dreamland

Five more hours before I leave for the airport. It’s pouring outside my window and as I sit here sipping my tea, I feel excitement slowly starting to stir within me. This trip came fully paid – a gift of inspiration – and in a way, it’s a dream come true. The last time I was in Sydney was 1999 and it inspired me so heavily that the years which followed after were always tied back to that trip. Each project I did, I juxtaposed it against what I’d seen there. I felt destiny-bound.

Ten years after, I was tired. The dreams I once had were faded and hope had begun to fray at the edges. Uninspired, I stared at my blank canvas and couldn’t see the vision within me. That was when I knew I wanted to get back to Sydney and stare at inspiration again. Sadly, I didn’t have the financial ability nor the time for such a trip.

I felt forgotten.

Sad, as I watched others travel away and come back, fired up.

‘When will it be my turn?’ I asked the Dream Maker but He was quiet. I resigned myself to seeking out other sources of inspiration and well, it was all good. But deep inside, I still longed to make another journey out to Australia.

‘Hey babe, you want to get away for a study trip?’ Cutesy asked me in February 2010.

‘Sure, where?’ I replied, thinking of some place close to home.

‘How about Sydney?’ She said, her eyes twinkling with glee.

‘Really?’ I stared at her, not daring to believe.

‘Yeah, I just need to get some things sorted. I’ll let you know if it’s approved.’

Four months later, I’m seated at my window, on the brink of yet another answered dream, waiting to be lived out. The plane tickets and accommodation are fully paid and I stand amazed at how, one after another, this year has been filled with dreams that keep coming true.

Breathe.

It’s all true. It’s happening. It’s here. It’s now.

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the tears you weep | the strength you keep

‘I will not say, Do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.’

– J.R.R. Tolkien

She clenched her teeth and bit back the cry. She would not scream. She would not make a sound. Slightly delirious from the pain, she began to laugh, just as the Artist sat back and the machine was silenced for the night.

‘It’s done,’ he said, flexing his hand. ‘Five hours… you’ve done good. Take a look.’

She stood up and slowly walked to the mirror. Turning around, she gazed upon what once existed as a mere dream. Beauty, brokenness, preciousness and faith were all intertwined in shades of black and grey, forever inked on her skin. Tentatively, she touched the swollen area and felt her heart leap.

‘I’m literally wearing my heart on my sleeve,’ she thought.

‘Oh yes, it might weep a little and if it does, shower and clean it up, then ice it down,’ the Artist said.

‘Weep?’ she asked.

‘When it gets agitated, plasma seeps out, as if it’s tearing,’ he explained.

‘I like that word – weep,’ she mused. ‘Why does it weep?’

‘It’s the body’s way of healing,’ the Artist said, ‘mending itself through the tears that fall.’

She saw through her mind’s eye:

… the child that stood alone, wishing her parents hadn’t left her.
… the girl that was mocked, ridiculed and ostracized by others who gossiped.
… the youth who faced the harsh realities of broken relationships.
… the woman who lost her first child.

It was a past that had no hold over her. She was now a lady who had found her strength in a beauty that was eternal. Shakily, she gathered herself together and walked out.

Out into the dawn of new beginnings.

‘She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard… She was all of these things and something more…

It was what God… puts into each soul that is given life – the one different thing such as that which makes no two fingerprints on the face of the earth alike.’

– Betty Smith

She was ink.

*

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

– Charles Bukowski

I once fought against tears. I thought it was pure weakness when a person showed their emotions and had no control over their display. I despised the crybabies, secretly mocking their vulnerability. I stubbornly resisted help and support, my pride too strong, my will refusing to acknowledge that people need people.

I can’t remember seeing Obachan cry. I never once saw Ojichan with tears in his eyes. That’s strength, I thought.

I was wrong.

The more I resisted the urge to cry, the harder it seemed to get on with life. How can you with a choke in your throat?

*

‘Can I come in?’ the Dream Maker asked, knocking on the door.

‘Why?’ I asked. ‘There’s no one here.’

‘That’s why I want to come in. I’d like to make it my home,’ He answered.

Home? Since when was this empty chamber a place of refuge and comfort? And yet, knowing that Someone cared enough to visit made me open the door. And when I did, the tears broke through.

‘Damn it! What did you do?’ I hollered but couldn’t hear His answer. My cries were too loud. And as I wept, I felt as though every pain, every hurt in my past was being revisited.

‘I don’t want to remember!’ I sobbed as the images I’d kept deep in the recesses of my empty chamber flashed across my mind. But as the tears coursed down my face, it felt as though each drop was a hurt from my past that was being shed. The weights that bore down on my wings were falling away and hours later… my soul took flight.

The day I began crying was the day I understood that the tears – my tears – were a sign that I was still alive.

It was a sign that I was healing.