The farmer and his morning stillness

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I gave Malaysia a second chance.

This time it was far away from the hustle and bustle of concrete cities. It was far away from the boring eyes of faces contorted into question marks, and the discomfort of jostling crowds. I was not in a hotel room on the 37th floor wishing for the ground to open up and swallow me alive.

This time around there was no darkness. There were no eyes soaked in tears, and no unravelling that left me cradling myself on the dirty carpet. Read More

Kaleidoscope

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Melbourne is steeped in winter at the moment. Her usual elegant lightness is weighed down with cold, her toes wet from the rain and dew. The mist that covers her is refreshing even as it is depressing. You can feel her heartbeat slowing down when you get up in the morning. You want to stay longer snuggled up with your duvets and pillows. She doesn’t seem to mind.

There is something about Melbourne winters. They remind me of the first time I moved here – the strangeness of the days I spent trying to woo her heart, trying so hard to make her fall in love with me. But there is a mysterious magic to falling in love, isn’t there? A mystery because we never quite know when, where or how it will happen. I like when it happens with someone I know. Someone whose heart I have learned and memorised as my own and then one day as I’m sipping hot chocolate with my fingers delicately curled around the mug, I feel everything in me pulling towards the person. It is quiet and strong. The realisation of a love that has been building from day one.

I’m cold every day in winter. My fingers are desperate for autumn and so is my heart. Both always seem so dazed by the cold. As though it doesn’t come every year. I smile watching them because it amuses me and endears them to me. My own being becomes something to encounter, as though discovering it for the very first time. And I swear the nostalgia that fills my heart is like a ball of fire. It should keep me warm all through winter.

And you. I have been thinking of you.

Often when I write I want to say something meaningful to you. I always want to leave words that you can wrap around yourself and know you are loved. And important, and special. I always want to pour my whole being onto the page so when you cradle it between your fingers feeling for its texture you can feel me too. That is the only way I know how to write. I am becoming comfortable in this skin. And I want you to be comfortable with this too. With me. I haven’t said thank you in a long time. The other day I sat down and thought about each one of you behind the names and numbers I see on the computer screen. Real people. And I was grateful that you are here. That you read me.

I remember when I started and I had 3 readers, 2 were my relatives. So know that I am gushing over you. That I pray for you. And that I need you. It is a scary thing to need people you have never met before but if you have been reading me for a while you know I am not afraid of scary things so I will say it as it is: I need you.

Being properly human is a big deal to me. The words and their intent grace the preamble of this blog. I live by those words. They hold together such a simple concept yet it is the hardest thing to put into practice. We can’t hide our humanity. It is something we carry with us no matter where we go. And so all I’m saying is why do we go all out to be the best at everything else but this?

“You don’t find a person being lauded for just being a human. There is no pat on the back for just trying your best to be one”said my best friend the other day. And she is right. But here, in this space, this is what we do. We laud each other for just being human. We pat each other on the back.

I struggle too. Like you, I do.

Right now I am re-drafting my PhD dissertation and it is painful. The stretching of the work is like being pulled to the limits. PhDs are like that. They pull taut every part of you that has feeling. I stand facing my fears about finishing, about writing a good dissertation, about the future after I close all my academic books and this journey ends. I am terrified.

Yet there is something breathtakingly beautiful about seasons where you are on the floor huddling yourself, these seasons of winter…they pass. And we grow from what they leave behind. We rise again. And the next time that season comes around we do it better. This is what it means to be properly human – the always reaching for the stars without forgetting the ones we already hold in our hands. This is a phenomenal skill. But it is crafted quietly and slowly through the way we live our life every day.

This winter is brewing things in me. I feel like a kaleidoscope. Sometimes I have moments of sheer awe with splashes of colour and other moments are filled with absolute terror. But when you undress this whole thing it really is very simple for me: I just want to love human beings. I am a big softie and I am at my best when I am loving someone or something. It is the core of me. And so when I grow up I want to give a love that is amazing.

And maybe when I die someone will say:

Wow. To be loved by her was an extraordinary thing.

 

Dear 33

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Dear 33,

I will start with a need, a need so strong it is pressing against my ribs and the only thing keeping me upright in this moment. I need you to hold me. To hold me so tight it doesn’t matter if I won’t be able to breathe. Reach your hand from the future and grab me. Clasp your fingers with mine. Intertwined and sacred. Trace this moment and outline it, for I cannot make sense of this path. This part of our life is called uncertain.

Remember that childhood knowing that sat so dominantly in the chest? That we were somehow meant for great things? I think I remain unconvinced. The dots should have aligned by now and our empire taking shape. But instead we went walking through deserts, barefoot on the blistering hot sand. We climbed in and out of trenches. This has been no straight path. Nothing at all like the flower garden trails I imagined as a girl. The pictures in my head were crystal clear and full of vibrant colour as I skipped through girlhood and through that long, dry grass that covered miles of space behind the house. My body was 6 years old but my soul was ancient.

33, beloved, I know where I’ve come from, how far and deep that place is, and so forgive me for the doubts now. It’s just that…it’s just that nobody said how hard it would be, how scary it would seem to put one foot in front of the other on a road less travelled. A path everyone secretly and publicly thinks you shouldn’t be taking. Certain roads should only be taken by certain people – this is actually a rule in this world. Nobody will own to it but nobody has to because everybody knows that is the way it is.

I know you think this is a load of crap and that is why I love you. Why I need you. You are a woman with the wind beneath your sails. Your eyes are grown and wise. You see life’s beauty and her sorrow and you find a place for both. You are a celebrator of life, the drumbeat that vibrates at the core of her.

I need your courage and strength more than ever. That little girl skipping in the long, dry grass with an old soul keeps calling out to me. The dreams we had then cemented in ink and yet I feel so far from them now, so far from the sap that energised them and sweetened them.

This is a hard job – expressing what many are afraid to acknowledge as being their very own thoughts, echoing the cries of other people’s hearts, reflecting them back to themselves. Sometimes I want to tell you that we should have picked an easier job but I know we didn’t choose this work. It came imprinted on the heart that beats in the chest. The same heart that beat in our 6 year old self.

And what is more beautiful than words? Words have the power to bind wounds, to nurse the place where it is broken and to heal the things that need to be healed. Words give wings to fly. They pour courage into our hearts and hope into our laps. And when we extend our words into action, they literally save us. What higher power is there?

“In the beginning was it not only the WORD and from the WORD worlds born?”

Clasp your hands with me, dear 33 and remind me of the sacredness of this work. Remind me that the art itself is bigger than my doubts. If you say it I will keep showing up on the page. I will keep showing up to work. Until one day I morph into you, and you into me. I will become you. You who are full of grace and wisdom. And even when you cry and are pierced with sadness, you keep walking. You get what this is all about. It is not about building castles and altars to oneself. It is about service, about faith and about love. Man can never reward you for these beautiful things.

So clasp your hands with mine and walk me though this. I need you so.

 

Yours forever,

32.

Come, rain

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Melbourne winters are cold & wet. the rain arrives at your doorstep, dressed up. whether you are or not. whether you are ready or not. there is a sense of determined purpose about it; about its showing up, appointed to its season; about its feeding the earth with its life-giving nutrients.

It pours & drizzles, floods & ebbs. sometimes it hails & screams & threatens to destroy. these are the times we are reminded how small & vulnerable we are; puny specks on the face of an earth that has the power to swallow us up in a second. nature can overwhelm us with a force that is often times incomprehensible.

But the rain is a blessing too. it comes bearing gifts of freshness & renewal. it feeds the earth in ways you & I would never know to do. we have no clue what the ground we step on needs – we don’t listen to its woes & cries. we are not privy to its pain. the rain is. & it comes to wash away that hurt. it comes to nourish & heal. even in the places we ourselves have hurt.

The earth knows a joy no human syllables can hold in their hands. we have no language for it. we see it on the face of roses that have been kissed by raindrops & in the deep green of tree leaves that have drunk deep from the earth’s bowels.

Stand in your house & watch the rain fall from heaven. sometimes it’s solemn. smells & memories of childhood come flooding in. that smell of the earth soil after the first rains – rich & full-bodied. playing in swamps with no care in the world. long gone sights & sounds of happiness & glee.

Life is an ever expanding canvas. sometimes we can paint with our paintbrushes however we like. & other times, life pushes us aside & masterfully, sometimes even painfully dazzles us with its big brush strokes from one end of the fabric to the other.

Like the rain, there are moments that come washing into our door with packages of blessings & bliss. & there are other moments when everything falls apart at the seams, failing to hold on to each other in that lovers’ embrace.  the safety in what we know threatened by a deluge of fear.

But every day is a day to be washed. to come clean. the rags come off. the deep rooted stuff confronted. the confusion the world hands you on a silver platter returned to sender.

Every day is an opportunity to live as you would live if you would live. there is nothing about it that says safe in the conventional kind of way. but there is a safety in being genuine about your flawed self. it has little to do with how amazing you or your life looks on instagram. it is everything to do with the person you are when no-one is looking in on you; the person you are in the darkness when the lights turn off & the crowd have all gone home.

It is everything to do with integrity – something we can learn a thing or two about from the rain.

in its showing up there is no feigning importance or glory. there is no fakeness. it shows up not to be seen but to do a job. to water the earth & replenish us all. we witness its might once in a while but season after season, its quietness in fulfilling its purpose is almost overlooked. sometimes it’s even a pest as we angrily open our umbrellas cursing it to the death. it’s unpredictability casting a shadow over our Sunday brunch & picnics in the park.

There is a giving inherent in rain falling. the sky opens up its heart and gives over & over again. no questions asked. its soul is uncorrupted by the nastiness we do to each other. the acts of them it witnesses day in & day out. even when we don’t deserve rain, it shows up. undiminished & whole. for now. soon the earth moves on its axis & winter in Melbourne gives way to spring. another season for grace & hope & growth.

In the meantime, we give thanks for the rain. we hold out for it. we let it remind us of the things that feed & nourish, giving strength to our bones. we learn to hold out our hands for the richness we cannot grow for ourselves. the one that lives unquantifiable in things of the soul & the relating of one to each other.

We learn to whisper, come, rain.  even as we stumble in the paddles, because we know that the world is beautiful after the rain. Come, rain.