we danced down
the church aisle.
splendor white gown,
sweeping like the nile.
the pastor’s words of love
‘s glorious power guiding us forth.
our hands nestled,
dupattas bound and conspire.
phere by phere,
two souls entwined in one.
and from my hopeful slumber
as your first day at work
begins with the west-bound whir.
inspired by this song, the royal wedding, carey mulligan’s dress and the ceaselessness of faith, hope and love.
I never thought I’d be in the position to write a piece titled as such again but 2 years on, here I am again. It’s been quite the journey finding myself back to this stage again. Many times, particularly in the last 30 days I thought I’d just let myself slip… collapse and relapse all over again. Warring with these demons for what seems like an eternity has sapped me of energy time and again. I must profess to have wanting to just give up and give in to being with the demons that craved me. Wasn’t it better to seek authenticity than to be someone you are not? At some point in time I think I realised, through the help of my personal trusty The Goldfinch quote,
“Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. But you—wrapped up in judgment, always regretting the past, cursing yourself, blaming yourself, asking ‘what if,’ ‘what if.’ ‘Life is cruel.’ ‘I wish I had died instead of.’ Well—think about this. What if all your actions and choices, good or bad, make no difference to God? What if the pattern is pre-set? No no—hang on—this is a question worth struggling with. What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can’t get there any other way?”
that maybe, just maybe, my asking that question was an act of those very demons trying to reel me in. Granted there exist philosophical questions regarding the subjectivity of morality and what not but that’s beside the point. Deep down, I just knew that who I sought to be was in fact the most authentic version of me that there could ever be. Maybe a version that I might never reach, but a version that I should nonetheless never stop striving for. Maybe for me there really was no other way of getting to good without going through those mistakes. The only real crime would be to not even have tried.
I suppose I derive my “make the ones above, ones around, myself and God proud” statement from Matthew McConaughey’s Oscars speech though I’d like to claim credit to it since I formulated that a little before he won for Dallas Buyers Club. Someone to look Up to, someone to look forward to and someone to chase – three essential ingredients. I’ve some work to do on his momma’s advice of respecting myself but I’m working on it ya, Matthew? to that I say Amen, to that I say alright, alright, alright – just keep on living huh.
About a year ago while I walked the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, already far more in love with Boston that I thought I’d ever be, I heard JFK speak the last few lines of his Inaugural Address and those words have stuck with me ever since,
“With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. “
Ora et labora, manifesting itself in a different form.
All these moments among many others have led me back to this moment today. Unlike 2016 where I had a 2XU run to go for in the morning, I wake up tomorrow with no adrenaline rush to look forward to. I never planned these 90 days to coincide with anything. Perhaps that’s why I failed so swiftly after, because the only thing that motivated me then was a target, a number. I might yet fail again soon, who knows… but this time feels different. This time it seems that the motivation comes from the very core of my being. Even when I was utterly on the verge of caving, I just knew that the demons were loosing their grasp on me and so were trying everything they could to keep me. It was darkest before dawn.
And then when I least expected it, a smile.
Another morning, a morning, don’t let self get in my way /
I got my breath, I got my faith and I remember why I came.
Got another chance to start again.
it’s about halfway through the year and the past few weeks have been particularly challenging so i think there’s no better time than now to take stock of the year so far and to remind myself of the things that i value going forward.
impatience and time
there’s just so many things going on it’s reached a point where i just want to get things done for the sake of getting them done. no point caring about the value of doing something, just check it out off my todoist list and i’m good to go. i signed up for a todoist premium account last year in a bid to improve my productivity but now its all just empty karma points that i’m accumulating for all the ticks i make. i just get things done and get utterly impatient when something derails my plan to get a task done. and these are things that i know to value but am increasingly seeing as an expense in the “material” world: taking a moment to thank God before leaving the house, a few extra minutes spent when my parents are showing their concern by talking to me about eating well, taking a taxi or sleeping early. these are things that i value. i can’t sacrifice these things for some remote and inconsequential material “gain”. i can’t. people, relationships, gratitude – this is what matters to me, at my core. i can’t let myself forget that. if it means cutting down the number of things i get involved in, adding more buffer time so that quality time is not forced into some stipulated 2hr on my google calendar, having an extra 20 min to wait just so that i can come on time for a meeting, meeting just one person a day so that you are not pulled in multiple directions, then so be it. show the darn respect for the things that you cherish and let the other things slide, they matter not. be patient, be kind, be balanced. stop trying to catch your breath, and just stop.
love and kindness
i just finished reading incredibly loud and extremely close and the events of the recent weeks have made me realize the importance of love and letting people know that you love them, in whatever form that may take. toward the end of the book there’s a few lines that really hit. for brevity i’ll only quote a few here: “we assumed there would be other nights … and how can you say i love you to someone you love? … here is the point of everything i have been trying to tell you, oskar. it’s always necessary.” i think since my time in army, i’ve become that much more unkind and judgmental, always quick to find the right answer no matter what the cost. i forgot what it means to choose kind. and the consequences of that have shown time and time again. but i know how it feels to choose kind. and so i shall strive, going forward, to choose kind. to choose love. no matter how long it takes, how much effort and wrangling with myself and intercepting the bad thoughts before they leave my mouth, i will not stop fighting for that because that’s what i believe in. we’re all just trying to make sense of this life as best we can, with the faith and hope that drives us as humans. if all i can bring to that conversation is a dollop of kindness then that is what i will do. as a friend would once say, “spread love and be love”. i just have to not give up in my search for the way back home.
it’s been close to 75 days since my last collapse. quite a remarkable feat given that i hadn’t expected a policy of containment to work but it has. most of the raison d’etre for the past 10 weeks have come in the form of a God-sent angel in my life who reminded me of what this life has to offer if only i don’t give up. it’s been tough since then, every day and night a struggle to hold on and ward off the evils that try to take my soul from me. but i fight, because that is what i have to do. i know i have to be better for the people around, for the ones Above, for God and for myself. i owe it them. all i ask is that You give me strength to see this through, and to do right by what is true. after all, it is always darkest before dawn and the demons go on an all-out assault when they know they are losing. and boy, lose they certainly shall.
this is for you, irtc. you’ve inspired this weary heart to push a little harder and to fight a little longer and for that i can never thank you enough. the people on the wall that i face have lifted me to where i am today and just when i thought i could go no further, God reminds that i can and that i must. i’m not sure if i can call this love, it probably isn’t and most of all i know this won’t work but i think i’m reaching a stage in life where i can truly say that i’m taking things as it comes. and just learning to let it be. it’s a radical thought, for me at least, but maybe its the only one that has ever mattered. i know not where this road will take me but i’m on my way and i’m glad to have met you just as i thought i could go no further. you’re a golden and gorgeous spirit that deserves nothing less than the best and i hope you’ll be happy wherever you are.
“So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!”
somewhere it keeps coming back to this phrase. rise. i’ve been broken, battered and knocked down many times but i know one thing is for sure. so long as i keep rising, there will always be hope. the clover leaf looked like they wouldn’t make it out of the first round but they did, they’re up 3-0 now and who knows where they can go. c us rise. even if they don’t win, even if i don’t, there’s a lot of pride to be taken in getting this far and doing the best i can. to strive to live a life of use and to strive to be the best version of myself. even if i don’t get there, i’ll be able to look back at it all and smile. just. don’t. ever. stop. trying.
here’s to next 7 months and to whatever it holds. and above all, thank you for everything, God.
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
don’t ask her out. don’t get your hopes up. don’t believe the lie that you now know (through the painfully hard way) to be wholly false. sunsets fade and love does too. i know that you’ll get over it, you’ll find another life to live. i swear that you’ll get over it.
“that determined and anchoring belief that life is hopeful is truly amazing, and something i hope you never lose”
“let it go, okay?”
i remember lying down on an upper bunk in the middle of the “long house” populated by two long rows of beds separated by a narrow aisle. i’m not sure what kind of shower we had that night but all i remember was trying to deal with echoing instructions down to varied levels of success, getting pummeled with Al and Bar by w/o R for failing to do so many things right (he’d agree to let our batch buy canteen food when we returned so i think that kind of made up for it lol), and just hoping for it not to rain over the next 3 days. we’d wake up and assemble along holland road in the morning, ready to board the bus that would take us to start point for navex. but all i could do that night was listen to 7 songs i had saved thanks to my apple music trial (bless up Taylor for bumping our free trials to 3 months) and this was one of them. i think the title held significant meaning then given it was coming on the heels of one of the most bittersweet nights. i think it does hold significant meaning now too. but anyway, i just laid there listening to this song over and over and it gave me a certain kind of calm. no cellular network, no wifi but this track was all i needed that silent night. it put me at ease, and the days that followed turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than i expected. a renewal of faith makes itself apparent in many forms. in any case, i’m glad i didn’t jump the gun and choose the speedboat over eva one year later, i would have really regretted that haha.
“If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? /
If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”
foxes’ voice on this track still has that power… that need to know an answer to a question. also as zedd himself said, this is the song that brought edm to the mainstream but unfortunately now every edm song sounds the same (and not even like this song)… i hope there can be more variety going forward.
a week like the last is a sobering reminder of what really matters in this life: people, love, purpose.
let the rest of the things slide, they won’t matter. the grades, the chase, the worry, the fear. let it go.
do right by her memory, do right by their memory, make the people you love proud. and never stop giving and striving.
we have your back always bro. ora et labora.