with friends | shine on

‘A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.’

– Leonardo Da Vinci

*

I scrolled through the text messages on my phone and pondered a while on the conversation that had just taken place. So many questions, so many statements, so many emotions underlined the simple words exchanged and I couldn’t help it. I needed to do something. Anything… that could possibly help the other person.

Have you ever been in that same place? Where you want to extend a hand but haven’t the faintest clue as to what your extended hand of friendship could possibly offer?

*

I recently found myself on the other side of the extended help.

In the centre of several productions that were beyond what I could cope, I had to pull together a storyboard, a detailed list of shots, shooting schedules and a whole new crew on my own. Then I had to fill in the director role. It was overwhelming. I probably teared once every day in silence, as I sat and stared at my computer screen. The tasks were simply beyond me. So much depended on these videos… too much depended on me.

I’d already asked Mr. Black to help with the edits and he willingly agreed, on top of his own productions. So I knew what was going to happen after. But during? With a heavy sigh and heavier heart, I picked up the phone and texted DigiBoy.

‘Hey… do you think you could help?’

I paused for a few moments before hitting send. My reluctance was largely due to the fact that he was already maxed out with work, had recently gotten married to a really good friend, and rarely had days off to relax. Calling on him was something I’d avoided as much as I could. Until the moment I knew I couldn’t go on.

And when he replied that he’d help, I teared a little again.

I can’t explain what it feels like when a friend puts aside his life to help you get on with yours. And when his wife offered to be on set too… I fumbled with the phone. Where could I start to say thank you?

*

And still the encouragement came pouring in.

Kitty baked some lemon tarts and GuitarMan’s wife bought me a box of macaroons.

‘Hope this cheers you up!’ they both said. And it did.

*

I’d been looking forward to some rest and was ready to work a little on my days off. But what I didn’t anticipate was coming home to a major family ‘situation’ where one of my full-time helpers has to leave with immediate effect. This throws a kink in my work schedule as the replacement will then need to go through several weeks of training (to care for my handicapped sister) and I cannot imagine where that time will come from.

I already have two scripts due this coming week, storyboards to complete, yet more crews to assemble, two videos to edit with Mr. Black and if that’s not enough… Both my son and I came down with the stomach flu today. Throwing up was never fun.

‘Typical story-writing technique’ I said with slight sarcasm to Kitty. ‘Just as the chapter ends, a new twist creeps in at the end and you find yourself reading on.’

‘I’d read that book,’ Kitty quipped in reply. So would I, actually. Just that I can’t as I’m too busy living it.

I was all ready to curl up in bed and whine to my pillow (a pathetic replacement to Mother) when Mrs. Couple texted me.

‘If you need me to come over at times to supervise things at your home, I can. Don’t be shy to impose okay? I’m just a drive away.’

What can I say? I could choose to complain about my work (which by the way, I love) but have decided instead to feel the comfort of my friends. Because in the past few days, I’ve been loved by some of the most amazing people on the face of this earth.

*

Shine on.

That’s what I’d tell the friend I had the earlier conversation with.

Because while it’s true that there are so many genuine factors that give you reason to sink deep in frustration and anger (I know I would if I were in your shoes), there are more reasons to lift your head up and walk proud.

Not for the work that you’ve done in the past – you aren’t defined by old accomplishments.
Not for the truth your life could tell – words are as flimsy as the people who hear or repeat it.
Not for the future you know you can shape – you aren’t the sum of your potential.

Stand tall and unafraid because like the moon, your light is a reflection of a greater power. You are untouchable because no man can rewrite your story – the past, the present, the future. How can they when the lines in your book was written before they were born? When the ink that shaped the words came from His very own veins? When the very idea of you was personally created by the Dream Maker?

No man can pull down what has been placed to shine in the sky.

Shine on.

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my space

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.

i want to fly

‘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.