the song remains

I am at a sort-of crossroads now.

There was one thing I always wanted to do as a child – I wanted to sing. Of course, the voice I hear in my head is infinitely more beautiful than what I produce, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love… because I don’t do it for myself alone.

I don’t sing because it aligns me to a group of people I want to be with, although my listening choices might. And I most certainly don’t do it because I think I’m spectacularly good.

I sing because I see creation unfold as the melodies swirl forth.
I sing because my world take shape as the words I utter mould it’s existence.
I sing because it’s the only way of fully expressing my heart’s song.
I sing because I was first created with a song.

Over the past year, I found myself singing less, and as my silent moments ticked away and my song grew colder… I knew I had to return to it soon. But the lack of time negated both my desire and will. Which was why I’d been looking forward to doing it again, come July. However, three weeks ago, I was asked if I could put that desire on the back-burner again, to focus on my upcoming projects.

I couldn’t find it in myself to answer that request. Because I’m not sure how much longer I can last if I live through another’s song. I need to sing again. Sure, I can rebel against the request and do it anyway… but that means being unable to give my all to the craft.

Would I do it if it was sub-standard?

As an experiment, I started singing in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the cab, along walkways and corridors, in the office, at the grocery store, in a cafe… and found such liberation in doing that simple deed. But I missed being with a group and singing with them. There’s something special when you sing in unity with others. It’s as if the differences in personalities, beliefs and character fade away. You are just one voice.

I don’t know if I can walk away from it again.

And if I do (because there’s no other way), I’m not sure how I’ll handle it.

*

When you reach the little house, the place your journey started, you will recognize it, although it will seem much smaller than you remember. Walk up the path, and through the garden gate you never saw before but once.

And then go home.
Or make a home.
And rest.

– Neil Gaiman

What’s written on my heart is plain to understand. I guess this is one time I’ll need to trust that the Author is the only One who can conclude this story. And as I’m faithful to what’s in my hands, the Author will be faithful to make what’s in my heart come to pass.

In the meantime, I’ll learn to call this new place home.

And rest.

*

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

– Maya Angelou

Advertisements

enola alone

I had a best friend when I was eight. Her name was Danica and we were inseparable for four years, proclaiming ourselves to be best friends… till she moved back to her home country and we lost touch.

At thirteen, Charlene and I became ‘sisters’ and everything in life we had – from crushes to study tips, fashion and music – we shared. Our relationship was open and honest, and our quarrels only served to strengthen what we thought was again, forever. But somehow, we drifted into different circles by the time we were sixteen, and though we were still friends, it was never the same as before. We still occasionally meet up today and much as I treasure what we have, we both know… we’ve moved on.

‘I dislike this notion that friends are only for a season,’ Smiley once remarked to me. ‘It sounds like an excuse for laziness on a person’s part to pursue that relationship, to see it through.’

‘But you can agree that on some occasions, no matter how hard you dedicate yourself to keeping the relationship alive, some just fade away. That’s not to say that the friendship was fake, but perhaps, they were there at a point of time in your life, to serve a purpose?’ I answered, reflecting on my own string of best friends.

‘I suppose… but I still don’t like that idea. I want the friends I have today to be there, years on,’ came his reply.

And that’s what I long for too – that the friendships we’ve established as adults are somehow, for life.

But today, I questioned that belief.

It’s not about the frailty of our humanity but the fact that every individual walks a path that’s intended for them alone to complete. ‘Sometimes we can choose the paths we follow. Sometimes our choices are made for us. And sometimes we have no choice at all.’ (Neil Gaiman)

Recently, these paths have begun leading some of my closest companions away from me. They were my comrades at life’s table, friends who feasted on challenges alongside me, companions with whom we drank the rich wine of delight, mates whose souls mirrored mine.

And as I watch them enter a new phase of life, I cheer them on with my best – I want them to be happy. But at the same time, despondency has settled on me like a heavy, smothering blanket.

I feel alone.

*

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…

– Elizabeth Gilbert

Soul mates aren’t forever, because souls change with time. And unless you are able to find someone else whose changes are identical to yours, it’s a fact that I’ve grown used to dealing with since I was a child –

People come, and people go.

But they aren’t forgotten. How can I, when their very hands have helped shape who I am today? Each time I look in the mirror, I see a little of them, because of the beauty they placed within me. In the course of watching them live, I caught a glimpse through their open doors to the heavens. How wide I see upwards is because of what I saw through theirs.

‘But that doesn’t stop you from feeling alone…’ the Dream Maker remarked.

‘No, it doesn’t. To tell you the truth, it scares the hell out of me,’ I smiled, thankful that He was prompt on the scene, as usual. ‘Who do I send a text message to when I need to vent my frustrations? Who do I call when I want to celebrate?’

‘Ever wondered how it felt to be suspended between heaven and earth, belonging to neither?’ He asked.

‘Yeah… The loneliness must have been intense.’

‘It was. But erm… it was for a reason, you know?’ He said. Then opening His nail-pierced hands, He wiggled his fingers in my face and I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Then taking His hands, I held them against my face and closed my eyes, breathing in His familiar scent.

Home had come into where I was alone.

*

Sigur Ros – Glosoli

Aside, here’s a glimpse into what I was listening tonight. One of my favourite bands… with a sound that probably captured what I was feeling as I penned down my thoughts.

pocket full of dreams

The boy with his pocket full of dreams walked past a group of teenagers.

He saw a man watch them from behind a wall. He stood beside the gentleman and said, “She loves you. Beneath the nonchalance, she just wants your acceptance of who she’s become.”

As though he’d heard his own thoughts, the gentleman walked over to one of the teenage girls. Awkwardly, he told her that he’d watched one of her plays and thought it was brilliant, well-written and inspiring. The girl looked at her father, seemingly unaffected, but the smile was warm – the first smile she’d given him in months, since the day she’d told him she was not going to continue her studies to write stories instead.

The boy with dreams walked on, now into a tired-looking cafe where the tabletops were worn, the flowers were wilted and the seats unoccupied – just like the owner who stood behind the counter alone.

He sat in front of the man.

“Your dreams lie beyond the doors…” he whispered.

Looking up from his introspection, the owner suddenly put down his dishcloth to take a break. He moved slowly out toward the door, right into the path of an old friend from high school he hadn’t seen in more than 20 years. Together, they walked back into the cafe and as he made coffee for her, they sat and talked – the beginning of a conversation that would last a lifetime.

And the boy walked on.

He saw a bench and sat down, between a distraught man and an angry woman.

“Isn’t love a funny thing?” he pondered aloud. “We hurt the ones we love the most, when all it takes to cross the great divide is an outstretched hand.”

They sat there, the three of them in their own worlds for a long time, before the man hesitatingly stretched out his hand to hold the woman’s. Sliding out beneath the connection made, the boy continued his journey.

Reaching the street corner, the boy suddenly stood transfixed. Unseen, he watched the girl across road. The harlequin’s maiden. She was one of his favourite characters in his imaginations, one of those in this world he had no control over.

She was what made him want to make others’ dreams come true – the dreamer’s muse.

Dashing across the road, he walked alongside her as she struggled to carry her bag of groceries home.

“Hello Collette, loved anyone today?” But she didn’t hear him, her eyes glazed over with pain.

“Need a hug, a kiss or a dream?” the boy asked. Silence.

“Want someone to help you with the load you’re carrying?” the boy continued his monologue. This time, the girl began to tear.

“Oh no! Don’t cry! I’ll make it happen! Someone will come help you okay?” the boy continued, terrified of making his fair maiden sad.

“Oh god…” she whispered to herself, nearly choking on her cries. “Oh dear god, the pain is too great…”

The boy walked helpless beside her. He put an arm around her but she didn’t feel it. He wiped her tears but there were too many. What could he do? What could he say? And fearing her pain would become his too, he ran away with renewed fervence to make others’ dreams come true.

Daily, he’d peer into her kitchen and see her sitting alone at her table, a photograph clutched tight in her hands, as her pain tangibly pierced his heart through the window. This went on for months. Summer turned into autumn and autumn into winter.

And the boy walked on.

One especially cold winter’s night, he stood outside her window and watched as the girl huddled alone. The doorbell rang. A little shocked, the girl walked out of the kitchen. Running to see who it was, the boy reached her front door in time to catch her visitor. It was the owner of the cafe.

“Collette, the Mrs and I thought of you tonight and we were wondering if you’d like this turkey, pie and wine. You know, cos we don’t want you missing your dinner again. You’ve lost enough weight as it is.” the owner of the cafe said.

“Oh! Th-thanks.” Collette replied, not used to the sudden kindness.

“And we were wondering…” the owner continued, “if you’d like to join us for Christmas. It’s just dinner with us, you know… and if you’d like some company…”

“I’d… I’d like to. Thanks.” Collette replied, smiling.

The boy with his pocket full of dreams grinned.

The next night he peered into the window and saw that Collette wasn’t alone. She was with the story girl. As they talked, the boy saw Collette’s eyes brighten. The talking was releasing the sorrow she’d held on for too long. The more Collette shared her story, the more certain the story girl was about immortalising the pain of loss in her next play.

The boy grew busy over the holiday season, realizing dreams for others while his own was neglected. Only when the first flower broke through the frost did he finally get the chance to peer into Collette’s window again. But wait, Collette looked different, somehow.

The pain that had doggedly followed her footsteps was gone. Collette had even begun to hum to herself! Smiling, the boy watched her as she made breakfast and settled down at her table.

“You’re happy…” the boy whispered to no one.

“I’m happy.” Collette said to herself.

“Are you dreaming again?” he asked outside the window.

“I’m dreaming again,” replied Collette, as if she could hear him. “Touch one life, and you touch many others, even those whom you never thought you could reach.”

Then Collette looked up at the window and smiled at the boy of her dreams.

*

This was a story I wrote more than 2 years ago, in February 2008. I thought of sharing it here today as I rarely write stories on this blog, although it’s still what I love to do. I used to write at least three a week and harboured dreams of releasing a book eventually. I’m not nearly as good as everyone around me who writes but I like doing it, and I guess, that’s what matters…

Growing busier with production and script writing of a different genre, I neglected the stories and 2009 – 2010 saw me rarely writing any. I still want to write them. I feel as though one reason why life has so much drama… is because I am supposed to be a story-teller. If not to help someone, it’s to make them feel less alone.

The stories helped me too. They encouraged me to deal with life from a surreal point of view… and in doing that, I found myself equipped to face a life that is sometimes, very strange.

‘We owe it to each other to tell stories.’

– Neil Gaiman

Maybe the next few months will allow me some time to do what I’m passionate about. And I can share my pocket full of dreams with you.

If I’m bold enough to do so, that is.

*chuckle*

with heart

‘Normally, in anything I do, I’m fairly miserable. I do it, and I get grumpy because there is a huge, vast gulf, this aching disparity, between the platonic ideal of the project that was living in my head, and the small, sad, wizened, shaking, squeaking thing that I actually produce.’

– Neil Gaiman

‘You know what your problem is? You are a perfectionist,’ Busy Bee stared at me, fuming mad.

‘You want things done the exact way you saw it in your mind. You start off enthusiastically, planning things in detail and setting wheels in motion. But when it starts to deviate from your plan and mutates into an imperfect expression, you give up. You get disheartened and lose interest. You call it quits. And that’s why you’re always surrounded by so many unfinished projects.’

She was right. I had unfinished art work, unfinished time lines, unfinished cases… it all reeked of failure.

We were doing a post-mortem of our projects in 2007 and her feedback on my performance was… not good. Instead of walking away though, Busy Bee faithfully stood by me, even when she only wanted to slap my face. She taught me to be committed, to accept failures and value the potential in results that are far from perfect. Since then, our partnership has deepened to one of nurture. We understand each other so well that in our arguments, there’s an undeniable love and respect. We truly desire to bring out the best in each other.

Tonight, I remember these things vividly, as I survey the mass of unfinished projects in my hand. Each of these items began with a dream. In my hands though, they looked naked, distorted and admittedly, there were many times today I want to throw in the towel.

But there is a new fight in me. I will not give up. I will keep working on them until my heart, and my heart alone, feels ready to let go and say, ‘I’ve done my best. Now… God, do the rest. Make them spectacular.’

With heart. Is that they only gauge we have for this life?

If we live life according to our expectations, we fail. If we live life according to the world’s set standards, we fail. If we live life merely wanting to maintain protocol and follow guidelines, isn’t that a failure of dispassion too?

But living life with heart – is that the only way we can gain actual satisfaction with every little task we complete?

*

‘Hey PD, will you have ten minutes today? I need to ask you about something…’ I texted him.

‘Sure. Come on up to my office.’

I needed some advice about a matter and PD was one person I thought could help shed some insight on my confusion. I updated him with a year’s worth of journey in five minutes and then sat back. ‘What do you think I should do?’ I was hoping for a clear direction.

‘I don’t have an answer,’ he said. ‘I know you want me to tell you what to do but I can’t. I can tell you this… if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my life, it is to follow my heart. I’m not there yet and still make decisions based on what I think is best, but I’m learning that even when things may not yield the best results, it’s important to know that we followed our hearts.’

I sighed. He smiled.

‘What does your heart tell you?’

‘My heart says that I don’t want to do this.’ I answered.

‘And are you ready for the consequences?’ He asked.

‘Yes, I think I am.’ And as I walked out that office, I know I am. This is going to be one of the toughest things I’ll need to do but I can’t do things out of obligation or fear. I need to know that I made the right choice. Hopefully, those affected by my decision will understand that too. Hopefully, the bridges I think I’m burning can be rebuilt again.

*

‘There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.’

– Sarah Dessen

Last night, I didn’t sleep. Last night, I asked myself many questions.

I was in the midst of completing my article on Paddington and the Fair Maiden’s loss and found myself torn between wanting to report things as I would normally, from my point of view, and wanting to write as one would, for the publication.

My writing voice was contrived and it frustrated me that I didn’t feel the words that were coming through. When sunlight creeped through the curtains, I gave up. I headed in to the office and openly declared to everyone that today was my writing day so please, leave me alone.

Fat chance. I was roped in to impromptu meetings and found myself saddled with an additional three more scripts to write.

‘This is not funny,’ I whispered to the Dream Maker. ‘How am I going to be able to do all this by Sunday? I have to hand in my overdue article, meet some people at 11am tomorrow, followed by a rehearsal, another meeting at 3.30pm and if all goes well, the earliest I’d be at home would be 6pm. That effectively gives me another late night!’

I groaned inwardly.

And did what I knew best then. I burst into song, this time adding a few pirouettes for good measure. With heart.

*chuckle*

welcome in…

bicyclegirl

‘Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.’
-Neil Gaiman, Sandman

Hello again.
Welcome to my world.
I’m new here, are you?

It would be great if you were because… you wouldn’t mind too greatly if we walked around together to explore its borders? I’d love it if I had someone along with me while I learned more about my new surroundings. It’s like biting into a strange but beautiful fruit. All the anticipation for the first bite, the first taste builds up. But only after you’ve carefully inspected the skin, felt it’s weight in your hands and smelt it’s new scent… only after all your senses have explored the fruit are you willing to bite into it.

I think this place is digestible. I think it could be great. But of course, it would be better if I had a friend with me while I did all that.

Companions. They make life go down just that wee bit easier…

‘Walk any path in Destiny’s garden and you will be forced to choose, not once, but many times. The paths fork and divide. With each step you take you make a choice, and every choice determines future paths. However, at the end of a lifetime of walking, you might look back and see only one path stretching out behind you or look ahead and see only darkness.

Sometimes you dream about the paths of destiny, and speculate, to no purpose. Dream about the paths you took and the paths you didn’t take. The paths diverge and branch and reconnect. Some say, not even Destiny himself truly knows where any path will take you, where each twist and turn will lead. But even if Destiny could tell you, he will not. Destiny holds his secrets. The Garden of Destiny. You would know it if you saw it. After all, you will wander it until you die. Or beyond. For the paths are long and even in death there is no ending to them.’
-Neil Gaiman, Sandman

Hold my hand while we explore Destiny’s garden. Where will it lead us? I have no idea. But let’s skip, laugh, tease and have a wonderful time.

Because we have each other here.

home

winter-school

…at the end of the day, I think Home is something you make, not something you find. Something you’re always leaving, and somewhere you’re always looking for or returning to. It’s part of growing up, and not the best part. – Neil Gaiman

Full estates with gardens, 4-storey apartments, dingy one bedroom/kitchen/toilet apartments, dormitories… I’ve stayed in them all and I’ve realised that home is truly where you make it happen.

Home today is my books, my music, my secret corner (which right now is in the kitchen, at the counter-top when the whole family has gone to bed) and my love… thankfully I can carry these things everywhere I go. Almost.

Recently, I found my home extending as far as my heart grows. It now covers several countries and as the borders of my home snake around the world, I find myself needing less and less to feel, well, at home. Maybe I’m just not as sentimental as before.

Good food for thought as I plan on my next place of comfort.

paperhouse

And as each day passes, we colour in the walls with memories. But like children, once you’re done colouring within the lines, you turn the page and start a new picture. I’m done with the picture I have now. I’m ready for something new. Something awesome.

Aside, here’s a little track by the Manic Street Preachers doing a cover of Rihanna’s Umbrella. I hated the original. Loved the cover. Especially after watching them sing it live in the contradicting sweltering heat.

Umbrella by Manic Street Preachers

Totally random, I know.

just a quote

midnight_days

“When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn’t make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. “It’s all right” we whisper, “I’m here, I love you.” and we lie: “I’ll never leave you.” For just a moment or two the darkness doesn’t seem so bad.”

– Hellblazer #27, “Hold Me”. Collected in DC Comics’ Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days collection.

Seeing a lovely quote makes my day. Makes me want to go out and complete reading the entire Hellblazer collection. I must admit though, I’m not a ‘comics’ fan. The only series that I ever completed reading (and currently own) is Sandman and that is largely due to the fact that I love Neil Gaiman. I own all his books, most of his graphic novels and have read his children’s stuff too. Obsessed? Not really.

He has a wonderful way with words, dialogue and supplements his writing with enough fantastical twists to keep me entertained. The fact that he seems a humorous enough person with a knack at laughing at himself works well with my boredom too.

I can’t wait to read his latest project, which at the current moment, he has yet to unveil for fear of jinxing it. Ah well, I guess I shall just have to go re-read everything of his again.

That is, after I’m done with the ten-odd books lying by my bedside. They are still in their fresh packaging. Ah hell. Too many books, not enough time.

That said, check out these luverly stamps by Dave McKean!

mythical_creatures

I.want.them.

where the wild things are & coraline

I am a HUGE fan of children’s books. So imagine my glee when I heard from the Husband that they are going to release Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Firstly, I love monsters. Secondly, I totally identify with Max, who gets sent to his room (he was being naughty) and in the confines of his ‘prison’, enters a whole different dimension of mythical creatures.

Another movie, this one slated for release in September, is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. He took more than ten years to write the story for his daughter and it’s about a girl who has to fight her way out a world parallel to her own. My personal copy is dog-eared and read so many times over.

My only worries are that the movies would destroy the imaginative world I created for myself when I read those books. Somehow, movies rarely compare well with our fantasies and so, I wait with crossed fingers and a little caution. I can’t help feeling all hop-skippity about the whole affair though.

WheeeeeeEEEeeee!