slow

species

Returning to this space now feels like coming home to myself. An extension of writing in general, I think, which seems to always catch me wherever I am and persist with me through everything. Not persist through insistence but inevitability. Even without force or conscious intent, writing returns to me and I return to writing. In some sense it is the purest, most enduring relationship I have, romantic and more than romance, intimate and more than intimacy. There is transcendence here for me.

Even though I continue to question myself and my life every day, I can see pieces slipping into their places. This no longer feels like a matter of divinity and fatefulness so much as purity of intention and enduring faith. I believe in what I want to do, and the good I see myself generating for the world around me. I am coming to accept the conditions of my existence, too, which I’ve so often fought against, wanting to be more conventionally-beautiful, more well-liked, more well-known, even famous. I still harbour these desires but they no longer grip me so tightly. They are fantasies I can return to time and again, for the simple pleasure of loving and hyping myself up to myself. Because I am so lovely, and I am so loved. This thought comes more naturally to me now.

I’ve been talking more with my brother of late, and today we agreed that between us, he took all the playful, crackheaded ease while I ended up pretty much dead serious. We’ve both witnessed my nonsensical side though, so it’s not that it’s not there. But I struggle to present that side to others without feeling judged or undermined. It takes a lot for me to fully trust someone before I let them witness me as I am. I want to get over that fear. I want to learn, as XT mentioned, how to throw a tantrum. I want to learn how to be a child and to be treated as a child — not in the sense of being immature, but in being seen as someone who needs and wants things plainly, without hiding. I may say I want something and not get it, and that’s fine, but I also want to give myself room to get upset, whine, fret, ask for comfort. I think this is something Alice Sparkly Cat wrote about in her horoscopes for this month, something I’m still mulling over.

I think there’s a fine line between the Zen state I aspire towards, where nothing fazes you and troubles your ego, and this state of child-like ease in emoting and asking for things. I can’t quite see it yet, but I’m excited to discover that in-between space…

It’s funny, but I didn’t think I could get any stronger than I already was. I thought I had been pushed to my spiritual and emotional limit enough that I had also reached my upper limit in terms of how strong I could be. Perhaps I sound naive? I probably was. I probably still am.

There is a recurring line in the TV series Go Ahead, about how one becomes an adult overnight, at some age which could be very young, or very old, or somewhere in between. I used to feel this way, that I kept waking up to a new awakened self who was every day splitting into a gazillion pieces and reforming again. But that’s not what they mean in Go Ahead. In their logic, something definite occurs, something which is irrevocable. In my turbulent cycles of disintegration and reformation, I was running something closer to a design sprint, producing iteration after iteration with tweaks, trying to improve rapidly, trying to endure my life through this form of control. It wasn’t that I wasn’t changing, or changing into someone good. But I lacked clarity about what I was iterating towards. I simply believed that as long as I improved along some scale (intelligence, strength, beauty, kindness, etc.), I was okay. I was good. I was going to be someone I wanted to be.

Now, the changes occurring in me feel different. And despite how consciously I’ve been tracking my own changes, I still surprise myself. Especially over the course of the past year, where I weathered new fears, responsibilities and the break-up; learned to have friends; held a range of jobs that made me consider money, privilege and freedom more carefully; thought about futures I want to participate in, who I want to be, etc. It was a turning point, one which I turned slowly around, with certain steps. Over time, I trusted the process more. I tried not to control every shift, or force one into being when there was none. I did my best to stay conscious of how I was doing physically, emotionally, mentally. I reflected on my conditions but didn’t fight them. I’m still inside this process. It doesn’t feel turbulent. It feels loving, sustainable, safe.

A new kind of strength is forming in me. It is not the same strength that I measured in myself before. That strength was marked by reactivity, protectiveness, anger, hurt, pride, a pure-hearted recklessness. I still carry that strength. It insists on justice and ideals; it pushes back against bullies to protect myself and the people I love; it fights for its dreams. This new strength, in contrast, feels closer to what a mountain feels like. Enduring, unfazed and sturdy within ease. It is unreactive. Sometimes it may not even feel the need to respond. It knows that if its centre is pure, is emptied of pride, ego and fear, nothing can make it waver. That doesn’t mean that no waves rise within, but that I know: a risen wave falls, rises, falls again. Each time this strength surfaces, I don’t need to be brave, because I am not afraid. I am at ease, because I know I am not fully in control, yet I am able to keep the soul light and flow with the currents that come and go. The universe has its particular temperament and logic which I do not understand, but I have learned to trust it. I am learning, slowly, to trust what I do not know.

I have always had pretty accurate intuition, which I think makes the process of trusting easier. So perhaps I’m still just trusting what I somewhat know? Regardless, I’ve been very lucky, because this intuition has kept me safe and welcomed good energies into my life in many ways. It is rare that someone I instinctively know to be good turns out to be anything less, even if my idealisms may obscure their (very human) flaws. The same holds true for people who I immediately recognise as selfish, careless, etc. (They largely turn out to be major asses, but also insecure, needy people I feel for…) I suspect it is a kind of intelligence or knowledge I’ve developed from feeling unsafe so often as a child. I needed to know at one glance who I would be safest with, and who to keep away from to avoid harm. So while it feels intuitive, I think it rests upon a sprawling library within me, which stores all the behavioural features, voices, personalities, traumas I’ve subconsciously studied over time.

I remember now that I used to study people somewhat obsessively. I still do on some level, but I was really committed in the past. Besides stalking their social media profiles and trawling Google for every little thing I could find about them, I paid close attention to their habits, their preferences. I don’t know how I knew, but even then I was already attuned to all these patterns. I knew, instinctively, how the way a person wore or treated their sweater indicated the presence or absence of neglect or desire. I knew how the way someone walked told me about what they thought of themselves. I could tell, even then, who was pretending to be good and getting away with it. I could tell how other people were being fooled. My instincts would be confirmed over time. Is this all very obnoxious to say? Yet, despite feeling self-conscious, I mean it all: I knew and felt alone in my knowing.

Being insecure and fearing people, I began to wield my knowing as a form of power or superiority. By studying people who made me nervous, I felt less out of control. I scoured and gathered more and more knowledge about how to read people to cope with how much they frightened me.

Like I wrote above, though, this defense mechanism has been good to me. I hope it has been good to the people around me, too, because someone once told me that I have a knack for gathering the right people, good people who will work well together. I think I know. I can tell how different people might gel. I could probably articulate these things as some kind of theory or heuristic, but I really don’t want to. It would take away the magic. It would turn this vibrant feeling into dull language.

The lunar new year weekend was a quiet yet certain turn in my body, as a small box of time opened up for me to stop work, rest, eat properly, read, think, dream again. A wave of energy entered my being in that time, along with new ideas. I feel determined. I feel like what I hope to do, not just in the now but also the future, is possible. I’ve not felt like this since I was 18 or 19.

There are a few things I now recognise to be taking real root, like the Taoist philosophies I’ve been mulling over, and my interest in astrology as a way of making meaning. Astrology really is a kind of language, one that this generation is using to reconfigure what and how the world can be — not predetermined and definite, no, but capable of balancing mystery and self-possession again. Between what we cannot control and what we know and dance around, a humble feeling of power arises. 无为而治。Those who mock astrology simply have other languages they believe in.

The hope this time is a very practical one, in that, instead of a monstrous, serpentine sense that everything is possible, I see clearly the steps I need to take to move forward, whether in terms of building daily discipline or modulating those inner rooms where my desires and anxieties reside. I see how all these possibilities have been within me all along. I had to become who I am now, more level-headed and self-aligned than before, to not only be ready but also to realise that I am ready. The realisation is probably the hardest part.

The sense of ease and trust grows in me, too, as I steep in Taoist philosophies that seem to line up so intimately with the temperament and mindset I’ve wanted to have for so long now. I simply needed the words (that is how I process) to start practicing these forms of myself. As I learn to live here, in each moment, I think I am coming to understand that I will, after all, endure to the end.

courage hangover

is what i’m calling it
total ash-state after a trial by fire
the exhaustion that comes after you do a brave thing
something which overwhelmed you
and yet you gathered yourself against it
despite fear and weakness
you showed up for what matters the most to you
you displayed courage
you exercised it with all your strength
not yielding

I would like someone to slowly stroke my head as I let this exhaustion dissipate as tears

I wish to return to reading books and writing in my own head. I wish to disappear from society and its circles. I wish to not participate, to not perceive concepts of value where one thing is always more or less than another. I wish to be at odds with nobody. I wish to be unperceived. I wish to be nothing anyone asks anything of.

The last few days I have thought often of dying. But not in that way. I simply wish to put a pause on my existence, because it is so heavy. It is such a great weight to carry everyday and I feel it in my body. How tired I am of the things I do and feel I must do. I would like to lose consciousness for a while. I guess that is why people get themselves drunk or high. I am too tightly wound for such options.

Also, my anxiety has been very bad these last few days for a reason I can’t disclose here. It’s causing me gastric pains and I’m finding hard to focus on anything other than these waves of panic. I woke up this morning to my heart racing with fear. It will pass after tomorrow, but for now I am a little paralyzed. Most of what I can do are things to cope with it, rather than the work that presses upon me. Coupled with that heavy feeling, it’s been quite hard to do anything much at all. I did go running this morning, though, because my brother was going and asked me to join him. I felt relieved to have someone (sort of) direct me to do something, especially when that something is really good for my anxiety.

I await the passing of this claustrophobic phase, this sense of being cornered without escape.

Living is overwhelming right now, with multiple lines of work, communciation, fears, desires all meeting in my full body. I am recalling The Unconsoled again, how that book helped articulate what a life accelerated beyond limit and control looks like, how it has become a blueprint for what I never want my daily rhythms to devolve into. It doesn’t articulate reality at all; that is the point — past the scale of your cognition, memory and energy, even the realest thing will feel too fast, will be undercut by the next thing rushing in, will not feel real at all.

I am also slowly figuring out how to trim my life down. But it sends me into a panic, it returns me to the fears I’ve carried since I was very small, that my life must be lived out ambitiously and aggressively to be valuable. That I must be incredibly successful to be loved. No, I must outcompete everyone else in order to be worthy. Even as I type this now, I feel like crying. I am still learning to love myself as I am, and to fully internalise the fact that I am loved by others as I am. Despite the ways I care for and protect myself, it is easy to lose that centre. It is easy for my confidence to be reduced to a mere shell.

Last night, I found that the second season of Fruits Basket had been released on Netflix. It gave me so much comfort to return to Tohru’s world and energy. While so much of her is probably the wet dream of men who want wives, her naivety and pureness never fails to move me. Her ability to find joy in the people and daily gestures of her life gives me courage. The interest she takes in the people closest to her is a blueprint, too. There is so much joy to be found there. It is impossible to unlearn what I know and become a Tohru in that sense, but I think there is kind of mindspace to be cultivated? You don’t have to be ignorant to be naive and simple. I think one can relearn how to be naive.

I have also been wondering — who are you, the one who reads? I don’t have many readers, but it seems one or two of you pass through this space every day. Thank you for making this less of a void for me, and more like a little room where I am, where people come to briefly visit ever so often. I am glad you find my little logs interesting in whatever way you do. What I hope, a little ambitiously, is that they offer you comfort and hope, too.

I am curious about you, but I think this anonymity is quite special. I believe it gives you more room to roam. As much as I want to know who you are, I think the sort of freedom this anonymity gives you is important to cherish! Of course, if you would ever like to reach me, I am somewhere here. And on my portfolio site (which is linked in the About page), you can find my email. I am very introverted right now, but I would love to meet and get to know you, whoever you are.

I am here to do three things.

Firstly: to report that I am fully moving out of the studio tomorrow. I got a first clear-out done yesterday with the help of family, and my bedroom currently looks like a confused cluster of islands. Because I sleep on a mattress on the floor, when I lie down it feels a little like I’m floating amongst my stuff. Tomorrow it will only get more crowded, and I will need to, when February comes round, start organising a work space at home. I am pretty excited for it, I think.

Secondly: to say that I am bad at receiving and accepting compliments. And it’s not really a self-esteem thing – because I do think I am good and smart and skilled and kind. (It’s hard to not claim as much after many years of conscientious and dedicated effort to become as much.) It’s more of a social anxiety thing – outwardly claiming compliments feels easily read as arrogance. I don’t think I am superior or perfect; I simply know, with considerable clarity, my strengths and my weaknesses. How does one navigate that socially? I think what I need is the courage to be disliked.

Thirdly: that at this point I’m so touch-starved it’s starting to feel like when I was in Canley in periods of lonesome misery. Yet I don’t want to touch/ be touched by just anybody. This beggar is a chooser. I think I will get a weighted blanket soon, and figure out how to lead my affectionate self out into the world.

告诉自己 梦后要记得清醒
越陷入妄想 越失去人生最基本的平衡
但无奈也是因为觉得自己应该能够完整地掌握好自己,调整好自己。
那才是是真正的妄想

We have hit peak stress, and I expect to shut down for pretty much the rest of January until this book review which I care too much about is done. The world is overstimulating right now as well, with Art Week pouring in and the influx of commuters now that we’re well into Phase 3. At the same time, I am beginning to prepare for future events. Perhaps I should pull back on those things, and focus on what I’ve earmarked as the most important: writing poems and being here, in time. I need to downsize.

Today was the most exhausting day in a while. But many important things have been done, transferred.

The forecast said this would be a year of family and shedding and romance. I was skeptical but it has been surprisingly accurate, especially on the family front, which was previously lukewarm, more of the same, or isolating. There’s been a clear shift in energy here.

My introversion and feelings of repulsion toward people have also intensified. I am so tired. Being around people takes all my energy and patience. So many words and the body remains cold because touch feels contaminating or taboo or strange. To overcome that would take all my energy, but perhaps it’s the one thing worth expending everything for.

For now I am becoming a recluse, the most withdrawn I’ve been in a while. I miss the suburban space of Canley. The quietest space here would not give me the silence I need.