Friends go and gone

“Friends come and go,” people say. As though friendship’s a conveyor belt, rolling off used items to make space for new ones.

I’m too sentimental for that kind of analogy. I can barely toss out a plushie toy from my primary school days without severe contemplation and several goodbyes. Some would say I’m teetering on the margins of insanity.

It’s not really that though. Whether it’s a beloved soft toy or a close friend, leaving is never an easy choice on my part. In the case of the latter, leaving rarely is my choice. It just happens. And as I make my way through my university degree, I find this fact growing alarmingly present, like a bruise or a mosquito bite: you never see it coming, but when it does come, you can’t help but feel irritated and frustrated that you didn’t notice the signs beforehand.

I’ve never been good at writing detached. A previous teacher of mines called my writing “melodramatic”, too overwhelmed by emotion, too theatrical to feel real. It was bitter criticism to swallow, but I’m glad I got a taste of that medicine. It reminded me that even in writing, I am too sentimental. Every word oozes, like mud. Every word feels like it’s having difficulty breathing, like it’s a pack horse carrying too much.

I wonder if the friends that I’ve grown distant from feel the same way. That I’m an extremely heavy load, and now, in their new school and their new life, I’ve become less of a rock that keeps them grounded and more of a burden.

Or maybe I’m overthinking all this. Maybe we never even notice the distance, and by the time we do, the space separating us is already too vast to patch up and we’re no longer sure where we once stood. Maybe distance’s like an asteroid, hurtling towards earth and our heads and we have nothing to do but to watch it collide.

It’s too easy to say “friends come and go”. The phrase misses too many steps. What use is a recipe that only shows you the ingredients and the finished product, with no instructions on what to do in between? 

I wish there were some way to stop this fear of losing. But like Donald Trump winning the presidential elections, we must work with what we’ve got and go on living, sentimental or not.

Then and Now.

(I am just a shadow of who I used to be.)

I try to remember a time when the world was still innocent. When I was still innocent. The earth tremored in delight, not in fear… did it not? And blue… blue was the colour of fine skies, not of sadness. The flicker of every heartbeat signalled to life, not to this creaking pain. I was once unhinged, free to roam and dream and smile at the thought of having those dreams because fantasies defined my realities. But now, fantasies have become just that – fantasies and nothing more; a testament to what could have been but will never be. I am just a rusted piece of metal, too frail to swing open, drowning in my own papery breathes. The doors that once beckoned at me with the vitality of a billion lights have now closed upon me. I am alone. And it is dark. And it is cold.

Innocence is not ignorance. If life’s greatest purpose is to be happy and I was happiest in my innocence, then surely I was at my wisest point in those childhood years? The older I grew it seems, the more unsatisfied I became – it was as though age impaled upon me the inability to see the good through the bad; so much did I acknowledge the bad that I forgot to consider anything beyond that.

But maybe… maybe I think… there’s no point comparing who you were to who you are? Maybe to lose your innocence is to gain a deeper understanding of suffering? And maybe understanding suffering equates to understanding happiness… because how could one ever know how it feels to be happy if one did not know pain and sadness first?

I think maybe I shouldn’t try to remember, because to remember is to accentuate the differences between the past and present – differences that cast a dark cloud of longing and unfufilled dreams over your head ’til you’re reaching for a version of your childhood that never even existed. The doors are closed now, but maybe I still have a little energy left in me to open them up again. Maybe this is a choice. Nothing’s easy and simple anymore, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s achievable. And I have a choice now: either to stay in the dark or take a step forward towards the light.

(You know what I’ve always liked about shadows? They are indications that even in darkness, light exists close by. And you are the reflection of that light.)

Aligned hearts.

They can change the way we speak and the way we act, but they can never change the way we feel. When paths are altered, lines withdrawn, our hearts will stay the same. In the constancy of change lies the constancy of our pulses. We may not be the same people as we once were, and we may soon be different people to who we are right now, but one part of us will forever remain the same: we will remain human, alive in our breaths, and even when we die, alive in the ashes we’ve left behind.

A bit of licorice wisdom

I’m thinking of a smile concealing pain, the pillow hiding hours of tears, this chocolate coating containing a roll of licorice horror (sorry to all people/animals/creatures who actually like licorice). You expect homogeneity but everything is far more complex than that. You see that smile and associate it with happiness, forgetting that it might also be a silent expression of sadness. You slump against the pillow and associate its soft surface with comfort, forgetting why you had so yearned for that comfort in the first place. You bite into the sweet chocolate layer, forgetting the undesired taste that lies within.

But then I’m thinking of how that smile is not just hiding pain, it is showing that you can stand up from that pain; how those tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, a moment of catharsis; how eating that chocolate-covered licorice might not have been very pleasant but it is a symbol of my ability to choose what I try and what I don’t try.

The good may disguise the bad, but we forget that the bad also disguises the good. A tough life does not equate to an unworthy one.

a moment’s touch

Happiness. Such a perplexing concept. Buddhism tells us that it’s a permanent state of enlightenment beyond temporary earthly attachments, and that like a lotus flower, you must first push through the muddy waters before you can blossom into something so beautiful and breathtaking. Only when you undergo suffering can you achieve happiness.

Perhaps, in some respects, that is true. But I think that what makes happiness so special and so precious is that it’s fleeting, that it’s not permanent; like a moment’s touch, it warms you but does not stay with you forever. Only its impression lingers in your heart, a memory, a nostalgia for the present, iridescent flashes blurred into one chaotic emotion.

Be happy. A simple statement, a simple concept, but so eternally tangled in complexity and paradox. Some suggest that you are at your happiest when you forget about being happy, much like finding a key that only appears within your line of vision after you’ve stopped looking for it. Happiness is hearing a childhood tune. Eating a slice of chocolate cake. Laughing so hard your stomach aches. Wrapping yourself in warm blankets on a cold winter’s night. It is the rush of something so light yet so profound that clutches onto your heart momentarily before it lets go.

Like an autumn leaf descending, it flies with the wind and refuses to grow lifeless even as it becomes detached from its primary source of life.

Don’t find it, it’s not there

So you say that the world is meaningless and life is purposeless. That if you stripped everything down to its essence, there would be nothing. What is the point? There is none. People are searching for something that does not even exist.

Some pretty grim assertions you’re making here, but I gesture for you to continue.

You continue. And say how meaning doesn’t exist but we create meaning, that life is purposeless but we create purpose, that we are the ones who make nothing into something, who transform wind-blown trees and cloudless skies into metaphors, who paint the colour in this world.

And you say: don’t find it, it’s not there.

Create it.

To be or not to be yourself

My friend recently created her own Facebook page, and she (jokingly?) encouraged me to create one as well… So here it is! If you’ve liked my blog so far, give the page a like.

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“Be yourself.” It’s a concept that I’ve struggled with for a long, long time. I always ask myself, how can I be this person that I am, if I don’t even know who that person is? I admit that to this day, I still have not a clue of who I truly am, but I’ve realised something else: it doesn’t matter who you are. The moment you try to put a label or a name or a description to your identity, you are limiting yourself. It isn’t so much as “being yourself”. It’s more about being comfortable within your own body and mind. Not trying to resemble someone else, not trying to imitate a particular action or way of speaking, not trying to repress those quirks that make you unique and special.

So who are you? There is no word or words that can define you, and wholly encompass this person that you are. Simply, embrace it. Love it. Live it.

Paradox

A prose piece

I try too hard. I care too much. I simultaneously hate the spotlight and long for it. I deny the things I love and pretend to love the things I really don’t. I think that vulnerability is a crucial part of being human, yet this is the very aspect that I am afraid of revealing. I tell people to do what makes them happy, yet I cannot find the heart to be happy myself. I’m walking down the path well-trodden, earphones in, pretending that I want to engage in no form of social interaction whatsoever… when really, beneath the music that is blasting in one ear, I am yearning for someone to start a conversation with me.

I say I give up, but I never do. I say I hate you, but I don’t. I say I’m okay, but I’m not. I am laughing, but I’ve forgotten how to laugh.

I’ve become a paradox, and my actions have cancelled out my dreams, my desires, my true intentions.

Opening doors

I always made a living so I could make movies. I never made movies to try to make a living… If the reason why you’re doing anything creative is to make a living, then you’re doing it wrong.”

– filmmaker Casey Neistat

We all have those so-called ‘pipe dreams’, I’m sure. Dreams we fantasise about, dreams we leave for the elusive ‘future’, dreams we tell ourselves to pursue only after we’ve reached some degree of financial stability.

We think such dreams to be impossible… and seem to believe that if we act later rather than sooner, we’ll have a greater chance of accomplishing them?

Not true.

Because how can you ever think to accomplish something if you aren’t even willing to take the very first step?

I want to be a poet, an author, a photographer, a screenwriter, a filmmaker. I want to write my own novels, direct my own movies, create my own ‘inspirational quotes’. And what I’m realising is that, it isn’t a matter of becoming well-known or famous in any of these fields; it’s a matter of doing what you love, and loving what you do. You are truly passionate about something not because it may make you a lot of money, but because it will make you happy.

So don’t let the thought of imminent failure put you off. Don’t ‘save’ your happiness for later. Don’t stare at the closed door; open it.