Bookmark #782

Nothing ever goes per plan. Every birthday reminds me of this, and today, as I sit here beginning anew once more, it occurs to me that it is all about the strides made and the miles travelled. Whether we become the best versions of ourselves or the worst ones is not entirely up to us, but we must make some attempt to get there. I sit here with this apartment’s resident cat beside me and catch up on some television shows I watch regularly. The cat does not say much, but it lets out a mew or two to let me know she’s there. The sun sets outside the window’s grills, and the palm trees’ shadows are cast all over, almost till the sofa-bed on the far end of this hall where I sit, stroking the cat’s head with my headphones in. Today is a day of rest—which I was chided for by everyone who called me on the phone to wish me happy birthday. I responded to every inquiry about the plans for the day with chuckles and laughs. I will sit here and watch TV. I think I have partied enough for this week. And as I said this, it occurred to me that I had fallen into my pattern once again—of wanting to go home before the trip ended.

In any case, I think about this twenty-sixth year I have spent in this world, and I have so much to be happy about; it would be unfair if I counted the few times the plans fell flat. But despite how things fare or how the times come and go, I have made strides. Whether they have worked or not, I am not at liberty to say—not yet. But the attempts were made, and sometimes, plans did come to pass. Perhaps that is the only thing we can be sure about.

We are free to make our choices, and we then live with whatever they lead to. There is little else I want to think of today. That, and maybe just this: I do not feel any particular pull of emergency in this life. I have done some things, and plenty remains undone. There is still time—nothing but time.

Bookmark #781

I stand in the shower and watch the sand dissipate from my feet. It is already the evening, and we have sat in the sun for hours, sipped enough beers to get an army drunk, and yet walked through the market overflowing with trinkets only to get back into the flat that we get to call our own for a few days. This air of degeneration and aloofness all around me has made me feel so content I now see why some of my friends were pushed to the extreme end of sitting with their hands idle and their minds full of useless hay. I now see it all because I, too, am compelled to do the same. Sitting today, staring at the sea under the golden sun, napping before I knew it, and waking up only to find the off-white embrace of the entire scene in front of me made me feel extreme complacency. I remembered all this just now when I took a shower and washed the sand off my feet. All my friends are asleep, too, and I sit here thinking I will be twenty-seven years old in a few hours.

Today, a hawker approached our deckchairs while lost in the aether. She had some necklaces made of rocks and beads. “For your girlfriend or sister?” She said. “I don’t have either,” I said, “I am as loveless as you might imagine, even more.” I laughed and said, “No, I don’t need it, thank you”, and then she left, walked to the adjacent set of chairs in the adjoining shack and continued her pitch, hoping to sell something. I forgot about what she looked like in that second or that she existed, not because of apathy but because I was utterly lost in whatever I could find in the blank sky. I only remembered her when the sand slipped away from my feet, over the toes, along the scar I do not remember receiving. In fact, I placed all of today in that second, and then, I came out of the shower and took another beer out of the refrigerator.

There it is; this is how I need to be tonight. I cannot remember I have no one to buy overpriced necklaces for. Not today, no. Today is not a day to remember but to forget. I will walk into tomorrow with a freshly wiped slate, as we always intend when the year turns over a new leaf. We tell ourselves things will be different, but they are the same eventually in different ways.

Bookmark #780

In a drug-fuelled rage last night, I turned completely inward to the worst alleys and corners of my heart. Infested with nothing but hatred, I took some wrong turns and all of a sudden, all I could see was red. There is little I remember, but I do remember an out-of-body experience where the side of me that is furious at the world came out and took its place in the centre stage. In everything I said, I remember repeating, “I am angry. I do not know who I’m angry with.” But some things were said in the hour or two of my soliloquy as my friends sat around me and I walked around the apartment in the utmost frenzy of paranoid rage. They were true, of course, but we do not say some things. I could feign the blame and say I did not mean them, but the truth is I did. One by one, all of my friends tried to calm me down. One by one, they all failed until I got exhausted and slept. In the morning, I did not say a word, embarrassed not at what had happened but at the fact I had things in my head, thoughts they would not have expected me to. But we do not control what we think of, and anger is normal. I am only grateful that the four people across from me are still sitting here. One is playing with a football, knocking it around, waiting for the other three to get ready. We are about to head to the casino, where the drinks will be unlimited, and the luck, I hope, may be on our side. Not to make us millionaires, no, those things are reserved for the films, but enough that the fun remains.

That is all it is, mostly. It is a gamble to have people in your lives, and as angry as I have been at things, many things—a list long enough for me to never be able to put it all down without some aid from a tablet—I think I have still picked the right cards, or at least, not as bad a hand as one might hope. I claim to be many things, but after last night, I think that is all it is: a claim. I am no longer sure I am a good person. For all the things that live in my head, for all my anger, I am anything but that. I am, however, trying to do better. I hope that counts for something. What else is there?

Bookmark #779

I have sat to write a bit too late—a whole day has passed, but something done is always better than nothing, and so, I sit here in this vacuous bed and breakfast hall, surrounded by an annoyingly bright sofa and a couple of bean bags of the same red. I have lost track of what is in my system, but I think the nap I just woke up from was necessary. Of all the people I came with, only two are here in their rooms. I do not know where the others are—probably walking down the market road right outside the alley which leads to this building.

Yesterday evening, we sat at this very empty bar with a sprawling view of the sea. At some point, as I looked at the sea, perhaps because of some principle of Physics my brother would remember, the sunglasses I wore filtered all the unnecessary bits in the sea, and all I could see were static waves in the centre, pretty much exactly how it was on the old television sets when you did not have cable or a signal or a rat had chewed the wire off. But a forced simile or not, it sure was beautiful. I stared at the sun and watched the water, and for a minute, I felt an untouched sort of joy. It was unnecessary to even talk to the friends I was there with. I could easily have sat there for years if not for the loud music—an insult to the gurgling of the waves and the murmurations of the sea. But then, it was a club in the end, and they do not care for the view or the peace; they only care about charging you cover for overpriced beer and food.

It does not matter, though. There are good things around, and life is comfortable enough—barely any complaints if I am honest. But still, I can sense that I am angry at things that have long happened, that I could not control then, or I could not control even if I knew exactly how they would transpire. But I must walk off it year by year, footprints in the sand or whatnot.

In any case, this wayward piece is but me trying to catch up with myself. There, I backdated it for yesterday. We must make room for life in our pursuits, not the other way around.

Bookmark #778

Earlier today, I lay under the sun for hours, watching the waves and drinking pints of golden beer, one after the other—almost lost count of them and track of the hour. Well, at least until the bill arrived, but that matters little. What matters is that I was completely present in the moment I will now remember forever. Every breeze that blew across the beach was felt in earnest—felt, recorded, and remembered. Every lash of crashing waves was heard, the echoes of which will remain etched into my memory like the grooves on vinyl. All I need is a moment to read them carefully; all of it will play in all its glory without a stutter or hiccup. But how could I afford this moment? Three of my friends had gone in search of a football. One was out in the sea taking a dip. It was a window, and to be honest, I had written this entire passage then. I had not jotted it down, but the sentences were arranged as if they were the metallic type form in some old-school printing press. The only thing that was left was to press it onto a page.

When my friends finally returned, we played football with complete strangers on the beach. Of course, this was expected. Things are always mostly as simple. A few people go to the beach with a football and start kicking it around. Before you know it, the ball is kicked astray without intention and entirely in error. But then, someone kicks it back and asks if they, too, can join. One by one, this happens until enough people join in, and goals are drawn in the sand, flimsily demarcated with flip-flops. The game begins. As I said, this is nothing new, but when it happens, you do not compare it with when it happened last. You do not say, “The fun we had that day was better than today.” You never say things like these because joy is joy.

Lately, I have felt incredibly attuned to the present. I had no doubt today that I would be at the same amount of peace had I never come to the beach. It seems, I have come across the incredibly commonplace realisation that wherever I go, I will still carry all of myself with me. Only now is it not as difficult. Often, I forget I’m carrying something at all.

Bookmark #777

As I wait for my friends to pick me up so we can go and get drunk three thousand kilometres away, I am compelled to think about the quintessential contemporary experience of being young in this time and age. There was a time when the world was separated not just by borders but also by different periods of time, by entire eras. Now, there is no common denominator better than a pint of beer, down to the same brands consumed everywhere. If marketing has any victories, it is this—global parity in some things. No longer do we tell our stories while keeping the location in mind. We only tell the year, and it all is understood. You might say my knack and, well, obsession to avoid mentioning names of places I visit fits like a glove over these days then. But, well, this is a play with an audience of one—the director. No matter how well I write these words, only a handful of people ever read them. All cards on the table, I do not believe, even for a second, that I am as adept at crafting them as I would like to be in the first place, so who reads what is a moot point anyway.

Now, the important thing for the next week is, of course, to keep writing regardless of how inebriated I am—it is never easy doing that. Not because the act of writing becomes difficult per se. With all the practice I have had in doing it, I can maintain grammar and spelling regardless of how much whiskey is in my system. It is difficult because, at that moment, you become convinced that doing anything is better than sitting and writing a few words. There are fewer things more brutal than this: to resist yourself. They say willpower comes with practice. I do not know about that. Each day I sit facing the screen, it seems like a battle I am fighting for the first time. Most days, I win, but if I said most victories come easy, I would be lying.

Bookmark #776

The fragrant aroma of the hibiscus, cinnamon, and clove tea moves about the apartment in its placid stupor, and I think of nothing but how all of my words are stolen from others. All my writing is a collaboration. Even this thought, I seem to have blatantly yanked out of one. I plagiarise moments. There is no punishment for this crime. If anything, there is an infinite amount of what they call inspiration. But this makes me terribly dependent on others.

What is a thought but a response to something someone said or did? All we think is a response to the world and, if we look closely, to other people. Most art is but a collection of things you could not say, or maybe said enough times for them to turn into a bad case of the boy who cried wolf. You can never say something in the right amount. You always fall short or overshoot. The only time people are precise in their speech is when they are characters in a novel or a film.

Ordinary people who live their lives do not have the luxury of a redo or a retake. They say things: sometimes too much, often too little. Then, they live with it all. Then, people like me come along to steal those words they spared lavishly. The sentences write themselves. All I have to do is listen, and if I catch a word too difficult or a thought too heavy, to jot them down.

Even the beginning of this piece, the particular blend of tea is in my memory because a friend drinks it more often than I do. I drink chamomile. Today, even this cup of tea is stolen.

This night, the tea on one side of the window and the October air on the other seem torn out of some masterpiece I could never write. Every moment I can capture is an unfaithful representation of the life I live. All the parts I omit are things I could never come up with, even if I sat staring at the white page for days or even decades.

This disappoints me, but then, even my disappointment is foreign, quite like a word you pick up on a trip long enough to pilfer a word, but short enough that you never learn to say it quite right.

Bookmark #775

I sat with my hands at the marble patio table, holding my glossy, enamel-coated white ceramic cup. A light gold border accented its rim and handle, which glinted at the setting sun. A posh place, of course, given the delicate cutlery. But then, are the rich that careful? I would not know. For us—me and my friend—this was new. To sit on a patio like this one, drinking out crockery made from touch-me-nots, was all new. It would have been an absurd thought even in imagination once, but now, we could sit here and talk as if we knew some things about life.

This was years ago, of course, and since then, I have visited often. I always walk there, order an Americano and sit outside on the patio, watching the blue and the green around. I have made a habit of holding the cup in both hands and slowly turning it to and fro in the dimple of the saucer. Why do I do this? I do not know, but it seems to be something I do consistently. It is a simple pleasure. I do not have an explanation for it, nor do I have an excuse. It is one of those harmless quirks we pick up from nowhere.

The other day, I sat there again with my friend at about the same golden hour. The same glint reminded me of the first time we had coffee there. I listened to what he said with one ear; the other I lent solely to the birds because they seemed to be saying something far more vital than whatever rant my friend had up his sleeve.

It is always something with us, people. Perhaps that is the problem. We think too much about it all. The birds? They but sit in trees around places posh and poor, acting as if they belong wherever they go.

Bookmark #774

The day began with rains—unexpected, cold, but all the more welcome. Suddenly, winter had begun in one fell swoop, and hours of winds blowing all over town and never-ending showers. When the rain did stop, it was already nightfall. I sat there working, forgetting all about the first thing I said after waking up. “This is a day for long naps. Whoever works on a day like this?” But then, I had worked for the entirety of it. Life had decided not to go per plan again. I was not disappointed by this; if anything, I was happy. I had spent a day doing something I do not quite detest.

Sure, living your days doing things you enjoy is a blessing, but most of life is not about blessings. It is about whatever is left if you count all your blessings away—the space. The dishes are not the most vital part of the day on most days, but they are what is left when all is said and done, when the hours have passed, when it is all over. It is still a blessing to have dishes around the sink. More than most people imagine or, often, are willing to admit. We are taught to hate the ordinary. Everything must either be some grand adventure or a sordid tragedy. There was a time I would have cried and thrown a fit over being stuck in a rut and being forced to work for others, but now, I see it as what it is: freedom. As long as I keep working, I can keep writing these words, which will be better for it, for they will not be exchanged for bread. They will be pure and untarnished, honest and unadorned, just and fair. It is the greatest thing an artist can do for themselves—build a life outside of it.

A few years ago, a friend and I sat on the grass in the square enclosed by the many buildings of a mall complex in a busy city. We would get coffee and talk about how we would keep working as artists and finding new ways to say things we wanted. I am still waiting for his film to come out. He, perhaps, is equally eager for my book. But when I meet him now, he never talks about art. He talks about ads and money, and bending his camera till the cash is in focus.

But you could do that and not sell your soul, I wonder. I do not know how to tell him this, but I wish I could; God, I wish I could.

Bookmark #773

Sat last night and imagined, once again, the kind of book I want to write. My perfection got the better of me, and I did not begin again. This is not a new lament, but it has begun to strike a nerve. I will soon be twenty-seven years old, and I hope when I am at the beach, getting drunk out of my wits, I will also remember that the book remains unwritten. It is not that hard to sit and write things. If these words are any indication, I reckon it is the easiest thing to do in my life. It is only the indecision of what story I want to tell, and no, it is not cluelessness—I only seem to have too many ideas. It becomes impossible to choose. The average life, and this is by all means an average one, gives you so many stories that if you sat and began to write all of them, you would be dead before you knew it, having only waded in shallow waters of the pool of potential tales to tell. But then, if I do not write at all in this paralysis, I would be dead before writing one. It is a simple argument: you write what you can. And I know this, I know this, but I must begin, I must choose, and that is a fatal flaw: I want everything, and since everything is impossible, I get nothing in the end. I want to chase every vision, every idea, and every person I could ever become, and now, I see this flaw is reflected even in my writing, or lack thereof. I do not have a defence or answer for “How long will I write these vignettes, these meandering, twisted pieces that go nowhere, instead of stories and books filled with stories?” The irony of writing day after day and being unable to say, “I write stories” is not lost on me. But it has started to get under my skin. I believe that is a good thing. It has begun to stare at me like a ghoul hiding in the corner. Every piece I write is an excuse I make not to write the story I wish to tell. There is little else to say. It is a Sunday. I have written again. I do not know what to do with it. All these words are words wasted.

Bookmark #772

I did not think of much today, but I did learn a few things about cocktails and art in the Islamic age. Unrelated trivia, of course, but it pays to be curious. At best, it comes in handy at just the right moment as you surprise everyone. And if it is never used, it is good to share with friends at a party. When will the moment arise to segue into it? You wonder. There always is a moment. If it does not present itself, you can always begin with “Did you know…” and it would be some fact and not gossip, and everyone would be glad for it.

There is so much to this world. Rich, multi-faceted histories have come along as strands of thread, and continually, we weave them into what we call life, the world, society, what have you! But how many people study the strands? How many people keep track of them? The world is, after all, ever-evolving, ever-growing.

I am guilty of not doing it enough, and I have always been one of the interested ones. What do the others have to show for all their years living? What is a person who does not know a few things about the world they live in? Sharing knowledge with your fellow people should be on a person’s list of high priorities. But people seldom read, and if they do, they do to gain something out of it. And when I say gain, I mean the ugly bits—the next promotion, the next bag of money, the top spot in some collective imagination. But knowledge is noble, and we must always consider it the highest of pursuits.

If someone pretends to be a lawyer and wins every case that comes their way, who should be in prison—the fraud or the qualified? It depends on how you define both of those words.

At the time of writing of these words, the world does not define them well. I wonder how it all came to this.

Now, now, isn’t that a good question to ask?

Bookmark #771

October has begun showing its cards. There is a nip in the air, a whiff of restfulness, a coat of pink on everything in the evenings. And with this change in season, I sense my heart quieting down further. Lost in the daze of comfort, I do not wish to go out of my way for anything. The path I walk in this life, regardless of how banal and ordinary it is, will lead somewhere eventually. There has been good, and there has been bad, and somewhere between them, I’ve learned not to hold onto things too tightly.

The other day, my mother told me about a man from our city who, in his second wind, had decided to buy a small store, spending every penny he had in the process. Then, a week later, to the dismay of all who knew him, the government had declared some land theirs, and I do not know the specifics of it, but that was the last thing he ever experienced. They say he died of a heart attack from the shock of losing everything, but when I heard this story, all I could think of was how he could have still managed to do something had he lived. Still, what is sad is sad, and we must mourn people who come to unfortunate ends.

But there is a lesson in it, I believe. I would prefer to be alive even if I experienced some great misfortune. I wonder if this is what all the Zen monks and rich people mean when they talk about detachment. I reckon that is it—we must not hold things too close, even if they seem valuable and important. We must try our best to protect them, but when things happen and if they are out of our control as things often are, we must not let them get close to the crucial organs of the body—the heart, brain, or even the liver.

As long as we are alive and able, we are capable of dragging ourselves out of things. We must manage even when things seem impossible. Most things always seem impossible. And yet, we must manage somehow.

Bookmark #770

So much to do in this life, and yet, I procrastinate to get some coffee with a friend, and dinner, of course, how can we skip dinner? I wonder why this is the case. I wonder why the gnawing feeling of not having written a single word since the morning seems nothing compared to when you are lost in the delirium of conversation and coffee. Now, it may seem ironic that I am writing about this—it suggests I was able to keep the fight up and managed to write some words regardless. But I must put my foot down and say this is not true. It is only that a convenient window must not be left unutilised, and here, I have found one, and I have taken the time to write. Isn’t life this melange of ironies, of things that should not make sense but they do? How unlikely, how almost impossible most things seem, and yet they do happen, time and again, over and over.

In my heart, today, I have nothing but a kind appreciation for the complexities we play with every day. We casually toy with improbabilities and call it hope; when hope does come to pass, we forget all about how impossible it felt. To think I thought I would end up by myself, alone and reclusive. But for all my tendency to lock myself in a pocket of my own, the world has extended a hand forward. I look at this life, the people here, there and everywhere, the times they ask me how things are, and the times I tell them they are okay, that there are tribulations, that I am solving them one at a time. How nice it is to have someone who says: do you need any help with that? How nice it is to have someone who listens to your problems and how beautiful it is that, if necessary, they are willing to laugh at them, too.

All of us only need this: some food, a drink, some laughter, family, and a few friends. The rest is as rest goes. You do some work to earn some money. And if your friend is meeting someone at a cafe for work, if time allows you a little window, then you quietly sit at a different table to sit and write.

Bookmark #769

What is friendship if not meeting people you know in different places and years? At cafes you have never been to, in bars in some city you did not think they would ever visit you in, in all the apartments you crash in on a work trip, in halls and rooms you never imagined you would share. The casual intimacy of telling someone:

“Here is who I became since we last met. Yes, I like the colour brown now, and yes, that painting on the wall was made by a friend. Did you not know about it? Oh, of course, how could you? Silly me. We’ve only met after so long. Yes, yes, this is my city now, and this is the bar I frequent. Wait, let me call a few friends from here; you’ll like them. Funny how it has been so long, but it does not feel so. Tell me, what happened to you in all the months that have passed?”

It puzzles me in the most genuine, most beautiful ways when I see a friend outside the context I first met them in. To see time pass in this visceral, personal sense makes me think there cannot be a feeling that parallels this one.

“Yeah, this is the cafe we often visit here. Oh, they know me here, or at least, most of them recognise my face. I tend to drink a lot of coffee, as you know. Well, of course, you know. You were there when the habit began. When was it? It was a long time ago, but it only feels like yesterday, right? It would have been a shame if things were even a little bit different and I did not meet you in class, at work, at the bus stop, in the strangest of places, in the most boring of parties, in the wildest of coincidences, in the spur of the moment.”

Look at us now.

Bookmark #768

I stopped working for a bit in the evening and looked outside. From nowhere, in particular, an opportunity of a thought appeared in front of me. What would life be if certain things went a bit differently, not in major ways, but small, almost accidental ways? Owing to the kind of errors that possibly arise for no one’s fault, only out of randomness. What if I had arrived a bit earlier to some places, a bit too late to others, and what if I had chosen to stay in some? Especially the third one, I reckon, especially that in so many places—just a day more, or sometimes, even a second sometimes.

I stood there, facing the thought and the comforting pink of early October evening, and I thought I could do it. I could talk my life down as if it is some consolation prize, some participation trophy, as if this day is not the main event and these years are not the main series of events anymore, that it all branched off somewhere without my realising. I could do that and tell myself that. Most people are convinced this is the case, too. They are confident that they live in some substandard copy, some knockoff product at the corner store, a facsimile with a glaring error only existing to be discarded without a thought, a faux version of the real thing. I could do that; I could tell myself that and water it all down. I could tell myself this sunset should not exist, that this evening should be stricken off the records of this universe. I could strike it all off on my own if I wanted to, but would it be fair?

Yes, tell me, would it be fair to pick one laughter over another, replace one sorrow for the next? Could we be as proud to trade in these extravagant entities? If you put a sky beside another, would you be able to tell them apart? It seems easy, in theory, to want things to have transpired differently. But to lose this life, to lose every little moment, to never meet the people I only met because I was too late, too early, or because I was stuck in the rain, is an impossibly insane idea.

Having pleaded my case and convinced the jury of one, I sipped my coffee and began working again—nothing changed, as nothing should.

Bookmark #767

I stayed up the entire night sneezing, tossing, and turning, finding some angle that pushed enough air into my puffy sinuses. No luck, of course, so I called in sick and slept sitting up. Some things have ailed me for as long as I can remember. You’d think I would be used to these mild annoyances by now, but no, it is always a fresh experience.

The antihistamine I had in the morning did not do much, and it seems, finally, a hearty meal of scrambled eggs, warm and perfect, has done the trick. The coffee, scalding hot, sits beside this keyboard. It should reach a potable temperature by the time I write this piece. I am in a hurry because I could use all the warmth. If this piece takes me too long, the coffee will be lukewarm and watery. This is not usually concerning, but today, I do not have anything but self-preservation on my mind.

The most important thing is keeping my wits about myself. I think no other ailment grinds my gears as much as chronic allergies. Allergies to what, you ask? I wish I knew! When I was in the middle of my adolescence, a doctor conducted a peculiar investigation. He ran two tests.

The first was a detection test, which told whether you had allergies in case the runny nose was a farce. Lo and behold, it was an allergy. The test came back positive. The second was about finding what from. They tested my blood against over a hundred usual, expected allergens. There was no match.

“Interesting,” said the doctor. “It seems you are not allergic to anything.”

“But doctor,” I asked curiously, “the detection said yes, did it not?”

“The detection was wrong.” He said confidently.

I sneezed and asked, “Are you sure?”

“I am. We’ve tested your blood against everything you can contact regularly—no histamine flare-up. There is no allergy.”

I sneezed again. A trail of snot now began to fall out of my nose as I quickly grabbed my handkerchief.

“I am so confused. You can see I’m sneezing, and I am not sick,” I said.

He tapped his hands on the desk, and that was that. Since then, I have had regular days and whatever you’d call today. The only thing is to never run out of antihistamines and warmth. Yes, warmth.

That reminds me, where is my coffee?

Bookmark #766

Frankly, what complaint can I have? The money is flowing in—not too much, not enough for me to live in a mansion or fly in first class, but not too little either. The coffee never ends; there always is enough to make a cup. The year flows towards its end, and there have been some nitpicks, some deliberations, but all of that withers, facing all the joy. This life has turned out to be a decent one, and the building blocks suggest things will only get better from here on out. I do not mean there will be no troubles. No, I expect trouble to take its fair share, cut its fine slice, but what use are the good times if not to be remembered in times of trouble? And of them, I have plenty. I am confident things will be fine; if not at first, then eventually.

The evenings are nippy now, and the year has begun descending into its last stretch, its tail end which has, perhaps, given rise to this introspective mood. Even with the sun shining outside, you can still tell it is October. There is but awe in my heart at everything. Today, I seem to have begun the day with pumpkin spice appreciation—spicy enough to cut, sweet enough to revel in it, strong enough to be remembered. Days like this will serve as anchors if the tides of time ever begin to shake my ground. Until then, I must always remember to take a moment and smile. If someone had asked me two years ago about happiness, I would have told them I could not remember the last time I felt it. To be clear, it would have been absurd but also correct, not because I had never felt it, but because I never took a moment to take stock of it. We must always look at a moment of joy or even one of calm contentment. We must make a habit of dissociating ourselves from it so as to remember it like we remember some scene from a film—we know who sat where, who said what, and, most important of all, precisely how it felt.

I will remember this moment, and many others like it, in all their regularity. The weather will get colder soon. It is my advice you take stock, too.

Bookmark #765

I woke up, what one might call fashionably late, and felt as if I was the protagonist of some film for a moment. Then, I went to the kitchen, made some coffee and sat at the desk to do nothing. There is an apparent simplicity in my life now. The funny thing is I never set out to build it—I only wanted it. But perhaps wanting things influences choices more than we realise. Perhaps not, either. I could not care less. This is a complicated matter, and I am only interested in simple things. Love, for example, should be simple, too. Difficult, yes. I do not mind things being difficult so long as they oscillate between easy and difficult, like the sun and the moon. But they should still be simple.

There is always a difference between simple and easy. I meet people who make my life so terribly complex in just a matter of weeks, it becomes a natural decision to let them go, and if they persist on staying, to show them the door. Growing a blossoming garden is one thing; maintaining it is another. Now that there are days filled with easygoing joy, there is nothing I would not do to protect them.

The gentle, soft October afternoon outside reminds me of every October I have ever set foot in. I often have a curious question: if I could somehow reach out to myself from any year other than this one, and if I told myself about my life, what would be the reaction I receive? Would it be one of shock or disillusionment, or perhaps joy? But this is a moment so ordinary, so beautiful and unadorned, so simple (I am aware of my over-usage of this word) that any question like this would have to wait for a day when my capacities are about me. Today, I wish only to sit here, sip my coffee and listen to music that fits right in.

There is always time for the complicated. But we must not drag it into our lives. If anything, we should actively try to push it out until we cannot. There is always an evening when a guest insists they come over despite you telling them it is not a good time. “Ah, you always say this,” they say as they make their way inside your home. And it is true, with good reason.

What reasonable person having a good time would invite elements that take it away?

Bookmark #764

Exhausted out of my wits, I sit here, forcing myself to think of nothing at all but the little worries, tiny scuffles and bits and pieces of things left undone plague me and sit around this chair, crowding and hovering over me as I sit here and try to force all thoughts out of myself. Then, like some adept yogi, it occurs to me that this is not the answer. But then, all that looks great in a book with a beautifully crafted cover or some film where someone is trying to find themselves, but on a normal day in a normal life, you genuinely want thoughtlessness at the end of it–not some insightful and intricate process of “watching your thoughts” as they call it. Not that I am against insightful and intricate processes, but I am against the bastardisation of ideas and the pimping out concepts which then find their way in colloquialisms and things people say to each other when they sit and talk. Every time you steal a sentence from a book, you lose an ounce of original thought. This is not to say you must not read or remember things. But only that you must watch very carefully what you decide to keep.

After all, there is nothing wrong with being exhausted or wanting to be rid of your thoughts for an hour. It is the most natural thing to want if you, like Atlas, carry the weight of your own world on your shoulders, like everyone else with a little bit of individual responsibility often does. There is nothing wrong with it, indeed. If you are like me, you can sit for about thirty minutes, which become two hours, and dump it all down on a sheet of paper or a screen or even a tissue at a bar. Yes, you could do that. It would be a thousand times better than preaching and regurgitating ideas, chewing them, grinding them, as if they were cud and you were cattle.

Bookmark #763

The thing about being in the sort of suspended adulthood where you are still early in the years but not as early to be surprised by yourself is that you do things you never once thought you would do. And the vows you made to yourself as an adolescent seem precisely as they were: childish and immature. There are fewer things more fiery than the ideals of a sixteen-year-old. There are also fewer things as misplaced as it. Talking about this with a friend over the phone, I remarked how when you sleep with someone you only just met, someone you do not know and do not intend to see in the near future, it feels good only till the sun rises the next day. Then, you feel a hollowness with no parallels I can think of. To feel as if someone scooped a part of your very being out of you, like how you scoop ice cream out of a tub which does not have much left, when the Tupperware container starts to peek from beneath it all. It feels precisely as banal and mundane and unnecessary in the morning. The heartache of young adulthood felt more real and pure to me than the vacuous feeling of kissing someone I do not care for and whose name I would have forgotten in the drunken haze of a night at the bar. If given the choice, I would take the pain of unrequited love over a one-night stand, but then, it is what it is, as things are when you are in the suspended adulthood of your late twenties, so we take what we get.

A soft blues track plays in the background as I remember this conversation from yesterday, and as I wind down into a new night, I think of how these years feel like the moment when you’ve dipped your toes in the cold water for a while when you have begun to move towards the vast nothingness of the sea but quite reached the depths yet. You take a step towards it, and there is no other thought in your mind except you have left the safety behind, but you are not in the middle yet. You are floating with one foot in the familiar and one foot in the unknown. They feel like that, these years. Everything has started to lose its sense and surety. It has all begun to dissolve in the vast grey. And I have left myself to its devices.