slow

species

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I keep thinking this isn’t me but she is, isn’t she? Tired and so less conscious, less inhibited, less restrained. The self/I isn’t just the one who is lucid. But I continue to conflate the two. There is no I if I am not here.

The last few days have been… interesting. Between returning to the Substation in the capacity of a production person, reconfiguring things at work and tending to all these wounds, I seem to be closing many loops that started a long time ago. The external world (social and physical) is also taking up more and more of my conscious thought again, so the body is more active and the mind has less time to tunnel.

I’ve also been told some surprising things about myself. It is likely that no one but myself finds them surprising. My self-perception is always from within, where it’s dark and humid and buzzing, so I struggle to imagine what people see from my externalized behaviours and speech patterns. For a while I sought to align my insides and outsides, to create a frictionless flow of truthful being. I think those attempts continue to manifest, leading my stranger and broodier sides out even as I withdraw in other ways.

Am I very intense? I think I am, and I fear being too heavy, too fast and saturated. I recall how intense you were, and how that was wonderful until that sharp persistent force became difficult and inescapable. How could we have realigned our capacities? Firstly, we should not have been so co-dependent.

I know the way I use language is usually incredibly intense, even obsessive in method. Perhaps that is one root of my intensity: my desire to speak with absolute precision, breadth and depth. All in one breath.

I wish to be light. But I cherish this weight which feels sometimes like karmic inheritance. This is what I carry, even though I’ve learnt to set it down ever so often to do a little dance, to sing a few songs. That is my lightness. There is another lightness I am nurturing, which is about not clinging to the weight. I am learning to carry it with a lot of spaciousness, a lot of compassion.

The one who screams, the one who yells: I do not wish to be her any longer.

This evening she returned, she screamed, she yelled in pain at you. I had dragged her shrivelled self out, not knowing any other way to put things to you, you who would deny everything. She was confused but she screamed for me. She was thin and dying but she screamed.

She tired quickly. She gave way to a voice full of holes which simply said: Don’t. Now and forever: don’t, ever, again.

But after that voice came a very gentle breeze. It was me. A gentle breeze.
Next time, I want to glide across her face, a gentle breeze passing through.

04/04

I have been waking up to last night’s anxieties. Each time, after they wash away with the light, my spirit-soul begins to cry. I am in pain. Where is the wound? Make it close.

Whatever this season is giving and taking, I am revisiting endurance, forgiveness and release. It seems I clog up quickly in this time, becoming full of tar. It seems in some moments that I drag a knife-splayed body around as I walk, leaving a trail. I sound dramatic because the wounds feel that way, overwhelming, theatrical, larger-than-life. I feel myself teetering constantly on the fence between crying and not-crying, here and not-here, reaching out and withdrawing from touch.

05/04

This is some karmic wound, some deep revisitation making itself felt everywhere. Even the heart.

Every day I am tending to the wound, nourishing this body, carrying it into the day I need to pass through. Today the wound enlarged again. It enlarged beyond my grief. It enlarged beyond my life.

A long time ago, I stopped asking you to call yourself a bad person. I simply asked you to take responsibility for what you have done. For the things you still do. I have waited all this time for you to step up to the person I imagine you could be. I have even called softly, your name.

Today you drew a fishing line through my clay-heart again. It broke my camel’s back. It broke my back and a river poured out.

Wounds and wounds. This has been a season of confronting wounds old and less old, facing them head on while shaking uncontrollably, my entire body in panic. Being able to see myself clearly in that moment and extend very gentle compassion. This “I” suffers. This “I” heals.

Most of this conscious, very articulated practice has felt like an extension of habits and ideas I’ve been growing and tending to over the past years, which is quite comforting. To know that somehow, without realising it in a formal way, I was led to this path even before reading this book. By working hard at the fog, by earnestly observing and reflecting, I’ve been led to similar conclusions about how one can live. Of course, many things are still new to me, and in each moment, despite what I think I know, I am child of illusion.

Yesterday something awful happened to me, and I tried to approach the wound as I’ve been learning to, with spaciousness, directness and no-ego, only to discover that harm had been done to me. This runs into the bit of the book that I’ve only just read a little of, about recognising harm with sharpness and clarity even in your practice of living with less ego.

I’m grateful that I chose to meet X instead of fleeing home as I normally do, to cry in my bedroom. I decided differently for myself yesterday, knowing that I needed support and care. That is my joy, a deepening of my sense of safety within myself. I said this to X as well, that she saved me last night, because my brain had been overtaken and jammed on shame, and her clarity tore open the net. That’s how thorough, how cruel that abusive person had been, but also unfounded and stupid her claims had been.

I’m also stronger now, really, as in I believe in myself a lot more than I used to. I know how, even in moments of grave manipulation, to push back with clarity and calm (externally at least), to disavow the other person any sense that they are progressing with their nonsense. I know how to still see that I am full and enough, even if I’m overtaken by guilt and shame about whatever I’m accused of. I’m thankful to have had the means to get here, to have the language to then articulate when harm has been done, to sound alarms.

No vengeance now, but care. How can I extend this care outward, how can I make the future happen differently?

I often look at the Stats page of my WordPress, longing to know who it is that comes here. Who passes through this space that feels more mine than any other area of the Internet? Who reads these words which feel more intimate than anything else I can offer the world?

I have been thinking about my compulsion to blog, and how the sense of an audience or reader on the other side has comforted me since I was in primary school. First Blogspot, then Livejournal, then WordPress. It has been at least 13 years of blogging now, of needing to confess again, again, again. Like writing in general, no matter how I deviate I seem to return here. Or, I guess, when I deviate my blogging habit simply takes on other forms, like Instagram posts. Of course, blogging itself is a variation of journalling, which I continue to do sporadically. But blogging, unlike journalling in private, has an audience. And that sense of having a reader compels a slightly different me to show up. By reading, you call me into being again, again, again.

Poetry is one root and this is another, entwined. This mode especially is a kind of closed loop, where I write to myself to make sense of my life. I struggle to think without writing. This is why I am often an awful conversationalist. If we manage to speak fluidly about something, it’s likely that I’ve written about it before. Writing allows me to rehearse the performances I make with and for you. I would struggle to let you witness me as I naturally am, writing furiously, unable to say a word.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what it means to sell my writing. And how blogging changed from an intimate, precocious thing we all did to something that is monetised, a potential job or business. I miss, quite painfully, the intimate, precocious thing. Because so much of my ability to think depends on written language, reading the blogs of people I cared or was curious about was like being in flow with them. I could feel them there, in their words, in a way that was intuitive and immediately clear. And this was not about the clarity or subject matter of their thoughts so much as how they were trying to communicate themselves to the world. I could tell so much from how they wrote: what they feared, how they wished people would see them, their aesthetic tendencies, their deepest rage. Of course, I don’t think I was always right about who they were. But I got a gist, a pulse there that they would not have given to me in person. In that sense, I was and still am a kind of voyeur. Isn’t every reader this way?

I could not monetise my blog. I have considered it, because I love writing here and would like to work in jobs I enjoy. But it’s the informal nature of this space and the ambiguity of our relationship with each other that is so special. A monetised blog says: I am the writer, you are the reader. Your attention is a commodity I need to capture so as to make a living. What kind of writing would arise from such a relationship? Our positions within the exchange, as well as what we’re exchanging (or unilaterally harvesting) would be too well-defined, economic, boring. I may make money, but my writing and the relations we have now would die.

Here, I ask nothing of you and you ask nothing of me. I don’t mind you knowing who I am while not knowing who you are. I write whenever I fancy it, and you pass through whenever you feel compelled to. You can come once and never return, and it would not hurt me. I can write freely because I have no need to pin you here, to harvest your loyalty and attention. I could also stop writing for months. In some ways, it is this freedom that brings me back. And as someone who wants to give more generously to the world, my words are what I can most freely give away right now.

I think what I’m driving at is that your presence feels especially precious to me because there is nothing that ties you here. In that sense, it is also confusing. What brings you back to this ultra-personal space? What is there here in my selfish bubble that could also be for you? Whatever it may be, thank you for reading and witnessing this me. Whatever your intentions are, I think of you as a warm passing breeze.

How do I unpossess the world? How do I make art or produce things without possessing them, without nailing them down like butterflies? Within a system predominantly built upon possession, can I thrive through dispossession? Does choosing dispossession mean choosing to be crushed, or eaten up?

But I’ve already redefined those words. I’ve redefined all words, such that no word seems to promise a negative thing. Everything that could happen is something to discover and participate in. Even that which seems sad or horrific, in this mode seems to become neutral. Of course, harm remains possible. Inner calm does not fully shield the open surface of body and being. Still, unpossess. Still, move through the world without fear.

I seem to write through revisions, corrections, saying something and then immediately trying to balance it out, take the middle ground. I can’t seem to say anything extreme or final. That’s not a bad thing, I suppose— and here I am softening the blow, again. Cooking and eating my own words, chewing for days like cud, spitting them up to study what’s left, letting them pass through the gut for digestion, absorption, excretion. What’s left? What will my body not take or make into itself?

My app usage and web browsing have been frenetic, very frenetic. I have an incredible capacity for and tendency towards multi-tasking, which has been a kind of extension (and symptom) of my anxiety disorder for many years. Now I’m very conscious of it, in a very gentle, detached way. More than feeling stressed by this speed-leaping behaviour, I wish to take better care of myself. Now that I’ve encountered the kind of inner quiet that I wish sustain and live within, I wish to do something small each day to keep guiding myself there. Again and again, without thinking I know anything at all. I wish to practice this sincerely.

These few weeks have been difficult in their own ways, though I don’t remember too much of what has happened now. I am aware that the coming weeks are full and harsh, but also that I have the means to, again and again, untether myself. I am not bound to these identities and expectations, which feel solid because they are reproduced daily by other people and myself. Like capitalism, if one day we were to collectively choose something else, capitalism would disappear. It is actually ephemeral; it becomes solid because we make it so through repetition, until it feels unchangeable, eternal. Of course, it is the destruction of the “we” that makes it so difficult for “us” to collectively choose anything different at all. I deviated, but my point here is that my self, which I am still discovering, is also a dream.

Lightly, lightly. I turn my boat.

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 Kat 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.