I am living to the rhythm of lazy days, long days that stretch and stretch along the horizon line. Warm days lost on the world, bereft of meaning and yet ridiculously indispensable.
But really, what could be more important than watching algae swish to-and-fro with the tide? Or finding out just how long I can hold my breath? To be honest, I am vaguely aware of some ‘important’ matter I am meant to overthink about—something, something about finding out what to do with the rest of my life. Yeah, that. The waves shrug off the thought though, they send it rolling far away from the shoreline and deep into dark blue waters.
‘Important’ does not mean what it used to mean anymore. Now, smiling is important. Unstoppable laughter is important. Comparing the size of our hands, marveling at the length of our hair or how sun-kissed and sandy-toed we are is important. Or perhaps none of it is and that is what is delightful. Everything is optional; I am free from consequences, free even from the restraints my dark thoughts set around my heart.
You know, maybe the sound of freedom is not the sound of the sea after all, but rather the sound of this heart going: “Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub” so calm and unbothered that it sounds vaguely, vaguely like: “Free-dom, free-dom, free-dom”.
I think a major reason why we sleep at night is to avoid living these 1 a.m’s. They are the moments when everything exists through a haze, as though any moment now you would realise you were dreaming and go back to sleep. But it all feels too real, too. The sounds of the neighbour’s air-con going off, the rustling leaves and the silence. It is calm even in your head. But there is no peace. Just contemplation. Just everything, naked, uncaring for the sweetness or brutality of Reality. At 1 a.m., we are too much of ourselves. At 1 a.m., we cannot handle the thoughts that take a highway to feelings.
At 1 a.m., the brain actually shuts down in part, something about needing rest and signalling that you’re tired. But the heart never does—it takes no breaks. So at 1 a.m., you have no thoughts, really. Only memories and sadness. Yes, 1 a.m. is the heart’s reign. So even the sadness is too complicated to dissect. Regret. Fear. Nostalgia. Hope. Useless wishes. Insecurities. This amorphous thing that is Life. At 1 a.m., your heart is a funnel for the feelings of all other hearts.
At 1 a.m., Life stares back at you, asks you who you are and what you’ve done. You’ve had 20 years—what are you now? Who will you be in another 20?
But because your brain is sleeping, because all your defenses are down, the only reply you give is the one that comes from your eyes.
The thing I want exists somewhere in this world. Somewhere, somewhere in this vast blue planet (and I dare not think, maybe even beyond that), it is waiting. For me.
Yes, somewhere—somewhere that is not here, some time that is not now— there is quiet, there is peace. There is a touch of happiness, slight as the sun before it finally disappears into the horizon line. Better than, there is home. But miles and years stretch between us and I am left with all these thoughts.
All these doubts, this longing— I wonder, I wonder— is it going to be too much to ask from the Universe? To plot the graphs of lives, to tangle the winding web of Humanity and the Tapestries of Time just right, so that one day…One day, while walking down the street, I can catch a silver, an atom of this feeling, this loose thread of Fate I have yearned to catch?
But dark thoughts have embittered my heart and I doubt. Inexplicably, I think that if Life is made of intersecting threads, then part of the thread of me is still hanging on the old, wooden spool.
“Do you know how I knew you were healing?” he asked quietly.
“Now, when you are happy, you do not say: ‘Ah, I can die in peace now.’—you ask for a little Time, for ‘5 more minutes of this, please.'”
“And I,” he took in a shaky breath “am so grateful for it.”
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a writer or artist, aside from being told that Art is nice but, is the art block. Even worse, it is the art block that happens from having an idea without the expertise to bring it to this world. Because the words will not pour from my pen. Make no mistake, the pen is brimming with dark ink, but it is my mind that is dry, bare. My mind stutters. I know the words, I know what I want to say but—
How do I express myself when I do not know how? Lately, I have been experiencing a version of Life that is greater than my current skill will allow to recount. The colour of this emotion, my pen cannot hold—only now is my heart even grasping at its edges. The feeling eludes me. It feels like trying to catch sand from the seabed with your bare hands. At first it feels full and promising in your palm, but when your hand comes back up, it clutches onto nothing. The sand has been washed away by the current. I keep trying to maraud the ocean but I lack the skill to go after what is right in front of me.
Writing is jarring. It is not always cathartic. It is not always bleeding at a typewriter. Ironically, writing may even become the very thing that makes you seek catharsis. But I am a fool, always have been. I continue to go down the train of thoughts that lead to nowhere. I explore the convoluted maps of my imagination, this meshwork of thoughts and words, knowing it will all end in no particular way at all. I turn a masochist almost, seeking the thing that will surely antagonise me most.
But I have learned that—well, if writing is a skill, then surely, I can get better at it. I can learn. So, on days when I cannot write, I read. I still write, and I know it will not be what I expect it to be, but I go on.
All of Life is made of successes and failures, why then should Art be any different?
I often stress the superiority of the inside versus the outside. Of the mental versus the physical, the intangible sketched against the tangible.
I get swept away by the idea of ideas and boast about existing on a higher level— a dimension that is transcendent of bodies made of clay, dismissive of the ritual physicalities of life.
“I am more! I am more!”, goes my cry to the Void, “I am a soul anchored to this earth by a body heavy enough that I cannot drift away to the place that calls to me (this place somewhere between the stars). I am more—more than what you see me to be.”
But I am wrong.
I am not a soul.
And you prove that to me without even a word.
Because there are days when I do not need the sharpness of your wit, the complexity of your stance on Divinity or your knowledge of the stars and the ocean and all else that lies in between. It is those days when my head aches from the weight of my own thoughts and I cannot talk—for Lord’s sake, some days I can’t even be.
Those days, as much as my meaningless ego loathes to admit, I need the warmth that gathers within your palms. I need the sound of your heart thumping in my ears, the rise and fall of your chest against mine. And your fingers that draw patterns and tangles into my hair, your voice that cracks sometimes, imperfect and warm when you hum a little something under your breath.
I am not a soul.
In those moments, I am glad that there is this body. These bodies, both yours and mine and all the ones that have loved us til this day.
No, we are not souls, you remind me. Not merely that. We are souls with bodies; we wound up having both our feet on the ground and our heads in the clouds.
Ah, but when these days are past and Life is back to this lie that we can ‘normal’, I will argue otherwise. I will insist that our bodies – yours at the very least- are guided by an inner gentleness, a kind of ‘light from within’.
And that is who we are.
“You know,” she confessed “Some days I don’t even feel beautiful. But that’s okay. Sometimes I think I don’t even need to be. There are days…” she trailed off.
“Days when I just…am. Days when it doesn’t matter how I look, how I think I look. There are days when I’m not stuck in my own head and nothing about who I am matters. I just am. Without consent or approval, without shame or judgement. I just am. Like the wind, or the sun, or—or Nature. I do what I am meant to do, unhindered. ”
He smiled to her a serene smile.
“You know, I wish our eyes could see souls instead of faces. The outside sometimes distracts from what’s really important but it’s only — only a vessel, the envelope to a letter. A pretty envelope is nice, but you’re not going to read an envelope. You look at it then cast it aside, because it’s the letter you want. I wish people could understand that. There’s no point making an envelope pretty if the letter inside is blank or poorly written.” he said, a chagrined expression on his face.
“But I understand in a way,” she smiled wryly “The envelope lets you know that the letter is here and it also keeps it safe. So I’m not complaining. Even the plainest envelope becomes beautiful when the letter inside is.”
With that, she poked his nose and ran away, her head thrown back in laughter.
Crystallised in ice, my heart stirs back to life. From blue to blooming red, the season has come and I thaw.
The layers of cold, the once solid ice slide down, fluttering to the ground, melting into puddles at my feet. It’s a little like autumn inside, but it is also spring. I am no longer numb, no longer cold — the season has come and I thaw.
And I know it will be a sweet, lingering spring. Because the heat that warmed this heart up came from within.
Speckled across the firmament, pieces of you and I.
Flesh calls to spheres of fire
recalling the stars we once were.