Bookmark #465

To go forward is not to avoid looking backwards but to not be riled up when you do. Few take years to learn this, many take decades, and some never learn it. To look at something without it grabbing your living soul and dragging it out of your body is the strict definition of closure, but what is closed now was once open. It is okay if the latch is finicky and the lid leaves a gap when it closes. That is the thing about closing something; it can always be opened again. And sometimes, when you have walked far away and look back to see how far you’ve come, by some twisted trick of time, you will find you have not walked at all. It is okay if that happens; you turn back and continue walking. The human body was designed to walk long distances, and there is no road longer than the road of time.

There is a tiny jewelled box, one of a kind, with the most beautiful, masterful engraving on it resting over the cupboards in my heart. Lodged behind many cardboard boxes with labels and few without them, it lies wrapped under tarp and rags. It tends to be knocked over at the slightest nudge. Sometimes, it only peeks out of the pieces of cloth. Often, it falls down, and the lock is so broken that everything in it spills out, and I pick the trinkets up, lock it again and keep it in the farthest corner, away from where I can see it.

As it is with things that are important to us, we cannot truly forget them. And so, the box will fall now and then, and in routine, fastidious as I am, I will tidy up and tuck it back where it fell from, and over and over this will happen. Only it will not sink my heart anymore. Closure is not the closing of things once and for all. It is the opening and closing of boxes over and over again.

Everything that was once opened and stitched close can now be opened up again. It does not matter if it is an old bag, a cardboard box or your heart where it bled. Everything open can always be closed up again.

What is life but the constant opening of boxes, jewelled or otherwise, telling yourself: do you remember this day? Closure is saying this without your world tearing at its seams. But it must be opened and closed again; memories gather dust quickly.

Bookmark #464

Little is required for a good life—only a few tenets to follow, and all shall fall into place. There is little need for elaborate principles and odd philosophies. You must be as kind as you can be, and you must revel in the little things, and in the end, you must learn that most of life is chock-full of little things. There is plenty to celebrate if you are of the mind to celebrate in the first place.

If it is problems you seek, then you must only seek to solve them. No one who is drowning wants someone to point this out. They are well aware. They want someone to jump into the water and drag them out; if jumping is not possible, they must call someone else who can solve this predicament. No one who is drowning once asked: what is happening to me? And so, if you seek problems, and if you come across any, you must solve them or find someone who does. All else is vanity at the expense of other people.

You must do good work. It is the tenet above all. Everything that is done should be done with all your mind, body and soul. A half-hearted effort gives way to an inadequate result, leaving us an incomplete world brimming with gaps and mishaps. To do good work is to give something all you have, regardless of what you stand to gain from the results. Good work demands to be done. Those who do it will find themselves engulfed in happiness despite their reluctance to accept it, despite all their efforts to stay miserable.

Most people are noble and good. If they were not, we would not have a world with such intricacies. If you ever stand at the corner of a street and take it all in—the motion, the taxis, the buses, the stores and the establishments—this great collaboration happening time after time in all cities and towns of the world. Those who jump into the water head-on and those who do good work, knowing all too well or not at all how it makes the world go round, are the inheritors of all good things.

They are the only ones who deserve them.

Bookmark #463

I make a piping hot cup of coffee to start the day. The first sip burns my tongue. I do not mind. The pleasures of living with the heart open at its widest were too many to count, but the start of each day, the same repetitive brewing of coffee and the routine burning of your tongue, was always a crucial detail, protruding and noticeable. The storms and the mugginess of July, the memory of deluges past, have not managed to shake my ground. My heart is open to all possibilities: if it must rain, who am I to have an opinion about it?

With July, hope comes over and over, storm after storm. All our sorrows are washed away in the hope of something better. To have things to look forward to while having your feet rooted in the present was the only way to live. No longer am I lost in the imagination of the future; the future is here, and I am on the periphery of it. All my stories have faded; if there ever was a time to write new ones, to blaze new trails and find new paths to everything that is yet to happen, it is now. The rains of July have shrouded everything that has happened before. I can see little when I look behind; the future seems like a medley of colours.

More of what will be crucial to me is yet to arrive than what has already. Most of what will happen to me is yet to happen. But most importantly, most good I am yet to do is still in my hands. If the year was a coffee shop and the months tables, July reminds me of my favourite table in another city a long time ago. July is the table hidden behind the pillar. It is the quiet corner in plain sight. In July, we rewrite. Beneath the unexpected showers, a quiescent corner of comfort says:

Rest a little; you have walked too far and braved the tenacious tempests of time, and what a splendid job you have done with all you could do. Come the last legs of the year, you will need new stories; July is when you begin writing them.

Bookmark #462

Every ounce in me wishes I could tell you where it all began, where this story of me starting my life anew begins, and in many ways, I know the defining moments of this tale. When we think we know something, it isn’t until someone asks us to put it down into words that we see gaps, glaring omissions, and an astonishing lack of detail for things never recorded or even noticed. As much as I pay attention to things, I have not noted what has led me here—this moment, this apartment, the storm raging outside and me, writing. We do not quite know our moment when it happens, and I am equally unaware. Still, something tells me this will be the most crucial moment in my life.

Like most answers in life, you often do not know the question, only that there is an answer. We rarely understand why the storm brings us comfort. The storm is an answer to a question as old as time, but we know it is an answer. We feel it in our bones. Through that gut feeling, I know this is an answer to a question I do not want to ask, and so, because of that reason, I cannot tell you where it all began, just that it did.

Things happen, and we learn to find some sort of peace in it. We learn to find peace in walking about in the city park, and if it is alone that we must do this, then alone we walk. All life is an exercise in adapting. A person’s mettle is not in what they do but how much they can accommodate. Do not tell me what you can bear; show me what you can find your way around. The answers are always in the omissions and the gaps; it is in what we work our way around. There will always be misery, and the storm will occasionally bring the sky down to the ground, but we must find a way around it.

Most life really is quite like an evening stroll. When you walk about the city, occasionally, something blocks your path. Since you’re walking, you do not stop, and since you’re walking ahead, you do not turn around. You simply find a way around whatever it is that halts you. You keep going, step following after step, never stopping, never ceasing.

And that is just about all I can tell you about how I got here, for that is just about all I know.

Bookmark #461

I woke up early to the rain today. There is no better feeling. To wake up and hear the rain’s pitapat and lie in bed and think about being alive. You just lay and tell yourself, “I am alive,” repeatedly. We are much too forgetful. We should repeat things more often. The tiny fleck of pale light peered from behind the curtains and made silhouettes out of everything in the room. I lay still, watching the curtain move back and forth softly for a while. There are moments in between busy weeks where all things halt. It was a moment just like that: everything lay still, and so did I.

A shiver spread through the air, telling me the rain grew ferocious outside. I got up and out of bed and pulled the curtains wide open. “I am alive,” I whispered. Smiling, I decided to start the day with the highest of spirits. I thought of the rains from last year; I thought of you, but then, I scoffed at how little I have thought of you these past months. And not to cause a scene in this quiescent air, I discarded your name like old, tattered clothes.

I do not wear your name like a badge anymore. I am not sorry about this; if anything, I am proud of managing to dig myself out of an early grave. When love asks you to dig a hole, you break the ground and dig it with an incomparable measure of detail. When it is finished, and they ask you to jump into it and lie there forever, you quietly comply. “It is love that asks for this,” you tell yourself, “there may be a reason after all.”

It was a day like this one, for I remember rain washing the dirt away: I managed to get out. At that moment, I realised I couldn’t let my love for you suffocate me. I was surrounded by fresh air, but I was still gasping. I walked out of the makeshift grave of my own design. I was alive, and there was still time. Of time, there is plenty, even in weeks as busy as these.

There is time to walk and to laugh. There is time to work and to write and to read. There is time to do everything I want and then some more. As long as we are alive, there is always time.

If there’s one thing I know, if there’s anything I know at all, it’s this:

I am alive.

Bookmark #460

Did Van Gogh want to be called a post-impressionist, or was he just trying to paint? I think about the Lost Generation. I wonder what came first. Was the remark why they became legends, or were they simply remarkable enough to warrant being called something? To me, it is the latter, but I often ask what makes us, then? And who would decide what to call this generation, and which is more important, which remark would stick long enough to define those like me? I know there are others like me, even if I have come across only a couple of them.

I wonder what we have to say, or perhaps, in our case, what we must omit. We are a generation gliding across the line that separates distraction and focus. Our art is to omit a plethora of information at our fingertips. Years from now, if these bits of data remain and stand the test of time, a historian and part-time connoisseur of art and literature with tenure at a cushy university will call us something. Until then, we must take this noise and turn all eyes away from it. I know there are others who wish for a simpler world and, when they can’t find it, turn to the blank canvas or a page. It pains me to admit how I have rarely come across artists I have natural, genuine respect for, for no one does it for the sole purpose of doing it, no one indulges in it, no one obsesses over it. It does not matter when I write; I am thinking about it for the entire day.

I went for coffee with someone a while ago, and when I told them I was a writer, they told me they also liked to write in their free time. From that point on, I did not listen to a single word they had to say, for that told me enough about what they were not, and it told me all I needed to know about how much, or in this case, how little, they would understand me, and which is more important, how I live. I do not yet know what will become of me or these words, but some moments are filled with sheer disappointment of not being born a while later or, in this case, much earlier.

To be out of synch with your own times—a terrible ailment. I wonder how many writers felt it. I wonder if they found a way around it. It gets terribly lonely much too often than it should.

Bookmark #459

Everything that once seems impossible to forget can very well be forgotten. It is not a thorn to remove but a mist that fades, giving way to a clearer landscape. You do not simply dislodge an unpleasant moment or a sour event in life. You let it fade away as more things come into the picture—more detail and colour. And how do you forget something that never happened? Something you only imagined into reality? You wait. That is what you must do. You must wait for time to pass. The fog always clears, and the view after is always one to look at. You must bear with it and wait for the haze to dissipate. Heaven awaits beyond the veil of all that you must let pass. There is impermanence in all things. Nothing is for certain; no moment is final. As long as you’re breathing, there will always be a natural succession to every moment. Every second follows another.

Life is but a series of veils, lifting over and over to reveal something else beneath, like a painting within a painting, like Matryoshka dolls; there is always something within, and slowly, it makes itself known. As the veil of the past lifts, joy engulfs everything else, and this too is a veil. It will lift to reveal what it reveals. What is it? I do not know. To worry about things before they arrive ensures twofold regret. Imagination can never truly predict what comes our way; to imagine the future is to stop looking at the present. Worry ensures the loss of both what is here and what shall come. Why put yourself through all that misery? A city is as beautiful cloudy, and misty as it is under the warm summer sun. To prefer one over the other does nothing but limit the human experience.

If this joy passes, I shall wait ardently for what it reveals, of what lies ahead of it. If it is misery? Then misery it shall be. I cannot lose out on the sun out of some unfounded fear of the rain. If it has to pour, I better get drenched while remembering the sun’s warmth than nothing. If you have seen the light once, you have seen the light forever. If you have felt joy once, you never forget how it feels. The rest is the fog clearing so you can see what is in front of you. The fog always clears.

Bookmark #458

I do not worry about what my life will amount to now. I am sure it will amount to what it shall amount to, and it will be as fitting as it would be, and there is not a single thing I would be able to do about it. The only thing I can do today is to accept it all with my arms wide open and my heart open just a tad bit wider than my arms, and I must invite it all—the possibility of what may or may not happen and what I may or may not become. I only have my little corner, my little piece of nothing in the world, and I adore it like nothing else. This peace, this calm, I must drown in it like how we sometimes dive underwater to check how far it can take us, how long before we need to come up. I must drown in all that is around me, and when it is time for me to come out of it, life—staying true to its very nature—will urge me out of it all. But for now, this water looks tranquil enough, and for now, I lay submerged in these days, amounting to nothing but a satisfaction I cannot put into words. In moments like these, we wish we had someone who understood not our words but more: someone who understood the pause, for this is a pause like no other. For better or for worse, I only have people who understand my words. My silences are my own; I do not intend on trading them.

Perhaps, it is not a fight we can win—the battle for a softer, tender, slower world—but it is the only one we must keep fighting. It is the only drum we must march to and continue, by all means necessary, no matter the cost. It is the responsibility of those who can imagine it—the intuitive, the dreamers, the idiots—to keep sounding the battle cry now and then. What is the cry, you ask? It is a different cry, fitting to a different sort of fight. We don’t fight in loud proclamations; we rally with afternoon naps, coffeehouse music, and soft laughter shared on a bright sunny day. And so, in this exhausting air of another clear, hot Saturday, I must lay down, read, and slowly drift off into sleep. It is the only true mission if there ever was one.

Bookmark #457

It baffles me how casually we perceive time, even though we know it is the only thing that makes life go round. It may be make-believe, but so is most of what we do. Time passes, for better or for worse. Fortunately for me, it has passed for the better, and I could not have asked for more. But I must not take this casually for whether I prefer it or not; the clocks will tick, the calendars will change, the months will roll, and the years will go by, and I must learn to adapt when it happens. I must not watch it carelessly. This moment, there will be no moment like this one. I must preserve it all in memory. If possible, I must make an inferior copy in these words.

The coffee will never taste the way it does right now. The sky will never look the way it does right now. Three birds sit on the sill of my balcony, engaged in perhaps a conversation of the highest importance. The sheets of grass are still wet from the rains over these past few days—an odd sort of comfort when I walk about on the balcony. We have been blessed with a brighter day today; with it, the sky has changed to the bluest of blues and responded in kind. The white clouds slowly sail over the blue like ships on the sea, and the hills have never looked greener—islands, interrupting the blue, cutting it short at the horizon. The trees stand tall in the orchard after a bountiful season. The sun shines on us graciously today. A quiet expression of joy is spread on everything as if this landscape understands the flow of time and how it must savour it in its way. What a day to be alive! What a day to experience everything. For all my loss and all my gain, I would not have it any other way; I would want everything to stay the same.

At about one in the afternoon, I come back inside to start working on this and that to pay for odds and ends. The room smells of burnt coffee. Hemingway’s Moveable Feast lays half-read, calling to me, carefully covering the Book of Disquiet. My gaze moves to the plants, which have turned towards the window light as they have grown. I have turned toward it, too, in my own way. All it took was time. There is nothing casual about it.

A lot can happen between two monsoons.

Bookmark #456

Deep inside the caverns of my heart is an unwritten poem. I do not know how it starts, but it ends with: and so, all my choices have led me here. That is all life is, and that is all we are ever meant to be—an end result of all that we chose with the time we had, and more so, what we chose against. Our omissions make us who we become. Our choices are the footnotes, but what we leave behind is the prose.

All of us are meant to become exactly who we are not by some divine dictation but because when we reach the tail end, our choices, made entirely out of our own volition, lead us there. All I have chosen has made it impossible for me to choose something else. Whoever I become will, down to the last detail, be determined by all I left behind, for it too was a choice.

They tell me there is a universe looking out for me. I don’t see myself as necessary for the universe to think about me. Still, I do know what I have left behind, and what they call the unexplained, I call the consequence of choosing against. If I decide against a love that does not serve me, it is no universe that saves me but myself. And what of the hole in my heart? A consequence of the same choice. Looking at the gaping hole, I must choose again to leave it be or fill it with all I can find, and so as I fill it, I leave behind the gift of depth. There is no one choice but a continual choice to lead us exactly where we reach. To live is to choose continually, and to choose is to decide against everything else.

I have chosen to sit at this desk day after day for the past six months and watched the sky change its colours beside me like a dedicated companion, and I have watched the life inside explode with flowers and burgeon with hope.

All life is a secret, personal ballot with votes continually cast to determine where we reach when it ends, no matter when. All life is but a journey to reach the most elusive of all places—the bottom of our hearts. All hearts have the same poem, etched deep within their farthest corner.

I do not know what it begins with, but I know it ends with: and so, all my choices have led me here.

Bookmark #455

When you meet someone, and they tell you about their dreams, you hear with an understanding unlike any other. But then, you meet a thousand people, and they tell you about their dreams, and slowly, you start to notice how everyone wants only one thing: something different. And yet, they do the same things as one another; not an ounce of their life has any difference. It is disappointing. You see the potential of difference as clear as day, but most people live the same way. No amount of time spent with the average person would uncover any quirks or mannerisms because they are absent. As if some burnishing of the soul had rubbed away all their individuality over the years, leaving people with no edges, no identity—only smooth repetitions of the same person with vague dreams.

The fear of being specific made sure nothing would be different. Most people wanted different, but if you asked them, “in what way?” they had no answer. And if you asked them, “would you trade your whole life away?” they refused. It is not something different that people want. It is something of their choosing, but they are not ready to face what it is and what it would cost to get it. Even if they were ready, knowing what you wanted was a study unlike any other. You had to sit with yourself and ask, “but why?” for every desire until you reached a point where the answer was silence.

Everyone wanted the same things because every personality was smoothed out to the extent that all they could do was reflect what they saw. It is the dirty individuality of the dreamers that helps them achieve impossibilities. To be eccentric was to know who you were, to have a rebellion in you like no other, to have a surface so coarse, no one could polish it out of you. It was only then that you knew what you wanted. All else was empty talk with a drink in your hand and the burden of unfulfilled dreams on your shoulders.

To want different, you had to live differently, and even if you did not get what you wanted, you could at least be proud to have tried. All dissatisfaction was a response to having your identity rubbed off you, and the everlasting guilt of letting it happen.

Bookmark #454

In many ways, I had not imagined a life so abundant when I was a child. I had imagined extravagance like children do, but I had not imagined abundance. What is the difference? The pompousness separates them cleanly. I feel a cup of coffee is abundant. A cup of coffee anywhere is abundance. A cup of coffee at the in-house cafe of a fancy hotel, being rested softly on the table with a smile from an attractive server, is extravagance. It is no longer a life I crave; no part of me desires sophisticated luxuries. I pity those who run after them, for they will forever be trapped in a hell of more. I only want an abundant life—where I rarely run out of coffee, music, or joy, for joy is sweet in all its forms, music is beautiful in all ways possible, and coffee tastes like coffee. We cannot change the distinctive properties of things. We can only add a flair of vulgar haughtiness to it all. Good taste is an elitist lie.

And if it is taste one is after, then they must develop not wealth or luxury, but tasteful habits: to read literature and to consume art. No, not for showing it all off, but to experience this world and its infinite pleasures, all with the patience they deserve. There is a sculpture in every tree we look at, an impression in all skies that grace our eyes, and all people who walk on any street of this world are metaphors. And if it is winning one is after, then they must learn to win over themselves: in body and in mind. The body can be a humble abode or a terrible cage; it only depends on how well you use it. The mind can be a brutal master or a reliable friend; it depends on how well you learn to navigate it. To master both is to win continually, over and over, for the rest of your life.

Expensive liquor does not get you drunker, and you cannot make friends out of people who only know you for your usefulness. They will all run behind you, ahead of you, beside you. They will tell you how you need to keep running towards gilded dreams. Keep walking; look around. Look at the field and the lake, how pretty and complete it all is, how fulfilling the familiar face of a friend feels, how abundant life is in and of itself. These are the things of good taste.

Bookmark #453

The irrelevant events of my life are now just stories I tell people at a party. All feeling, all love I held so deeply, is now a cheap laugh or worse, an ill-timed joke, a scoff and a sip of whatever drink is on the table, over and over. All my years going forward will amount to the same—so will the years of others. All lives make for a good joke if told right. I feel this is what numbs people eventually, this tarnishing of what once was the purest of emotion. A joke, laughter, the thud of the mug on the table—that is all anything is ever worth. Where has the time gone? I have slowly written and laughed it away. Where has the sadness gone? It has become material for a show no one pays for but everyone goes to see.

I have told the stories of letting things go for more years than I spent doing it. I have told the stories repeatedly to strangers and friends alike, and strangers who turn into friends especially, so much that I seem to have lost track of what I originally felt. When I look back, I see only stories of stories. The events and how they transpired has faded. They have lost all their originality and charm. The same story gets told, with bits and pieces amassing over it like iron fillings get pulled onto a magnet lying about on the table—banality attracts banality, tragedy begets tragedy, and joy seeks joy.

It is but the curse of the curator, the raconteur: to find stories at all times, no matter the cost. He is the person who suffers the most, with this curse of constant inventory, constant remembrance. I am writing at all times. I think of a metaphor before my heart gets a chance to make contact with the surface and shatter. The story is written while it finds its way to the ground, and so is the joke. And when lost in a bout of happiness, a quiet part of me takes notes.

On the one hand, my life happens right in front of me. On the other, I can’t help but think of writing about it, or perhaps, which parts fit correctly, and which I can conveniently forget or omit. It is a second-hand life, the life of a storyteller. The first draft of all I feel is given to the page or the narrative. The leftovers are what I have when I sit and sip coffee by myself.

Bookmark #452

I am not bitter, but I am cautious. Not an invitation; my happiness is a warning. I shall not gamble with my laughter, for the dice are always loaded, and the house always wins. I return with empty hands and an empty heart—defeated utterly only for the promise of more. When I get home now, I immediately close the door. I make up my mind for a life like this—bulwarked and protected—but something in me leaves the door ajar, almost for a hand to slide in to push it open. Even at my most careful, a tiny opening, a crack or two, lets you see within. We can paint over it as if putting on a disguise, but if there is hope in us, it shall leak and drip and make itself known. Hope does not know to hide. It only knows to open doors.

But what do I hope for in my furtive, almost cloaked manner? Beauty in all things. I leave the door open for beauty to arrive in all forms. I want to read words that take me by surprise and stab me in the gut, to read something beautiful enough that it kills something in me. I want to look at art, find a corner in my heart I did not know existed and be left alone to fend for myself until I find my way out. Music, pictures, and films should be so beautiful they decimate me from within. And love, I hope for love. I hope for a bolt of thunder hitting me point blank and somehow, magically, not killing me instantly or at all. I wait for a love that feels like a cloudburst in the middle of summer. You see, the very thing I protect myself from is the same thing I crave—a love so beautiful that all the flowers around me pale in comparison once again. True beauty exists to destroy you. It should make you shiver. We feared the skies before we worshipped them.

I tread cautiously, not so I am not crushed, but only so I can steer clear of banal beauty and lukewarm love. Beauty is a trial of courage, and hope is the oldest gamble; but some of us have the unique persistence to continue playing, to keep rolling. I should know; I am one of them. I want to experience beauty and passion. I have no interest in the tepid; I want to be scared out of my wits and let it all invade me. If nothing else, I want to die trying.

Bookmark #451

If I shall amass a big enough fortune in this life, and if this happens early enough for me to retain the openness of my heart and mind I revere so much, and if this happens timely enough for me to still have my wits and energy about me, I shall build a library where the coffee never runs out, and as ironic as it seems, I shall have a room there for people to engage in discussion, in conversation. I would let people argue and scream and do it myself. Indeed, reading is a private, intimate activity. Any attempt to make it social is a corruption of it. But once the reading is done, once you have read through the entire book, cover to cover, marked and folded the pages, you want to talk to someone about it. It is a disappointment like no other to read a good book, to have it engulf your actions and thoughts, and have no one ask you a single thing about what has changed within you. A gross injustice—I will fix it in my own way! A place open for all to come read, and when they’re done reading, if they so choose it, a room to rave about it.

The library, this room, will be an invitation to all artists, especially writers, to come from far and wide only to engage in the highest of forms of artistic camaraderie and rivalry alike. Sometimes, when a lot of time would pass, I would stand by the door and listen to their heated debates on philosophy, society, art and all things that affect the world. And we would build a guild of our own; from a tiny wooden room, we would start a cultural revolution. The backroom of a library that never shut its doors, they will say, that’s where it all began. Perhaps, at night, when everyone would leave, if they ever wanted to, I would clean up and sit down to write. I would look back on how once I wanted to escape, to build a cottage in the hills and never come back down. I would chuckle at how people and things change. I have not met them yet, but I know all those who join in will be my friends for life, but more importantly, legendary artists.

But before all of that, before the revolution, before the backroom, before the library, I must burn the midnight oil. A generation of artists depends on it, and truth be told, my life does too.

Bookmark #450

It is time for me to let things happen. To let it rain, let happiness fall in my lap and not shoo it off or ask it to wait at the door. It is time for me to open the door before it knocks. It is, perhaps, why happiness is elusive. It waits, and then, remembering past scuffles, we let it wait. We never open the door out of spite. This spitefulness is what I need to let go of, what I need to let the rain wash off me, wash away, and I shall let it. The other evening, as I stood waiting for a cab, a cup of coffee in my hand, it began to drizzle. I stood waiting. It continued drizzling. I was done worrying about these imagined troubles—problems I create on my own, only to fail to solve them, ending up in a sort of chosen misery.

Since I opened the door to everything that can happen to me, good and bad, everything has indeed happened. It has been my only learning, perhaps, hidden underneath the surface of the many things I’ve learned in this short life, to let go. It all brings me back to an ordinary evening: me, being afraid to keep a cup on the railing, lest it fall; a familiar voice telling me to let go and see what happens; the cup not falling off after all. The lesson is half a decade too late; the voice has but faded into the depths of my memory. I shall do my best with it, in happiness and in pain. I shall let things happen; I shall let it rain. This trust in my fate, now that it is here, what must I do with it besides live? Since time keeps moving, whether we ponder over things or not, I’ll continue with this unbound trust: everything will turn out okay as long as I keep walking.

The latter is something I have always known. I wonder if that is why I met you and you met me. For me to teach you how to keep walking, and for you to tell me to have trust in the path, and for us to go in our own way. I wonder about this as I stare at the blur of the city—grey, faded, engulfed within the pattering white noise of the rain. But what good is wondering? I leave this thought on the wet marble sill of the balcony. I go back inside to begin writing as the music and the rain sing a duet. I look out the glass door. The drops have washed my thought away.

Bookmark #449

So it goes: we think we are the sole gatekeepers, the only experiencers of emotion, the only wardens of a feeling, and we tell ourselves everyone has had heartbreak, but not quite mine, and everyone’s lost a fortune, but not quite like I have. Then, we hear a song, read a poem, or find a story. We learn it is a tale as old as time, that there has always been one person who has experienced the exact feeling, down to the last detail. Suddenly, we are not as crucial to the universe. We are but one of many, and slowly, this happens for all things until we convalesce into the whole.

Everything that can be seen is seen already. Everything that is to be felt has been felt already. The difference arises in whether it was written about; even then, most of it is written about, painted, or expressed. All the essential things in life demand to be written. It is not the prerogative of the writer or the artist to choose their subject. Their only job is to channel it and put it out. We’re but vessels. We express so someone has a yardstick when the ground shifts beneath their feet, when the volcanoes of their doubt erupt, when the rage traps them in a storm, when love engulfs them and leaves them in a blizzard, cold and starving. Even in that, we are one of many. There are no unique people, and even if one argues we are, all people are different in the same ways.

The world runs on irony. To find how we differ, we must first be of the people; to find how we’re the same, we must first try to diverge. And eventually, we must come to the middle in our own way. There’s always a middle. I will always be as different to my fellow people as I am similar to them. It is only a matter of what I seek and what I want, and even then, it is only a matter of what I get. Not all lost roads lead to paradise; not all crowds are true and right.

There will always be a tattered note before every lost road: I travelled this, too. There will always be one person who hesitates within a crowd: I think of leaving, too. This is the job of the artist. To help the conformers defy and to help the defiers conform. The artist must always stay suspended in the middle. Everyone else comes and goes.

Bookmark #448

The cold morning air has subsided while I have sat here, staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor. The hills have turned hazy again as the city has come to life after a bout of early rains. The sky is still a bright blue, filled with fluffy white clouds. It does not seem it will rain until the evening now. I have noticed all this and more in the past two hours. Perhaps, three. It is natural to lose track of time when one is procrastinating. And since it will not rain for the foreseeable hours, I have no excuse to not begin writing.

Until a few hours ago, I could still make my case to the council in my mind: I was relishing and embracing the weather. You see, I have waited for monsoon for a long time now, and I am not like other people. It has rained daily for the entirety of last week, and it is all everyone wanted. The sultry summer air has been replaced by a humid waft or a cold shower, with nothing in-between. Now, most people want something else. They want it to stop, but I am not like them, so I sit and watch the rain for as long as it shall last. And therefore, the writing has to wait. With a case strong as this, I would convince my mind that this delay in my writing is justified.

And then, to convince me further, I would think about July. I would talk about how July has arrived. With it, only a single lesson graces the skies outside my window: nothing good comes from interrupting the flow of time. With an argument as strong as this, I could not deny myself this hour of prolonging, of staring at a blank page. Of course, now that the sky is clear, my defence has fallen apart, and I am nothing but a delinquent, wasting time. It is surprising how quickly things change. And as the world around me conspires for me to begin, to let go of this slow dilatoriness, this languid disposition of a slow Saturday morning, now turned into an afternoon as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, it occurs to me I am out of coffee.

And like a stubborn mule, I sit at my desk, unwavering. There is a certain charm in not doing anything after all. Oh, to be the most prolific of sloths, the most productive of slackers, but on most days, a lethargic fool.

Bookmark #447

If I was meant to write a hundred good sentences in the entirety of my life, I must write a billion, hoping to stumble to the hundred. To wait for genius was to waste it altogether. There was some of it in all of us. If I sat around waiting, I would wait my entire life. I had to write and keep writing. There is gold in me yet. It only shows up mixed with the rest, but it does show, and that is all we ever want. To not share the gold in you, no matter how little or how much was theft from the world. It was a gross injustice and a blatant crime. With this understanding, I only wish to write; I don’t wish to write the perfect sentence anymore, but god, I wish I knew how to stop trying.

And what if I run out of things to write? Then, I shall write about nothing, for no writer ever writes about anything after all. It is not the subject but the writing that says what is essential. It is pretty easy to talk about the important things; they are important already. Paint me a picture of a pebble, paint it with words and make me fall in love with it. Then, I shall lay down my pen and kneel before you, my life in my hands, ready to serve. To write about nothing in particular and to do it well is the mark of an exceptional writer. And when a friend asks me what I want to become, an advocate for the undiscussed is what comes to mind. Of course, I do not tell them this; I keep it to myself. My telling them who I aspire to be does nothing; my sitting at the desk every morning is what gets me there.

Like love, like all noble things, to chase greatness was to muddy it, to insult it. It was the most vulgar pursuit a person could indulge in, and yet, all writers did it. Despite their bold claims, all writers aspired to be great. Greatness greatly differed for all of them, naturally, for no two people look at a pebble and paint the same picture, but all of us chased it. For me, greatness is my hundred great sentences. If I can manage them, I will have made my mark. It seems to be a simple errand, but it is anything but routine, and yet, this routine churning of words was how you got there. To be a writer was to be a banal being who dreamt of greatness—a living contradiction.

Bookmark #446

The world demanded complexity because simplicity made it uncomfortable. Things, simple things, like living properly, were impossible to comprehend unless you committed a sort of social treason, refusing to conform to the accepted criteria toward it. As you found your way into greener pastures and flowering fields, they often asked how you arrived there. And when you told them the answer was nothing, they did not understand. They wanted a ten-point guide and a seven-step plan, but there was absolutely nothing to it. The fact that the answer was as simple as stopping to look around now and then did not sit well. The machinations and forced intricacies of the modern age make it impossible for simple things to exist, yet they do exist. Some of us keep them alive.

There is little else I can think of as I have finally started to breathe after spending months building a life as simple as I can at the moment. Perhaps, one would say, I have become complacent, but for what? I do not yet know. For most of my life, I have chased myself; I could always see myself—a better myself—walking ahead. I would always run behind it, and I would always stumble and fall short. In many ways, I have always wanted to become who I knew I could be, and I have reached a semblance of it in more than one way. I don’t know if this is a temporary respite from a lifelong chase, but for the first time in my life, I am not running. I hope these days are not numbered. All the surety I demanded from others, I was only meant to find. All this grief I now understand so well, I was only supposed to leave behind.

And so when someone asks me how I got here, and I tell them I arrived when I stopped running, they think it to be a riddle or some sort of jest, but it is the only truth I know. Until we stop running to catch our breath, or altogether, we cannot see where we are. Most happiness is passed in a blur when we zoom past everything; most life, too.