Diary Entry 3

Nothing much has been happening in my life lately, and I couldn’t think of a good topic to write about, so this will be another rambling entry, a peek into the life and mind of another human being. I haven’t been sleeping well these past few days, and it’s been bothering me. I can’t seem to get comfortable. I don’t much like beds, strangely enough; I find them to be dull and lonely places, and much prefer sleeping in public places, on transport and at libraries. There’s just something so awful about sleeping by yourself in a stuffy bed in a room all by yourself that I ended up watching three Youtube videos last night—each of them of a woman holiday in Virginia Islands, Venice and Morocco—before spending the rest of the night lying in bed trying to fall asleep and failing terribly. To be honest, very few things interest me these days, not books I used to like, not films. All of reality is starting to feel dull, except for my own reading of nursing topics, such as health assessments and anatomy. There’ s just something so fascinating about disease, and the human body; all of life is such a miracle, even when things go wrong. I think it would be good for my studies to start soon, if only so I can have some human interaction and make some more friends. These days, since I have nothing much to do except study nursing topics and do a bit of creative writing, I try and leave the house and go to the library everyday, just for a change of environment and so that I can be around other people. I might be introverted, but even the most  shy and hermit=like of introverts would grow depressed spending hours by themselves in an empty hours for days on end, as I have been doing.

Let’s see. What else is there to talk about. The purpose of pieces like this is for you to feel almost as though you are having a conversation with me, in person, though in reality it’s really basically my substitute for friendship at the moment, since I don’t have many friends and likely won’t be making any new ones anytime soon. I find it very hard to find good friends. Sometimes, people just don’t get along, no matter how polite and affable both parties are, it’s a very strange and peculiar thing. In fact, apart from friends I’ve made online (and mostly through this blog), I don’t think I’ve ever met someone I felt completely comfortable and happy around. Maybe my father, perhaps, but he has long left the arena of my life, so there’s no point in dwelling on that anymore. Good human company is rare. That’s why I spend so much of my time alone. I wish I could get a cat. I love cats, and they make great company, in a soft and silent way. I wonder what it is about myself that makes it hard for me to find friends? Is it my personality? I’m a very quiet, subdued, calm person, who likes writing and daydreaming, so I think people I would get along with would be particularly kind or sensitive people, who can see beyond an introverted exterior into the heart of the person within. If I ever get a boyfriend, he would certainly have to be a very kind and patient man.

It worries me, my introverted nature. I don’t know how I am going to cope with the constant social interaction as a nurse, though I suppose I could just act as a medical professional and get the job done without engaging in too much social chit-chat. Oh, here’s something interesting that happened recently: after a long drought, I picked up my creative writing again. Only a little of it, because writing fiction for too long tires me out, but I’m writing again, at the very least, which is always a good thing. I don’t know what I want at the moment. I feel  kind of quiet and lost, like an orphan sitting on the steps of a house holding a cat in her lap, silently looking out at the world moving past around her. Lately I’ve been realising how very ordinary I am, and how I will simply live and die, and that will be that. It’s not a nice thought. Surely there must be something more to life than the world we see before our eyes?

Where is my place in this world? Where do I belong? In books, in worlds of the imagination—but even they, these days, are starting to feel empty. I don’t know quite how to explain it, but even books these days are starting to seem ordinary, because they were created by human hands and human minds. I want something otherworldly to happen to the world. I want magic to be real and true. I want angels to descend from the skies and hell fires to burn in people’s fireplaces. There was once a time when even a Vegemite sandwich was a source of novelty and delight for me, but now, everything seems so—so irritatingly ordinary. I don’t know if I am making much sense. Maybe it would be a good idea for me to spend a little money and go watch a movie or something, just to spice things up a little, or at least make plans to save for traveling somewhere so I do not entirely lose my zest for life. Existence just seems very pointless, really, and all our efforts, all pleasures and joys, silly and meaningless. Not even cupcakes cheer me up. It’s not good.

 

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We All Sit On The Toilet: A Meditation On Life

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In my experience, one of the best ways to stop idealising a person, any person, is to remember, as you sit on the toilet, doing your no. 1s or no. 2s, is that everyone sits in the same undignified posture and completes the same undignified act around the world, throughout history—from the richest to the poorest, the beautiful to the ugly, the famous and the unknown—and often, mind you, multiple times in one day.

There’s something existentially lonely about sitting on the toilet, especially if you’re alone in the house, or doing your business in a public cubicle. Expelling waste is a private matter, reflecting the private nature of every aspect of our lives: no-one can urinate or excrete on your behalf, just as no-one can do the work needed to be done for you, or understand you, or make you happy, except, well, you. Private moments like these—others include lying in bed staring up at the ceiling or at the wall, or looking out the window and thinking to yourself—remind us of the one fact of life: that we are, no matter how many illusions we surround ourselves with, essentially, alone. Alone in our pain. In our efforts. Alone on the hospital table, when we are born, and alone on our deathbed.

Our joys, like our suffering, unfold in the privacy of our own hearts, holding meaning only for ourselves. No-one can live for you; no-one can die in your place; in life, there are many things, like going to the toilet, that you must do on your own. The reality is that for the entire duration of your life, it’s just you, inside the prison of your mind, looking out at the world and the people in it, who are trapped inside their own prisons, through bars.

For longer than I can remember, I used to hate this fact, revealing as it did another horrible fact—namely, that, really, none of us matter a great deal except to those within our social circle, and whose lives we have touched. The rest of the world, I guarantee you, would not give a fig if you or I died, and that is the way it should be, for there are simply too many people in the world for any of us to care about the suffering and deaths of each and everyone of them. Every couple of seconds, someone in the world dies. We don’t know them, we’re alive, we still have our life to live, so we don’t care. It’s not a bad thing, if you think about it, or a good thing. It just is. If anything, it can be utilized in a positive way, the knowledge of it reminding you just how important it is to pursue the things you want, not what society wants, or what you think you should want, because you might as well do what makes you feel happy (as long as it does not involve harming other people) seeing as no-one cares what you get up to or how you spend your time, anyway.

Letting this fact truly sink in also helps to make you feel more complete in yourself, and less afraid of loneliness. One of the things people chase and yearn for most in their lives is love, often in the paradigm of a loving relationship between two adult people. We all want the security and warmth of available in a loving family of our own. It’s a primal instinct, I think, to want to pair up and have children, seeing as it is an act replicated by the millions of species of organisms present on planet Earth.

But the problem is sometimes people believe that finding the perfect spouse, having the perfect family, is enough to complete and fulfill them, when nothing could be further from the truth. Starting a family can enhance your happiness, and reduce, not eliminate, your loneliness—but the core of your happiness comes down to you, your own personal efforts, and the meaning you create for yourself in life. It’s all internal.

One thing everyone begins to understand as they grow older is that reality has its limitations. In fact, the limitations are immense. In our imaginations, the perfect relationship is surrounded by a halo of golden light, promising days of endless love and happiness, but if you were to actually be in a relationship, after a while, you would grow accustomed to the person, and they would become as ordinary to be around as your family members and friends, your fantasy replaced by the monotonous reality that exists before your eyes right this moment.

Likewise, were you to have children, initially, especially in the hospital when you first hold the baby in your arms, the experience, like falling in love, would feel very wonderful and surreal. Gradually, however, you would be accustomed to having a beautiful, little person growing up in your home, and though it would still be wonderful, it will have become normal, and lost its “spark”.

That’s the way with everything, you see. For something to retain its “spark” some delusion is necessary on part of the person experiencing it. It’s why children take so much pleasure in things, why books and films you watched as kids seem sanctified in an aura of pure magic: back then, you weren’t aware reality had its limitations, so everything you saw shot millions of sparks like fireworks. As you grow older, you realise things. You watch a Behind-the-Scenes clip of your favourite movie, and discover how very unromantic and, to be honest, a little silly, the business of acting is (you have grown-ups running around on set, yelling like headless chickens, pretending they are being chased by fire-breathing monsters). You realise your parents are people, just like you. You realise no-one can save you, because they’re all just as scared and sometimes silly as you are.

Even books, if you think about it, are a little silly—they’re written by people sitting at their desks, alone, day after day, pretending certain people and worlds exist. Growing up, then, is about seeing how magicians do the tricks, peeping behind the curtains. The magic is still there, of course, but it’s not as vivid and wonderful as it was before, when you didn’t know any better and really thought a man had just been cut in half on stage.

That is what is at the heart of the melancholy of existence, I think, this disparity between fantasy and reality. We as human beings are very good at deluding ourselves. Delusion is a necessary tool of survival. If we constantly faced reality, were constantly aware of the speck of dust which we occupy relative to the rest of the universe and the shortness of our lives, the horrors and suffering in the world, we wouldn’t be able to function in our everyday lives. Depression, I believe, is often not so much a chemical imbalance in the brain as a period when the veil of illusions so many of us wrap around ourselves is momentarily broken or torn apart for an individual, exposing them to terrifying vacuity behind it.

Yet there is beauty in melancholy, excruciating beauty. If we were honest with ourselves, suffering, the cold, the cruel and the bittersweet, is what makes us feel most alive, and connected with each other. Humanity and life is made beautiful by its pain—without it, we wouldn’t have stories of people sacrificing themselves to save others, photographs of two people hugging each other on a bed, alone together in the universe, or find laughter so beautiful and sad at the same time, or treasure and love our pets to the extent that we do. One time, I read an article describing how two people, a man and a woman, who died within seconds of each other, were unearthed many years later with their skeletons entangled and their skulls tilted towards one another, and promptly started to cry, though I could not have told you, had you asked me at the time, if they were tears of joy or grief. That’s what I mean, you see: there’s just something excruciatingly beautiful about pain and joy we all share, the same awful predicament of being frightened, sentient beings living on a lump of rock spinning out its lonely life out in the middle of nowhere that we’re all in.

We all want love, and we’re all secretly slightly unsettled by the bones that shift and twist beneath our skin, the contours of our skull and jaw underneath our faces. We all face loneliness, the disappointing nature of reality, the long dark nights, the night sky, that awful restlessness when evening approaches and everything feels sad and empty, just as we all will one day come face-to-face with the immense, overwhelming mystery of life in that moment before we die and our minds and bodies are given up to the emptiness from whence we all came. In short, we all sit on the toilet—and that’s wonderful.

A Dreamer’s Musing

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This morning I awoke with a nameless anxiety squirming inside my chest. It’s like housing a tarantula in your heart, its hairy legs crawling and shivering over your ventricles and veins. I felt as if the world was broken, too broken for anyone to fix—and worse, that it would not matter if it was repaired or not. I felt I did not know or love anyone. Sometimes, I will look at my brother or sister, and realise they are the centre of their own world, just as I am the focus of mine, with their own thoughts and feelings, their own way of seeing things, mysterious and unknowable, just as I am to them, and the loneliness washes over me in an immense wave.

I have a desperate, ridiculous desire for external approval, which is ironic considering how secluded I am. Even from absolute strangers, from medical practitioners who would not, in truth, care if I lived or died, I grasp, subconsciously and consciously, for approval, like some hungry cat, mewling for scraps of love. It’s unhealthy, I know, but I can’t help it. Self-confidence is what they stress is the most important thing for a person to have, but I don’t have it. I have always felt inferior, to others, unsure, uncertain, insecurity a backdrop to every experience in my life, as natural as the sun and the sky.

I feel as though I will never be seen and understood by anyone, even if that isn’t true, and there are thousands who exist out there would understand me, and we are all less different from each other than we would think. It’s why I make art. Art allows me to pour my soul out onto the page, for my future readers to get a glimpse of who I am. In a way, writing is the only form of self-validation for me, through which I can express and show my true self that often cannot be conveyed through the mannerisms and expressions of my flesh alone. All my obsessions and desires and hopes are laid out, imaginatively, through my stories. It is the only good place in the world, and I intend to exist within them until the day I die.

Writing is a difficult business, though. Sentences are hard to write. I often feel as though I’m trying to arrange jigsaw puzzles with my eyes closed. Inside my head there are these sparkly universes, waiting to be brought forth, but my hand is not skilled enough to sketch them out the way I want to. It’s not good enough. It’s so hard, each day a grind and a slog.

There’s no safe place in the world except in the imagination—that is the sum of my knowledge after my meagre years on this Earth. For me, everything else, apart from the world of the imagination, is false, an illusion. It’s there where I truly belong. Another worlds, another places, away from the banality of reality. I wish I could inhabit them forever, squirrel myself into the worlds between pages of books, a tiny figure tucked in amongst the text.

I don’t think I’ll find love, get married, have children, as people usually do. After all it is still impossible for me to get a job. Gaining financial independence, at least through traditional means, seems an impossibility, let alone finding someone to start a family with. The problem is, it’s so easy to hate, rather than love. Sometimes, I feel as though I hate everything in the world with a passion that takes my breathe away, everything that crosses my path odious and pitiful, disgusting. On other days, the world seems a paradise, filled with trillions of tiny bits of beauty. If I did, by some miracle, meet someone, it is likely love would, sooner or later, turn to hate, and I don’t want that. I tend to be attracted to men who are arrogant and selfish, like my father. Even should a nice fellow present himself, it is likely I wouldn’t be able to feel a smidgen of romantic attraction, much as I would probably try to like him. And besides, I would have to find someone willing to co-habit with a recluse—a tall order, when the majority of the population crave some form of human interaction. I’d be happy with just my books and cats, I suppose. Having someone around who loves, accepts and understands me would be merely a bonus, not a necessity.

Oh, but how I crave affection! Particularly male affection and attention, much as I hate to admit it. Again, I place the blame on my father, who, not once, in all the years he was around me, embraced me. He didn’t touch me. Not once. No kisses, no hugs—nothing. A fatherly vacuity. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he left, really, all things considering. Yet despite this great emotional hole within me requiring filling, the men I like—well, I’m really basing all of this off a single boy, my social experiences haven’t been the most comprehensive—are the ones precisely unsuited to the task. The ones who ignore me. Who are loveless. It’s a horrendous paradox.

As for having a child, well, it seems to me so miraculous, the business of creating life. I am here only because two random people, years ago came together and made me. Before then, I did not exist. If my mother and father had not found each other, would I still exist? Do souls exist in some ether and come whistling down to drop themselves into a growing foetus in some mother’s womb? Children are not their parents, of that I have first-hand knowledge. I am entirely like my mother, and entirely unlike my siblings, just as they are entirely unlike me. It’s so puzzling, this business of existing. Trying to get it at the core of is like trying to recall a dream after its wisps have faded away. If I do go on to have a child, am I just a conduit through which another human is being made? How strange it is, to know that once you did not exist, and that one day you will return to the same oblivion from whence you came. It feels so empty and lovely, all at once. It makes one feel religious.

Our struggles are private. As I struggle, I remind myself that, all over the world, seven billion people are struggling in their own ways, so in truth, none of us are alone. It just feels that way. Over the course of history no suffering has been unexplored, and therefore your pain, whatever it is, is not unique; and if others have overcome them, or borne them, then you can, too. We all want safety, and security, we all want love and families, we’re all like little squirrels who want to find a home in a tree and give birth to lots of other little squirrels and huddle inside the trunk against the cold and the rain. But like the little squirrels, we all end up as skeletons, in the ground, despite our yearnings, our struggles. We live not knowing why we live. We live in reverence for the mystery of life. We just live, as all creatures and people have done, since this all began. 

21 Things This INFP Dislikes

cat1. The fact that our outsides do not reflect our insides, yet people insist on judging us based on how we look, act and talk, while what truly makes up a person’s identity, the activity rustling up in their mind when they are alone, is largely ignored.

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2. Also, that our insides are infinitely more complicated than our outsides, even though human biology is complex and magnificent. But people only judge us based on our outsides! Half the time the way I act does not in the least reflect how I feel. It’s like looking at an old-fashioned watch and thinking it simple trinket because you can’t see the intricate tiny world of cogs and wheels and tiny little specks of crystal inside it that keeps it functioning. Very infuriating.

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3. My compulsive self-sabotaging behaviour. Basically—and I do not know why I did this—in the past, when someone thought I was strange, or odd, or awkward, and I knew they thought that, then, when around them, for some reason, compulsively, I would act more strange, odd or awkward than I normally would, thereby cementing their bad opinion of me for eternity. I don’t know why I did it. It still happens. If I sense a doctor sees me as a shy, sweet, little anxious creature, then, gradually, as the session wears on, I will act more shy, more anxious, and more like a little goody-two-shoes. And then I end up not getting proper treatment because they think there’s nothing particularly wrong with me. It’s like my mind has a mind of its own—one that wants to destroy me. I hate it.

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4. Food. Not all food. Just certain foods. Whenever I put something into my mouth, into my body, in the back of my mind, there always lingers a fear, or disgust, of all the artificial chemicals and flavours and icky-stuff that I must be ingesting, and it makes enjoying food very difficult. If I weren’t small and wraith-like already—lithe, as I like to call it, or “bony”, as my brother does—I would most likely be anorexic. Not something to be proud of, I know, but it’s true: I’ve got the perfect mix of perfectionism, neuroticism and self-hate to develop the disorder. So I suppose it’s lucky I’m already thin. One less thing to obsess about.

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5. Boring people. Very few people who think they’re boring people are actually boring. Most people are very, very interesting, even though they’re ordinary, or think they’re ordinary. I like to watch them, when I can. But there are some people who are, literally, empty husks. There’s nothing behind their eyes. There is nothing inside them. It’s all shallow, hollow, empty. If you encounter one, flee.

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6.  The gap between ideas and their execution. As a writer—and you’ll just have to take my word for it—I have an explosive imagination. My imagination, when unleashed, vomits rainbows all over the place so you can’t take a step without splashing into a multi-coloured puddle. However there exists a discrepancy between my writing skills, and my creativity—namely, that the latter is a thousand times more developed than the former. What I’m left with, essentially, is a lot of wonderful, poorly-executed ideas. My intention is for the book to be Hunger Games-esque, for example, but it turns out more along the lines of children cobbling each other with sticks and stones in a playpen, if you get my drift. It’s awful. I don’t know if this situation will improve, to be honest, but it’s certainly something that keeps me up at night.

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7. Cities. Need I say more?

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8. Logical, extroverted, pragmatic people, who have either little imagination or compassion (and those two deficiencies often exist in conjunction). They’re loud, they’re brassy, they’re charismatic—but they’re only bright colours and trumpets and streamers; there’s no substance to them, nothing real, or true, or beautiful. It’s suffocating to be around them, even only in passing. They don’t see things. Unfortunately, irritatingly, for some unearthly reason, I always tend to find myself attracted to men like that, who in turn tend to find me too strange and too quiet. So I end up hating them, and hating myself for being drawn to them. Gah.

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9. Having to eat cage eggs because it is a cheap source of protein and you cannot afford free-range ones. I mean, I know I should be grateful that I can even afford food, but every bite of an egg that plopped out from a suffering chicken makes me want to throw it back up. I feel physically sick after eating them. But I keep them down, because, well, calories maketh man, after all. No calories maketh skeletons—and I can’t die yet, not when I haven’t written and published the books I want to write and publish.

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10. Cities. I’m sorry, but my loathing for cities runs so deep that it bears mentioning again. I am convinced—though my psychologist is not—that the city is the sole reason for my anxiety, depression and inability to leave the house for long periods. Living in the city gives me panic attacks. Literally. The roads, the roaring trucks, the cars, the countless people, the fumes, the noise, the colours, the lights, stimulation bombarding you from every direction. I belong in a quiet cottage, on the moor, with some cats on the front porch and a cool wind blowing through the grey sky. The world does not care for my comfort, of course, so in the meantime, I will go to therapy, suffer in silence, and dream of better places, as we all do.

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11. Loneliness. I am deeply, deeply lonely. It is because I feel so different from people much of the time. I have always felt like an outsider—I know, the old cliché—and I have yet to meet a single human in flesh who could truly see me, and understand me. Understand my quirkiness, my creativity, my weird imagination, my madness—and not just understand it, but accept it. Like I said, I like to dream.

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12. Lack of originality. I hate cliches, I hate the old, the banal, the worn, the trivial; it grates on my nerves like nothing else under the sun does, including when I myself spout cliches, or platitudes.

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13. Time. Or, more specifically, the passing of time. In fact, I actually have actual panic attacks because time is passing so quickly. Out of nowhere, I suddenly feel as though everything is ending, that there is nothing good to hold onto in the world, that if I take one step further, my foot will land in a grave—my own. And so I panic, and pant like a stallion after a gallop, feel like I’m dying, then spend the next half an hour calming myself down. Yes, it’s very fun. I adore being me.

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14. How I don’t actually have a definite personality. At least, I think I don’t. I don’t have a solid sense of self. I don’t know who I am. Who I am changes everyday. I feel like a different person every minute, every second, constantly shifting and changing like some psychological kaleidoscope. It’s frightening. It’s really, really frightening. I’m like some ghost, pretending to be human.

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15. Waste. All kinds of waste make me cringe and groan inwardly, as though someone were unspooling my intestines from the lower half of my body out through my rectum. Okay, bad imagery, I apologise, I don’t know where that came from. Again, like I said: no definite personality. Look through my blog posts, and you’ll find each of them uses a different voice. But, back to waste. I hate waste. I hate seeing rainwater trickle into drains. I hate plastic. I hate packaging. I hate throwing stuff in the bin. I hate flushing the toilet when that waste could be returned to the ground to fertilise the soil. Unfortunately I live in a unit, so environmentally friendly ways of disposing one’s waste, and just, well, living, in general, are limited. I hate it so much I could scream. Can someone just let me live with them on their farm? Pretty please? I’ll be quiet, I promise. You won’t even know I’m there.

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16. Anything inelegant. This is one of my greatest vices. It is the source of all my misery. Or at least a great deal of it. Basically, I loathe vulgarity, in all its forms. I like for everything I see, read, and come across to be beautiful, refined, elegant. And when I say “elegant”, I don’t mean luxurious. I don’t find mansions and flashy cars and beautiful gowns elegant; they’re as horrendous to me as carcasses and tortured bodies. Instead, I like for things to be natural, and pure, and unsullied. Birds, for instance, or snails, are very elegant. Smiling people are very elegant. But things like cursing, bodily fluids like urine, and sex—well, they’re not very elegant, to my mind, and I struggle to accept them into my worldview of life. It’s the idealist, in me, I think, wanting everything to be untainted. Pure.

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17. Men. I dislike men. I dislike them because my father was one, and he was not a very good one. I also dislike them because sometimes I like them, and I don’t know what to do about it, and just end up making a fool of myself and crying into my pillow and hating myself for weeks afterwards. Best to be avoided, in my experience, even if your heart yearns for love and romance.

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18.  Sport. I don’t like most sports, especially the violent ones. I don’t like basketball, tennis, wrestling, boxing, car-racing, horse-racing. Any aggressive activities, really, make me cringe inwardly when I watch them. I do enjoy watching synchronized swimming and ice-skating, though. And snail-racing. That’s always very exciting.

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19. Sunshine. Yes, you read that right: I do not like sunshine. It hurts my eyes. It hurts my face. It’s too stimulating, too bright. I like cloudy days, rainy days, and apocalyptic days that make daytime resemble nighttime because the sky is filled with swarming clouds of carnivorous bats ready to devour us all. That’s it.

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20. Children and babies. One, because all the babies I have encountered in my life—a grand total of two—have hated me, and started crying the moment I touched them, sometimes even looked at them. Two, because children and babies are noisy, and very stimulating, and I am a person who needs her peace and quiet as much as she needs air to breathe. And three, because I have a suspicion—just a hunch, mind—that no-one will ever willingly marry someone like me, and that therefore I will never have a child, and be able to pour my love and energy into something adorable. This sentiment does not last long, however, and I soon revert to comforting myself with the prospect of a future filled with books and cats, both of which are much more manageable and delightful than children, anyway. Who needs to play happy families, and have a husband, and children in real life, when you can write stories about having a family of your own, and dress-up cats in bonnets and take them for rides in prams, eh?

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21. Myself. I dislike myself. Sometimes. Sometimes, I just want to slap myself across the face and say, very nicely, “You dummy, why did you do or think or say that? That’s it, no dinner for you tonight, you’re grounded, young lady.” Sometimes, I want to do that everyday.

Yes, You’re Going To Die and Rot In the Ground—So Here’s What You Should Do

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I think it is healthy for the soul to visit a cemetery every now and then, just to remind yourself of the briefness of life.

Or, if you do not live near a cemetery—I myself do, in fact, but I can’t access it—then I recommend searching on Google images for photographs of skeletons, in graves, in museum display cases, excavated, propped up on stands in clinics. Granted, it’s a macabre way to spend your Saturday afternoon, but it’s worth the perspective it brings. Better yet, for the less easily disturbed, watch a documentary on burials. Recently I watched one about the rising costs of burial in Greece, which were leading many to choose cremation, with some even opting to ask medical schools to accept the dead bodies of the relatives because they could not afford to have them properly buried or cremated.

You see, sometimes, in life, we fall asleep. It happens to everyone. We forget what is important in life, and what is not. Our priorities tilt out of balance. We slowly slip into a groove, whereby we push death to the back of our minds, and ease into comfortable forgetfulness, the days vanishing one after another like used wishes. Letting the reality of your own mortality pierce your consciousness, then, is rather like giving the lenses of a pair of glasses a good rub before putting them back on to see the world and life a little clearer than you did before.

Some people go through their entire lives asleep, on auto-pilot, doing what they must do to work and get money, then spending the rest of their time devoted to empty pleasures, sex, food, entertainment, and soon, before they know it, they are lying in a hospital bed, staring up at the white ceiling and wondering where their life went.

And there is nothing particularly wrong with that. For some, a life devoted to short-term pleasure is what will bring happiness. But for most, a greater purpose is needed to feel fulfilled in life. Otherwise, the act of living becomes the dull business of dragging a bag of skin and bones from one senseless task to another, and if that goes on for long enough, people end up perishing by their own hands.

Though you might disagree, I don’t think having children, a family, a loving spouse, is enough to truly satisfy a person, give them the reason to wake up each day and go on living. Perhaps it’s just me, but I believe that anything that exists or comes from outside of ourselves can never make us happy, and that includes loved ones, no matter how perfect they are. Like most important things in life, fulfillment is a personal affair, soft and silent. Often there are no accolades, no external affirmation—after all, someone can be showered with praise by the world yet still feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled in life. To truly gauge whether you are engaging yourself in fulfilling tasks, at the end of each day, as you lie in bed on the verge of sleep, listen to your heart. If it is quiet, satisfied—not necessarily content—then you are living a path in alignment with who you are, and if not, then there is no better way to swerve back onto this path than by reminding yourself that one day it will end.

I mean, we’re all secretly or openly terrified of death. I can’t stand the thought of the flesh rotting on my bones, nor can I stand the thought of the same happening to anyone in my family, anyone I know, or, well, just anyone, really, even a stranger walking by on the street. It makes me want to scream. I don’t like the mystery of death, the feeling that it seems to neutralize all the meaning gathered up by humans over the course of their lifetimes, reducing it to a matter of carbon, calcium, animal-flesh, empty of the soul, the wit, the spirit. I hate Death, in fact, because the thought nags at me, no matter how hard I try to bat it away, that everything we do to draw a curtain over the abyss—creating Art for joy and for prosperity, helping people, doing wonderful things in order to be remembered—is illusory, made up by humans to protect themselves from the horrific business of existing and then not-existing.

But it’s not, I think. In the end, it’s not meaningless. It’s not, because you and I exist, and every second we benefit from the efforts of people who existed before us, from the appliances we use around our home to the books we read. Human civilisation lies on a great mound of corpses, there is no doubt about that, but without those corpses we, today, would not be so close to the sun, bathing in its light and the warmth. Meaning and happiness comes from doing what benefits others but also brings joy to and pleases you. Scientists and writers and inventors and engineers and artists throughout history did not work only to help the species; they toiled because they liked and wanted to, and were curious and inspired, the benefits conferred upon humanity merely a by-product of their passion and determination.

So, yes, unfortunately, one day, you and I, and everyone who exists in this moment, will die, and be nothing more than corpses, bones, flesh, skin, hair, organs, meat, just like everyone who has died before us. Thus, if becoming a corpse is inevitable, you might as well be a useful one, and contribute to the pile of bodies, lift humanity a few inches higher for you having existed, instead of being scattered around the mound’s base to be picked clean by the vultures, useless bones baked brittle in the sun—even if, in the end, it doesn’t really matter what you do. But it’d be nice if you did do something. If that makes sense.

Therefore, play your part, sing your song, dance your dance, do your job, and then exit the stage. That is all there is to it. More will spring up into being after you, and they, I believe, are you, too, all of us one gigantic consciousness, falling and rising; so would it not be wonderful for them to benefit from the work you did when you lived, just as you benefited from the work others did while you lived?

Feel the sunlight. It is warm, and bright, and beautiful, and we will rise, higher and higher, towards the sun, our arms reaching for a golden eternity while we trample on the bones and flesh we will one day become.

Life Is A Prison, I Think

prison

Life is like being born and dying in a prison, without knowing what crime you committed to put you there in the first place.

So a constant, low-grade frustration permeates your life; it’s there when you traipse into the cafeteria and eat the slop from the plastic trays; it’s there when you clutch the prison bars and stare out between them, the bars throwing lines of shadow over your face; and it’s there when you’re lying on your hard bed, alone in your cell, staring up at the ceiling.

By the end of it, when they declare you guilty, and force you to drink a vial of poison, to atone for a crime you did not commit, the cold draught slips down your throat dark and bitter as bewilderment.

The thing is, the whole business of living is so puzzling, so disorientating, so strange and unfathomable, that you can’t even muster up any anger. All you can do instead is walk through the corridors of the prison, going along through the motions of the day, in complete confusion, like a sleep walker.

Two things comfort you as this terrible situation slowly wears you down. One is that you are not alone; there are hundreds and thousands and billions of other prisoners suffering along with you, new faces pouring in every day, who all do not know the crime they committed, and all must trudge through the daily drudgery of their days, swallow the poison at the end.

The other is that the prisoners who came before you, who have already swallowed the poison, left behind notes and mementos scrawled on the prison walls, voicing their own despair, confusion, often packaged in words of comfort and humor. Thus, if you scrawl your own little message, somewhere, for someone after you to read, as you read this or that person’s scrawl with your still living eyes and still living brain– that is, if other people swallowed the poison and now you exist, to one day swallow the poison also– then perhaps there is some meaning to being in the prison, after all. It’s a repeating cycle; they’re in your shoes and you’re in their shoes and when you’re gone, there will others in your shoes and their shoes who will one day have others in their shoes.

And so we just keep on going, doing our best to distract ourselves until the time comes, rattling the bars and crying out into the emptiness when it gets too hard. Though no prison guards are coming to save or help you; for, in truth, even the guards don’t know what they’re doing, and perhaps not even the ones who dish up the poison, either.

Knowing Without Knowing

knowing

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my first child, when the time comes, will be a boy.

There is no rational basis for this knowledge.

At this point in time I do not even have a significant other, and probably will not for a long while to come, let alone a baby growing in my womb. In fact, if you asked me how exactly I knew this, with a step-by-step explanation of my thought process, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything beyond simply “I just know.” Something in me – my heart, my soul, whatever you want to call it – has somehow peeled away the veils obscuring the future, and taken a peek, and come back to report what it has seen to me, on an unconscious level.

Life, for many people, is full of these strange hunches – and I find them absolutely fascinating. A father living on the other side of the world wakes up with a sense of premonition, only to find out later his daughter died in a car-crash at that very moment. While taking her usual route home, a woman, spurred by some internal compass needle flickering in a different direction, turns down a different network of footpaths, and discovers on the News the next morning another woman was murdered on that very street. A scientist, searching for answers, has a sudden powerful urge to step inside a cafe he has never been to before, whose menu provides the missing link to his theory.

They are what I like to call moments of “knowing without knowing”. To encounter them is to almost feel aligned with the Divine. They feel magical. They push against the boundaries of reality. Science drills into us that the world is just a mass of soulless atoms and molecules, vibrating at different frequencies, but when you “know without knowing”, you can’t but feel there is more to existence than meets the eye. At such moments it is impossible not to feel a strange sense of exultation at the mystery of what it means to be alive.

Of course, I could be wrong. Just because I favor the heart over the mind when it comes to “sensing” life doesn’t mean the heart is infallible. Who knows, perhaps somewhere down the line I’ll end up giving birth to a girl – or not give birth to anyone, and die childless. But those outcomes feel unlikely, they just feel wrong, slightly out of alignment, like a tilted frame hanging on the wall.

For those of you who extoll the intellect and scoff at intuition, such claims must seem laughable. Delusional, even. Yet throughout history, and with each day that passes on this planet, others in the world have experienced the same thing – not to mention that this is not the first time something of this sort has happened. Intuition, unlike intellect, does not discriminate. It picks up on everything and anything, whenever and however it wants.

Take Art, for instance. J.K Rowling, renowned author of the Harry Potter book series, was on a train in England one evening when the idea for her books just “fell into her head”. The intellect, analyzing this statement, can only shake its head. Fell into your head? Did it, now? You don’t say? Ideas are formed when disparate concepts merge to create something new. The lady simply mashed two things together: witches and wizards, and boarding schools. Nothing magical or divine to it.

But as a writer and someone who has often experienced ideas “falling” into her head, I must disagree, and my sentiment has been echoed by many other creators. All of my stories start with an image that, well, appears in my head out of seemingly nowhere. Often I can see them so clearly, and they feel so real, and seem so real, as if the story and its world and characters already exist, perhaps in some other realm, and all I need to do is pay close attention and write down everything I see. Yes, you can put forward the argument that it’s just my subconscious, brewing together disparate elements into new and interesting combinations – but there is something more to it. Something real, something true, at the level of the soul. It is too vivid and powerful not to be.

I could go on about this for days. I could tell you of the odd incidents in history when different scientists in different parts of the world stumbled across the same theories at the same time, or anecdotes where people used their Sixth Sense to accomplish wonders. Stories of the oddest coincidences. However, ultimately, what it all boils down to is that there is more to life than we know, and more to us than we know. God, the Cosmic Energy of the Universe, the Grand Mystery of Everything. It doesn’t matter what you call it. No matter how intellectual you are, on some level, each of us, if we are honest with ourselves, are aware of something greater than ourselves at play in this business of living. Hunches are just one expression of this Great Unknown.

And I love it. I love it because it makes life more interesting and exciting. After all, is it not better to wake up everyday and see the world and life as magical, full of surprises and secrets, than something dull and mundane? As a certain scientist once said, we have the choice, to either see everything, or nothing, as a miracle – and I am firmly in the former camp.

What about you? What have been your experiences of “knowing without knowing”?

How To Keep On Going – Even When You Are So Scared You Could Vomit

fear

Something I used to do when I was five-years-old, before tucking in for the night, was spend a good hour or so re-arranging my few possessions in the drawers beside the bed, placing this box of hair ties just so, draping this necklace over that particular figurine.

It was a ritual; it comforted me. By hoarding and arranging these objects, I warded off my subconscious fear of the universe’s chaotic nature, that nothing was permanent and security the greatest fairytale ever told. After that I would turn off my bedside lamp, crawl beneath the bed-covers, arrange my teddy bears so they slept on either side of me, sandwiching and protecting me between them, and try and not think about death. At this I would inevitably fail, grapple for several minutes with the impossibility of imagining myself not existing, tell myself that as long as I had toys, and toys in abundance, I would be fine; and then fall asleep, curled up like a foetus.

I think I was born scared. I think, when I was born, I tried to crawl, in a mess of blood and fluids, blind and grub-like, back towards the warmth of the womb. And then life made me even more scared.

At two years of age my mother thought it would be a good idea for me to watch a horror movie with her (the details of the film linger in the background radiation of my mind to this day) and at seven-years-old, I was bullied at school to the point where I spent every lunchtime in the corner in the library losing myself in the worlds inside books to stave off tears. By the time the eleventh year of my life rolled around, I was the most introspective, melancholy and frightened young lady I knew – and also the best actress, capable of whipping up a smile and acting upbeat and cheerful even when my heart was shrieking.

Because if there is anything I have learned in the small handful of years I have lived on this Earth, it is that I do not belong on it, in the same way a camel does not belong on a boat borne on tossing seas. You ask that hypothetical camel whether it is happy: its little hypothetical camel heart, I assure you, is swamped by a mixture of bewilderment and fear vaster than the sky.

That is what I feel has led to my sense of apartness from other people, that lack of an anchor to return hold onto when things get tough, deep inside people’s hearts. The abyss has been ogling at me for years and years, and any day, I am certain it will decide enough is enough, and swallow me. When I walk outside, I feel like a tiny ant, aware that it walks in a world dominated by giants I cannot see, liable to be crushed any second. Things became especially bad when my father abandoned my family, leaving my mother to fend for herself. My father was what I like to call a “halfway-anchor”. He did not stop the abyss from looking at me, but he was so tall and strong and certain that he helped me look away from it for a little while. Basically, this meant that when he left me two years ago, I, who, as a little girl, tried to inject inanimate teddy bears with life-saving, heroic qualities in order to beat back existential dread, felt adrift, completely untethered.

Since then, the fear that has been present since my childhood has magnified. Extensive rumination brought on by more mature thinking processes has not helped matters. It is all too clear to me how fragile existence is, how impermanent, and how every second that passes is like a leaf being thrown onto a fire and shriveling up into ash. Other anchors – philosophy, books, art, the prospect of a partner to protect me from the world – which once tethered me have evaporated. With every minute that passes, a nameless fear leaks through my veins, making it hard to breathe and think.

The indifference of the universe crushes my heart. No-one cares if anyone dies, because life goes on; no-one cares if I die, because I am one in a sea of seven billion; and there is perhaps no God, no Anything, and we are all just repeating patterns of genetic complexity, at the end of a long chain of other complex organisms that have developed and encoded themselves into more complex chains over the course of evolution, who shall thrive and live and die in our own time, with nothing and no-one to care for us. Will we not be exactly like the dinosaurs one day, forgotten, pressed as bones into the soil for some future species to discover and ponder over?

What is important to note, however, is that this fear has not prevented me from still working towards my dreams, and going about my daily business – and if you suffer from a similar fear (I think everyone, on some level, does) you shouldn’t let it do so either. You must eat, even when you are scared; you must write, even when you are scared; you must go out, and buy the groceries, even if everything is going to end one day and you are scared and alone and no-one gives a damn about you and the world is going to shit.

In other words, you must keep on going, without knowing why you keep on going, or whether where you are going is going to be any better than where you already are, or perhaps even worse. You must believe in ridiculous notions like hope, and the fact that the universe has a plan for you, because the alternative is despair and emptiness. You must believe that the universe guides you, speaks to you; you must take every coincidence and synchronicity as a sign that you are being prodded in the right direction – even when you do not.

That is what living is about, I think, or otherwise we would have remained in our caves, huddled around fires and quaking in our hearts at sounds of the growls of the beasts in the night: to hope when you have no hope, to walk when you do not know why you are walking, to believe when you do not believe, to dream when all dreams are dead, and to love when you hate everything and everyone. I am fucking scared, and I know that no-one under the sun, in the end, can truly help me and take me where I want to go except myself; but I will keep on walking, towards my dreams, step by step, because that is all that I can see and all that I know, and you should do that too, so we can walk together, alone, on our little paths, like scurrying ants.

Life. Argh.

“You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.”

– Joss Whedon

Half the time I do not know whether what I am experiencing is depression, or simple teenage angst, which everyone goes through during adolescence.

Perhaps, in believing myself to be weighted with some grand existential despair, I am but reaffirming to myself my own specialness, and thus preserving my fragile ego and sense of self.

Deep down, I fear failure and inadequacy so much I could rip my own heart out, and I fear life and the future and not attaining the happiness I wish to so much that each second that passes burns my skin, like a tiny drop of acid.

You see, with things like blogs, and books, and any medium which does not involve a person actually speaking to you, face-to-face, you tend to forget that there exists a person behind the words or the images or the drawings, a person just like you, in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

Stuck in our own heads, we often believe ourselves to be unique and different, when in truth, we are similar, in more ways than perhaps we care to admit.

Someone who has bad days where the clouds crack and fall down on top of their head like fluffy plaster, and they are lost in a broken heaven. Who bumps into door handles and stubs their toe and curses the world. Who feels slightly disgusted with themselves when they defecate or clear out their nasal orifices, because it feels dirty, unclean, animalistic.

Who, with every second that passes, is scared, and who goes to sleep scared, so scared they can barely breathe, and when they sleep they are scared, the fear whispering like black wings through their dreams, and when they wake up they are scared, like their chest has, overnight, transformed into a black hole, with the rest of their body being slowly swirled and sucked into it. Blackness upon blackness upon blackness upon blackness.

Shit stains every page of my life, every facet, from my parents and the people around me, to my very own grimy little heart, which quakes and quivers and quails so much on a daily basis that it is a miracle it still lives. I am a hive, buzzing with a million insecurities.

Everything I do has to be run beneath the microscope, the glass tilted this way and that until the inadequacy is magnified a hundredfold – and only then, in having confirmed my own unworthiness, am I satisfied.

So, in order to help a handful of my fellow human beings feel less alone in their agony, and for the sake of catharsis, I shall hereby write down every single fear rattling around inside my chest. Every. Single. One.

And then I will go to sleep, with the fear still inside me, and wake up, with the fear still inside me, and stare outside the window at the sun, with the fear still inside me, and quietly wish I was not conscious whilst continuing to plod along, hoping for the despair to trickle away and for normalcy to reign once more.

1. I can’t write.

2. I don’t have the grit or talent or skill or time or patience or connections to become a writer with the level of success I desire.

3. I do not possess the social skills to properly function in society and make people like me so they can help me survive in this world.

4. Every creative idea I get is shiny and pretty for a little while, whereupon the very next day they turn dull and tarnished and tawdry, and I shake my head at it.

5. Books have lost their magic: they’re just a confluence of ideas, with characters stuffed into them, as a way for humans throughout history to escape and amuse themselves and process life. As a child, I believed every story I read in a book had truly happened, at least in an alternative universe. I do not anymore. Books, and the stories within them, are all too flawed and human – just like us.

6. I will never make a true friend who can understand me, because no-one can fully understand another person and we are all alone, inside our heads. Isn’t it strange, that we all have eyes, cats and sheep and insects and humans? The last time I voiced a similar sentiment, the person looked at me as if I had grown caterpillars instead of eyebrows. So I will be lonely forever, and the prospect of that makes me sick.

7. I am afraid of socialising, which makes me isolate myself more, which makes me more depressed, and I get so depressed that I get depressed about the depression and then I start to wish for a secret doorway in the house I can slip through into another world, where I do not have to think.

8. Everyone who has achieved success seem to live charmed lives.

9. I will never be able to find someone to enter a romantic relationship with due to my anxiety and neuroticism and general craziness (see my last post, if you want to see a brief snapshot of craziness). And this means…

10. …I will never have children, even though I really want to, because they’re adorable.

11. I want cats, but you can’t have pets where you live and there aren’t any pet shops nearby so I am so filled with yearning for a cat to play with and love that it nearly kills me every second.

12. We live and die alone, inside our minds, without ever knowing what the point to everything was, and that sucks more than words can say.

13. What’s more, no-one cares about you or me or anyone in the world. In the end, we only care about ourselves – even if we’re going to die alone and sad and confused.

14. I don’t understand a single thing about existence; everything from consciousness to time to the stars puzzles me beyond words, and even though I know very well there are some things beyond human comprehension, at the same time, I experience so much anxiety regarding the ambiguity and incomprehensibility of existence that I spend a good ten minutes every night screaming into my pillow. Much good that does.

15. I feel ugly. Sometimes, I feel so ugly I could peel my face off. I doubt, however, that such an act would improve matters.

16. After yet another disappointment with a writing competition entry, despite being confident and sure in my heart when sending it in, my spirit, though not broken (the fact that I am writing this, and have not killed myself, shows that it is not) , is very badly squashed. It looks like roadkill, with only the eyeballs, staring up at me in silent agony, not mashed to a pulp.

17. I am too romantic and insecure and scared and impulsive and insecure and mad to get where I want to get in life.

18. I have no motivation to start on creative writing projects.

19. I hate my father more than words can say. I never thought it was possible to be so disgusted with someone, and, as a result, disgusted with yourself, as psychologically, we have a tendency to identify with our parent.

20. I try to think positive, but I don’t; I try to believe in the power of intention and positive vibration but I don’t; I try to believe in a God, but I don’t: so that leaves me alone in emptiness, blind and crazy.

21. I feel fat; too much time spent moping around at home, I swear, has caused extra blubber to accrete around my belly. Apart from my belly, the rest of me is stick-thin, like some gangly insect.

22. I don’t know if love is real anymore, and whether we just stay around people for how they make us feel, rather than true, selfless affection. For instance, in a situation where I could save my mother’s life by trading in my own, I would not do it.

23. I eat meat, and feel bad for doing so.

24. Everything is expensive, so even though we can eat I fear homelessness or not having enough, and then I fear that fearing such things will bring them about, following the rule of negative vibration, which I do not believe.

Really, that’s all I can think of now. Basically, here is how consciousness feels right now. Every second: ARGH. Every bad thing that happens: ARGH. Everything you see: ARGH. Everything you think: ARGH. Everything is so ARGH I have lost the ability to spin words to explain it, my hands empty of the metaphors I once used to frame my world. I hate everything, and I am so scared I could throw up, and hate myself for feeling this way when other people have suffered more and have much worse lives and then I begin to wonder what the point of suffering is and I can’t find a point so it all returns to a big, fat ARGH, forever and ever, when I’m awake and dreaming and always.

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