Do you understand?

You tried to hold my hand,
I brushed it away in silence.
I do feel sorry for you,
another leave-me-alone that you grow used to.

I want you to understand,
I get high sometimes.
Just by walking under the stars,
or a touch of a tree in the park.

Such as now I can see the time
slowing down and stretching around.
The night sharpens its edges,
and the sensation overwhelms.

Flying inside the crystal glass,
melting with all that is and will ever be.
I would like to share my experience,
but words are not what they need.

Or should I explain the sensation?
It’s like the soul leaving the shell.
Every step takes me closer
to a myth that I can never ever tell.

Sorry not sorry, I won’t pretend,
you are my dearest and I will abide.
But there are times such as this,
I will need to be alone to be alive.

Black and grey.

I feel despair twirling around me washing me down. It’s a familiar sensation, but the forefront of the storm does not come from me but from the one sitting next to me, seeking help. I thought I’d guided her enough for her to at least not to be afraid of this far-too-alien thing she’s working on, or more precisely for the moment, I’m working on. She’s a graduate student that needs help making an experiment work for her paper. I can see that she’s upset like she’s not used to being so helplessly lost. It’s just English, I remember telling her, mixed with some logic symbols so the machines can understand. I also told her: it’s like talking to a very stupid and yet very intelligent tool. My guess is that does not help one bit. People have anxieties, and this thing that feels nothing just deals in 1s and 0s. I guess it’s nice being so primitive.

The coffee is getting cold. Good thing I drank most of it before she came, the bitter smooth taste still sours my palate, just the way I like it, as it distracts me from my guilt. I move away from both the taste and the background emotional radiation so I can find a solution to this problem in front of the man-made screen with a man-made experiment using a man-made program that speaks a man-made language. That’s my domain for a time and that’s where I learned how to talk.

Easy enough, several misconceptions and curious explorations later, things start to work and the previously downcasted student becomes much more animated with suggestions of workarounds and talks of new visions for her experiment. It’s always uplifting to see that happen. I feel her mood changing from dark grey to white yellow, but I do not dwell on that either. All too familiar with that cycle. But for me, it’s kinda the opposite. When I cannot figure something out, I get pumped, and when I’m finished with it, either from giving up or succeeding, I feel down. There’s not much difference.

How can anyone truly despair when there’s so much left to know? I guess that depends on what you want to know. When there’s no longer any observer, will these 1s and 0s mean anything?

I wonder if we are being too loud in this narrow coffee shop that’s half-filled with students and people lounging about. Another gorgeous day. I feel a bit apologetic, but my companion does not seem to take notice, too wrapped up in her excitement now. Might as well, it’s not my favorite coffee shop anyway.

Bricks in the wall.

Ming is counting the bricks, up to three. She looks at their weathered red-orange color and their texture, they fascinate her. She traces several of them with her fingers, they seem real enough. Isolating, limiting, real. There’s nobody here during the high-school recess in the back of the building. The brick wall in front of her separates her school from another one-thing-or-another that she does not remember. The school ground, on the other hand, is all hers, and she knows it well. Right now she just wants to be alone, floating on the edge of something that is one of her confines.

She can hear the echoes of her school-mates running, shouting, playing somewhere not that far away. Just pass the building facing the wall is the soccer field. It is rather big and Ming likes it better when it’s vacant. She sees these images of people passing along going about their lives on that field before it’s covered with sand and gravel. Right now, there’re simply too many people taking advantage of that space. It loses its magical appeal.

The space sandwiched by the wall and the building is straight and narrow, it’s very sterile too, just dirt and bricks. And Ming considers this a safe place. She lets herself fill the empty space and feel the stillness reaches back to her. She needs it. More than her need to run about with her classmates. She becomes not social again. For a while, she had a little group, but now, now she needs to sort some stuff out, or rather not having any stuff to sort out with. She comes here to not think, just feel.

She’s not a bad student, in fact, she’s top ten of her year, but there’re just too many things that she can’t seem to grasp, herself most of all. She’s still cutting school sometimes, lying to the teachers that she will be studying on her own instead of in the classroom. And because she’s such a good student, the teachers let her. So she would take her bike out of the impossibly entangled bike-pile and go for a ride. Sometimes by the neighborhood (carefully avoiding the places where she might encounter the parents of course), but most of the times she would ride along the river and stop by the park alongside it. There’s a tree there with silvery leaves. She thinks it has all the magic in the world.

Sometimes she would seek adventure on the school ground. There’s this new science building that’s still not fully functional yet, but the doors are open even though no one’s supposed to be there. Ming likes to walk in the white corridors and on the winding staircases, all by herself. She feels like a ghost, she wants to see if she can scare somebody. But rather she’s the one that gets scared when on the rare occasions she does see someone there. She’s not sure if she’s more scared of people or ghost.

Sometimes she would venture on the narrow, bare-steel fire-escape up to the roof of one of the lower sprawling buildings just because it’s something to do. Ming had one companion once in this endeavor, but they don’t know each other very well, so it’s just this one time. She remembers feeling like there’s magic in that too. They looked out onto the soccer field and saw different things. It’s kinda scary for Ming to be in high places. She always has this urge to fall down.

To say Ming is lonely is not an accurate assessment, she simply doesn’t know how else to be. Even when she’s among her best friends, she has this insolation around her. She doesn’t talk loudly, or fast, or much. It just feels like there’s not much to say. Information holds no value nor meaning for her. She has been in school most of her life at this point and her worldview has not altered from the first time she glimpsed it. So there’s theirs and there’s hers, and there’s time for one or the other. But mostly, she needs her time. She’s like still in the womb, or rather she’d like to go back to the womb and be born again just in case she missed anything. So you see she has no time for the other stuff. It’s not like she’s hiding from it or anything.

She tries to climb the wall now, thinking that her tender fingers can latch themselves onto the tiny crevices between two bricks to hoist herself up, then use the tips of her shoes to gain purchases on the wall’s rough surface. She does not go far. But she keeps trying. There’s no real goal involved, only exertion for fun. She looks at her raw dirty fingers and smiles. Time to go back to the classroom. The wall knows she will be back.

Meditation.

What you lost
is your biggest treasure.
How that hurts
is a gift you can’t refuse.

When you don’t look away
but humbly accept,
along with the cost,
one breath to the next.

Cast the burden
into the wings you fly with.
You better think
when they tell you it’s worthless.

Give a prayer
to the spirits you now know.
Can you comprehend it
the quietness in your soul?

It’s not supposed to be easy.

I wonder if I’m useful to anybody. My “artistry” is but a drop in the salty ocean that is crashing with misery… No, we are not talking about misery, we are talking about something above and below the ocean. Something more tangible, I think. The spark that happens when a sharpened mind meets the proverbial metal.

The technical recruiters should be giving up on me now, now it’s been 11 months into my startup. Why should that makes me feel bad? Shouldn’t they be jealous? Not indifferent I’m sure… It doesn’t matter to me, it shouldn’t matter to me. I’ve learned they want you to pay the same price they are paying for a lesser good than they are getting. “What’s wrong with you?” They seem to be saying, “You are practically a beggar, out of touch with the real world.” Or was it just my insecurities?

I went to the real world, a coffee shop, to work. You see I get to decide how and where and when I get to work. It’s still something I’m getting used to. Like I can start writing at 1:45am because I feel my emotion’s sway and don’t have to worry about traffic and office politics tomorrow, today. So I indulge myself in a most important way. As I was saying, I went to this quiet and out-of-the-way coffee shop. It was not my intention to go to a quiet one for I like, and sometimes need, the hustle-and-bustle of the more urban coffee shops have to offer to get myself into gear. But this one is close and has good online reviews. It’s better than wondering where I should go anyhow.

They do have good coffee. And I saw a different type of people frequenting this place than the ones I’m used to. Instead of college students working on their assignments or tech workers going there for a change of scenery, there were people you’d normally see in a sleepy town: well-dressed older lady with family and older men with the kind of attitude you’d imagine they’d won the lottery. I felt uneasy in my Cuphead video-game T-shirt and faded jeans, on top of a ripped shoulder-bag and a laptop that has stickers on it. But I enjoyed the coffee.

I feel out of step with the world only in a narrow sense. The journey of finding myself again is a necessary one and it has led me to surprising realizations. I’m crying more often these days because of the pressure and the release. It gets easier to keep fear at bay, though it still has its use, so it has its place. But something else is surprising, or perhaps not surprising: it takes a lot to really do what you really think is worth your time. As a result, suffering has become a familiar visitor ever since it has stopped being just a pain but revealed itself as an opportunity.

Living your life not according to social norms means suffering to a degree. The doubts pierce your heart and every step is a leap of faith. But you know what, I have lived a stable life with the usual things and found it lacking. Doing startup or anything at all requires grits. And using those grits, testing them, tasting the bitterness is its own reward.

The key is to see the colors behind the dark and gray. Just because you are happy does not mean life is going well and vice versa. It does not matter what kinda plate you have been served, there’s always a meaning if you are looking for something, and there’s always something. But if you are holding onto something too much, measuring the life you are living with something that only lives in your fantasies you are missing the point.

Life was never supposed to be easy. Even when we are chasing after an easy life, it’s not the goal we are chasing, it’s the journey. Our ingenuity and our spirit can only truly shine when we are in motion, making contact with all the wrong things in all the wrong places. Can you feel that? When you are only squeezing by, do you feel more alive? We are chasing the wrong things. Leisure and excess, they are what kills, not struggles and hurt. Live for it, accept it into your life, carry on with it, be worthy of it all.

Not complete.

I wonder if we have another life
when we go to sleep.
Don’t always remember the dream but,
it must be something epic.

Waking up exhausted
have to reorient myself.
Feeling bewildered
have to relearn how to talk.

A different world from yesterday,
yet one and the same.
Have I changed so much?
A night, a galaxy away.

Hello, oxygen!
Wonder where have you been?
I must’ve been kept in a vacuum,
it muffled and grayed.

When the sun is down
and the shapes are blurred,
I invite you to hear the song
in the background all along.

It carries the day away
into a kneaded history,
where all the thoughts are relaxed
and senses run free.

The possibility of living.

I laid there on the bed listening to the sound of wind brushing the tree leaves. Without glasses on, I looked out to the green and yellow and white, looked like a Manet. I found peace a moment at a time. I wish I can paint, to translate what I feel to something just as hard to define. It passes the time.

Lots of things on my mind. Yet could not find the individual time to fit them into the proper slots. But something is coming up my throat, upon an unknown trigger it makes a gurgle sound somewhere deep and I feel it. I have an idea of what that trigger is, but it does not always work. I play some cello, follow the linear notes as close as I can. Sometimes the sound comes close to what I expect, yet I double-check with this App on my iPhone. I hate this habit, but I want to sound right. I don’t have the gift of accurately gauging the sound, or play by ear. Sometimes I can, most of the times I can’t. Those are the good days, when for one reason of another my body and my senses are my own. I treasure those times. I live for those times.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about living, or a way to live. Something cut my finger, I bleed, and I deal with the consequences, is this living? Just dealing with consequences? Or if you don’t have the music-sheet and you don’t know what to play, but life gives you a cello and teaches you the way, and you play just because. Is that living?

We all are signed up for a package deal with either no accompanying fine-prints, or lacking the faculty to read it. Still, still we are here somehow. I think it might be all about love. I’m tired so let’s just say it’s about love. Because I’ve lived without it for the past decade, and it felt like a blur with no highlights. I lived by loathing my awkward non-belongness. Funny it can be such a hipster thing to do these days. It tells me that I’m not the only one. Our hearts are not broken beyond repair, but rather exposed to the elements. There used to be faith and tradition, if not all humane, at least something to cuddle with. But now, now we are on our own. We are free to live, to send away our hearts with no return address.

Find something to belong. I can feel it in my heart, it’s aching for something within or without. It’s bothering me. It tells me to look, to see. But am I ready? Can anyone truly be ready? I find peace wherever I can find it. I see it in your eyes that you are on the same journey. Keep your head high now. I have seen God. It tells you more as you are ready for it. Don’t be afraid of offending it. You can not. Finding it and keeping it is the task.

Keeping it is the task. It is hard. It is but a feeling, a feeling that life is designed to interrupt. You can not get back to it whenever you wish. Even though when you have it, you can’t imagine living without it. Your heart is full, then it wanes again. Not enough, passed its peak, looking for more. What is the condition for one’s love? Can you be still and keep it, or will it be tired of you first?

I have seen animals who are starving to death but still with this pride in their eyes. Like they know something that I don’t. Like they are living above these concepts of self-pity and pointless dreams because they live it every single minute. What can I do? Am I ready? How should I live?

Hush now, it’s coming.