I surrender to the complete unpredictability of life. Nothing has ever played out as I had imagined. And I think that holding to any expectation leads only to disappointment. This isn’t to say one shouldn’t plan for or invest in the future. That’s probably exactly what one should do every day. And that’s disguised as work –whether it’s creating or practicing or whatever. But our ideas of the future are hardly ever concrete, and nothing is ever guaranteed to yield results. Therefore, it seems one must blindly sow seeds and reap whatever sprouts whenever they sprout. I remember attending a writing conference a year ago, and a guest speaker advised everyone to remain flexible. She said people who hold onto their dreams so firmly are more likely to be disappointed. A year ago, I thought she gave up on her dreams and it was an issue of conviction. Today, I realize she’s a lot older and smarter than I am. I’m trying to welcome and accept the many detours necessary to achieve dreams. And I open myself to the possibility that my dreams might change. The whole journey not the destination cliché is making more sense to me. I have somewhat of a destination, but I might as well just enjoy the ride. I want to be running with the cart instead of being excruciatingly dragged along. And in the end I’ll always have writing.
I pressed on the lone peppercorn. Its shell gave. Its essence released with a cloud and a scent. I watched it in the sunlight on the granite counter. Ethereal, it dissipated into nothingness, a drop into the air current, partly absorbed into my nostrils and the rest dispersed into God-knows-where. How silly that I would create this narrative. How silly that I would project humanity on a peppercorn. Yet, I looked upon the pepper-grinder with a shudder.
I’d like to imagine myself as a house. Strange things lurk behind my door. Things are usually self-contained. Once in a while, things slip out. You can peep into the windows though I wouldn’t advise you to. I imagine that goes for most people. Things that stay inside, stay there for a reason –they’re simply too much for the outside world. We’ve built ourselves to conceal things. But would you like to see what’s inside me? The door’s open.
I hope you don’t mind the smell of cigarettes. Well, I hope you don’t mind the smoke either. The tenants have habits they’d like to quit. It’s a funny story. When one of our tenants was a boy, he begged his father to give up cigarettes. To him, it became a measure of love whether his father would. After years of haranguing him, the boy managed to help his father quit. He told me the other night that he never imagined he’d start smoking too. He said with some ambivalence, “Those anti-smoking ads aren’t wrong. But as a kid, I was naïve. I think I understand a little better now. Sometimes whatever you’re going through is too much. And if a cigarette can provide any relief in that moment, it becomes pretty tempting. I didn’t think too much about whatever my dad was going through when he smoked. To me it was just something he did.”
There’s some writing on the walls. I haven’t deciphered them yet. Have a look. I welcome the day I can leave my body. Oh, if you hear any violent sounds, don’t worry too much. We’ve got locks on his doors, and he’s been here for some time. Normally, he’s an all right person. But once a while, he escapes. A few times, he slipped out of the door and things turned quite ugly. Having talked to him a few times, I don’t think he can help those outbursts. This is what he said to me: “I know it’s not right. But it’s what I was taught. It’s what I learned from those around me. And when things slip out of my hands, I just default to that. There’s this idea I’ve been struggling with. Are we not just our parents’ flaws? Are those not the demons we have to fight every day? I’m not faulting my parents. I know this is entirely my problem as an adult. This is just my understanding… Inheritance is stronger than I’d like to admit.”
Well right here we could either go upstairs, or we can continue down. It gets pretty dark down there though. Maybe that can be for another time. There’s some sunlight upstairs. Can you see through the windows? I really wanted to replace those rose tints. They have a way of distorting things, and reality is usually all the more uglier when you see past them. I don’t think I can change them. They’re just the way they are. Then again, aren’t we all? Watch your step there. One of our tenants has a habit of digging. He’s a strange fellow who carries a shovel with him everywhere. As damaging as it is to the house’s integrity, it does make getting around a lot easier. You just have to watch out. You don’t want to fall into the wrong room.
If you follow me down this hole, we’ll arrive at the dining table. It’s a few floors down, but the fall is only a few seconds. That wasn’t too bad was it? Here, we’ll wait for the others. We let the tenants come out to eat so they’re not cooped up for too long. One of them gets a little… jittery. It’s probably best you leave after. After all, this is all a façade. This is all tailored to give us a form. I’d like to believe we’re all compartmentalized, but the truth is we’re the same person and if you believe that then this dissolves into something a little more frightening if you can you should get out now before everything dissolves and the locks are no more and the walls are melted into a homogenous blackness therein lies dark truths of me I am another side of the person I present I am violence and I am repressed anger and the urge to k-kkkk-k and dark darkness you should have left when you could have before you’re engulfed I am flesh I am teefff without skin and un-repenting for horrors that slink out the door the ttruthh es that aie me3t dis b4 I dsvlved en 2 dith I I I s-s-s-a-w-w-w dis side of me before. get out. Get out. GET OUT.
My skin is my cage. My cage is my house. I can only be me.
I took a walk down the empty road. I thought the silence would help me. My thoughts grew louder. Things I had repressed crept from the recess of my mind. They were troubling notions of my own existence. Is this the extent of my living? Haven’t I fought through this and that already? Haven’t I been blessed enough only to have my blessings slip from my hands? Thinking back a year, I could not have imagined how my life would change. I’d like to think that some people are excluded from the complete precariousness that is my life. I have this idea that other people have maps. They go through institutions. They climb the ladder. They put in the work and they’re somewhere better. Me, I’m staring up to the heavens, and I have to make a ladder out of thin air. Grab that from this. Grab this from that. The strange thing is I feel closer than ever to reaching something. I’m just scared to look down.
This question orbits my thoughts: when should I stop? I’ve debated this so many times that I’m bored of it. The answer seems plain. I don’t. I don’t until I die. I have this whole life to give. I have however many years I’ve been allotted to pursue this dream of mine. The concept of a glass ceiling terrifies me. You charge the sky with all your energy, and you just can’t break through. You see what you want so desperately, and you simply don’t have enough. You didn’t launch with enough umph.
My head’s in the clouds. I don’t want to be grounded. I pray don’t let me fall. I have this dream that I’m flying a plane into a gold sky. The clouds are canyons. I don’t know why this image brings me so much bliss.
This is a letter I wrote to my twenty-four year old self. People have told me my twenties would be the best years of my life; having lived approximately half way through my twenties, I would characterize these years as tumultuous, chaotic, riddled with disillusionment, and as a terribly drawn out existential crisis. I feel that any sort of stability in my life has been ripped away. My family struggles financially. I have ended relationships with my best friend and my significant other. I have a place to sleep, and I have a job. I do not feel that I belong in either, and I almost abandoned both to embrace my greatest fear of becoming homeless. My interest to create narratives has died. I only want to be brutally honest and confront my feelings without the embellishments of story-telling.
I do not intend this to be a sob story. I personally dislike sob stories. While they serve cathartically, I do believe they accomplish no more than letting a wound fester. With my whole being, I believe that one must pick oneself up through work. It’s just that I’m exhausted. I feel as if I lost everything. I know this is the most opportune time to grow and change into the person I want to be. At the same time, I think I need to rest a little. Allow me to explain: I’ve learned one of life’s greatest lessons; you can try your best, you can exhaust all your resources and paths, and you can still fail. But the only thing to do is keep going.
My 8 year relationship ended because we want the best for each other, and we finally recognize and acknowledge that we are not the best for each other. Despite all the work, despite the nights talking, despite trying time and time, we had to let each other go. Because she deserved much better, and if I were truly thinking of her best interest, I would admit that I had not treated her better. Therefore, as I laid alone in that field at a concert, I decided to give her the chance to find someone better. She reached the same conclusion as she drunkenly cried through the concert while my friend watched over her. I am still figuring out whether this is a fairy tale idea of relationships, or it’s what everyone is entitled to –just not everyone is brave enough to pursue it.
This struggle between reality and “something better” plagues me. There are many moments in my twenties when I’ve felt stuck. There were very realistic limitations and constraints: money, living situation, family ties, and this need to find independence. But throughout these existential episodes, I had this burning belief that I was meant for better; that I was special and better than whatever situation I was in. I’m proud to say that each time I took the risk in pursuit of something better, I eventually found it. It took work. Each time I spiraled into depression –or my depression exacerbated the times I was meant to be patient. I always had so many emotions wanting to erupt out of me. This might be a product of my childhood, for I was always told I was wrongfully emotional. Must be an Asian upbringing. I suppose I answered my own confusion. This is just the time I have to carry on. Despite how exhausted I am, I must. It’s the only option other than dying.
Love, the moon
I took you from your home. I took you in my hands, into my pockets, and into my skin. I watched you wilt for some time, and I tried to water you –give you some sunlight. It was a dark room –the room we shared. I really tried to let in the sunlight, but I think most of the time I wanted to hide away. You didn’t grow the way I wanted you to, and I’d like to blame myself as your taker. Because I didn’t see you for you, and I tried to be everything.
The floor has been ripped from beneath my feet. I’m floating, and my past has left me. I’m not me anymore. You’re not you anymore. I promised you myself. You promised me yourself. But we’re something else now.
I thought we were a dream. I tried to be that.
Love, the sun
We found another when we were broken. You took my hands into your pockets and we shared the same skin. We found water and some sunlight. It was a dark room, but it was enough we had each other. You asked me to open the curtains when the room got too dark. We hid away because we were hurting. We grew the only way we could. We were one another’s world.
My mind’s in the clouds. My feet are grounded, and we’re moving to better things. It takes so long, but I’m happy I have you by my side.
We’re a dream.
Love, the earth
We had our nights and we had our days. We left our room, and we were supposed to go dancing. We didn’t have to hide away anymore.
I think it’s time to wake up. I think it’s time to say goodbye. I hope we grow in all the ways we wished we could.
I’m tired of narratives. I’m tired of reality. It seems you have to choose. One’s boring, the other makes you feel like you’re missing something. I’m getting too existential. There’s always someone or something telling you how to live your life. I wish my freedom wasn’t dependent on money. I’m too young to feel this tired. I wish I could package this pretty.
I watched you sit by the dim lights in our room. Our time has ran on until this moment, and I imagine myself packing my things. To our child selves, I wish to tell them how we would change. I would tell him to be braver, to not doubt himself so much, and to become what he was meant to be, only sooner. To her, I’d say it’s not enough to have a kind heart. Good intentions won’t protect you from others, and I can’t always protect you. It’s a rare thing to see you and I change throughout the years. I love you, but I’m like cracked ceramic. You can see the fissures run deep, and I’m romanticizing a better time.
Do you feel the magnitude of what I feel? Have you stretched your mind into others’ only to find that they have not thought about it as much as you have? I wish for a calm, whispering field, where the wildflowers sway in tune to a gentle breeze. This is the place I’ve visited in my mind. I wish for a dune that I could sit atop and roast myself dry just to feel the extremes of humanity. I can’t bear this heavy weight, these shackles of my own skin. Do you ever wish to rip your skin off and just exist as something else? These thoughts are too heavy to sustain.