Bookmark #386

We did not remember people in memories. We remembered them in an aftertaste. We remembered the last thing we felt, the last thing we tasted, and then it took over all memories. Anger made all memories red, and indifference made them all blue. This aftertaste, this colour, is what we remembered. It is what’s left forever. All good is forgotten if the last word is sour. All bitterness is gone if the last smile is sweet. When we think of them from that point on, we only remember the last thing we tasted. So many who cut me open are now lavender memories of walking together in crowded promenades with cups of coffee in our hands—love in our hearts.

My mind, my memory was a Pollock painting—a complex, intricate map of colour and emotion; the further you went, the more you saw. I could not know how I moved from one to another. I would be happy, and like how we walk too far over the edge sometimes, I’d realise I was immersed in sadness. I was happy a minute ago; I would ask myself: what happened? Nothing did. I walked too far. It was all there was to it. Memories were not files in a cabinet. They were a canvas of every emotion we’ve tasted before. In all my happiness was my sadness; in all my anger was my peace.

I asked my friends a long time ago: do you also think of a day detached from the current moment? Do you see it vividly like you see this day in front of you? They said they did not care too much for the past, and the little they did, they wanted to forget. I did not understand it, but I did not press. When people don’t want to talk about something, it’s best not to pry, lest they walk too far into the graveyard of what came before. I wondered, how could I forget the first taste of sweetness? And if I had to remember it, I would remember what came before and what came after. I would have to remember it all or nothing.

Everything that has happened before has caused everything that is happening now. Forgetting one to was to forget, to be unaware of the other. Perhaps, that is why people often feel lost. They remember too little; they are too busy forgetting.

Bookmark #385

Each living person had an impossible demand from the world, an insatiable desire. It is something they kept asking of others and something they did not ever fully receive. There was always space for more. They valued it so deeply, so honestly, it is beyond any living person to be on par with it. For most people, this is love or peace or some definition of worldly success. I, on the other hand, needed consistency. I craved it—a consistency of experience, of behaviour. It was something seldom granted and often denied. In my limited experience, most people were terribly unpredictable and unreliable. It made my life much harder than it should have been.

Being impossible as it was, I still wanted it—a simple agreement, some obvious pattern that would tell me what I could look forward to when someone offered me a hand with something or a handful of love. For I was quick to form habits, and how we often grab a cup from the shelf while talking to someone or lost in thought, only by knowing how it is always in the same place, I would try to grab at what I was offered once only to find it was not there anymore, that it was only there once, that once was all most people could muster. And so, my life was filled with a constant wave of soft disappointment, kissing the shores of my days, leaving me for a minute, only to flood back in continually.

Like a concession or a lie to tell yourself, I formed a philosophy around this personal pain. The world was not here to give what we wanted; it was only here to give what it gives. To expect otherwise was to have failed in understanding our unique role: what we crave, we are only supposed to provide. In being loyal, a dog often gets loyalty in return. If there was hope for a consistent world, if there was ever such a world in the first place, it had to start with me. And so, in a world that was fatally inconsistent, I was a corner of sameness, of predictability, of habitual presence. And if I changed, I did it as if handing something over after a sale. And these words were the deed, the contract filled with all the intricate particularities—my fine print.

Bookmark #384

I woke up with laughter today. It was a ridiculous dream about the old school campus from all those years ago. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in my apartment, much older and far away from those classrooms. I laughed at the insignificance of all that used to worry me at the time. Then, I got out of bed and made myself some coffee; I turned some music on, and the little time I did have, I used to dance and look at the sky outside. The weather was fantastic, and I did not have much time to write in the morning. Between promising to help out and sleeping in longer than I intended, I had missed out on the fresh hours of dawn. I wrote a little and left for the day.

Life always gets in the way, eventually. It was the only truth. Anyone who discounted the importance of these external events—other people’s desires, unexpected failures, inclement weather—had not lived a single day in honest existence. In the war of the external and internal, the external always carried more pull. To be human was to be around other human beings. We were not creatures of the hunt; we were a species of community.

Having woken up with a disposition that had unevenly bolstered me for the day ahead, I braved the general frustration of the daily creeping into me. The wind was blowing. I found myself between the skirmishes of dust and leaves amidst the traffic. There is an unmatched urgency on stormy days, with everyone trying to get to safety before it begins pouring. How could one lose their grip on a day like this? It was all so destructively beautiful.

Someone asked me if I loved this town a while back. I told them it was a relationship of love and hate; it depended on the day. It was love today. With all its frustrations, all I had for this place was love. I felt like an integral part, not just a person walking on the street. I was a part of the unique orchestra that was this gloriously inconsequential town, with its trivial history and unimportant urban monuments. In this regularity, we were alike: both run of the mill, with a few redeeming qualities. For me, it was my patience. For the town, it was the rain.

Come evening, both of us had poured what we could, in perfect balance.

Bookmark #383

Like how we often lose grip of ourselves, the other day, I too lost my disposition to nothing in particular. It was a blur of emotion, so I decided to walk to the nearby cafe, which seems to be a panacea at this point. As I sat on the chair and sipped the coffee, I suddenly felt my wits come about me. My smile returned. It was as if I had just woken up, at that very moment, and that the day up until then had been a bad dream. As far as dreams go, it was not a nightmare, only a little unnerving.

Perhaps, it was the song floating about the grassy patio or the flowers, all around, in all colours possible. It may have been the exhaustion, but I felt the urge to tell someone I loved them. Then, it occurred to me how I could not think of anyone when I thought of romantic love. There were no lingering promises—all of them were broken, and no chronic wound—all my cuts had closed and healed. I did not know what to do with this love I felt so suddenly, and in having no one to give it to, I decided to write a letter to no one in particular:

While the world convinces you to go through it all alone in the name of some agenda of their own, I want you to know you can call me at the oddest hours, and I will be there. If it has to be five-thirty-five in the evening, so be it. I seldom have trouble making time. While my culinary talent is limited, I will fix us up a sandwich and some coffee. We can sit on the balcony talking for as long as you’d want to, and if it is silence you’d want, then we shall sit silently and watch the sky change colours and smile at the birds going to-and-fro.

And while the world convinces me not to show an ounce of emotion and keep my truth to myself, I will lay all I have ever felt for every second of my insignificant life in front of you. I am terribly tired and utterly exhausted of us being poster children for those who carry their pitchforks in their back pockets; we could clearly, and much more happily, be in love instead.

I wonder if this was some forgotten, leftover feeling from years ago. I could not have known. I do not know still. I finished my coffee and walked home. Even love, I believe, tends to rot when kept inside for too long.

Bookmark #382

In the evening yesterday, we talked about autumn. I said it was still far away; it’s April still. It’s May, I was corrected. It is May already. April has ended. I did not realise it, I said. I was too happy to notice the changing of months. Time zooms past when one is too happy or too sad. I do not know where my days have gone, but I do not want a tally now. For the first time in my life, I am okay with days passing me by, for I know I am making the most of them. I don’t know where April went. I am okay with it. There are flowers in May. There is music, too.

May. It was a beautiful word; a goddess turned to a month, turned to a sign of hope, of possibility, of chance. To be in your May was to be in full bloom. The simplest words have the happiest origins. They are elaborate stories of silent collaboration, of cultures lending vocabulary to one another, of confusion between what came first and what later, of an unsaid agreement over this is how we shall use it going forward. There was beauty in language; you did not need a dictionary to notice it. If I was, by some magic, sent back to live years ago, they would tell me I was in my May. I would smile and tell them they were correct.

I remember last May: how I struggled to breathe with a foot in sickness and the other in uncertainty. We could never know the extent of how things transform us. It was the only thing that made us human—this instinct to find meaning. It was all we had; it was all I had. The meaning often arrived a year later. That is why repetition was necessary; we needed the days to repeat, the months to repeat, over and over. It was not important to know how seasons changed; it was imperative to know how they changed us.

Hope burgeons all around; some of it has sprouted in me, too. I could not have known it had I not known it was May already. In a blink, it will be autumn, and I may sit in a coffee shop, remembering these words, these weeks wistfully, and then, before I know it, May will arrive again.

Bookmark #381

Last night, after working at a stretch, I lay on my lounger, reading. As much as I did not want to sleep, for I had worked and I had earned this time of relaxation, I felt my eyes get heavier. Slowly, I watched myself descend into sleep on the lounger itself. It was one of the perks of living alone—you could sleep anywhere. I have slept on the rug one too many times. The couch has only doubled as my bed, and the lounger has seen me doze off on enough occasions for me to quickly drift into a deep slumber while reading or taking a breather during the day. I have even dozed off on the faux grass on my balcony on pleasant winter afternoons. It was also one of the pitfalls of adulthood—you woke up where you slept. Perhaps, it was the only thing I missed about being a child. You could fall asleep anywhere, but you would end up in your bed. We don’t miss being a child, perhaps, but we miss this submission to safety.

Nonetheless, when I woke up, I woke up to a spilt cup of chamomile tea. I had knocked it over in my sleep, so I woke up in a burst of adrenaline to get everything in order, get ready, and leave. As I walked to the cafe in haste, I saw a shockingly blue butterfly that slowed me down. Its giant, angular, cobalt wings had me forget everything. Like a very distracted puppy, I followed it until it flew away to do whatever it was that butterflies do on Sunday mornings. In meeting my friend after all these years, I realised how it felt as if I were opening a capsule long buried in the fields of time. People remembered things about you that you had long forgotten. Their questions and stories told us how different we were; we were the first to forget ourselves.

As we got ready to leave, I saw the same butterfly perched on the glass door, looking inside. Of course, it could have been another one that looked the same, but it helped my case and disposition to think it was the same. I came home and made myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Then, I turned on the TV and watched some old cartoons I grew up watching, for no reason in particular besides the fact that I could and that I suddenly missed Sundays from decades ago.

Bookmark #380

If you want to start walking down an uncharted path, and all paths walked in the spirit of your own unique experience are uncharted, you will want to let the weight down before you begin. There will be plenty of resistance from the get-go; it helps to travel light. How far can you drag all the weight before the single, taut rope starts to cut into your shoulder and hand? You must let it all down; everything that once was is no more, and you are alone. It was a blessing, even if it did not feel like it at first. On resistance, there will be others who will not understand. You will hear the echo through the woods, the anxiety of danger, an inkling of someone peering at you. A hive mind of collective misunderstanding will wait for you in the shadows, every day and every night, ready with a pitchfork or two. You must keep walking.

You must walk through the sound, the unease, the loneliness. It was going to be a long hike from when you began, and you may have to walk years before you get lucky. It was all in getting lucky. Many have walked toward this untravelled unknown, and many have disappeared. But if you did get lucky, and if you kept walking, you would reach the clearing. The clearing is where you will build a home. You will go to sleep, and you will open your eyes one day, well-rested and true. There would be happiness, and there would be joy, and the light will play a game of peekaboo with your face as the curtains wave back and forth. The breeze will be soft, and it will slowly enter the room and gently wake you up. It was the only reward there was: a good night’s sleep.

But first, you must walk, and for it, you must let go. The woods are dark and filled with terror, but there is a light in the clearing—flowers grow there.

Bookmark #379

People wrote for different things. I only wrote to make someone, anyone, less alone; that, in turn, made me less alone myself. I was prone to loneliness. I had known this forever. We wrote to give others what we craved for ourselves. Even in crowds, in groups, in places teeming with love, I felt odd loneliness. I did not know what to do with it, so I allowed my mind to wander into the breezy afternoons, in the sunlit sultriness of April, in the muggy nights while I lay with a book only to find something to say. It often came back to me, back to the moment, with a sentence or a few words that I would quickly jot down. It was all there was to it. The words were my doorway to all of these moments in time. All my words were a map. These bookmarks, these soft afterthoughts, were all I had to remember my life. I could not rely on my memory; the little I did not record was often forgotten.

But the purpose of these words was to tell someone I too felt it: in all moments of happiness and those of sorrow, in all longing and all fulfilment, in every echo of laughter and every tear shed, I too felt it, this galling feeling of being alone. I could never put a finger on where it came from, why was it there, or what I could do with it. At some point, between years I cannot quite remember because I did not write enough, it occurred to me I could not be the only one who feels this way. I could not be the only one who builds a home in crowded malls, in raucous cafes, on the streets, only to walk back home and retreat to my own pockets of peace when I had seen enough. No matter where I went, this recipe for my life stayed the same. I had made my peace with it.

I ignored it, this trickling feeling of being alone, like we ignored a leaky tap. It sat there, marking some sort of ticking of time. I sat there, not letting it get to my head until it became white noise. In this unique arrangement, I found my way to happiness. I wondered if it was because I wrote more often, but I could not be too sure. It was the most pleasant spring I had ever seen. I was alone, perhaps that much was true, but I was not lost. It was all that mattered.

Bookmark #378

I wish I knew who cursed me with this striving for perfection. I wish I could ask them why. This picture of flawlessness runs deep within my veins, right along with my blood. This obsession, this want in me for a world worth living in, a life lived correctly, of well-rounded days and ideal interaction, has killed me on more occasions than I can keep count of. If I have ever bled out, I have made sure I did it right. At least, I have tried. So far, my life has been a pointless attempt to keep everything in the right place, to do what I say I will, to improve and improve and improve, and never reach the ideal I have set for myself. I have consistently failed to climb the pedestal I can see ever so clearly in my mind. I have seen it ever since I was a little boy. I jump towards it, but I always fall short.

I had an unachievable standard for myself. I was my worst critic. I was my worst admirer. There was always more work to be done. I did not know when to congratulate myself. The world with all its odd intricacies and make-believe was a reflection of the standard we held for ourselves, of what we were willing to let go or let be. As much as I know perfect does not exist, we could not know, and we could not rest until we got close. The only paradise we deserved was built with calloused hands and tired minds. All that was to be fixed could be fixed; everything and everyone could be made into a better form. All we needed was the will and a little bit of time.

There was little we could do for the world; there was always something we could do for ourselves. It all trickled down into the world, but it started with us. There were no gods; we built the world in our image. I pronounced myself guilty for all trials in my mind. It is the only crime I have ever punished myself for: imperfection. I have only asked myself a single question for all of time: was there a better way? The answer has always been yes.

Bookmark #377

I think I should sleep more. I should sleep for twelve, fifteen hours if possible. I know people who can manage this, but I was far too connected to the world. I took too much responsibility for what I did with the day. The roots of the game were entrenched and dug deep into me. With these words and the way I carried myself, I was just going to be a lousy player. Artists tend to act as some sort of digression from others, from society, as if the whole point of art was not to improve the world you lived in. All art was about change, but you could not change what you did not know. To know how little ordinary people want, to want it all and then reject it was art. You could not shorten this journey. You could not start with the rejection. There would be nothing to reject.

Coming to sleep, I feel that is the only time I am not worried about disappointing someone. For all hints of wisdom in these words I wrote, the terrible curse of never making the right choice hovered over me. If I laid in bed for an added hour, it was to avoid disappointing someone; even this would disappoint someone. The world runs on promises kept. No, not promises of forever, but little promises of yes, I will see you for coffee, and yes, the work will be done, and yes, I will handle the favour, and yes, the errand will be done, and yes, I will go to the bank, and yes, I will file my taxes, and yes, I will make time for you, and yes, I will listen when you want me to. This is the way. Regular people, like you and I, we did not have the luxury of breaking many of them.

Years of civilisation have solely depended upon promises being kept by us. To steal a moment of sleep in the sun and grass, or even your own bed, to make it easier, was the act of ultimate rebellion. I was about to commit it this evening. They would accuse me of high treason, and then they would forget. Too many promises were broken too often; people have promised forevers and then stolen them. Surely I can take an hour or two for myself.

Bookmark #376

For a long time now, love has been a fever dream to me. It has been strange, vivid, incomprehensible, and extreme. It has been recovery through an illness I could not yet name, knowing only that I was boiling, seething, sweating as I lay with my eyes closed, unaware of where I was—trapped. And when trapped, I did not want to get out, not that I would know where to even begin. I did not know where the door was. Love was a creaky, old basement I had trapped myself in, like how a child wanders downstairs in curiosity, failing to realise the door has shut behind them. Like them, I have panicked only when the darkness grew louder, only to run up the stairs and learn the door was jammed. For almost as long as I can remember, I have trapped myself in love, not knowing the door has locked behind me until it was too late. I have gotten out of it in shock, baffled and disoriented as someone told me it was just a bad dream. I have only remembered love as something I am supposed to forget.

There is little I know about soft love, but I know it exists. I have known it has existed for a long time now. Perhaps, that is why I trapped myself in the basement in the first place. When we know something to be true, we scour all corners of the world for it. There is no other way. I am now learning to accept it when I see it, even if I see it once, even if I see it faintly. I see it in the way someone looks at me when I look away or how someone else remembers something even I forgot about myself. I often notice the possibility. The fever dream is all but over now, but I am not fully ready to wake up yet. Like how we sleep in, lay in bed after an exhausting sleep, I am taking my sweet time, too. If nothing else, my eyes are still getting used to the light. I have just left the darkness after all. I still see flowers in the dark.

Bookmark #375

Most goodbyes are never said. You understand them like the sky understands how the rain must leave and how the sun must shine again. For that to happen, it has to let the clouds go about their business until they disappear. That’s how most goodbyes are in life. That is how people are lost. We think we can get used to it—this understanding—but life is too short for it. The sky has been doing this for a long time. Even then, it has trouble letting go. The overcast skies have not left the city for the last week. There was a storm with a chance of rain. People looked up in respite. It has been too hot lately, they said. It never rained. The sky still waits—a faded blue cover over otherwise sunny days.

And what of the rain, the cloudburst? It is inevitable. Nothing is the same after an outburst. It rains to clearer skies, but a lot has to end first, a lot is lost in the middle of it all, and much has to die. Perhaps, that is why the sky prefers there to be no goodbyes at all, for it to be silent. It already knows the scale of what is lost: all the birds that lose direction, all the bugs who feel the wrath of the downpour, all the lightning striking here and there. All storms took too much away, too quickly. And all we had, along with the sky, was the solace of being unaffected. We write poems about it, the silver lining, and how the sun breaks still after each storm.

No one talks about the cost of it all. Storms don’t end until they’ve taken enough. All blue skies carry a toll; someone has to pay it, and the others, the untouched, make poetry out of it.

Bookmark #374

Lately, I’ve made a list of places where flowers bloom. I now walk around town with an eye open for pockets of pretty flowers, trees and plants in bloom, burgeoning patches here and there. It could be a colourful world if we were to look for colour. It could be grey if grey was all we saw. I have embraced grey, and I have embraced colour, and I know why the latter is better. I am now trying to attune myself to as much of it as possible. There is an aesthetic pleasure I am now finding in life. I notice more things more often—like the brown of your eyes and how the light green you’re wearing brings it out, how the light makes it all better, and how I could sit across from you for a long time only thinking about this and nothing else. It would be a day well spent.

As for my list of flowers, I would add more to it until spring ends and then, the following year, I would know where to look. It is often in the simplest undertakings we find happiness. And if I were not here in this city? I would continue adding to it wherever I went until one day, it would occur to me that there were flowers, a plethora of them everywhere, if only I was looking. An inventory of things only told us they were many. We do not take stock of the sky. We know it is there. We do not count stars, for we know there is no point. But this aesthetic pleasure, this childlike curiosity I have with flowers, is new to me, and while I know where this journey ends, I must first go through the motions of compiling this list. Knowing how things end is not reason enough to not see them through. It is often on the way that most pleasures are found.

The start did not matter once we began, and nothing ever ended. All we had was the middle. If you don’t have much to do on a Sunday afternoon and if the rote pondering on your walks is exhausting, counting flowers is an excellent pastime. If nothing else, you could always point someone to where flowers bloom. It was important information.

Bookmark #373

There was an obsession, in my generation, to reduce responsibility, to do the bare minimum on most days, and often, to not do anything at all. I did not understand this because the responsibility did not disappear even if we buried our heads in the sand; it dissipated. It went to the others who did not cut theirs down but lifted it instead. It went to the ones with individual agency, who struggled to keep the world afloat, the weight of the world crushing their shoulders while the others waltzed through life. Out of an unfounded pride, the latter often told the former they should do little. The former only smiled and went about fixing things silently. The latter did not repay this debt. They did not realise they were in one, but just as not paying our dues on time only increased the duration we’d be under them, this debt too was there, forever. No one would pay it. No one would ask for it either. The helpers rarely ask for anything in return. It does not mean they are not owed. It only means they have things to do.

There was a dearth of uniqueness, in my generation; you could hear it in how people talked. The dreams, the humour, the thoughts were all the same. Everyone had the same idea of a good life and the same places for a vacation. The same rote platitudes and maxims covered the need for wisdom, and the troubles were all the same, to the tee. Everything was one immaculate repetition. It was all a charade, some twisted caricature. People listened to the same ten songs month after month. There was no need to cultivate an individual taste for music or books or art anymore; we consumed what was served. There was no need for singular effort. There was no need to think. Our deepest points of view were handed to us on a platter as we went about repeating them, over and over, to talk to others who repeated what they had heard, over and over. It was a nightmare of epic proportions; it was a horror show.

I was not too far from this suffocating spiral of similarity, but I could not shake the feeling of something being off. I was but one man, though. The only person I could take charge of was myself. Now, I’d be damned if it was the answer after all.

Bookmark #372

Epiphanies are a dime a dozen. I state my learnings in passing conversation with friends and family, and if I can’t find someone to listen, I tuck and hide them within these words. All my tiny strands of understanding are uniquely public. I contradict myself through time, repeatedly in a grand display of indecision and cluelessness. But it occurs to me how everyone does this; I only leave a written record. I wonder if there’s any other way to live. If there was, I would not want it. Most of my flashes of insight are about myself, unique to this very regular life I lived, of course. I did not know how to talk about other people, not that I ever saw any reason to do so. I was too involved with myself, in knowing the inner workings of my mind, in observing how I am changing. To me, it was a more noble way, more palatable to live than to talk about others, to cry in outrage for every breathing second of my life, or to be bitter, in general.

Lately, I have learned how it takes a lot to fill the colour back in. I’ve also learned how you have to start somewhere if you plan to get anything coloured at all. A fresh coat of paint looks unnerving, odd, for the first few days. You have to give it time to settle in, to let it talk to your walls for a while, for them to arrive at a unique agreement of who they are; I often tell people they are not a coat of paint but a wall. They seldom understand the metaphor, and if they do, they don’t quite enjoy the permanence of the notion. But walls, too, can change. They can be brought down and built back up again—differently. In many ways, I have understood myself more in the past six months than I have in the past six years. The concrete of the past sets quickly; it takes a lot to break out of a wall you have trapped yourself in. But I am learning I can’t go forward with one foot in the cement of the past, especially when it has started to set. And just because I have been a certain way does not mean I have to continue.

I’ve learned that when a wall gets old and cracked, light often creeps into it. It was astonishing what a little light and warmth could do. I’ve seen fantastic things. I’ve seen flowers break out of debris.

Bookmark #371

I’m slowly learning how to rewrite. I often go back to sentences and things I’ve said before. I’ve been revisiting places—sometimes by choice, sometimes by chance. When we’re writing on paper, we often scribble over something we’ve written poorly; poor not in artistic quality, but the scribble itself is light, faint, and illegible. It has been like that in many ways—this rewriting of memories. There are many written poorly. Lately, I’ve scribbled over things I don’t remember clearly. I’ve added a colourful lie in some places, like how a child draws a crayon animal outline over some critical papers. It is a terrible chore to fix the documents at the moment: an example of the innocent destruction children bring about. Eventually, it becomes a cherished story, a family folk tale, an anecdote for the ages as years go by. With the same audacity, confidence, and innocence, I am colouring the grey days I don’t remember too clearly. All I care about now is filling the colour back in, and if I find no space to do so, to colour outside the lines.

This vibrant spill of colour has trickled into my present. This rewriting has saved me from myself. It has also saved these words. There is colour now, so much of it, I do not know what to do with it. Like how we fix the dull corners when we have a bucket of leftover paint, I am fixing some corners here and there. I do not have much to say about it. The colour does the talking for me on most days. I do not have to tell someone, “look, things are vivid and rich now.” They can often see it for themselves. This burst, this explosion of colour, has not been loud. It has been slow, deliberate and meticulous. At least, it started that way. It is always in how things start. Once begun, most things take a life of their own, but if we remember how things started, we can go further than we believed we could. This was true for some superhuman pursuit, some struggle of the righteous, all tales of lasting love, and relatively irrelevant, deeply personal undertakings like my own.

It was always in how things began, and it was in how we remembered them, and if we remembered them poorly, it was in how much colour we could add after the fact.

Bookmark #370

I woke up with a stuffy nose and a heavy heart; it was spring after all. As I sat down to write, I started staring out the window, my focus blurred as I fixated on a thought and temporarily on a spot of dust on the glass. I was near-sighted by choice. I only cared about the present moment or, at best, the next day. I did not have a plan. I could not make one. I was lost when it came to what would transpire in years, but in every day, in the quotidian, in the what happens right after I have a thought, I was found.

I mulled over writing, over how it was probably not the best vocation to pick up; that if I were wiser when I first wrote a sentence out of sheer overwhelm and no other reason, I may as well have picked a brush or even a camera. While there were always going to be words, something told me there would be fewer and fewer writers. There was a difference. There was always a difference. This thought washed a wave of terrible loneliness over me. I was mocking myself. I did not pick a pen up. It called out to me all those years ago. The pen only called to the loneliest ones of them all. It only called to the ones who could brave it and, if required, who could brave it alone.

All I had was my will, which I had in tremendous amounts. I did not know which ancestor I had to thank for it, but it was the only quality I was proud of; all else faded. This unshakeable resolve I had in me was how people remembered me, if they did at all; it was how I remembered myself, too. It was a curious problem: to have enough drive to power an entire generation concentrated in one irrelevant human being. You could not make friendships on the pretence of some scene, some faux attempt in the name of pushing each other, quite simply because you didn’t need it. That was not to say I did not need friendships—only that befriending someone for some placard inspiration made me nauseated.

All that said, artists like me, we only became examples—more often of not what to do than a gold standard to aspire towards. At least, we became something. There was solace in that much alone.

Bookmark #369

Can a person be a song stuck in your head, an earworm? You’re all I have heard lately, in all songs I have heard lately. What a stroke of luck to find a tune so pleasant, so mellifluous! Once you find a song like that, if you find it at all, it’s all you hear. You hear it in the mundane moment at three in the afternoon when you’re sitting at a desk facing a screen as a mellow track wafts through the sunlit room. You hear it along with the coffee you get in the evening as the breeze whistles about the patio to gift you a few leaves, setting them softly on your table like a child carefully setting down a present made for you. You hear it in the unintelligible music, in the chaotic laughter of a drunken night when your wits are not about you, and your heart is pouring faster than the booze.

There’s only been one tune in my head for a while now. You’re the only song I feel like hearing lately. It’s the only song I can remember. I do not know what to make of it, but I do not mind it being this way.

You’ve stirred something in me, like how a good song stirs something in us as we catch a bit of it while walking around the city or sitting someplace doing nothing in particular. It’s a happy coincidence to hear just the part that grabs us as if every decision up until that moment led us to hear that little riff or chorus or just those two lines of lyric that were written as if only for us. Then, we listen to the song over and over again. It lights up something inside us we did not know existed until we first heard it, something that lay in corners we don’t visit or don’t know of in the first place. I can’t seem to put my finger on it—this unknown familiarity.

I don’t yet know what to make of it, I don’t know if I will know it, but you feel like a song I heard a long time ago, before I heard anything at all. It is all I have to say about it. For now, I only want to hear the music.

Bookmark #368

I could not say if I liked it, but I had a habit of touching death and coming back. I would go for days, engrossed in work, barely eating a thing. I would not sleep for days, guzzling a gazillion cups of coffee to fuel the leftover husk of my body, only to work and get things done. This habit, this self-destruction in the name of work, love, or purpose, was how I remembered myself. I reckon it’s how so many others remembered me, too. I could not be too sure. We could not be too sure how others remembered us, if at all. They say everyone has a fatal flaw. I could not be too sure what mine was, but I reckon this may be it—this taste for a dance with death. I wonder what they say about me when I’m not in the room. Everyone has something to say about everyone else.

He drinks too much, it will take him away, they say for some. He’ll smoke his life away, they say for someone else. He’ll work himself to death, is how they must describe me, and for what? I have no job, no career to show for it, only some absurd projects here and there, and these words are my claim to fame. It was work still; who was to say it wasn’t? It was just work that mattered to me—honest work. It was the only work I was capable of doing. I often forgot to eat or sleep, not because of some pursuit or fire, but out of simple forgetfulness. Once stuck on something, my one-track mind took a long time to look at something else. This dictated the little love I found, the way I worked, and even how I talked.

I regularly hit the hay with exhaustion that knew no bounds, with nausea all over my being, a throbbing head, a body that hurt immensely, a mind that barely worked, lost in a trance of exhaustion. I worked myself like a trusty mule. I did not know any other way. Everything in a day was too important for tomorrow, and given my penchant for dancing with death, I could never trust it would come.

Bookmark #367

I often wonder if I left a lot unsaid. It’s a consistent bother that never leaves my mind, but it’s not true because I could not possibly say all I wanted to say to you. I could not tell you how much I adored you; I could never find the right words, so I would settle for more words than good ones. I was never one to shy away from wasting words as well; look at these vignettes of my inner workings, my thoughts and observations about nothing in particular; look at my wasted hours! All I have to offer are words. Beyond that, there is little I can give anyone.

I could not tell you how much I missed you; each word would be a poor imitation of the magnitude of that longing. If I would say it to you, I would say it out of habit. It would not be an exaggeration; being habitual was the only way I knew how to live. I was a creature of habit, a denizen of the mundane. I missed you like the man who runs through the crowds of the subway station only to arrive the second the gates close, like the utterly naked tree standing by itself in the middle of winter at the minute it watches its last leaf fall, like the roll of a dice that slows down to stumble at the correct face, the right number and then turns one more time as everyone screams in dismay.

I could not divulge how angry I am with you. I couldn’t possibly find the right words. I could not tell you about it at all. So, I settled for a poor excuse: I left a lot unsaid. I left nothing unsaid. I couldn’t have possibly said everything, not if I had all the time in the world. Perhaps, that is why I begged for a lifetime. It wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere, but it would have sufficed like a shoe with a hole suffices warmth on a rainy day, like a little snack suffices hunger at three in the night, like half a sip of coffee left in the cup suffices thirst, like a kiss left midway, with an apology and a farewell, suffices forever.