Weekend 3 – So Many Books, So Little Time & Other Lamentations.

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this inconsistent selection of books.

There it is again – that sinking feeling catching me off guard, telling me that I’ll never be able to live the kind of life that I want to. Why must I be so greedy about everything?? It’s honestly a little (okay, very much) heartbreaking when I think about all the books that I want to read that I can’t, all the films that I want to watch that I won’t, all the places I want to be, but am not.

And I swear I have been trying to find peace with myself by living day by day, absorbing whatever happiness there is in a moment. Even just last week, I was doing just fine, feeling grateful for the little things that can define my life… But I’ve grown afraid so quickly that I’ll never achieve anything that I want to, and I feel so utterly petty that I am falling into old habits of defining the goodness of my life by labels and… just UGH.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

The days when I’m reminded of Sylvia Plath’s beautiful but cutting words are just so hard. I hate being able to relate to her words so perfectly and having my greatest fears committed on ink by someone else; even if it does give me a conflicted sense of solace to know that I am not the only one:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

What to do with this mess of a life…?

And you would laugh, but I really did fall into spiralling despair after I once again bought a load of books that I won’t read for quite some time. It was also worrying me that I still have this stubborn affinity towards children’s books and YA – it’s almost like a refusal to grow up that I can’t stomach… But what about the fact that real growth means being able to accept that such definitive lines do not exist in separating stories, whatever form they take – literature, picture books, fairy tales, etc.? I am so conflicted – why must life hurl lemons at me at every step?? UGHHH

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Weekend 1 – Emily Dickinson and Rainy Days

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It has been a rainy January weekend. The weather has been so very strange this year in Toronto and though I’m not complaining about the lack of snow or blistering cold, it has been a bit disconcerting.

I woke up this Sunday morning to the pitter patter of rain (so lovely) and it felt more like an autumn day than the middle of winter. And no matter the season, what better way to spend rainy days indoors than with a hot cup of tea and books?

Admittedly, after just a little bit of reading I got distracted and watched a movie called About Time. So good. So so so good. It was beautiful and tender but not cheesy (how the heck did they pull that off?!)

I do believe my year is off to a spanking good start. I am on my third book, The Cuckoo’s Calling and got to 3/50 for my film quota just on my first week of 2016. I think it’s going to be a good year!

Recalling the Things We Buried

Steve Davidson on flickr

Occasionally, untainted relics of our human history resurface – out of place, out of time, and onto the absurd canvas of our present. It’s thrilling when it does – this opportunity to find pieces of our distant selves in unlikely places. But the momentary fascination soon gives way to mixed layers of undefinable emotions that weighs on me, even long after the moment has passed. Why?

When I was a student on an exchange trip to Hong Kong a few years back, I heard news through a friend that a busy district in Wan Chai had been cordoned off because of a bomb threat. An aerial bomb dating back to the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during WWII had been found at a construction site. It was speculated to be unstable, and to allow safe detonation and removal, they closed off the entire section of a bustling community hub. The conventional flow of time stopped that day in this place. That’s hard to imagine in a place such as Hong Kong where the busy commotion of big city life is just as natural as the colors you see.

My first thoughts were of course one of curiosity and wonder, along with the natural melancholy I feel when remembering stories of the wars. But my reactions soon morphed into utter and complete stupefaction at the thought that people had buried and built their lives over a bomb… How they could have possibly built over it, walked over it, lived over it, forgot about it. I mean, it was – is – a bomb; something that failed in its mission to massacre, burn, and destroy.

It weighs on my mind, this story.

In our mad rush to start building a new life after all the pain, it seems we’ve never really paused before building our concrete temples. These condos, offices, towers… they were symbols of recovery, then success, luxury, and the wealth of nations in many ways. But they get higher and higher each year, and look uglier against our skies – like greedy fingers reaching out to grope the only pure stretch of blue that I can see.

… As if we’re really attempting to claim something so infinite as our own; as if we’re fools enough to believe that this is what we suffered for. It feels like some sort of a violation to the natural order of things, what we do to our world… Yet it goes on and on, we build and build, over ruins, over fresh wounds, and even over bombs. There is nothing that stops us – we have an amazingly tenacious inclination as a species to forget about important things. Dangerous things.

I’m remembering the words of Nikolai Gogol as I write that. Isn’t it so very true that

We have the marvelous gift of making everything insignificant.

Yet,

The things we bulldoze over in living our day to day lives are as ready as ever to detonate, and bring all our symbolic achievements to an end. Really though, if it’s merely our successes it destroys, life would still be bearable, I imagine. But it is the end that it brings, isn’t it? Our fragile, too short lives, coming to an end. It’s frightening.

Life rushes forward, and all these things that happened before our time become artefacts tossed carelessly wayside, buried deep. Until by some unlikely event they stand blocking our paths, ready to burn and cause casualties, sever limbs, lives, time, we trample over them unknowingly (or perhaps even by self-inflicted ignorance which is even more disheartening).

Maybe when they finally do resurface, the sheer strangeness of it will pause our busy lives for a moment. Then just as ever, we’ll return back to the normal humdrum of things, forgetting once more, building over it once more. The most delicate of us will shuffle between left foot and right, not quite knowing which reality is which, continuing to ask what it all means to have history become the present and have old wounds reopen and remain uncared for…

But as always, they too will move forward, because everyone does. We all move on, because in the end, it’s another day whether you’ve remembered, another day whether you’ve forgot.

How marvellously insignificant – these days of our lives.