Scribblings

Tread light

Tread light on our Earth
Six billion footsteps at once
Make a violent sound

Celestia

Gazing at the stars
Earthly woes crumble to dust
— a sweet, fearful awe.

Forgetting.

In my skull’s bleak depths

Memories cling like leeches

One by one, I peel

The Witching Hour

As the night thickens
My thoughts come heavy as mud
I wade for morning

Sixteen.

The shape of my future will be wide and brilliant

I will sail a boat into the blazing sunset

I’ll knock coconuts from the tops of tropical trees

There will be a possibility with my name on it

I’ll find that secret place where trains sleep

and run like a madman along the tracks

follow all the lost balloons into space

I’ll fall in love

and break his heart

There’ll be no redemption for such acts of extravagance

No ponderable punishment for such deeds

I’ll be a connoisseur, a cognizant, a conspirator, conjurer and the closing act

This I’ll do

tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow and tomorrow upon tomorrow upon tomorrow

until my days run together in one blinding streak of light

until I’m top o’ the world

breathing the stratosphere

toes can’t touch the bottom

I’ll reach up and scratch my name on the sky with a piece of chalk

This I’ll make

the vast and splendid shape of my future

I’ll not grow old.

Upon what base I place my identity…

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Reading: A Chinese Life – Li Kunwu
Listening: Daft Punk – Face to Face (Uppermost Remix)
Watching: Korra Season 3

Playing: To The Moon

After a series of happy days, I had a glum day. I had a glum day for a number of reasons, but the main trigger for my evening funk was probably the discovery that I did not win a writing competition.

I’ve not entered many writing competitions in my life. In fact, this was the only competition I’ve entered this year, and it was only after a friend suggested it to me. But for some reason I had a strange sense of exhilaration about the piece I submitted. I knew it was probably a false hope, but I felt magical and optimistic about my chances nevertheless. I submitted my story to a national medical journal, and expected to hear a good result.

I was surprised by how much it affected me to open that email and read: “…unfortunately, your story was not chosen by our judges as a winner…however, we do want to thank you for sharing your ideas with us and wish you better luck next year…”

I went home and tried to figure out why I was so upset. It wasn’t too hard to figure out. Obviously, I ground a significant part of my identity in the belief that I can write. It’s a lifelong passion of mine, and something that I nurture and keep very close to my heart. I spend time and effort on writing (more so in the past than lately…). And I think of myself as someone who writes. Without writing, a large portion of my self-identity vanishes.

But I realised then that perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this. Yes, writing is an activity that is uniquely personal. It’s one where you rely on your gut and your heart. But need to separate my skill as a writer—and other people’s judgement of that skill—from my sense of self-worth.

That got me musing about what else I derive identity from—and what I should be deriving it from. Most of the things we build ourselves on are impermanent, or unstable. Many of us base our identities on looks, sporting prowess, approval from others/social skills, intellect, or qualifications. Many of us base our identities on a relationship. Some of us base our identities on personal qualities–maybe we see ourselves as charitable, or kind, or assertive, or empathetic.

Almost everything in this world is unpredictable and not entirely under our control. Maybe I just need to be more aware of that, and of the things that I am dependent upon. Because in order to have a fulfilling life, I will need to trust my own skills and trust the relationships I have with other people. I just need to make sure I choose the right things, and the right people, to place my trust in :)

Anywayzzzzz!

I woke up today pretty much feeling fine about not winning the competition, so maybe rejection isn’t so bad after all, heh. I’m not going to win any competitions if I don’t start entering dozens upon dozens of them.

Speaking of writing competitions, I only have one week left of work before I embark on my six months of unemployment and relative poverty!!! It’s come upon me so quickly in the midst of applications and interviews that I’m starting to mildly freak out. People are giving me surprised looks when I tell them I will be essentially unemployed, and generally ask, “But won’t you be bored?!”

Will I? I don’t think I’ll be. When do I get bored? I get bored during reality TV shows; when radio hosts run competitions to win small sums of money; when the conversation is all about work; when I’m waiting in traffic/at the bank/at the doctor’s. But I don’t think I’m someone who gets bored easily. There’s just so much to do, to read, to see, to watch, to eat, to learn!

So tonight I’m drawing up a battle plan for the next few months. So I don’t slip up or procrastinate. This is a once in a lifetime chance, to try out being a full-time writer for six months. Here’s hoping it goes well.

 

Differential Diagnosis: A Meaningful Life?

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What does it mean to live a meaningful life, I muse as I sit at my desk on a sullen Tuesday evening, listening to Seven Lions and shovelling lemon slice into my mouth. It’s a question that has popped into my head from time to time over the years, until I get distracted by more pertinent issues such as licking the icing off my fingers and checking Facebook.

It’s a question that has done a little more popping than usual in recent months, maybe because of the nature of my work. I see a lot of people who feel their lives are meaningless; or, sometimes, we look at them and judge them to have meaningless lives.

I see a lot of people who don’t leave the house. People who find it a challenge and a personal success to go out for a fifteen-minute walk, who struggle to get dressed and take a shower and do their chores. I see others who have no motivation or desire to do anything. They wallow, unwashed, largely unseen by the rest of society, in their bedrooms, playing video games (X-Boxes are particularly popular). They survive on unemployment benefits.

They are not productive members of society. We treat them and we try to improve their “social functioning”, try to improve their connectedness and train them in “job skills” and get them involved with “activities”. We try to gift them with “meaning”.

Is productivity, then, a measure of a meaningful life? If you contribute to society in some way. If you give back to your community, if you make money and pay taxes and fuel the economy, if you have big projects and do things that change the world. Is the cardiothoracic surgeon, then, or the human rights ambassador, living a more meaningful life than the stay-at-home parent or the post-man? What sort of contribution to society should we aspire to?

When I went to church, this was a huge question. What is the meaning of being alive? As teenagers, we talked about it with each other all the time, shiny-eyed and eager to discover our callings and our place in the big wide world. We decided that a meaningful life was simply one where you did what God had called you for. I have no doubt that many people still follow this path today and derive a lot of fulfilment from it.

What about creativity? Creating something, whether it be a work of art, a piece of writing, a design, a recipe, a precedent, a building or road, and leaving it in the world to be a legacy after you are gone. Is that meaningful?

Still others talk about finding meaning in pursuing your own goals and seeking your own happiness. After all, you only get one life, and your life is entirely your own, and no one else’s. Why not seek to put yourself first?

And still others talk about finding meaning in touching other people’s lives. A life cannot be meaningless if you have done something to better another person’s experience, if you have left your fingerprint in someone else’s book. That, they say, is how you will know you have lived a good one.

I’ve run out of lemon slice. Time to get another piece and check Facebook.