ONE BIG SUNFLOWER

you can bury me when my body breaks

by retrodiction

42/142

 
You wanted an explanation I could not give, and I keep wondering how something so easy could be so twisted by my inability to speak. I used to have a life where I could look you in the eye and never feel such ache— I think I’m too in love with pretending that we’re all in so much pain. The stars you can’t see in your far-too-bright night sky are way over here, mocking me. I see them now as they were a billion years ago, foolishly thinking how beautiful it is, that these dead, empty things still keep on shining.

 
These are things that I carry like they were born a part of my body; I would break every rib in my chest just to breathe without any of you again. All I can give you are these poorly worded metaphors, analogies and stupid, stupid hyperboles. I also want you to know that I’ve filled for you a profusion of apologies— like each second is another reason to be sorry— everyday, over and over, in my mind. Above all, I’m sorry that my stubborn mouth won’t speak. Maybe you can pretend to understand this.

I’m sorry, that it’s still all about you.
I’m sorry,
that I wrongly believed I was strong enough.
I’m sorry,
that my hands were not enough to stop the bleeding.
I’m sorry, that I might as well have been the one who pulled the trigger.
I’m sorry,
that you had me.

 
Hasn’t someone once spoken some horrible truth about how everywhere you go you take yourself with you? My skull’s too thick to understand that I shouldn’t persist with all this pointless running.

But didn’t someone also say that your body is only a vessel for your soul? I think I damaged both along the way. The ship and it’s cargo are only drifting.

Please make me believe we’ll find shore in one piece.

 

Day 40: A Little Something Something

by retrodiction

Venezia

There’s no such thing as normal,
there’s just different shades of mental.
Your totally mental are in the lunatic asylums. 
The rest of them…


We’re nothing but a living experiment in madness
under constant observation by the psychiatric community of the world.

 

Maybe sometimes we need a darker shade of mental. But only for awhile.

 
It’s been such a great week so far!

In terms of going out and about the places I’m in, I’ve definitely regressed into a complete lazy bum. (That’s not to say that I don’t go out at all) I just, more often than not, head out late and return early. The up-side is that I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and coming up with ideas for all sorts of projects I will probably not follow through with— for when I return.

So a little something something, with a little something else got me a 150% stoned last wednesday night, and really, I would’ve preferred to just sit and stare at the salt shaker in front of me, but I’m glad I didn’t. I felt like I gained a 100pounds in a fraction of a second. If you can imagine, it was just hilarious really, because I was so thirsty but my arms felt like jello. I felt like I would’ve died of thirst if I didn’t reach for my drink that instant, but it also felt like the sheer amount of effort needed to lift my arms to get it would kill me. The struggle was beyond real. But I digress.

Basically, what happened for the next two hours was complete silence, my host, Serge, playing with seashells, and me frantically scribbling god-knows-what in my notebook. Serge’s girlfriend just sat there across the kitchen table the only one completely sober— laughing her ass off. I can’t remember the details of anything else except that at one point I practically shouted to her (in response to a question I can’t remember) that it “makes your brain so slow, you can’t help but think of only this one thing, and that makes it so much clearer. So much clearer!” Or something like that. Like I’m Jesus giving some kind of holy insight to enlightenment.

The next morning, reading through what I wrote— out of which at least half was nonsensical bullshit I magically pieced together an outline for a short film I was thinking of making. *Yay marijuana!* Since I’m not in my home country, I technically cannot be punished for what I did outside of it. Out of paranoia, I refuse to write the name of said country because I deeply believe they’re tracking all of us. Each and everyone of us. *Cue music: Every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.* I feel it’s also important to emphasise that I’m having such a blast bitching about said country, although I probably shouldn’t because it’ll just make me seem like that kind of asshole who has no love for her country. Even though it’s most probably true. The downside though, is that it always makes me extra scared at night. Class A wimp right here.

Highlight of this great week part 2: I am not a university student, I am not Italian, but I crashed an Italian university student party last night. Well, not so much crashed as went anyways as an uninvited guest. I deeply and sincerely hope that this will be a part of my university life. The people were hilarious and so so generous, nobody gave a fuck, and most importantly, I wasn’t the only one doing weird dances.

I think this is one of the best parts of couchsurfingI mean, partying asideI’ve tried so many new things that I wouldn’t even dream of if I wasn’t with the locals. And tomorrow… On to conquer Padova! I need to try to have more stamina for sightseeing.
 

Day Twenty Four: I Wrote This For You

by retrodiction

St Malo

But what if I missed a turn somewhere—
missed my own future?
That would be frighteningly easy to do.
I’d make one hesitation or one departure too many
And then I’d have run out of choices; I’d be standing all alone


The fourth day, finally alone, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I miss her. I’ve had years to not think about her. Years, where not seeing her at all didn’t make the image any blurrier in my mind; when, and if, I even thought about her. You would think I’d be much better at adapting to being away again… I was afraid that this would happen. That I would grow attached. But I’m glad that I can see it now, before it’s finally too late. Too much time has been wasted. We’re two islands much too far apart.

All I see now are eyes that look at me with the gaze of too many strangers— doubt and apprehension where familiarity should be. Hands with more kindness than I deserve. Knees, spine, heart and all, weakened while my back was turned. I never meant to drain you. I need us to stop living like we’re atoning for a sin. There’s nothing left to forgive. You were a different someone before us three— I’m trying hard to remember that. I’m trying to find some middle ground where we both can be at peace again. I’m trying not to want to run away anymore.


 

Here, the days seem as though they’re becoming longer, and shorter, at the same time. Too many hours to think, and then not enough all the same. Too many hours to wander— till carefree starts turning into aimless— yet not enough to see it all. Too many hours have passed into 24 days just like that. Where has all the time even gone to?


 

Does it seems trivial, these things I’m coming to appreciate?

Day Nineteen: When You’re Nothing At All, There’s No More Reason to Be Afraid.

by retrodiction

Omaha Beach


It feels good to have nowhere to be, and nothing to do. Half the time I’m doing things I could definitely do back home— reading, writing, lazing around— all that’s different is the scenery, the people, the weather, the minuscule things. But it feels different here.

I spent most of the week reading under the sun on the beach. Omaha beach, Port de Cancale, St-Malo’s old town. I haven’t felt the urge to keep reading in a long while. And a book I found by chance, no less.  In Caen, I happened to come across a quaint little bookshop, Mémoranda. I almost didn’t walk down that street. Almost didn’t see the basket full of books at cheap prices. I almost didn’t pick this one. And out of it’s 200 odd pages I turned to beginning of a chapter that tells the story of exactly how I’ve been feeling. Just when I’ve almost completely forgotten what it feels like to not be able to put a book down. Funny how these almosts could have easily not happened.

I still feel bad sometimes. I feel like I’m wasting time, having come so far away just to not do much. I feel like I’m not experiencing enough. But someone said to me the other day, that I’m doing exactly what I would never do back home— sit, read, relax and just be. I would gladly spend the rest of my days like that.

Now I’m in Cardroc, France. In this little town there’s not much to do. No reason for me to not sit around and just be. I guess I’m still learning how to stop being so anxious about all these perceived not-enoughs.

It’s almost the same, but it feels very different here.

 

Day Twelve: I Thought I was Talking to Jesus

by retrodiction

 

Moral Disorder

Everything was as I’d imagined it before hand,
though I already felt it slipping away from me.
I was too old, that was the problem.
I was looking down on it from my balloon.
Now that I’d arrived at the moment I’d planned for,

I couldn’t remember why
I’d gone to all that trouble.



It would help if you could give me some answers… Or some questions. If I knew what I was looking for then maybe I could find it. It feels as though I’m searching for something I didn’t even know was missing. Lost, lost, lost… Gone high up and way beyond.


I don’t know. There are a lot of ‘I don’t knows’ with me. I don’t know what I want, who I am, where I’m going— where I’m supposed to be going— and I’m just wandering. All the time. I guess I would’ve much preferred to keep on being angry. That was something I knew how to make go away. With too many stupid things, but at least I could disappear. The eye of the storm has always been the safest.

This? This I haven’t got a clue.

And I don’t know if I’d like to go back to who I was before— if I could even find my way back— or just start being someone completely new. I’ve thought about this for years; while I’ve been changing, slowly, inconspicuously, until one day I get out of bed and find that I don’t recognise myself any longer. That’s the way things always are, aren’t they? All the small little things you think mean absolutely nothing piles into this huge crushing something you never saw coming. And now you don’t know how to get out from underneath it. Although, ‘someone completely new’ basically entails piecing together all the parts of someone else that I admire. Does that still make me, me?

There’s something that I’ve read awhile ago, and have probably remembered it all wrong: The folly of human beings, is the belief in a ‘self’, a soul, a unique individual. Maybe that’s the cause of all our suffering. We’re, no, I’m… looking for something that could, quite possibly, not even exist. And I’m trying to make sense, to find meaning and reason and beauty and strength out of things that have none. It’s stupid to have let something so small plague me for so long. But I guess that’s just the way it is.

Maybe I just have a sensitive nervous system— an enhanced reaction to every reality… Reactions always in excess of the occasions for them.

I remember storming out a party once— bawling my eyes out— after being accused of something small and insignificant. Not even accused really, just a good talking down to. And a screaming match in the middle of a classroom sparked by a few simple questions. And hiding in the bathroom at a reunion that’s been way overdue. And books filled with letters I have never and will never send. And dreams I wish would stop appearing like they’ve been burnt into the back of my eyelids. I remember too much. It’s getting too heavy, this carrying them all around with me. I guess I feel… like Atlas burdened with the weight of the world. Like fragile china in a world full of rampant, angry bulls.

It’s not my fault. It’s only the way I am.
I wish I could believe that.

Something definitely went wrong. Maybe I’m too many thin wires, wrong buttons and mortal danger to find out what went where it never should.

It’s probably fortunate that I’m best at nothing but keeping everyone else away. For your sake. But definitely more for mine.


Day Nine: I’m going to try to write more often.

by retrodiction

Retrodiction

In the darkness I will meet my creators
And they will all agree, that I’m a suffocator
I should go now quietly
For my bones have found a place
to lie down and sleep

 

It’s impossibly difficult to live in the here and now. I’m thousands of miles away from home and still I am utterly distracted.

Nine days down and 134 more to go. I didn’t think it would be this obvious that I’ve lost my spark. It’s beautiful here, there’s no doubt about that. I’ve been waiting for this trip for over three years, but I’ve lost the ability to look at anything with wonder. I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing here.

At 10am in a museum I’m planning for a 12pm activity. On the way to anywhere all I’m envisioning is what I’ll see and what I’ll do when I get there. In France, I’m imagining Italy, and in Italy I’ll most probably be imagining another place, another time. I can’t find presence.

It’s probably stupid that I’ve come so far away and not really want to see the sights. I mean, I do… But I don’t. I don’t want to travel like I’m just ticking boxes off a checklist; “yes, I’ve seen this and been here and done that, but it didn’t make feel anything.” I met a tourist in Paris who said she just had to see Versailles because she can’t possibly tell people that she’s been to Paris and not seen it. I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong way to travel, I’m just saying that’s not a way want to travel. (Although. Let’s be real, I’m pretty sure I went for the same reason just that I didn’t say it out loud) Maybe that’s why a huge part of me doesn’t really want to see these things right now, because I’ll just gawk at them instead of being mesmerised like I want to. 

There’s too much expectations of what it’ll be like and I’ll be like here. I need to learn to forget. I thought I would magically become more ‘myself’, whoever that is, once I’m far far away. Obviously that isn’t true. It’s hard to love, and want to be, all the parts of yourself you’ve felt ashamed of for so long. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to find here. I feel like such a cliched YA novel.

You are more. I am more.

by retrodiction

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Real life has such a way of dulling your sense, pacifying you into settling for less than all you are capable of.



Just last night I had the thought of giving it all up. “Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door”, I sing melodramatically in my head on my 2hr journey home, as I think of all the ways I could fall flat on my face. The fear of failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For a moment I deigned myself to the prospect of a lifetime of desk-bound, soul-sapping, ambition-draining work. In that short span of time I had managed to convince myself that earning my keep and simply surviving isn’t really all that bad. It surprises me how easy it is to manipulate myself into accepting a safe way out, overriding years and years of dreaming about New York City. (Cliche, I know. But the city of dreams is my city of dreams. Literally.)


If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve.
-Debbie Millman

‘Fail safe’, Debbie calls it. Choosing the failure-proof route over the possibility of having the whole wide word in the palm of your hands. We brand our dreams impossible before they are even possible.



I suppose a little backstory would help make more sense of this not at all sudden onslaught of resignation. (Or possibly bore you to no end. Take your pick.)

I want to study fine arts/ studio arts/ visual arts/ whatever you want to call it. I want to study the art of making things, of breaking things and piecing them back together, of inspiring change in things. And I want to study it in one of the most competitive places imaginable— New York City. The Big Apple. The Concrete Jungle. The jungle where innumerable talents congregate, pushing me down into the swamp of ordinary.

But if that isn’t daunting enough, this would be: I know nothing about art. Have never done it, studied it, practiced it. I can’t even give you an answer for why I want to do it. Just that I do. I feel that I do, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I don’t just want to make art that’s displayed in lofty museums, I want to make art that connects with laymen like myself. That will make you walk along the streets and turn back twice, going “what was that I just saw!?” And it’s not just visual arts, it’s art in all it’s forms. Writing, music, acting, you name it. I think even science is form of art.

I just want to make art. I feel the need to make art.

But I’m crippled by the fear of “not good enough” that I dare not besmirch the pure empty canvas with my inferior marks.



The excitement from just filling in college applications is indescribable. It makes everything seem possible, within my reach. But it also fills me with such dread. What if my essays are too bland? What if my portfolio is trash? What if none of the schools will accept me? So I think that I most times believe that it’s just easier to not try. Easier than receiving the next 8 or 10 rejection letters and winding up in my local university.

I have to fight back. This is not who I am or who I want to be. I don’t want to censor my dreams before I even dream them.

So… Yes, it’s easier. But it’s not more worthwhile. 20 years down the road I don’t want to be gaping at the success of my counterparts. Staring in awe as I marvel at the courage they had to pursue their dreams.

It’s too easy to forget. The resolute determination overflowing in this post is ephemeral. Daily reminders are a necessity: I will try, and I will try again. I know what I want and I am going to get it.



So with that, I leave you with more words from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman:

Do what you love and don’t stop until you get what you love.
Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time.

Slow Movement

by retrodiction

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Even having been out of school and adapting to the slow crawl of a mundane work life, I find that I still can’t seem to shake off the anxious energy of trying to be productive. Any moment not spent doing something, accomplishing something, seems like an absolutely unacceptable waste of time. Even when I’m not actively doing things, my mind almost always churns unrelentingly. Counting the hours and minutes I have left till the end of everyday, plotting and planning schedules and timelines. This need to always be hurrying is so pervasive.

Living in a fast-paced city like Singapore (as is with almost any other metropolitan city) the concept of efficiency has been deeply ingrained in me. Every step has to be carefully calculated for risks and rewards, every endeavor must be executed with swiftness and precision. Only so that we may not waste any time.

When has doing things just for the sake of doing them taken a back seat to everything else? Even when I strive to make deeply and slowly experiencing life a motto to live by, it’s undeniable that I, unfortunately, can never and may never be able to bring myself to simply sit on a bench in the park and just be.

The hum drum continuity of modern life has overshadowed every aspect of our lives. Sometimes I look at the strange faces around me and I can’t help but wonder: “Do they know why they’re doing what they’re doing? Does any of us?”

What meaning do we attribute to the routine of getting up at 6 in the morning everyday? We go to work or school or wherever it is we seem to “can’t” not be, and return home no more happy, knowledgable or exuberant than we were hundreds of days before.

My mom told me recently that we can’t all be dreamers… And it’s one of the saddest realities I’ve ever heard.

I think we’ve been taught to believe that our journey through life is simply to do what is expected of us. Fulfill responsibilities, contribute economically, settle down, procreate… So if everyone was idealistic and overly ambitious, then we wouldn’t have anyone left to do the back-end jobs.
But how is it fair that some people get to live “The Life”, a life they dreamt of building, while others slog away in the muck that essentially traps them in a never-ending cycle of self-doubt and resignation. I can’t tell which makes me more upset.

If you believe the universe to be a universe of abundance, then it will be.
– Milton Glaser

The dreamer in me optimistically (naively) believes that there are enough ideas and resources to go around. The problem is: do we believe this in ourselves?

The high-speed, high-efficiency, risk-mitigated way of life we’ve been inculcated with is an expertly designed blindfold. I truly believe that we have become obsessed with things of little intrinsic value (at the beck of powerful organizations that has more or less shaped the media), blinded with misconceptions of what makes a fulfilling life. After all, when we’re all running amuck at a thousand miles per hour, who has the time to ponder about something as “trivial” as what it is really, that makes us happy?

Our world values actions over thoughts; overvalues perhaps. So much so that shame fuels the much needed act of pausing to take a breather, a step back to evaluate. But really, everything that man does is in the pursuit of happiness. Wouldn’t it make more sense then to actually consider what it is we should do to get that happiness? Instead of running around like a headless chicken?

I don’t know. I may never know. These questions beckon a host of many other questions, too intertwined, too complex for me to make sense of as yet. Maybe this is why philosophy doesn’t ever lose it’s relevance.

Once more this has been a post that mirrors the mess that is my mind; more questions, no answers and utterly unorganized. It’s just been something that’s been bothering me this particular morning.

What would you do right now if you knew you could never fail?

by retrodiction

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Just Do It (II).

by retrodiction

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As of 9.36PM, Singapore time, I’m officially set to fly off to Paris on August 29th, all the way till January 20th!! 4 months and 20 days of immersing in culturally, historically, artistically rich and diverse places, living a dream I never imagined could come true. That’s not to say that all the fears and doubts I had before booking my tickets (see previous post) just magically disappeared. If anything, I feel them more acutely because everything feels so real now. So real yet so surreal. I can’t believe I’m really going to do this.

My tentative plans for this trip would be to fly into France, Paris. Spend about a month in France, then head to Italy for about a month, followed by Greece for a month, then Germany and Denmark, before finishing the last leg of my trip in enigmatic Norway and Sweden.

France> Italy> Greece> Germany> Denmark > Norway > Sweden

Other than the first and last destination (Stockholm, Arlanada airport where I’ll be flying out) nothing’s set in stone. But I can already see it in my mind as clearly as if I’m already there: mountaineering in France; the idyllic countrysides; the Gondola in Venice; nausea from Stendhal Syndrome at the awe-inspiring art my eyes will have the privilege of looking upon; surfing in Greece; skiing in The Alps; cycling through Copenhagen; reveling in the beauty of Aurora Borealis in real life instead of pictures. And the list goes on and on and on.

But I don’t want to be just another tourist. I want to do as the locals do. I want to live and experience their way of life. Just thinking about it has me bouncing off the walls! :)

There’s so much to do before the next 145 days are over and I fly off into the magikcal land that coined my favourite term: “Joie De Vivre”. This is my Joie de Vivre; my joy of living. I’ve now leapt from being on the fringe to truly being in action.

But my oh my, what a tedious task of planning I have to ahead of me now. Places to research, budgets to calculate, things to buy, documents to prepare… Not to mention that I haven’t even scratched the surface of preparing those college applications!

This is the worry at the forefront of my mind now: that I can’t get everything done in time. But more than anything, booking those flights have pumped me up and made me more determined than ever to square everything away so that I won’t have to needlessly worry on what is supposed to be the First Great Adventure of My Life!

So, first things first. Fill up my college applications, complete my portfolios, then onto making that list of MUST-SEES!

What are the places you’d give anything to see with new and eager eyes again?
Any advice for a novice backpacker? The must-sees, must-dos, must-eats.

 

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