October 28, 2010 § 3 Comments
I’ve been looking at photo albums a lot, these past few nights. I’m not sure why I began trawling through the past for images. Perhaps I was looking for growth. Maybe for a little hope that things can be beautiful. Truthfully, it was a hunt for a new vision of what the future can hold.
It was weird then, that instead of celebration, there was a certain ache – a sweetness – like how you savour the last bite of a chocolate bar when your hunger isn’t satisfied. I swirled the memories around in the cavity of my mind, my spirit licking and savouring the moments gone. It’s not that there aren’t more chocolate bars in the world for me to consume. It’s that the one I was enjoying was done… gone… and I was wishing I had taken my time to eat it slowly, instead of rushing through the bites.
Do we do it often enough? I find myself rushing through every little thing I encounter that sometimes, I miss the moment for the minutes that race by. How often then, do I savour the words that I encounter in a day? It’s easy to measure the rush by the work I do, the food I eat, the exercise I complete. But conversations?
Chewing on words. It’s something new I want to inculcate in daily living.
‘I admire the way you take a complex thought and state it simply. It’s like, you can see the connections and are able to make sense of what is chaotic.’ Scooter girl said. We were both alone in the pantry having lunch – a first since we started working together.
‘My very strength is a weakness…’ I said, carefully weighing what I was trying to convey. ‘The ability you see I have is the same reason why I get myself into trouble.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘If you ever think you can depend on your strength, it becomes the very thing that lets you down,’ I explained. ‘There are so many nights I go to bed worrying if I said the right thing, if I said too much, if I misrepresented someone and worse, if others believed my frail words.’
I couldn’t explain it but I’ve seen how words, once spoken, can’t be retracted. The moment they leave your mouth, you have forever committed them to eternity’s domain and will never be able to absorb them within your frame of hidden thought again. It’s scary.
‘If I could get by without talking, life would be easier, no?’ I asked. Scooter girl nodded.
And then, before the day’s end, I saw for myself how true that was.
A bad report came back to us about our performance. Some of it true, some of it a misrepresentation and some of it… just felt like a betrayal. Honestly, we didn’t know how to think nor feel. I think we were taken aback by the avalanche that smothered us and I left work feeling… suffocated. I’m not angry. Just… puzzled at how words truly have the power to affect the environment.
The very same words though, can effect a change.
How do I want my words to taste tomorrow? What is this world I want to create? Who are the characters I want to meet and how shall I deal with others who want to sprinkle my recipe for the day with their own seasoning?
What do I want to hear?
October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
Look back in silence, the cradle of your whole life. There in the distance, losing its greatest pride. Nothing is easy, nothing is sacred, why? Where did the bow break? It happened before your time. And there were people there, lovely as you’ve ever been. Tonight, you can start again. Laughing in the open air, have yourself another dream.
‘Mother, it’s cold here.’
‘Father, thy will be done.’
‘Thunder and lightning are crashing down. They got me on the run, direct me to the sun.’
Redemption keeps my covers clean tonight. We can start again.
– Brandon Flowers
‘What do you see, when you look at me?’ the girl asked Him. She wiped her tears with the sleeves of her shirt.
‘Who do you see when you look in the mirror?’ He asked her. She sighed. She knew the right answer but it didn’t help ease the frustrations building up inside. The truth was, she felt ugly and heavy. Pulling away slightly from Him, the anger began to creep in her veins. Didn’t He understand? Why wasn’t He helping her? What was with all the questions that He posed in reply to her questions? She just wanted plain answers.
Standing up, she walked to the edge of the cliff and looked out over the sea.
‘Can I fly? Or am I too weighed down now for my wings?’ her lips curled into a sneer. She tried to unfurl hers but they hadn’t been used for a long time, the joints sticky and unyielding to her mind’s command.
‘Do you remember how the worlds came into existence?’ He said.
‘Yes,’ she nodded, defiantly refusing to look at Him. ‘It began with a song. A song that You sang.’ She recited the words, echoing a distant memory of bed time tales and sunlit stories. ‘You sang the colours into place, split the waters from the land. You called each creature into existence and moulded the humans. We were the only ones you used Your hands to craft.’
‘You’re my child, and like her father… you have Me in you. What does that say about you?’
She stared out at the waters crashing on the rocks, her eyes unblinking against the winds. Silent.
‘You have forgotten the power of the song. You are a child of the Creator and yet, you have forgotten the strength and weight of your words,’ He continued. ‘The world you live in is a world you’ve created entirely by yourself. The waves you are watching with intense fury now are waves that merely reflect the state of your heart. They react to you.’
‘And me? What about me?’ She whirled around and kicked the ground. ‘Are you saying that I am a creation of my own doing? I thought You moulded me, breathed life into me! What am I? Tell me!’
‘You are life because I made you that way. Yes, you are right. I designed you with extreme care and love. But who you become… that is something that you create. That is the power a parent gives His child – the power to fashion a dream.’
Staring at her, He still saw the beauty, made more furiously gorgeous as she stood, the wind whipping her hair like tendrils of smoke all around. Her eyes burned with a deep amber glow and He loved her more still.
‘Can I fly?’ She asked again.
‘Who do you say you are?’ He asked her in return. He wanted to say more but no. This was her world and He refused to interfere in her rebirth.
She didn’t answer but began walking to the edge of the cliff and stood there for what seemed like ages. What was she doing? Every fibre in His being longed to know for she captivated Him. What rhythm was her heart beating now?
And then He saw it before He heard the first strains of her song.
For death and life are in the power of the tongue;
And they that love it shall it the fruit thereof.
– Proverbs 18:21
October 24, 2010 § 2 Comments
He was so excited. The box held such potential.
Just before dinner, he unpacked the model kit and began building the boat, piece by piece. It was a little too complex for someone his age but he didn’t care what the label said. It was all tremendously intriguing. Half an hour later, the enthusiasm waned and he was struggling. Crying out in frustration, he tore pieces of tape and threw them into the bin.
‘They don’t work!’ He sobbed. His eyes were tearing but it never occurred to him to ask for help.
I sat there watching him in silence.
‘Have you read the instruction manual?’ I prodded.
The little boy picked up the booklet, stared at it for a while, then threw it aside. I didn’t know then that the instructions were all in French. Five minutes later, the boy was banging the table and throwing the pieces that didn’t fit on to the floor. Quietly, I watched him although my heart ached. When was he going to ask for help?
‘Mommy… can you help me?’ He finally looked up, tears streaming down his face. I didn’t want to hurt his already broken pride, so I showed him how the tape worked and where he could attach it to fix the sails. The boy’s little fingers began its work again. And then… the boat materialized.
‘Look! It works!’ He shouted, ‘Look! Watch me!’
I watched. And saw my life and its perpetual struggles.
How many times have I found myself trying to make sense of life with the logic that I acquired over the years? How many times did my pride break when the best of plans, efforts and commitment yielded no results? How many times did I push myself to tipping over before I turned to the Dream Maker and said, ‘Help me, please?’
Too many, too often.
Oddly, watching the boy struggle made me love him so much more. All I wanted to do was wrap him up in my arms and absorb the angst. Did the Dream Maker feel the same way, watching me struggle to make sense of a world that is too complex to understand?
I fear that word.
Images of failures, frustration and disappointment cloud my mind whenever I find myself in the place where – as a dreamer – I long for something to happen but am scared that it wouldn’t pull through. I don’t want to be disappointed. But that was because I was trying to do it all on my own.
I’d hold the instruction manual to my goals in my hand, its rules and guidelines memorized. I’d make sacrifices, in hope… but I was depending on the wrong person to make it all happen.
You see, my dreams were birthed in the supernatural realm – the spirit. And what’s birthed in that realm is made flesh there too. Natural progression can only bring you to the point where you almost break, you can’t go on. Nothing works anymore.
‘It doesn’t make sense!’ I’d throw my plans to the ground. The worst bit was the shame that came with my failure.
Just like the little boy.
That’s why I’m making a change from this minute on.
I’m giving up.
I’m letting go of my plans and I’m going to recognize the weakness in me.
‘Can you help me, please?’ I turn to the Dream Maker. And I know… this is my beautiful moment. It’s the tipping point, if you’d please. This is the place where it all changes for the better.
‘Here,’ the Dream Maker’s finger points my next step ahead. He doesn’t intrude because He wants the plans to be fulfilled in my hands. He wants to see me glow with pride at what I did.
Except… I didn’t do it. He did.
The greatest struggle in living the impossible life is NOT the impossibility of every challenge, every mountain, every problem.
The hardest thing is giving up on yourself, and giving it all to Him.
It sings to me.
October 17, 2010 § 2 Comments
‘I can’t do this,’ I murmured to no one in particular. ‘Is there an easier way?’
‘There…’ Sajan pointed to the waters. ‘We’ll follow Binod.’
The four of us trooped down to the waters and crossed the river on the rocks. Getting our feet wet just felt like a better option than falling off a rickety, wooden old bridge. Besides, we were exhausted from trekking nearly 1,000m up that one day and doing a balancing act just wasn’t something we wanted to face.
On our way back down from the Annapurna Base Camp the next day, we started towards the river again when I felt a strong, deep pull towards that bridge. It meant something to me. I didn’t want to come home knowing that there was something I didn’t do out of fear.
‘Hold on guys, I’m going that way…’ I pointed to the wooden thing. I climbed back up and stood there for a bit. Then screaming silently (although my friend swears I did it out loud), I started walking.
Images of me falling into the cold waters flashed across my mind.
‘I can do this…’ I muttered to myself as the bridge bounced under my weight. Halfway across, I nearly lost my balance and flung my hands out. Steady. Deep breath. My thoughts weren’t sentences anymore. They were fragmented ideas. I guess that’s where my mental scream became audible. Whatever.
‘Only a few more steps…’ I gritted my teeth, doing my best to ignore the rest watching from across the river. And then… ‘I did it!’ I screamed as I stepped on solid ground again.
Turning around, I watched as Binod (my porter) nimbly walked across in under 20 seconds.
‘Damn boy, you sure are a mountain goat.’ I said. He laughed. I’m not sure if he understood.
But there. I did it. The final bridge that I feared.
I was a finisher.
‘That’s my favourite mountain,’ my friend said, pointing at Machapuchre.
We looked at its fish-tail peaks, bathed in the morning sun’s glow.
‘I guess being quirky is a beautiful thing,’ I replied, thinking about more things than mountains.
Cradling heating packs in my pockets (yes, I am a wimp when it comes to the cold, especially my hands), we walked out to the back sides of the Annapurna Base Camp and were greeted with this amazing view.
Standing there as the clouds rolled and swirled all around us, I sighed. It was such an exhilarating feeling, knowing that I’d trekked all the way up there. I made it. My first time.
‘You know what sucks?’ my friend said, after a few minutes of silence.
‘What?’ I looked at her, puzzled. The view was fantastic and I was still high on the adrenaline (and lack of oxygen, possibly).
‘The fact that we have to go down the same distance we came up.’
I sighed again.
Would I do it all again? Definitely.
I’ve decided that every year, I want to conquer a mountain (or base camp, or bridge, for that matter) just before my birthday. It’s a symbolic act, to close each year of growth with an adrenaline rush. Because life just seemed that slight bit different, when I returned.
Or it could be though, that I was the one who came back changed.
[All pictures courtesy of Coralie, a lovely girl we met on our journey]
October 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
I hate it when I lose it.
I hate it when I behave in the precise manner I dislike being treated.
I end up hating myself.
Today, I lost it – straddled between managing the schedule (we were one hour behind time) and cramming in as much cues and lyrics as I could into my puny mind, before the start of the event. I didn’t think I was actually stressed out but I was. When the furor of the rush died down, sometime before the event began, I walked over to Scooter Girl.
‘Hey, I’m really sorry for responding to you that way,’ I said. ‘It was inappropriate of me.’
She shook her head and murmured, ‘It’s okay.’ But I knew deep inside, it wasn’t.
I felt like a huge, deep sigh. I’d hurt someone with my emotional outburst. I’ve got to make amends somehow…
Why do we treat people the same way we dislike being treated, when we’re pushed in a corner? It’s really a case of the things I want to do, I don’t. And the things I don’t want to do, I do. What a massive conflicting state. I see some people around me who are constantly wrapped in love. They do wonderful, little things that touch lives and always seem to able to reach out to those who pass by, if only to bring a little sparkle into their mundane day.
I want that.
I want to sprinkle a little stardust into the lives of the people around me so that when they walk away, they’re shining.
Tormenting myself just as the day ends won’t help matters though. Tomorrow is a clean slate, one upon which I’ll write a new story. I’ll try.
‘I don’t like me,’ I complained to the Dream Maker.
‘When you look at yourself under such microscopic lenses, who do you see?’ He asked.
‘I see a girl who tries… but is always falling short,’ I said.
‘Do you see Me?’ He cupped my face in His hands.
‘You?’ I shook my head, but I knew where He was going with this.
‘You no longer exist, I do. Can you see Me in you?’ He pressed on.
‘Well… sometimes, I forget…’
‘All things old have passed away, I’ve made you new. All that you are, is now wrapped up in all that I am. Who am I?’ He smiled.
‘You’re everything I want to be,’ I began.
‘Ah, but you already are that person,’ He interrupted me. ‘You only forget. When you stop seeing Me, you’ll only see all that you are. But that’s a shadow of things that have passed.’
I think I’ll buy Scooter Girl a peanut butter chocolate bar. I heard that’s her favourite.
October 14, 2010 § 3 Comments
‘Is there anything you can’t do?’ JapGirl asked.
I had no answer. She has just disrupted my private, mental discourse on:
1. why I should be happy with the way things are
2. and yet, how I feel left out that I’m not in the thick of things
3. which in turn, causes be to feel guilty that I’m not grateful for all that I have.
‘I can’t fly,’ I quipped.
‘You’re able to anything you want. But yes, you can’t fly…’ she said, before ducking her head to squint at her laptop.
I decided to make mention that I missed being a part of the production crew to Cutesy.
‘I miss it all, being in the thick of things,’ I said, during a break at our 7-hour long rehearsal tonight.
‘Stop being everywhere,’ she said. ‘Just focus on one thing. And this time, you’re supposed to be on stage.’
‘But I miss production…’
‘You look good on stage. Stay there.’
And like the obedient person I am, I did. My role in this weekend’s recording is to conduct the choir. It is a privilege and I am happy doing what I do but there’s this disease I have. It’s called I-want-the-world syndrome. I wish I could do more, be more, get involved in everything but… I have 24 hours. Maybe they are all right. It’s time to focus on getting deeper and more intricately skilled in one field. For once in my life, I’ve been given the opportunity to become an expert as opposed to my current Jill-of-all-trades status. I am returning back to ‘school’.
And so, I have decided that for the next few months, I’ll be the best damn makeup artist student the school has ever seen.
I start my new course in November and at the end of it all, should be sufficiently qualified to make people beautiful for the stage, editorial shoots and video productions. Making people beautiful, I suppose, is the next step up from styling them. I am terribly excited at the prospect of returning to ‘school’ and getting my makeup kit. Already, I’m listing out the friends I want to practice on, the looks I want to try out and the potential that lies in this training.
Dissatisfaction with life – is it a problem or a healthy hunger for greater things?
‘I can’t eat that!’ Neesh exclaimed, pointing at the piece of brownie I was holding.
‘Why not?’ I mumbled, my mouth filled with exquisite fudge. ‘There’s an entire box of them there.’
‘I’ve put on weight,’ she replied, before sticking out her tummy. ‘Look! It’s awful when a skinny girl has a paunch.’
I rolled my eyes. I was nearly twice her size and she was telling me she was fat? Five minutes later, I spied her with a brownie in hand.
‘What happened to your I can’t eat that?’ I smirked.
Neesh giggled. ‘Well… brownies make me happy. And I decided, I’d rather be happy.’
‘Good for you,’ I smiled.
Happiness. For her, it was the brownie. For me, it’s every moment I decide to thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing and to stop casting glances and what else I want to do. Maybe that’s when I can get satisfied with what I have in life.
It’s 2.30am and time to head to bed with my questions. One thing I’ve learnt from my trip to Nepal – some questions are never meant to be answered in this lifetime.
It’s time to see the answers that surround me and instead, find the right questions for them.
October 7, 2010 § 2 Comments
I stood there beside Raphael, both of us silent in our own worlds, under a thick blanket of stars. Slowly, we spun around, our gaze constantly lifted towards the heavens.
‘Do you feel as small as I do?’ He asked quietly.
‘Yeah…’ I whispered back, afraid to speak louder than necessary, as if my voice would shake the stars out of their majestic placement in the sky. It was then that I caught the first trailblazer. ‘Oh my god… did you see that?’
‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Did you make a wish?’
I barely had time to answer when I caught another shooting star, and then another.
‘This is better than the mountains!’ I clapped my hands and squealed, not caring about poise or deportment. ‘This is magic!’
Raphael chuckled in reply.
And there we stood. Two lone strangers in the Annapurna Base Camp. While the rest of the world was cuddled for warmth in their sleeping bags, we were the only fools brave enough to stand in the freezing cold because of the stars. It was only a matter of time though, before Raphael had a massive coughing fit (he was already not feeling well) and my knees began knocking out an uncontrolled syncopated rhythm.
‘I’m heading to bed,’ I finally gave in to the cold. ‘See you around, hey?’
‘Yeah,’ he coughed in reply.
I turned and walked away, giving the night skies one final look before ducking my head into my room. If there was a reason to trek up 4130m to a base camp, this was it.
Tonight, 34 minutes before I turn a year older… I look up to the night skies again but I don’t see anything. The city lights have clouded my view but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Somewhere beyond my naked vision, they twinkle for me. Perhaps, this is significant knowledge regarding my years ahead.
I can’t always see what lies beyond and there are times when it feels as though all majesty, beauty and magnificence in daily life has waned. But the years ahead are still glorious. They twinkle at me in my consciousness, the trailblazing years begging me to make new wishes, new promises, and maybe even pronounce new hopes.
What lies ahead?
I know what lies behind me. Like the endless trek and painful toil up Nepal’s steep angles, there were moments in the past 365 days since my last birthday when it was painful and tough. Times when I couldn’t bear to look up and see what was ahead for fear of discouragement at how much more there was to go. There were also times when I paused to take a breather, and was astonished at how far I’d come through.
One step at a time.
See the mountains.
One step at a time.
To reach the stars.
And for the first time in my life, I smile on the eve of my birthday.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come and the mountains of challenges I’ve scaled. Not everything is in its rightful place now and there are many changes I want to make in my life, changes that must take place. That said, I’m still proud of this little girl who has continued to plough through pain, disappointment, discouragement, fear and sadness.
A girl who refuses to stop dreaming about her stars.
A woman with the heavens woven into her nature.
A person who will choose to look beyond her failures.
A girl, her Dream Maker and a beautiful future.