When Your Parents Shrunk

Hi

When you were child, your mother or father were Gods and Goddess. Heroes.

Nothing could hurt you, as long as they existed.

They held up the heavens with their hands. They could dip their fingers into the tar of the night sky and swirl it around and startle the stars into a refracted flurry, rippling the firmament. If the moon fell on your head and squashed you like a tombstone, well, no matter! Your mother or father could pluck it off your back and slot it back into place, where it would shine and delight and watch you, like a round, white eye.

How easy it was. How safe it was. Your mother and father were smarter than books and braver than lions, and you were their little mortal ward, their little special Eve or Adam, born in a dark wash of amniotic fluid from their celestial wombs.

I tell you this: there is no greater happiness under the sun than the joy of feeling like a safe little bird in the nest of your parent’s arms. Those moments were good. Those moments were good. Those moments are the ones that make you weep with nostalgia when you look back upon them.

But darkness comes. Growing up happens. Days end, and death awaits.

As you grew, they shrunk, shrunk so small it was astonishing, and you saw them for the mortal beings they were. The ugly, broken, fallible beings.

You realised they never did hold up the sky; only the sky squashed down upon them so they had no choice.

And it was like the carpet had been pulled from underneath your feet. Do you remember the first time you realized everyone is a child, in their hearts? The world is a mad nursery, and we wail and throw toys. No-one knows anything, and being a grown-up is just a prissy little costume people put on to hide the sniveling baby inside.

When my parents were in the process of getting a divorce, and screaming and contorting their hearts into ugly shapes that showed on their faces, and my siblings and I looked on, a hot confused rage in our hearts, my universe tore apart. That’s what happens when deities die. They die, and it upsets the balance, tilts the groove of orbits, make the stars wobble and hearts to lose their gravitational pull to the rest of the body and plummet.

My parents died in my eyes, then, and I’m still mourning. Those are the kinds of deaths you never get over, and never cry about.scared

Sometimes, there is no viler creature than a man. Of course, not all women are angelic little cherubs, and there are countless wonderful, good men (or, at least, I hope there are), but there is something to be said about the terrible fathers that exist, and have existed, in this world.

Perhaps it’s biological, and the male is meant to lose interest once he has passed on his genes, and only the woman is truly infused with the instincts to protect and nurture and love and….care.

But I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion that men are less stronger than women. This may seem sexist, and you’re free to hate me for it, but the little boys inside some men are much more scared than the tight-lipped girls inside women. You can see this fear sometimes flash in their eyes, as they bow their head or scuff their shoe at something. Do voice your opinion, if you disagree with me on this. I won’t mind at all.

Then again, it might just be my own experiences with my father clouding my judgment.

Did you have a good father? The kind that hugged you and pushed you on swings and loved your soul? You are so lucky, you know that?

My heart bleeds for the love I never received. I still dream of a father with a warm, strong chest and a rumbling voice, a father who loved his wife and his daughters. A father who cared. A father who loved. Sometimes, all you want people to do is care.

Father

People who haven’t had children yet often proclaim of the wonderful parents they will be, and how much kinder and better they will be than their own parents. But I think the reality of parenting is simply older children looking after younger children. The latter may be cocky, and strut about, with their knowledge and life experience, and the younger doe-like and innocent and sweet, but in the end, they’re both scared to death.

But, that’s okay. We’re all scared, every one of us. When we close the light and lie down in our beds and think the thoughts we only think in the darkness, we’re all afraid and alone.

And despite that, my childhood had its moments of joy. It wasn’t all thunderclouds. Walking home in the dark after eating at a restaurant, holding my brother’s hand and giggling up at the stars. Running into my mother’s arms and having her kiss my nightmares away. My father buying me a teddy bear from a shop, though that was tainted by my mother gushing at his generosity and enthusing what a wonderful father we had, as if to make herself believe it. Sunlit days at the park, the trees dappling the grass. Icy poles in the summer, and Christmas presents. Tottering with my mother down to the library every weekend and drinking in the words like water.

My father left my mother and his children in poverty, forbid his wife to work and gain independence throughout their marriage, abused her, cheated on her, lied to my siblings and I, but he still gave me a childhood. He still loved, in his own, weak, twisted way, at least in the early days, when he had more idealistic notions of marriage and children. He still gave me the gift of life; I wouldn’t exist right now, I wouldn’t be writing this right now, without him. When I was a baby, I only wanted to fall asleep in his arms, and he would hold me through the night until his muscles ached and stiffened. He cut me oranges into perfect, delicate slices when I was sick.

Sometimes, you have to look at your parents and realise they’re not just figures who exist to support you, and for you to leech off of, but people with their own souls and hearts and feelings and universes between the lobes of their ears. That they’re a person, just like you, no matter how despicable. And, like when you meet other horrible people in life who fondle with your guts and mess them up, the best thing is to move on rather than stagnate and writhe with hate.

You should hug your parents as equals, as organisms existing in this reality together, if you can. I don’t know. That’s the closest I can get to reconciling myself to my parents shrinkage, of them turning from heroes into men and women who hid from the dragons and lied when the townspeople asked.

That dragon is there still, and it can’t be killed. Not by me, not by you. And when we have children of our own and feel its sooty breath down our necks, we’ll smile into their faces and tell them what heroes we are.

fire

Hello. How Are You?

How

No, seriously. How are you?

How carelessly these three, heavy words are thrown around, and how rarely people truly answer them. Fine. Good. Little candies thrown to appease the questioner, who often doesn’t care in the first place. Most people ask it out of social decorum. How are you? My aunt is dying. But you don’t want to know that. My dog is sick. My dreams are crumbling. But you don’t want to know any of that. Good. I’m good, thanks. Smile wide. I am asking this question from the bottom of my heart: How are you? How are you, really? Of course, you can’t answer back. At least, not right away. I’m just alone, in my room (well, my friend’s room, but let us not be derailed by particulars), typing my thoughts. But I can wonder. I can reach out a few fingers of empathy and lift your chin and look into your eyes, and wonder. Chances are, you’re not happy. Happiness is not a constant. It is a variable. It comes in short bursts, like fireworks. Like memories. Like time.

Chances are, you are suffering, in some way or another, big or small. Maybe something really bad is happening in your life, and it’s like the world is falling right on top of your head. Something truly, actually bad, like an illness. A death. A black, empty agony. My words aren’t enough to comfort you, then, but I can imagine what it is like. Sometimes, I sit in my room and imagine someone I love dying. I don’t know why I do it; it’s just something that my mind runs away with, and I end up curled up in my bed, sobbing my eyes out over a hypothetical situation. The only antidote I have found for such suffering is to remind yourself of the transience of existence. All this will pass – the pain, you, life, humanity – all of it will pass. It is short. The problem is we get attached to things in that short time. I am sorry. I do not know if that helps.

Maybe you’re just dissatisfied, you know? Like there’s a little worm wriggling in the apple-core of your soul. Just, niggling at you. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe life seems dull and meaningless. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with money worries and just wish you could spit out coins, fly away to a land where money isn’t needed, win the lottery. Maybe you’re unhappy with your abilities, your achievements. Maybe you feel useless, a failure, washed-up. Hold that thought.

Life is suffering. They are one and the same. Most of us, as children, did not realise this. We could still fool ourselves with safety and security and perfection, because, if we were lucky, our mummies and daddies held up the moon and the stars. Did you ever have these moments of pure, unalloyed joy as a child, swinging through the air on a swing at a park, tucking into a good book at bed time, eating a delicious dinner? A tiny capture of perfection, in which your heart soared and sang hosannas and everything seemed deliciously right and safe? And the funny thing is, even the moments of suffering as children were felt less keenly. As children, we could pick ourselves up much more easily, comfort ourselves with trinkets and kisses and imaginary worlds. That’s really funny, how we get more sensitive to pain as we grow older and more knowledgeable about the cold reality of the world. Children are brave because they don’t know the full story. Grown-ups are terrified because they do, and they know it doesn’t have a happy ending.

But, yes. You are probably not okay. You are probably unhappy about a lot of things. I can understand that, because I’m a human being, and if there’s one thing we all share, it’s pain. And I think the only thing you can do in this situation is to get comfortable with misery and push on. Life will never be without misery, but you can choose how to react to it. Take baby steps towards fixing what’s making you miserable. If it’s something that can’t be done away with, try to cope. When we were younger, and less mature, we shied away from discomfort, from things that ‘hurt’, like needles, but as we grow older, we have to grit our teeth and realise that needles exist in the world the way darkness and wind does. We cannot run away from it – we can only delay its occurrence – because it exists in ourselves. Life is the host of misery.

Perhaps you really are good. Perhaps you’re at a point in your life where you’re happy with yourself and the direction you are going, and when asked the question, you answer with a genuine smile. That’s wonderful, and I am happy for you. You serve as a poster-child of hope for the ones who are struggling. You show us that happiness and contentment is possible. Nevertheless, I’m sure you weren’t always that way. To get to the blissful state you are in right now, you probably get to go through your share of hell and nitty-gritty hard work. You are so strong, and I admire you. You deserve everything you get.

Or maybe, you think you’re happy. But you know you are not. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not good at fooling ourselves. When something is wrong, we know it. Our hearts tell us. In that case, I urge you to seek your true happiness. Your dreams. There is no pain worse than dying with your music unsung.

Do you ever sometimes want to run out into the middle of some desert as the sun sets and the clouds catch fire and throw your arms up in that wide, empty expanse and scream in a long, yodeling ululation, just for the heck of it? Just to say to the universe, hey, look at me, I’m alive, I’m here, I’m me and I’m shouting. Just to release all the tension in your soul. Hear me roar.

But I’m here to tell you that you can roar in other ways. Quieter ways, but not the less satisfying for it. I know it’s hard. It’s hard to go after your dreams. It’s hard to find your own happiness. The world is an indifferent place, and most of the time you feel like a tiny little nothing. Life pulls you in different directions, and no-one seems to care. But it is the only way to truly live in the way death is the only end to life. We don’t know much of anything, but we know this.

Hey. I have a dream. Do you want to hear it?

If on the off and improbable chance the universe ever pops his head out of the celestial administration office to check on us little folks on this little ball of rock, and asks “How are you all?”, this is the reply I want us to give, deep from our hearts:

“We are good. We are so damn good.”

The Dream Philosophy

Dreams

It’s a strange thing, life. Very strange. For one thing, it’s dream. A very elaborate, well-fleshed out dream, but a dream nonetheless, and when you die, rather than waking up to a truer reality, you wake up to a blank eternity. Strange, how insubstantial, and fleeting it all is. It makes one mind wibble and wobble like jelly to think of it.

And how insular every little life is. How separate, and alone. How astounding it is, that right now, there are billions of other lives spinning and weaving their courses, each one of them just as important to the person experiencing it as your life is to you. How silently we weep and grieve. Right now, there could be people losing their families, getting raped, crushed to bloody pulps under the weight of tragedies more than a human soul can bear, and yet I sit here, in my own little fortress, in front of the computer, quite unharmed and untouched. We don’t care when other bubbles shatter. We just care when our own one does, and when they do, how desperately we wish others could hear our screams.

And how silent births are! Mouths may wail and scream at the touch of air, but we are far away and cannot hear them. Thousands, millions of new consciousness are being blown into being all over the world every hour, every day, like a froth of bubbles, a spool of new, slimy frog eggs. What talents they will bring, what love, what hate, what creations, what misery, and what nothing, for you and I both know men and women who live lives that produce naught but wind and illusions. And how silent deaths are, too! So silent. Men and women and children lie in beds, in cars, beneath bridges, on carpets, on the street, in mid-sentence, spoon poised over mouth, and grow still and grey and ashen like pewter statues. And down they topple. They fall in their thousands, like a shower of ants, a shower of sand. How small. It is like the wheat fields: the old are plowed down to make way for the new stalks, again and again, grow and die and grow and die, flashing yellow and green and yellow and green.

Ah! It is but a fantastical dream that repeats itself, in a phantasmagorical multitude, through the pixelated eyes of a grand fly, forever and ever.

But we do have things to make the dreaming more pleasant, things like money and food and love and family and friends and art. That’s nice, isn’t it? I think it’s nice. And we can make the dreams of others more pleasant, because it’s all the one dream, if you really think about it, we’re all dreaming the same dream and each others’ dream, and why not help everyone have sweeter slumbers? It’s always good to drink a bit of milk before you go to bed. You can share your pillows. We can all work together to make softer pillows for our heads to rest upon. And we can make art that will fizzle and sputter in dreams like fireworks, displays that can go on long after the creator has woken up.

Sweet dreams. Sweet dreams.

The Inadequacy Of Words

Words

Now and then, it strikes me how inadequate words are.

It is not only because there are some feelings so deep and vast they cannot be encapsulated by words, so vague and flimsy, like a wreath of mist, that sometimes even the nimble and light fingers of poetry cannot grasp it. That is certainly one reason. There are simply some things that cannot be said. They are the unspoken, the ghost-lives, and when it comes to them, words fall short.

But words are also inadequate because, in the end, they’re just dark scrawls on paper, and it is the reader who brings the words to life, using their imagination. However, even then, one’s imagination is limited and can only reach so far before the edges start to blur. Sometimes, while immersed in a fantastical and rich world within a book, I find myself feeling upset that I can’t imagine it to the every last detail, to completely feel like I am there and in that world, with all its sounds and smells and colours, and hold each and every component in my mind like so many delicate jewels.

A picture can say a thousand words, and as a writer, I feel disappointed at realising how true that is. Rather than spend pages and pages describing a scene, a detailed, beautifully illustrated capture of it can be enough. And how often do the pictures in books enthrall more than the words, if they are done nicely, and how much more detail and wonder they can convey. Many movies feel more real than the books, and the literary seems more of a shadow to the full flesh-and-blood of the pictorial.

Think of the gorgeous richness that will seep into our minds once virtual reality truly takes off! What need have we for pages and pages of dense text when we can live and breathe in the worlds, let the plot move us forward with ourselves as characters, a more complete and deep immersion than our imagination could ever give us. Of course, the beauty of words, of a particularly nice turn of a phrase, will always remain, but as escapism reaches greater and more luminous heights, I begin to wonder whether books are a poorer art form, at least in regards to immersion and richness of imagery.

As I pondered this last night, I tried to find something books do better than other mediums, and I came up with a few. I’m not sure if it reaches anything close to salvation or comfort, but it did provide a smidgen of hope.

For one thing, books, apart from telling stories, let us in to the psychological richness and thoughts of other people, real or imaginary. That is something that other mediums can hint at, but not expand and bring to the fore as books do (though the characters in movies are often well fleshed-out and more realistic, probably because they’re moving and talking in flesh-and-blood form). And books, as mentioned before, can showcase the magnificence and beauty of this art form. The rhythm and cadence and sound of words, the manner in which they are strung together, can be livid and stunning. The worlds within books also vary depending on the reader – two people will not picture the same thing in their minds when they read the same book, while with pictures and movies the images are set in stone and cannot be altered. This way, it could be argued that books allow greater freedom of the imagination. There’s also the fact that virtual realities and fully-engrossing movies require much more care and precision and time than describing the scene itself. I’m sure if drawing or animating a scene was as easy as writing a paragraph, Miyazaki would have made a good deal more films during his career.

In the end, I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed at this realisation of the limits of books and our own imaginations. Perhaps we must think of it this way: that all art forms of different, and bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. Books and movies and pictures and virtual realities are all cut from the same stone – that of magic, wonder, and stories. They are art, and they reflect back to us life, distorted, made surreal, toned-down, blackened, and perhaps it is the collage or meshing together of the different forms that can provide the richest experiences of art and joy for humans, a phantasmagoria of delight through speech and words and imagery that will last until the end of our civilisations.

PS: I deleted my “A Little More About Me” post because it simply felt too self-indulgent and silly to write 1,700 words all about myself, and to impose that rubbish upon anyone who stumbles across my blog. I did not do it out of fear or insecurity – I do not mind baring the unsightly facets of my being. I sincerely apologise if I didn’t get to reply to your comment, and for you to type that all out only for it to be deleted, but I read them and just wanted to say thank you for accepting my dark side and not running screaming away in the other direction. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t saying I was a pedophile or practicing necrophilia or anything shocking. Just that I am a human being with shadows and light in my heart just like everyone else, and can be ugly as a rotten maggot one minute and beautiful as a flourishing butterfly the next, and sometimes even both at the same time. You can never truly know what a person is like until you live with them long enough for them to peel off their sticky little masks.

PPS: In fact, I’m actually going to go through a ”cleaning” of my blog, where I delete posts that make me cringe. Just in case you wanted to know. I’ve been really unhappy with the quality of my writing lately, not just on my blog but in general.

Tragedy & Fragility & Oneness

horse

Sometimes, I feel like humanity is but a scrabbling mass of apes who use twigs to show the path of comets, leaves to show the fractal flowering of the Big Bank, bark carvings to mark their piss-laden and heat-season histories and colourful spit to groom themselves.

The fragility of the universe isn’t simply the fact that we’re all alone in this humongous vacuum, an empty blank room that echoes deep into our souls, but also that none of us know what we are doing. Not just why we are here, or whether there is any meaning to our little lives, but just what on earth are we doing, really?

We’re all clueless, from the common citizen to the most powerful leaders in the world, and we all depend on things to comfort ourselves with the illusion of safety. I’ve got money, prestige, respect, God, love. Hey, look, I’ve got a bed to rest my body at night, I have my memories, my captured moments of joy, my art, I’ve condensed beauty into a few strokes on canvas, a few dark scrawls on bark, look, look. It’s frightening, once you peel back laws and common courtesy and societal indoctrination and globalization and sporadic altruism, how clueless we are. And how dangerous that can be.

I mean, think of all those millions that have died for absolutely no good reason throughout the history of humanity. There needs to be a new word made just for the emotion you feel when you truly think about that – it’s much more than grief, or regret, or a sense of loss. It is an implosion of shrieking darkness.

The Holocaust. Wars. Famine. Every single one of those people were like you, with their own dreams and their own aspirations and their thoughts. Think of the talent that now lies wasted, spent in a wash of blood and locked forever in decaying flesh and bones. It’s staggering.

And this happened either because we killed each other, or we didn’t think other people were important enough and worth our trouble to be saved, or because people were simply born at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s like stepping on a nest of ants – it may not affect you much, but I can bet you those ants are in the depths of insectile hell when that happens. Or maybe they’re not intelligent enough to fit the concept of death and disaster in their little carapace heads.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. Do you see my point? How wanton it all is? No matter how good or kind we try to be, there are dark seeds of selfishness nestled within all of us, and in times of strife, and even in times of prosperity, it has a habit of sprouting and taking root in our souls. I am terrified of the selfishness within myself, because if it’s inside me, then it’s inside others, inside everyone.

And then there’s the tragedy of existence. Existence is like this fragile little egg that also just has to have a face, and one with eyes that are constantly crying too. Why is it a tragedy? Because everyone dies at the end. We’re all made it into omelets. It’s also a tragedy because it’s painful. It is painful to be aware of your existence, and how short it is, and how quickly it will end leaving behind a gust of never ending void. It is painful to know you’ll never see the future of humanity that you’d like to see, because you’ll be dead, dead, dead, and death is painful because it is the end of all.

Death is so horrifying in its blankness that there needs to be a new word made up for it too. Perhaps corpsicating. We’re just these little orphans left abandoned in the dark by the universe, and though we pretend to be confident and know it all and throw up improvised walls of safety made of books and bed sheets and guarded by dignified teddy-bears, in the end we’re just wailing for our mothers in our hearts.

People believe in God, believe in a Father figure that watches over and cares for them, because the alternative is to be the orphan, alone and helpless and irrevocably lost. Everything we do – our art, our money, our hopes, our dreams, our desire to help others, our love, our monuments, our achievements – all of it is a great, collective, yearning, sweeping, Mexican-wave reach for a a great Mother. The reason we feel like there is always something missing, always some unanswered question in our hearts, a spot of darkness we’re always probing and hoping it’ll reveal light, is because we want fond, soft arms, divine, godly, celestial, whatever, to clasp us to their comforting chest. We want to be cradled, we want to know what’s beyond the beyond, we want to sit on our Mother’s lap, and for her to tell us the meaning of our lives, to kiss away our sorrows, to show that death is nothing to be scared of, that we’re not alone, to be held and safe and comforted for all eternity.

When these thoughts flood my mind, and despair shadows my soul, only one thought gives me comfort, and it’s one that I utterly believe in. I wrote a glimmer of it on my About Page, but, for a more fully-fleshed version, it is this:

We never die, because we are all each other. This consciousness you have know, this awareness, is my awareness and everyone’s awareness. Your existence is the same existence of Albert Einstein’s existence, the same existence as some extraterrestrial creature a billion light years away, only you can only experience one life at a time. After you are dead, you will live on, because we are all each other, and when you expire, another life begins without any memory of being anything else but themselves, just as you began likewise, and they are you.

After all, if you truly think about ourselves from the point of view of an alien, and how strange we all are, with our bare foreheads and four limbs and strange eyes and noses and faces, it becomes less strange to imagine an entire other race tucked away in some other corner of the Great Something, who feel themselves quite alone in the galaxy and with their consciousness and their fears and their hopes, if they can be called those.

But what you have to understand is that strange race is us too. We are all each other, from the tiniest rat to the mightiest organisms to the wibbly-wobbly extra-dimensional lakisprrilgoph. It is a grand, eternal flowering, across galaxies, across worlds, across universes, in different shapes, sizes, forms; a maddening morphology, all beyond the scope of each others’ brains and conceptions but all each other.

Existence is fragile. Existence is a tragedy. Existence flowers, blooms and goes on everywhere and nowhere and in you and her and him and it and all.

Writer Woes

Boat

There are few things that get me nibbling my nails more frantically than contemplating the monetary barriers to becoming a writer.

The very act of trading hours of my life for bits of paper is odious. And yet, in our society, there simply does not seem to be any other alternative, unless you have a wealthy spouse, inherit money, win the lottery or have parents who can support you until you make enough money from your writing, all of which I don’t have or are highly unlikely to ever have.

When I contemplate the sheer pointlessness of ever having a crack at this writing thing, and my hatred for jobs which are necessary for funding said writing thing, I’m fairly consistent in my reactions.

I either:

a) I throw insults at the world.

This crops up the most often. An endless spiel comes whirling out of my mouth, in which I denounce everything under the sun, from the capitalist system we live in, the inherent selfishness of human beings, the coldness and indifference of the universe, the lack of appreciation for art, etc. etc. This also takes the longest time, and leaves me quite spent and still fuming. I tend to go through these periods every couple of weeks.

b) I throw insults at myself.

I turn inward. I berate myself for being a good-for-nothing nobody who has the gall to not want to work while the rest of society slaves away like good little children. I tear down my own dreams like I’m stripping the clothes of my Cinderella-like alter-ego, clawing and scratching at her face, screaming, “YOU’RE DELUSIONAL. WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU CAN MAKE IT. SHUT UP AND GET IN LINE LIKE A GOOD WORKER. YOU WILL BE THE BETTER FOR IT. STOP TRYING TO CLUTCH AT THE MIST.” This often leads to reading over my previous writing, bemoaning my obvious lack of skill and potential, feeling like I’ve been under the influence of a delusion and convincing myself that I’ve finally woken up from the fairy’s spell. I will never make it. I’m a deluded, little fool. Then I just sort of collapse and stop living for a few days, contemplating disturbing suicidal thoughts that I never have the courage to act upon, which just annoys me even more. The agony of this reaction is incredible – I feel like I’m sitting in a chair with a spoon and scraping out my innards in clots of blood and flesh and veins.

c) I sit in a dark, wet puddle of weepiness.

That is as fun as it sounds. Seeped in the incontinence of my own soul, I contemplate the bleak vistas of a life of poverty and homelessness and pain, take a big gulp and think, well, this is just the way it is, I’ll just have to get job that’ll sap my energy and write in my spare time. Then I think about jobs that sap my energy, which, if they do not involve writing and involve lots of talking, are all of them, because I am an antisocial creature and can only deal with people in teeny-tiny doses before I want to thwack a book over my head. Also, I only truly feel alive when I am alone with a book and characters and my own writing. Also, I need silence like I need love. Also, wasting my life, watching and waiting for the hour hand to move the way I do in school, doing that for the rest of my life…the thought makes me want to stab myself in the throat with a fork. I apologise for the violent, visceral imagery in this post.

d) I sleep. Unfortunately, I also have a habit of eventually waking up. Oversleeping also has a tendency to waste precious time.

And when I procrastinate, I want to die, because it feels like all the negative, whispering little voices, like a band of nebulous demons sniggering and clustering about my head, are right. After all, if writing what my heart truly points to, if it is all I want to do during this flimsy, short existence, and I’m avoiding doing it…well, I’m the biggest failure of all, aren’t I?

And I think I’ve convinced myself I have some shot at this as a defense mechanism. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that, and the more I read of my amateur scribblings, the more I am convinced of this theory.

I guess this entire post is me trying to convey my own pain and agony, the equivalent of cracking open my head and showing you the fractured skull and gore, which, the more I think about it, is probably quite dull for you to read, unless you’re dealing with the same thing yourself.

And I even wrote a post writing about how to chase the dark clouds away! Let’s add being a hypocrite to the list. It’s a selfish post, and I’m trying not to let that make me feel worse. Nope. Not succeeding.

I guess. I guess it just hurts, and I feel like telling someone it hurts, even if it is the internet. I’m not fishing for buckets of pity – I swear from the depths of my heart I’m not, though it could seem like I am. I just think human beings tend to feel better when our pain is recognized, even a little bit.

It’s just. You have all these dreams, you know? And they’re cupped in your palms like dewdrops, and you spend days, months, years, cradling them away from the sun’s harsh rays like some overprotective water god, until one day you open your fingers and you find they’ve evaporated long ago, and the world is a nothing, you are a nothing, life is a nothing. It’s a little hard, that’s all. I know there are harder things, but this is pretty hard.

Anyway. Excuse me while I publish this post and go weep. And write. And weep at my writing after I’ve written it, since I tend to put a brake on the waterworks when I’m writing, as that can blur the page and make the creation of art a pain rather than a joy. I sincerely, sincerely hope every single one of you are a thousand times more content than I am. Like, sometimes, when the entire universe bends down and  sneers in my face with its black-hole mouth and galaxy eyes, I just think of other happy people doing what they love for a living, dancing in sunshine, transfixed by fireflies, peering into the faces of their newborn child, holding their first book in their hands, and I am comforted by the thought that contentment can exist. Maybe it just won’t for me. And the frightening thing is I’m not sure it ever will.

Don’t Think.

think

Though I do whine a lot about writing on this blog, I tend to keep my personal grief to myself most of the time. However, I just had to throw this out into cyberspace. I don’t know if it’ll help anyone, but I just want to show you the key I used to escape from perdition. Sheer agony. Ugh. Anyway. For the past couple of days, I’ve been wallowing in excruciating pain at trying to produce works of art that I could deem ‘adequate’ and failing miserably in the process. Why was this happening? I was putting in so much effort! I was trying so hard. Mummy, I tried so hard, why won’t they give me a ribbon? Why do the other children get ribbons, and my chest is left so bare and barren and empty? Mummy?

Turns out, trying to hard, thinking too much, as I wrote was the problem in and of itself. I used to write on the fly, stirring whatever sludge I had in my subconscious and letting it explode onto the page. Of course, very little of that was magical, but at least is was fun. And today, as I wrestled with a story, trying to keep a smile upon my face but with a scowl darkening my heart, I re-read an old story of mine, and I realized how much better it was compared to the stilted, unnatural prose I was currently writing. It hit me rather suddenly, one of those moments where you’re so astonished at your own stupidity you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I mean, I had just spent weeks torturing myself for absolutely no reason, convincing myself that suffering was a necessary component of becoming a better writer. I was losing hope, I was falling into despair, the clouds were looming in my vision, and I just couldn’t understand what was wrong. I was putting in more effort! I was thinking about each and every sentence before I crafted it, making sure they were interesting, started differently, elegant, each word polished and bright as a new penny. Too bad this meant all I ended up with at the end of the day was a mound of tawdry fool’s gold.

I’m typing this very late at night, and I don’t know if this will help anyone in any way, but I’d really like to share my experience so somebody else doesn’t have to experience the same agony for hours on end. And this is what I have learnt: Don’t think! No, seriously. At least when it comes to artistic endeavors, and according to my experience, it’s better to just let your subconscious go wild and vomit all over the page, and clean up and tidy the mess later in a semblance of art. Once I loosened this knot in my mind, and let me subconscious take over, just placing my fingers to the keyboard and letting rip whatever was inside me, something strange and sad and lovely appeared, something I never could have written, let alone had the idea for, if I hadn’t just told my brain to shut up and let my intuition or heart take over. So. If there’s anything you can get from this rushed and random post, it’s not to overthink things and let it flow and let your subconscious bubble over onto the paper. If you try to fight against the creativity, if you don’t just let it pour out of you, well, it’s like tussling with your own shadow. Let your shadow be, let it roam free, let it escape for a little while, let it cavort and dance and play.

Goodnight.

Dreams Of Escape

Dreaming

Everyone dreams of escape at some point. Life has a habit of pushing you into corners, dead-ends, psychological cul-de-sacs, and after a while screaming gets old and you dream instead.

It’s fascinating how when our realities are discordant with our souls, our brains try to comfort us by spinning fantasies. I wonder whether it’s a defense mechanism – perhaps primitive cave hunters, when they did not catch any game, went to sleep imagining the taste of dripping, fatty meat on their tongues. In fact, I think that’s very probable.

As someone who doesn’t get along very well with society at the best of times, dreaming has been my salvation. Sometimes, dreaming can be aided with the use of books and movies. Other times, it’s just you, your own mind and a magical, perfect world before your eyes. A current dream of mine, if you’re interested, is quite an old one – I still harbor in my heart a desire to escape to a tiny little hippie community somewhere at the edge of a forest with gurgling streams and beautiful flowers and enough leisure time to read and write and imagine until the end of our days. Doing this is a perfectly normal reaction to dissatisfaction with your life or current reality or the world you live in. At the same time, I also think dreaming of more idyllic existences is a warning sign of how off-track you are in regards to where you want to be in life. It’s a hidden message from your heart, saying, “I don’t like this path. Let’s choose a different way.”

Then again, maybe reality simply cannot live to one’s glorious expectations. Maybe even if our lives reach the pinnacle of perfection, the euphoria would only last a few days, and afterwards the perfection would become the normality. Maybe human beings, as future-orientated creatures, weren’t built for constant satisfaction. We can adapt to terrible situations with astonishing ease, but this also means we adapt quite quickly to wonderful situations too. It’s like winning the lottery. For the first few days, you’d be ecstatic, and you’re happiness meter would rocket upwards and break in a cascade of orange and yellow fireworks, but after a month or so, you’d return to feeling quite normal again.

That’s why I think dreaming, whether it be by yourself or with the aid of dark scrawls on pieces of paper, is one of the only ways to truly live. I mean, people always say it’s good to experience things for yourself, but haven’t you ever enjoyed the anticipation of a trip rather than the trip itself? Visions are always rosier in one’s mind, and the reality is often filled with niggling, irritating things that never existed in your imagination. For instance, the reality of the hippie dream might involve mosquitoes and wild animals and doing one’s business in holes dug in the ground.

Dreams are like jewels that fade and grow dim once you pluck them from your brain and transplant them into reality. Perhaps it’s better to dream a thousand dreams than experience different realities. Perhaps escaping from our current reality allows us to blossom in the transcendent realities of our minds. Perhaps the living is in the dreaming itself. And whose to say that dreams are less substantial than reality?

Just a thought to chew on.

I’ve Always Wanted To Be Someone Else

Bubbles

All my life, I’ve wanted to be someone else. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that I’ve always loathed myself and the physical body and little bubble of a world I inhabit (though I sometimes have). I’ve just always wanted to know what it’s like to be other people. Even if only for a day. See new worlds. Feel their emotions, think their thoughts. See how their day-to-day life pans out. It’s part of the reason why I enjoy reading so much. Stories allow you to be other people for a little while, and that’s unspeakably fantastic. In fact, the older I grow, the more it has morphed from a simple little wistful thought, a fancy that sometimes flutters and lands on my mind like a wayward butterfly and flies away a moment later, into a deeper yearning. I want so desperately to know what it’s like to be other people. I’ve even wished I could transform myself into a fly and spy on the private lives of people I’m particularly interested in, though I do realize this borders on creepy stalking. But I’m just interested! I’m just so, so curious! Perhaps it’s an idealistic form of nosiness, but I don’t feel any shame for it. I want to feel the pain and joy and shame and horror and everything in between of others. Unfortunately I do not possess the ability to transplant myself into other people’s bodies, and the reality of it would probably be rather intrusive anyway, so instead, I’ve resorted to imagination.

I imagine what it is like to be a farm girl growing up in a beautiful, pastoral setting, with big strong arms from fetching buckets of water and milking cows and carrying logs, and feeling a secret delight at the attentions from a nearby handsome station hand. To wake up to the crow of a rooster, and drink milk thick and creamy with froth at breakfast, and go to sleep with the pattering feet of the animals outside the window.

I imagine what it is like to be a lonely businessman in Tokyo, in his lavish penthouse, without anyone to share the delights of wealth with, sipping a glass of expensive wine and peering out from the panoramic windows at the glittering and rushing city below. To feel what it is like for everything to sparkle, but nothing to truly glow. A great, heavy-on-the-heart sort of loneliness.

I imagine what it was like to be a concubine living in an Imperial Palace. The gnarled knot of hidden animosities among the woman, the dangerous path one treads between favor and disfavor, the fumbling moves of the Emperor when he calls the women to his bedchamber at night. The bowing, the tension, the vibrant gowns and headpieces, the fragrant ponds of lily pads.

I imagine what it is like to be a struggling artist living in a poky little garret that overlooks the murky Thames river in London. The ashen clusters of cigarettes on the chipped wooden table, the uncomfortable lowness of the ceiling, the rats that scurry in the walls, and how the place looks at night, lit with a single candle, a twinkling haven in which I can paint or draw or read to my heart’s content.

I imagine what it is like to live as a drug addict, prowling through the streets at night, chest tight with need for the next fix, fingers constantly trembling and eyes bloodshot, hating yourself for who you have become but unable to stop. Hating yourself for stealing from your family, your friends, hating the world, and wanting to escape the world doing something that makes you hate yourself. The great swathes of misery interspersing the brief peppering of ecstasies. A dark, hallowed, broken world. A sad world.

I imagine what it was like to be a citizen of Ancient Egypt, watching as the men hauled the great stone blocks up the sides of the pyramids, bartering for dates and meat, feeling the desert sun on my face and the scratchy, desert wind riffling through my clothes. To bow and pray to the Gods, and watch in awe as the red sun rose each morning like a great eye, and think Ra! Ra!

I imagine what it was (or maybe is? Do they still have bell ringers?) like to be a bell ringer like Quasimodo, scrambling up the sides of buildings and swinging like a pendulum to set the bells a-ringing, and hearing the thunderous peals shake my very teeth and bones. To know that the whole city can hear the sounds I put into motion, to see the birds scatter into the air at the noise I made, and to cry and laugh and scream with it all.

I imagine what it is like to be a trapeze artist at a circus. To spend days leaping and contorting in the air, like a magical twisting bird, and come back to a cozy, red little caravan and sleep until the next day of flight. To eat lunch with all the other circus folk, still in their costumes, around the fireplace. To be on the move, all the time, and watching from the door of your caravan as the landscape trundles past on these journeys, especially at night when the moon rises round and white and high in the sky, bathing the rough terrain silver.

I imagine what is like to be a child like Oliver growing up in a hard, cold orphanage, scraping your spoons at the bottom of tin bowls, sleeping in cramped beds piled with dirty sheets, and that feeling of grey abandonment when you see children out with their families and concocting wonderful, beautiful parents in your mind late at night when you can’t sleep.

I imagine what it is like to be a girl at boarding school, and tussling with all the horrors of puberty and boys and classes and pinch-mouthed headmistresses. To cry silently in your pillow at night so no-one hears, and having that one true friend who makes it living less miserable.

I don’t know. Everything. It may seem childish to some people, but I imagine myself as birds, mythical creatures, aliens, futuristic cyborgs, all the characters in the books I have loved, as lonely vampires (I tend to like lonely and suffering and misunderstood characters an awful lot), as flowers, as rundown and lonely houses (There is certainly a running theme here), as abandoned toys, the moon, the sun, angels, Mother Nature. You get the drift. I don’t know. I just felt like sharing this enthusiasm. To see the clouds touched with light, feel the wet warmth of blood in my mouth that is both delicious and repulsive, experience the flattening crumpling pain of being trod upon…I don’t know.

It’s just so wonderful, so magical, so lovely. I want to know what it’s like to be everyone, to hear all the stories, live all the lives. And I suppose, seeing as we are all each other, no matter who are right now or the time period, perhaps we have experienced all of these, perhaps even as organisms in other worlds or planets or universes, only it’s locked away beneath the layers of pre-birth consciousness, only it’s inaccessible, and the imagination is a sort of key to unlocking all these other lives, these lives who were yours, if only briefly, if only for one daydream, one night. I quite like that.

Grey Dawns

Gray Dawn

Near the end of my existence, when I look back upon my life, it is not the nights that I will remember most (great washes of murky darkness), nor the days (bright painful spotlights) but the dawns, the grey gentle dawns, like tiny pearls strewn along the shoreline of my existence.

Perhaps it is because I have seen so little of them that when I do chance to stay awake or be up early enough to see one, the novelty of it imbues it with a surreal beauty.

Do you know the dawns I am talking about?

It’s that hush before the world catapults into frenzied energy, when even the earth seems to sleeping. Birds chirp like silent tinkling bells as they pirouette through the lightening sky. Not all dawns are grey – sometimes, they’re blistered and red – but I enjoy the wintry, clouded, grey ones best. The edges of the world are softened, and when you peer out from a chink in the curtain at the street without, magic doesn’t seem an impossibility. You wouldn’t be surprised if a gaggle of gnomes traversed your front porch; or a great giant came strolling down the streets breathing dreams into bedrooms; or saw the sparkly glint of a fairy’s wing behind a dandelion. It’s a magical, ethereal time.

When you’re awake at that hour, you feel like the only person in the world. All troubles recede into the background of your mind, and your heart balloons with sudden hope for…for life. You hear the sleepy mutters of your family members, and feel a sudden unbearable love and fondness for them that does not often surface during the day.

Even your bedroom feels different. The grey, faded light that pours in through the translucent curtains turn your furniture into a pearlescent wonderland. Your bed becomes a place where ghostly damsels come to rest after a night of haunting and weeping at the shoulders of their still breathing lovers. The wardrobe transmutes into an antique, a fairy portal, behind which tiny spiders knit their silvery, dew-dropped dreams. Your teddy bear wears a look of benevolent sagacity, its plastic eyes full of reassurance that it will look after you, forever and always, and even the carpet, that dreadfully plain carpet, is transformed into a desert washed in moonlight, upon which microscopic men on camels are trekking their way towards salvation.

It’s so quiet. It’s so quiet. The silence is exquisite, caressing. The silence makes you feel safe. The grey light is hope itself, pooling onto the world and dyeing souls in its silvery wonder. Hush. And you don’t know what to do, you want to do so many things at once, spin around your room and pretend to be a prima ballerina, a ghost-chanter, an innocent criminal locked away in a prison on a planet of silver, but you don’t, because the silence seems fragile somehow, like an intricate web of ether, as if one large jolt of sound-waves will disintegrate it all, send it twanging back into the nacreous heart of a spiritual spider poised upon the edge of the universe.

Imagine all those sleeping minds in houses across the country, wallowing in their murky dreams like drowning men and women, men and women who will awaken in the day and pretend their throats weren’t choked with themselves in the night.

Imagine fairy rings opening, toadstools inching away from each other to widen the circles and exhaling spores to the wind. Mists filling the bellies of frogs. Water trickling down gorges, smooth as moonlight. And you just know the people up in the clouds are preparing for the day in the quiet light, squeezing the water out of clouds, ironing out and dyeing their rainbows, opening their mouths into “O” shapes to puff winds across the new world. Even the angels are making their daily rounds, peering down at the people over the edges of the clouds like fathers and mothers gazing upon their slumbering children. They put fingers to their white lips, and smile.

And windows. Windows are stretching; the eyes of the world are beginning to open in a slow, bleary movements. Eventually, you do go back to bed, after standing like a marble statue in the centre of the room for an eternity, and the sleep you sleep is sweeter than mountain water, softer than the clouds.

Hush-a-bye, baby. Sleep well.