countdown… to all things new

36 more hours to go before I leave for two weeks out in the mountains of Kathmandu.

This will be my first official ‘solo’ trip away from family and friends. While I am excited about all that I will experience for the first time, I am also apprehensive. I’m not quite sure what to expect.

When I traveled in Japan on my own last year, I still had my umbilical cord plugged into cyberspace. Reaching loved ones, answering work emails and staying ‘social’ kept me from feeling lonely. But out there trekking, I’ll be leaving it all behind and will only carry my trusty iPod, a journal and a pencil. At least, I’ll still have words. Will I miss people desperately? How will the world (as I’ve known it) look different when I return? Will my person change?

For the regular traveler, my questions may seem way too cautious and worry-filled but bear in mind… the places I’ve been too have always been swamped with familiar faces. Yes, even in Australia, Japan, Malaysia… there were always people I knew.

This trip was birthed out of a desire to get away from it all, to return to solitude and anonymity… something I’ve not had in a very long time, and I am really looking forward to it. Just so happened that I watched the following video (it’s adorable!) last night and chuckled to myself. How apt…

*

18 more days to go before I turn a year older.

I didn’t plan it this way but it’s nice to know that I’ll be returning two days before my birthday. I think, on hindsight, this trip was really the best way of celebrating the close of yet another birth year. What better way to seal personal growth and survival with a trip that I’ve not done before? As usual, I began thinking back about the past 300+ days and asked…

What did I learn about myself this year?

1. I actually love peanut butter.
2. I can face the world sweaty, grimy and make-up free… without an ounce of self-consciousness.
3. I can survive extreme fatigue, pain, loneliness and emptiness. With a smile.
4. I love running on trails more than pavements or tracks.
5. I’m not superwoman and I need friends & support. Goodbye selfish pride.

What did I do for the first time since my last birthday?

01. I ran my first 10km race. And I wasn’t last.
02. I got inked. Twice.
03. I traveled on my own. Well, at least I will be, soon.
04. I joined the local gym and began working out regularly.
05. I said, ‘No, I don’t think I can cope.’
06. I began eating healthily, three meals a day!
07. I wore a gown, on stage, in front of thousands, to sing.
08. I grew honest with my darkness, and in that, found freedom to be myself. Almost.
09. I wore trekking shoes to work and braved the snide comments. Ha!
10. I finally began doing things for myself. Just because. Without feeling guilty.

All in all, it’s been a good year.

And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

*

3 more months to go before the end of the year 2010.

Taking time to scroll through my writing (which I began regularly updating in April), I decided instead to frame my moments with music. It has, I believe, the power to re-fire memories in way that words sometimes can’t.

To Build A Home – The Cinematic Orchestra

In the pitch-dark performance studio, Patrick Watson painted a beautiful room of vulnerability, intimacy and safety, using only his weightless tenor vocals and piano. And in those few minutes alone, gave meaning to 2010. I walked away with a new desire to re-create that moment, this home every single day of my life, and for the many who come my way.

Let all that we pretend to be fade into the darkness… as we find beauty in who we truly are.

Holy – Jesus Culture

Again, it was the abandon with which Kim Walker sang that reached deep inside me, that taught me how I too, can be open about what’s in my heart when I sing. Each time this year I ran dry and wondered if I should quit… I picked up their album and listened. They are still on my playlist and I return, with regularity, almost every other week, to get re-ignited inside with their music.

Wonderful Life – Hurts

I have no idea where they’re placed on the scenester’s radar but when their album came out, I was on a blissful high for a long time. ‘Don’t let go, never give up, it’s such a wonderful life…’

They reminded me to smile.

Unredeemed – Selah

The words to this song was what struck me, when I first listened to some friends perform if last week. It felt as though someone had peered into my heart, penned down my questions and revealed it all for the world to see.

‘Life breaks and falls apart, but we know these are places where grace is soon to be so amazing. It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored, but when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord… just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed.’

It might be best to listen to it on your own below, and hear the story behind it all.

*

We sat there, side by side, contented just to be together. I leaned my head on His shoulder, closing my eyes…

‘What are you thinking?’ He asked.

‘You already know, so why do you ask?’ I looked up at Him.

‘I like to hear your voice,’ He smiled at me.

‘Well… I’m thinking about a year that’s gone by, and how each time I thought darkness felt overwhelming… those were just moments before the sun broke through,’ I reached out to hold His hand, ‘You were there every step of the way, always ready to hold me, to receive me, even at my ugliest. Thank You…’

‘No, thank you,’ He whispered.

‘For what?’ I said, ‘I didn’t give you anything!’

‘Yes you did,’ He reached out to hold me, ‘You gave meaning to what I did. You allowed me in to a place that no other person has ever been. You let me be your everything… and that is precious.’

We didn’t talk much after that, the Dream Maker and I. There was no need to.

We had everything we wanted right then and there.

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the next hit

I like getting high.

The feeling of absolute abandonment to the elements, losing myself completely in the existence of that singular moment, owning nothing but the breath on my lips…

I’ve spent my whole life in search of that high.

I found it in stories but they ended once I turned over the last page; it was always bittersweet, like saying goodbye to a darling friend.

I found it on the stage but it ended once the applause died; my very first dance performance was at five and unfortunately, it was also the first tangible encounter I had with insecurity.

I found it in relationships but they ended once the differences created a gulf that no human effort could cross. It was always too painful, saying goodbye, and sometimes, the pain far outweighed the initial bliss.

I found it in liquor but sleeping beside the toilet bowl was not good for the body. I would wake up aching the next day, groggy and uncomfortable in my own skin, the taste of last night like sand in my mouth.

I found it in drugs but they never lasted long enough, cost too much and seemed to create a deeper void than the one it filled… leading me on a perpetual hunt for the next hit with a desperation I hated.

And then, one day, I found it in Him.

It was exquisite.

I felt accepted; there was no insecurity standing before Him. I felt such intense love, knowing His story – how He came because I would not go to Him, could not, when I was steeped in my mire of self. I drank deeply from His spirit and the colours in my life grew so vivid, beyond what any drug could give.

And each time I get high on Him, I want more… but it’s not a sickening desperation. It’s a longing so deep I can’t express. I can’t live without this. I can’t live without Him.

Am I obsessed? Most certainly. And I don’t care. I want more.

Junkie, a friend once said.

You’re right, I replied.

And I liked that.

*

‘What can I do with my obsession, with the things I cannot see? It’s the madness in my being, it’s in the wind that blows the trees. Sometimes you’re further than the moon, sometimes you’re closer than my skin. You surround me like a winter call, you come and burn me with your kiss. And my heart burns for you…’

– Chris Quilala, Obsession

I like getting high.

Now is there anything wrong with that?

such a perfect day…

I had a day to myself and for once, I didn’t choke it with plans.

‘Is it normal to feel this lazy?’ I asked the Mother.

‘Lazy?! We just worked nearly 14 hours yesterday. I think it’s normal to feel exhausted,’ she sniffled in reply. The flu bug had just bitten her.

Her words eased the guilt.

I left the house for a quick errand and thereafter, decided to walk from the Botanical Gardens all the way into town. It was a long walk but I donned my shades, plugged in to Kim Walker/Jesus Culture and began, what I would call, my perfect day.

I watched people, browsed many racks of clothing on sale and walked even more, cocooned in my world of abandonment in worship. It was sheer freedom. No one approached me, no one bothered with me (save a few curious glances at the girl who bopped her head to music they couldn’t hear) and smiled when a song hit a raw, emotional note in me.

As I stepped in to Topshop (and got ready to actually buy something), a song that I’d already heard many times over suddenly rang out clear in my ears. As I think back to that moment now, I can still see each frame with crystal clarity.

A brightly lit place with pounding music…
I am watching the stylish ladies huddled around the clothes…
Do they feel self-conscious? I wonder…
I remember my battle against insecurity every time I’m in a crowd…
I recall using clothes to define me…
I feel again the emotions when I wear something wonderful…
I browse the clothes too, searching for that feeling…
I hold a yellow top…
I hear the song…
I stand still amidst the babble of humanity that blurs in movement all around…
I don’t move, transfixed.

Life hit the pause button and realized why it didn’t matter anymore if my personal style wasn’t up-to-date. These things didn’t make me beautiful. I stood there with that piece of cloth in my hands for the longest time, staring off into space with a quiet smile…

Words can never say the way He says my name. He calls me lovely.

Lovely! I looked all around at the people rushing for new clothes, new looks, new images… did they feel that loveliness too?

No one ever sees the way He looks at me. He sees me holy.

Right there in Topshop, no one was watching me. To them, I was insignificant. But not Him…

Words can never hold this love that burns my soul. Heaven holds me.

I felt my insides explode with warmth as my surroundings melted away and I found myself encircled in His arms…

You would not believe the way He touches me. He burns right through me.

I began to feel the stirrings of a new desire, a longing to get away from the noise, the busyness…

And I could not forget every word He said. He always knew me.

I can’t forget. He never lets me. Even when I try to better myself with new clothings, new habits, new ideals, new rules for living… the truth is, it doesn’t matter. He already knew me at my worst and continues to love me with His best.

Almost apologetically, I put the item back onto the racks and walked out, hugged by a Man who saw me so beautiful. The rest of the day passed in an exquisite blur. I was high. But made one final stop at Borders to grab some magazines before heading home.

*

It was exactly what I needed today. A hug.

The past weekend was one filled with a certain despair. Dark thoughts ran through my head when I least expected and I know it may sound weird – as I’m always surrounded by people – but I’d been feeling very weighted down by an inexplicable sense of loneliness.

With just one song, everything changed.

I tasted again, the sweetness of acceptance.

Can it be real for others, what was made real for me today? I feel as though I’m bursting with the call: Come hear the Dream Maker’s serenade! He makes it all worthwhile. He colours in the greys with His love saturated touch. He longs to hold us tight…

And suddenly, I want to tell a bewildered generation that He dances and sings over them with abandon… as He does for me.

Can you see it?

Can you hear it?

Can you feel it?

It’s His love… and He’s calling out for you…

[Words and music by Jesus Culture/Kim Walker]

kiss me | inspire me

I have found a trust that teaches how to rest.
I have found a grace that guides me by the hand.
I have found a strength that stands like a mountain.

I have found You.

– Kim Walker

Or maybe, He found me.

Huddled beneath three layers of clothing, miserable, without a clue as to what was going on, my mind couldn’t wrap itself around a single concept. Every where I turned, there was someone waiting with a question, looking to me for an answer and today, I could not function at all. It took me an entire day to complete the styling schedule (53 people, 7 stylists, 4 hours) and all I wanted to do was crawl into a deep, dark hole to sleep.

My stomach was still malfunctioning and it was sheer torture for a foodie like me. In the food went, out it threatened to go.

A project met major mishaps. A guy sliced his finger and required stitches. Two girls quarreled. The video needed to be re-worked…

I began praying. It was all I had to cling on to.

Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, the Dream Maker reached out and shook me up with a song. The intrusion was abrupt but I knew he’d led PD to very purposefully drop by my office to chat with me. He showed me the latest album he’d purchased.

‘You have to watch this,’ he said with the excitement of a little boy. It didn’t matter that there was a bunch of people waiting for me. I couldn’t ignore his enthusiasm. So we watched the singer dance, twirl and lead the people to a higher state of consciousness – a life of extravagance to the Dream Maker.

‘She reminds me a little of you,’ he mused. That… was a huge compliment. I was already inspired by her abandonment. Hungry, I quietly left the room and went to hunt for that album. It was sold out but the desire to be inspired once again was so desperately overwhelming.

Ever since I left my previous department, I’d been running dry. The times in the Dream Maker’s arms didn’t come so easily. It felt like being with my Lover, who’s flown overseas. Making time to be with Him came with a choice. Previously, it was part and parcel of living. Now… I needed to carve time out.

But in His tenderness and knowledge of my frailty, He reached out to me. Surprising me by coming to my door when I least expected it.

All I needed to do was open up and surrender to His love.

And when I did, I found myself inspired all over again.

*

I remember the moment…

We sat quietly close.

Nearer than friends, further than lovers. The quiet hunger of expectation as we turned to look at each other, our faces nearly touching, our eyes searching the other out. We leaned in close and breathed in deeply, the gorgeous familiar smell of the other. Very slowly, we melted forward in a kiss… and the cacophony of busyness faded into a hum in the background of a beautiful moment.

That’s how I feel right now. I’m living in His kiss.

The edges of living have grown softer. The darkness is velvety, the pressure nothing but a hug. And all that I’m conscious of is that I am loved. My vulnerability is touched with His fingertip, as though He feels everything I am, and consumes my emotions with His understanding. My naked heart is carried in His hand with painful tenderness. I am loved.

Tonight, I am reborn in the Dream Maker’s arms.

You put a fire in my belly
And a river in my mouth
There’s no place I’d rather be than here with You
Can I have more of You?

– Kim Walker