Visibility

It was Valentine’s yesterday. We didn’t celebrate. We never really have.

Although, in the early days, when we were dating, we did make Valentine’s night a time where where we would cook dinner together. I think I have some vague memories of doing that at my parent’s home a long, long time ago. Although… I really must ask Deric what we cooked because I don’t seem to be able to recall.

Yes, it’s really been QUITE SOME TIME.

Mostly, we don’t do the typical Valentine’s date thing because the thought of being out and about when dozens of other couples are too just feels like too much effort. Also jostling busy joints just to get a meal or grab a coffee. Not my cup of tea. Heh.

And the only time Deric ever bought me flowers was, actually, in our first month of dating. It was a rather funny thing to remember. We were having lunch at Pasta Zanmai in Sunway Pyramid and he had excused himself to make a trip to the washroom.

I remember thinking he was taking awfully long to be at the toilet by a guy’s standards. And then at long last he finally reappears at the table. With flowers. That is and was the only time I ever got anything of that sort from him. I guess I told him somewhere along the line that I wasn’t too big into caring for dying blooms and would rather have more practical gifts that last way longer so he took heed.

We did go out yesterday, but it was to the hospital, and it was with Jamie in tow. No one was ill though. It was checkup time for me. While we were there, there were visible reminders of others celebrating Valentine’s. People toting pink balloons walking around the hospital and the hospital staff joking amongst one another about Valentine’s.

Deric told me yesterday that he noticed many of the ladies at his office had flowers sent to them.

I’ve always wondered how that feels like because I never had that done for me. Ever.

(In fact, the only time I ever had a Valentine’s gift, it was from a guy I had no feelings for. It was a really sweet initiative on his part and I appreciated it. But I actually accidentally lost his gift a few days later. Note: It wasn’t flowers he gave, it was jewellery. I wore it to uni, and it fell off somehow. Yup, that’s the kind of person I am, I guess. :|)

Anyway, back to what I was saying… Valentine’s. Flowers. All these public professions of love.

Me being the private person I am, I often think that the best kind of love is the quiet, steady kind. The type that isn’t so readily visible to the rest of the world, but yet is strong and undeniable. Sort of like a well kept secret. It is more special that way, because even though the rest of the world is oblivious, you know it’s there. And it brings a smile to your lips, even in the moments you are on your own.

Not going to belittle Valentine’s traditions that you and your significant other may have, of course. We all ought to do whatever we need to in order to keep our feelings and commitment to each other alive and well.

Just that… This is my view of love. Or rather, the version of love that I have been afforded in this life. But I am thankful for it.

For the love that is expressed through dishes done and meals made when I am too tired to handle it and have passed out in bed. The little snacks brought home just for me. The responsibilities shouldered to bathe, play and put Jamie to bed on most nights. That sloppy kiss and that cheesy smile. Punny jokes and those same old stories, told over and over again.

All those little things and more that make being together special. Even if it’s not Valentine’s today.

Isolation

For some reason, I feel lonely today.

Perhaps it’s to do with having to constantly interact with my almost three year old son’s imaginary friends. Or the fact that out of the blue, a few different friends have decided to dub March as Meet Up Month, calling for reunions and catch up sessions.

Nothing wrong with all these things, I suppose. On brighter days, those may actually be considered good things. Funny things. Treasures to cherish.

But today, for some reason, I feel like I want something else. I want space. I want time. I want the liberty to do things I like. Not that it needs to be for long, or that I need a retreat away from everyone. I suppose I just need that metaphoric quiet spot I used own. That cloud from which to sit upon and dangle my feet, where I can watch the world pass by and think my own thoughts. Be comfy in my own sea of emotions.

I am a melancholic. I guess try as I might, I cannot run from that reality. And when there’s too much noise, too much talking, too many things that vie for my attention that I cannot hear myself think, I feel uneasy. I don’t feel like myself.

Funny that I should be admitting this to you, my random reader and friend. But that seems to be what life is coming to. A senseless bunch of events, strung together like beads on a string. And someday, when the space on the string runs out, its time to complete the loop and say goodbye.

(Okay, next I write, I promise cheerier things. TTFN!)

Michael W. Smith: A Million Lights

Just heard this song for the first time awhile ago. And I felt I just wanted to post it. However short this post may be. It being 4+am in the morning and all.

Michael W. Smith’s music has been such a big part of my life, all throughout my growing years. So many songs with tons of memories to go with them. I even had a book of piano scores for his The First Decade album which I meticulously learned to play, even memorising quite a few of them.

Even in the not-so-distant past while I was still a journalist, I remember being greatly encouraged by his more recent tunes such as You Won’t Let Go.

I don’t really know much about how he gets the inspiration for his songs or puts together the content, but I can say I have been greatly blessed by his music. This guy who is much older than I am and who lives so far away in another continent from me has made an impact in my life. I can only hope that I can someday have such a great influence on someone else.

Anyway, with regards to this presently new tune, what struck me the most was the lyrics of the second verse:

A million days
In every one I’ve seen Your face
I know I’ll never be alone
Even darkness comes awake

For You
All the stars are singing
With You
Every day I’m feeling
Alive

Even darkness comes awake.

Easy to forget, and yet, it is right there amidst the opening lines of the Bible. And if He can command light from darkness, surely everything else about my life is just a cinch to Him. It’s this assurance that makes all those million days or more of life worth battling through.

I’m not as alive as I used to be, especially in a spiritual, inner being sense. But perhaps the stars ought to remind me of those things that never change: how He holds everything together.

Hope you like the song as much as I do.

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.

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.

Journalling: Another year, another attempt

My new journal for 2017. Hopefully.

I stumbled across a Facebook post on my Feed today that piqued my interest. It was about Bullet Journalling. It’s the first time I’m hearing about it. Or well, rather, reading about it. 

I used to be an ardent journal writer back in my teen days, but since turning into a Boring Adult, I have failed time and again at resurrecting this deeply satisfying and extremely therapeutic habit. 

Part of the difficulty is being disciplined enough to write regularly so that whatever I jot down eventually forms a year long tale that makes sense. My journalling has reached a point of being so sporadic that it feels like it is useless to do so at all. 

Hopefully this Bullet Journalling thing will change that. 

And even if it doesn’t, I do so love making lists (and usually end up never being able to cross out much from them… sigh) so perhaps it will serve its purpose as some form of therapy. Which I do sort of need right now given that I feel a combination of depression + boredom + discontentment + aimlessness in my life. 

So here goes. 

Good thing is that the New Year has just begun, so it doesn’t feel so out of place to start this thing right here and now. Teehee. 

Well, I’ll report back later on if anything much comes out of it. Don’t want to have too high expectations. Toodloo!

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.