Frisbee

“What’s the color of love?” she asked. I replied, “Violet, intense and unquestioning.” She snorted a laugh and joked, “I always thought it was red. You know, red hearts and balloons and Valentine’s Day… All that (in a french accent) passion.”
We had been sitting on a bench facing a little lake in the park, and the sun was almost setting.
As the rays of sunlight danced over the water, I looked at her. She was looking to the side and I noticed her swallow as if she was nervous or afraid. I turned away and asked, “Why did you agree to come?” She was silent for a while and then, very carefully, as if her life depended on it, “Because… I… needed… to.”
We heard a dog barking somewhere behind us and turned together. A man was throwing a Frisbee for his dog to catch. It brought a smile to my face and she turned and laughed. The dog leapt into the air and caught the Frisbee mid-air. She clapped and cheered.
“You are still the same,” I said. “No, I am someone else.” She laughed.
“I wanted to see you,” I said, “because I didn’t know anyone else in town.” “Yeah, how are you finding it?” she questioned. “I was surprised when I read your email about coming here for a week. Do you have some work here?”
“No,” I said. “I came here because of you.” She looked at me for a second, and her eyes narrowed a bit before she turned her gaze to the dog again.
“How is she?” she whispered.
I thought about it for a while and answered, “I don’t know. We’re not together.”
Silence. Some birds settling in for the night. Kids running to their parents. The sound of the water lapping against the muddy banks.
“I am sorry,” she said. “I hope you’re all right.” “Yes,” I said. “I realized she did not want to be with me.”
“What are you going to do now?” she continued. “I don’t know,” I replied. “I just wanted a change of scenery and something I could be certain of…”
“Me?” she asked. I looked at her and tried not to show my embarrassment.
“You were the one who left, remember?” she added.
“I know,” I offered. “I know I hurt you. I didn’t come here to remind you of what happened.”
“Okay, what did you come here for?” she asked.
The sun had dropped below the treeline now and it was getting darker. I looked at her, but her face did not give anything away.
“I came here…” It was difficult to say it, but I tried… “To ask if you will take me back.”
I heard a soft gasp from her, but nothing else. She squirmed and for a second it looked like she would get up and leave. But she stopped and leant forward, her face buried in her hands. I decided not to comfort her and make things worse. I waited as the crickets began singing to each other. The park was quieter now. They were turning on the lamps along the paved paths.
She sat back and reached for my hand. I curled my fingers around her warm fingers. There were tears in her eyes and that smile… The one that was hard to forget.
“When you went away,” she started, “you took a piece of me that I thought I would never get back. I thought I would never love anyone that much again. As the days passed and I didn’t get any replies to my texts or calls, I realized you had moved on. I found out from a mutual friend that you had moved in with someone. It took a while for me to accept that. It was hard to be replaced with another so quickly.”
“I’m sorry,” I offered.
She shook her head and continued, “It took me a while but I realized that we thought of love differently.” She chuckled. “Like you said, violet. Intense and unquestioning. Something unattainable and mysterious. To me, it can’t be described by a color. It is all the colors and more. It is the complete, unashamed, savage, filthy and uncompromising truth, as well as the soothing, vulnerable, childish and trusting belief in someone. I did not stop loving you, because love isn’t that finite, but I stopped believing in your love for me.”
It was my turn to keep silent now. She was right. So eloquently put. I wish I could have written it down.
“I can’t push you away. Nor can I throw away my love again,” she concluded. “Let’s go grab something to eat. I know a great place for rolls just around the block.”
I followed her. This woman I had all to myself once. And as the last rays of daylight vanished with the night, so did my hopes of ever being hers again.

A reaction away

Emotion: Our greatest strength is also our weakness. Love, hate, fear, joy, compassion, sympathy, sadness, confusion, doubt, anxiety, anticipation, nervousness, frustration and so on. Easy to experience, yet in most cases difficult to control. And there lies the dilemma. To emote or not to. To suppress or express.
We all have innumerable experiences where an excess of emotions has got us into trouble, and more often than not most of what is labelled as “crime” in civilized society has been a case of someone taking something too far. Of course, there is the cold, clinical precision of some deviants which seem to lack any feeling, but if you think about it, nonchalance and detachment are also emotions of not giving a damn.
The flaw in any kind of negative emotion like envy or hatred is that it tends to harm as it reveals itself outwardly. And this is the danger of any emotion. It’s potency to damage and cause rifts. So, where can one safely draw a line where any emotion crosses over into malevolence?
Anger that turns into violence is a clear case of tempers getting out of control we can all agree. But what about the harsh word spoken by a friend or stranger? Sometimes the person at the receiving end doesn’t even register the damage at first. Only later when the tension of the situation has diminished, do the stings of the ordeal start to show, but by then it’s too late, ’cause the damage has already been done.
One cannot undermine the dangers of the two-edged sword that is emotion. It can either carve out a path for you that is effective and rewarding, or it can slice you to bits and leave you in ruins. Impose, suppress or express, you choose. Just don’t let your impulses get the best of you.

XI Thou Shalt Not Knot

The difference between educating someone and trying to control their actions is bigotry. Yes, we all believe that our choices are better, but that is our opinion. You decide what’s good for yourself and let the next person make up their own minds. Can you imagine living in a world where everyone thought the same and did the same things? It would be miserable. There would be no variety or freedom. There needs to be balance.

Balance does not mean juggling two jobs at the same time, or allotting equal amounts of time for family and friends, or investing the same focus into fitness and fun. It is harmony between how you portray yourself to the world and how you think, feel, and relate to life. The inner workings of your mind and, if you believe you have one, your soul, in unison with the words you speak, the people you interact with, and your actions. You become a sell-out when these two parts of your being are completely out of sync and you can no longer differentiate between the obscure and the mainstream.

It’s funny how the counter culture has become the mainstream now. What was pushed to the fringes and considered taboo before has become totally acceptable to all. Not to call judgement on the freedom of expression, but just a reminder that it is harder to be relevant in a time where excess is the norm, and individuality is narrowed down to what kind of tattoos you have or how offensive you can be without being booked. The next big thing is just around the corner, and for those gullible enough to go with the flow they will have equally enthusiastic spokesmen ready to water down their potions, so you can slowly fade into the night.

Existence has watered down to survival of the richest. Wealth turns the wheels of the world, war keeps any hope of peace in check and work allows us the fantasy of retiring one day with a sizeable pension. Freedom is the blindfold we willingly accept, so we can continue slaving away to make ends meet, but for whose benefit?

The knots are firm and unrelenting, the more you struggle the tighter they get. You resolve to staying perfectly still so you might not be noticed, but you are already part of the procession. You get included in a conversation from those ahead of you, someone behind you invites you for lunch, up ahead you see the outline of your childhood sweetheart, you begin to find your rhythm. “This is fun, this is better than making decisions for myself, this is what I was meant to be.”

Balance is knowing where you stand when your world is falling apart.

cusping

It’s always the littlest things that make the biggest difference. Like a smile you can never forget. Or a smell. Or a fluttering of eyelashes. We always wish we could stay the same. But it is foolish to think that we can defy the sands of time and remain untouched. Our skin loses its color, hair becomes wiry and our teeth all fall out. So with our minds.

Living in the moment does have its setbacks. Can you imagine how even doing mundane tasks could present problems, because from one moment to the next you could forget what you’ve just done. Yes, that is being extremely literal, but it is possible. Therefore, maybe some things need to be repeated just for the sake of not completely losing our minds. Some of us already have.

Mother jokes I have a selective memory. I think it’s normal. I would find remembering unimportant things quite useless. Of course, what qualifies as important is what she was hinting at. There is no point arguing with what comes natural to us. Of course, we would remember things that made a lasting impression on us. Things that hurt us and twisted our view of the world so drastically that winding ourselves back to our original state would be a miracle in itself. Change. Happens. Adapt.

The question then is, “Why do you want to return to what you were?” Why undo the effects of time and spontaneity? Every action you have taken since birth has been the result of risky and predictable guesses. True, you might make different decisions this time over and reach elsewhere. But would the person you’d become be that different from what you are today?

Picture a game of snakes and ladders. There is order there, there is direction. There are setbacks, but you still must pass every snake before you reach the end. So it is with life I think. You can start over as many times as you want. You can reinvent yourself and become a better version of yourself, or if you prefer, a lesser version, but you still have to pass the snakes. You still have to get the dice to roll the perfect number so you can win the game.

Life is not a game. Come on! Really? After all the drama you’ve had to put up with, you still think it’s a game! It’s more of a very schizophrenic soap opera. Almost nothing is constant. Characters keep changing, the genre can be anything from comedy to mystery, and there is no script to speak of. You arrive at the sets each day only to discover you have no idea what character you’re playing. The set is different, some extras are speaking some foreign language, and the director is now behind the camera. Action!

Sometimes, I really believe I have something to offer. You know, encouragement, inspiration, practicality… And then sometimes, I think about how much of a difference I’ve really made. People close to me might evaluate my presence differently, that’s expected, but how do I size myself up.

Stars in the sky are my kryptonite. That’s why I try to avoid gazing at them too often, because everything inside me melts, and I can’t feel my feet anymore. I imagine lying on a bed of sand in the desert, a soft wind caressing my features, and the night sky enfolding me. Would anything I am matter then?