April 30, 2010 § 2 Comments
I watched her dance, oblivious to the people who giggled at her extravagant enjoyment. Twirling, laughing and clapping her hands, this was the band and their songs that spoke to her alone. And within that pure expression, she was at a height that none of us reached.
I watched them laugh, drunk on cheap beer, heckling the band, the audience and anyone else who crossed their path. Finally, one of the gang launched an object at the lead singer and hit him squarely on the head. It stopped the show as the singer walked off stage. Another band member had to chide the audience and welcome the singer back on – which he did, gamely – and finished the set.
Their amusement was not found in the music. It was in the high.
I watched them grouped at the perimeters of the action – the sideliners. They didn’t want to take part in the atmosphere because they either couldn’t understand it or weren’t impacted by the band that was giving their all, their heart out on stage. They were just there – disengaged.
I stood in the centre of it all.
Early this morning, the Husband told me that we had free tickets to the Stereophonics final show before they returned to London.
‘Do you want to go?’ He asked. It was a loaded question because I don’t ever give up gigs, whether paid for or not. It’s just a matter of work and time. I find that there’s always something to appreciate at a performance. I understand the hard work that goes behind the scenes – from the crew to the performers – and I won’t disrespect any of it. I may not always get it, but I will honour their passion. So I checked with the boss, who wonderfully excused me from the night’s responsibilities.
I’m glad with my choice because tonight, I was made a fan.
I listened to the odd Stereophonics track here and there back in the late 90s but was never into their music. I just happened to identify more with other bands like the Ride, Cocteau Twins, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Stone Roses, the Smiths, Spiritualized… somehow, the Stereophonics was not on my listening to-do list.
Today, I was a captive audience. Watching them perform was exhilarating and I think I fell in love. Not with the singer but with the songs and with his voice – one that sounded like it’d been drenched in too much cigarettes and alcohol. It’s broken edges wrapped me in a blanket of hope, sprinkled with the stars of yesterdays and tomorrow’s clear skies.
I stood there in my beautiful moment and looked up at the moon, the twinkling blanket above the trees… I closed my eyes and swayed, allowing myself to be pulled in to the place where I no longer cared about anything at all.
I was caught up in their untold story.
It’s a thrill to see your imagination
Just watching you is an education
What’s in your mind is my fascination
It blows my mind, it sets my heart to racing
You’re my Sunday, Make my Monday come alive
Just like Tuesday you’re a new day, wakes me up
Wednesday’s raining, Thursday’s yearning, Friday nights…
Then it all ends at the weekend…
You’re my star
– The Stereophonics
What made the lead singer continue pursuing his dream? It’s been so many years on and he’s still doing it, chasing his star.
If I met setback after setback, would I still chase my stars? If you met me on the streets and asked me what today was all about, and what tomorrow held, how would I answer you?
Yesterday, I might have hesitated. Tonight, I’d have come alive.
Under the stars tonight, I finally believe that dreams do come true.
April 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
‘Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things.’
– Kurt Vonnegut
They were snapshots of my life, displayed for all to see. But many couldn’t, they watched life unfold, laughed when it was funny, teared when it was meaningful… and never once saw me in any of it all, and I liked that.
We were watching the recording of a past event today, the people and I. Thoughtfully organized by the team, a dinner was held for all who had committed time and energy backstage. Even though they were there day after day in rehearsals, none of us had ever seen the program in its entirety, which was the main reason why we were all gathered today to watch the playback of the show.
‘Can you remember what we went through?’ I whispered to my assistant.
‘Oh my god, yes. The madness, the screaming… it seems so laughable now,’ she replied, chuckling.
The lead actress was seated beside me, squirming every time the camera did a close up. The props team cheered when the set was changed on time. The wardrobe team couldn’t help but point out their favourite outfits. Some sat star-struck when the main headlining performer did his set while the rest were in awe at what we’d accomplished together.
Midway, I walked out.
I looked at my hands. They are small. Yet somehow, all these things happened with me at the reins. I was just… mesmerized by the Dream Maker’s power through these hands. All I could give was time. Nothing else. He made it all come to pass.
The little details, the tiny strokes of my paintbrush was somehow used to create the big picture. When I couldn’t see why I needed to take care of the minuscule details, He knew what He was planning.
I am humbled beyond measure.
‘May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world and know
Its beauty all the days of your life.’
– An Apache Blessing
‘2009 was more relaxed, wasn’t it?’ I said to my ex-boss as we stood quietly, watching the streams of people leaving after the show screening.
‘Relaxed?’ He raised his eyebrows at me.
‘Yeah… this year has been filled with so many crazy moments. Oh wait, 2009 was the year we produced the first musical, released our first DVD and I first tasted what it meant to produce a live show!’ I suddenly remembered.
He nodded with an impish grin. So maybe last year wasn’t ‘more relaxed’ but reviewing our past jobs together made me see for the first time today, how far along I’d come.
Let me explain.
Two years ago, I seriously questioned my choice of paths. I was surrounded by friends who far exceeded me in both fame and success. I knew that I could have chosen to become a someone… but that wasn’t what I was interested in. I genuinely wanted to touch lives and be where the Dream Maker worked out those plans for others. So I made my choice. I walked away from two contracts that were offered to me. Contracts that would have established me as a someone. Instead, I chose the back-end of things.
It wasn’t easy and every year, I wondered if I’d made the wrong decision. I felt broken, my sense of self-worth fast diminishing with every sheet of paperwork I completed.
‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ I asked Him, and was reminded to ‘stay faithful with what’s placed in my hands, because that’s when He can give me what’s in my heart‘, something I once heard a preacher teach.
I tried to stay faithful. But in my heart… I was already looking for an escape.
Then in 2009, it seemed as though every request in my heart was slowly coming to pass. But the reality of dreams is that when they become real, sometimes… they break you and all the notions of what you believe.
I broke many times over.
The Dream Maker picked up the pieces.
And I walked on… into many untold adventures.
Tonight, as I looked at the picture of the moon a friend sent to me, I felt somehow, restored. And I am finally ready for all that the coming days are brimming with.
April 28, 2010 § Leave a comment
In my world shielded from prying eyes and inquisitive stares, I was encased in a different dimension built solely on music and words. It didn’t matter that two girls walked past and burst into laughter. It didn’t matter that there were some who tried to catch my eye. It didn’t matter who I was, who they were or what they thought…
I was holding a conversation with the Dream Maker. I like hearing His voice.
Ever so often, I wonder if I’m an oddball in the team because the rest seem to thrive in interacting with each other. I love the moments we burst into laughter but very quickly, I want to seclude myself into a quiet corner. Maybe it’s the natural outcome of life in a glasshouse.
Which was why I planned my necessary shopping trip for the Wardrobe during lunch. And thankfully so, as they’d planned a team-thing. But I wanted to be on my own. While the rest gathered in the eatery, I walked off into the crowds and did my own thing.
Amazing then, what a set of headphones can do. Instead of greeting me with words, the shop assistants smiled and waved. They stayed away.
It was my delicious moment – a suspension in time…
Too soon, I had to return to work and discussions. And yes, more laughter. Still, it was all good.
‘It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.’
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
April 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
‘I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.’
– Jimi Hendrix
I received an interesting question today via email. A friend asked me what I dreamed of as a child.
I wanted to be many things but the truth is, I’ve always wanted to fly. The idea of being completely free of expectations, demands and boundaries, to spread my wings and take off to wherever, whenever I wanted to was an exhilarating thought. I first fought for that freedom when I was 16.
‘You will go to university!’ the Father shouted at me, banging hard on the table.
‘No dad, I want to do this. I want to do things that are creative. I don’t need to be a doctor, a lawyer… whatever it is you want me to be. I’d rather be doing something I love for the rest of my life.’ I mustered up enough courage to stand before him – the man I saw as my hero.
‘You mean you’d rather be poor? You think when the day comes you have no money, that if you’re surrounded by things you love, it’ll be enough? Will it feed you? Clothe you? Give you a future?’
I remember his eyes. They were filled with such anger and… tears.
‘Yes. I’d rather be doing what I love than to go earn myself a piece of paper that means nothing.’ I shouted back, before turning around and leaving the house.
And like all dramatic moments, the skies opened up to a thunderstorm so I had no choice but to walk in the rain. I sobbed all the way to the nearest shopping centre and called up my close friend but guess what? Friends can’t help you solve your problems.
‘I seriously thought you weren’t coming home that night,’ the Mother said to me, years later. But I eventually did. I returned with a battle plan.
‘Look dad, I’ll get myself a qualification. While the rest of my friends are off playing, earning cash or lazing around, I’ll study what you think is beneficial to my future. But after that, you’ve got to let me do what I want to do. This is my future.’
I got myself a diploma in Computer Programming and slogged my nights away, learning languages that no man should learn. I learnt how to create software. Thereafter, I pursued another diploma in Communications and majored in television production and journalism. And still after that, I got myself another diploma in Education.
I never got my degree.
Sometimes I wonder… did I get to fly?
‘I think that’s why I love reading and writing,’ I replied my friend. ‘Reading takes me to places I’d never get to explore; into the vast world I’ve not yet walked and into the psyche of another man’s mind he wouldn’t otherwise reveal… And that’s why I write – it gives me wings.’
I’ve not stopped fighting for my dreams since that day.
I do it for the girl in me.
‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.’
– Albert Camus
Today, I wanted to be alone. But the boss called me out to have coffee with the team to chat.
Today, I wanted to climb my mountain. But the year’s projects came in and while it is the usual list of major things to do… I found out that two of the events will be taking place in the precise month I’d been planning my getaway.
Today, I wanted to listen to music and read my book on the train. But two friends spotted me on the train and came over to chat.
And yet, today, I managed to smile.
This is because of a secret I have.
Early in the morning, I made a decision to pursue a dream that I’ve longed for, the past 6 years. While the rest of the world lay in slumber, I made a call – a call that will cost me dearly. But it will be worth it. It’s my precious, fragile dream and I’m going to do it.
I’m doing it for the woman in me.
‘I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.’
– C.S. Lewis
After the call, I felt so completely and utterly alone. I walked the corridors, hungry for a quiet corner to meet the Dream Maker. Eventually, I found one by a stairwell. I placed by head on His shoulder and stayed there for a very long time.
We didn’t talk much. We didn’t need to. He already knew the turmoil that lay beneath my skin. Him just being there enveloped the fragility of my hopes.
‘I want to run away,’ I whispered.
‘I’ll go with you,’ He answered.
‘Won’t you be upset? You’ve trusted me with so much… It won’t disappoint you that I’m not becoming the person you wanted me to be?’ I asked.
‘I loved you before you made those choices. Why should that change the way I feel?’ He hugged me tighter.
The cage the blackbird lives in is still there but the door is open. The blackbird walks tentatively to the opening and peers out. She spreads her wings and flies away but returns soon after. No, this cage is different. It’s one of complete and total acceptance. She lands in her favourite corner and begins to sing the song that was written before the ages, before she began to live.
She was doing it for the dream in her.
April 26, 2010 § 2 Comments
A good friend is getting married. This will be her second marriage.
She, Texan Babe and I were close friends through school and while the rest of us were happy being kids, she was taking on jobs outside and carving a career for herself. She’s beautiful, money-wise and has a certain measure of fame.
And yet… she has untold stories.
‘You ever sometimes feel that people just had better timing than you? Like being at the right place, right time and they were quicker on the uptake?’ Texan Babe asked me.
‘I don’t think I do, but there are times I question my life’s choices,’ I replied. ‘I wonder what life would be like had I been propelled forward by ambition… and not love. Would my dissatisfaction with life be of a different kind?’
‘So you do have days of dissatisfaction?’ Texan Babe asked.
‘Darling… the moments are there every single day. I choose what I need to listen to. Some days, I make the right choices and listen to the right voices. Some days, like the past few days, I feel like I’m slowly losing it… and regret fills me. But it’s life… and the living of it. Walk on. No regrets.’ I said.
I have, at many points in my life, questioned my career path.
Instead of pursuing a career in television that would have taken me overseas, I chose to get married and stayed where I grew up in. I look at my peers and they are editors of magazines, well-known creative directors in ad agencies, award-winning film-makers…
‘Don’t regret babe. We made bold choices others wouldn’t have made,’ I said. ‘And we only know their successes, not their untold stories.’
‘Sometimes… it would be nice to have those successes.’ Texan Babe said.
I couldn’t help but agree. There are many things I could do with a little extra cash. Take that holiday I’ve always wanted, spend more time writing for a proper audience, release the book I’ve written… but at the end of the day, these are things that fade into the night. I don’t take with me those items as I lay my head on the pillow.
I listen to the gentle snores all around me. I am surrounded by a house filled with people who love me. Yes, it does get cramped and yes, there are times I want to ‘mute’ the world and hide… But everyone has their set of struggles that we don’t know of. My struggles? I can deal with that.
And for what I do know about myself…
‘Lord of all the earth, how you care for me.
You have made me, You will save and carry me always.
You are faithful.
Your joy is my strength
Lord, You are my God, I rely on You.
I put my hope in things not seen
Your promises so true
You are faithful.
Always You’re with me, Your hand will lead me
My trust is in Your name
You are faithful.’
– A message from Spike at 9.02pm
We have a God. And with Him, we’re rich.
I am rich.
And for the friend who inspired this conversation between Texan Babe and me, here’s wishing you all the love and happiness you could ever want. May you be fully satisfied with life’s breath on your lips and may the hunger deep inside be finally sated. I wish you passion, fulfillment and great joy.
See you at the wedding.
How do we deal with that deep sense of dissatisfaction with life? When the things we have and do cease to fill that ache within, and we start to wonder if there’s something wrong with our person?
Answer: Christ fills all things. (Ephesians 1:23)
Not my playlist of depressive music. Not even the beautiful notes from friends and the Sister (thank you all!) although they help a good deal, but Him – and Him alone.
As I write this, I am reminding myself too… that there is no greater satisfaction than being found in the arms of the One who loves me.
To lay my head on His shoulder, to breathe in His familiar scent, to look up at His gaze of acceptance – completely disregarding the messy hair, make-up free face – and see Him smile with adoration at my odd quirks. To know that He reaches deep within me and connects with my very person, that He understands what lies beneath the surface of my words…
In a crowded room filled with people, He’s my quiet corner.
In a busy day choked with demands, He’s my provider.
In a solitary moment, He absorbs all that I am into Himself and shows me beauty.
He fills me. I drink all that He is into the very fabric of my being.
And I am satisfied.
April 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
It was a crummy me, living a day, today. I can’t fault the events that unfolded. I fault me. So I withdrew into a quiet shell and did my best to smile and speak with lighter tones. I couldn’t avoid people though, and the longer I stayed around, the bitchier I snarled. Lovely.
The whole day began with an urgent meeting. I had to cut short my plans for the morning to rush down to the office, where I received feedback on my style of communication, with a specific someone. Apparently, I’d not shown enough support and was found to be questioning her requests, which she felt wasn’t what I should be doing.
‘I may occasionally get opinionated,’ I explained, ‘but I am in full support of everything she calls for. If I came across as superior or proud, I really am sorry.’
‘I never doubted your heart,’ was the boss’ reply, ‘just try to understand the sensitivities of everyone else.’ And so I shall.
I will try. If it means laying aside my opinions for the better good of everyone else, I will. I don’t want to come to a place where my pride gets the better of me.
“A fight is going on inside me,” said an old man to his son. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you.”
The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”
The old man replied simply, “The one you feed.”
– Wendy Mass (Jeremy Fink & The Meaning of Life)
‘I am so tired of all this! I am frustrated with the mistakes I keep making…’
I was having a conversation – rant, more like – with the Dream Maker one day and close to tears, I wanted a solution.
‘When can all these failures cease?’ I asked.
‘Are you surprised with your weaknesses?’ He asked me in return, ‘because I’m not. Are you prepared to live for the rest of your life knowing that you are going to mess up occasionally?’
I wasn’t. I want to be perfect. Is that really too much to ask?
‘Look,’ He continued, ‘If you were perfect, would you need to lean on me? If you could walk without a limp, would I be your crutch?’
He wasn’t the Author of my weaknesses but He understood the failings of my flesh. My brain, albeit a little slow, finally caught up with what He was trying to say to me. He wasn’t expecting me to meet every demand perfectly. Sin is defined as missing the mark – and shit, I was missing it constantly… whether it be someone else’s expectations or mine.
But each time I miss the mark, and during the seasons where I feel as though I’m constantly failing, His grace abounds all the more. His favour, in effect, grows fully richer to meet them for me. (Romans 5:20)
I stopped walking then. Quietly, I looked up to the morning sky.
‘Alright then. Dear God… will you be my crutch? I invite you now to be all that I want to be, need to be. All that I’m lacking, God, come and be my support, the fulfillment of every demand.’
That incident happened two years ago.
Today, I still walk with my beautiful limp, my saving Crutch in hand.
Two years on… I look into the mirror.
And hope that somehow, I have grown. Because in the face of correction, it’s easier to think that every journey has been wasted. But that’s just a harsh reality.
It isn’t, however, truth.
April 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
‘We’re all strangers connected by what we reveal, what we share, what we take away – our stories. I guess that’s what I love about books – they are thin strands of humanity that tether us to one another for a small bit of time, that make us feel less alone or even more comfortable with our aloneness, if need be.’
– Libba Bray
I found myself scanning the shelves for Christopher Paolini’s Aragon. It came highly recommended by a 12-year old and I wanted to know why he found the series so enchanting. The night before, we were seated together during dinner and began a delightful conversation about Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the wonders of dragons.
‘Don’t you feel like you’re missing out with the rest?’ I asked him, motioning to the other kids who were playing a card game.
‘But you’re still here…’ I said.
‘Yeah. But this conversation is interesting.’ He replied.
And so it was. I found his views on his world of imagination thoroughly inspiring, which was probably why I was standing there in the Teens Fiction aisle today, checking out books I otherwise would have ignored.
‘My greatest fear is to be lazy,’ 16-year old Jojo said to me. ‘I know I have a good mind but that’s also why I get lazy and neglect studying. I’d rather spend the entire day in bed, dreaming and creating stories in my head.’
‘What stories do you think of?’ I asked. My interest was piqued. I had originally promised to take this boy to a youth meeting (which he otherwise wouldn’t have attended) and in the beginning, talking to him was akin to chipping a wall with a toothpick. There was no letting up. Until we began sharing our stories and passions.
‘I love Star Wars and my lego collection. Usually, I think up of my favourite storylines and how I can recapture all that in lego building.’
Jojo has a collection of over 500 Star Wars lego pictures in his iPhone and began showing them to me. Listening to him grow excited over the intricacies of his passion, I began to see the boy as he was.
‘Why didn’t you join the youth group years ago?’ I asked him again. Last week, I’d asked the exact same question and the only reply I received was that he didn’t know. Today, he finally opened up.
‘They didn’t like me. It was boring.’ He said.
‘Will you try again though? Go with me to the next meeting?’ I asked somewhat tentatively.
He looked at me and shrugged.
‘Sure, why not?’
A tiny shaft of light shone through the wall where it finally caved in. It was the most beautiful sliver of illumination.
Born fresh into this world, we are without walls, borders or sensitivities to the human race. Each year, a new layer of bricks is laid – some built faster, others slower – and while it serves to protect what’s within, it keeps out the ones who can enter in and make an impact. The special ones who’ll help water the gardens we keep. The ones who will share in the fascination of every flower born and help pull out the weeds. The ones… who will hold our hands and walk with us, through its paths.
Walls. And their breaking.
What happens to us when we stand without our walls? Can we still survive?
‘I wondered which was harder, in the end. The act of telling, or who you told it to. Or maybe if, when you finally got it out, the story was really all that mattered.’
– Sarah Dessen
We are all stories, woven together, bound and waiting for someone who will take the time to read it with respect and love.
I began thinking about the greatest book ever written – the bible.
It caused the Author to bleed.
It reveals His heart, which He did with no fear of rejection.
It lies on my table – the very description of His person.
And like I do with every book, I tenderly hold it in my hands and today, began to read it with fresh eyes. Why did I still come to it with a sense of religiosity, as though it would be too hard for me to understand? Wasn’t it merely a note from Heaven? Wasn’t it like a blog written by a dear and close friend?
Wasn’t it written, dedicated to… me?
Stories. That’s why I love them so dearly. They connect me with another person who in turns, impacts my life and causes me to feel less alone in this world I walk in.