidst all the chaos, I will find a moment to sit down as one usually does, and I will tell myself: what a day that was; nothing happened that day; it was a blessing in disguise.

It always is a blessing in disguise.

Bookmark #512

I remember being separated from the group on our hike at some point. It was a tiny moment, almost a split-second, where it was just me and the view in all its entirety. September, I thought to myself, how you always start so beautifully. The closer we get to the year’s end, the more reflective we tend to become. There seems to be a global agreement over this. As much as I’d like to argue that time and calendars are a human construct, even without them, even if we just saw the seasons flip to the next like a picture book, we’d still feel the same way. It is only that now, with all our language and vocabulary of time, we get to remark over how September begins like a tiny affair, like the first light from behind the clouds, like the steam from a kettle hissing and popping on a pleasant evening. It is only when we call it something that we can talk about it in earnest. And yet, even if we could not, we would still feel the same things.

But for now, I have the words. I have the words, and I can say to September: I’m glad to meet you again, old friend, and again, we shall sit and wait, for December is far away still. There is still time, and we can make the best of it. It is September. This is where we say, “oh wow, that was a glorious year, but there is a chill in the air now; let us take our jackets out; it may get colder.”

I can say this and so much more. What a luxury it is to have a word for almost everything: to be able to stand on the balcony wearing a jacket, staring at a hazy sky and watching it slowly adorn itself pink, and to mumble, “there is nothing more beautiful than the September sky getting ready for the night.” There is nothing more beautiful, of course, but language gets close. I can say whatever I want to say, as I want to say it.

There is an agreement that it is September, that we all feel the chill in the air. There is an agreement that we must handle our affairs, attenuate the loose ends, and wrap the threads still unrolling for December is near. But it has not arrived just yet. There is still time. There is still time.

Bookmark #511

It’s all ebb and flow—all of it: the way your heart beats, the way you love, the days you have, the coffee you make. It’s never the same, and it’s always getting better, or it’s getting worse, but it’s never the same. If you must keep anything in mind, it’s this; you must remember this. Scribble it on a piece of paper and lock it in a wooden box hidden deep in your heart: it is never the same. I will never feel the same way I am feeling about everything again. It will always be a smidge higher or a smidge lower, and that will be just about it. In statistics, we often say how a number alone is useless, that unless you can compare it with something, it is neither high nor low. It is how it is with your heart, too. Everything that you feel right now will either be higher or lower in comparison to something. All life is but a comparison to either what was before or what we can imagine, both of which are not absolutes, no matter how sure we are of them. The things that have happened before are not accurate yardsticks, and what you can imagine will always be finite to your lived experience. Life does not pay heed to your history, nor does it care for your powers of imagination. It unfolds as it wants, flows where it wants, and the only thing in your purview is to go with it.

It takes some of us twenty-five years to learn this; for some, it takes their lives, but you cannot compare it with each other. You learn it when you learn it; it’s never too early or too late. It’s never on time, either. It’s only there one day. Whatever you do with it is up to you, but it’s never too early or too late. That much is set in stone, and that much is all you need to go forth, and that is all I can say to you. That is all anyone can say to anyone. What they must do with it is up to them in the end. What we do with anything is up to us, but the trick is to keep doing something. It may ebb and flow, but you must scramble and do something. You must keep doing something. That’s how you stay afloat. When you stay afloat long enough, you’ll know it’s never the same, that it’s always getting better or it’s getting worse, but it’s always going; it’s always going.

Bookmark #510

I found a note scribbled from a few days ago. I believe this was written in a state of extreme inebriation, both from the contents and the glaring presence of errors in how I wrote it. It goes: I have reason to believe, at some point, my life becomes a drunken story told after a beer too many; this is not unfounded, and I do not mind this one bit.

Of course, this is a version of the note tidied up. I would not want to share the unkempt words, and even if I have no reason not to do that, I feel all notes are eventually turned into writing, so it is unfair to share them as they were written unless the original writer is dead and not present to write the words as they were thought to be.

I believe I wrote it at a barbecue party; I believe amidst the beers and the conversation, there was also a lot of dancing. We danced around a fire and jumped over it when things got crazier. At some point, everything becomes a haze, like the smoke from the fire that engulfed the edge of the hill we were on. And what of the drinking? While I don’t remember much, I remember it went on as it should have. Of course, we can all stop drinking and jumping around fires and having the grandest time in the world, but where is the fun in that and if there is, why have it when it’s the same either way? There is destruction in so many of us. It pays to let it out in bursts of impromptu dancing around fires, roasting food, and laughing like there’s no tomorrow, lest we set fire to our lives instead. I remember most of what I remember; the parts in between get hazy.

But I remember closing my eyes and taking in the moment around me. I remember imagining how it may look as a memory. I remember very clearly that I did this, that I tried to think of it like days long gone, that I was older, and that I had this story to tell everyone now. I pictured myself telling this with the nostalgia burning in my eyes, quite like the fire we danced around. I imagined it all, and now that I think of it, that was when I wrote it down:

I have reason to believe, at some point, my life becomes a drunken story told after a beer too many; this is not unfounded, and I do not mind this one bit.