Words I loved this week (2022/13)

From Susain Cain’s Bittersweet: “Whatever pain you can’t get rid of, make it your creative offering.”

Made me think of Oscar Jaffe’s words: “The sorrows of life are the joys of art.”

•••

Years ago a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground, in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase, but I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved, we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.

Tim Kreider, I Know What You Think of Me

•••

Past a certain point, you stop being able to go home. At this point, when you have got this far from where you were from, the thread snaps. The narrative breaks. And you are forced, pastless, motherless, selfless, to invent yourself anew.

Zen Cho, The Four Generations of Chang E

•••

Lastly, some soft wisdom:

“I mean, ofcourse we are all suffering, and everybody knows that. I think perhaps the difference is whether your own suffering builds a wall or breaks the wall around someone else’s.”

The opposite of scarcity is not abundance; the opposite of scarcity is simply enough. Empathy is not finite, and compassion is not a pizza with eight slices. When you practice empathy and compassion with someone, there is not less of these qualities to go around. There’s more. Love is the last thing we need to ration in this world.

Brene Brown

•••

Gorgeous gorgeous stars from the last week of March

On separating newness from pressure

Something about almost-April resonates with my idea of a new year. It’s not very happy, but it’s supposedly fresh. A blank slate for it all. Possibly because in my country, April marks the beginning of a new school year. Of spring ending. It’s almost like a forced closure. Things end; they come tumbling down and you gotta rebuild. Or you tear them apart in order to restructure—friendships, grades, performance, self-image, skills. You make innocent promises about how you won’t let this new chance to go to waste. That you’ll bloom in all dimensions, no belittling. The past under the carpet. I miss the force I was as a kid. The force that faded, but was starry till it lasted. I miss that it was easy, pretending to walk away from the past. It’s been a while since I graduated from school, but it feels like the body has kept score, so this time every year, my headspace flows into that of an inevitable renewal. Except I feel so lost this time around. I am comfortable with where I am. Now, comfort doesn’t equate with fulfilment by any stretch, but I love that most things feel familiar and homely. That I can wake up without my chest bursting with anxiety, and that I am aware of what may bring me ease when that’s not the case. I believe it can take one years to understand what brings them real ease, not the lukewarm kind that we’re told to get used to because life won’t offer more. Only that, it does, but it’s slow, and most people despise the idea of slowness. For me, I’m at home in my head, at least today, and it’s taken me a while to arrive here. The furniture is faulty, the walls keep changing colours, the weather is wild then easy. Wild then easy. Wild. Easy. But it’s good to arrive and to not try to run every few days. It’s good to unpack the bags. It’s good to love my people, myself, my passions, my imperfect routine, and of course, my crazy, vivid, gorgeous mind. I’m attempting to finally feel easy in my uneasiness. Yet I can’t help but correlate the onset of April with new choices, and on some days, I sure do crave newness. I think to myself, now that I’m here, a grander life must be elsewhere. Except.. is there more? Should there be more? Am I asking for too much? Will my carefully crafted comfort zone gradually become a prison? What if I didn’t move at all this year, and renewed within myself, in my stillness, if at all I had to? What if newness could alternatively be about expansion, instead of moving? I wonder if there’s a mental landscape where we could embrace both familiarity and our captivating desire for newness. Hold them in unison. I wonder if this April I could show up differently.

A word I came across today that seems to shape this feeling

On love: I feel like I’m building myself a room to breathe and it’s finally beginning to light up

Learning to take a genuine interest in my friends’ lives. In what they’re upto. In the shows they’re watching. In their familial lives, their sorrows, their becoming. Learning that they’re just as full a human as I am. Their stories just as real. Their experiences just as mundane, sorrowful, adventurous, worthy. Loving them through this.

Listening to mum’s gossip from work. From the kitchen. From shunned spaces in her mind that she finally lets me into. From days of her young love with dad. From when she was little and there was little around her, but she feasted on happiness. Listening to her and understanding how much of me is thanks to her. How much I am her. Loving her through this.

Watching anime with my brother. Asking him how school’s been. Helping him with his assignments. I love being a student again, even if momentarily with him. Witnessing him grow, as the big sister who was absent for some time, lost in her own healing. I’m here now. Loving him through this.

Cheering for my sister as she works through periods of healing heavier than I’ve ever had to deal with. Learning that healing can never continue in isolation. Hugging her when she breaks down, even if I’m fragile in the moment. Letting her hug me when I am. Loving her through this.

Loving dad. Looking at male love with hope, for him. Channelising my anger into growth. Challenging my love into action. Birthing softness in him, birthing grit in me. Loving him through this. Through everything.

Observing the clouds. Pruning plants, watering them. Laughing and gaming with my neighbour’s kid. Small talks with strangers and short-lived resonances with the cashier, the driver, the guard, the maid. Letting them reflect to me my smallness if I were to live in a world without them. Loving them through this.

Getting excited for the new Wordle every night. For romcoms without projecting the stories onto mine. For therapy sessions where I can finally discuss improvements. For Coldplay music and what it invokes in me. For good food and how it fuels me. For authors and glitter nail paint and my planner and Tumblr.

Learning to immerse in what is, not what could be, or might instead be. I made romantic love the centre of my life for so long, it ruined my outlook on other loves. Of other passions. Of other meanings and connections that life has to offer. Ruined my ability to reach for them, to see them in a good light. It’s taking a while to see love in previously hidden spaces. Loving myself through this.

I love love. I hope I’m always drawn to it, even if not in the form I’ve always forced upon myself. I feel like I’m building myself a room to breathe and it’s finally beginning to light up.

Me from my birthday last week!

Words I loved this week (2022/08); almost goodbye 21

It’s my last week of being 21. I have a million inactive feelings and not a single active one. This is not to say that I am numb to everything, just that the variations, textures, colours and intensities of all these feelings nearly cancel each other out when they collide within one tiny heart. Dramatic eh? Much like my year. When I begin to process 21, I know I will end up with remarkable insights about myself and the world. I hope to write about it in the future. As this age slips, I sense that I will miss it more than I can gauge or make sense of right now. I will miss it because it birthed me into the person that I am in this moment, the one writing this, and god I love her. I love her, no ifs or buts, no questions asked. I love her enough to love her out loud here. Even if it’s momentary. Yes. That’s a win.

One amazing outlook I gained this year that I am trying to embrace as this age comes to a close is that all ages collide and all years blur into one another to make you you in the present. What else collides alongside are the entirety of your [active and inactive] feelings, relationships, memories, new and old loves [loves beyond people too], faults, flaws, eccentricities, regrets that you’ve made peace with, even regrets that are yet to come. This collision makes it both frightening and enlightening to live in the middle; to not seek closures or beginnings based on one timeline, based on one self or one year or one age. Seen from this lens, the million inactive feelings from today seem okay. Seem bearable. Seem human. This is a beautiful guiding philosophy that I have come to believe in. One of many, ofcourse.

Here are some more, disguised as my favourite quotes from this week:

You learn things by saying them over and over and thinking about them until they stay in your mind forever and I think it will be the same with Magic. If you keep calling it to come to you and help you it will get to be part of you and it will stay and do things.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

•••

When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.

Friedrich Nietzsche

•••

People leave traces of themselves where they feel most comfortable, most worthwhile.

Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance 

•••

Survival often depends on a specific focus: a relationship, a belief, or a hope balanced on the edge of possibility. Or something more ephemeral: the way the sun passes through the hard, seemingly impenetrable glass of a window and warms the blanket, or how the wind, invisible but for its wake, is so loud one can hear it through the insulated walls of a house.

Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

•••

Time is how you spend your love.

Zadie Smith

•••

If I could go back, I’d coach myself. I’d be the woman who taught me how to stand up, how to want things, how to ask for them. I’d be the woman who says, your mind, your imagination, they are everything. Look how beautiful. You deserve to sit at the table. The radiance falls on all of us.

Lidia YuknavitchThe Chronology of Water

•••

Lightning from yesterday in Noida, India | 26-02-2022

Words I loved this week (2022/07)

My FAVOURITE read this week was this really fun article on precise emotions one may feel but hold no words to describe in their regular vocab. I love language when it makes my emotions comprehensible to myself and others. I hate it when it comes nowhere close to elaborating how I’m feeling. And I love it yet again when I stumble upon precise descriptive words for my emotions in languages I don’t know. Expansive lil symbols, words, and just so many. Gosh.

Time to cue some 🦋

•••

A poem: Clearing by Martha Postlethwaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.

•••

The fact that you got a little happier today doesn’t change the fact that you also became a little sadder. Every day you become a little more of both, which means that right now, at this exact moment, you’re the happiest and the saddest you’ve ever been in your whole life…Think about it it. Have you ever been happier than right now, lying here in the grass? And have you ever been sadder? It isn’t like that for everyone. Some people just get happier and happier every day. And some people just get sadder and sadder. And some people, like you, get both.

Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

•••

If you are softer than before they came, you have been loved.

nayyirah waheed, Salt

•••

End note: the last one got me feeling so mushy and tender. Such a graceful, open, forgiving way to look at love. ♡

Words I loved this week (2022/06)

“It is certain that the divinest consolation is contained in humanity itself—we would not be able to do much with the consolation of a god; only that our eye would have to be a trace more seeing, our ear more receptive, the taste of a fruit would have to penetrate us more completely, we would have to endure more odor, and in touching and being touched be more aware and less forgetful—in order promptly to absorb out of our immediate experiences consolations that would be more convincing, more true than all the suffering that can ever shake us to our very depths.”

— Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke (1910-1926)

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

— Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

“You know, the classics have saved me. They are the most ancient form of psychotherapy. Reading them, you feel that your soul divides less and less. You get the sense that someone else is living the tragedy for you, like a surrogate being. Greek tragedy will carry all your tragedies in her womb for at least nine months of the year. You only have to experience the pain for a short while – not longer than you need to. Literature can carry all the wounds and cut psychological tissues and and beauties and abrasions. It’s really beautiful, what the ancients left us. A container. Filled with remedies.”

— Vi Khi Nao, Fish in Exile