Bookmark #509

Now that I have cleaned the house and calculated how much money I spilt on booze in the past week, I can sit down and write properly. Nothing much has changed in the apartment; the desk is the same, the grass is the same, and so are the hills. A mushroom decided to sprout in one of the pots, perhaps, to keep one of the plants company. Nothing much has changed besides that, except that even with every window and door sealed, there was dust on everything when I entered, but that is irrelevant and, if anything, expected. When untouched, almost all things gather dust, even memories. As I sit here and write these words, it occurs to me how there was so much of myself I had forgotten and so much that came to light when I found myself outside this apartment and this town. This trip halfway across the world has done nothing but dust these parts off. And now that they are out in the open, I shall try to make good use of them. In the Tatra mountains, I felt closer to home than ever before, and also in them did I find new perspective. With each step and each word shared, I now know how every part of me fits together better than ever before.

As much as I am against any sort of predestination in life, I believe you sometimes get the feeling. Sometimes, you hike across a mountain range and see a stranger walking towards you, who raises their hand and says cześć to you as you pass them by. And you start thinking about how every decision, large or small, made in your life led to that hello. Even if one little thing had gone differently, you might never have been on this trail, or even if you had, you would still not cross each other. It is baffling how we rarely stop to think about these things. And what if everything is chaotic? Then, we must pay even more attention. If it is about probabilities and permutations, then I am lucky to have experienced everything I have in this life. The odds of it happening were impeccably low, yet all of this has happened. All of it really happened.

Bookmark #508

The pull of a good day in a good life is incredible. This unshakeable feeling, this weird urge that you cannot shake off. The persistent itch you cannot scratch. You stand in a warm pool with nothing but peace about every corner of your existence, and then you continue to tell people: this feels like paradise, but I miss my days.

Over and over, you think about this, and when the thinking gets a bit too much, you say it out loud, only for someone else to nod in agreement. At that moment, you know there is another one like you, but it does not matter; you are still stuck in paradise. It does not matter how many of you there are; at some point, the urge to come back takes over, and nothing stands in front of it. What is this about home that pulls us back so ardently? Perhaps, it is how hard the feeling comes about.

Home feels so important simply because it exists. It takes a long time to come into this existence, and even with all that it cannot offer, it offers something incomparable. To have a home is to want to go back, into your days, into your life, at all times, from all places. To feel at home in your life is to want to live it consciously. I miss my days when I am not living them, and when I am in them, I am wholly engulfed without a moment to think. What else is there to want in life? I sit alone at the airport, stuck for another half a day, waiting to get home.

As the football game echoes in the bar and drops of frost trickle about my pint of beer, I ponder over how there is so much to see and want, how life has so much to offer. But perhaps, it is only worth going somewhere when you have somewhere to come back to. Perhaps, it is only worth having special days when you have the rut to compare them to, and even in it, we must take pride. It is far too challenging to build stability than people give each other credit for; it is perhaps the most difficult thing a person must do.

Over and over, you think about this, and when the thinking gets a bit too much, you say it out loud, only for someone else to nod in agreement. At that moment, you know there is another one like you, but it does not matter; you are still stuck in paradise. It does not matter how many of you there are; at some point, the urge to come back takes over, and nothing stands in front of it. What is this about home that pulls us back so ardently? Perhaps, it is how hard the feeling comes about.

Home feels so important simply because it exists. It takes a long time to come into this existence, and even with all that it cannot offer, it offers something incomparable. To have a home is to want to go back, into your days, into your life, at all times, from all places. To feel at home in your life is to want to live it consciously. I miss my days when I am not living them, and when I am in them, I am wholly engulfed without a moment to think. What else is there to want in life? I sit alone at the airport, stuck for another half a day, waiting to get home.

As the football game echoes in the bar and drops of frost trickle about my pint of beer, I ponder over how there is so much to see and want, how life has so much to offer. But perhaps, it is only worth going somewhere when you have somewhere to come back to. Perhaps, it is only worth having special days when you have the rut to compare them to, and even in it, we must take pride. It is far too challenging to build stability than people give each other credit for; it is perhaps the most difficult thing a person must do.

Maybe, anyone can be lost; but to have a home is to be found over and over again.

Bookmark #507

With the overview of the world in all senses of the word, I think of life, and only one word comes to mind: somehow. If someone asked me how I got here, to this pocket of peace, I would only shrug my shoulders and say, “somehow,” and that’s how it is on most days. Somehow, someway, we get wherever we get to, and no matter how much we plan for it or how little we anticipate them, things happen. This does not mean there is no control in our hands, and it would be outright wrong for me, especially me, to suggest such a notion. But perhaps, there is a beginning to it all. It all begins to change only when you seek to change.

The first step in this newfound happiness was the admitting. It was when I sat at a table in a bumbling cafe, surrounded by food and friends. It was then that I had, after trying all I could, admitted that I was miserable, that something had to change. All that was over a year ago. A year is a long time for things to change, and somehow, they do. But first, we must want them to change. Often, that is the hardest step. There is a sort of love between a man and his misery. There is camaraderie you have with demons you’ve had for as many years as you’ve had your friends. Some parts of you are lost when you begin walking towards happiness, too. But you must take it; you must take the step if you want things to change somehow.

Somehow—it’s a funny word because we spend our days thinking we know what we’re doing, and when we look back at the months and the years, and when someone asks you a step-by-step of how you did it, you cannot even begin to think how. You remember where you began, and from that point on, things start rolling into one another. And you barely have an answer for them, and then they look at you, baffled and confused, as if you don’t have a clue about what you’re doing. But you do. You know precisely what you were doing: walking away from yourself.

Sometimes, that is only how things begin to change. You start walking away from yourself, and somehow, you arrive wherever you do. That’s how it plays out, but what would I know? I don’t know much about how I got here. One day, I opened my eyes, and I was here, somehow.

Bookmark #506

I sit at the airport, waiting for something to happen. I wait here, wanting to get home. At a loss for words, I take another sip of the coffee. It occurs to me how airport coffee tastes the same no matter where you are flying from. It is always burnt, and while there is a certain quality to it, it is far too lost in the charred aftertaste. This is testament to the human spirit. We always manage to ruin things the same way. On a makeshift desk—my suitcase—and a terrible cup of coffee, I sit writing about yet another irrelevant musing, and something still tells me this is important. It may not be important to anyone else, but to me, this is all that matters in the end. This is it, I tell myself; this is my moment; this is my element. This suspension of life, between all this busyness, this is where we sit, pretending to be artists. No one is an artist until it’s a little too late. No one is an artist before their time. Until then, it’s all pretend.

Bad as it may be, the coffee has breathed new life into these hands of mine. It makes me think how even the worse things are, perhaps, not so bad in the end. All things find a way to do what they are supposed to do. We cannot know much about the world and how it works, but we can know this: it all makes sense at some point. If there is anything I can think of life, it’s how abundant, how beautifully abundant it has become, and how effortless! Often, it does not occur to us how miserable we are until someone touches the mosaic where it’s cracked. This does not mean the misery isn’t there; it only means it is hidden well enough under the colours. Until someone pushes into the crack and marks the beginning of a catastrophe. Over time, you learn how this, too, was a favour.

I think of last autumn as I sit at the cusp of another. It is a remarkable thing when the pages of life ruffle into something new. And I only think of how there is nothing but more, more, and more. It is going to be an incredible life. It has been an incredible life. There is little else to say. There is always little to say when you’re happy, but you must say something. You must always say something.

Bookmark #505

It is always what you don’t do that you regret or, at least, ruminate over. We remember a beautiful view, and we often think of how we should’ve gazed more, of how we should have looked closely at parts of the scenery we can’t much recall. It has been my realisation that when in doubt, it is best to say yes, regardless of how many How To… books in the bookstores tell me otherwise. It may be sound advice, but not all advice that seems sensible is good for you. If everyone in the world followed all sensible advice, they would not do half the things they managed to do. Most of what we do is a rebellion against what makes sense. Most life happens in the little window you overcome hesitation in. All good stories begin with: I know it makes little sense.

If someone had asked me in spring, even though it had blossomed bountifully, whether I would spend the beginning of autumn in another corner of the world, I would have said they were out of their mind. But then again, most life is about embracing the possibility of all things. Hiking over a trail with newfound friends who each have a unique way of looking at the world, for people seldom look at things in the same way, I thought over a lot of things, but most of all, I thought about the moment of inflexion. And the more I thought about it, as we crossed one picturesque landscape after another, the more I could see only one word: yes. It is in saying yes to most things that life blossoms like the spring I laughed away all those months ago. It is in saying yes that I am here. And wherever I go next, only my subtle agreement will take me there.

Things start to change the moment you entertain the possibility. The yes, the word itself comes much, much later. It is but a way to seal the deal; on most occasions, the decision is already made when you start pondering. That’s the trick to serendipity: you entertain all thoughts, and when something in you begs to say yes, you do it, regardless of how inane it sounds.

There is little that makes sense in this thing we call life, but if there’s anything that does, it’s that all good stories begin the same way.

Bookmark #504

The way we look at things dictates what things are; there is no one world; there are only ways to look at it. Something in me compels me to look at the commonalities of all things in the world. It is easier for me to stare at a bee buzzing around my drink and think of how that has something to say about how we are slaves to what we crave than it is for me to think of how a bee is a nuisance, and I must hush it away. It is how we are built that builds the world around us. I see common ground where there is none, similarity where there is nothing but difference. For better or worse, the world will forever look like this to me: a stream of intersections where everything affects everything. I often think about what came first: this disposition against difference or my relentless hope for all of us. I wonder which caused which, and like a classic chicken and egg problem, we shall not know until much, much later.

For now, I sit in a place, not unlike the one I come from; surely, the words are different, and from what I can gather, the bees prefer rum. Still, there is more around me that makes me feel like I have always been here, and if not, that I could be here and be the same person I am right now for as long as I stay the way I am. But I will change, and so will how I look at things. If there is something I have learned in this life that finds a way to surprise me when I least expect it, it is that it all begins with time. The times change, changing us in the process, and when we change, so does the world. People think it is the other way round, that the world changed them, but that is seldom the case. Even learning a new word makes it appear everywhere. Most things are behind invisible veils, hidden only by what we choose not to see. That does not mean they are not there; it only means we see less than we think we do.

And if we look closely, and if we look at the bigger picture, and if we somehow manage to do it together, we can often get a peek through the curtain. It is when we see how it’s all the same. But what do I know? I only see what I see. Someone else may see nothing but difference, and being as I am, I will find something in common with them, too.

Bookmark #503

There is a lot to say about life, but there is little to talk about when someone asks you how it’s going. If it’s going good, you don’t want to jinx it and say it out loud, and if it’s going bad, why talk about it after all? And then, there is a space between the two. There i s the quiet you can talk about, as ironic as it seems. There is a lot you can say about it. When someone asks you about life, you can tell them about lush green grass, you can talk about blue skies, and if life allows, you can talk about the hearty meal and the conversation before it, and if you’re not as drunk as people like me tend to get, you can talk about the conversation after it. But almost always, when someone asks you how you got here, you would not have an answer. Happiness has no route. But to arrive, you must continue walking. That’s the oldest trick in the book.

And of walking? It was past midnight, and the trams had stopped moving about Krakow—at least the trams that could have taken us home. So we wandered over the cobblestone streets under the rainy sky of August. Perhaps, there was hope for us yet. We decided to cut across the Rynek Glowny, but our hotel was still far away. Our mission was simple, if there ever was one, but I could not put it in words better than the ones my newfound friends had used: we only have to walk five to six blocks. Of course, that was not the case. But life is not about truth, as it appears; it is about hope. Hope is about walking five or six blocks and continuing to do that until you reach wherever you are trying to go. That is all it is about: walking five to six blocks until you’re surrounded by laughter and beer and people who are ready to teach you all about their language. I believe if there is any happiness, if there is any middle, it is in this: people you can drink with and when everyone’s drunk enough, they can probably teach you a few words.

Perhaps, it does not get any better than this, and if it does, I would not know it. I would not know it at all.

Bookmark #502

How would you say that? It’s a common question you ask when you meet someone who speaks a different language or comes from a place absolutely unlike your own. And then, when you have the pronunciation down, you realise you meant the same thing after all. And this happens over and over again, regardless of how many people you meet and irrespective of where you meet them. That’s the human experience. That is what you cannot take away from us—the common folk, who have control over embarrassingly little, and who still try to make the world better. The people laugh the same way. They get drunk the same way. And everyone wants a rum and coke at some point, jet-lagged as they may be, even if they need a friend to tell the bartender they need one. There is no replacing this, no matter where you go in the world, and anyone who tells you otherwise can show themselves the exit. To the rest of us, I say salut and salud and cheers and prost and na zdrowie.

“How would you say that?” I ask now and then when I sit around people who are like me in more ways than it seems at first, and “how would you say that?” my new friend from a country far away mumbles before he finds the word for whatever he is trying to convey. There seems to be a long distance between all places that have ever existed, but if you are stubborn enough, the middle ground seems to not be so far away, either. All feelings exist in all places, and all places have some way to convey them. There is little else to say when everything has been said before, but when you’ve been thinking for far too long along the same lines, a change of pace is a good shuffle. It shakes you up; it tells you there is more to it all; that there always has been more to it all.

But all of it can be said, and most of it begins with the most common question of all: how would you say that?

Bookmark #501

To have a wonderful day and not have anyone to tell about it is a tragedy. We rarely remember our days for how they felt but how we told the story. If there’s no one to tell the story to, the days fade into nothingness. Most of your days will fade into nothingness. To tell someone about the tiny pleasures, the large wonders, and given they have the time, everything in between—that is all we need. Most happiness begins and ends the moment this happens, the moment you share it with someone else. That is the only function of happiness: sharing.

Nothing is more irksome than the moment when you feel nothing but umpteen joy, and you cannot find anyone to tell the story to. It is why we click pictures. It is why we must share them with others, no matter how blurry the picture is, irrespective of how it may capture but a smidge of the glory, and on most occasions, fail to do even that. It is not the picture that is beautiful; it is what you say about it, how your eyes glow up, how you go into a craze of the memory. It is in those things that the purpose of a picture is fulfilled. Everything else is high, elitist art—no one understands or cares about it. All else is a selfish, meaningless pursuit. It is the poor pictures that make the most sense. They show the urgency; they capture the moment.

As I sit here by myself, ruminating on a beautiful sunrise I witnessed from over thirty-thousand feet in the sky in the brightest version of my life, I think of the pleading. I think of how I begged and said I needed some time; I think of how true it all was, of how true it had always been. Just some time and trust is all most people ever need. Many have to beg for them; few ever receive them; things happen regardless, and life goes on anyway. The only change is in who is there to watch them along with you. The only difference is who you share the stories with and who gets the blurry picture of a sunrise. Pain is easy to share; it makes for good poetry. Life is all about sharing happiness; it is about who you share it with.

Bookmark #500

I sit in the most crowded cafe I can find in the mall’s centre on a Friday evening. I do this by myself with a cup of hot americano in the corner section of the cafe. The table stands by itself, facing the faceless silhouettes of shoppers scurrying and straggling, passing the bar-like table. At first, this seems to be a rather unwise decision. Other writers would tell you it’s too loud and chaotic, with their snarky remarks about consumerism, the stream of distraction of the whistling industry-grade machine, and the faux hellos echoing over and over like some sick simulation. But all that, all of it, is an excuse. If I have learned only one thing about what we do as writers, it’s that you can write as well in a silent room as you can in a buzzing hive of cash and credit. You can write in places that look and feel the same, regardless of what city you go to, and you can write with terrible coffee as you can with which tastes like heaven.

If there is anything I have learned, it is that there is only one way to do it. I’ve learned that it is as simple as sitting at a random table in some cafe and doing it, and I have learned it is as complex as managing to focus on the words ahead of you. That is how all writing is done: one word at a time. The page is coloured in marks of black, and slowly, it seems like something is there, but you begin with one word. That’s how you start, and that’s how you end.

My father often tells me driving well is about driving well for a hundred metres over and over again. I still don’t know how to drive a car. I don’t know a lot of things. I don’t know how to cook anything besides a few eggs and some pasta. I don’t yet know how to find love and keep it. Be that as it may, I know what I know: I know how to write; I know to take bits and pieces, these bookmarks from my life, and eternalise them, one word at a time. In the end, I may not amount to much. Perhaps, nothing great will come out of my hands. But these words, these vignettes torn right out of my days, will have something to say.

And if, in the end, they say nothing worthwhile, then that is what my life will stand for—no more, no less—but it will all happen one word at a time.

Bookmark #499

It was a muggy night yesterday, or at least, I remember thinking this before I slept. It’s too warm, I remember saying to myself. I woke up in the middle of my sleep, craving water. The bottle beside me was empty, so I got up, my eyes almost fully closed. Trusting muscle memory, I walked to the kitchen groggily but just then, I saw this golden glow emanating from outside the curtains.

At first, I thought this was all a dream, that I may very well be still sound asleep in my bed, and this quest for some water was some twisted game concocted by my mind. But then, I peeked through the curtain to see the glow was real. I was still thirsty, and this was no dream, so I went to the kitchen, filled my bottle up, and went into the balcony to witness the most beautiful sunrise. A tinge of yellow over everything, as if a light coat of watercolour had taken over the world, and since no one had woken up yet, there was a soft silence about everything.

I stood there, sipping water and looking at the sun and the hills. In that moment, entirely engulfed by the sheer peace ahead of me, I did not want anything else but to stand there, and so I did just that. I came back in, the room was still dark and cosy, and I decided to sleep a little more, thinking about how serendipitous life is in all its little and large ways. There is nothing else you need but a little randomness and a little urge to get a glass of water in the middle of your sleep, and it can change everything.

You do not remember much—all memories fade into nothingness—but you remember stories like these. You tell people about them for years, and they stare at you, puzzled and perplexed. It was only a sunrise, they tell you. Be that as may, you reply, it changed everything still, not that I knew it at the time. Not that we ever really know. But there is a feeling, and often, that is enough.

Bookmark #498

I woke up terribly late and rushed through to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, but over this six-step stretch, I slowed down and began to laugh instead. I made coffee and carried it to the desk while smelling it; it smelled like a potpourri of hope and happiness. In these days, when none of me is hidden, when all of who I am is out and about, and there is no schism between who I want to be and who I am, I see life for what it is: it is an exercise in patience. I suppose all we do here is about waiting, and one must wait patiently. I have waited for so much; I have seen it come to pass in odd, mysterious ways. Like a lonely house in a field that no one visits until someone stumbles upon it on a rainy day, every wait has a purpose. I have waited for so much more; I have had my heart sink deeper than the heaviest rock you can toss into the sea, but all things wash ashore eventually. I have found myself stranded on the beach alone and tired, waiting still. For all the wait we have in life, we are often in an unfounded rush. Even if you oversleep, there is still the rest of the day to go through. If you are patient and if you look around, much can still happen during the day.

And with this thought, I sat at the desk and began writing. Just then, it occurred to me that the coffee was still hot; there was still time. There was still time, and life was just beginning to unfold. It was a beautiful day—the sun was still out, and the clouds had slowly begun to engulf it. The sky had not yet turned grey, so you could still see the hills, and the birds flew about casually, no sense of urgency in the flaps of their wings. Of course, I had missed some hours of all this, but there was still enough of it left for things to happen. That is all life becomes in the end: waiting for things to happen and then, if you’re patient enough, responding in kind.

Bookmark #497

These are days of greatness and glory. We do not know it yet, but people seldom do. I think of memoirs, of how the lost generation could only tell their intertwined kinship in hindsight. You read about them, and you wonder: did they know? And of course, they didn’t! They were there to have coffee, to drink and to walk about Paris, but mostly, they were there to write. Most of them kept writing, and now we think of their names, gilded in all the good there is, but they were just people living. That is the most important thing to know about it all. We writers are terribly honest creatures. We do not have the luxury of delusion. We only say the words are good when we’re halfway through them, and it occurs to us that they are.

We need this honesty. Someone who has never read a book will find whatever they read to be good; we must not trust them. And what of those who have read a bit too much? We must not trust them either. Their bearings on the goodness of writing were lost a long time ago. Like one continues brushing teeth, they continue reading—out of habit. And so, we cannot call ourselves good or great before we are, and even then, even if we did reach there, the words will come as they always do. The words will always come hard; they don’t much care for who you are or what you’ve done. To the words, you are simply someone who sits to face the blank page and begins to tell the truth.

I met someone for coffee the other day. She asked me if the words were any good since I had been writing for long enough. I told her they were the same as they have always been. Words were like coffee—there was always some tuning to do. There was always something to fix. There was always more to say, and there was always more to remember. We don’t much know what the greats did differently to get there, but we know they wrote. They wrote until there was no life left in them. There is nothing different about this, and there shouldn’t be.

They read those who came before them, and we read them, and all of us have written. There is kinship in this, too.

Bookmark #496

Life is not endless opportunity. The person I could have been had I never started writing is long gone. That is what no one understands about the possibility of life. You begin with countless paths, but the more decisions you make, the more this gamut is curtailed. That is why decisions are crucial, and that is why we get to make a plethora of them in one life. Every decision starts a path towards becoming a certain kind of person, but it almost always also removes the other possibilities. Even if I stopped writing a word today, the course I have been on up until now would not be erased from memory. The years will have been spent, and for better or worse, I will have written regardless of if I continue doing it or not. It is a paradox of possibility: it is always infinite, but when you look closer, some of that infinity has been spent already.

To do something is to buy into the future that doing creates, even if you only do it once, even if you never do it again. As I sit here, having made all the decisions I have made so far—to hold on, to let go, to keep going, to stopping—I wonder whether we make the decisions or the decisions make us. Would I be a different person had I done things differently or did I do those things the way I did because of the person I am? Of course, these are but musings of someone with too much time on his hands, for a change. As much time there is, there is always more we have to do with it. No matter how free someone is, they will always have things to do. Perhaps, no decision I make will fully take this away from me: a coarse urgency. It has always plagued me, but the days lately feel like a start.

I have always been in a hurry, and because of it, I have always been late. I have been late in holding on, I have been late in letting go, I have been tardy in my will to keep going, and I have stopped in all the wrong places. For all decisions and all their consequences, at all times, I have had the looming fear of being late. No decision has been able to change this much for me—until now.

Bookmark #495

There is a calm wafting in the air. There is calm in the music, in the cup of coffee on this table, in my heart. I do not know what else to feel about it. I only want to lie down and read until the sun begins to set. I believe this is what I have been running towards for all these years. This is it. I know it in my heart. All of it starts within me and ends there. All of who I am is here, and all of it is welcome. I do not want to trade an ounce of myself. All my faculties and thoughts only scream this on this irrelevant Sunday in August: what a wonderful life!

There comes a point when you do not want to change; you do not want any more answers and, indeed, no questions. When you’re here, you must resist. Most rarely do, and they turn into a caricature of who they were and a reflection of those who came before, and nothing changes. The world is not moved, not by a smidge, and all that they did will turn to dust years before they do. In this happiness, I shall not forget that things change; with them, so do we. This calm will change at some point, which is all the more reason to read in the sun, to savour every ray. I will remember the warmth when the sun sets and clouds cover the sky. That is the instinct to stand in the stray patch of sunlight that falls in the room. Save this warmth, our body tells us; there may be none later.

But for now, I want to sit here and look over my shoulder right outside at the pigeons perched on the roof ahead. It does not elude me that I may have gotten older earlier; this is a good thing in most ways. For all the good in my life, many of my years were purloined; my life has always skipped ahead, like a problematic tape. There are seasons I don’t remember. Years of my life stay unaccounted for, like some old picture that gets lost amidst a plethora of paperwork. I wish I could tell people the cost I have paid for these gifts they revere. I wish I could tell them, but people don’t much value time, and more often than not, time is the only price we pay.

For now, I shall read in this patch of sun. There is little else to do, and what is more, I am not willing to lose even a second’s worth of time—enough has been stolen already.

Bookmark #494

The way I know I love someone, which is no one these days, is not when I think of them after the day ends and folds into the night, after I have done the dishes and I lay in bed. The night is so cold, so lonely, even dogs begin howling. I want a love of the afternoon, the rush hour traffic, and three PM post-lunch cups of coffee. When I stand in a cafe queue, scanning the options from the menu above, and I wonder if I should get you something, I know I love you, and that is how I wish to be loved: in the brightest hours of the day, under the same sun.

Tell me you think of me during the day, as you run about the grocery store, bags in your hand, balancing a paper cup of coffee along. Tell me you passed a billboard with a pun so forced and terrible that you knew I would be the only one to laugh at it. And in return, I’ll tell you of how when I walked about the streets or the park, I thought of you, and once I did, I could not stop like how when we think of breathing, it takes some time for the body to take over, and you have to keep breathing until then. That is how I thought of you: intentionally, and when it all subsided, just like breathing, you were still there in the back of my mind.

And of course, we will talk about our days at dinner, but we will have been in them. It is the only way to know you love someone. Not when you tell them about your days, but when they are a part of them: in their little ways, their presence is continuous, in bits and pieces, in little things you remember, in songs and in films, and in passing restaurants and buildings, and peculiar antique stores, and gift shops, and florists and nurseries, and grocery stores.

I do not know of promises of forever; in my little experience, they always seem to break in the end. I know this much, though: I’m a simple man, so when I get coffee, I always get the americano, no snack along with it, but when I stop at the cafe in the evening, I will always ask if you need something and if you say no, I will get your favourite, just in case.

And I will always do this because I will always stop for coffee, and you will always be on my mind.

And that is how I will know: I love you.

Bookmark #493

Someday, when you’re fifteen, twenty-five or fifty, you will sit by yourself or stand with your hands on the balcony sill, and you will have a cup of coffee around somewhere or in your hands. You will look ahead, and something will tell you this is it. This is where it all converges—this moment is the beginning and the end of your time—everything you have ever said has led here, and everything you will ever say will come from here. This is my life, you will say, this is my life in ninety seconds’ worth of time. You will, for the first time, call it your own and mean it. In this moment, you will see it all. All past lovers will seem like an essential step in an obscure recipe; all lost friendships will suddenly feel like they were important, too; and all future will look the same as the past—with people, with things happening all around, and somehow, this time, you will feel ready.

Just then, you will remember some memory buried deep under your conscience, or simply, like all good days, you will have forgotten it. We often forget the good. It is terrible, but that is how it is: the good parts are good, and the bad parts feel worse. As the wind blows or some music plays on the speaker, both of which are essentially the same for a good song is like a gust that blows you away, and all soft breeze has a whistle to it, you will remember a lovely day full of sun from back when you were way too young, when being this old felt like a distant dream. The laughter will slowly echo back. It will start with a trickle, and you will scoff first. Then, you will chuckle and begin laughing. Most happiness begins as a scoff, not because it is not real, but because you cannot believe it. Most happiness feels unbelievable. I often wonder why that is the case, given all of us search for it.

I don’t know why we cannot believe it when we’re happy, but I do know all of us find it, whether it’s at fifteen, twenty-five or fifty. There is always a moment that engulfs you. Ninety seconds’ worth of your life; nothing remains the same afterwards.

Bookmark #492

Everything is on time now. No letters arrive late; no telegrams are delayed. The weather does not stop our transport permanently, and the packages, despite irritating logistics, are delivered. All the responsibility falls on us now. This is a problem, of course, for we, people, like blaming fate for all our tragedy, but the message is never late anymore. It is only us who are too late; we are always to blame. It was always our fault, but now, we cannot hide behind an excuse.

No lover can tell the other that the letter was too late, stolen or burned, that they did not read it before kissing another. No death can be shrugged off for an ounce of false comfort, for there is no uncertainty. The news travels all too fast. Everything has to be coped with, and we are not so good at so much coping. No one can up and leave, only to start a new life in some other place with a new name. People cannot leave each other behind altogether. People of the old revelled in a luxury we cannot begin to imagine. They enjoyed the uncertainty in communication.

This responsibility is the modern tragedy. All our words arrive now: we cannot rely on the happenstance of fate. Fate is an outdated idea in a world that no longer depends on it. There are checks and balances at every corner. There are a thousand ways to communicate immediately at a stone’s throw for each person. Our problems rise and fall in this certainty: every message will arrive. Everything we have to say has a way to be said. We cannot make excuses over distance or time; we know we are only fooling ourselves, and so does everyone else.

It is a heavy burden to carry. We all need someone to blame for things that have happened to us. While some still have their Gods, you cannot blame the mailman anymore. You cannot blame the operator for disconnecting you before you said I love you. No messages are written down wrong, causing a collision course or happy accident. Most often, you will have to blame yourself. It is the subtle tragedy of technology. It is a responsibility unlike any other.

There is no such thing as fate, as far as words are concerned. All our messages arrive, at all times, always.

Bookmark #491

I stared at the book in the dim light of the only lamp lit in my bedroom, a cup of tea beside me, trying to read, but the words were all jumbled. The sentences were in front of me, but a part of my mind did not want to read them, so I kept the book aside, apologised to Hemingway in my head, and closed my eyes. Everything I did not say weighed on me and pushed me into the bed. It was almost suffocating. Almost, which is worse than the whole. Most life is eventually incomprehension. No understanding takes place. Just how, in this torpor, the book did not make sense to me, our lives become unintelligible to other people. They see our days unfold; they hear us talk about them, but the words are all jumbled up, and nothing sticks. This, too, feels like loneliness, and therefore, privy to the feeling, I apologised to Hemingway when I had set the book down.

It was a lonely feeling, but I could ignore it no longer. My life was slowly becoming an esoteric puzzle I could no longer share with others. I have always shared it in parts, and the pieces were grew fewer by the day. On most days, it was not worth the trouble to share my troubles. Sharing my joy was, of course, futile from the beginning. Most people, lost in the pursuit of any or all happiness, never learn how to respond to it when they receive it. Their confusion only grows when the happiness belongs to someone else. Even the friendliest of faces feel envy, and if you’re observant enough, you can see where it leaks from. In my privacy lies all my joy, and in it lies all my hurt. Most people are only good to laugh with over some joke that does not matter; most camaraderie is shallow, transactional or ephemeral.

To share things with others is to lessen them. Most life unfolds when no one is looking. This is not by choice or even circumstance; it is how it has always been by design. Lost in my thoughts with my eyes closed, I fell asleep with the book beside me. When I woke up, I made some coffee and tried reading it again. I read through fifty pages before it occurred to me that I had to start the day.

Bookmark #490

Things will happen to you in autumn, and you will not know the extent of what they have altered within you until two springs have passed and two summers are folded into monsoon. You will think you have a tally of what has changed, but there is always something more beneath what everyone else, including you, can see. You will find yourself sitting on a familiar couch, surrounded by people you have known all your life, and something within you will scream: get up; get up and move; if you don’t, you will be stuck here for the rest of your life.

So, you get up. You get up, get a cab and leave. You will stop at a café and sit by yourself, but you will have left. That will make all the difference. In life, this will happen over and over again. You must get up and leave each time. There is no other way. You rarely ever ask for it: to outgrow whatever you call life or other people. You simply do. When that happens, everything echoes wrong in your head. Everything alarms you. But someone has to get off the couch first. And when you sit there, feigning interest in the same things you have talked about a thousand times and pretending laughter at jokes that don’t crack you up anymore, you will know it is you.

And then, as you sit by yourself, you will think of things you could not talk about, and for the most part, the thinking will be enough. Even if it were not, you would have already gotten off the couch. You will think you know what this has changed. Until years later, you will sit somewhere else, doing something completely different, and you will remember this again. It may be in the August that comes next, or one that comes a decade later. But you will remember getting off the couch. That is all you’re going to remember. That will make all the difference.