Lately, I have been feeling a displaced sense of unhappiness. Displaced because I cannot quite trace this stem of feeling back to any particular root, but I just know that it is there, planted and firm and worryingly tenacious.

And sometimes on days darker than most, when the heavy heat just reminds me of how I was infinitely lighter walking down Russell St in Melbourne, when work can be picking on the fraying edges of my temper, when the bathroom light casts an unflattering pallor on my complexion (or so I would like to accredit the sallowness to), the unhappiness grows and clutches and becomes almost desperate. 

Almost desperate for what, I don’t know exactly, but to frame it metaphorically, it almost feels like a trapped fluttering bird against my ribs, and its wings are incessantly, incessantly beating, each soft whoosh more panicked than the previous. But I trap it still, because I am more afraid to know what may happen if I release this unhappiness, if I do anything about it, and the path that it may lead me down, and while it may be a path for the better, it seems paved with tremendously difficult honesty (to myself most of all), and a very hefty amount of bravery.

I am just not sure if I am brave enough.

things i have caught the past weekend.

i. Coldplay, which was as much and as larger-than-life and as soul-meets-comet as all the past attendees have testified to. they played the crowd’s favourites and they played songs from Parachutes, which made my heart weep while my throat rang itself dry. my friends and i bought the standing tickets, and while it was crowded and hot as hell and being jostled and elbowed from all angles was a default state of being, it was also strangely uplifting. there is truly something to be said about having your own voice weaved into a chorus as we sang in perfect lyrical sync to the opening of Everglow, and looking over at a complete stranger in full beaming understanding when Fix You plays – “this song, right?” “yes, this song.”. And when a blanket of paper stars cascaded down during the climax of A Sky Full Of Stars, and the stars stuck to our sweat-slicked skin, we threw our arms out and laughed, because how do you not want to embrace the world when your soul feels bigger than what holds it?

ii. a stomach flu, which pretty much rendered me bedridden for the next two days. i’ve never felt so frequently exhausted from the smallest of actions, and is it puzzling to say that the exhaustion itself saps me?  a trip to the bathroom – to expel from various orifices, which i can assure you is as or even more ghastly than it sounds – feels like the most draining of expeditions and wow, the short 10-minutes walk to the nearest doctor’s damn near undid me.

 

i suspect i caught the bug from the concert on Saturday, but even in my weakened fever-ridden state, i dare say it is all well worth it.

 

not today.

this morning was a movie scene.

i foolishly insisted on wearing a pair of heels that have aged far past their durability, because i thought it was important i looked put together and unflappable on a cold drizzly monday morning. and the resulting uncomfortable teeter to the train station was anything but.

i was grasping in one hand my gym duffel, and in my other, a heavy bag filled with lunchboxes for the week (i prepped them in advance – a gamely attempt at conscientious eating), with the sheer weight of it feeling dangerous on flimsy straps and leaving red welts across my arm.

and of course while i looked the very image of precariousness, my heel caught in the cracks of the wet asphalt. of course.

it was a brief but heart-stopping circus act of ungraceful lurches and windmill arms. i looked down, sighed audibly, and succumbed to pulling my trainers out from my gym bag and chucking the traitorous shoes into the bin.

there are days where it is important to look put together and unflappable. but not today.

not today.

 

alright.

i have nothing for you this Friday morning.

except that i implore all of you to give Ed Sheeran’s latest album a listen — currently, i am playing Supermarket Flowers and Perfect  on the heels of each other and they are making my heart shake and sigh

on my hitch to work today, the driver took a different (longer) way to the office. the new route streaked across a reservoir, so quiet and still in the 7am’s of the day, that the morning sunlight looked like incandescence captured on fluid canvas.

and i thought, well it will be alright.

today’s uncertainties, my girlfriend’s broken arm, next week’s horrid work commitments, the days ahead, i — they will be alright.

bloom.

Processed with VSCO with s1 preset

this is good isn’t it? this writing – i have missed it. i’ve forgotten the therapy of its release, a literary Pensieve.

i find that on all the blogs i follow, i most enjoy reading entries on gratitude, and little things in the day that we can give thanks for. they remind me of the quiet splendor of small things, and the ceremony in common days*, for isn’t this life mostly strung of small things and common days than not?

so today, as I curve a hand around yet another cup of kopi O kosong, i shall document gratitude.

for the pause in the bus driver’s motion when he caught sight of my panicked little stride in his side mirror this morning, for the generous hand that prepared my peanut butter toast, for the existence of this playlist for ragged mornings, for obedient hair, for a recovering zit, for the cute videos and random photos of breakfasts that lit my phone in the mornings from people dear — that i am being thought of in the beginnings of somebody elses’ day.

for the above explosion of blooms in form of a Valentines’ Day surprise sprung by my person, for the compliment i received on an old dress that i’ve recently rediscovered, for the crisp note my mother discreetly slipped into my purse yesterday night, for fat blueberries deliciously in season and on sale, for words, for words my own or others — that both feed and cleanse me.

 

*words borrowed from the author behind this newly discovered (and fast-becoming a favourite) site –so much grace in both her photos and words.

 

 

 

a song.

sheer chance introduced this to me late afternoon yesterday, and i am a little abashed to say i have not stopped listening to it since. i learned that this was one of Bob Dylan’s unfinished songs, that was only released to the public just recently — oh thank you whoever you are who decided to share. 

i recommend pairing it with a late night Uber ride home, where shadows and street light put on puppet shows across the backseat, and the white of your arms. i would like to caution that if it does you what it did to me, the rest of your evening would feel slightly soppy and bittersweet, but sometimes sweet aches are what salve the soul.

how it is.

words are tricky.

words lend romance to the most insipid of tasks, they colour grey days with shimmers of warmth that were never there, they italicize stiff things and they soften frigid routines and they are so very, very tricky.

i could tell you how my recent days are – in these tricky words – and they would turn out better here than they actually felt. i could tell you how i nurse cup after cup of kopi-o kosong peng*  each work morning like it was a talisman and i a desperate seeker for divine protection. i could tell you how sometimes i sigh myself into my office chair every morning, and stare unseeingly as my inbox populates itself with to-dos and tasks that do not excite or engage me. i could tell you that grace only lends itself during the pockets of time i share a laugh with a work buddy,  a coffee break stolen between the folding hours of late afternoon, or when i turn  my desk light off at the end of the day.

and yet.

and yet they all read better here, they are still washed with a sepia-toned melancholia,  and we all know there is beauty in sad things, in dreary things.

but i want to be honest with you, and i (very earnestly) want you to know that there is absolutely nothing charming with such days. and that we all have them – these dry as dust periods – and if you, like me, sometimes feel seized with a curious sort of desperation that  you are squandering your finite days on such non-things and non-feelings, i just want you to know that you’re not alone.

you’re not alone, and it is important to know that, sometimes, the living is in that laugh with a work buddy, that coffee break stolen amidst the day, the extinguishing of your desk light at the end of the day, and while they are minute and are barely a trickle in the reservoir of hours in your day, they matter.

and the living is in the gratitude that we still have that in the bleakest of days.

(p.s. also, days will get better. i’m holding out for that as much as you.)

 

 

*colloquial term for iced black coffee in Singapore – made by grounding coffee beans roasted in butter or margarine, filtered through a coffee sock, and topped with boiling water.