A Footprint In The Sand

footprint in the sand

You died

And left

A footprint in the sand

I came to the beach

Alive

And saw

Your footprint in the sand

A footprint once made

By a live foot

Of muscles and sinew

And blood vessels twisted

Up to a thinking brain

That felt and hoped and screamed

A live foot like my live foot

Which is alive

In this moment

For me

Like yours was alive

In your moment

For you

And I stare at the footprint in the sand

Which you left when you lived

And which I look at

And ponder over

Because I live

With a heart and a brain and a body

Just as you did

And I press my foot down beside

Your footprint

And lift it back up to make a print

Two footprints side-by-side

Like a pair of feet

That could walk up into the sky

But instead will be washed ‘way by the sea

Like the other billion, trillion

Infinite footprints

Marking the beach

All made by once-live feet

Who all wished to walk into the sky

And I walk away now

Away from the sea

And away my footprint

Which will one day be

As it was for you

All that is left of me

And which shall one day be seen

By another

With a live foot

Why I Shall Live

I shall live.

I shall live, even if no-one cares that I live.

I shall live, even if I do not understand anything about the world, except that I am aware of it, in it, and can change it.

I shall live, even if there is suffering and pain and bad people who do bad things.

I shall live, even if I do not understand anything about life; all I know is that I feel and breathe and move and feel, and that is enough.

I shall live, even though I am so excruciatingly sensitive light glancing off a white surface pierces my eyes like a blade twisting deep into the sockets, harsh words tear like bloodied hooks through my flesh, and the world crushes me, each morning, each minute, each second, under its thumb, until my body is just a mouth, screaming.

I shall live, even when I want to die, and everything is hard and wrong and so awful it feels like nothing will be right or good again.

I shall live, even if those around me think I cannot do the things I want to do, or try to make me think I cannot do the things I want to do.

I shall live, even if I make myself feel bad about myself – others cannot make me feel bad, only I am in control of how I feel and think.

I shall live, even if everyone I loved died and I was left alone and a part of my heart was forever sad.

I shall live, even if every second is a struggle against the nameless dread.

I shall live, even if I must exercise, sleep well, shower, eat nutritious food and adhere to a writing schedule when I do not want to.

I shall live, even if no-one on the earth understands me, and never does.

I shall live, even if I never catch the eye of a man, never get married, never have any children.

I shall live, even if every second is a bittersweet agony.

I shall live, even if I suffer, and work, and suffer, and work, and then die, alone.

I shall live.

I shall live because I am here.

I shall live, because I just spent the last twelve hours awake and intermittently crying and thinking and am now writing this, which is not crying or thinking but living, and is good.

I shall live, because others lived before me, and if not for them, I would not be here today.

I shall live, because others are living right now.

I shall live, because I can find happiness in a life of simplicity and mindfulness.

I shall live, because people before me invented phones and lamps and laptops and rockets and paper and writing and animation and the internet because they lived.

I shall live because there are a shelf of books in my bedroom corner written by authors who lived, and movies on my laptop made my directors and their teams who lived.

I shall live, because Art exists, and artists existed and exist and will exist.

I shall live, because I have a brain to think with, a mouth to talk with, hands to work with, a heart to love with, and am healthy and young and smart, and therefore can do things.

I shall live because I can think and see and feel and smell things.

I shall live, because there is beauty in the world, and I want to experience it and contribute to it.

I shall live, because other conscious minds exist, whose lives can be changed by my living.

I shall live, because I can write, and will become better, over time and practice.

I shall live, because I have literary and creative talent, and will write bestsellers, and will be remembered and appreciated for my books after I die, and make people I do not know and perhaps do not yet exist feel some happiness.

I shall live, because there are books I must write, and it does not matter whether it takes five, ten or twenty years or fifty, whether I cry or despair or laugh or pull out my hair while I write and revise: all that matters is that I write, let what lies inside me explode onto the paper, and get that writing into the hands and minds of other people who exist and shall exist.

I shall live, because in my mind, I can see another human holding my book and reading it, because I can see my books lined up along the shelf next to other beloved writers in libraries and homes, and knowing that is my future makes me happier than I can bear.

I shall live, because the world needs more Asian writers, and my future success may inspire other minority writers.

I shall live, because the world needs more books with Asian and minority characters – to help validate and show the beauty of pink blossoms, in a world that venerates only those of the blue variety.

I shall live, because there are people in the world who need food, love, comfort, shelter and delight, and therefore people to supply and create them.

I shall live, because I can meet someone to love and marry and have kids with and be happy with.

I shall live, because I live in a world where there exist libraries and flowers and and sunsets and poetry and warm beds and fruit and kindness and love.

I shall live, because I love writing, even when it is hard.

I shall live, because I love imagining things, and daydreaming, and pretending I am someone other than myself in strange and odd and unlikely situations and worlds.

I shall live, because I believe in the books waiting to be written inside of me, believe in the characters waiting for me to meet them, believe in the imagery and complexity waiting for me to be delighted by them, and thus believe in myself.

I shall live, because I love living, even when it is hard.

I shall live, because I love reading.

I shall live, because I love.

I shall live, because I care.

I shall live, because I can.

I shall live, because I live.

This Is What Happens When I Get Depressed. I Write Things Like This. You Have Been Forewarned.

road

The past few days has sent me tumbling down yet another rabbit-hole of existential despair, which is a kind of suffering more pointless than digging up dirt and patting it down again and digging up dirt and patting it down again and again and again in the same spot– and each time, it gets harder and harder to clamber out.

Sometimes, I get stuck just before I reach the opening, the sky a blue lid above my head, which is both frightening and highly irritating. Sometimes, I stay down there, in the dark, with the madness scurrying around me like a nest of ants, for what seems like forever, chewing on dirt and worms as I think.

I do not wish for a great hand to descend from the skies, parting clouds, and hand me a message, typed up neatly on a sheet of paper, telling me what everything is all about. That is not the answer I am looking for: it is altogether too easy, too ludicrous, too human a way of dealing with things. What I want is to grab something, hold it very tightly, close to my heart, like a talisman, something that can wash away all needless thinking and needless pining and fill me with a sensation from head to toe that is like the way a dandelion feels, blowing in the wind. I do not think dandelions think. There we go, after all my philosophizing, I have come upon a solution: I wish to be a dandelion. But perhaps, if I am the universe, or at least a part of it, the way a leaf is a part of a tree, then I am the dandelion already, which only leaves me more befuddled than before.

But, all trivialities aside, these depressive episodes do bother me a great deal. They make me miserable, because reality becomes like water, and my mind like a hand, trying to grasp it, and never succeeding. All that would be bearable – I have born it, a hundred times, before, and that is how you know you will overcome something – if this recent bout did not call into question something which has been a rock and an anchor and an almost-talisman in my life: namely, fiction. Or storytelling, whether in the form of books or movies or artwork: the human creativity that once allowed us to sketch hunting battles on roughened cave walls writ large.

Once upon a time, which is to say, a week or two ago, the power of creativity and imagination, like fishing lines hooked into a great beast of Divinity, tugging me along happy as could be, kept the despair at bay. Art seemed to come from somewhere beyond ourselves; images so often flash upon my inner mind’s eye, without my knowing where they come from, that I was sure they stemmed from a Divine source. The process of creation can also be rather mysterious, like when it sometimes feel like something other than you is making the words appear on the page. Some writers speak of the books they are writing as already existing, out there in ether, with them simply being the medium which the work is expressing itself through, a conduit. But that sense of transcendence has come to an end. For imagination, creativity, the pinnacles of literary and artistic creation, are truly no more than a grand offshoot of the human creature’s ability to form connections between disparate ideas – and beautiful and delightful and wondrous as they are, it is only beautiful and delightful and wondrous to ourselves, and there is no true magic in it. Books were magical for me as a child; as an adult, I read or watch a film, and find I cannot get lost in it.

Art is the conversion of the million facets of human existence, by shaping and twisting them around, by mashing bits and pieces together, cutting off and re-attaching others, into something new. A house is just a house, yes, but, because we like to think, and we are creative creatures, we wonder what would happen if the house had wings or legs, or was alive and could look at us, or what kind of strange family might inhabit it. Or we move the house several fathoms below the ocean, or several miles into the sky to plonk it onto a cloud. It is wish fulfilment: we look at the world around us, and wish for something more exciting and interesting than the reality which exists before our very eyes at this very moment: and thus movies and books and paintings are born.

And fun though that might be, it is not magical, nor divine, nor anything particularly transcendent; it does not beat back existential despair with a stick, and only further entrenches it. All fantasy is these days is something that hearkens back to folklore. Ancient people, before science and instruments and men and women who liked to measure and analyse, believed thunder were the gods expressing their anger, or that the world rested squarely on a turtle the size of a milky way’s back. They were stories people believed – but all that existed was the belief. Maybe, even now, science does not truly and objectively look at the universe, and has for the past century or so been merely creating a new kind of folklore that our human minds can understand.

Which makes life, as a writer, very difficult. To write, you must, at the very least, believe your own stories to be worthy and meaningful – but with this recent revelation, I am beginning to doubt that. When you realise you know nothing about anything, you begin to wonder if anything is worth doing. So for the past week or so, not only have I been not posting on this blog, and not writing anything, I have also been spending hours looking out the window, trying to convince myself not to kill myself. It has not been fun. I do hope you have been spending your time more nicely and wisely than I.

In a past post, I wrote of accepting that I will never understand anything, and I still stand by this technique for overcoming existential depression. But sometimes, your brain will find it hard to accept acceptance. Like a child pointing at the sky, it wants answers. And the longer times passes without any answers falling out of the mouth of an unfortunate nearby adult, the more despondent and confused and irritable the child grows. Unfortunately, unlike myself, and probably you, children are much better at distraction and living in the present.

I have no doubt I shall eventually return to writing again; fantasy is in my blood, regardless of how hollow it starts to seem. Recently, to help myself climb out of his hole, I have been reminding myself very hard of the joy I experienced reading books as a child, and the promise I made to myself, a little girl tucked in a library corner, that one day I would write and publish books that would one day make a child smile, and laugh, as all the authors of every book I have read have done for me.

I still stand by that. I will not self-destruct if I have something to live for, a hard core at my centre. I would keep on creating stories, even if everyone I loved died and the world crumbled to pieces, or I was jailed, tortured, ostracized. I would use my own blood to write them down, if for some reason I had no pencils or paper, or simply tuck them away inside my head; if all the books and world were burnt down to cinders and I the only creature left on the planet, I would still tell myself a story, in the emptiness, speaking out loud, until my breath perished. And then perhaps I would sing to myself; songs are just stories in a more nebulous form.

Because stories, even if they are nothing, even if they are meaningless, even if they only exist in my head and only matter to myself and other humans, are all that I have, and without them, I would be something emptier than nothing.

Monsters In The Night: A Song

Monsters In The Night

Monsters Night

The moon is vanishing

Behind a twisted cloud

The sky and ground both fade

And I listen for the growls

___

Chorus

Monsters come out in the night

Maybe we will stand and fight

Maybe we will cry and cry

Maybe we will die tonight

___

And you stroke my cheek

Fingers touching tears

Tell me it’s alright

Tell me we can fight

But we bleed more than blood

Secrets and our fears

Our bones don’t hold us up

We collapse into our teeth

 ____

Chorus x1

____

But I will be by your side

As the stars wink out one by one

Our hands will clutch bone to bone

Skeletons running home

___

Chorus x1

 If you want to hear the song:

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1DY8lox7UnV

Thank you for encouraging me when I posted my last song, “Compass Girl”. Singing for me is a very self-conscious act, so you really bolstered by strength with your encouraging words. I’m a fiction writer at heart, but occasionally the whims strikes to write a song. Usually a tune hits me out of nowhere, and I find the words tripping out from my tongue, in a delicate balancing act with the melody that has, also seemingly from nowhere, inveigled its way into my head. All creative acts may be just the brain forming multiple connections between disparate ideas, stringing them together into something new, but that does not detract from their wonder and beauty, nor lessen their healing powers. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best songwriter, or the best tune-writer; I can hardly play any instrument if  you don’t count my voice; but I still wanted to continue sharing these songs that hit me out of nowhere, because I want to touch hearts, and I want to make people feel less alone, and sharing art and music and words is one of the best ways to do that.

Dreamerrambling

The Meaning Of Life Is 42. Or Not.

Little inclined as I am towards easy answers, there are many days when I wish my purpose could be laid out clearly for me, stitched across the night sky like a glittering constellation.

‘Your purpose is to write books’, perhaps accompanied by an encouraging smiley face, or ‘your purpose is to bring joy and delight to others, through Art’ or even simply the number ‘42′, because frankly, on some days and nights, when I feel delicate as a dragonfly’s wing baked brittle by the sun, I’ll take anything.

Because I am tired of my mind spinning and twirling topsy-turvy down an endless warren of rabbit-holes. Philosophy is a sham; it is a disciple whose answers only bring up more questions. A thousand theories worm their way through my mind: We are all part of the Universal Consciousness, only able to experience life one at a time; the point of life is to live, and to live, if possible, with joy and delight and wonder; and so on, and so forth.

And, theoretically, I do understand them. I do. They ring true, in my heart, which is the only barometer I trust. But on a more practical day-to-day basis, faced with bland reality running like a reel before my eyes, all abstract concepts fall away, leaving me exposed in the full glare of existential agony.

What frightens me most of all is not only the indifference of the universe, or self-doubt, or fears of not achieving the things I want to achieve before I die, but the simple confusion that has haunted humanity since its birth, and now haunts me, haunts you, haunts all who exist today and will exist. With all our gadgets and brains, humans still barely know anything. We may have molded matter to our liking, molded this or that into tools, formed larger and larger tribes, even virtual ones, linked together by the internet, but we still can only scratch the surface of reality. Life, if you think about it, is bizarre: Why do we look the way we do, why are we conscious, who are we, why does this all exist, why does anything exist, is there anything behind everything or is everything just nothing, just waves washing briefly against the shore in shifting, glinting patterns, beautiful but temporary?

For we are like the fish who do not know they are in water; to them, water is all that exists, it is Everything, and concepts like land or grass or earth are entirely beyond their grasp. Perhaps there exist lots of Somethings beyond the world we know and live in, just as other terrains exist beyond the confines  of the fish’s watery universe. After puzzling for years over these pointless questions, I have decided to, for once, take the easiest path, the most logical path, the one of least resistance, and that is acceptance.

Acceptance of my own and humanity’s ignorance. Acceptance of any turmoil or longing or emptiness that arises as a result of this perpetual ignorance. Acceptance of everything that occurs in the physical world around me, seeing it as colours and shapes moving across my eyes, a brief dream to be experienced, enjoyed, but not held onto. Acceptance of death, that one day this mind will extinguish, this body decay. Acceptance of what I can do and achieve, within the limits of my abilities and in the limited time frame that I have. Acceptance of the love I lack, the love I receive, the love that ends. Acceptance of the entire experience of being human, the agony, the joy, letting it all be like imprints in the sand, washed away when the tide comes in.

The unfortunate truth is we, as human beings, are not capable, smart as we think we are, of understanding the reason behind our existence. That should not be a reason for despair, but greater motivation to work as hard as we can, to create the joy and happiness we can, using the skills and talents we have, in the short time we are given. Take for instance, the bees: they have no concept of worlds beyond their rhythmic, humming universe, yet they still, propelled by some greater urge, work tirelessly in maintaining the hive, gathering pollen, manufacturing honey. If they thought as humans did, from their point of view, what they do could be seen as pointless. Why do we go on living, building hives, then flying to new hives, collecting honey and then eating the honey and making the honey – what is the point?

Looking at the larger picture however, we, as humans, can see that bees play a vital role in nature, allowing flowers to bud into fruits and vegetables, which then feed hundreds of other species, including ourselves, not to mention their delicious honey. At once, seeing it from this perspective, these tiny, furry, golden insects transform into vital agents whose lives, though brief, are monumental in importance.

So the same goes for us humans. It is perfectly possible that there exists something greater beyond ourselves who depend on us, and something greater who depends on them. That Something that needs our existence might not be able to be comprehended by our brains at all.

That, however, does not detract from our importance. To us, life can sometimes be a tremendous bore, a long corridor with no end in sight; but we do not know anything, and because we do not know, we cannot say life is meaningful or meaningless: we must simply live, just as the bees do, as best as we can. We are like a few glimmering threads in a grand intricate web complex and beautiful beyond imagination and comprehension. Cut any strings of the web, and the entire mechanism collapses.

Therefore, I entreat you not to despair or moan or rail at the heavens, as I did for so many long years, causing myself much needless suffering.

Instead, you should just live, and, if possible, live well.

Yes, You Will Be Forever Alone. But It’s Okay.

Alone

In this one little life that we are granted, for the briefest of cosmic blinks encased in this flesh body on a lump of rock encircling a hot gaseous sphere, we are alone. Entirely alone.

Surrounding yourself with friends and family, pairing up, sharing secrets lying side-by-side, don’t make a difference – no matter how deep and intricate the intimacy, ultimately, you are by yourself, stuck in your own mind, to deal with life and its share of suffering on your own, often in darkness and silence.

And that, depending on how you look at it, is not a bad thing.

Logically it seems a despairing situation. Essentially what this means is that connection with others, be it humans or pets, or even robots, is not only transitory but illusory, a false comfort at best. You will never know what it truly is like to be another person, and what goes on in their head, how they experience the world. Likewise, no-one can truly understand you – at least not until scientists invent some sort of telepathy device that allows people to share their minds, which, frankly, given the current rate of technological progress, seems likely in the next few centuries or so. But, for the moment, a device does not exist to allow us to experience what it is like to live everyday life in the body and through the mind of another, to see and filter the world through their particular personality, psychological makeup, with their memories and experiences. To compensate for this, most tend to see people as they want to see them, or only scratch the surface of who others are, and there is nothing really very wrong with this. You can go through your entire life this way, constructing your own world, populated with your own  customized types of people, happy as a bee, but also dull as a dingbat.

The better alternative to ignorance or despair is to treat this essential mystery that are our fellow humans as a delight, something to puzzle over with the same curiosity that propelled Homo Sapiens up to the moon and down into the deepest depths of the oceans. For each of us are mad, in our own way, and, what is more, bottomless in our madness.

For if we are honest with ourselves, another truth is that much of the time, not only are we clueless about the inner worlds of other people, we also do not understand why we ourselves do and think and say the things we do. In other words, we are so complex that we cannot even understand ourselves sometimes. Who are you? Who are you, really? As a human being, intricate beyond imagining, both physically and psychologically, it is impossible to predict your next moves, for your psyche, composed of a few hundred complex factors jostling together, ranging from primal urges to lofty ambitions, is irrational, and also very adaptable. For instance, most of us are all natural born actors. The way we act with our friends is different from how we act around our mother, and who is to say that one version of you is more real than the other? They are all you, just different facets of who you are, each interesting and different but part of the same gemstone.

While these facets may shine, the light that winks through them is often distorted, murky. All of us possess our own set of neuroses and oddities and quirks, which is the resultant fragrance that steams from the stew of all that makes us who we are, our past, our psychology, our biology, our family, everything that we see or hear or read – in other words, we each have our very own personal brand of madness. I, for one, am partial to darkness, and dislike extensive exposure to sunlight. Open the blinds in the middle of the day and you are wont to make me yowl in dismay. Others might be unable to stand not having things put back in their right places, or having the TV on too loud, or start to twitch around cats due to a bad childhood experience which inflated the creatures into monstrous tigers in some deep recess of their minds. To put it simply, we are all weird, you are weird, I am weird, everyone on the planet is weird, and it is hard enough trying to understand ourselves without having to also fathom the behaviour and thoughts of others.

That does not mean, however, that we should not try. Just because we can never completely understand a person does not mean we can never uncover parts of them, chip away the dirt here and there to let a facet wink through. We do not need to know, entirely, what it is like to be another person, to talk to them, or love them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if we could transport ourselves into the bodies of every person we met, could know exactly what it was like to be them, the world we live in would be the more duller for it. They say it takes a lifetime to get to know someone, and sometimes, even then, at the end of, say, sixty years, it is not enough, and they can still surprise you. To that, I say: Thank God. Far better for us to live in a world where we are surrounded by walking mysteries we can observe and uncover and ponder over, rather than one in which we understand everything, and have nothing to find, and are thus bereft of the delight of discovery.

So, yes, rather sorry to break it you, but you are alone, and no-one will ever understand you completely and you will never understand other people completely and in the end we shall all die as unopened boxes, mysteries to one another for eternity. But that is as with everything in life. Life is not just meant to be lived, or understood – we are here to bask in the mystery of everything, and rejoice in the delight and wonder that not knowing anything yet knowing everything is very interesting and complex and wonderful brings. No-one knows exactly where creative inspiration comes from, or why synchronicity exists, or why we fall in love with this person even when that other person clearly, logically, and rationally would be far better for our mental well-being and more suited to our personality and propensities – which is just as it should be. Where would the fun be, if we knew and understood everything, were tiny gods strolling this planet, our minds bloated with knowledge, yet unable to enjoy anything? Delight stems from novelty, and you cannot have novelty if you know and understand everything already.

Life is hard, but it is also funny, fascinating, lovely; it is a tragedy and comedy and romance and mystery boiled into one sweetly spicy savory stew; but most of all, it is sometimes strange, sometimes weird, sometimes unpredictable, and yes, sometimes lonely – just like you, just like everyone else who has existed and exists and will exist.

And that’s great.

Compass Girl: A Song For How INFPs Sometimes Deal With Love

Compass Girl

compass

Take my hand

No let me go

Come on close

Please go away

Say Hello

Ignore you so

____

Chorus

Make up your mind you say

Do you want me to stay

Yes…yes.

My heart says Yes

My actions say No

I’m made of poles

North South & West

A quirky compass

Yes I know that best

And you’re confused

And angry too

And I understand

But can you understand me

I’m just so scared

So very scared

And when I’m scared

I’m not brave

I’m not North and South that way

____

I don’t love you

No wait I do

I don’t like loving you

But I do

Wait maybe I don’t

Maybe it’s all in my head

So go away

Leave me alone

____

Chorus x1

____

Take me hand

Please take my hand

Come on close

Please come on close

I’ll say Hello

I’ll say Hello

And maybe we’ll talk…

…and maybe we won’t.

On Slugs and Resilience

slugs

Lately, I have been getting into the habit of saving slugs.

I promise you this post has a purpose other than extolling my saintliness as a sentient creature on this planet, though that it is a prime motivator, of course, behind writing this.

Only in the last, say, twelve or so years, have I begun to treat all living creatures (and yes, that includes insects like cockroaches and spiders and worms – and slugs) with the respect and kindness they deserve. The years before that, I was an absolute tyrant, spraying spiders hanging from flimsy webs in bedroom corners until they curled up, thin legs bunched together, and died; smashing scuttling cockroaches with a shoe (they are, in fact, quite clean creatures, so our disgust is unfounded, at least germ-wise – though it’s not winning any insectile beauty contests anytime soon, I’ll grant you that); and crushed the rare silverfish with wanton abandon.

Like many humans on this planet, I was an insect’s worst nightmare: My mantra regarding their existence was to annihilate them, as quickly as I could, so my skin could stop crawling, while I fervently begged, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! B-but I have to do this, you’re in my bedroom, and I can’t sleep with you under the bed – what if you crawl over my face, in the middle of the night? Don’t you see, dear spider, that there is quite a good reason for your death?”

Since then, I have evolved greatly as a human being. Ultimately, I came to the realisation made no sense for my kindness to be directed towards other human beings, and furry animals, and even fish, but not my scuttling and crawling and tiny brethren, just because they were a little sore on the eyes.

Still, this resolve of mine was not put into practice until a few months later, when, whilst washing some vegetable leaves, two slugs – one fat and thick, the other small and thin – plopped from a leaf, washed free by the tap-water, into a bowl that was already in the sink and half-filled with water.

You do not expect such a thing to occur, for your soon-to-be food to harbor tiny, sentient creatures. In the corners, yes, in the garden, yes, and maybe even at the back of your drawers, where it is rarely dusted – but not at the sink, while you are washing your food. Perhaps that says something about how removed we are from nature in regards to our food – there are, I am sure, people out there who believe tomatoes are made in a factory – but at the time, I was focused on the slugs. Here. In my sink. In fact, though I experienced a visceral reaction of aversion, my mind took some time to catch up, and did not, at first, realise they even were slugs. I continued washing the leaves, staring at the dark blobs floating in the bowl. Only when one of them sprouted two tiny antennae, and began to trying to clamber its way, very unsuccessfully, through the water up the side of the bowl, did I admit defeat: They were slugs, alright. Okay, then. What do I do now?

The logical step would have been to flush them down the sink, as any self-respecting cook might have done. Slugs are the renowned mortal enemies of gardeners the world over, possessing as they do an ability to multiply very quickly and a propensity for taking lots of little bites, also very quickly, out of produce, and society had taught me that pests were Bad, and Should Be Exterminated.

Still, I did not want to flush them down the sink. Imagine how horrible a death that must be, gurgling and floundering down endless fathoms of twisting pipes, until you eventually drown, in rushing darkness. I also, however, could not think of any better way to deal with them. I live in an apartment, so popping them out in the garden was not an available option. Neither was leaving them in the bowl of water – they would drown just as easily as being flushed down the sink that way.

So I settled for a compromise. Using a spoon (which I washed properly later, not wanting to ingest slime, no matter how safe it is, with my dinner), I fished the two slugs out of the bowl, and deposited it into a metal box that had once housed Christmas Cookies. Close-up, they were actually rather cute: little undulating bodies, tiny goofy antennaes that wavered this way and that. What sold me, however, was their sensitivity: like snails (and slugs are basically snails without shells), their antennaes shrank back quickly into their bodies at the slightest breath of wind. They moved, well, sluggishly: in truth, the more I watched them, the more I saw they were as harmless and timid as I. Once I had developed an affinity with the slimy critters, there was no going back. A rescue mission was already beginning to coalesce in my mind. Operation Save The Slugs, as I liked to call it.

There were a few obstacles to completing the mission’s objective, which was to place the slugs in a conducive environment where they could live out the rest of their sluggish existences in quiet, slimy happiness.

One was finding a good environment: It had to be not too hot, and not too dry: in other words, nice, moist earth. This was more difficult than it sounds: most of the parks around where I live are very airy, bright, and sunny places, the ground dry, sometimes even dusty. An alternative would have been to pop it into someone’s garden – but I did not think anyone would be too pleased to find some young lady clambering over their front garden wall to place two slugs next to their flowers.

Another problem was my anxiety. These days, it is still very difficult for me to leave the house, especially since I live near the road, with its roaring vehicles and exhaust. Our financial situation prohibits me from living anywhere else, at least for the meantime. To save these slugs, not only would have to leave the house and visit the busy park, but also spend a good ten minutes or so snooping for a good spot without seeming odd to onlookers – or worse, give the impression I was implanting an explosive somewhere.

I kept the slugs in the Christmas box, with some apple chunks, which one (the fatter one, incidentally) happily gnawed at. The other was a little more depressive, staying in one corner of the box. Overnight, it migrated to the cling wrap I had spread tightly over the opening of the box, to prevent them escaping.

To cut a long story short, I ended up, having gathered my courage, racing over to a spot in the park three days later, early in the morning, before there were many people out and about, next to a drainage ditch, where the soil was dark and moist. There was nothing more satisfying than watching them slither out of the box and onto the cool, wet earth, off to live their lives in the environment nature intended to be in. Soft as these creatures are, they very quickly recovered from their harrowing experience and were soon off exploring for places to hide underneath. I left, feeling content – they were certainly not starving children or animals being tested on by the cosmetic industry, but they were sentient creatures, just as important as you or me; and it felt good to take the extra effort to help them, and make them, two tiny slugs, happy.

Why I focus on this tiny Good Deed is because it occurred around the time (quite recently) when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It was a condition where you often fatigued, and particular muscles and joints that should not be in pain hurt an awful lot. For me, it feels like a full-body ache, like growing pains, except worse. So far there is no cure. Scientists believe it to be an error in the central nervous system, which detects pain when it shouldn’t. Apparently many sensitive people, especially Empaths, are more at risk of the condition. Before I was diagnosed, a horrifically lengthy process, I had been dealing with the pain for over two and a half months.

The worst thing about it is that any extended period of sitting, or lying down now make my body, my neck especially, ache all over. This has made it very difficult to sleep – but I would not mind that, if it did not also impact my writing to the degree it does. These days, just sitting in one position and writing or reading for more than twenty or so minutes is enough to make parts of my body to ache. It has meant that this post had to be written over a period of three days, broken up into chunks, instead of the usual one. For many weeks this incapacitation broke my heart. Not being able to do the things I want to easily anymore, I wondered how I would even continue as a writer if the act itself caused me so much pain, and grew very depressed.

Meeting and saving the slugs, however, and relieving their evident discomfort at first being trapped in the fridge for days, then in a metal box suffocated by cling wrap, helped me feel better about my own suffering. Their resilience and fortitude lent me strength that I desperately needed.

This condition, on a day-to-day basis, is still very disheartening. That, I think, is something that will never change. It is similar to being, say, a basketball player who lives for the sport to hurt his or her hand. Sure, he or she can still play, but their movements are greatly circumscribed, and they need to rest for longer periods, practise less – or else grit their teeth through the pain, as I am learning to do; but with writing, it is very difficult to get into the “flow”, if, say, your neck is aching in agony. During periods of high creativity, I have found myself having to stand up and stretch, or stop altogether, because the pain is so great that I cannot continue on.

My dreams, however, and my purpose in this life, has not changed. Even if I lost my hands, I am sure I would, for my Art, learn to write with my toes. What matters is the end result, not the blood, sweat or tears that it took to create it. As humans, as creatures of this universe, soft and sensitive as some of us are, we can come up against adversities, great or small, and still live on, and not only live, but flourish – just like my slugs.

On a less depressing note, just today I discovered yet another slug while washing some vegetable leaves, whom I shall be releasing into the park tomorrow, and various family members are considering buying their produce elsewhere, in spite of my discouragement.