Hidden treasure

The days slip by quickly, and each time something shifts in leaps and bounds.

Dear Globetrotting Friend,

As wonderful as it is to see these picturesque views you encounter at each magical destination you arrive at, I often wish you would not post them on social media. It’s not that I would want to deny you the right to revel in the beauty around you, but sometimes your endless stream of picture perfect images makes me feel a little out of place.

I spend most of my hours behind the same four walls, living a quiet, unnoticed routine. Views like the one you see above are what my eyes feast on every day. It is nothing extraordinary, but it was important enough to me that I decided to be bound by them. To be this hidden person, seen only by a tiny pair of eyes to whom I am the world.

I wish I had inspiring images to show others just as you do, but the ones I take are instead mostly commonplace. They do little to hide the mess behind them. The haphazard tumbling through hours. Days slipping by quickly, one after another; each time something shifting within them, an unnamed thing, growing in leaps and bounds.

My husband is often discouraged with this dull, mundane world we live in, enamoured instead by the adventures you tease us with from your Instagram feed. He always had this bit of wanderlust gripping him, and at times, I feel sorry as if I am the one holding him back.

But this is the life we are building now. And it is called Family.

Beneath the mountains of laundry, behind the unkempt array of toys strewn all across our living room, there is this little boy coming into his own. His is a slow and steady journey, years stretching ahead of him, yet uncounted, unwritten. Mine is the heavy burden to shape this life, to offer it meaning and hope in a universe that often cares little for the crumbs that fall from the tabletop or the stories that need to be read… aloud…. and right now. Or else.

I don’t envy you, my dear Privileged Traveller friend. I just wish I didn’t often find myself making comparisons between us , thinking how vastly different our paths are now, and how we were walking the same trail once upon a time, long ago, when we were but youth.

Because it seems like I have lost myself, and that my days will be endlessly meaningless as they feel. And that I am not living life to the fullest and condemning myself to a predictable outcome.

Perhaps someday I will find greater confidence in the choices I have made.

It’s just that right now those photos of yours don’t seem to be helping.

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Nobody reads this

It's just a hunch, but I'm almost pretty sure that none of the people I know in real life are actually reading my blog. Or even know that I have this one out there.

I could do the narcissistic thing of posting about it on social media like what most people might do. In fact, I had done so in the past. But then it feels so much like asking for markah kesian from the school teacher. I'd rather people stumble upon the blog than me having to stuff it in front of their face and make them feel obliged to comment or do anything about it.

But this isn't saying I don't appreciate you, my random reader. If even one person out there reads any of this and derives something positive out of it, at least I can feel that this is all worth it.

Anyway, whatever the case may be, I'm still committed to writing here and keeping this blog alive. For now. Unless and until something tells me to stop. That moment hasn't come yet.

Time and again

Ironically enough, it's become extremely hard to write anything that I feel is heartfelt and of significant worth nowadays. I've been feeling so ever since I made writing my official career path, I think.

Funny, isn't it, since you'd think that because you're devoting more time perfecting your craft, you should be better at it and everything should come so much more naturally than it did in the past?

But this is how it's been. Regrettably too, might I add.

I revisited the old, first proper blog I ever wrote, Veritas Project, recently. It surprised me just how differently I used to write. So uninhibited. So candid.

In some ways, I wish I was back at that place and time of my life, and that I had utilised those moments more fully to revel in the emotions of that season more, to write more wholeheartedly. Because now that I am where I'm at in life, here in my 30's, there's a great difference in the things I'd write and how I'd write them.

Yet, of course, I'm not discounting the value of experience and where it has gotten me. I write now through the lens of someone who has seen more, who realises what she is capable of, and who now knows so many more precious things about the world and the seasons and rhythms of life.

Time and again, though, I keep returning to this point of contemplation that I need to put forward a more genuine version of myself whenever I write. Particularly when I blog for a wider audience, like I do here.

The difficulty here lies in the fact that having been a journalist in the not-so-distant past, my writing disciplines have been shaped to habitually involve the practice of self censorship. We do it all the time in the newsroom, although the reasons for doing so may differ each time. The words we allow to escape our keyboard are filtered: tapered down in its depth of feeling, politically correct, shifted and sorted to take on a supposedly neutral form, appealing to the average reader. Which is, in reality, probably no one.

Here in Blogdom, everyone is writing nowadays to garner as much Likes as possible. Building a band of followers that will faithfully swallow whatever you put out for them, just because they feel like you know them. You are like them.

For that is what is being peddled. Writers putting on a front of being an expert and knowing something special. Teasing readers with minimal prose, abandoning the art of it all, and replacing it with GIFs, memes, haphazardly compiled lists of things that nobody needs but everybody identifies with and wants to know about. A place where words are money, so make as much as you can, with as little beauty infused into those sentences. Because, what is the point in poetry? It is unnecessary and underappreciated.

Then there are those writers' circles, those exclusive associations formed amongst writers on social media platforms. Where writers rant and rave about the perils of the realms of publishing and lament the naivety of rookies seeking their way into the fellowship. Spouting advice like, "If your writing is rejected by publishers, it's because it's worthless. Please move along".

I somehow cannot fit into this landscape.

As it is, I already have trouble believing that I am a writer, and even more so calling myself one. And all this… this massive community of successful people before me; corporations who make profits from the words crafted by others; the formality of it all; the formatting of pages, columns, fonts; the rigours of being part of the publishing process… all of this feels stifling to me.

I want to go back to that spot where simplicity and freedom of expression were. That quiet corner in the middle of nowhere that I could sit at for as long as I needed to, use as many paragraphs and pages as I wanted, and express precisely how I feel without fear of judgment or ruthless editing.

Where it was just me and you, my darling reader.

I still want to tell my story. But (and this may be hard to believe, coming from a person with a history like mine) I am having trouble finding the right words.

Familiarity

I’m sitting here at the computer, sort of reluctant to move. It’s 4am and the feeling is familiar.

For some silly reason, I sifted through old emails and Google chats in my primary account, and it reminded me that me sitting to blog at a strange hour in the night isn’t new.

Long before all the madness of motherhood, before the intricacies of marriage, back in the days when I was single and just another uni student, I was already doing this. It’s the feeling of wanting to talk to someone about something, but not having a soul awake to listen.

There is a restlessness that permeates through the night and I often drown in it. I do not know why it gets to me, but it does. I am not depressed or suicidal or any other negative thing. I just am a mixture of melancholy, uncertainty and sleeplessness.

Tomorrow will be another day. And with the sunrise, the secret insecurities that haunt me in the night will vanish, even if just for awhile.

Blog buster

Bloggers these days seem to have lots of important things to say. 

More often than not, they’re busy dishing out advice. 10 secrets to becoing a successful mompreneur. 20 things to do to make your professional life stand out. Why following a paleo diet will set your love life on fire. So on and so forth.

And when they’re not busy giving their expert opinion on something, they’re busy plastering product endorsements and reviews all over their site. 

All that writing mostly stemming from the motivation of either getting lots of views and/or clicks, or capturing the attention of advertisers who are looking for virtual product ambassadors and supporters. 

Where oh where are the bloggers out there who just blog for the sake of creativity or in the spirit of the arts? 

This deeply disheartens me, and has many a time made me feel like my blog posts were useless and futile. Because no one would read them. No one would notice.  That my voice wouldn’t matter. 

Thanks to some of the bad experiences I weathered as a former journo, I also began self censoring a lot of my blog posts in the past. Such a sad thing to do, because it has made my ability to be spontaneous about posts literally vanish. 

I wish I could go back to the days when I was in uni where I used to just blog without concern for what others would think or say or do. I need to return to that notion of freedom. 

But it’s hard. It’s become especially harder ever since I made a career out of writing. In some ways, it was as I feared: I’ve gotten writing down to a science when it comes to making money out of it. But when it comes to the form of writing that I truly love and crave (that being creative writing, namely), I have little to show for it. 

I am especially jealous and sore to note that a long time friend of mine who started out even later than I have in a writing career is actually closer to her dream now than I have ever been. 

So many times I have thought of closing down this blog. In fact, a lot of the themes I write about here aren’t new. I seem to go round in circles, revisiting the same old tunes and stories every few posts or so. 

Have I lost that little bit of magic? That penchant for just letting words take me wherever they will, not caring about what story might ensue? 

I feel I have. And honestly, I feel empty. Like I have nothing to offer. It’s frightening. 

I have more than a dozen articles to my name. Google searches turn up articles I have written in the past, some of which are, in my opinion, pretty decent. But none that I am really proud of. 

How do I keep the passion bit of the equation alive in my writing? That is something I continue to struggle with. 

I also tend to beat myself up (virtually, of course) over the fact that I have no nice images for my blog posts. As if images themselves were the main attraction. They do help, no doubt. But they aren’t necessary. They’re just another one of those impulses that I’m stuck with thanks to journalism. 

So what do I do now? Be as random as can be for my blog posts, I suppose. Till I find my true voice. Till clarity descends and the fog in my head lifts. 

Until the day the prose I write is golden, and it moves hearts the way I have always wished it would. 

brittle

tiny tears in woven strands
callouses in weathered hands
harsh realities here to haunt again 

don’t break
just bend 

wound round the clock and spent
bones creaking in awkward places
spaces, renovated, up for rent
a change, a chance
that upward glance 

just cracks
not crushed 

cheeks tanned, and slightly flushed
words haphazardly falling, hastily gushed 

just crushed 

bleak, weakness
not built to withstand
swaying in the breeze
this way and that, then back again

*     *     *

It’s been awhile since I’ve done poetry. I suppose it’s nice to be back at it. Can’t seem to help that it somehow always ends up tinged with an ounce of melancholy. Is happy poetry possible? Perhaps not for me. But I should try some time, maybe. 

Birthday blurb

So it’s my birthday today.

It feels odd because I don’t feel anything. In my mind, I know that this is a significant day to commemorate and that it means I’m a year older. But other than that, there is an absence of emotion attached to it.

I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel sad.

This is strange to someone like me because I place a lot of importance on feelings and the impact they have on life.

Does everyone become like this by the time they hit their 30’s? Is it inevitable that the longer we are in this life, the more numb and cynical we become? I certainly hope not to go there. I don’t want to be yet another old person in the future who always talks dismally about death and how I will encounter it soon and how everything in life is so predictable.

Having a baby in the family has reminded me that there are so many simple things in life that we take for granted as adults. Ordinary stuff, the kind we would bypass everyday, just fascinates Jamie.

He smiles at strangers in the lift. He constantly reaches out his hands towards things, wanting to touch, feel, smell, taste it all, because it is all so new, fresh, intriguing. He attacks each day with enthusiasm, eagerly racing towards the future, unaware of how complex life on this Earth can be.

I muse at his zest for life. And I wonder at the lack of mine.

I do not wish to die. At least not at this point in time. But yet, am I truly alive?