Still

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My bones are aching. All this movement, all this change, it weighs upon them heavily. I ponder as to whether I have ever been still in my whole life. If there has ever been a moment in which I have not been running desperately to the next. I can think of only a few; like the first Indian sunset I ever witnessed. So bold, so vibrant, so incredibly intense. It took my breath away. The journey to get there had been long and arduous, yet in that moment, everything suddenly just stood still, as if suspended, and for once, so did I.

How fleeting a moment it had been though. The sun rapidly slunk into the sea, taking with it the magenta sky, robbing me of its warmth and beauty. I grew weary of standing, looking out to the horizon expectantly, as if the show might return for an encore. Resigned, I turned to leave the sandy patch I’d been inhabiting to return to the chaos of the outside world. With all its noise and distractions. The vibrant pink hues that had once painted the sky a watercolour masterpiece, were rendered into a memory that I’d later come to dig out upon occasion, when feeling called to do so. Like a postcard sent to myself, taking so long to arrive, it becomes a surprise to receive.

Now I sit with stacks of books and a mind filled with ideas that get half-started, before they implode and new ones takes their place. I am full. Heavy. Under pressure. Yet only from myself. I reread words from times long passed, remembering the details of the occurrences they reference and pine to relive them, even though I am aware that I did not embrace them whilst I was in them. I am reminded that I do this quite a lot. Never committing to the moment I am in. Always grasping for the next, as though I am a child dissatisfied with the meal I have been served. The gift I have been given.

When did this begin, this ticking clock, loudly counting down the minutes until it’s done. This life. This great expectation. This heavy burden I feel weighs upon me. It whispers to me whilst I sleep, ‘make something good.’ I fear that in the force of trying to do so, I have in fact made nothing at all. The constant strain putting pressure on my every action, until I am so tightly bound I become immovable. I stagnate. I cease to do anything at all. Each moment becoming increasingly worrisome and drained of its joy, as though simply living is a job I care not to attend.

This existence is a series of moments amalgamating into something, the meaning of which I am still uncertain. I cogitate on whether, when I reach my last moment, I will be morose and regretful of how I drifted through the hundreds of others that came before it. Why it was that sunsets, love making and death were amongst the only things that seemed to stop time. Making the moment both long and meaningful, with all the others that made up the period before and after feel almost pointless by comparison. Why does my brain only wish to appreciate so few moments amongst a sea of so many.

This cognitive cherry picking creating a loaded emphasis on always seeking out the meaningful. Every moment, however fleeting, becomes imbued with the intent to find depth and purpose, a lack of which resulting in extreme melancholia. I disintegrate under the weight of a burden I place upon myself. I am the eight of swords. I am the bind and the release. I am the witness to my own foreclosure. Time seeps through my fingertips as though it were grains of sand. I think of my Indian sunset. I would paint every day magenta if it would hold me captive enough to stay still.

He and I

He said we’d be a burning house or a great victory and I was inclined to agree with him. We were tempestuous, he and I. Our passion often burnt more wildly than our rationale ever did. But the love was there, of that we never doubted. In fact, it was he who taught me what it truly was to love. He showed me how to be fearless in the face of it. And yet, in the end, it was he who came to fear it most of all.

We dreamt of a life together. A cosy cottage, nestled in the countryside, with wild flowers blooming in every nook and cranny. Imagined our children, talked of how we would teach them about the world. Sometimes we’d bicker over the details. Fight over locations and names. It seems on some things, we could never agree.

He worried about what he would do out there, in the wilderness. Would he write books that no one would read. Would he grow restless. Would he grow bored. Of me. Of the life that we’d created. He said dreams were better kept as they are, safe inside the mind. Dreams were better dreamt.

I disagreed.

So what if we hated it. If after months of love and passion, we grew cold. We grew to feel trapped. Our romantic comedy turning into a bitter tragedy that we both wanted to turn off. If we burnt the house to the ground and tangled ourselves in divorce proceedings. Our children lost in the limbo of a great dream that came undone. If it all turned to rubble…but we chose to do it anyway.

I didn’t want to live in the safe space. Dipping toes in the shallowness of the unfulfilled potential. I hated how we’d spend all day going over the details, only to tuck it all neatly into a box at night and place it upon a shelf, so as to keep it clean. Undamaged from the possibilities that might occur if we ever actually tried. Our children forever content in their unborn state. The flowers always magnificently cascading along the garden’s parameters, untouched by winter’s hardships. And us, endlessly happy in the house we never came to inhabit outside the confines of our mind.

I wanted to rip the damn shelf off the wall. Kick open the box and dive right in. I didn’t care if it all fell apart some time from now. If one day we came to be strangers with nothing but fragmented memories between us. Because we would have done it. We would have seen it through. Felt it, really felt what it was to bring something to life. To have been truly alive and with each other, even if it was just for a time. A precious and precarious moment, shared between two people who were more afraid to see dreams be wasted left as dreams, than all of reality’s complications.

We could have been a burning house or a great victory, he and I, but in the end, we were nothing but an idea left to stagnate. Yet, in the depths of his fear, he taught me what it was to be fearless and what it was to love when you’re afraid.

Valentine's

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Hearts don’t break evenly. They never do. You can fight hard, you can fight fair, but when it ends, the discarded pieces fall just the same. Scattered and messily. You get hurt, you get angry and you look for someone to blame. You demonise the other person, hate them for a time, but in the end, it’s yourself you hate, because you knew from the start, the very first moment of interaction, that they were who they were, weak and full of poor intention, yet you let yourself love them all the same.

And so, when the love is over and the battle of right and wrong begins to wage, you know it’s solely yourself you have to fight, for all the hurt that fell between you. You caroused into that room with eyes wide open, heard the self-deluded talk, witnessed the audacious vanity, could sense the inauthenticity that rippled like a heatwave in the middle of summer. You listened as they threw their own allies under the bus with such flagrant disregard only a narcissist could be so bold to do.

The indecision, the lack of commitment, the shallow and incredulous lack of empathy, stemming from an individual so self-absorbed it almost beggared belief. You thought it ridiculous that someone could take something as powerful and sacred as meditation and rather than use it breakdown their ego, had in fact actually used it to inflate theirs beyond measure. And worse still, was so capable in the art of story telling, they’d actually convinced others of the lies they sold so well to themselves.

You knew some had seen through the cracks though, they’d told you so themselves, but for most it seemed as though they could do no wrong. The facade was too engrained, the story ran deeper than they ever did. You saw firsthand the split personality, the showman in action. How they turned from charming to manipulative at the flick of a switch. The way they’d be loving then cold, depending on what they wanted to gain. Sometimes it was power, sometimes it was compliance. Their mean streak knew no bounds.

And when you left, you made the right decision, but your heart still clung like meat on a hook, waiting, waiting, just in case you’d been wrong. You always see the best in people and for all you knew of them, you still imagined there was some good, some hope, some opportunity to grow. But they didn’t did they. In the time that passed, they showed you further evidence to their lack of morality and care. How all their good deeds on paper were fuelled by self-centred intention underneath.

And it infuriated you didn’t it, the way in which the world just went on. How everyone believed the lies. The outside world looking upon that perfectly curated surface, with the idyllic pictures and the made up lines that read like poetry. How people ate into their hands just as they knew they would. How wise, how kind, how talented. How they abstain, their self-control is astonishing. And so you’re sure it goes on and on with the gushing words of praise which eat away at you because you know the truth.

You regret encouraging them. You regret the praise you bestowed. You rue the day you handed them the support they didn’t deserve. You wish you could take back every moment that you helped them, after they threw your kindness gracelessly to the floor, in favour of everyone else’s. You do that though, don’t you. You champion the people that you care about. Help support them in building their empires. You do it because you care, because you believe in them. Sometimes you just don’t choose your causes well.

Well, you paid the price for your freedom, but staying would have ultimately cost you more. And whilst you know that the story of your ending will have been told differently by them and their creative tongue, you know the truth and so do they. You know they didn’t really love you, because they’re not capable. Sure, they fell in love with you, with the idea of you or the possibilities that you represented, but they don’t know real love. You doubt they ever have or indeed ever will.

Because you know that real love is unconditional. It’s the acceptance of a person’s totality. The good, the bad and the so god damn ugly you wish it would just die already. You know it requires patience, with yourself and with the other person and in part, a little self-sacrifice, because when you truly love someone, it stops being just about you. Your autonomy gets left behind in favour of a higher purpose; divine union. You have to leave selfishness at the door and when you love someone, truly, you find that you want to.

Sure, you acknowledge that maybe romcoms and the like are guilty of giving people a fictitious understanding of love. The idea that when you meet the right person everything just slots neatly into place. That you’re suddenly magically happy and complete. But you know that’s bullshit, because love, real love, is the kind that often feels uncomfortable. It presses your buttons and forces you into tight spots in order to make you grow. It’s prickly and precarious and requires a finite balance, which only comes from hard work.

You know that you can still be incomplete and miserable and be loved and you sure as hell know that you can’t be defined by another person’s affection for you. But that doesn’t stop you wanting love, even if you know you don’t need it. You recognise that it’s inherently human to seek connection. It’s par for the course. So when it sweeps into your life, like a fallen leaf drifting into a yard in the late Autumn breeze, you embrace it and when it gets tough, you do the work and you fight for it.

You just gotta learn to stop fighting for the wrong ones. And that’s who you’re ultimately mad at, yourself. Not them and all their self-centred behaviour and the hurt that they invoked in the process of getting what they wanted. It’s you, because you knew who they were when you met them and you loved them all the same. You chose to show up, day in, day out, with unconditional love and did the work, for the both of you, even when you were angry and sad and anxiously falling apart.

You admit to the days you failed yourself, the days you clung when you should have let go. The promises you made to change, to learn, to release old patterns and behaviours, that you sadly broke. How you said you wanted to love in a way that felt free, but became so insecure you suffocated instead. You know your faults and you’re always the first to put your hands up and admit to them, because you’re committed to doing better, to getting it right, to finding your balance.

And you know one day, with the right person you will. So you take your hurt and your anger and learn to accept that, just as you were able to love them with all their flaws and faults, so too will other people. You know it’ll take time before you release them and in turn, yourself. You know this person, this moment, will soon be forgotten about and you’ll stop caring whether the world knows the truth or not. You know because you’ve been here before and each time you learn a little more about yourself, even when the other person fails to.