Bookmark #733

I opened my eyes to see my suitcase and backpack resting on the hotel room floor. What was I doing here? I looked at the time: quarter to four. But the bus was supposed to leave at three, I thought. It was just a quarter to three a second ago. What happened? I dozed off, of course. What else could happen? Barely a second passed, and I rushed into the the hotel lobby, my suitcase following behind. But for all my haste, I was too late regardless. I had been left behind. What followed was a series of phone calls, and somehow, I found myself in the front seat of a pickup truck, travelling through the countryside with a man who surely did not like wasting his words. We moved on through a village and then another, and when we had travelled for a little over an hour, he stopped the truck, parked it in a perfect spot and said, “Break time.”

Break it was. I pulled a medium-sized paper cup from the dispenser and poured myself a cup of coffee. I paid for my coffee and offered to pay for the large-sized cup and the burger in his hands as a thank you or an apology. I was unsure which it was. My mind was still hazy from the cocktail of all the booze from the night before and the adrenaline of waking up into the nightmarish scenario everyone dreads when they are far away from home. No matter my intention, he declined, laughed and said, “It’s okay. I paid already.” And then, we sat in the booth and had our fill each and left once again on our way to the airport. A reel of colourful houses, lush green pastures around them, picket fences in all colours you could imagine them in played by as I watched outside the window. “You are not driving, my friend,” said the gentle giant, “Go to sleep.” I obliged. When I woke up, we were already making our way through the city, which had only begun to rise and shine.

When we reached the airport, he swerved into a parking spot and said, “We need to be quick; the bus will want this spot.” I got out the door with the same reaction speed I had shown when I first opened my eyes earlier that night. I got my suitcase from the back and thanked him.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, pointing his finger at my face, “But from now sleep on time, yes?”

“Of course,” I laughed, dragging my suitcase behind me.

Bookmark #732

All year I have waited for things to happen, and now that they are happening, I have a soft hesitation in my heart. I sit by myself, paralysed, with the suitcase still unpacked, the piles of clothes surrounding it like an audience around a stage. I know I will get off this chair and do it eventually. But if it were truly up to me, I would stay in the same place forever despite my deep wish for continual change. I am glad that is not the case, though, that it is not entirely up to me, no.

We like to pretend we are in charge of what happens to us. But I would not blame the match for lighting a forest on fire. Many words for it, I believe: fate, god, the universe, or (dumb) luck. But then, people are no matches. They are free agents, free to choose from the limited choices placed before them, but choices nonetheless. Now, what the choices are, and what limits them is a series of questions, a train of thought which leads nowhere. But I know I am still free to choose where my life goes. It is not up to us if we can do everything in this life, but we can all do something.

In many ways, this life has been a blessing. Thoughts I had when I was a child, and dreams I had more than a decade ago, are now coming to fruition; many have already become part and parcel of the life I live. What else can you ask for? In about five days, I will be in a city I have wished to see for more years than I can remember.

Bah, all this hullabaloo to inspire myself to get up and pack a suitcase. The hyperbole of the writerly life is not washed over me. We make things larger than they are and pretend to know a thing or two while we go about our lives like a bunch of Bumbling Smees, barely managing to be a people. So many in history we consider great could have just been regular Joes simply blowing things out of proportion, waiting for a paycheck or procrastinating. Genius could very well be a mere slide on the microscope of time.

Perhaps, it is about disconnecting. Surely, they had to be cut from a different cloth; we tell ourselves to save ourselves from the burden of knowing that we, too, could achieve unimaginable things.

Bookmark #731

We must all feel a certain way each day, and today, I feel lonely. I do not mean this in the way that I am distraught. It is not as if my heart is bleeding on this grey rug. But this loneliness is akin to that of a pebble on the sidewalk. Today, I am here, remembering all the people I have ever come across and spent years talking to, only to fall out of touch due to life and the powers that be, hoping in my heart that I still have their number, that one day I will reach out and it will all be as it was, that the coffee will be warm and the meal will be served, and we will catch up and talk about things as if nothing had changed, only to realise that at some point they changed their numbers, the lot of them, and never did they consider sharing it with me. So many people I have lost this way, for no fault of my own, only the natural process of fading into irrelevance. A part of me is agonised by this and is angry at having wasted my time, but then, another tells me to give them the benefit of the doubt, to remember them with the kindness of having sat together, talking about everything that mattered when it did. But I do feel lonely, and there is not much I can do about it tonight, so I sit here, wearing this feeling like a blanket, watching the TV.

My life has begun to feel like it is going through some extensive cleanse, where everything I remember about it has slowly started to change, and every little loose end is slowly getting tied or snipped off. All people I knew any bit about have slowly faded into a highlight reel of memory. Only a handful have remained. All the pain I once carried seems more distant than the dullest star in the sky, and all my regret is left in some drawer of an apartment whose lease ended years ago. There is nothing to go back to anymore. I remember no way of life to be right. I feel lonely because I feel unfamiliar. I believe every person comes across a day or a week like this, where it is not the end of the sentence, and it is not the beginning. It is but a semicolon.

It has begun raining outside once again. I think I will get up and make a cup of tea.

I reckon there is nothing but the forward to look forward to.

Bookmark #730

I sit under the warm glow of the lamp, listening to a song a girl sent me earlier tonight. Suddenly, from nowhere I can put a finger on, a question flies into my mind and starts to flap its wings around like the pigeons who will soon be on the balcony—it is past midnight, after all. How would I have turned out if I never became a writer, had never written the terrible poems I began with, had never picked the pen up to write something other than whatever was required of me? I don’t have a proper answer. Who could? Something tells me it would have been a life as great as this one I have, but differently.

I think we tend to think in extremes. If a happy person imagines another life, it is not uncommon for them to imagine one where they were not as happy, and vice versa. But I have always seen it differently. It would have been a different life, but why paint it in any colour?

Perhaps, another me sits contemplating the same question with the same neutrality as I have extended him. A fool’s inquiry, I reckon. There is little I can say or think of that would rest this case and push the question back into a pile. All I can be absolutely sure of is that I would have looked at life, at people, at everything else very differently. All these occupational hazards, this sensitivity for the arts, this highly opinionated self, would have been absent. On some days, like the one I had today, I wish this were the case. I wish I could turn it all off and be like the others.

The music would play regardless, but I would not focus on the lyrics as much, not think of the rhythm, and not enjoy it as much as I do right now. I would think of it as a song, nothing more or less. It must be nice that way at times, I’m sure. It would be like how someone reads these words, if anyone does. It’s funny to be an artist of any sort if you truly believe in it and are in touch with it. It is all so important to you. But to the others, to the audience, it is just one work out of many. Your heart bleeds on the display; they glance at it, move along and never think of it again.

Bookmark #729

I got out of bed, coughing like a dog, and made coffee. Even when you recover, you are left with lingering symptoms—the minor annoyances remain. I believe I have been ill more times this year than should be tolerated without some sort of concern, but so far, they have only been coughs and colds and fevers. So I am not as worried. It has been a damp year, anyway. The rain has stopped again, which matters little since I’m sure it will begin again soon. At least it is not flooding where I live. This lets me sleep at night. But then, life finds a way to trap us all.

I do not see myself here for long—in this apartment and city. Where will I go? It will not matter. A plan is as relevant as an umbrella in a rampant storm. It feels useful to have it, but its usefulness is limited, and if the headwind is strong, the rain is the least of your troubles as you go around scrambling for an umbrella turned inside out.

To search for new with a stringent set of expectations thought up in the old seems to be precisely the kind of thinking no one ever thinks about, which is to say it is the kind of thinking where everyone does it wrong from where I stand. We must have some idea of where we’re going, yes, but why bother charting an itinerary? We must first find a shore before we begin settling. At least, that is how I will go about this, and it may or may not be wise, but I was never the wisest of them all.

I have only consistently managed to be a step ahead of the curve and not in everything, mind you. In some things, I realise I do not understand even the rules of the games I’ve been put into. But regardless of whether you know the rules, if it is your turn, you must roll the dice. And I, too, have made decisions and said things I learned could have stayed unsaid, not because they were wrong, but because they were honest. You can stay friends with someone for a hundred years without telling them even a sliver of the truth, but tell me, could you live with a liar for that long?

There is no escaping ourselves, and I don’t intend on it. It is the curtains around me that need changing. It has come to my realisation that for all the trees in this valley, no one ever grows here.

Bookmark #728

The other day I talked to someone about art at length, and I realised that, more often than not, most artists give into the idea of commercial viability. Now, there is nothing wrong with this; everybody has to pay bills and eat at some point. But the part that does not sit right with me, even if what I think barely matters anyway, is how instead of honesty, many try to build a narrative around what they are doing as righteous requirement, perhaps, to convince the dreamers, their younger selves, still hidden somewhere inside them. Now that the ink of reality has rewritten their fates, they attempt to add a biased preface to it all.

If someone writes a poem that does not come from within them but is only a reflection of what runs well in the market, there is no shame in it, but by no means is it art, and it should be admitted as such. It should be proudly admitted as a product. But if you are subject to the market, and you still try to convince, if not yourself directly, then yourself through what you tell others, that you are still on some glorious artistic journey, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that, and only that, makes you a fraud.

There is a glaringly commercial appeal to art; there is a requirement for those who serve this, too. I would rather the caterers own up to their role: merchants with artistic skills. An artist should serve their zeitgeist. If, in an insane coincidence, they are a fit, they should revel in it; their life will be easier than they can imagine. And if they are out of step with it, they should either be so good that they turn the wheels in their favour or so patient that they wait for the tides to turn. But I would take an honest business person who knows they peddle films for money over a devious artist who carries an elevator pitch for why the business or the balance between it all is a necessary component on their sleeve any day.

We need these filters in the boiling pot of nothingness that the modern age and art have become. It might create an honest artist somewhere by accident. We could always use more of them, especially in this drought, this arid landscape coloured only by the green of dollar bills.

Bookmark #727

There is a growing reticence in me, which is proving it difficult to write as much as I want to or as much as I did when I was not as protective of the little things I often think about. I think it eventually comes to a point where you begin to see that people usually only make comments or ask questions that add little to your days, only that since they have to say something, they say the most foolish things, such as pointing out how you change your mind often, that it is in your nature to shift gears now and then, and of course, it is; of course, it is in my nature. What kind of person would believe in the same things forever? But then, it is not worth addressing this glaring gap in their logic. A grown-up can but look and smile calmly at a babbling baby—nothing more to do there.

Life is not one narrative but an anthology. People think they’re living in a novel, but they are wrong. They are just living in an increasingly interconnected web of tales, some of which are about them if they are lucky. Many lives have been lived entirely for someone else. In any case, I think something about the air in my life lately has made me feel as if the parts hitherto permanent have now started to fade into the realm of the temporary once again. My feet have begun to fidget, and I feel as if I have overstayed my welcome in this part of my life, that there are no more stories to tell, the coffee has gotten cold, and the weather seems to have an urgency to it, that if I do not leave immediately, I would be stuck here to the dismay of everyone, myself included. There are things to do, after all. I cannot afford to get stuck in my ways, in this life. There is a lot to do still.

Seasons change, of course. It is raining now. It has been for a while. But it will stop in a month or two. What then? Will we blame the city, blame the sky for changing its mind? Of course not. We will revel in what comes next. Things are always changing; people, too, should follow suit.

Bookmark #726

All life is a crossroads. From the moment you gain agency over your feet, you must choose to go one way or the other, and like all dichotomies, one will be easier and the other not so much.

You can either take the answers you are given, as immutable as the tone suggests they are, and you can live your entire life the easy way. Or you can do the harder thing and ask the questions and hope you land on an answer. Whether it is the same answers as the others is up to the question, and the dice of fate. But when you find them, they will be your answers no one bothered to find, and there will be many questions and, in time, many answers. If you have a good head upon those shoulders, I can sense the squint of suspicion. Why is this the hard way? Now, that, I believe, is a question.

It took me a while to ask if I am being utterly square with you. It was not until a few months ago that I even had a mild suspicion. Then, I asked it. And surely, right there was my answer, waiting for me: it rarely is about the answer or the question; it is about what you will do with it once it is asked. People, us, we band around our answers.

Who is your God? Is there one? What do you believe in, or do you not believe in anything? Do you play the games society wants you to play? Or do you sit out? How do you like your coffee? What about your tea? What do you think we are here to do? Or is it pointless? Will you take the answers given to you or ask the questions repeatedly until you find your own? It has merit: there may be the right way if there ever was one, and you will have found it. But then, you may be the only one who knows this and the only one you will remain, for no one will ever ask.

The more answers you find by yourself, the less in common you will have with the others, and the further you will get from them.

Where does it end, then? I wish I could tell you, but I’m only on the way. I will ask the question, of course, when I get to it. I will have an answer for you. But, if you’ve been paying attention, I hope you ask it, too. For a change, perhaps, I wish you find the same one, that we meet, you and I. I reckon I am tired of disagreeing with the very fabric of the world.

Bookmark #725

In life, you meet a variety of people who do various things, but sit down with a marketer for thirty minutes, and it will be enough. You will learn everything they are and everything they have to say in just half an hour. Why is that? Because it is a job of make-believe, and worse, it is a job that, more often than not, is nefarious. It is the equivalent of the character in some fable who first appears friendly on the first few pages but later turns out to be the antagonist. Where arts and sciences are the heart and the head of humanity, marketing is the appendix. We could do with fewer marketers, analysts, and fewer pretend jobs. The world needs more artists and thinkers and more engineers and tinkerers.

In saying artists, I do not mean those who merely practice a skill but those who use their medium to say something. There is always a difference between the two. The artist and the craftsman are different, and they can identify who is who really well. But the waters are muddier for the world, and often, I notice people cannot tell the two apart. And when I say engineer, I do not necessarily mean those with a degree but people who think like an engineer. It could be your local MacGyver who builds things that make the lives of others easier in one way or another, too—using their skill to do something.

To say and do something meaningful built what we call the world today. The others came along recently and have managed to infiltrate and fool us all. They say that we will all soon be out of a job. But the arts and sciences will remain till the end of time, for it is essential to the human spirit to think of something new and to build something that makes living easier. That is all our species has been consistently good at.

No, threatened are those who will soon be exposed for who they are: frauds with pretend jobs that change nothing on their best days and everything for the worse on others. Never before has humanity been more filled with people responsible for so much of nothing, and now, it seems they are all scared. But the arts and the sciences will remain as they have, and they will adapt to the world around them and push it forward as they have.

Bookmark #724

Optimism is scary, but that is why we must believe in it. It is far too easy to be afraid of tomorrow than to look it in the eye, smile, and say, “Come on, come on in; I’m sure you have something good you’ve brought to show me.”

It is still early enough that dawn has just begun to break. I stand on the balcony, looking around, taking a few steps to and fro over the cold grass, taking my time to be a person again. There are others, of course, going through their motions of the morning, peppered onto this scene like watermelon seeds, existing wherever they are, no pattern to it. It is curious how we all begin our days differently from one another, and surely, we spend them differently, but when they end, we all have more or less the same things to say about them. I believe the coffee has begun to work. I feel I fell out of this habit of watching the world begin every morning, and now, I think I will take my sweet time building it back up again. That is all it is, this life: a series of missteps and corrections, minor or major, big or small, it does not matter. So many memories of moments where everything could have changed altogether, so many decisions I made in the moment as best as I could, so many crossroads I will never know the other side to, and yet, I look ahead with a smile on my face.

Where does it come from, I almost wonder for a second, but then, I immediately stop the inquiry. It has been my experience that you must never question happiness, the slightest hint of it. Foolish are those who live to create misery in their own days, of their own accord, when there is still something to laugh over. All days begin and end, and most of what happens in them, or maybe, to be more precise, most of what is remembered about what happened in them is up to us. On most days, we define what the story is about. As much as I have failed continually to write fiction, I believe this is the one medium I can make stories up well enough to convince myself that this is a good life.

After all, isn’t it what you make of it?

Bookmark #723

Many days have passed since I stood leaning at the balcony railing, a cup of coffee on the marble sill. Today, the city turned beige, and the regularity of the moment, the normalcy of all of it, drew me in again. Today, standing alone as I was, I did not feel isolated, not by a long shot. The world happened for the next few minutes as it did—kids played a game of I Spy in the yard below, and the neighbours all embraced the evening how they do, talking to each other, sitting at the benches near the garden, or taking laundry back inside. I stood, and I felt the breeze blow by. Ironically, it is because I have embraced my solitude once again that I can see the world again. That I met some friends today is not a question of losing my want for isolation, but that I could do it because I was filled with this comfort of returning to myself later in the evening.

For the better part of this year, I have, for reasons beyond my control, surrendered this agency to the whims of others—to invitations, for responsibilities and wants I struggled to fulfil, but now that I have taken myself back from the world, now that the proverbial dust has settled, and now that I can feel the breeze, I can make up a report, an inventory in these words which can tell you what happened. But then, now that it has happened, and more importantly, now that it is over, why talk about it? There is, after all, life to live. Some of us only know to live at a distance from the world, visible but always across the river, waving from the other side.

And just like that, my happiness returned to me like a feather brought along with the breeze, like seeing the friends who you don’t see as often as you’d like to, or together, or at all, like a beautiful glass of rosemary, gin and tonic on a hot summer day, like the sweetest caramelised onions you could ever put on a slice of pizza, like a lot little and a lot more, like so much that happens. I can see it again because I have stepped back to take the whole picture. I was blinded by how close I was.

Never again shall I ever make the mistake of giving more than I am capable of giving to the world, not as quickly, not as much as I have this year—not at all.

Bookmark #722

The first time I read of Salinger and his sudden and intentional removal from society, I was inspired not because I understood it. But perhaps, because it felt impossible to me, it made me curious to the degree of inspiration. In all my years living, I have learned that it is possible, if not for all of us, then at least for me, to look at someone and disagree with every little thing they stand for and still revere and respect them. Respect is not for all the ideas someone has, and indeed, not for the riches, but often, as long as the person falls on the right side of history in their conviction. Now, what equates to the right side of history is often vague and grey, and it is not my place to say. I am as clueless as anyone else, but then, there are things you know that are good and right, so perhaps, that is all I meant. That draws a false comparison, of course, for it was not something I meant for Salinger. I merely began this piece with his name.

I do not disagree with his life in the entirety of it. I could not. Despite not understanding it then, I believe his obsession with isolation was justified by the life he had lived and his nature, which can never be discounted. For all the affection I have for the people, I also have an equally strong urge to remove myself from them, to live a life with only a handful of people in it, as if this life were some secret backdoor pub or speakeasy only a few knew the password to. I do not know where this urge came from, why it increased, or why it left for a few years, but I think I find myself happiest when I somewhat embrace this urge.

This does not mean I have a disdain for other people. It is simply a preference for the genuine, authentic, and honest. I would take someone I talk to twice but honestly talk to than someone with whom I maintain a cursory friendship. Of course, people like me are also really good at the latter. To enter a place and suddenly become a part of it as if we had always been there is second nature to us. But of course, we were never there, to begin with, and as it turns out, we do not stay for long. We leave as we arrive, unannounced, unbothered, and on a whim.

Bookmark #721

The world is so devoid of privacy that when you announce your want for it, you are presumed dead and fittingly served eulogies in the form of text messages. But I am not dead, you think; I am simply choosing to restrain some of my life. That is not how the world works or looks at things. The world seldom looks at things anyway. It is the mark of an intelligent mind to conjure up a new thought once a day. The bar has never been lower, so whenever you, whoever you are, read these words, remember: if you thought of something today that, to your knowledge, is new, you are among the smartest people who have walked the Earth in this zeitgeist. At least, this has been my observation. All the people I have met who had something to say also had a want for privacy. Never before has the urge to save some of yourself coincided so profoundly with the desire for isolation. They are the same today; this was not the case earlier.

The answer has never been a hut on a mountain. But, perhaps, it is in a man at a cafe, reading quietly, a smile on his face, or even at someone sitting with people they genuinely wish to be in the company of, not in anticipation of an exchange of contact details, or a business card with a terrible typeface printed poorly on it. Everywhere I go, people ask me what I do, and when I refuse to give a straight answer, they chalk me up as eccentric or even an idiot.

But to some of us, it is offensively reductive. I would answer plainly if they asked me what I did for a living, but they do not, and to them, the two may be equal, but not all of us live lives so limited. Countless things pique my interest. How do I answer it, except if I ask, “Do you mean how I can afford this drink?” To refuse to be defined is a declaration of war. It is heard loud and clear, for you are immediately painted odd, but then, you do happen to have the drink in your hand in an expensive bar, and so, you are also presumed resourceful enough to be kept around but at arm’s length still.

The world is so see-through, it’s laughable, but point it out, and you are blunt. Try to leave all of that, and you are a recluse. Try to find a middle ground and ask for privacy, and you are dead.

Bookmark #720

Lost all the joy I had on me and did not realise it. It fell right out of my pocket like how when you’re taking something out of it, and something else crawls out, but you never realise it. I reckon it was something like that. It’s a good thing then that you can make more of it, or find it lying where other people left it, or find it in some inconspicuous spot on an old street you remember like the back of your hand, which you flip through as if it were a journal you found in the attic or a trunk. “It truly was a different time,” you tell yourself as you see a spectre of the original thing. Memory is a fickle thing—it makes and breaks a moment all on its own. Today, I found my bearings and my general disposition on the hanger behind the door. Dusty as it was, I wore it when I left to meet a friend at the bistro in the evening.

Made the impossible demand that everyone understand every ounce of myself at all times. It’s a tall order, and even if there were a person like this, I am not sure I would want them to perceive every corner as it seems. I believe this is the perpetual state of inconsistency I have called home for many years now. All people are inconsistent, of course. It is the mark of a liar—a constant state of being. I am only able to call my bluff when I see it. Then, I own it like a scar. If it is there, you cannot do much about it. So, the only thing you can do is own it. Perhaps, this consistent brokenness of my narrative of myself is, in itself, a blessing. It keeps these vignettes fresh. There is no plot to this absurd life, and as I have admitted before, I am okay with any ending. But even then, even with all these things in place, a reader may need some sense of conflict. Well, here it is, in all its glory: I was lost for a little while, and now I am found, and I will be lost again.

Oh, what reader, you ask? I wonder, too. I wonder about that all the time. Maybe, some things are still being written. It is much, much earlier than I like to admit. We’re only at the first third, by all estimates.

Bookmark #719

Connection is all I crave. I go out of my way to understand everyone else; why, then, am I denied the same privilege? I do not know. I am too tired to ask. All my days end the same way—the bitterness of never being understood, its sick aftertaste causes a lump in my throat, and I am unable to form a question, or a sentence, or even a word. There goes my heart along the pitter-patter of the rain. I do not know what else is there—to do everything right and still fail to be read without bias. I’m listened to like a song whose lyrics are never paid attention to. Often, when I notice someone has not grasped what I meant to say in the least, when I see they are entirely off the mark, I get this impossible wish never to speak to anyone again. There is so much love and admiration I hold for this world; why, then, do I not get this in return, not once, not enough?

I am exhausted, but not in body or mind. There’s a third way. I do not know what to call it. So many people around. All of them look at me. Why, then, do I not feel seen? I see where everyone comes from. Why then do they not bother to take a step back, out of their own heads, out of their own stories, out of their own little world to see there can be one more, another world which is as much about them as theirs is about mine, which is to say it is not about them at all? If I can do this—look past myself in conversations, in places where I am asked for advice, over and over, day after day. Why, then, has my life begun to feel like a solo performance, an orchestra of one, where the conductor is absent, and I am left to fend for myself in front of an audience I can never please? So many questions, barely any answers. And now, I see the day is already over. What to do? Go to sleep and hope for another day, and if nothing else, for the tenacity to be solid enough to bolster through all that and, since the world is ever-so-relentlessly blind and dense, through a little bit more.

Bookmark #718

Twice this week, under the slight inebriation of beer, the first and only thought on my mind was how there is nothing I would not mind trading to be completely, fully understood for but a fleeting moment in this long life. I believe most people we know, those we find in life, and those we lose, understand us in parts, in slices and tokens of the entire thing. At least, that is how I have felt all my life—misunderstood on most days and barely understood on others. If I mention this want in front of others, in an overt display of irony, they fail to understand even this and hand me their golden nugget of advice: that my wish is unrealistic, that I should temper my expectations to about seventy per cent, that it is more achievable. I do not blame them, of course, but only out of a habit of shrugging misunderstandings off. A part of me remains furious at how blockheaded people can be at times. But then, there is little you can do. So, I do what anyone would do: take another sip from the pint, shut my trap, and then let the conversation slide into whatever people do understand.

I believe I am partly to blame, after all, for I am never truly myself when I am with other people. It is only when I spend time as I did today as I cleaned the house, managed to finish chores, and stood with my arms on the balcony slab, staring at the sunny day, that I am truly myself. The rest often involves me playing some part of what other people want me to be—little tricks and adjustments I have learned in all these years to get through my days with minimal conflict. Naturally, I feel inadequately understood because the bridge goes both ways. There is nothing I can do with this, of course. I believe I can follow the advice of tempering my expectations after all, but that does not change the fact that I would trade all things I have, and if not all, then most things, to feel a slight second, even in error, of being wholly understood—a pipe dream, wishful thinking, of course. But then again, most wishes seem abstract until they somehow come true, do they not?

Bookmark #717

I only dream of the present. Over and over, I find myself asleep with my eyes wide open, dreaming of nothing but the days I waste so nonchalantly. My days begin at this desk; my dreams end on it—one ends where the other begins. As if I were lost at a crossroads, tracing my steps repeatedly, forgetting where I came from and where to go, I lose track of this too. Now, the present is all I see in its exhausting beauty, its painful helplessness, the phalanx of days that all look the same, feel the same, begin the same and end the same. There is so much here, and I love it with all my heart.

I do not know where this absurd longing, this complicated love for the mundane began, but when I meet someone disappointed with life because it is unchanging, I often ask what else they were expecting. And then, I hear what most people would upon asking a question like this: excitement. But then, how long does excitement stay exciting, I wonder, before it, too, starts to feel like a chore, before one has to tape their smile to their cheeks?

In my experience, nothing poisons the well of society worse than those who feign joy and excitement. But it is not their fault; they are prisoners in labyrinths they built. If only they stopped to dive headfirst into tedium, if only they accepted that most ambition goes nowhere, and most hope is just something we cling to so we manage to end our days, which all still look the same. And no, this does not mean we should let go of ambition or hope, but it is why we could hold onto them tighter than we ever imagined: when we know them for what they are and not what we want them to be.

For now, this is all I know: I have fully surrendered to whatever happens in this life on a given day. The exciting bits come and go, but I always end up here, at this desk, with some work, some idea I wish to see through, or these words. But it all does end, and that is why I remain watchful and aware, curiously waiting for the scenery to change, for when it does, I will know it is fleeting, that before I blink, I will be back home, going through the motions. My tedium opens the doors for me. Every journey is a trip back home—wherever that may be for someone.

Bookmark #716

People exhaust me. The more I hear from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time, the more I want to never talk to anyone again. And usually, they need something from you: an answer, a presence in some event to show others they know people, some favour or some money. As much of a believer I am in always using my words, the less I say here, the better.

One of the most artistically tone-deaf people I know asked me if I ever lose inspiration in this city, of how the life here is not as fast as one of the metropolitans where if the air gets slightly worse, they will choke on their breath. I asked them if they had ever watched clouds move over the sky in July. They said they don’t recall it. I stopped my inquiry there and let the conversation trickle into another topic.

It always amuses me how people with no acumen for anything artistic about life have the most inane questions to ask people like me. The malicious ignorance, the intentional incompetence of their very being, oozes out when they open their mouth to comment on art, the process, or whatever lies in between, making the whole world weep.

Now, some student writing a dissertation in college will want to raise their pitchfork, claiming that this gatekeeping of art is why the world has disintegrated into blocks of concrete where pencil pushers live their lives thinking they contribute to the world. When they make their accusation, I will agree with them so they shut up. I do not have the time for it. There is work to do, for I need to eat, and at some point in my life, I would want to stop paying rent, and when the work is done, and the dishes are done, too, there are words to write.

This is not a heroic tale. It is a life, and I am living mine. All people go through things, but when other people go through things, I’ve noticed they tell a heroic tale. I will make no such mistake. But it still makes me wonder: how would the world change if everyone said, “I am a person, like all of us, and things have happened to me”? What would happen if the world were as earnest? Would I be able to tolerate it, then? Would I not have to feign interest anymore?

A world existing only at face value—a thing like that!

Bookmark #715

I sit in a cafe, and I read a morbid poem about life. I lose myself in the chatter and murmur. Then, I try to order another cup of coffee. I wish, sometimes, that I could tell you how my life changed, of all the things that happened, of the joys and the perils which are part-and-parcel of living. But then, there are no conversations beyond the end of the line. It is a shame how easily we lose people to time, to our own shortcomings, to the toss of fate—even if I could not, for the life of me, think it had any say in things that happen to us. It’s been more than a minute, of course, and to think about things that happened all this time ago might look like some lingering doubt, but it is not. You miss every day of your life, whether it was sunny or even if it rained. When you reach a certain point, it all becomes about time passed, things felt, the sheer abundance of all that there is to remember, and the lack of time and mind to do it. Just then, the cup of coffee arrives, and I am deflected out of this reverie.

For all those I have crossed paths with and all who I am yet to meet, I wish nothing but goodness, beauty and magic. It is not in my heart to hate another, even if I hold my anger for a minute or two; it is not in my mind to not find some plausible reasoning for whatever does happen. I can convince myself of everything except this: to despise others. It is not in me to hold a grudge, and even if someone stabbed me in the back, if I manage to live somehow, and then if I see them on the street, and if they need a hand, I will be the first to extend it; if not the first, I will extend it nonetheless. There is still hope in this world, in me, yet. I look around the cafe, and I see only this: potential. From whoever I have ever wronged, even if in error, I ask forgiveness, and to every person who ever harmed me, even if they did intend it, I say, “It’s alright, have a drink and tell me what have you seen since we last met?”

The world is alright, if we talked a little, and then if we all talked a little bit more. But people seldom talk as much as they should. When they do, they talk about all the wrong things, and then they wonder where things went wrong.

Bookmark #714

I barely sat to write this past week and lost track of how many days it had been. There was so much to do, important things—some truly important and some only because everyone else deems them so, but to exist, we must abide. But this Sunday, I woke up in my own skin for a change and decided it was as good a time to write as any. Often when I talk to people about things, about religion or politics or society, in general, I softly realise that I am an outcast in more than one way, that I only manage to feign my belongingness in some sense, like a poor disguise, and that the people I meet can slide this veil off in variable amounts. But on more occasions than necessary, I feel out of place, or at least out of step with the world. Things that are apparent conclusions to me are absent from the view of others. I think it is my general competence to follow instructions when I choose to that lets me fit in with this world. If I were, by some odd curse, incompetent, I would have had a hard time building a life. But now that I can carry myself, I can enter the same places as the others even though we all know I should not be there.

Growing up, people often tell you some things that stick with you. One such memory is when someone told me I had raw ability, that it was a rare gift where all my measure of talent had no adjective around it, that I could truly do whatever I wanted to if I set my mind to it, and if I chose to, that it was all like clay waiting to be moulded. As the years have passed, I have seen exceptions to this and found things I could not learn for the life of me, a graveyard of attempts, but I have found that statement to hold its ground more times than I could discount it entirely. Perhaps, I can fit in as well as I do because of this, because of my ability to learn and be useful. It only helps that my only want from life is also this: to be useful. But if I were asked if there was a place I truly belonged in outside of my home, I would say the list is sparingly short, and even then, I would be giving some grace to some. But mostly, I am a part of myself when I am out in the world. I often knit my life across several parts of it to feel complete.