The Price Of Beauty

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The price of beauty is pain, and hard work, which are sort of the same thing, really. When people gaze upon a beautiful piece of human creation, be it a book, a painting, a tiny carving, often what they do not realise is that behind the beauty and brilliance lies much suffering, days and days of endless, unfruitful labor and toil. Scrape away the gold leaf covering, and beneath there lies nothing but blood and sweat, in messy pinkish-red swirls.

You see, this is something very important to realise: that everything you see around you, from the food in your fridge to the book on your bedside table to the very screen you gaze upon this very moment, was dreamed, built, made and distributed by other human beings. Everything. The roads, the traffic lights, everything that surrounds was made by human hands, dreamt and imagined and created by human minds. That is why I believe everyone should do their best to contribute to the world over the course of their lifetime, to ask themselves what it is they can give the world while they are alive, and exist, because human civilisation has given each and everyone of us so much already, and the best way to show one’s gratitude for the wealth of knowledge and inventions and books and art and utilities that surround us is to make your contribution to humanity, in your own way, as best as you can.

And behind everything lies pain, you see. Growing food takes work, writing a book takes work, looking after children takes work, purifying water takes work—the key to happiness, in this life, is to find the work, by looking into your heart, that you are meant to do, and then to go forth and do that work, which will not only bring you satisfaction but benefit the lives of others. And it, like I said, will not be easy. Far from it. All work is difficult, no matter how simple, because the effort it takes to do anything, even as simple a task as getting out of bed and cooking food, is its own kind of suffering. Thankfully, in life, if you are lucky, you have the freedom to choose the kind of suffering you want to undergo—and, make no mistake, as long as you are alive, no matter what path you take in life, there will be suffering. Even if you are fortunate enough to be able to take the easy path, to live a life of ease and pleasure, that can also entail its own kind of suffering, the suffering of boredom, of being ordinary and mundane, of not contributing to the world and society at large, of dying empty and unknown. If you choose the path of productivity, at the end of it, after all the pain, at the end of your life, at least you have some work left to show for it which will likely live on after your body and mind are gone.

Nothing is easy. During the short span I’ve spent on this planet, this is one of the few truths I am certain of. Nothing is simple, and nothing is easy; the first step in maturity comes from embracing and accepting this fact. From afar, the painting is detailed, lush, glorious, colours swirling and spinning, dazzling and intricate—but it is only when you step up close to the canvas, nose almost brushing it, that you see each of the millions of individual brushstrokes which make it up, layered one on top of the other, one after the other, covering every inch of the canvas, placed there by a paintbrush held once in a human hand, a human hand that dipped the paintbrush into the paint, and drew the next brushstroke, and then dipped the paintbrush into the pain and drew the next brushstroke after that, and repeated the same action several million times, across a span of several months…it is only then that you realise the effort and time and patience and persistence it took to create this one, single piece of beauty, another little scrap of complexity in this wildly beautiful universe.

One step at a time, one brushstroke at a time, one work at a time, one stone at a time—Rome, my friend, was not built in a day.

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Life Goes On

I am very tired. Exhausted, in fact. My brain feels strangely tight, like it has expanded inside my skull and is starting to bulge against the bone. After I write this, I am going to lie down, and sleep, to drift on the dark and pleasant waters of my dreams, the only place where I feel truly happy.

As always, I spent the day in a state of lost productivity. What does the phrase “lost productivity” mean, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you. “Lost productivity” is the phrase I use to refer to days where I am reasonably productive, but even though I do get some work done, and that in and of itself is satisfying to a certain degree, I still feel lost, deep inside my heart, because I don’t understand life, I fear death, and I feel great pain in regards to the suffering that probably occurred all over the world while I was being productive, at my desk, in my cosy little first-world environment. Even if my wildest dreams were to come true, even if I found true love, and had my own family, my own children, a job I adored, even then, my days would still be days of “lost productivity”, as the state of lost productivity is the state of the human condition, and therefore inescapable.

All over the world, people close their eyes to the surrounding darkness and focus on the work right in front of them, nurturing their small scrap of light in so gloomy a universe, hearts shivering with fear even as they work furiously and intensely for hours on end. The way I see it, seeing as we’re all going to die, suffering is inescapable, and time passes regardless of how much we may cling to the present and the past and hope for the future, then we might as well spend our short time on this planet wisely and productively. It doesn’t matter if we don’t spend our time productively, but, you know, if everything is insignificant and meaningless, then you might as well take the better route, if you see what I mean, and do a little good in this world, make a contribution to humanity, that sort of thing.

The world is in a bad state, that is one thing I am quite certain of. The inequality that exists is appalling, shocking, beyond belief—yet everything is meaningless, and insignificant, even ourselves, so my heart, in the face of such suffering, is calmed by that fact. We are tiny things, you see, and it matters little whether we live or die, so why should we be afraid of death, of life, of pain or suffering? Might as well just smile, keep on working, and make the best of things, because, well, what else can you do? That’s life, you see: even when it is awful and horrible, people just keep on going, because that’s all you can do. When the world falls apart, you just have to keep on going and pick up the pieces. That’s all it is, I think. People die, worlds fall apart, a thousand souls scream in agony—and life goes on.

Well. My headache is getting worse. Goodnight.

Hunger, Loneliness, Yearning

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I am the woman watching from the shadows of the doorway as the man she loves, has loved dearly for years, kisses another woman, and begins to lay her down on the bed, wrapped in his arms.

That is who I am, you see. The very essence of my being is encapsulated by that lonely, quiet woman, standing there unseen, unheard, and paralysed with anguish, with longing and yearning so unbearable and intense it is like the explosion of sun, the rebirth of a universe, the descent into a black hole, all rolled into one.

I watch hungrily from the outside as others laugh, and play, and kiss and love, and I wonder, wistfully, to myself, why it is I can never be a part of it. I don’t why—it’s just there exists a sense of apartness which prevents me from engaging in such activities, and even if I were to somehow end up on a date, or at a social event, I would still either feel alone and anxious, or find the experience, because it exists in reality and not in my head, lacking in some way.

I don’t even know how to explain it, exactly. One of the greatest mysteries to me is how in the world there can possibly be so many people on the planet, when relationships are so difficult and so often end badly. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t understand how relationships work, or how people end up in them, or find someone compatible enough to—well, be intimate, and therefore make a baby. It is incomprehensible to me. As I didn’t grow up in a particularly happy family, every time I see a family, every time I read, on an author’s bibliography, that they are married, with a son, or daughter, or sometimes even two children, this tidal wave of longing rises up inside of me, tinged with the sour taste of envy. I feel so terribly alone, sometimes, so lost, and some part of me feels, or thinks, that if I can just create my own happy little family in this world, have someone to love me, and have my own children, who love me, then perhaps—just perhaps—I would find some measure of safety and security in so chaotic a world.

It has something to do, I think, with the terrible relationship I had with my father, who treated me with less than the respect I deserved, and did not love me. Thus, there exists a hunger inside of me for male love, a void—that is why I always feel, down to the roots of my soul, like that woman standing in the doorway, watching the man she loves love someone else. From the day I was born, I became yearning incarnate, stitched of dusty hopes and unfed longings.

The only solace in all the world for such hunger inside my heart is writing, or music, or singing, or any art form, really. Without creativity and without books, I would have perished long ago, just sort of drifted away, like a leaf on the wind. I live for my art. My art is my lover, my friend, my confidante, my family, my mother and father, all rolled into one. And it’s not as if there’s something particularly repulsive about me which repels all male creatures from my vicinity. No, it’s nothing like that. Instead, I just have a lot of mental issues that prevent socialising in the first place, and I’m also a little on the quiet, creative and shy side, which makes fitting in anywhere a difficult business. I like to think of myself as a kind, delicately beautiful white flower, in a tiny abandoned greenhouse, unfurling towards the sunlight and dappled green by the tinted panes, abandoned and alone, but terribly lovely in its own small way, all the same.

You see, that is what I love, I love the sad, the lonely, the abandoned; the sight of such things fills my heart with a desperate longing and aliveness. The truth, and this is something I usually would not like to admit, not even to myself, is that I quite like being in a constant state of yearning, and unfulfilled hopes and dreams. I love the bittersweet taste of it, on my tongue. It is a kind of delightful pain, if you will, and it makes me feel as though I am truly living; if given the choice, I would not have it any other way. Beauty, for me, lies in suffering, in the unfulfilled, in the hands that reach for the sun but never touch it: that is where it all is, all art, all true feeling, all that makes life rich. So I will stand in the shadows, my friend, and let the tears drip down my cheeks and my heart clench with longing, and smile a tiny and desperate smile of blinding joy, and call it home.

PS: I shall be resuming my daily posts–I recently started a Psychology course, through an online university, and was quite caught up with assignments and so forth for a while, and neglected this blog, for which I apologise. I know this is only a very small blog, but even if there was one person out there in the world who looked forward to reading my posts, then I feel very sorry for having disappointed you. The good news is, I am back, and I am here to stay.

My Reason For Living

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I want to write books that are like tiny homes, tiny, magical worlds you can tuck yourself into like a warm bed during the colder months, and feel deliciously happy, safe, comfortable and delighted while inside of them. The true value of books lies not in their ability to astound, delight and amuse, though they certainly do all those things, and in abundance, but to comfort.

You see, life, and the world, after you reach a certain age, suddenly turns from something fun and exciting, into something scary, and, when it isn’t scary, boring. Lots of us get jobs that we dislike, just to survive and pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads. We have to get along and deal with people we do not like, for the sake of our jobs, at the grocery store, at the bank. We become aware of our mortality, the end that awaits us all, and our loneliness. We realise that our loneliness cannot be healed by anything outside of ourselves, that we are, as a species, lost and wandering, on a tiny, little rock, spinning around a great ball of fire, in deep, dark and fathomless space. We try to find love, have children, to soothe our souls and our hearts, only to find that anything, once you attain it, becomes mundane and ordinary, dissatisfying. And so we live our lives, in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, uncomfortable and secretly yearning for something we cannot even put into words, yet know we want very badly.

And it’s not nice. The world is often not a nice place, and people are often not nice, because they’re unhappy with their own lives, and live in a society that seems almost specifically engineered to breed anxiety and discontent. No-one is actually a grown-up, you know. Beneath the professionalism, the smiles, the suits and the clothes, the faux wisdom, each and everyone of us, from the President to the elderly man on the street, is, at their heart, a child, pretending to be brave in a big, bad, scary and seemingly meaningless world.

That’s where art comes in. Art is what makes life worth living, because it helps us, briefly, to forget the horrible realities of living, of death and work and boredom, fatigue and pain, suffering. For as long as we are immersed in a book or a film, our souls are uplifted to a higher plane, where everything is beautiful, romantic, wondrous. Our lives, so ordinary, are lit up by these brief forays into other peoples’ lives, other worlds. Like children tucked into bed and told a bedtime story—and it is indeed children that we all are—we are soothed and comforted by these stories, tales of grand adventures and wonderful places, filled with interesting creatures and even more interesting people. Most of us will live quite ordinary lives, and if it were not for the power of the human imagination, reality would be quite intolerable.

That, then, is the reason for my existence, pure and simple: to eject, during my life, my bit of magic into the world, for others to enjoy and be comforted and soothed by, as so many books have soothed me. I live for books, and films, especially whimsical, animated ones. I live for the imagination, for words and stories, and characters. Should books, for some reason, be banned, and writing, too, I would honestly have very little reason for living, and would probably spend the rest of my life tucked inside my imagination, lying in bed and floating away on other worlds, like a drug addict. You see, for me, there is no greater pleasure on earth than the pleasure of reading, and dipping into imaginative and fanciful worlds.

Every little nifty bit of creativity that twirls and flits my way is a source of intense happiness, each one like biting into a tiny but extraordinarily sweet berry, the sweetness exploding across one’s tongue in a small spray of pure happiness. I live for it. My fondest memories, I know, from birth to death, will be that of sitting down somewhere and tucked inside the world within a book. As a child, books were my entire world; and as an adult, they still are, and always will be.

There is such magic and joy to be found in this world, but only if we humans choose to create it, and believe in it. And I intend to spend the rest of my life doing just that.