Bookmark #927

What do I want in this life? If I discount the apartment I cannot buy right now, and if I set aside my never-ending wish for a quiet Sunday morning with someone I love, and if I slide my literary dreams under the carpet and never mention them again, and if I chuck the stray ideas for projects I will never have time to work on into neatly labelled organisers, and if I throw the impossible paths I can no longer take in this life along with the trash when I take it out, not much.

To clarify what I mean by this is that no amount of change, unless it induces emotional whiplash in me, can change my life, that no amount of money, unless a significant sum dropped on me tomorrow, can help me, that no amount of quiet personal comfort can replace a reassuringly restful Sunday, that for all my prolificity, writing is an egoistic undertaking and all literary success boils down to how well you affected the times or the people, that all the things I truly want to work on will continually be towered by the pressing concerns of the eight-hour workday, and that time has marched on and has wound many paths like you would fold a carpet after some event, that the potentials now lie rolled up and gather dust.

And this is what I mean when I tell people I do not want much in life. But then, hell-bent as they are on their lack of understanding, they begin to force the list I have effortlessly shared above with loaded, leading questions. It is offending, and I often leave those conversations with a sour taste. I have thought about this to reach the circular logic of never worrying about the grand path of my life and have slowly built the muscle to think only about the next few weeks or months. And all this effort gets ignored by those who have barely thought about it at all, who want things simply because others want them, who never stop to think what dreams demand, and who fail to see that patience comes with practice, who would not know their dreams if they stood right in front of them.

So, when they talk about dreams I wax poetic and make a smug speech before leaving. Because I have been waiting and working, waiting and working, waiting and working since long before they even began.

Bookmark #926

Everything leaves a mark. The graze on my foot from a football game a couple of weeks ago has healed, but the skin will never get to how it used to be. Like the many spots gathered all through my life, this, too, will be a memory. Thinking of how all days leave something with you to remember them makes me curious, like a cat tiptoeing towards some tuft floating about on the street, making sure its curiosity does not get the better of it. When the mind forgets, the body remembers. The ghost ache I often feel in my right ankle reminds me of the three and a half years I spent with it hurting, and only when I remind myself it has passed, that the time has passed, that everything that happened in those days has passed, that the pain has passed, does it leave. And often, I have to do this, and it intrigues me beyond measure. Psychosomatic, they call it, of the body and the mind. And perhaps, the most crucial thing out of this train of thought is that everything ends, mark or no mark. When things end, new things begin. It is a cycle as old as time itself, and it is a cycle deeply personal, and it is a cycle profoundly universal, and all we can do is revel in this, in this big magic of all that happens to us and all that we remember.

And when it comes to remembering, by the great gifts of evolution, we remember the worse parts more vividly than we do the better ones. It was, after all, crucial for those who came before to remember that one of their own was eaten by some beast at the pond. Safe nights were forgotten for their lack of information. And this instinct prevails, but we must resist it now, living as we are. We must remember the good. We must write it down. We must look at the details when laughter echoes around. The colour of the curtains, the strange song playing far away, the taste of sushi you do not remember ordering, the coy remark which took the table by surprise, the friend who arrived late walking towards you while lying out of their teeth, the bits we tend to gloss over, we must remember all of them. This is how we survive in this age when the hazards have left the pond and have moved into our minds.

Bookmark #925

Never before or, perhaps, rarely have I looked forward to the week to be over as much as I have looked forward to it today. And I wish there was something I could name and put a finger on, but nothing comes to mind. I have been exhausted with the drudgery, and I must, at some point, manage myself and my faculties. I must take the day tomorrow to take stock of everything on my mind, and I could start listing things down here, but it would not do any good to anyone. All that to say that there seems to be a hundred-megaton rock on my head and that I have still managed to keep my wits about myself says more about how I have acclimatised my body and mind over the years than it says about some unique ability to manage it. When I lay down this evening to get a little bit of quiet before the world needed me again, I could not find it in me to count every bother, every little 3M note stuck on the walls of my mind. So, I just let it be, letting my jaw unclench and my body loose, leaving my arm suspended, barely grazing the rug beneath the coffee table. And I stayed like that—a living corpse—for a good thirty minutes till there was something to handle. It was then that it occurred to me that to think about what had exhausted me only tired me further. So, I stopped the inquiry at once and then resolved to rest tomorrow.

Now, I will make myself scarce, refuse to answer phone calls and disappear for a day. I will sleep in and do what I can when the sun is out, and then, in the soporific hours of late afternoon, I will nap again. I believe this, and only this shall fix this absurd ache in my heart, in my body, and most importantly, my head, which has pulsed in inexplicable pain these past few days. That I was able to carry myself through it all to reach here, this midnight hour, this last mile, shocks me, but I am too tired to appreciate my resolve, and I am too lethargic to remark on it. There have, of course, been weeks like these, too, and there have been days of rest following them. But to even know we are tired, we must have someone say it to us, for some things only ring true when we hear them.

“You look tired.”
“I’m sorry, I have not had time to look at myself.”

Bookmark #924

In the morning, this apartment gets the most wonderful sun. Now, I do not know which side it faces, if it is true East or some skew here and there, and when you tell people about this, that the apartment gets this incredible blast of light, I believe they ask you these questions for no particular reason. While, what they should be doing is appreciating it or, if they are so keen on seeing it, making plans for breakfast. This is where I believe I think differently from others. This is, of course, a bold claim. We can never be truly different, and anyone who claims that will be saddened to hear that there always is someone else like you. This may be news to some, and to some, this may be the greatest vindication, but it is how things are, and so, my only intention in saying this is that I exist in a sort of perpetual disagreement with where I tend to be, or where I was born, or where the borders end of where I can be. And I am sure, by this line, it is getting frustrating, like the audience waiting after a cliffhanger or some big reveal in some book that just won’t arrive. So, I will elaborate on what I meant, and then, I shall wrap this piece neatly and tie a bow onto it for pleasure.

I believe I simplify things. I cut to the chase in thought so I do not have to spend time waiting. At work, I do not like blaming others, and if I realise something is out of place, and if I can fix it, I fix it myself and do not point fingers. This is how I am with people, in general, too, or at least I try to be. If you can fix something, the only course of action is to fix it. The rest is laziness. I also believe that in all things in life, there is the fuss and fluff, and then there are the important bits. I have good reason to believe—through experience and error—that most people do not know how to separate them, and perhaps—through luck and practice—I have learned to do it. This is how things are, and if they were the same as others, I would not get looks when I said something in some gathering, and I would not be told that I was always out of step with people, and perhaps, it is true. But then again, I wonder which is worse, to be out of step with people or yourself?

Bookmark #923

I lie on the couch with my foot propped onto the armrest, making a temporary sling, exhausted out of my wits and bones. It has been a day chock-full of activity. So have the ones before it, and as far as I can look back I see endless activity. But again, my memory is the most unreliable clerk, meticulously writing down the most absurd, the most unnecessary details but failing to recall anything in proper order or of right importance. But for all my limitations, I see eventfulness: bars overflowing with people sitting shoulder to shoulder, brunches in the brightest, most sunlit cafes there ever were, turfs of grass and feet clamouring for a ball, strangers, strangers, strangers, and chance encounters. I guess things could not be better than this, and if they were any better, I would be suspicious of them. I would keep an eye on them, and like a guard working the night shift in a museum, I would do it with half a heart* and full tilt. I would chase the slightest of sounds, not because I would want to, but out of proactive procrastination. Not looking after a problem often turns it into a bother, and who wants that?

That is how I would look after it all and so, this is why things should not get any better from where they are, for I would not want the panic and the uneasiness. Not that they will get better. To paraphrase someone who has who I am down to the last detail: I am an unlucky bastard. In the soft daze of sleep coming on, I can but confirm this and do it with all my heart. There has been, I believe, a component of unluckiness to this life, and for all that Fortuna has spilt on me, and she sure has spilt a lot, she has taken in equal measure in the form of simple denial. They often say not everyone can have it all. I wager this life is a prime example, or it looks like it from where I stand—or lie, in this case, there is no energy left in me to stand tonight, which, again, is a good thing. And with that excuse, like the guard at the museum, I must doze off. I must end the day to wake up with the morning light and pretend like I stayed up with my eyes peeled.

* Half-heartedness. It is a funny way to think about distraction. I wonder who came up with it.

Bookmark #922

Woke up this morning with Hemingway’s Ten Indians lingering in my head like a friend lingers near the door when they are about to leave your apartment, or how you stand and ask a final question just as someone turns to leave, hoping, I could only imagine, for the conversation to go on for a little bit more. I regretted not bringing my bookshelf along with me since there are at least three compilations with the story in it, and I had to go the route of scouring for it wherever I could find it. Then, I spent the next few minutes reading it with a cup of coffee, remembering all the times I have read it before, and feeling glorious envy over how I could never write a story as simple and yet so impactful, it meets someone when they are eighteen, and sticks with them for a decade as nonchalantly as a piece of gum being lodged in an old pair of sneakers that sits in the attic because it is too old to be worn but too important to be thrown away. I reckon it is somewhat like that, and when the story knocked me out again, I began the day again, correctly this time. I primed myself by looking at all the things I had to do. Then, I got a message from someone who needed help. I reckon that was it: when someone needed help, you could never tell them no, you could never say things like, “There is a lot to do today”, or “I am a little exhausted”, or “Are you sure you could not do it on your own?”. Now, I wonder that you could, and I am no one to speak for everyone, but not me. It is impossible for me to say things like these on most days, and this is what my life made me, for better or worse.

And yet, as I go through this day fulfilling the different roles I must play like all of us must play, I will think about what I would write about when I write a story, and if it will be any good, and that most things are good if they are complete. I reckon that is all I have to do at some point: sit and complete something other than these pieces that say nothing at all, and if, by exception, they say something, it is rarely anything worth saying.

Bookmark #921

After spending the entire day working, I went out to take a walk and read. Perhaps, get a cup of chamomile while I was at it. And on this short walk, which takes about the time it takes me to hum and listen to a full song, I noticed enough things to wash away the drudgery. Then, it took a wonderful turn when I saw a familiar face as I pushed open the glass door. It was someone I met at a party three, four weeks ago. I nodded Hello as I entered and asked what he was doing there, that I came to read there often, and if he was there regularly, too. He said his workplace was nearby, that it was shocking that we had not run into each other yet. How funny that in a city bursting at its seams with ten million people, you can run into someone still! Yet, it happens all the time. Things that seem impossible happen all the time.

Then, I read a little, making friends with Orwell as he told me about his journey with how he came to write and became one of the greats, and I was amazed at how casually he said that he had a phase where he was disillusioned with his words, his writing when he was my age, too. Of course, this little exchange happened where most of our lives happen: in imagination. But it did tell me something I have wanted to hear for a long time. Orwell, in his refreshing and signature honesty, told me there was still time. Time for what? Time for it all, that a quarter does not a whole life make. It leads to something if you keep walking, that you run into people if you keep walking, that you run into yourself, and it happens for all of us, the greats and the plebeians alike, and most greats are just ordinary folk who kept walking.

Perhaps that is the recipe: equal parts possibility and walking. It does not matter how much you do of either, but so long as you do both in tandem, something good comes out of it.

Bookmark #920

I had time to meet someone for work today. I had time to roam about the bustling market streets today. And time to play some games with my friends, of course. I had time for all of this, then why not these words? I think about this to begin writing, despite my eyes shutting like a broken shutter on a window, coming down all at once and held only by the accidental knot of disarray in it.

But then, there is nothing to say. The only thing on my mind is last night, the drunken, purple haze and the aftertaste of mango-flavoured beer, brewed fresh. That, and the morning after, and arms I was unfamiliar with until last night. I reckon this is how it goes for most people, and I reckon this has now happened to me. Or perhaps, this absurd hope in me for love, for all things I did not know were possible until the sun set yesterday and the night began, and all of it seems to be a lingering memory of a dream still. I am unsure which parts happened and which were machinations of my booze-addled memory, and I would not be certain till I wake up again tomorrow. This day has been like the parts in a dream where nothing odd happens, when you simply sit somewhere or do something ordinary, when the dream is least like a dream. And now, I await waking up from this dream, and if in the morning, things are still as they are, it will be a pleasant surprise, and I will have to learn to live with the soft happiness of pillow talk in the morning.

You see, I have not felt this way in a long time, and so this is as new to me as the first warm slice of Sun after a long, dry and dreary winter. It is, in many ways, the first Sun I have seen. It is, by and large, like new to me. I do not know what to do with this flutter in my heart. Tired as I was today, not a second passed when I did not think of you. I had time for everything today. But I was stuck in the strange memory, trying to pick it apart and accept which parts did happen. And now, it has become clear to me, it was no illusion; I may have given my heart to someone is but a given now. And now, I must allow myself to be happy.

Bookmark #919

Got out of bed and walked a little with a cup of coffee in my hands, not for the purpose of walking, but in the most natural, purposeless way a person can do things. Sat to write but realised a bright sun was out already. What a day this is to do laundry. Changed the sheets on the bed, added them to the load, set the machine spinning and sat to write again. I reckon this is how life is—when I know nothing, young as I am, I will do the dishes and the laundry, and when I am older, much older than who I am today, having lived all the years yet to happen, I will do them still. No will or knowledge spares a person from the banality of life. The most enlightened people still need to eat, and the man meditating under the tree is a religious myth. True enlightenment, if there ever was or can be such a thing, is in the mundane. This is, of course, a consistent argument I have made in these words. But that I repeat something has no hold over my loyalty to it. We tell people we love that we love them, and we do it over and over again, and we do it when we get a chance. This does not mean we love them any less; it is only that we still do. All things need reassurance, convictions most of all. And my convictions, for better or for worse, lie in living this life in the broadest way I can.

And what is the biggest conviction than love? I love the rain. I long for it. I do not, however, curse the heavens when the sky is sunny. I love the rain with conviction. That it is sunny outside has no bearing on it; it changes nothing about how I feel about the rain. Good things are good despite circumstance. And if it does rain, when it does, I will tell it; I will whisper under my breath, and I will sigh in relief, and with it, I will reassure myself, and if a force as natural needs any reassurance, then, I will reassure the rain, too. And that is how things will go, and between today and then, the sun will glare and shine brutally, and on all such days, I will do the dishes and on some of them, the laundry. And there will also be coffee and a lot of life in between, which will come and go like the morning news, and things will go on as they go, as they have gone.

Bookmark #918

The pleasure of meeting a friend in a different city is under-celebrated. To see someone you last saw many years ago in a street you have never seen before brings upon a side of them you could not have imagined, even if you can imagine the wildest of things. It is beyond the most abstract of thoughts, the most faraway truths, the most absurd creation you can think of. Only when you experience this can you know how intimate, how personal, how soft the feeling is, and how wonderful an aftertaste the conversation leaves as you walk home. There are fewer things so simply pure that a person can experience, and this is one of them.

Perhaps it is the soft blemishes on time on both of your personalities, of how it shaped you and sometimes knocked and dented you out, how it changed them, and how they, too, have had their knocks and bruises. Perhaps it is all that, and then, the decisions: the paths your lives took, and how the paths crossed again.

“Look, we met so long ago, and it was goodbye, it was almost goodbye; for all our phones and messages and our million ways to stay in touch, we could not have known this would happen, that I would see you again, and yet, here we are.”

Perhaps it is just that and nothing else. It is the improbability. To see someone again is never a given. When we leave or when someone else leaves, we make our promises and vows. I have done this before, and I am sure you have done it, too. But we hug goodbye, and all regrets begin and end with fading footsteps because it is virtually impossible to meet someone again. And that it happens is an exception, not the norm, and so many people we miss not because we want to but because we once saw them in the flesh, and then, we never could again. Something came up, and life happened, and there was always something else more urgent, more important, and “I am not in the city on those dates” and “Will you stay till the weekend?” It is all this and so much more, and none of it can be held against anyone, and no one is to blame.

And yet, it does happen now and then. You plan to meet at the cafe, and you walk to it, and through the glass, you see them sitting, waiting for you.

Bookmark #917

Oh, how I love the morning light, how it spills into my veins and causes unparalleled vivid awareness, and how the first hour of the day can be so tranquil, so restful in itself that the eight hours of sleep right before it appear second-hand and hold no candle to the present moment, which in its brightness supersedes anything else. In this light, I walked to the kitchen shelf, put last night’s dishes—now dry—back into the racks, and made a cup of coffee, which was so fruity and flavourful that if I might have just sipped from some mythical fountain and it would have failed to compare. There is little that brings me more joy than being fully present in the moment I am in, with all my faculties in harmony with it and today is such a morning, today is such a day.

It has occurred to me recently that I am a selfish person, that all my selflessness is a mask to keep people around for the days when I do not quite feel like myself, but on most days, this is not the case, and so, on most days, I barely give other people a second thought. Sure, I answer phone calls, get back if I have a message and say yes to invitations like a person must, but besides that, I care about other people like a field cares about the rain. It does not prefer specific droplets and does not care which part of the rain falls on it; as long as it pours when necessary, the field is content. It is, perhaps, this way for everyone; only I have thought about it and now put it into words, and once you put it down, it becomes real. Perhaps I often paint this much darker picture of myself simply because I am willing to admit certain truths that most people gloss over. Maybe I say all of this in some sort of coy comfort so I do not feel as obligated to others, so I do not have to surrender to how strongly I wish to be a consistent part of the grand tapestry made of other people, of society. Ah, this train of thought does not seem to have a station, so I must pull the chain here. I must stop it in its tracks.

Back onto brighter things, the sun has decided to usurp my rights from this hall, taking it all for itself. Rarely does coffee taste ever so wonderful! What a wonderful day it is to be a person.

Bookmark #916

Lately, I have thought about love more than I should have. I have woken up with it waiting on the bedside table. I have slept with it waiting there still. No, not love itself, but the thought of it, and through the day, I have had it torture me in the most subtle but most infuriating of ways. But where was this thought for all these years? I do not know. Perhaps I had my heart hidden in some drawer in a cupboard I did not have the key to, and now, now that it is out in the open, I have begun to realise how an idea that evoked hope, evoked all sorts of joy in me once is now but a remnant of utter disillusionment. There is no reason for this except the general apathy that sets within the hearts of the downtrodden, not that it curbs their want for riches, like it has not curbed my want for love, but the apathy for riches exists in some sort of absurd contradiction. It seems it is now present in me, too, for all of us are beggars for one thing or another.

This situation is not for the lack of complete surrender on my part. I have, time and again, bared my soul in front of a person, hoping for something I cannot put into words. Acceptance, perhaps, but I could not be too sure about it. For all my want for love, I do not know how I want it or for whom, and like a duckling that imprints onto the first person it sees, I, too, tend to follow people around with unmatched loyalty. They say when something falls, we must not try to look at it but hear it, that if we want any chance of finding it, we must close our eyes and let our instincts pinpoint it with supreme accuracy. They say we were built this way. But what does one do when hope falls and sinks? I have been standing in a silent room with my eyes closed for years. The complications of modern love have embittered me, and then, saying that I realise, what is modern love? It has been this way for as long as people have been this way. Some of us carry streaks of near-misses on our sleeves, and we laugh at parties and make jokes about it all, and then we come home, and we sit with our eyes closed, listening still, to find what has been lost to the years.

Bookmark #915

If my only qualm from life is that I am not easily understood, it is simply because I have done everything in my power to not be understandable. I can throw the blame around, but eventually, all fingers point at me in blatant accusation. I will be understood, as I have, more in my absence than my presence, which has always been, and shall continue to be filled with contradictions. My obsession with doing everything, with being everything I can, is so entrenched within all of me that by just being fully myself, I exclude myself, and if I want to sit in a place, I must do it in parts, crossing out a trait here, striking out a habit there, and only with this can I be among the others. And no, this is not some virtue, but I reckon this is gross limitation. And tonight, this is not washed over me. So, I must wash it down with a glass of wine or two.

How wonderful it would have been had I not had this urge in me, this urge that tells me to step aside and stand apart, and how synchronous should it have been as my only desire is to meld into the crowd, to merge into it and to not be a discernible thorn, a reluctant beacon, a poster-child of discord. But my very mindset, my very way of thought, and my life betrays my greatest desire. And I can but sit and think about it, and mull over it, and sometimes, cry over it. With a heavy heart, I must declare tonight that the person who claimed we are our worst enemies had no business making as astute an observation. And, of course, now the wine has set in, and my heart feels a little lighter; it is light enough to sleep, I reckon, and to begin again. The dishes are done, the people are met, the work is completed, and the words are written. What else is there to do? I ask myself this every evening right before I sleep. No answer. No answer at all. I do not know what else makes a person whole? Like a burgeoning green garden in the middle of March, I am complete, yet something remains. Only I have gotten used to this never-ending unease, this ever-present emptiness. To chalk it up to love would be a crime, to blame rusty regrets would be a fallacy, and to posit error would be plain wrong. Yet, the feeling remains. What can you do?

Bookmark #914

The revolving door of women in my life should indicate success in matters of love, but when I woke up today after dreaming about one of them, I was distraught at first and mildly irritated later. It did not help that the room was moist, hot, and filled with pulsating warm air. It only got hotter from then on, and I kept thinking about the list of mundane nothingness, settling for answers without forming a proper question. I did my job and attended meetings where many people said nothing about nothing. And now, I am back to where I was: the corner I sleep on in the bed. This whole day has been one of an impossible longing.

No matter how I look at it or phrase it, love eludes me. It comes at the wrong time, or it knocks and leaves before I have a chance to open the door, and often, it sits silently for too long and only when I get up to go out the door does it call my name, but the words get lost amidst the loud bustle of life outside the cafe, and swoosh out the door like a piece of paper caught in a draft. It comes in sly sweet nothings I know not to entertain and finds a way to get under my skin anyway, and then, like a fever you do not know the cause of, it takes its sweet time to go, and even when the temperature comes down, the sniffles and the lethargy leave like unexpected guests, and when I crawl out of bed and feel like a person again, I meet another, down the street or at a party or in some yard in some event, and that, too, is a little too early or a little too late. Of course, I learn this much later, and then, I have a secondhand regret over a life, the existence of which I did not know until I learn about it with a coy remark about how I did not catch their drift, or how it would have been different had I said something different.

I reckon the universe can only help you so much. It can lead you to the counter carrying the winning lottery ticket. The ticket sits on the counter. You pause to buy gum. There goes it, there goes your chance, there goes the love of your life because you paused someplace, not out of hesitation, but because you’re so very human. You bend to tie your shoelaces. Someone else cuts the line. There it goes, there it all goes.

Bookmark #913

In a society where everyone is too sure, too certain of the noun they plaster on their forehead, rebellion works a tad differently. Gone are the days when you had to be a social outcast to be a rebel. Rebellion today is grey. It is getting your haircut on time, wearing ironed clothes, and being on time. It is not the juvenile adolescent outcry of being out of step with the world; it is becoming a part of the world in the fullest, most complete, most whole sense of the word. To be a rebel today is to keep a mind so open that you entertain everything, to not have a preference for activities, for what you consume, for art or music or film. The fundamental remains the same: to not be boxed in. But today, mere side-stepping the box does not a rebellion make; today, you must be larger than any boxes they can put you in. Rebellion is overflow. It is grandiosity. It is being larger than any boundary they can put on you. It is rejecting all labels for they are too small and too limited to capture you. But it is not just ideation; it is hard work. To belong with everyone is not an easy undertaking, and it might take you an entire life of learning. Revolt today is this very commitment. I shall not be boxed in, and I shall not stop learning. Rebellion today is caring. Antics can only take you as far as they can, but true rebellion is about giving a damn in a world of apathy, of lukewarm interest or disinterest outright, of keeping to your own.

And this quiet revolution has begun already. There are some of us who carry the torch. We see each other occasionally, but we do not call each other out. We quietly acknowledge our existence, and we quietly agree to keep going. We welcome you, if you may join us, and all we ask is for you to be nothing but everything. That is the only entry fee to this club of people who fit nowhere and everywhere. That is all it takes. It is the easiest thing to give for many, but for most, it is the most challenging thing they will do.

Bookmark #912

Out of all moments during a week, I believe the beginning of Saturday, and not specifically the mornings, but the time I spend idling about in the first half of the day is what I most look forward to. No day is as distinctly split into two as a Saturday. You wake up with an unmatched relaxation in your heart, and then, you slowly get into the groove of being a person. Then, you get some of the time you gave away to the world during the week back—nothing much, no windfall, just a few hours at best, but that is all we need. And what do I mean by giving the hours away? It is the little contracts we live our lives around: of work, of friendships and family, of love, of society. Every contract requires a little time, and some things require more than you are readily able to give, but then, you draw the short straw and oblige regardless. I reckon that is all it takes to be a person: to give time to everything big or small, like how the rain waters a garden and does not choose sides, or prefer a flower or a tree, like how all fuel stokes all fire and grows it and makes it bolder, like how any amount of change you can spare is worth sparing when someone asks for it. But then, this effervescent time, this window arrives, and I reckon, is often missed if you do not look for it, so I urge you to seek it, to find it and grab it. It is the reprieve we need. It is when I am at my happiest, and if happiest is too strong a word, then I am at my lightest, and no obligation pulls my strings. Perhaps it may not be the same day for everyone, but all this is to say that it does exist—a temporary rending of all fine print you did not read before signing the forms.

And now, as the clock gets on with what it does best, it is closing time. And this bar with no name, this temporal third place, this corner among corners shall now shut itself off for another week. I must pay the bill with these words. And I must get off this chair now. I must honour the terms and conditions of being a person, and visit people, and places. It is, after all, the least we can do. How awful would paradise be if it were the only thing you knew?

Bookmark #911

It is a muggy day. I woke up in sweats, and at first, I thought something was wrong with me, that I had gotten sick, or worse, I was in love, but then I peeked out the gap between the curtains and realised it was just the sun. Then, I noticed a squirrel desperately clinging to the pipes, and the excitement of a tolerable rodent on the balcony got me out of bed. Were it a rat, I would have flung the door open and driven it away, but since it was a squirrel, I kept watching it till it left. It is funny how our response to things is dictated by their call to aesthetics. Then, I made some coffee; the sun had warmed the hall like an oven.

When I sat to write, I realised it would be a comfortable day despite the list of tasks, which was long and sinuous, like the most challenging mountain roads, not that I would know much about it. I have only driven in training, and until I get a car, the learning seems moot. But I have always been one to learn things without use for them. Rarely do I get an opportunity to share what I know about art or sociology, or all the economics I have read to tickle my curiosity, and the plethora of other disciplines I have dipped my finger like a mesmerised child who cannot resist the allure of an open jar—of jam, of honey, of paint. But it does inform my life, all that learning, I suppose. I read like reading was done before it was done for something.

One could say my life lacks purpose. Like the squirrel who happened to wander onto the balcony, I, too, tend to wander to and from people, leaving pieces of my heart like a forgetful rodent would leave its stash. I wander from jobs and lives I have made for myself, not because I am severely unhappy, barring a few instances, which is natural; I do this because it is in my nature. Just as a squirrel’s nature is to be accepted in the world of people, and a rat’s purpose is to be rushed out of sight, I suppose this is how I present to other people. I believe they can sense the impermanence of my heart before I do; as soon as I walk into the room, they know I am not one to stay.

This would explain everything. It is funny how our response to other people is dictated by how they make us feel.

Bookmark #910

Oh, how I have missed the thump of my feet on grass, all my focus on the game, the ball, the rules. Nothing weighs on your mind on the field. For about ninety minutes, the only sound that matters is the beating of your heart. There is an unimaginable disconnect between the real world and you as you skid and stumble and graze your feet. I only learned it much later in life, of course, the importance of that hour and a half, but that carries no weight over how things have changed over these years. And, of course, to laugh at the ridiculous misses, the absolute fumbles everyone makes. In a casual midweek game, everything is allowed. For a little while, you are not reprimanded or blamed, and all anyone tells you is that you did something well, that you tried well. The permanent scrutiny of life is left at home or in a backpack with your other clothes—the ones you wear when you are out and about in life. Last night, under the glow of white halogens and on top of the green turf, I was the most alive I have been, and god, I have been alive in this life, its eventfulness, its ever-present demands and problems from me.

To know your body’s limits do not stop at the ninety-minute mark, to feel the exhaustion seep in like the sweat does onto your shirt, to feel the ache in your legs, and to know you can still do this all day, to know that you can run for all the seconds left in a day, to know that you can keep going as long as it is required, to know that you can be on time when necessary, to know that you can take a blow when it comes your way, to know that you can slip, fall and get up like it were the easiest thing in the world, to know all this and more, and, which is more, to come home with all that in your heart as it pumps blood to every corner of your body, to every last edge, to every crevice, and to feel the surge of it all—what a wonderful, wonderful thing it is to experience. And then, the cold shower, each drop felt precisely as it trickles over you, and then, the rewarding, effortless sleep as you instantly lose yourself in it, and then, waking up to the first light and beginning anew.

Nothing did ever get any better than this.

Bookmark #909

When talking of ethical dilemmas, they often put forth the trolley problem. If you are not familiar with it, you must choose to kill a few to save the many or the other way round; of course, there is no right answer. I argue it is not even the right problem. It is not something we face on the day to day, and most people would never find themselves in the situation or the power to make such grand and vexing decisions. An accurate alternative to it would be this: You are the train—and if anthropomorphism feels a tad too much—you are the driver. The train is running headfirst into a wall. You do not know why the track ends in a wall, but you must, in the split-second it takes for you to run into it, make your peace with this unfortunate circumstance. If you have to do something, you may try to pull the brakes. And no, the brakes are not shot. They work perfectly well. It is possible for you to stop the train—and if you are the train and not the driver, then yourself—and avoid this collision course. Why, then, can you not stop?

This is a more relatable dilemma, and I believe many of us will understand this far better. Most lives are spent in impossible situations, sloping into rather unfortunate results, and we rush into them like the train running into a wall. We know this will derail everything. It is, in fact, the only thing that can happen. Yet, it does not occur to us to pull the brakes, and even if it does, it seldom is as easy. It is simple. But simple things are not always easy. And there are many explanations and answers to this; I am aware and quite certain of it. Perhaps the more sacrificial of us would argue it may be why the journey began in the first place, that there was nothing wrong with the situation, that there was some grand plan, and that the train running into the wall is a part of it. The rational would argue the plan is flawed. The nihilistic would not see the point in making the decision at all. The helpless and the unsure would not know if they could pull the brakes at all, or if they could do it right and, thus, would be paralysed.

And those like me will find beauty in the destruction and the debris; we will write ballads about it.

Bookmark #908

In the morning, I sat on the couch and stared at nothing, taking in the whistles of the birdsong from outside. It was quiet and bright, and I began to think of where I was three or four years ago, how lost, how uncomfortable, how all parts of me were utterly out of synch. If you asked me to write you a prescription for calming the waters, I would have nothing to write on it, and yet, I have written everything I can about it all in these breadcrumbs I drop every day. Regardless of how much you know someone, all you do is drop crumbs in conversations. A friend, before they fully bare their heart in front of you on a well-set table spread with toast and juice and pancakes, will often just say a bit here and a bit there. It is usually nothing specific or anything explicit, but most of what they tell you when they do will have already been said. Perhaps when we say, “You should have told me sooner,” all we mean is, “I am sorry.”

Leaving that morbid tangent of thought aside on this beautiful morning and leaving it in the past where it belongs, I shall now come back to this moment. I do not know what brought about this ever-present lightness in my heart, that most things happen and blow over, that I find this absurd resilience in me. Now, it is natural to have your soul shaken off here and there. Things happen, and not all specks of dust settle equally quickly, but it does settle, and sometimes, it takes a week and, often, a day or two. And then, I find myself on the couch with a cup of coffee in my hands, ready and primed to start the day. I wonder if everyone becomes this steadfast, this immovable as they grow older, and to think of myself as something out of the ordinary is a mistake I dare not commit, so I will keep this note short and find a few minutes to sit quietly as the music continues to play and the sun continues to dance minute by minute, taking more and more of this hall under itself. I believe all the certainty I wanted a few years ago, I have given myself. That much, I am sure of.