This Love Thing.

Sometimes, it’s a little scary to think about this love thing.

***

Sometimes, it’s a little scary to think about this love thing, isn’t it? It opens up a can of worms, brings back memories you think you’ve forgotten, reminds you that for all the hardness you wear on the outside, you’re still all pink, and soft, and a little sore on the inside.

Yes, it’s definitely a little scary to think about this love thing.

A recent conversation:

“This love thing, it really isn’t that complicated, is it? You find someone who can add to your life, someone who drives you to be better, not just for yourself, but for your other. You  win some when you’re in this love thing, you lose some when you’re in this love thing, but when you lose, you lose it so that the bigger-than-you bit, the us bit, wins. It really isn’t that complicated, is it?”

No, it isn’t. Yes, it is.

You brush shoulders with people you could do this love thing with throughout your life.

Sometimes, the person is right beside you, but something happens, or something doesn’t happen, and you continue on your way, a little happier, a little sadder.

Sometimes, the person is your first,  your first heart-opening, your first heart-breaking, and you carry this person  around in the underside of your tongue, the name that is never said; he’s the habits you recognize, like how tea has to be the perfect shade of red, or jeans have to be folded twice over, never more, never less. Everything has changed; you aren’t the person who got into this love thing years ago, and he isn’t the person who got into this love thing years ago, but the love thing remains, as the first love thing, as the thing that never saw the light of day, the thing that still continues to illuminate.

Sometimes, the person is so utterly far away from you, states away, but everything else is perfect – the conversations, the thoughts, the words you find for each other, the words you don’t have to say. But even then, this love thing isn’t enough because there are bills to pay, and dreams to run after, and the problem of finding a common land space for you to meet. You part, but you don’t really; there is always that email waiting to be read, or the message that was sent three days ago, or that Facebook Like that sets your heart racing.

You move on, but not really, you’re still a little bit in this love thing with that person, but you’re you and, he’s him, and life is a little separate for the both of you.

Or sometimes, this love thing becomes bigger than all of it put together, the states, the first love things, the dreams,  the bills, the egos, the miseries, the burdens you carry, the blemishes and the scars you wear,  and that’s that.

All of it still exists, the hardships, the distance, the memories, the worries, but this love thing pulses a little stronger, and today becomes a little easier to deal with.

It also gets a whole lot scarier when you think about it.

So, you don’t think. You do this love thing, sometimes on your own, sometimes with your love, and you work on it  from one today to next. The hardness on the outside gets a little softer, the soreness  on the inside gets a little less painful.

And so, it goes on, this love thing.

 

7.5 friends, or something.

Sunday mornings are for slow thoughts and love-words from people who never give  up on you.

***

I tend to say that I have about 7.5 friends in the world – some who are physically near me, and some whom I have not seen in more than a year now. Most people laugh when they hear this, not realising that I’m being dead serious as I laugh along with them. 7.5, give or take when you’re not on talking terms because of a petty argument, or a sheer lack of contact due to time differences, and crazy-as-hell schedules.

It happens. You separate, you come back together again. Sometimes, the bond turns out to be stronger than before, sometimes, you realise that there is no point in holding onto relationships that don’t do anything for the people in it. You say goodbye. Sometimes, you just let silence take the space of where the people used to be.

It happens. It’s not altogether a bad thing.

I’m talking to my friend in the time-space that we have created for ourselves. I’m sending him voice notes via Whatsapp while having my morning coffee. I’ve been a bad friend for the past few weeks. Flakey, hardly reachable, always moaning about one thing or another, falling asleep in the middle of text-scapades, disappearing on Skype dates, etc. He hasn’t taken offence. Instead, as I type this, he is writing me a rap that is supposedly an accolade to my life. I’m laughing. I haven’t seen him in almost a year now.

I was attending my Detox Flow class yesterday. My instructor started the class with his usual words of wisdom: Let go of the people and the things that do nothing for you. Surround yourself with people who give, and who love, and who are able to receive the same giving and loving with open hearts.

It struck a chord. It has been a rough few months. It has been a rough few months, not because the challenges were any harder, but because the negativity was a lot more poignant. It has been a rough few months, because sometimes, it would just be a hell lot easier to forget all the lessons that have been learnt over the past few years and fall back into the vicious cycle of self-serving familiarity and lethargy. It has been a rough few months because it has been hard to keep making the same choices over and over, each time with a little more self-doubt.

After my Detox Flow class, I had mint blend tea and Belgian waffles with a lover. We are in similar places, this lover and I, trapped in a period of uncertainty and frustration at the bigger, badder world and the people in it. We reflected on what our instructor had told us earlier – the message had come to us at the right time.

“Drop your upsets. Make the right choices, even if they aren’t always easy. Don’t be selfish. Send your energy to where it is needed the most – to your heart, to your mind, to people you love, to people who love you. Say goodbye with grace.”

We encouraged each other, giggled, and parted ways, hearts a little lighter. And so, another day passed with love given, and love received.

I suppose this will happen again. The frustration, the inertia, the anger at the unfairness of people and their small-mindedness, the self-doubt, the worries.

Then , the process of “dropping your upsets” starts again.

(As I write this, I’m still talking to my friend. He tells me to send him a draft of my post before I publish it. “You need a grammar checker”, he quips. Yep, one of my 7.5s, this one, always giving me tough love. Thank God for people who don’t give up on you, is all I can say).

 

Another Three Days.

Three days: a series of disparate thoughts.

***

Thursday afternoon. The sun was high up in the sky. A long day. Lunch time. A bowl of spicy ramen and a cup of hot green tea. The restaurant was empty. The phone was switched off.

Salty broth, tender meat, spice that reached the back of my throat, and stayed.

There was space to taste food.

Friday evening. Golden light in the house, soft music in the background. A conversation with mother,  an outpouring of woes. Sometimes, our roles get reversed, but friday, friday was a day to be the seeking daughter.

A reminder – there’s no need to be strong all the time. Growth is in the breakdown, and the rebuilding.

Saturday morning by the sea. Two fishermen, a tiny rocky pier, fishing lines standing erect, the sound of waves, constant, relentless, always determined. I chose a spot between them; we continued in our silence. They were waiting for their catch, I was waiting for the elusive inner quiet.

We were all meditating, in our own ways.

Saturday mid-morning: two hibiscus in full, full bloom. Look at us, they say, delight in our beauty. It is your right.

Yes, yes. It is my right.

Taken in Singapore.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

WE live in a world

Some mornings, I wake up angry. 

***

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and the WE and the US disappears into someplace
where good things and happy things go to die.

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and the mothers and fathers are left alone in care homes
and grandmothers are chased out of their beds by granddaughters
and sisters get beaten up by sisters and all that is left is
no family and how I want MY life to be better, who cares what happens to US.

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and people shove past pregnant women on buses to get to the empty seat
and it’s okay to spend tens and hundreds and thousands on bags but not on people
and I want MY friends to be there for ME but I don’t have the energy to deal with YOUR problems.

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and the central narrative of MY life is encompassed only by MY singular existence in the world
nevermind the fact that the earth and the sun and the sea work tirelessly to give YOU life
nevermind the fact that nature’s very existence is to give and hardly to take
nevermind the fact that the universe exists as a system that is beyond, completely beyond YOU
nevermind the fact that YOU are just one life out of many billions
nevermind the fact that when YOU leave it is all over, except for the love YOU leave behind in others
nevermind, nevermind, nevermind, nevermind,
right?

Wrong.

On words and colours.

Sunday musings on colours and words. 

***

Sunday morning.

A giant mug of tea, and Anna Akhmatova for company. Her Requiem is an unlikely read for any morning, but when words find you, it is difficult to tear yourself away from them. Crucifixion reads chillingly, pale, icy blue, detailing the agony of Mary as she watches her son in unbelievable physical and mental agony:

“But where the Mother stood – no one would look there,
None dared to glance at her, so silent and alone.”

The color of Ahkhmatova’s words are the same shade of iciness that I remember encountering in Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary:

“Dreams belong to each of us alone, just as pain does.”

Words remind us that what we feel has been felt before.
Words remind us that they too, have colours.

***

A conversation recently,on people and character.

“Watch how a man treats the blind spots in his life – you know, his everyday people; old friends, parents, the security guard at his apartment complex, the bus drivers. That tells you a lot about the person. Forget about a man trying to impress the woman he loves; focus on the man living his life and see who he is.”

Yesterday, while reading Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda:

“If you really want to judge the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.”

Same words, both coloured a bright sunshine yellow, cutting diamonds, palatable bites of truth, not always easy to digest, but illuminating.

Words remind us that what we feel has been felt before.
Words remind us that they too, have colours.

***

“How are you?”
“Not too well, today. You know how it is. Some days are easier, some days, not quite.”
“Yes, yes. God, and art.”
“You know me well; God and art, indeed.”

I remember, two years ago, reading Sonali Deraniyagala’s Wave. To this day, no other book has given a greater perspective on the tragedy that is grief, and the painful struggle to pull oneself out of said grief. I don’t know if I can read it again. I know that when I do, my perspective towards life will be altered again.

“And as the wind gusted against those windows, I saw how, in an instant, I lost my shelter. This truth had hardly escaped me until then, far from it, but the clarity of that moment was overwhelming. And I am still shaking.”

Several days ago, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking:

“A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.”

These words are coloured like the night sky, dark, darker, darkest, but therein lies the purity of the emotion – there is no other place left to go but away from the superlative dark. This too, I am reminded, is hope, the choice of moving away to a place that could be better.

Words remind us that what we feel has been felt before.
Words remind us that they too, have colours.