Smiles

I was sitting in my usual corner in the café, when I noticed something interesting. A woman was sitting at the table opposite mine, quite unnoticed by me until the person she was waiting for showed up. The door opened, he walked in and she flashed him a brilliant smile that shone in the semi-darkness – pearly white teeth, dimpled cheeks and wrinkles around her welcoming eyes.

I cannot remember the last time I smiled that way, or was even smiled at with such delight. I realize I greet people with curt nods and save my smiles for the moments that are truly deserving. And now those moments have simply passed me by, waiting, hoping and finally surrendering. I have amassed my own smiles, my own unabashed laughter, affection and naiveté. I realize I’ve been trading silly for sullen and smiles for scowls.

I do not remember leaving a trail back to my store of smiles. Maybe I can trade my frowns again. Maybe I shall dance in the rain again. Maybe someday I will smile for no reason and make that my moment to treasure.

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*Preach mode off*

Now, bear with me for an instant as I pore over the dictionary meanings of these words.

Wisdom: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.

Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Judgment: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

Sensible: done or chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit.

Common sense: good sense and sound judgement in practical matters.

Do you see how we’re back to where we started? Are we chasing our own tails?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but to me, it seems like experience is the key to wisdom.

Wait, that’s it? We call people wise simply because they have experienced something we haven’t? Isn’t ‘wise’ supposed to mean someone very knowledgeable and saint-like, with perhaps a faint yet distinguishable aura around their head?

In the past two days, I’ve stumbled upon a happy insight. I realize, more and more people around me have taken to pondering the questions ‘who am I?’ and ‘what do I want?’. I don’t know if this happens around a certain age or whether it’s because the world may soon end, but I am glad we’re getting there.

And then I realized, right in the middle of rattling off my own truth to an existential question posed by someone else, that I had no right to answer that question. I was trying to sound wise, simply because I have had more time to struggle with these questions, I simply had more experience. We all have what I like to call a ‘preach mode’, where we think we know all the answers and want to tell it to the poor baffled soul who hasn’t reached there yet. We think we’re better than others because of our own lived reality.

We’re not. You’re not.

O

It’s a long, lonely afternoon. The sun beats down with all its might and the people wither and wilt. I manage to fold my legs in the swiveling office chair and stare at the heads bent over their laptops.

This is not where I belong.

I begin at the no. It’s a nice, round ‘o’ sound that carries into the silence. I begin here, not at nothing, but at something less than nothing.

Each no I utter shoves me deeper into a stone cold pit. It’s not bad, I quite like it down here. But then those voices begin shouting my name. Then come the search parties, stumbling with flashlights through the dark undergrowth. Worried, concerned voices, searching for me in the wrong places. I remain silent. I let them yell and they get louder each night. The voices, they comfort me. I want to be sought, yet I want to remain lost to the world.

I am lost, even now, to the world that represses, the world that sits in judgment and the world that drowns out perfect harmonies.

And so I run. Wind-whipped hair and a gasp of air, hear the beat, feel the heat, run fast, lose the past, hit the wall, break the fall, take a plunge, fill your lungs, forget what you know and just let go.

Unicorn shadow

Our shadows tangle
into an obscene dance
thousand caresses take flight
in half a second’s glance

I’d mistaken midnight nudity
as penchant for the perverse
but your soul sucked out
the poison in my verse

and my silhouette
bathes in the moonlight
it stands tall and pure,
yet eclipsed by the night

Is this how you see me –
just a unicorn shadow,
a darkened face in
a distant window?

But I’d rather be a silhouette
than a mere reflection
I’d rather be words
than a lilting temptation

Reflect

 

I no longer recognize the person in my own photos. Am I to believe that a certain assortment of pixels on a screen is an exhibit of my face? I can’t spot the blackened lips, freckled nose and the derisive contempt in the left eye – are you sure that’s me? No, stop pointing a camera in my face, I can’t trust those things any more. Or mirrors, for that matter.

Describe me, will you? I want to know how I reflect in your mind’s eye. Am I only partially visible in your spectrum of light? Do you notice if I turn slightly blue, like a gloomy afternoon in the middle of winter? Do you see me dissolve into a conversation and disappear from within the crowd? Do I turn red when you make me blush? Do you ever open your eyes while kissing me and get the feeling that I’m not there? Are my tears transparent? Am I laughing when the corners of my lips turn up and my eyes wrinkle in mirth?

Dilate your pupils and look at me. Look, and then tell me something that is not merely a reflection on the wall or a puckered face on a screen.

A rant about rants and other things

Here’s the funny thing about rants. No one wants to hear them, much less read them on blogs. Rants rarely make sense. They exist purely for our own satisfaction. We rant because we would much rather direct our wrath and scorn at some poor unsuspecting bloke than the ones who caused it. The good thing is, the title of this post makes it clear that this is a rant, so feel free to ignore it. I won’t be mad, I promise.

I have a dash in my bank balance, followed by a three-digit number. That dash represents negative balance. I’ll do the drum roll myself, thanks. The last three months of unemployment have thickened my skin, shriveled my balls (figuratively speaking) and sharpened my pride. But I’m not running for the hills, not yet.

I wrote a short fiction piece and sent it to a few magazines for publication. I am looking forward to being rejected, not because I am a pessimist, but because I know it is not great writing, and I know I can do better.

There are days when self-doubt creeps in and I forget what I am doing this for, I wonder if there is even a purpose. I am tempted to succumb and take up a measly job doing something I hate just so I can enjoy a fat pay check that allows me to eat fancy food, drink alcohol every weekend and travel as an excuse to find myself. However, on most days, this experience exhilarates me because every moment has only made me stronger. I thought I had wasted the whole year sinking into some private hellhole of depression, but I have learnt to love fierce and dream bigger.

The point of this particular rant, ladies and gentleman, is this – I don’t think I’ve hit rock bottom yet. I am not done sinking, but I think I’ll survive. And here’s a comforting thought to leave you with – after rock bottom, the only way out is up.

Queens of Instagram

Instagram is depressing me.

I overheard a couple at a café the other day. The girl wanted to travel the world and take pictures everywhere. So the man painted her a beautiful picture of all the trips they would take together. In the end, he promised, “Baby, I will make you the queen of Instagram if that’s what you want.” Now, isn’t that just lovely?

Instagram is now the countryside home with a white picket fence, the Everest for the aesthetics and an unsolicited portfolio of kids and booty.

I get it, people. You want to strut your stuff and share tidbits of your fascinating lives with the world. Just… don’t share every minute of it. Save some of the most important moments for you and you alone.

I was moved to tears today, listening to Maxim Vengerov performing Sibelius. I was lost in the music and I shut the world out. Such moments come rarely to me and they mean a lot, because they remind me that I can feel. This is the link if anyone wants to check it out.