Summertime Freedom

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The most wonderful thing about this photo? No filter.

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”.

Boring Sundays and Warm Loneliness

“Sundays are boring.” my sister complains like she does every other Sunday of the year.

It could be true though. We, as a collective, as a family, rarely leave the house on Sundays. But as someone who has been known to enjoy laziness and quiet moments of introversion, Sundays such as those suit me just fine. Even if they are tinged with loneliness, it is a loneliness specific to Sundays, something I have known all my life. So, in its own twisted way, it is a comforting ache.

This warm kind of loneliness, I feel it especially now that I have yet to be taken by another engrossing project that does not let me sleep the dark circles away. I have time now, I guess. With the stress gone, I see more clearly what life is. I am not charging ahead, heart bursting, breathless and with eyes on the prize and nothing else. Now, the prize, the purpose is gone and I instead take walks that ease me back into slow movements and quieter states of mind.

When your eyes are not on the prize, when there is no prize, you suddenly find yourself in possession of a peripheral vision and of the empathy that comes with it too. Working for your dreams can be a horribly self-absorbed thing sometimes, I realise.

Eyes on the prize. And nothing else.

So now, I notice that the neighbour’s kids have grown. They have a dog, too. The thyme in the garden has flourished, the daisies are blooming a radiant orange and with a tinge I notice the joy is fading a little from my Mother’s eyes.

At noon, I reach the point of hazy, unsettling loneliness and think Sundays are boring. Before, there was no room for boredom. Only space for: “I am soul-deep tired. I want to stop.” But now that there is nothing to do, my mind seeks out dreams covered in dust, like old diaries.

‘If I can’t create a new feeling,’ my mind reasons, ‘why not visit an old one?’

‘You used to fly kites, remember?’ goes the memory ‘You’d gaze at the cheap thing, all fluttering plastic and frail sticks tied with some piece of string you found in the garage, feeling so proud. But then your gaze would be lost somewhere between the clouds, in the valley between the green mountains and you’d think: “I wonder if someone else is flying a kite somewhere in the world?”

‘Greece,’ you thought, unknowing, uncaring of time-zones or geography. ‘Yes, Greece, with its statues and fables — mythology, actually— someone must be flying a kite there. Or China: dragons and great walls, emperors and dynasties. They must have beautiful kites there: large, red and gold in the shape of a dragon or a swan spanning grand wings in the sky, a crimson dot in the open world. 

It’s evening when, like the kites I used to fly, I am reeled back to Earth. Back to this feeling of Sunday boredom, this dull loneliness punctuated by music coming in from the neighbours, the drifting clouds, the obvious wanderlust, the soft orange skies of sunset and the smell of chicken in the stove.

Yeah, all that, that’s the fragrance: Eau de Boring Sunday.

And yet, I won’t make plans for next Sunday, just like I don’t for many, many Sundays of the year.


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I am a boring person, y’all.

Seeds and Ocean Blue

 

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Not my actual hand *Anonymity breathes a sigh of relief*

These are seeds, just seeds, and yet why do I feel as though if I tossed them in the backyard, a whole ocean would grow from them?

In this concrete jungle of a neighbourhood, where grey houses and apartments sprout up from nowhere with their dust and drills, hiding the sky and clouds from view —imagine an ocean in the backyard. Imagine waking up to the gentle swoosh of the tide, the smell of salt, fresh and tingling your nostrils. But oh, every ocean has an ocean breeze, this cold spray that wets your skin, tickling the life  and laughter back into you.

And the adventures…imagine the adventures. Anything from treasure-seeking to unwinding in a fold-back chair, toes in the sand and a good book in hand. But there would also be a horizon, all oceans have them and, and the stars that glitter in the night, their light reflecting off the water that never stills. And the shells, the polished rocks, even the green, gooey algae, the —

Maybe it doesn’t have to be an ocean, maybe just the sea or a river. A brook or a rivulet. Even a leaky faucet or a can of seeds that are just the right shade of blue.

Right?

Leaving

 

BloomI love these flowers, tangled in twisting vine that look like they are reaching for the skies. No complex reasoning behind that. No elaborate metaphor or shocking symbolism. Just freedom and beauty, simply.

These photos aren’t even good. They were snapped in a hurry, the photographs almost moments snatched from the early evening air that day. Snapped, snatched, almost stolen. Like how I feel about happiness sometimes. Like I have to grab it and go before someone catches me enjoying it. So I end up tasting happiness not as the delicacy that it is — with all its hints of freedom, its subtle notes of understanding, of being wanted, and the faint aftertaste of nostalgia— but rather as a crude dish for sustenance that you shove down your throat because that’s all you have. So the photos are not good, they were taken in a haste, before the owner of the house could catch me taking photos of plants that weren’t even mine to look at.

The place I have come to know as the place with the flowers has guard dogs and alarm systems all over. The people are suspicious of those who linger in the streets. And yet they have hedges instead of iron gates. Rose bushes, towering trees, sidewalk daisies and looping vines. It makes me think that they are people who have been disillusioned but who have yet to give up, who know that because there is ugliness, there is also beauty. Cold hands, warm heart.

And today, I leave all this behind.

The evergreen garden that sparkles under the noon sun, the tall, too-green grass that sways with the wind, the rustling of the leaves, the silence, the too-warm afternoon, the muted magic, the pale pink haze of daydreams.

I have no words of wisdom to give myself over it. No false enthusiasm over the loss, no “ends are beginnings”.  I simply sit here and think that with the right eyes, everything can become a dream.

To All You Idealists, Dreamers and Lost Wanderers…

Gif Source: Tumblr (Artist Sadly Unknown)

The sun is shining down hard on my head today. My ears burn red under the heat, but I continue to wander my way through Life.  The people around, they all seem to know where they are going. No-nonsense business suits and straightened hair; their ties are smoother than the road ahead.

“Put-together”

They do not hesitate. Their gait is sure, their shoulders firm. They are not afraid of the road. They rule over it. They decide where the road will take them.

Which is why sometimes, it feels like their eyes are boring through me. As I slip in and out of alleyways like a needle through a piece of cloth, as I wander and then abruptly stop to look around me, panic-stricken and lost.

I am not yet like them. My hair is a tangle of dreams, my steps wobbly from fear at times. But also from joy, at others. And I don’t look at the road sometimes, because the huge palm tree that tickles the skies is too beautiful to ignore. Because the port is not too far away and if I strain my ears enough, I will hear the boats with their multicoloured flags rocking, splashing in the water. And the birds. The birds are soaring. The wind is blowing, carrying the smell of salt and the sea.

The sun is shining down so hard, but I’m still looking up.

And I wander.

I look on the world like a wayfarer.

I breathe in; I am not yet like them.

But every so often…Every so often, I will see a soul in a business suit. A young man with slicked back hair, still curling at the edges, still a little light from the sun. I can never look at the eyes. Full of drowned hopes and dying dreams. And yet eyes that are still searching.  Still searching the sea of people, still hoping with a last thread of Hope that the tide will bring something.

I am not yet like them.

But wanderers are a dying breed. And soon, soon… The sun will be too much. And I will stop looking up.

 

Let The Wind Take You Away

Grafolio's portrait.
Art by: 현현

The wind blew across the prairie where I laid, carrying with it the scent of foreign lands.

I could smell the salt of the ocean on its breath, and I shivered a bit at the cold that it spread. There was the unmistakable tang of fish, but also the freshness that you get when you are far, far at sea. I could hear the crashing of the waves, this soothing “Shhhhh” sound. But also a soft animal cry that I could not place.

Today, in a small piece of land in the middle of nowhere, I got a hello from the South Pole,or the North Pole or Norway or Alaska or….

And I was content.

Because the wind, like a messenger, also carried the picture of that beautiful afternoon I had with it. The tall grass and the warm sunlight that makes you sleepy, the smell of wild flowers and freshly laboured soil. The happiness from a giggle, the fluttering of butterfly wings.

This afternoon will never die. The wind will carry it until it reaches a soul that can uncover all the treasures it holds. And it will be safe there, this memory.  But it will eventually fade away, as all things do. It is the kind of feeling that gets lost in between the years. But only one scent, on a day like any other, and the memory comes rushing back to you. And suddenly, the summer when you were 16 is here again. Suddenly, the world is new and so huge that it’s a little intimidating. And like this, out of nowhere, you find peace.

Grafolio's portrait.
Art by: 권민정

 

Devouring Time (A Rainy Day’s Epiphany)

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Gif Source: Pinterest Artist Sadly Unknown

It rained suddenly.

I was a little stunned by the cold droplets hitting my skin, but you darted right away under the almond tree. And I followed you, somehow I always did. We had umbrellas in our backpacks because we knew the weather was capricious. But we didn’t use them. We were young and foolish, and maybe we wanted a little Time.

When you are as young as we were then, you want to devour Time.

Not a drop, not a morsel could go by unsavoured, untasted. I realise now that you either devour Time, or you don’t. Time is not something that you can save up, it is either now, or it will be never. It is like a flower that is left to wither if you don’t pick it.

And it was always now. Back then, it was always now. Always now.

We were not in love, but we were young, we were laughing, we were sharing fears, as though the rain had melted our feeble adolescent walls away. Our dreams were bubbling to the surface—loud,unashamed. Our vulnerable hopes were shining bright under the canopy of leaves. Our thoughts about Life floated like mist all around the tiny bubble that had formed around us and that somehow contained our worlds.

We were devouring Time, you and I.

I swear, in that moment, Time did not own us.

And that’s how I want to remember you, that’s how I want to remember me: Devourers of Time who didn’t even know what they were. We were too busy living to question what it meant to live.

And we never even noticed that the rain had stopped, and that the sun had started shining again.

Escape to the stars

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Gif Source: Giphy

I stopped chasing after the world today.

In the middle of a headache, as stress intertwined with the muscles on my back, a memory came unbidden to me, carried by the scent of flowering trees in the night. And suddenly— you probably know the feeling— I wasn’t old anymore. I wasn’t stretched or the mere byproduct of a lifetime of paying bills and ignoring dreams, pushing them for later, always later…

I was young again, and a little new.

Then some unknown feeling washed over me. An urge I had not felt in a long time suddenly gripped me by the heartstrings and pulled me outside, seemingly back in time.

I hadn’t seen stars in a long time.

It had slipped my mind that such things existed. And just like that, I had forgotten all about the world. In the face of this, of an ink-black sky staring back at you and millions of stars burning through the darkness like it’s nobody’s business, how can anything else feel important?

My big dreams, the ones that had accumulated after being swept under the rug over my years, they were are nothing next to those.

Stars, they are just dots in the sky, fireballs that have been dead for eons. But look at how they can make the world stop.

And maybe, maybe I want to be just a little like that. Maybe I want my light to burn long after it has gone out. Maybe I want to take all those dreams from under the rug ,blow on them like a dandelion and watch them spread out into the night and grow in between cracks in the cement, in places where dandelions shouldn’t be, in places where dreams don’t grow.

 

L’appel Du Large

huebucket-bicycle-11
Art by Huebucket

Have you ever heard the sound of a boat hitting the waves as it sways? Have you ever felt that sense of vertigo, this light-headedness as you rock from side to side, this feeling that can only be called beautiful— a wild, true kind of beautiful? Because sometimes, sometimes it is what I dream of.

This is what I see flashes of in between lectures and assignments, the white foam of the sea, the deep blue waters…This is the calling that reaches me as I plan for the future— “I’ll work for 2 years at X company and learn a language because firm Y, which will be hiring then wants polyglots and then I’ll wait another year to become a permanent employee and then…”

This is the feeling that makes me read reports a hundred pages long without understanding a single word because sometime into the reading, my hand slipped to the side of my head to support it and I found out that if I cupped my ear with my hand, I could hear the sea and its waves crashing into my ear.

And the scent…the scent of ocean salt, I can smell it when I close my eyes, when I put down my pen and push aside all those papers that mean nothing. It lures me in like a mermaid-song, wraps around my being and pulls me inexorably to where adventure lies.

It’s usually the middle of the week when these visions assail me, and suddenly, just like that, I don’t belong to the week anymore. I don’t belong to 5-year plans, to office etiquette and broken coffee machines.

I belong…to the world. To the deep blue seas and green pastures.

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But it’s still the middle of the week, still Wednesday when I think that, and as much as I long to run, to swim, to fly— it’s still Wednesday. And I’m still very much “part of the system”. My life is still a 9 to 5 job. And my dreams…still dreams.

 

The Wanderer’s New Year (Short Story)

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R Tolkien

loneriderbyalexs
Photograph Credit: Alex Teuscher

“Hush,” he whispered to his mare, the gentle and now weary Céleste. “Easy now, Céleste.”

He brushed through her mane soothingly and in an easy movement slipped off her.

Night surrounded them on top of the hill they had climbed, millions of small stars blinking down at them. Céleste gave a proud grunt. She liked the night, it looked just like her coat of black speckled with white all over.

The sound of something being fired pierced through the silence and soon, bright sparks of red and gold formed patterns in the sky.

The small town below them was illuminated far more than normal towns usually were and in the distance, it seemed to him like an ant colony: busy, bustling, full of energy. Another few rockets exploded in the night, showering the town in streaks of pink and green lights.

“So it is already that time,” he murmured to himself “Already a year…searching, seeking out the road that promises no destination.”

“A year spent wandering,” he mused, “and what for?…Purpose? Meaning?” He sighed and looked back down the way from which he had emerged.

His eyes and voice were wistful as he spoke to no one in particular.

“But there is no place for me there. Not anymore; perhaps there never was. And so now to the road do I belong, and Time,” he looked at the bursting fireworks more intently now “does not matter here. Only the road matters. I will either reach the stars above or die on the road. I am on a journey that has perhaps no end, and yet I cannot stop. I cannot stop because it is better to wander unknowingly than to stay somewhere you don’t belong.”

He stood still, watching the displays of lights and sounds with a profound sadness that only grew deeper at the sounds of loud cheers and lively music.

He remained like this a long while.

And then, as though he’d had enough, he pulled the ample hood of his long cloak back on, and Céleste’s reins in hand, marched forth into the darkness.