Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Your Secrets, My Soul

You told me about your secret garden, once.
It took me hours, days, weeks to convince you that it was okay, that if you told me, I would lock it up deep in my soul and have you swallow the key.

An irretrievable secret.

You told me about the beautiful things that grow in your garden, the hundreds of flowers and their hundreds of colors and their hundreds of meanings. Not the usual meanings, not the ones that we’re used to – green for envy, red for love. No, not in your garden. Part of the enchantment was the way that everything in your garden was flipped upside-down, inside-out, so that you had to study something for hours in order to even begin to understand it.
Blue for integrity.
Red for loyalty.
Yellow for justice.

And the children that played there, protected from the outside world, from the expectations that society places on our children, in our world.
The children in your garden laughed when something excited them, cried with inconsolable grief when they were hurt. Even the boys. In your beautiful garden, there was no talk of “boys don’t cry”, none. Those children were free to feel, and express. And because of it, they were knowledgeable about the world and it’s ways in a way that we can never be.

And perhaps the best thing of all, the glitter that made the whole thing sparkle, was that in your garden, right in the middle of it, right at the heart… there was a well. A deep, deep well. And you told me that if one was to stand at the edge of this well and to just allow honesty to be predominant in your thoughts, then the depth of the well would swallow all your negativity, all your cynicism and dark thoughts and pessimism, would just take it all away and leave you as the purest, whitest version of yourself.

Then one day I became like one of the children from your garden. My eyes became brave and knowledgeable and pure, and as I looked into your familiar face, your stories were suddenly revealed to me for what they were: Lies.
You were unveiled to me, in all your ugliness, all your false hope. It was written all over your face, only before, I had been too stupid and na├»ve to see it. And when I took a shaky breath and asked you, you couldn’t deny it. Not even for me.

And so I ripped open the depths of my soul and found your secret, and threw it out for the world to devour; I made you stand and watch while people tore at it, throwing up scraps, dragging away the skin of it with their teeth and their sharp, sherp fingernails. Looking like the ugliest kind of cannibalism.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Mirror Has No Soul

What if mirrors had memories?

The stories yours could tell about you…

More honest than a child,
They would know more about you than your closest friends.

They’d be able to recall exactly how you look first thing in the morning, last thing at night; when all your makeup’s been stripped away and you’re left, just you, just as you are, staring back at yourself.
Nothing to hide behind.

They could recall your saddest moments: the hours you’ve spent standing in front of your mirror with tears streaming down your face, telling your reflection over and over again that it’s not good enough, not clever enough, not beautiful enough. All the times you’ve been able to do nothing else except watch the fierce, angry tears spill over, your vision distorted through liquid crystals.

And how many broken promises would they be able to bear witness to? Little things, petty, insignificant things - "I'll get the laundry done today", "I'll start that detox tomorrow", "I'll call home this morning" - but broken all the same.

Secret recriminations, between you and a silent judge sitting behind a glass panel.

Maybe there's good reason mirrors don't have memories.

My Mirror Has No Soul

What if mirrors had memories?

The stories yours could tell about you…

More honest than a child,
They would know more about you than your closest friends.

They’d be able to recall exactly how you look first thing in the morning, last thing at night; when all your makeup’s been stripped away and you’re left, just you, just as you are, staring back at yourself.
Nothing to hide behind.

They could recall your saddest moments: the hours you’ve spent standing in front of your mirror with tears streaming down your face, telling your reflection over and over again that it’s not good enough, not clever enough, not beautiful enough. All the times you’ve been able to do nothing else except watch the fierce, angry tears spill over, your vision distorted through liquid crystals.

And how many broken promises would they be able to bear witness to? Little things, petty, insignificant things - "I'll get the laundry done today", "I'll start that detox tomorrow", "I'll call home this morning" - but broken all the same.

Secret recriminations, between you and a silent judge sitting behind a glass panel.

Maybe there's good reason mirrors don't have memories.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lethargy

I don't know why I'm feeling the need to write again. Twice in three days is a lot of updating, even for me, but I'm sitting here trying to finish thoughts and all I keep getting is this scrunched-up-paper feeling in my chest, like there's something there that's trying to express itself, only the frustrated writer inside keeps messing up and wadding it up into a tight little ball, and flinging it into the trash. I've been feeling like this all weekend.

Restless, yet somehow unbelievably lethargic.

I've been trying to do a lot of things differently lately. Instead of allowing myself to get into situations that leave me tainted and guilt-ridden, I've been trying to live my life as an example to others. Instead of waking up in the morning and feeling grumpy and miserable about having to get out of bed and go to work, I've been trying to live each day as it comes and appreciate each one, as a gift from God. Instead of being cynical and pessimistic about everything, I've been desperately seeking the silver lining.

But sometimes - in fact, most of the time - I can't help feeling like my efforts are in vain. My life is not a good example for others to follow. I haven't been getting out of bed feeling ready to take on the day, and enjoy it. I have been feeling cynical and pessimistic about a lot of the same things.

Maybe that's where this restlessness is coming from; maybe I'm just impatient to start making a difference. I can't seem to help it. I just want to see the difference.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How It Howls

I'm sitting at my desk listening to the wind howling outside. This week has definitely marked the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall for Hong Kong, I think. It's started raining, it's been getting dark earlier in the evenings, the humidity's gone from the air, and now the wind has come.

Ordinarily, I hate the end of Summer. There's something about it, even if you've been working through the holidays, that signify an end to all the careless fun you can have when the sun is bright and the nights are short. It means no more impromptu visits to the beach, no more baking ourselves on my roof with friends, no more sitting along the seafront for hours and hours, late into the night, made sleepy by humidity and happiness. Summer makes my insides glow.

But this year, I'm feeling a little differently about it all. This year, rather than noticing Fall arrive and Winter fast approaching and being miserable about it, I find myself welcoming it. No, I don't like the rain or the dark early evenings or the wind that's blowing so hard it's making ghost-sounds through my apartment. But I guess blowing away the cobwebs is never a bad thing to do. And so maybe, whilst Fall means that everything around us starts to die, it should also signify to us that it's time to wake up. Shake off the cobwebs. Move forward.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How My Mind Works

Look up there, at the clouds. That one looks like a rabbit. No,
scissors.

I've noticed something. I don't think it's important.
Maybe it is.
Maybe nothing is.
Maybe nothing is as important as this.
When I watch TV, the volume has to be an even number, or else a multiple of 5.
Don't set the volume to anything else, I can't watch. I'll squirm and wriggle inside, and try and pretend to myself that it's 25, and not 19.

25 is my favorite number.
But

only for TV volume.

Stop touching me! Personal space!

I wonder if there'll be time to put in some laundry when I get home.
It'll be dark. Never mind then.

What do you call an obsession with the dentists?

I can't go on the roof if it's dark. They might be there.

It's not a heart-shaped stone. It's a stone-shaped heart.
...Of course there's a difference, silly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cheap Destiny

I'm beginning to believe in a thing I've started referring to, in my head, as "Cheap Destiny".

Some people think that you don't choose your own destiny, that it's just like fate, and wherever you end up is just... it. I was one of those people, a really short while ago. I saw my life as something I had very little to no control over, and what happened in my life happened TO me, and never BECAUSE of me.

But I've changed teams.

I've slowly learned that things don't have to happen to me if I don't want them to, and I can replace them with other things that I choose. I can choose my own destiny. Which may sound like a very simple concept to you, but for me it's been a long, arduous journey to that realization.

But with that realization comes another, slightly more somber one. Sometimes, we choose sadness. We choose the way that's bound to leave us dissatisfied, because we can't stand the idea of being let-down or disappointed when we'd set our sights so high. We choose our Cheap Destiny.

I'm trying not to do that in my own life. The thought of setting myself up for disappointment does terrify me, yes; but the thought of waking up one day to a Cheap Destiny, in which I never took any risks or tried anything new to better myself and my life, scares me more.

I'm trying to choose my Great Destiny.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sweet Mother of God

I'm going to get religious on you for a quick minute.

If you're a Christian, or if you have a lot to do with the church, then you'll know that one of the main things we hear all the time is how we should strive to be just like Jesus. But if you're anything like me, you probably hear that and think something along the lines of, Well, I'm pretty sure I've already made a royal screw-up of that. And then you probably start feeling low and depressed, because you get to imagining Judgement day and how, when you get there, Jesus will probably be unable to do much more than stare at you with his jaw hanging. "You did... what? OUT OF MY SIGHT." This is what my imagination shows me, anyway, and it scares the crap out of me, despite knowing that it's just not true.
Anyway. Recently, I was reading a book called Plan B - Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lammott. Which is a great book, by the way. And in it, she quotes poet Denise Lervertov:

She did not cry, "I cannot, I am not worthy,"
Nor, "I have not the strength."
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.

Doesn't that sound so great? I feel like sometimes, if you're not Catholic, Mary gets put aside a little in the Christian faith. Sure, we remember her and sing a few little songs about her at Christmas, and her name gets mentioned in passing once in a while. But I feel like she's just so much more than that. And I don't think that's wrong of me - I'm not saying we should get on our knees and start praying to her, because there's nothing in the Bible that suggests we should. But, reading that poem, I got to thinking that sometimes, if being like Jesus is a little much to live up to, maybe Mary would be a good place to start.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Contemplating Fear


I used to pretend that I wasn't scared of anything. I thought it was brave, to never show fear or react to scary situations. As a little girl, as silly as it sounds now, I wanted to be a pirate. I devoured any book, movie or TV show that advrtized or starred pirates. I wanted to be a pirate because they fought in battles, they dealt with imnpossible situations, they overcame everything. Pirates were brave.

Then one day, when I was 16, a lot of things fell apart for me. And ever since then I've been learning that to fear isn't to be a coward. A brave person isn't a person who never gets scared. Real bravery is taking in a frightening situation, admitting that you're terrified, and then dealing with it anyway. Real bravery is fighting DESPITE being scared. Real bravery is admitting your fears to other people, and being vulnerable to them.

So, these are some of the things that I'm afraid of:

1. Creaks in the dark.
2. Being alone, forever.
3. The world forgetting about me.
4. Not making my parents proud.
5. Frogs and toads.
6. Being robbed.
7. Demons and spirits.
8. Living.
9. Hurting my friends.
10. Judgement day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Waiting For Morning

When I was a little girl, I used to get really bad nightmares. Every time I had one I would wake up and cry out for my Mom. Some nights she would wake up right away and come to me, telling me everything was okay. Other nights it would take longer, but she always eventually came.

I only remember one night that she didn’t come. I woke up from a nightmare and I was so frightened that when I tried to shout, I couldn’t find my voice. I tried and tried, and no sound would come out. I had literally been scared into silence. There was no way I was going to get out of bed to find my Mom, because there was no way I was going to make myself vulnerable to the darkness, and so I huddled right down in my bed, under the duvet, switched on my flashlight and waited for morning. Every sound, every chirp and squeak and creak, had me jumping out of my skin. I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t sleep the rest of that night.

The thing is, when I think back to that night now, I don’t remember the terror as it was that night. I don’t even remember what the dream was about. I just have a distant memory that something scared and upset me. I keep waiting and hoping for this to reveal itself to be just the same; that this period in my life that has got me so terrified and alone, this is just me hiding under the duvet with my flashlight. I’m just waiting for morning. And one day, I’m going to look back on this and not even remember what it was all about.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Ocean

There’s a small child standing on a beach, right near the edge of the ocean. The water varies in its approach to the shore; sometimes, it comes in softly, gently, just touching the little girls feet. It teases her, tries to make her believe it’s a safe thing, inviting her to come closer. At these times, she feels joyful, carelessly happy, dangerously blissful.

Other times, the waves come too close, too quickly. They rush up and grab her around the knees, threatening to pull her in. She’s scared, but something’s making her stick to the spot she’s standing in – she is unable to move away. She’s curious. And she’s still clinging onto that idea of the gentle, teasing water that she encountered earlier. She’s still hopeful.

And still other times, far too often, a vast body of water, a huge wave, comes crashing in to shore fast and engulfs her, covering her, completely enveloping her in loud, strong, terrifying white foam. It knocks her off her feet, swirls her around and around. It disorientates her, makes her believe that left is right, up is down, wrong is right. It tears her apart, devours her. It breaks her. Then it spits her back up on the sand, where some force of nature drags her back onto her feet and makes her do it all over again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

November Rain

I find myself addicted to this place right now, this weird place called Solitude. And just like any other addiction, it feels like there’s no escape. There’s this self-perceived length of elastic between it and me, and every time I try to walk away and free myself from it, it pulls me back. And every time it pulls me back, the attachment gets stronger; I’m growing fond of it. I’m starting to enjoy its company. Solitude is becoming my security blanket.

Yet at the same time, as that realization grows, I keep hoping even more for eventual release. And that Hope is what’s keeping me going – keeping the addiction from taking over completely.

It's like the difference between November rain and January rain. There's something about January rain that just mades me feel so sad, so helpless. The fact that it comes right after Christmas, after all the festivities of New Year. The pathetic fallacy of it all. It reminds me that there's nothing more to look forward to, not for a long time. There's nothing to keep your spirit warm; it's just cold and wet. November rain, though. November rain is different. When it rains in November, you still get cold and wet, but it tends not to dampen your soul as much, because there's still that promise of Christmas approaching. And at Christmas, all becomes right with the world again.

I’m more like November rain. It’s true, I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve been feeling lost. Some days. On other days, I just feel detached, numb. Those are the days I don’t need to cry, when all the tears have run out and I’m just… existing. I’m not sure which are worse – the lost days or the numb days. I wouldn’t normally be as public as this with my feelings, but I have to be, to try and make you understand. Because even though I’m going through all this, and I’m struggling… despite all that, I know there’s something more to come. There has to be. All my faith is in it. Because if there’s not, if you take that faith away, then there’s nothing here. Not just for me, but for any of us. November rain has that small thing that January rain doesn’t:

it has Hope.