the heart of being

February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

‘I don’t do installations anymore,’ Alan tried to explain, using his choked version of the English language. ‘The doctor said that my heart is not well. I work too hard, he say, stress you know? And… I must learn to rest.’

‘What happened?’ I asked, trying my best not to stare at his emaciated frame.

‘I collapse. Too many years, too much stress, the heart just give up. I had so much work, I go to bed and still think about work. And now, because of this,’ he tapped his heart, ‘I cannot do work like last time.’

In a span of 2 months, Alan lost 18 kilos and his livelihood. He was my main go-to guy for all things electrical in my home. I saw him about three times a year, and quite honestly, it never dawned on me to inquire about his family and personal life. Knowing that he’d just completed work on my air-conditioning unit and lights… I felt guilty.

‘But you’re one of my best customers, we been together for so many years… so for you, I do,’ he smiled.

Crap. Now I felt lower than the scum that eats scum.

‘Hey, if you can’t, it’s okay. Really. Your health is more important!’ I assured him. Or was it myself?

‘No, no. I still must earn for my family. But I tell you so you know, in case your friends ask for help too. I do for you, but not for them. And I give you discount…’ he smiled.

*

I left my house and headed to the gym with Mother.

‘Wait…’ I said to her.

‘The cab’s already here…’ she replied.

‘Just give me a minute…’ I stopped walking and closed my eyes. I was searching for something… what was it?

Opening my eyes, I didn’t see the car park. Instead, I saw all I had in life. I knew at that moment… I was never going to bed again with the cares of the world, because they didn’t care if I rose the next day. Shaking my head, I wanted to laugh. It was absurd, being so consumed by my worries, when I had breath to live.

‘Hey…’ Mother called out a little worriedly.

‘I’m coming…’ I laughed, skipping over to the waiting cab.

*

‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’

– Oscar Wilde

As I write this:

… my phone is filled with to-do alarms that reach the end of March

… my deadlines are drawing closer, encasing me with their demands

… my days are filled with meetings, sometimes, over lunch

… my nights are not mine completely, as I share them with others

And yet, I know, it is all still awesome.

*

‘For in Him I live, and move, and have my being…’

– Acts 17:28

 

 

in transit

February 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

‘In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.’

– Jeanette Winterson

There he sits, surrounded by a group of people he barely knows. Every part of his being longs to find family again but he doesn’t move. Instead, he listens, his senses alert to the new language they speak, the visions they see… He’s already moved on and is now poised to enter the new.

This is where it all begins.

*

She counts the months down to the day she’s leaving. This country was home… may still be home years later, but she doesn’t know yet. One never quite knows how much a part of family you are, till you leave its safe confines.

‘I need to do this. I don’t want to look back with regret wondering… did I miss a chance? Was I too scared to move on? I want to know that I can be on my own, to finally be defined by my present and not by my birth.’

*

He leaves the office, last, as usual. It’s dark out and he stops for a coke at the nearest convenience store, hoping to quell the hunger pangs. Mulling over the piece of work he just completed, it bothers him that it still feels… unfinished. A little like the many things he has to do before he finally moves on from the familiar.

Throwing away the now empty can, he stops thinking about the work and goes in search of someone to have tea with.

Some problems are easier to solve than others.

*

He stands at the railings, looking out over the vast ocean.

War.

What once was a dream, is now his future. He isn’t quite sure what to think but he knows he doesn’t want to be anywhere else. This is what he was made for, the reason he didn’t give up through the months of training.

He is ready.

*

Her room is in disarray. Less than three weeks to go and she hasn’t managed to pack her life into two suitcases. I enter her room and sit on the floor, pulling out random objects from her chaotic piles.

‘Don’t move anything ok? There’s a system… ‘ she warns.

‘System?’ I raise my eyebrows. It hardly looks like any form of organization I’ve seen.

‘You’re looking at a work in progress. Don’t comment now, save them till later,’ Mother smiles.

And inside, I weep.

*

Transitions.

The passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

It exists in the very words I write on this post. It brings music to a higher state. It’s a problem, a challenge or a creative slant in productions. It’s the moment a team playing defense chooses to play offense.

I used to love transitions. I loved the passage of travel – getting from one place to another, cherishing the time I was left on my own to think. But like my friends whose stories I wrote earlier on, it was always a choice on my part to enter the transition. This time though, I find myself pushed onto a train that’s already gathering momentum too quickly. A train, which destination, I’m not sure of.

And it’s unsettling.

*

I look out the window and all I can see is the past, flashing by. With a deep ache inside, I begin to sniffle. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Mother. I feel small. Insecure.

And that’s when I see His reflection.

‘You’re here!’ I gasp, turning around to look at Him. I stare at His face, drinking in the comfort of His scent. It’s almost unimaginable, the falling away of all pretense at strength. ‘You’re here…’ I begin to cry.

He holds me close.

‘I’m always here.’ He says. ‘Always.’

 

 

my space

February 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

The news came as a shocker.

‘It’s important for everyone to focus. And after a series of discussions, we’ve decided that the current team will focus on broadcast. This means that all future video productions will now be under your department’s care…’

The carpet’s design was intricate, I realized. I never once, in my past years noticed the patterns, worn thin from many shuffling feet.

‘We understand that your team has only one editor and a very tiny camera crew. The transition will therefore be a slow one but we’ll still need establish a target date for this handover to be completed. We’re looking at June…’

Last night, as I was revising my year’s targets, I’d oddly included ‘building a video crew’ as one of them. I had no idea then what the future held, nor the changes that were going to take place, but establishing a team of creatives was high on my priority list. I carefully ran through the list of people I’d worked with in the past three years… and smiled. We still needed a miracle.

‘I hope you are all happy with the decision. It took us a long time to make it but we believe that with focus, comes great power.’

I finally looked up at Jap Girl – my partner in the past four months of intensive video productions and nearly choked. She was making wild, crazy faces at me. ‘Oh my god!’ her expression yelled out at me. ‘I didn’t know! Did you?’

I didn’t. The news was fresh. And yet… somehow, I wasn’t surprised.

It was all part of a dream that He had given me a long time ago.

*

Rest.

A space to think, days to mull over decisions, and moments of imagination not bound by time – they all help create the powerful. Many of the great moves in history were preceded by a lull in action; inherited, forced or self-imposed.

A space to get away from every demand placed on you – be the right person, perform the role, answer the questions, provide the solutions, wear the hats – to be the person you truly are, in all your flaws.

Staring at the mountain in front of me, its peaks swathed in little fluffy clouds, I have decided to take a break.

It’s not laziness, and I’m not entertaining talk that I deserve it because I’ve been busy. It’s for no other reason than the fact that I need to build the person inside me… You know that feeling of being in love for the first time? When your insides felt so overwhelmingly large you wanted to burst? Ready to run on the rooftops, shout from the highest hills, kiss every stranger… that is the largeness I want on the inside again.

Because only then, can I be ready to live out the largeness of my very own future.

*

I walked back to my office and looked at my table. Files and files of paper, schedules, music charts, magazine tear-outs, books, photos, storyboards, scripts, ribbons, two laptops, three hard-drives, a candle holder, coffee cups and a half-eaten sandwich… I sighed. It was time to get organized.

But first, on a whim, I decided to check other famous people’s desks… I need inspiration! I reasoned… and what do you know? I wasn’t alone (well, not entirely) in my messiness.

This was Roald Dahl’s writing chair. I remember reading about his creative process, where he stated that he never liked to move from his position once the creative flow hit. Because of that, he would carefully plan to have everything he needed within arm’s length. It appears though, that he was an odd collector too. ‘The table near to his right hand had all kinds of strange memorabilia on it, one of which was part of his own hip bone that had been removed; another was a ball of silver paper that he’d collected from bars of chocolate since he was a young man and it had gradually increased in size.‘ (The Guardian)

Too neat! Too cutesy! Too quaint! Oh wait. It is Woody Allen’s desk. And it is just like him – part adult, part child. And mostly very unreal to me.

Straight out of an editorial layout. This is Yves St Laurent’s creative work space. Posh, elegant and well, stylish. Love the inspiration board… although I know I’d never be disciplined enough to make it look that well put-together.

My personal favourite though, is…

Albert Einstein.

It comforts me to know that both the neat, logical side (see left shelves) and creative, chaotic space can co-exist in the same brilliant mind.

Not that I’m brilliant.

But I am inspired about my spaces. And how I need to care for them, nurture them, guard them… because in them, I grow.

On to greater things then.

Oh yes, and a neater desk.

breathe

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

‘Excuse me, I just want to ask… are you getting any wi-fi here?’ the elderly gentleman sitting beside me turned to ask. He’d been struggling for a while with his laptop and I’d just sat down, mobile in hand, as usual.

‘Yeah, I do get wi-fi here.’ I looked at my phone, just in case.

‘Well, do you mind helping me check the results of the FA cup on ESPN? You see, I just flew in from Australia and missed the whole thing.’ He looked troubled.

‘Sure!’ I replied, opening the browser on my phone. ‘You must be a huge football fan.’

‘Yeah, I am. I’d play if I still could, but as I’m already in my 70s, I doubt I’d do much good on the field.’

‘In your 70s? Wow! And still traveling around for work?’ I was astonished. ‘Why?’

‘I can’t stay still. I must keep moving on. I see my friends and they’re all hunched over in chairs, staring at their television sets… there’s no way I want to let myself get that way. You grow old when you have no goal, you know?’

I nodded, then read out the results in my best imitation of a newscaster.

‘Wait… are you the one always up there?’ He pointed at the stage.

‘Umm… yeah. Well, not much often these days anymore.’ And for the weirdest reason I can’t understand, I began talking about the past and how things had changed for me since then. It was oddly pleasant, chatting with this stranger.

‘Well, it was nice meeting you,’ he shook my hand before leaving. ‘And finally seeing you in the flesh.’

I chuckled. It was nice.

*

‘Oh no!’ I cried out, banging my head on the table.

‘What? What!’ JapGirl turned to look at me, before laughing.

‘I forgot to hook the photographer up with the project manager for a shoot that was supposed to happen yesterday! They were all on standby, ready for instructions and I clean forgot. Oh…’ I moaned. I was frustrated at how easily I’d let slip that important detail.

‘Can I be honest?’ JapGirl asked quietly. But these questions are not really questions. They just set you up for a statement. So I kept quiet.

‘I don’t think it’s surprising that you forgot that detail. You are simply handling too much.’ She said. ‘I’m here! You need to pass me some of your responsibilities…’

‘I do want to share the work,’ I sighed, lifting my head off the table. ‘It’s not that I want to hoard the work, it’s just that sometimes things roll too quickly to hand them over to anyone else.’

‘From what I see, your strength is in the big picture. Conceptualizing. Stories. And mine… well, let’s just say I suddenly have this insane desire to be the best coordinator in the world,’ she quipped.

‘You’re a darling, you know that?’ I laughed. ‘Okay, I’ll try. I swear I’ll do my best.’

‘Let’s start by letting me fix this problem with the photographer and manager.’ She whipped out her mobile. ‘Give me their numbers.’

‘Wait…’ I pleaded. ‘Can we start by getting some coffee?’

*

‘Hey! How have you been?’ Justin waved. ‘How’s work?’

‘Work’s been good. Very fulfilling…’ I said.

‘How’s the family?’ He continued.

‘Well, we’re in a transition phase right now as my mom’s leaving soon, so there are a couple of things I need to take care of while she’s gone.’

‘You look a little tired, but happy.’ He smiled.

‘I am a little tired.’ I shrugged, ‘But it’s all good.’

‘Hey… don’t mind me saying… I don’t know why but I feel I need to tell you this. You seem to take a lot on yourself.’ He frowned. ‘I’ve seen people who give and give… and reach the place where they give themselves out. Do you take time to withdraw? To be on your own and quieten down with no thoughts whatsoever?’

‘I try…’ I replied. But honestly, I’ve never been without my thoughts. Whether it’s writing, or reading, playing games or sleeping, my brain is always either involved with what I’m doing, or thinking completely irrelevant thoughts.

‘You need to recharge.’ He said. ‘Really. Do it.’

*

Some days, conversations around me feel as if they were pre-conceived. It’s as if while I was sleeping, they had somehow gathered together, discussed the theme for the day and dispersed to their separate hours, merely waiting to be lived out.

I’ve never been one to stay still. As a child, I was climbing the windows before I knew how to walk. As a girl, I was singing before I could complete whole sentences. As a young woman, I wanted to fly before I had even begun building my foundations.

I always wanted more.

But maybe… just maybe… I really am beginning to do too much and the time has come for me to stand still.

To breathe.

*

‘Listen – are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?’

– Mary Oliver

 

a re-resolution or two

February 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

I just had a thought.

If I write multiple posts to make up for the days that I missed, does that mean I’m still keeping to my daily-post resolution?

And if I start running and promise to work hard at well, running… can I erase the memories of my slovenly ways since December?

It’s already February and I haven’t once hit the tracks since my last half-marathon. The scary realization that my next one is scheduled for sometime in May hit me about a week ago. I pledged, promised and hauled my now wobbly bits to the gym… only to find myself on the floor, dizzy and gasping for breath, while my trainer rushed to get me a cup of sugar water.

And yet, I still haven’t begun running again. The idea alone is daunting. The inertia, immobilizing.

Somehow, desire hasn’t translated to action.

But!

I have a plan to make a plan. At least that’s a start.

And for all resolutions that falter, trip and die mid-way, there’s always the re-resolution, no? It’s that moment when you ask yourself, is this worth it? Do I want to go all the way?

I’m glad to say, I do.

Watch this space.

 

breakfast

February 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

After looking at these pictures, my meals are looking decidedly uncouth.

Fig crepes with almond creme oatmeal

*

Poached eggs on toast with avocado

*

Braised pork and poached eggs

*

Banana, chocolate and peanut butter on wholemeal toast

Finally, something I can actually make. With a well-made milk tea or hot coffee… it’s heaven wrapped in sugar and carbs. And a wonderful snack when you’re out on production, tired and need a quick energy fix.

Roti Prata – fluffy, crispy and hot, with curry on the side…

I’m hungry…

 

one last plea

February 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

I chanced upon a post up on THIS:los angeles and knew I just had to reproduce it in its entirety here.

THIS is a group of 6 artists who have a dream to create a space for artists to speak about their work, to interact with their audience and facilitate a creative atmosphere in the community. They recently held a show titled ‘These Friends 2’ which featured artwork by artists they admired. Unfortunately, towards the end of their opening, someone stole a piece off the wall and ran away.

It was a rare polaroid of the late Dennis Hopper. Their heart-wrenching letter to the thief follows after.

To the person who stole the image of Dennis Hopper from THIS:los angeles on Friday night,

We have a feeling you have no idea what you’ve taken.

You’ve taken the one single physical document of the photographer’s time with his subject.
This is not a print, as there is no negative. There is only this single image.
You’ve taken our trust.
You’ve taken others faith in us.
You’ve impacted the way our business, that we have worked so hard to build,
will be able to work with people we respect and love in the future.
A business we do not make a profit from.

There is no way that this Polaroid will ever have the same worth to you that it holds for Jason, everyone at THIS, and to our community in general. As long as you have it all you hold is the sadness and anger that has been created by your taking it.

We personally believe you made a very snap and not very wise decision. It happens to all of us and all we can do is try to make it right. Many of us have done this. Please make this right. We are not interested in prosecution, we are not interested in the monetary worth as ultimately in the case of this image there actually really isn’t one.

We just want it back.

The show is called These Friends. It is our hand reaching out to our community, our friends and their friends and inviting them into the space we have created and we assume you were one of those people. There is a very good chance that you are a friend of someone who is a friend of the people who were involved in this show. Please do not steal from your friends. Even if you aren’t friends with any of the people in the show or at the gallery, our door was open, no questions asked, to meet and enjoy some really amazing works of art, by some really exciting and talented artists.

THIS is open for all of us to make new friends and come together as a community. We feel like we have succeeded in that 10 fold, especially with this last show. Everyone who we talk to says about how amazing of a night it was. It’s impossible for us to remember it that way because of this theft.

We opened our doors in hopes to meet new friends and new people in a new neighborhood and we have, we’ve met so many amazing people and had so many amazing times. It might not be possible for us to continue the way we have because of this theft.

All we ask is that you please give it back. Please please return the photo.

*

What motivated the thief to steal that polaroid? Money? Intense adoration for Jason Lee? A desire to rip apart what took so long to put together?

I really hope they get the polaroid back soon.

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