Bookmark #640

A day is as important as it is irrelevant. I did not know much today, and I played most of the day by ear, but I did know I had to begin my piece with these words. A day is as important as it is irrelevant, and we must know our limits in swerving either way. On most days, this satisfies me: I complete all tasks I assign myself, and the little left undone is completed before I sleep, regardless of the time. Sometimes, like it is today, these words draw the shortest stick.

In the evening, I took a walk: a cunning theft on my part. I knew I had to take a cab and had an additional list of things to do in the city and many stops to make. Sly as I am, I stole a few minutes and a kilometre before I called a taxi and went on my way. When the cab arrived, I opened the door, and before I sat in it, I thought of the sentence. The day was as important as it was irrelevant. It was important in the sense that there were important things to celebrate. It was irrelevant because, eventually, I will forget most, barring two things from today. Most days are irrelevant that way, and most are equally important. We must recognise which part is the crucial bit. That is tricky, but with enough practice, spotting it is second nature.

What we remember, we remember of the people in our lives, of our time with them. What we forget is everything that seems urgent today. I will not remember the tasks I complete, but I will never forget going the extra mile, even if it is for myself, and especially if it is for someone else. So, that is what I will remember from today. I will remember my theft of finding time to walk and the time I spent with the family.

And the rest? What can I say about the rest? I forgot it as soon as the clock struck midnight.

Bookmark #639

There is an invisible wall around me, and I am often far too aware of it. I am aware of it because I am the one who built it. Why do I live with a threshold for everything? It’s because I understand my capacity for obsession, of how raw and innate it is if I let it loose. Most people have their obsessions dialled in for them. I have never experienced such a thing. If I put my mind to it, and it could be anything in the world, I become obsessed with it. I have lost myself in my mania for love, for a story it took two to write, and all they managed to do with it was give it an anticlimactic ending. My soul has an empty spot, as if a socket, where anything too precious to me fits and refuses to budge, like a ring that won’t come off. And so, by strategy, by design, I do not stand for anything. I know what it does to me. When I forget to keep myself in check, the reminder is not too far off.

Perhaps, that is why I can never meet people truly in the middle. There is always a smidge of an opening between us. And that is precisely why, as far as writing is concerned, I have stayed within the confines of these vignettes—but they are my weakness. I seem to get the closest to the inflexion point with them in how obsessive I am to writing them daily. Even if a day would have me move mountains, with calloused hands, I will write my words for the day. Just the other day, I began to work on an idea. It is far too irrelevant what the project was, but I could tell you that it was clear to me what path I was on in three days and three nights. I am a lump of clay; any belief that overstays its welcome consumes me. Any person, too.

I envy the entrepreneurs, the athletes, the composers, the madmen of the world, and history, simply because of this difference in us. Their fascination with one idea and, which is more, their relentless action towards its zenith is something I will never have because, without fail, I will stop myself from getting there.

But I have seen what happens; I have seen it all: the implosion, the loudness, the decimation. I could not wish that on my worst enemy. There is a limit to me, too. There is a line we draw, and then we swear to never cross it again.

Bookmark #638

They say you have to get to a place, a deeper place inside you, to create anything. I have my reservations towards it. I believe one needs to be lost, yes, but not in some hole within themselves; one needs to be lost in the banal. My work is a defence for the mundane. In a world that seems to get more exciting, everything I do—part of which is my writing—is a testimony in a case no one is ready to fight. As is fitting, there is little I can say than point towards the obvious.

All I can say is look at this foggy night and think not about yourself but about people. I cannot see much of the city, and the hills are surely out of the question, but I know that life unfolds underneath it all—palpitating with activity. The apartment above mine is playing some music five minutes before the clock has struck midnight, and I feel both mild aggravation at their churlishness and appreciation for their humanity, in equal parts, like how this night is equal parts chilly and cosy. And if that is not enough, I would ask you to take a walk, and I would tell you this repeatedly, piece after piece, word after word. There is not much you can say to people to get them to open their eyes. You can only repeat the same things hoping the message goes across.

There is an array of houses and buildings that glow like fireflies in all this haze, and in them, someone does the dishes, someone else ponders over a life-changing decision, and many others sleep snugly. I stand here drinking chamomile tea. It has been a long day, and it is now over. Another day full of the tedium of existing, another day of its joy. There is little to say after all. This city, this life, all of it is beyond my grandest imaginations. That is more than I can say about any of it.

Bookmark #637

We talk of the truth as if it is some absolute measurement, some sureshot yardstick, and yet, this world we live in, our truths were created not so long ago. In fact, the life we live today has only come into motion in the last decade. There is as much truth in the world as there is possibility, and possibility is up to the person who considers it. For some, it’s a dead end; for others, it’s infinite. This ever-connected world overwhelms me, and it also fills me with hope, and it does it altogether, simultaneously. We live in weird times; we walk on shaky ground. Possibility runs rampant in this age, and with it comes a plethora of truths. No matter how much you believe in things, no matter how much hope you have, you will, like all people, have a threshold for the truth. There are things we can digest, and there are pills we can’t swallow, and each person possesses a different taste for it, like they do for literature, for art, and for music. Truth then is preference, it is convenience, and it is bound by what you saw in your formative years.

I see this friction within me, too, and I ask those who came before: how have you watched the world change over and over and not thrown an outburst, a tantrum? And they tell me: why, we threw our fits when we did, when the world was too much for us; don’t you remember fighting us or have you forgotten your own rebellion?

It’s a conversation that never ends, and it is one each generation must have first when they set out in the world and then, when they are about to leave it, for those are the only two times we stop to think about the world after all.

The rest is just playing the hapless spectator, watching things happen on your way to work.

Bookmark #636

The other day I stood in the shower, and as one often tends to think of the most unrelated things as they stand under the water, I thought of my intrinsic urge to write, how the words have fallen out of my hands as the drops fell from above. I stood there engulfed in the water, drenched, as I had been by words for all these years.

Where there is a thought about my writing, there is always a minor disappointment wedged like in some corner you cannot clean too easily. Like how we often fail to mention things that are always there, even if they are out of place, I seldom say a word about this practice. The fact that we fail to mention the ever-present sky does not mean it is not there, and such is the regret of having to go at it on my own. Sure, there is a spray of appreciation here and there, but there is mostly a continual lull which makes me think of those writers who had a friend or two who read each word, not because they were fond of reading, but because they were written by someone they knew, and that was enough. It makes me think of them, and it sends a wave of envy over me, and soon, that splashes to become regret. Such is the nature of things we regret—we can seldom control what we brood over. So, I stood there and let everything wash over me. There was work to do and words to write.

My exhaustion reaches its tipping point, and then, the scales tip over, and slowly, like Sisyphus, I gather my wits, and I get on with it. All the while, my visage reflects that of the sea—both lying about the surging activity right underneath. Perhaps, one day, when many years have passed, and I am close to turning sixty like my father will in a few days, I will be asked whether it was difficult to write, and I will divulge all the gory details of muffled arguments with myself. And maybe then, maybe just then, I will not stay quiet like my father does when someone asks him if he is tired of life, and maybe just then, I will tell them: you should have asked a long time ago!

It is not the easiest thing: to write words. But then, you realise you have done it alone for so long, why not see it through? Time is my devoted cheerleader. On most days, it is also the only one.

Bookmark #635

If you take a walk and come home with one good sentence, the walk was worth it. And what if you don’t find it? Even then, you will have moved and been in the world which never goes to waste. On top of that, if you are keen to look around even a couple of times, you will learn that good, even great, sentences live everywhere. Some are on a street hawker’s cart, and there is one tucked in the moment when a child thumps on a metal staircase because they love the sound. I’d argue you’d find one in terrible service at a cafe, and then, you will find some in the trees around us.

To create anything in this world, we must be a part of it. We must learn to realise our place in the vast connections of life, and we must, sometimes, learn to navigate them. Good for us, there are streets and sidewalks. And a lot of us, not to our blame, start looking for things elsewhere. There is nothing here, in this town, in this city, so I must go to a beach far away, a distant hill, or a lonely island. But what you cannot see where you are will always be invisible irrespective of where you go. That is true, and poets have written ballads more harmonious than any sentence I can write about it today. I can only try to look around and find a sentence. When I think of my place here, that is what I think of, nothing else.

Just today, when I was walking down the street, a man stopped and asked me for directions. I named a popular place nearby, assuming he might know it and that may help him find where he is going. He told me it was his first month in the city and that he did not know the place yet. Then, he laughed and said, “Soon, I will know my way around these streets as long as I keep losing myself.” And that was when I knew the walk was worth it. I helped him with where he had to go, and then I went on my way, which was to nowhere in particular, of course. I was only searching to belong.

Bookmark #634

When you grow up reading books or digesting films into your very being, a lot of good comes out of it. One glaring issue remains, though: dialogue. You read books, and you think people talk like this, that most people will give you complete responses, that most conversations would be a delight simply because of how people express themselves. And then, you move into the world and realise how you set yourself up for failure. Inadequacies, directness, and an arrogant and proud ignorance of how to express oneself are rampant. Most people talk with such a lack of flair that talking to them seems like a pointless affair. There is little to no awareness, let alone acceptance, that even conversation is an art. You must know a little wordplay to make it enthusing, and more than that, you must know the value of timing. This is a privileged complaint, of course. Many do not have people to talk to, so it is in bad taste to have that and crib over it. But then, my dissatisfaction with most conversations I have is so perpetually large that it seems my entire life is slowly leaving something to be desired.

How beautiful it is that we have several languages, words that migrate from one to another, and expressions that know no home? Yet, most people gloss over all that and only talk of the brass tacks, and a large chunk of them even leave gaps between what is essential. People are messy and dirty, and their words reek of their insecurities. Friendships are based on a meagre list of topics; no one reads or thinks enough to break those barriers. It is a subliminal pain when you sit across a person and know the perfect way to phrase something they are sharing with you, and then they use a rather pedestrian way to say it! You sit there, screaming internally: the metaphor was right there. It was served to you five minutes ago. But most people seldom look around enough to know how to talk about what they want to talk about. Most, if not all, the world is at a severe lack of words, and some of us are so full of them that we’re bursting at our seams.

It is a painful life where only the characters talk like you’d expect people to talk; and when people talk, all you want to do is leave.

Bookmark #633

It is way past afternoon on a Friday, and I sit here with a bowl of cereal, yawning absurdly and intermittently. With two screens facing me and asking me, in their own regard, to get some work done, I feel terribly stretched and exhausted in advance. The day began a few hours ago, and I feel the sort of tired one tends to feel when the week is close to its inevitable end. Most weeks end with me being tired mentally, but there are rare weeks when I am tired physically. My threshold for exhaustion is large, owing to habits inculcated in me from the get-go or, perhaps, some genetic lottery. I reckon, large as it may be, I do reach it now and then. Today is one of those days when a cup of coffee has no benefit, and this cereal seems as useless as an umbrella on a pleasant spring day. And so, my goal for today is to do as much as I can, which I’ve come to realise is always a deviation from the standard, again, owing to the habits I picked up over the years, and then sleep early and sleep well. The jury is still out on whether that will actually happen, but I would be glad if I could manage to end the day on time.

This is by no means unfortunate or terrible. It is but a description of things. It does not have to stand for anything but that—a description. Most people immediately assign emotion to things. This is the Achilles heel of society and those who live in it. Most things are as they are, and what we feel about them adds nothing to the thing itself, its conversation, or its description. Most, not all, of course. That is always a nuance we must remember to consider. Some things warrant you to feel about them. They compel you to comment. If and only if that is the case, should we ever talk about them in the frame of our feelings. The rest, we should let slip like we let time slip, which is to say, we should let them slip without noticing or caring about them until it is much too late, if at all.

Bookmark #632

It is a foggy, almost opaque night, but things could not be clearer. I cannot see the nearest building, but a glimpse of everything that is important, that is crucial is not out of the question. When I came back to this city three years ago, which have but felt like three consecutive blinks overflowing with events big and small, I envisioned a life for myself. I realised today, with a faux display of a heavy heart, that I failed at building it. In truth, I could not be more glad that I was so off the mark in my planning that what is here today is a mirror image; my plans have been flipped a hundred and eighty degrees. There is no greater celebration I can have today than this: I have failed remarkably, and yet, I am more than glad for where I landed. It is the connotation that is the problem. Failed, in general, is a terrible word; even a soft mention of failure will make someone wince in remembrance of the last time they had overshot or undershot their mark. But the “what” of failure is crucial. What have I failed at? I have failed at creating a life I thought would make me happy, and through it, I have found a life I could not be more grateful for. My moment of clarity on this utterly nebulous day is a testament to what I have found on a road I stumbled and fell on.

In trying to become who I thought I was to become and failing to get even an inch close to it, I have somehow fooled everyone and managed to become something still. I would not be as perverse to have the audacity to suggest this is who I was meant to become. What is meant and what is not is none of my concern. All I know is that this life feels like a solid mistake, the one you’d want to make again and again when you know how things transpire eventually. Perhaps, this is too early to call it. But if someone asked me today what has changed, I would simply tell them that the crucial once is now mundane, and the mundane, the run-of-the-mill, the banal once could not be more crucial now. That is all the difference in the simplest words I can imagine.

Bookmark #631

I do the dishes with the cold water running over my latex gloves, and suddenly, my watch vibrates on my wrist. When I am finally done with this bookend of a chore, I check my watch. It tells me it is time to sleep. I chuckle at our dystopian existence, which I partake in equally as my aversion to it. Then, I say, “no, it is time to write” in the otherwise empty apartment, and my eyes catch my reflection on the balcony door. It stirs a feeling in me, which I would not chalk up to loneliness, but like how a single tree often sits atop a cliff in its solitary glory—akin to that. I came to the desk, and I started writing. There were words I had pondered over since this day was still full of light, but I had not taken anything down, but this thought seemed too good to pass on. It is a habit.

As meticulous as I am, and despite my fondness for lists and calendars, I have realised I am far too in the moment than most people I know. I am far too aware of where—and when, which is more important—I am than most people who talk of mindfulness like they talk of happiness, which is to say they talk a whole lot more than they experience it.

Habits die harder than most people who write books with bold typeface plastered over them would have you believe. Habits die much harder than most things do, and they are built with even more angst. A peddler of these ideas will never admit how difficult they can be for those who struggle, for there lies no gain in doing that. Habits die a stubborn death, like my habit of making others’ problems my own and loving them only because they offered me a puzzle to solve. It died much after the problems fizzled out themselves. It died much after most of those people had departed from my life. Years would pass with me sitting on the couch, thinking of answers to questions that didn’t exist anymore for people who didn’t need them. But it died, eventually.

Perhaps, that is why they peddle the snake oil of modern improvement. If your book stays on their shelf long enough for all entangled threads to come undone, you have a stake in the credit. How? Why now? They ask. And there is your book, eating dust on their shelf and serving you false glory.

Bookmark #630

As I walk about the city or move about in cabs or cars that belong to other people, I look around as one does with a sort of imagination that this life is a film we are watching in a theatre. There is a moment of positive detachment. The other day, the same thing happened, and then, the city whispered a secret in my ear, and for a second, I thought I heard the word “excitement”, but then, I could not be too sure. There were too many noises from all around for me to have been sure of it. But if I were to gamble, I’d say it was something to do with excitement, and I reckon the city was telling me to loosen up a little.

The city has grown as I have, and I think our intertwined stories, both of which are written with significant gaps in important events, left out like some sort of mystery, have the same moral: things change, and our best bet is to be excited for most of them. The rest happen as they do, but most things are worth being excited about.

This is the secret the streets whisper into my ear now and then. To be excited about things, in general. Why are you stoked about something as silly as this? They ask me. Why shouldn’t I be? There is so much here—a whole life built year by year. Just the other day, we were out for drinks. As we descended and exited the building, I ran into the baristas at my favourite cafe, who were on their way upstairs. We met with a smile and a camaraderie I do not have with the oldest of my friends. About an hour later, I met another face standing behind the counter at another cafe I frequent. These are little events, but they are essential.

Everyone needs roots, they say, but they fail to mention that if the tree is alive, and if it is thriving, or perhaps even growing in a measly manner, the roots keep growing too. And that is what the city reminded me of the other day. But I couldn’t be too sure, I swear. The music was loud, and we humans tend to tell ourselves things we wish to say to ourselves through proxy.

We are always looking for someone else to tell us what we want to tell ourselves.

Bookmark #629

The fact that I have written mainly about time for the latter part of last year, and not just about it but the passage of it, is not unfounded. I noticed this tendency a while back, and if you have read any of these bookmarks, these pieces, even with significant gaps between them, I reckon you would have noticed this, too.

Why did I not interrupt it if I were aware of this repetition? Because writing correctly about a subject is a game of practice. We must obsessively try our hand at it, over and over, and if we are lucky, and if we are good, only then do we get to capture it. What people call theme is simply a writer’s valiant attempts to write about something banal. Some spend their lives writing about the same thing, and then, someday, they write but a sentence, and it captures everything they have written about it before.

For now, in this fresh beginning where we all must make some changes, I believe I am tired of writing about time, and I shall slowly turn my eyes towards other things. The ticking of the clock is so well positioned in the middle of my head that even if I do nothing in a day, I feel time passing, and if a day is so full I barely get a chance to breathe, I feel it passing still. This awareness is not your run-of-the-mill inkling where someone knows that days get on, and so do lives. It is that of a librarian who keeps a meticulous record of where each book is kept. That is how I have kept my hours for all these months.

The other day, a friend told me they are trying something new as part of the annual mimetic shenanigans. Will you change something, then? They asked me once they walked me through their list of changes. I think I wish to spend a day without feeling time passing. I thought this, but I did not say anything. All I knew was that it was imperative I do this now. Sometimes, you just know.

Bookmark #628

So, our circus begins again. Today, we march through time with our little steps and continue our shenanigans. It is a quiet beginning, and I notice an increasing capacity for all things calm within me. It is a quiet beginning, and I would not have it any other way.

I came back to my apartment after lunch. Per custom, I made a cup of coffee, set the mug on the rug, and sat to watch a film. Then, I watched another, and then another. By the time the credits rolled over for the third one, the curtains of the night sky had rolled over the pale January day as well. At some point, while I sat with a blanket wrapped loosely around myself, I realised how calm it all is in my mind lately. It may be winter outside, but in my mind, it is always warm. The sun always shines, and there is warmth I can always draw from. There is little left to prove to anyone. There is little agenda left in my days. I only want things to keep going forward. It is an incredible desire. The universe may not take kindly to my quiescent but bold demand. But as I sat in the comfort of my own company this evening, I made it. I made my demand.

If there’s anything that has changed in how I look at it all, it is that my feet are sure of themselves now, and I rarely stumble and fall when I take a walk in the street. I fail to recall any recent instance of tripping over nothing. That is the note I will begin this year on if I must. I will start it with a sense of security unbeknownst to me before. But then, if I can avoid it, I will begin this year without a note at all. Notes set expectations, and we are all equally cognizant of what happens when that happens.

If I could make any wish for the next cycle, I would make no wish at all, and if I were compelled to set an intention, I would try and pick nothing. I believe this and only this is what I have learned about life—an axiom. Everything else is a corollary to it.

My heart is unwavering, my steps are sure, and I am ready to dance to whatever tunes time brings along. I have never really felt a desire for a resolution anyway. I have ever only jumped through the hoops.

Bookmark #627

Now that the calendar is all but run out, now that it is the last day of the year, I will have to think of a conclusion, or at least a thoughtful, perhaps, poignant sentence. But I sit here with my coffee, as I have sat day after day. To me, this is just another day. How can I claim things have concluded when they are still very much on their way, when I know I am engulfed in the beginning still? This thought repulses me. There is little to say about the last day of a year besides just one: another year begins tomorrow. That is where its significance begins and ends.

When all is said and done, which is another way of saying “in the end” while deliberately avoiding those exact words, there is not much to any of it. To go through a day is to go through a year, and to go through a year is to go through a life, which is a roundabout way to suggest that it is but a day today—nothing more, nothing less. It is but a day today, and what we choose to do with it will have as much control over our lives as any other day has had so far.

How much control is that? Now, that is up to us to decide. That is the tricky part. That is always the tricky part.

Bookmark #626

My passion is rationed. My zeal is cut up into small portions as if I were preparing meals for the week and then used on a case-by-case basis. I am too careful with my time and attention—which is to say I don’t let one idea envelop my soul. To me, that is a sort of surrender I cannot make, and then, I look around and see this is a flaw. This is my biggest flaw in plain sight. The world seeks to be defined, and here, even after spending over a decade playing with words, I shy away from calling myself a writer. Now, the need to be defined, to have a meaning assigned to your life by proxy, is not washed over me. I understand it and respect it when it is in others. It only disgusts me when I think of this need in myself, even in my imagination. To define destroys what you could be.

Let’s say I call myself a writer as audaciously as those who sit and write banal, run-of-the-mill poems without an ounce of thought behind them, which often read like the lines we reject when we sit and write thoughtfully. Let’s say I do that, and then, one day, for some unfortunate circumstance and loss of some faculty, I cannot write anymore. What then? Who will I be, and what will I call myself? A person has to be more than a single thing they do. They must be so much more, so they keep the world guessing. If nothing else, it keeps things interesting.

But in everything I do, I will always keep some part of myself away from it. I will always be the sum of the parts, and I will always be an outsider. That is one way to be one of a kind, of course, but my soul fears being limited by labels. There is little I can do about it. Like how moths flutter towards a flame, even if it causes them to burn and die, I, too, cannot resist this urge, this instinct.

Perhaps, it is not up to me. We all want to belong, don’t we? It is just that when I enter a room and meet people who look the same, sound the same, and act the same way, it scares me. Then, it irks me. Slowly, it sickens me. All of them are dead inside. If that is the cost, then I will always refuse to pay it. I will always have the option of changing my course if I begin to dislike myself.

How many others, I reckon, can make that claim?

Bookmark #625

It is a brumal day, and the sun has not broken still. Nothing seems to have any authority over the blinding white, foggy sky. The hills have succumbed to the winter haze, and the city is visible in parts. There is a cup of coffee on your desk. You don’t remember when you kept it there. You are sure the coffee is as cold as water by now. You stand barefoot on the wooden floor as you dress up for the day. As you pull the pullover over yourself, it occurs that although things have not happened exactly as you wanted them to, this year came through for you.

Most of your wildest dreams have come true, and so have some of your fears, but the latter is far trivial to dive into, so you let it be an afterthought and walk towards the desk. You pick up the cup of coffee and drag the curtains open. The first instance makes the room light up, even without the sun. Yes, even then. Then you sip the coffee, which tastes as you had expected, and then, you realise this is how the year has unfurled too—precisely as you wanted it to. The sun shows its face just then as if it were a nod of acknowledgement. Of course, that means nothing, and all of it is a massive coincidence, but still, it stirs in you a sort of hope that what’s to come may not be as you expect it, that things may be different than they look, that we are not always as fortunate to have things transpire per plan—as vague as it may be.

And so, with no rhyme or reason, you decide to get down and walk to the coffee shop. As you do, you notice a slight drizzle. It could just be dew, of course. You continue walking. You brave the windy weather as your scarf tries its best to not fly away, and it begins to rain. “How random things are!” You cannot believe it. “How quickly the tide of this day has changed,” you remark. “How random things are, and here I stand, with so much happiness in my heart. What else can I say about anything at all? “

You walk in and get a cup of coffee. A year is almost over. All the grace you wished for about three hundred and sixty-five days ago has made a quiet home in your heart.

A year is almost over. The world is still beautiful.

Bookmark #624

Anything you lose too quickly does not deserve to be held by you, and you should make proper arrangements to change how you keep it, and if that seems impossible, you must let it go.

If you keep losing a ring, you need to check if it’s too loose and get it bent to size. Temporarily, you may even wind a string through and around it to tighten it. But if you promise yourself you’ll get it fixed but never do, you must stop wearing it. It saves you from heartache when you lose it, as you inevitably will. We should not take second or third chances for granted. Something lost once is lost forever. Sometimes, serendipity intervenes. But beyond that little favour, it’s all up to you.

If you keep losing your composure, for example, in a year which has left but a smidge of it remaining. If your patience seems like a flimsy, ceramic mug with cracks on every corner of it, you should let it break sooner than later. You must loosen your grip on it all and, unhinged as it may seem, rage against it all. You must let go and scream. If you keep losing your composure, you may need to lose it all before you can start amassing it. Then, you must be careful to never lose it again.

And what if you lose a lover once? Well, you must follow suit. You must let them go. If that seems too painful, you must do it in secret. You must slowly cease meeting them or calling them and find someone else. It is the best outcome for everyone facing the misfortune of being involved in the shenanigans of your fecklessness.

No object, and surely, no person should be at the receiving end of irresponsibility. It is the worst possible thing a person can do to anything on this planet. And most people live life this way. They keep losing things and promising they will change their ways or get them fixed, but then, time passes, and they are still who they are—they lose things and leave a trail of trinkets behind.

And then, they throw a fit against the world, knowing in their heart their pain is unwarranted and, frankly, selfish. They flail knowing that all they had to do was be careful.

And if that was simply not possible, all they had to do was let go.

Bookmark #623

There are days so calm you live through and barely stop to think about them. As beneficial as they are for happiness, they are useless for the writing. I laugh, and I live, and then I face the page in terror, which soon becomes agony. Where is my mind? It is lost in the daze of simple pleasures, laughter and conversation and the quiet embrace of a vacation right at the end of the year. It has not stopped to think or worry.

Earlier this morning, I did not think of much, but I did sip my coffee surrounded by family. For a second, I thought of it: my sordid search for balance and how this year has proven to be an answer for it all. It lasted for but a second, and then, interrupted by laughter, I came back to the moment. In many ways, this was precisely what this year had given me: a steady stream of interruptions. All my happiness, which was in abundance, was interrupted before turning into complacency, and even a smidge of my sadness was stopped before it became heartache—long before it even got close.

This was the balance I had begged for from others, from cities and friends and lovers. I was denied this over and over, but often as we do in dejection, I was too afraid to open the letter. If I had, if I had even once had the guts to ask: why do you refuse this tiny demand of mine? I would have received a simple answer in every letter, email, and phone call. It would have been plastered on the walls if I had only once had it in me to ask.

“It is not ours to give.”

Bookmark #622

When I say, I often think about how we record, I mean I think of it all the time, compulsively and obsessively. Humans live, and when living is not enough, we record our lives—in words, in pictures, in art and in film. We want more than to be alive. We want to be remembered as we are, and we want to look at how we were.

I sit, sandwiched between the bed and a stack of blankets on a night so cold my fingers struggle to find the correct keys. I’ve typed all words with errors; then, I have erased them to write them correctly. It will probably take me twice as long to write today, but I will do it regardless. It is almost ridiculous when you think about it. Almost. Then, human as you are, you would understand. Why must I record these bookmarks? I have earned the right to ask this question now that I have spent a year, shy of a couple of weeks, writing them. Why should I remember all these days without any detail about my life? I wish with the right to ask this question, an answer would have arrived too. But things and life are seldom as straightforward. Something in me tells me this will be important. For what? I do not know yet. All I know is that it is a question for another day, and I have an inkling that the answer will make me stop in my tracks someday years from now, and then, I will ask the question.

That is often how things happen: in reverse, in an indirect, frustratingly roundabout way; like how you only know the warmth of the sun on a cold night as this one, like how you only know love when you realise you have none left, like how you understand how crucial the beginning is when things are about to end.

Things have a tendency to work out like that, but they tend to work out after all. Convoluted as it is and haphazard as it stands, there is nothing more glorious than this meaningless life we are compelled to record, generation after generation, people after people.

It is a night so cold that every breath I exhale is visible even inside the room, but here I sit, writing with fingers that have overshot their mark about a thousand times. There is something in this, too.

Bookmark #621

No matter how good you are at crunching numbers, regardless of how much your feet are dipped in the river of time, you will always be surprised when moments come to pass. Life is an unreal experience. You find yourself in the middle of a moment, and despite all your imagination, only then do you know what it feels like. All your estimation is a poor proxy for experience. For most of your life, you will be caught off-guard by the unexpected happiness around you. You will sit around people and laugh, knowing that you knew you would get here somehow, but that all of it would happen like this was beyond your wildest imagination. No plans can prepare you for joy. It is one of the sweetest pleasures of being alive: to feel alive in a way you did not know you could.

Time feels like a substance we do not comprehend yet, or perhaps, never well. It bends over on itself. The shock of it passing and yet, staying still in more ways than we can count is not something we are never prepared for.

I vividly remember episodes from my childhood as I sit in a blanket on a hazy day irreconcilably far from it. No understanding of relativity will ever make this easier to digest. The sheer confusion of being old enough to handle myself and yet, knowing that I am still the same child in more ways than I can name right now causes a lump in my throat. I swallow reality with a gulp. It all makes me feel more alive, if nothing else.

But what has brought this onslaught of happy terror, this barrage of glorious surrender to time? A coincidence. I had a day impeccably similar to a day I had so many years ago; I would have to stop writing and do the mathematics to tell you the correct number. They were so alike, so happily alike, that I could have sworn for a second I forgot all this time had passed and that I sat there looking like how I do today. I could have sworn, for a second, I did not know when the clock stopped ticking. I blinked on a day all those years ago, and suddenly, I was here today.

It is always sudden. We call it passing as if it is a slow, gradual shift, but when you look back, it is always sudden.