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My Manifesto: Be vulnerable.

I sometimes stare at the blank page, and think of writing as wringing the mind and spilling its contents on the paper; or more accurately (as I find my handwriting atrocious), letting it flow through my fingers, and onto the keys of my old MacBook Pro. I allow them to leak, word by word, like droplets from a loosely shut valve.

I discovered, while fully immersed in this process, that the blank page is not really on the screen before me; not a canvass that I hack with a paint-loaded brush or a cup where I let the pulp and juice from an orange ooze into. No, the screen is not where the blank page lies.

The blank page is a space so empty, that neither light nor darkness exists in it, but where both can be brought into very easily when willed. It is a space where everything is welcome; colours, music, emotions, words. It is a sanctum where my world is conceived, and its address is in my head.

Whenever I write, there is a strange phenomenon that occurs in my consciousness. It doesn’t quite say the words, or show it, as these are merely the symptoms of what is going on in my brain. It feels more like carving, where the chiselled scar is the thought, shaping itself the more I tap into it and becoming its own realised copy of what is otherwise an obscure and formless breath of air. It rings in my head like electricity running wild in a vast network of copper, messages sent from nowhere, glorious bolts of lightning in the sky. This is a phenomenon that I have become so obsessed with exploring, experiencing, and mastering — and this is why I have decided to become a Writer.

Yesterday, I think it was, or whatever day that is now, I wrote an odd piece. I printed it, folded it twice, not knowing what to do with it, and is now laid out in front of me, finally discovering its purpose as I share it here:

“There’s something about my fear of being vulnerable that makes me question if I’m really cut out to be human. I just don’t want to do it, you know. Show my face in public when I have a big cystic acne on my face. Talk to people in the morning. Talk to people. Share my thoughts on social media. Co-exist with another living and breathing judgment-capable being. I just can’t anymore with human interaction, and yet my depravity of it is the cause of my misery, the same misery that makes me so afraid to live my life. So whatever I choose to do now, either way, I am well and truly fucked.

But the thing is, whether I’m cut out for it or not, I am human. And the many things I rationalise, wrestle with, and hate about myself, are precisely the things that make me a human being. So there is no reason to fight it or to run away from it. I don’t even need to accept it if I don’t feel like it. Because in the end, being human is only built around two options: to live, or to die. And if you haven’t already learned by now, I don’t care to share which one I choose.”

Now I don’t know whether it’s my profound and chronic lack of sleep or the fact that I wrote this in the morning, at work, being miserable in a career that I spent six years mindlessly slogging away to please other people and to earn a decent living. But this piece of paper is a sad piece of work, and yet it struck me so hard to realise that it is mine. I am this self-loathing person. This lonely, anxious, and angry person. So I share this work now despite its flaws, its raw and contradicting persona, and its intended incompleteness; because it is honest, and I need to start telling the truth more often.

It is true that I am anxious about sharing my own thoughts. It is true that this is making me stressed and depressed and be filled with existential dread. What is not true is the lack of reason to fight it. Because yielding to depravity, and misery, and self-deprecation, builds the case to choose the second option.

I choose to live, and I do care to share what I think. I choose to live in the company of people who believes in me, to spend my days reading great works of art, and to sit in a room with a keyboard and a pot of tea, writing fiercely. And I will share what I think, but only if my thoughts are honest, and mine. These are the only two premises I will allow my writing to build itself upon.

Be gone with you, wretched witch of criticism. Burn in hell you falsely-comforting blanket of depression. Fuck you, sleepless nights spent in the company of my fear of being vulnerable. I laugh maniacally as my fingers dig into the keys, and I cast away all my demons. You will not stop me from living the way I intend to, for alas, I have gone mad! I am free from you at last!

In their wake, I call upon my new and magnificent imaginary friends, born out of my love of their amazing work. Seneca, Albert Camus, George Orwell, Ludwig Wittgenstein you beautiful genius, Noriko Ogiwara, Haruki Murakami, Lois Lowry, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Anne Dillard, Elizabeth Gilbert, Robert Greene, Ryan Holiday, James Clear, Viktor E. Frankl, and to countless others that drink my tea and save me from the perils of my former friends. In my mind, you whisper to me, your voices kind and mellifluous, words you have written which give my life meaning. I thank you for sharing your lives, and with gratitude, I now share mine.

Although my private portfolio is merely a bunch of journal entries, uneven short stories, and unfinished novels, I will fix them, and finish them, and share them on this page, along with my poems which wouldn’t mind their company. Whether or not they are read or appreciated, they will learn to sit in this place, and I will make a home for them here.

I shy away from calling myself a Writer because I feel society expects so much from that title. But having written things over the years, and held them close to my chest, or tossed them into the garbage can, I have learned that being a writer is not about being published, it is not even about sharing. At least for me, it is merely about the act of writing, and doing it over, and over, and over again.

So why share them now? Why bother going through the gut-wrenching act of writing a manifesto, and flinging myself so boldly into the doorstep of other people’s free time? Well, I love writing. And whether I’m good at it or not doesn’t matter to me now, that stuff will sort itself out the more I do it. I love writing. And I believe that when you love something so purely and wholeheartedly, you must share it. Because the ultimate purpose of love is to be shared.

I am terrified. That is still true. But this fear in me has taken on a new form, a faint innocent cry, like the wailing of a newborn child jolted by the sensation of breathing for the first time. My skin is crawling, my insides are turning, and I feel like being sick at the thought of posting this online. Maybe I will throw up after I send this out into the world, but I know it will feel like purging the poison in my system, from a long night of drinking and wanting to be numb.

So here it is, world. Here I am. Do with my love as you please. Take it, hate it, pass it on, or give some of your love back in exchange. I am vulnerable at your feet.

Acid Dreams

Sometimes it’s about being left behind, by a bus that leaves for a field trip, or by the only plane that can take you home.

Sometimes it’s a crowd in a football stadium, frowning and pointing at you as you stand naked on the field.

Sometimes it’s about an accident, driving blindly in the dark, and running over a woman crossing the street.

Sometimes it’s everybody recognizing your face, knowing you’re the person who ran over the war hero, and mother of six.

Sometimes it’s a family reunion, relatives asking if you’re proud of yourself, eyes filling every inch of your vision.

Sometimes it’s the immortal woman in red, chasing you with a sinister smile and a long knife in her hand.

Sometimes it’s just yourself, floating in a cold and empty ocean. Screaming with no voice, breathing with no air.

You wake up at the ungodly hour, your stomach churning, your mind returning. It’s just another night. What a sad thing to get used to.

You try to go back to sleep, but you shuffle until the night is gone, and you wonder when you will ever feel safe again in the arms of a sweet surrender.

Our Destinations

We walked into the forest,
and talked about how different it was,
compared to the jungle of city lights.

The woods, the path, and song of birds,
are unlike winding jammed up roads.
We move from dwellings to packs we load,
supposedly to find the nature of our own.

We follow the strides of our consistent feet,
with aches we decided was taking a toll.
But since there was no route to begin with,
we discover the quest has an infinite string.

I wish that the compass would point back to home,
but even the maps don’t know which way to go.
We stumble on a clearing, and there we laid,
and think that maybe we’re finally saved.

Travel was no longer the movement we made,
our feet relieved from their daily pain.
But now the hands must continue the work,
for the journey is no longer on the road.

Forward was suddenly moving upward,
and walking turned to piling up stones.
We talked again about how different it was,
compared to the forest, and nature’s choir.

The packs, the compass, and maps we own,
now hang on the hooks of the walls we loan.
Soon the names we make from our branch,
will pick up these tools and kiss us goodbye.

And on that day we’ll talk again,
hold each other’s hands,
as the arrow points to the ground.

Shelter

I wonder why anyone
would ever want to leave,

this encasement for
the fragile system of beats.

The sheets wrap
around the tenuous winds,

a veil that hangs
to hold the smokescreen.

Hush now, and listen,
they are always on the prowl.

They step imperceptibly,
to pounce unannounced.

Soon the pieces
will find their fit.

Until then I pray,
for the hands to let me stay.

 

 

Unkindled

For all I know, you could be waiting for me, to make the first move, and meet you at the scene. To sit, exchange wit, and sip wine in between bouts of laughter. My hand wanders from the fork to your fingers, and put you under the scrutiny of my gaze. I love the way you pull away and cross your arms. And I love the way you surrender them when I ask you to give them back. My skin, my lips, my surplus of things, they await your call at the end of the receiver. But after all this time, you still haven’t said it, and the words I dream, unspoken in my head. Locked away in wild imaginings, my desire, a spark thrown in wet kindlings. Unable to catch fire, the light is but a flash, momentary and swiftly gone. A photograph kept in a box of made up histories, and not for long, it too will be forgotten, along with all the memories of what could have been.


In search of ground

I was there.
And fell again.
A broken floor caved in and I sunk into the dark.
Like a switch that clicked, the light has gone.
That’s how it is when you haven’t hit the bottom,
living every day in anticipation of the fall.
Always in fear of not knowing how deep the next one is going to be,
and how much the impact is going to hurt,
when you fall into nothing more than just another platform.



Lifeless Eyes

Sarah jumps out from a bus and dug her hands into her pockets. A taxi driver palmed the horn as she kept her pace at the pedestrian on a red signal, her tousled hair swayed with the wires of her earphones blasting the latest album of Paramore. She walked around a man who stood on her way to discuss a charity organization, and ran over the hand of a woman taking a selfie on the sidewalk. She turned into an alleyway, tapped her wallet on a black sensor, and pushed a heavy fire door until it slammed on the back wall. Within minutes, she was in and out of the female changing room, now dressed in a corporate uniform with her nameplate fixed on her lapel. As another door closed behind her and the linoleum floors turned into marble, a curve slowly took shape in her lips, and with a gentle voice, she greets a lady on the other end of the reception desk. A few taps on the keyboard and an exchange of credit cards and keycards, the lady thanks her politely then walks away as the next person in the queue comes forward. Sarah’s mouth and hands moved with purpose, but her eyes stared at each person as if they were no different than the figures on the screen. It was the same eyes that looked passed the people on the street. Eyes that pointed on the floor. Eyes that once frequent the night sky to see the stars.