Day Twenty Four: I Wrote This For You

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?

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

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.

 

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Day Twelve: I Thought I was Talking to Jesus

 

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.


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

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.

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You are more. I am more.

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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.

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Slow Movement

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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?

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Just Do It (II).

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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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Just Do It.

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“Courage is not having no fear. It’s being afraid but doing it anyway.”

 

I’ve been looking through multiple websites all day trying to find the cheapest tickets for flying in and out of Europe for my backpacking trip. And I think I’ve found the one. But now that I’ve sorted that out I can’t bring myself to click on that orange little button book.

It’s irrational, I know. All I’ve been talking about since even before I graduated was how I was going on this great adventure to comb the magnificent cities, eat mouth-watering food and just having a bloody fantastic time. But now… Now I’m not so sure.

I’m planning a trip from August 31st till January 29th. 4 months and 29 days of being immersed in beautiful cultures and unforgettable sights.

But…what if I don’t enjoy myself? What if I get there and the “oomph” factor that I’ve read so many bloggers rave about just doesn’t hit me? What if I feel as numbed and lifeless there as I do here?

And then there’s the more legitimate fears. 4 months and 29 days?! What if I don’t have enough money to support myself? (Red alert! insufficient planning, I know) What if all throughout the trip all my mind can fret over is whether or not that college application got through? What ifs, what ifs and more what ifs!

“Worrying says more about the worrier than the worries.”

I’m afraid to commit to this decision because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull through. And of course that sounds so silly because the whole point of this trip is to let loose and just have fun. It’s not a blazing trail through purgatory! So I guess this whole post is basically just a boot to my own ass. I want to stop being such a worry-wart and if I don’t click that orange little button then I’ll forever remain the kind of person I don’t want to be. The kind of person that only talks about such great and grand things, but never actually do them…

“If you can worry, it means that nothing has actually happened.”

So. Pep Talk 101: Go out there and do it (whatever it is). Because when it comes down to crunch time, when you really have to, you’ll find a way to survive.

Once again, this anxiety filled post contains no interesting information whatsoever. I really do want to talk about my upcoming trip. When I’ve got the nitty gritties finalized that is.

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Back and bigger and better

So I’ve been gone from WordPress for over 6 months now; unintended hiatus because I just haven’t been writing anything blog worthy (oops). But I’m back now, and I plan to make it a routine to start writing regularly. Mundane updates about my life, poems, creative writing… hopefully some decent art I’m trying to learn how to make. Yikes.

So I’ll just start with the first: mundane updates.

I’ve been pretty busy with school nearing the end of last year (A levels and all that jazz). Part of the reason for my disappearance. But now that that’s done with, I’m currently taking a Gap Year to try to explore my interests before heading off to university. And to travel. That’s really just the main reason. So I’m working now (I’d say to gain experience that’ll hold me in good stead in future but really it’s just for the money) to save up for my unfortunately far-away-and-as-yet-unplanned backpacking trip around Europe.

So… More about all the exciting things (to me) I’m planning on doing throughout this year in a later post. And with that I end off my most-boring-ever return to the Magickal World of WordPress.

 

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