There’s something so humanistic, raw and fragile about the way humans crave connectedness. Your blood screams for a sense of belonging, regardless of where you are. In social situations, you scrounge for a common thread binding you to the stranger you’re conversing with, and when you get incredibly excited when you find it—it’s as if you’re looking at the scars, wounds and crowns of the other person and are saying “Yes, I understand you. You are my kind of human.” You have found something in their blood and bones that you understand. You have found a little bit of home in them, and will continue doing so in every person you meet, for the rest of your life.
Complaining about where we live seems to be one of common threads running through us humans, regardless of where we live. There is always something we dislike about the weather, the infrastructure, the government, the lack of nightlife, the lack of this and that…I have met some individuals who, in extreme cases, went about harping the same tune to everyone they met—about how much their city is such a dirt hole, etc. That sentiment followed them wherever they went, no matter where they went and which city they moved to. While I cannot discount the many who love their city, I marvel at the others who would much rather focus on the negative aspects of the city—whichever it is—than trying to find little gems within it. When you strip the superficial layers of each city back, you will realize that life in every city—at its core—is fundamentally the same. Sure, some cities may have a little bit more or a little less of this and that but when you focus on the externals, you are merely living life through that myopic view of yours. I believe every city—for the most part since there are no absolutes—has something special to offer. They may be some cities that suit you better, but can your priorities really not change? Our likes and dislikes shape-shift all the time, and so can our characters. So the next time you find life getting a little bit dreary wherever you are, take a step back and truly question your thoughts. At the end of it all, the people who matter most to us are what makes life meaningful. And these people will always be there, loving you and you loving them, wherever you are. When all else fails, dig a little deeper into the people closest to you. True gems can be found in each of them, regardless of where you are.
It’s amazing how just a tiny slither of hope has the power to enable people to live through the most traumatic experiences. Even though it hurts every part of their being, right down to their very core, as long as they have that tiny slither of hope, that tiny ray of light floating above them, no matter how out of reach that light is, they will be able to move mountains. But the toughest part is to begin to see that tiny slither of hope—to even want to, to even want to allow yourself to see it, to touch it, to understand it, to embrace it, to feel it course through and take over your entire being—to allow that vulnerability to take over, and its consequential, overwhelming, catastrophic pain that will come.
I can never seem to get over the dichotomy between wanting my voice to be heard, and risk revealing too much of myself when writing. They always seem to go hand-in-hand—but if I had it any other way, my voice will be heard without revealing too much of myself.
Perhaps this dilemma is subjective, because no two writers work the same way. Nevertheless, I believe all writers write from what they know—even fiction writers. Their writing may not be real, but these writers create from within themselves. These little snippets of inspiration are then morphed and manipulated to take on multiple disguises, but once you peel back the layers of final product—the final story—you will find that the story is just a manifestation of fragments of the writer’s life.
As Sylvia Plath, one of my literary heroes aptly put: “I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” In order to unpack this “writer’s quagmire,” it is essential to revisit my motivations for writing. I primarily write to make better sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head. When the thoughts come they always come thunderously, ricocheting off the walls of my brain, absorbing the energy off each other, beating violently on the walls of my head. These thoughts then translate to overwhelming emotions that I cannot seem to get past. I often tremble ever so slightly—I may be imagining this (but what is real?)—while I open a word document or pen and paper and attempt to translate these thoughts and feelings into words.
As a wanderlust, I’ve faced too many goodbyes. The first few times were the toughest, but that doesn’t make every time easier. When it’s time to separate, I will feel that familiar dread in my gut, along with a heart so heavy that it takes all my willpower to go through those gates without having a million thoughts racing through my mind. So many things can happen during the time till our next meeting—people can change, places can change, circumstances can change, and there is always the possibility that the goodbye will be the final one. Airports are so bittersweet—they host too many goodbyes, yet they witness the most amazing reunions.
I’ve come to expect the dread and the heavy heart during separations, so I guess that makes the separation a little more manageable, however “manageable” separations can be. There are so many reasons for the dread and heavy heart, but I’ve come to realize that the worst part about separations is the knowledge that the things and people you’ve left behind will continue to take on lives of their own—that things will never be the same again. Things will lurch forward and full speed, people will carry on with their lives, and although social media, chat apps and video calling make staying in touch so much easier than before, the fact that you aren’t physically present in their lives means that things will never be the same when you’re back. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to fly back and forth every few weeks of months, good for you, but for most of us who leave family and friends behind in search of something else, something different (note that I don’t say “something better” because really, the point isn’t to escape from reality but to explore)—we’re often gone for months and years.
As with everything else, friendships have been and will always be subject to change. There are an infinite number of elements within a friendship that can evolve—like the earth’s plates, these elements struggle and run head-on into each other, causing all sorts of friction until the incongruence displays itself outwardly and physically—exactly like how the earth breaks apart at its surface when it finally succumbs to the pressure underneath. While I am rather ill informed on the theory of plate tectonics, I think there is an uncanny similarity between elements of a friendship and the earth’s tectonic plates.
They say that sometimes, you have to let go of things—objects, cities, hometowns, gadgets, and friends—when all they do is blow and push at you from in front, causing you to struggle backward in your life path, just as strong gusts of wind blow and push at you from in front, causing you to fall behind, pushing you further and further away from the path you’re on.
As of late, this quote has been tossing and turning in my head a whole lot--“Your career should be an extension of who you are and what you love.” A search around the net turned up indefinite results as to the origins of this quote. Nevertheless, as idealistic and clichéd as it sounds, I believe it’s the most fundamental thing anyone about to enter the workforce should harbour in his or her heart. Even though the saddest part is that this often gets brushed aside as being “too idealistic” and “unlike reality”—I believe if we actually believed the contrary to these two common reactions to the quote in question, we’ll excel more in doing what we actually love instead of being focused on “reality.”
For sure, time is of essence when it comes to building a career--although I am no expert in this area, there seems to be that window of several years that allows you to jump ship without significant or dire consequences. After that window of several years, there seems to be a general consensus that you better buckle down to “reality” if things aren’t going the way you hoped while you’ve been running after that dream you’ve kept in you—to do what you love instead of embracing “reality.”
Keep doing the same things and they’ll become stale. Boredom becomes synonymous to the monotonous activities you keep engaging in. Keep staying the same and you’ll become stale. You’ll be stuck in the same spot while the world hurtles forward. Keep doing the same exercises and your body gets used to it. Your muscles remember and the exercises lose their effect. Dieters and athletes hate plateaus. Relationships fizzle and fade when the people in them never change and the elements of the relationship never change. Keep staying in the same environment and the lively walls will soon become grey, heavy and suffocating. Businesses wane when they don’t change in the right ways. A fencing coach once taught me: “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” The key to not being stuck in the same rut year in and out is to seek challenges. Miss the opportunities you can afford to miss, but never pass up on those that have the potential to change your life in all the right ways. How will you know if they’ll have such a potential? Take the risk and make sacrifices where necessary (and not harmful). Take the plunge. Take that leap of faith. Because you need fresh air. You need a different horizon to look out into.
Everyone has them—good days, bad days. Everyone has their own Mount Everest to climb, and those Everests are theirs and theirs to climb alone, despite the many people around who may claim to stay to the very end. Friends, family, significant others—no matter how tied together your lives are those mountains are unique to each person and can only be conquered by you and you alone. Sometimes you get lucky and realize that sense of balance that rarely comes by—and you appreciate and revel in it. Tonight is one of those nights—it seemed to have just hit me and I feel a certain sense of peace I am thoroughly grateful for. Grateful despite the many instances of could-have-been-betters.
And let yourself go.
Let go of all your preconceived ideas about yourself. Let go of everything you thought you were and everything you thought you weren’t. Let go of what you thought you’d never do and what you thought you would always do. Let go of your deep-seated beliefs and surprise yourself.
I never believed anyone could ever fully know someone else, not even your own self. People change all the time. Cliched as the phrase is, change is the only constant so why should people differ? People change just like the wind changes; they change all the time. You can know someone well, you can know yourself well, but you can never be certain you fully know them, and you can never be certain you fully know yourself.
I tend to let skepticism get the better of me whenever I hear someone go “Oh, but she/he’d never do that” or “Yeah, that’s exactly what he/she would do” or something of the sort. I am always wary of absolutes because how can anyone be certain of anything? Surprises abound Life and that’s how Life gets sprinkled with little moments of wonder that often slip past us, while we are oblivious to them.