In Open Fields of Wild Flowers

i am in a place now where the sea envelopes the horizon, and monkeys are darting from one thatched roof to another. the sounds of The Shins are filling my ears. there is a light wispy breeze in the air. and suddenly it feels like i am 15 again – that big year, that wonderful year – when i inhabited a whole world that wasn’t mine, was new, and yet all mine to have for as long as i could pour myself into it. a lot has changed since then, giving me more reason to truly appreciate this rare morning.

it has struck me often how much i ache to revive, or relive, a part of myself that in pensive moments i am unsure will ever come back. i wonder if it is part of aging and somehow i’ve realised this loss without intending to, sort of like waking up from anaesthesia during surgery. or is this what life is always going to be like – losing things and always forced to be acutely aware of the gaping tear where something once was? and so, time travel is a reprieve from this dull ache. music helps. when the opening chords crash into me in the least expected of times and places – it is a small rift in time that allows me to disappear into the cracks of the earth, deep down into what matters, to look at the me and the things that i know inside out. the eventual experience feels like it lasts a long time. but in reality, on the surface of the earth, it only lasts about a minute.

and then it’s back to this art and science. until the next strains of Jars of Clay as i walk past a shop…

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sometimes i can’t tell if i have been dismembered or if i am paralysed. my heart feels like it is beating far and away in a glass jar, shriveling smaller with each passing day. big events become meaningless, and good friends feel shadowy and phantomlike, as if i had only observed a motion picture about them from another plane. if i had to choose one moment to live eternally in the after life, which would it be? the stairs, at IAB, the purest bliss i had ever experienced.

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i fell into a tunnel. and not unlike the tunnel to wonderland, it is either very deep or i am falling very slowly. the transit time gives me the opportunity to revisit the far past and also to consider if i had thought about how i was going to get out. i suppose i haven’t, because here i am, not knowing where i’m going to end up or if there is even a way out of wherever i find myself. maybe despite any form of rationalization this is still what i am all about — the journey and not the destination. but it is easy to say that, just as it is easy to escape. it is easy to feel fortuitous and push my luck. it is, unbelievably enough, so easy to love. but i am alone now, with nothing but my own thoughts, music and a book i chose, with no tangible mementos except the fleeting, flitting stardust in my porous mind. perhaps this is how i deserve to be — by myself and grasping at golden threads as i fall.


january usually feels like a period of awakening. i keep urging myself to put place-markers along the path on which i am stumbling, to remind myself of how i felt at pivotal moments, or the decisions that i find i’ve dreamed myself into, lest i end up changing my mind or forgetting key events. this place-marking is critical. when i was very young, i cried easily whenever chastised or hit by grown-ups. very often they would scream at me to stop crying. this was something i could never understand — how can adults hurt another person and scream at them to stop crying? i always wanted to scream back, it is not easy to stop crying when you’ve started crying! especially when you are in pain! it is altogether some mix of stopping yourself from breathing, swallowing hiccups and quelling your very anxious heart — it is just not possible. and so i promised myself that when i am older and have to deal with crying children, i must never forget that it is not possible for someone who has started crying to stop themselves from crying instantly, and that i should not make them feel sorry or terrible for not being able to do so. adults are forgetful and as they grow older they think they know everything because they have the benefit of hindsight and experience. but this thing about the crying: it is something my 6 year old self knows is true and important and will carry forever into the future. my only wish for this cold but hopeful january is that my 25 year old self can be as strong, steadfast and clear-minded.

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Storms Before the Calm

i am a field mouse once again, with the world swirling around me and a heart with open seams down the middle. selfridges feels like a lifetime ago, even further away from the bus in penang and the ashes of 12 sultan ismail. but here i am in another raging December snowstorm, as all the other Decembers conflate to reveal to me my true self, who i really am. it’s funny how much time has passed since i was last a field mouse, but the same old questions still run through my mind – what does it really mean to be on the same team? what does it mean to love? what does Radiohead’s song really mean?

in these snowstorms i like to think of the times in my life that have been pure, idyllic, and right. i move from the latte in coffee bean mt kiara to the stone bench at columbia, and then from under the teacher’s table in sri garden to the dusky rivers of pahang. these memories calm me and i feel real again — real enough to understand why it’s so important to keep my heart open to people and the small but special moments that they bring with them. i do see that the more wretched things one encounters — be they part of the world or part of oneself — the harder it becomes to remain open. but in so many ways there is something invigorating about the pain. it’s like a workout. it wrings you dry and stretches you, and suddenly there is just so much more skin to feel with. pain feels even more painful, but then the most wonderful things also expand and bloom to cover the entire sky, as far as the eye can see.



whenever i find myself on the cusp of doing something emotionally risky, i tell myself to sleep on it. inevitably when i wake up i no longer see the urgency and i pat myself on the back for being patient and making the safer choice. but in my dreams i find myself asking what if? what if something big, crucial and incredibly magical happened because i took the risk? but i guess i will never know


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