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I thought I would have known where to begin after six months, trusting that somewhere inside my muse had been lying dormant, just waiting for me to start imagining again. But my thoughts don’t come easy, and if I still worked in ink and paper, my notes would be delightfully scrawled with a hundred visions and revisions before the taking of a toast and tea. I’d come back every five minutes to make sure that things are in place, sounding great and more natural than I would ever be in any situation.
In the room the women come and go.
When you ask me if I have any regrets, I'd be lying if I said anything apart from a yes. But if you ask if I have many regrets, my answer is no. Because life is more than the mistakes I've made. I've realised that it's more important how you come out of these screw-ups and what you learnt from them. I’ve been where you’ve been – maybe not circumstances as earthshattering as yours, but trust me, I’ve been there and know what it’s like. Sure, this may sound like motivational bullshit, but I'll tell you firsthand that this bullshit works.
Your presence in the room ushers itself in with a positive tension that hangs in the air and in the way you’re holding yourself today. Your noncommittal glance in my direction does little to disguise the fact that this is moment that we’ve been trying for the past few weeks to avoid. I try not to notice, to postpone this for a few precious seconds, but you’ve already got your mind set on sorting things out.
“Darling”, you say and I brace myself as I mouth the next four words that come out of your mouth, “we need to talk.”
Most battles you’ll never have to fight alone, and it’s good enough that you have someone beside you to get you through the day. But many times I find myself wonder what else I can do when it seems like I’ve given all I can to help you. But I realise that there are some of your battles that are meant to fought for by yourself. If it’s any comfort, me and at least a few other people aren’t that far behind for you to fall back on when you’re just too tired to go on. Meanwhile, hang in there.
It’s not as if it’s the first time I’ve noticed this. Just that these few days have seen so much of both noise and quiet that I’m pretty unnerved at how much my mind wanders when I allow it to. It keeps me sane to know that I don’t have to constantly worry about what I say or do – just as long as I say or do them.
When all this sound and fury fades, I’m left by myself staring at the ceiling assailing thoughts that I don’t want to think about. Maybe there’s an upside I haven’t yet found.
Catching my reflection looking back up at me in my cup of coffee this Tuesday morning.
One thirty in the council room on Friday, staring at the ceiling, all quiet and strangely calm.
Noticing the sunset reflecting off the buildings on the way to the junction, last Sunday.
An uncommon blue on the highway, Thursday morning.
A chord or two on the guitar, Wednesday afternoon.
I have to keep reminding myself that it’s for moments like this that I live.
Moments between these deadlines and traffic lines and fall lines.
Inconsequential and fleeting and forgettable.
Yet all the more memorable.
Everyone’s up here thinking they’re the only normal ones on the bus. From the middle-aged Prada-toting woman across the aisle, to the teenager she’s looking on with disdain, iPod blasting metal into his ears, to the student who’s just trudged his weary way into the seat in front of him, to the construction worker watching all of this play out from the back of the bus.
Perhaps forgetting that every one of them come from very lonely places, fighting very lonely battles, to this place that none of them particularly care about, judging people they’ll most likely never meet again.
Loose change, baseball cards, movie tickets, candy bar wrappers, bus tickets, and it’s an entire generation lost under the passenger seat. Cracked leather seats, worn with age, sun-baked and hard, reeking slightly of ten years of use and misuse. Last year’s newspapers lining the boot, and last week’s newspaper on the backseat.
Sometimes we’re wishing we went better places on all the miles we racked up, and sometimes we’re looking back and wondering if all the accidents we’ve had could have been avoided. There’s still a long way to go and most of the time, it’s not worth looking back.
Friday night, listening to the almost imperceptible fall of the raindrops outside, it’s almost like melancholy all over again. It’s funny to consider how I was and how I’ve changed over the past two years or so, and how all of a sudden, I’m one week away from what seems like the closing this oh-so-awesome chapter of my life. More overwhelming, it seems, is how underwhelming the very last of our lasts is going to come and go without much of a fanfare. I’m pretty sure I’ll miss all this come next Friday. It’s just how much I’ll miss it.
Bloody hell I’m trying – trying like I’ve been for the past five years ever since I first decided to make a decision for myself. Trying not to be so critical all the time but failing because it’s as if my character was written to be like this. Trying hard not to judge, not to act as if everything in the world rested on my shoulders, not to be an ass as I traverse through the immense complexity that is human life.
Perhaps it’s a comfort in knowing that even though I haven’t arrived, I have, in some measure, taken off.
This is homespun, raw and honest. Fraying at the edges but still very much built with love.
Walking through these corridors and around the campus fills me with so much damned nostalgia that I can’t bear to bring myself away from all this. There’s something in the way the light filters in, the way all the clunky buildings fit together in an awkward perfection as we’re pulling away from the porch. Something about the noise and about the quiet, about the things that you get used to from being here for too long.
Maybe leaving will be good for me.
It takes me time to learn, takes me time to get used to the fact that I don’t know everything – and more importantly, that I don’t always have to be right. This human experience is a hard one to master, and even after seventeen good (or perhaps not so good) years of practice, I still find myself stumbling over the technicalities of everyday life. Today I told myself that I need to learn how to be able to learn from anyone and everyone, even if it comes at the expense of my ego. Actually, even more so if it does.
Any economist would know that the rational man is motivated by self interest. On the fair assumption that our interests conflict most of the time, it’s pretty apparent that the world isn’t that well-wired up for kindness.
Your assignment today is to do something about that and try a little kindness to see for yourself how different we aren’t.
Stop and think and try to act a little different from a how you’re used to acting. There’s no need for big changes, because as we all know, big changes frighten us. Start small. Hold doors open. Say thank you. Smile.
I’m up, I’m moving. I’ve had my time for fuming to myself, but I’d like to think I’m alright now. Not alright in most conventional sense of the word, but good enough for me to not to lose hope in the entire human race any time soon. This passed quicker than I imagined, and I’m calmer that I’d thought I would be.
Sometimes you just have to get off your ass and get a move on, no matter how badly life screws you.
But at one thing’s for sure, I’m not giving this up without some measure of a fight.
I see you want to drift today; get out, get away, hide somewhere for a while. If it helps I’ll move out of the picture for a while, let you catch up with the things you think you’ve lost. Maybe try to shoulder the world from falling in, tell your friends that you’d like to be alone, walk away, try to make the silence bearable, and maybe give a reassuring smile when the situation calls for it.
I’m not really sure how you got here, why you’re here, or when you’ll be out of this.
But for now,
Over is spelt O-V-E-R.
O for “Oh. My. God.”
V for “Very relieved”
E for “Exuberant” and
R for “Really – that quickly?”
And over spells good times – at least for the two months up ahead.
Over is pretty exhilarating.
Over is quite something to consider after twelve years of work.
Over is a much better place to be than under.
Over is a change that will probably take some getting used to.
Over is sending mixed messages.
Over kind of makes me wish that all this wouldn’t be over so quickly.
But most of all over is rather underwhelming.
I enclose ten cents, my dreams, and a little bit of hope for something better. Today I move on, or am expected to. Another chapter closed, another day to remind myself that I only have the rest of my life in front of me (as If I need reminding) like I always had. Take a bit of bittersweet, and tell myself I can live with this and all that it’s going to throw at me. Still worrying, and finding ways to distract myself, to occupy myself, to bring my mind away from big unknown vaulting in front of me now.
Here’s your life on easy street, served up on a silver platter. This was your paint-by-numbers consistency, your no-brainer, your simple as hell. Lines all drawn in for you, stage doors marked out for you, instructions printed in eight different languages for you.
But this isn’t easy. Not in the way you’re used to anyway. This was your choice, and here it is. Complete with silver platter, paint-by-numbers etc.
It’s still your choice, though. Your choice to walk away, your choice to start making decisions yourself again, your choice to get off this street and do something with your life.
I could wish for better, wish for more, wish for another way to finish this. But this is what I got. This was two years of agony, two years of frustration. But this was also to years of joy and two years of fulfillment. I guess we spend a lot of time wonder where we could’ve done better, or where we could’ve cut ourselves a better deal. And I’m not arguing if I could’ve turned out better or worse than what I am now if it wasn’t for every moment in this room. I’m just glad for the experience.
If I had a choice between being deaf and being blind, I’d rather be blind. As much as I’ll miss all the sound and the fury of light, the dizzying kaleidoscope of the confluence of a million different shades, hues and tones, I’m thinking I can live with that. Having relied so much on my eyes to navigate me around this human experience, if things were to change, I choose my hearing over my sight. I need the music, the actual fury and calm of sound, the immortal words I’ve yet to hear, the whispers and the clamour. What sound.
This morning’s cloudy but full of hope. Good enough for me to hid under the sheets for a thousand five minutes mores until I feel brave enough to get out and face the world. The day stretches out ahead – in the way days do at the start of every morning – filled with things that I have to do and the things that I’d rather be doing.
Come to think of it, I miss the days where I used to know what lay ahead. These days, I have to make the decisions myself.
Five minutes more sounds like a good idea.
How to be Good
1) Don’t be an asshole
2) Don’t say what you don’t mean
3) Assume best intentions
4) Apologize immediately and profusely when you’re wrong
5) Forgive and forget
6) Stop whining and start doing something
7) Make the world better
8) Hold doors open
9) Say please and thank you
10) Don’t say more than is required of you
11) Share, give, in general, be overwhelmingly generous
12) Don’t cheat
13) Try your hardest, do your best
14) Be modest
16) Put things back where they came from
17) Breathe deep and enjoy life
Supposedly your life flashes in front of your eyes the moment before you die.
And then it’s over.
It’s this moment when you realise a lot of things.
That even though some parts of it sucked.
In fact, they more than made up for the bad parts.
In spite of everything that bought you here,
Life is still pretty damn beautiful.
This is going to hurt.
Not just you.
When you’re halfway down, it’s a little too late to regret.
Think about it.
Some things aren’t worth the shot.
This is one of them.
Play magician, act vindictive, and at least walk with your spine straight as you’re walking down the main streets pretending like you have a job in one of the offices there. Today your superhero power is being able to stop time, and 12:32 seemed like a good time to stop the lunchbreaking crowd in their tracks. The first thing you’ll notice is the disquieting silence that is the street not moving. And then you observe the people around you, stuck in mid-stride, mid-sentence and mid-sandwich. Not many pretty sights here; perhaps this was a bad idea.
Three. Two. One.
Out on your sidewalk and your pavement, the chalk colours scream your half forgotten childhoods out to the streets and down into the alleyways where you lose yourself (at least) once a fortnight. In the evening the streetlights come on and converse with each other about the secrets you promised him you’d never tell, and the wind carries it all the way across the border in an unpleasant scent you were hoping to forget. It’s something about the way the leaves are falling today.
You would tell me I’m colourless even if I walked by you a thousand other times.
PUT THEM IN QUOTATION MARKS
I SAID PUT THEM IN QUOTATION MARKS
there’s no need to
I’M TELLING YOU THERE IS
IT LOOKS LIKE CRAP WITHOUT THEM
no it doesn’t
it hardly makes a different
IT MAKES A WHOLE DAMN DIFFERENCE
I’M SAYING TO YOU PUT THOSE QUOTATION MARKS IN
and i’m telling you no
they look fine without the quotation marks
I’M NOT BLOODY CALMING DOWN UNTIL YOU PUT THEM QUOTATION MARKS IN
and i'm not putting them in
PUT THEM IN
we’ve had this conversation before
PUT THEM IN
what the f-
Miles high, directionless and stratospheric. Flying home, flying from home, we’re all strangers here, more or less. Losing our bearings, heads up in the clouds, lost, and then again, maybe not. Chatter, laughs, cries, shhhs and even more silence than we’re comfortable with. Wrapped up, warm, cold, lit, unlit, reading, sleeping, watching, eating and queuing up. Outside, inside, a flicker of lights and maybe some turbulence, a clatter of wheels, a flip of the page, the setting and the rising of the sun. Ascending, descending, perhaps this brings us somewhere better, somewhere worse, somewhere else. Either way, what’s the difference?
What’s the moment when you realize that all the things you’ve seen just aren’t enough? When you realize that the sights and sounds still thrill you, that the familiarity of unfamiliarity leaves you wanting more, that for all the long hours on planes, on ships, on foot, there still remains some part of the world you haven’t been to and must visit. That there’s some adventure somewhere waiting for you to live out, some cuisine somewhere for you to savour, some serious infection somewhere that you’ve yet to come down with.
It’s too big a world to be stopping here.
This is a little short of exhilarating, but damn, it feels good. It feels good to lie down at the end of the day, worn out from the entire day’s activities and just a little too tired to think. My feet are tired, I’m aching a little, still reviewing the crazy day that flew by, so tired that I’m asleep in an instant. I know I’ll wake up around five the next morning to survey the room and to check my watch (but I already know the time), and I’ll toss and turn for a minute before I’m asleep again.
This is your technicolour, your stereophonic sound, your weed. Up in the crossed-processed sky, the fireworks echo a distant lullaby that you don’t find unfamiliar yet. Tied to a chair, chained to a bedpost, waiting here by the streetlamps that illuminate your stardust streets is equally torturous. Oh what you wouldn’t give for a smoke, or another shot of espresso to char your tongue and to liquefy your throat. The billboards scream at you now, mixed messages, glottal, anapestic and tongue-tying, untranslatable in your language or mine, but so simple they’d fit on the six sides of your Rubik’s cube.
The Tip Jar