(Scroll down a bit to “a brilliant mind” posted on March 7, 2013, and read that first. This is an update to that post.)

Two years later, I caught up with the light, after a long, arduous run. Gasping for air, almost breathless, I marvelled at our proximity, hoping she didn’t notice the sweat brimming around my eyelids, pooling on my upper lip, and dripping from my hair. I could finally see this light up close and personal, and best of all, hold perfection in my hands. It threw everything else into shadows as we ravished each other’s presence, two lonely people brought together by the forge of circumstance.

Bathed in this warm and incandescent light, I was happy for a while. It shone through many cracks that I hadn’t seen before, brought to my eyes countless intricacies of this world that I hadn’t noticed in my blindness. All at once there were new lands to explore, and explore them we did, always with this light guiding me. Yet as we went on, still pushed relentlessly forward by the same tides of time, I started to see something different, something unsettling. This light… there was something strange to it. I couldn’t articulate what it was, but where was the perfection I thought it embodied? The closer I got, the more its warmth dissipated, and I was caught in the middle, like a mind adjusting between an optical illusion and reality. All too soon it felt cold and impersonal, like fluorescence.

When I resurfaced back to reality, I almost couldn’t see the light any more. I tried fighting, but that would mean sinking back into self-constructed fantasy. As a solace I told myself it was simply that we moved on to different wavelengths, and that’s why she started disappearing into invisibility. In the end I let go. I returned to blindness.

Advertisements

For a few moments as Bruce Willis blasted brawny villains out of the screen, I did imagine her leaning on my shoulder, snuggling up beside me as we submerged ourselves in the hardcore gunfire of Die Hard 5. It was exhilarating. The distance between us felt almost solid; we knew how close we were, physically. For a couple more moments I even let my imagination take full flight (why not, Bruce Willis had just maneuvered an impossible escape involving a burning helicopter) where I would lean down, and our lips would meet. Gentle, but full of promise for better things to come. Wonderful explosions in the background. Nearly there – it would take so little. We were so aware of it, yet neither of us gave any indication, perhaps we were both too timid, or too engrossed in our own fantasies, knowing that reality would never get as vivid as the brilliant hues of our imagination.

Thus we stayed that way, with our heads cocked in our own comfortable angles, even though we knew that the best comfort comes from one another’s arms. Too quickly, the film had ended, Bruce Willis had succeeded, and we headed out into the stark sunlight, dreams evaporating into thin air together with our disappointed sighs.

The light was miles ahead, masked by the haze of academic traffic. It gave off a faint glow, with the vague emanating quality of a brilliance diffused by the smoke that lingered in the distance between us. In this perpetually dim city, perhaps anyone would be primed to be sensitive to any form of luminance. I could not help but be irresistibly drawn to this particular light. As I ran towards it, pushed relentlessly forward by the tides of time, there were indeed other flickers and flashes around me, but they were all fleeting. At most they constituted irritating stimulations to my retina, transient – and almost by definition – lacking substance. They were different by nature from the light I was running towards, which was constant, and steady. Despite the vagueness, it was always there. Always in front of me, and it had the comforting assurance of a richness that I could not resist.

We mellow with age. As we get older, the realities of life hit us in deeper and deeper ways, until we become beaten up into vapid, innocuous pulp, incapable of being or doing anything remarkably individual. A little bit of us dies every time we fall, a little more at each dead end – a life, intact and original in the beginning, accelerating into entropy as we step into adulthood. The brazen sharpness of youth gets blunted, giving way to the inexorable proceedings of conformation and ultimately subservience to a larger whole.

There is something I fear, that the thoughts and opinions I hold now will be slowly eroded as life washes over me. Slowly, we stop dreaming for and working towards a 3000 pound marlin, opting instead for 10 trout at a time. This is about the ideals we formulate during youth as a function of our environment, the ideals that we hold dear to us now, crystalizing into a gem that we carefully guard in our hearts. Nothing lasts forever, not even these ideals, which you think are so personal as to not be vulnerable to any external influence. But in the end they are all susceptible. Think about what you yearn for, deep down. The things that you care about the most. This pristine gem which you are so fond of may eventually lose its translucence, be gouged upon or even utterly destroyed. Circumstances change, and with that, so does our perception of this gem, as the conditions once favorable for its hatching cease to exist. When that happens, where we find ourselves in a different position as a different self (recall “No man steps into the same river twice”, Heraclitus), we may look at this little stone and declare it as a product of the vanity and folly of adolescence, discarding it into the landfill we are making of our lives.

At this moment, I dread these prospects. But fast forward 30 or 40 years. My older self will have ideals of her own, ideals that may be very different from mine (let’s treat me and her as separate identities), because they will be the product of an additional set of experience and circumstance. In retrospect, she may not lament the loss of insistence on her younger ideals, because she does not see them as ideals anymore.

Change of perspective. Objectively speaking, it may be a good thing, but nonetheless that’s what I fear.

The Fish and the Goat (1):

https://accceleration.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/the-fish-and-the-goat-1/

The Fish and the Goat (2)

There was nothing more tangible than physical reality. When it came down to the most basic echelon of perception, the minimum interaction with our surroundings required for survival, our senses could be trusted. The finite boundaries of our material environment did not conceal lies, and sometimes, all it took was a simple discrepancy of protons and electrons to produce juxtaposing worlds that cannot be more different.

She did not belong to the crude terrain that I had known all my life; neither would I call water my home.

***

Mountain goats were well-known for their solitary nature. Their propensity for habitats of high elevations atop mountain ranges complemented such an intrinsic need. It might seem ironic that the most open peaks, exposed to all, provided the best form of seclusion for me. There, strong winds perpetually whipped the landscape bare. It was this naked stoicism that leant perspective to priorities, and I was quite free from mundane concerns.

Yet to be free meant to drift and to dwell endlessly on issues of doubtful significance. Deep down, there was a feeling that life is unanchored and slipping off the edge of the world. An emptiness that simply could not be filled. Sometimes, perched atop a rocky outcrop, I wondered if there was something more beyond the expanse of jagged rocks that I saw before me, or if there was anything other than isolation that I could depend on when I…

Would I describe this feeling as loneliness?

It was this uncertainty and curiosity for things beyond my immediate horizon that led me to stray from my natural habitat. Perhaps at first, I had intended to search for a living companion, as opposed to the usual silence which I got as a response to relentless thought. And while I was stumbling over unfamiliar terrain, tripping over moss-covered rocks and being intimidated by little trickles of water, I did find someone more than a friend.

She was a fish.

It had been quite some time ago.

Now, I stood on the bank of a mountain lake, gazing into its pristine waters. There was a wake of fading ripples from the swish of her tail as she dived away, and I knew this was the last I would see of her. It was across this boundary between water and land where we first met. Our first conversations took place here, and I would not forget how easy she made it for me to let go of my reticence and still be myself. As we slowly built our friendship, I realized she might be what I had been looking for.

It was as if life before her was riddled with holes, and she filled them up with her wit, her charm, or just her mere presence. The nagging emptiness that had bothered me before disappeared. I became a different person with her – less insistent upon my beliefs which I previously thought were rock solid, I started breaking my rigid rules, started to experience more of life. I ventured out of the structure of my old habits, for the first time enjoying the thrill that comes with taking risks, living another type of freedom that I had not known – that of casual spontaneity. She was the proverbial lost piece of puzzle that completed a picture of life.

But then, just as we were on the verge of a budding romance, everything shattered. The puzzle pieces fell apart and I was left grappling with reality, realizing that perhaps the picture I had had a glimpse of was merely a flitting illusion, a product of circumstance.

The truth was, our physical separation was in itself a statement of mundane finality. Not only did it constitute immense barriers that took great pains to surmount, but our environments shaped us more than we wanted, or thought. Physical realities had repercussions far beyond the scope of what matter and energy could account for. Our environment made us different people.

Both of us had assumptions that were so ingrained in us that not for a moment in our lives had we ever stopped or questioned the objectivity or the extent of truth in them. As expected, this led to such a divergence of beliefs and trains of thought that it just became impossible to reach a simple consensus on many issues of life. Slowly, I felt that my life was being compromised and found myself wishing for routine and regularity once again, being tired of the unpredictability of her lifestyle which I conjectured into chaos and entropy. I was, so to say, drowning and slowly dying in her lake.

She probably felt the same way towards my inflexibility and slow, if not reluctant, responses to change.

I supposed that neither of us were wrong, but that didn’t make the both of us right, either.

She lived a rich life, in her lake of thousands of other friends and companions. I was unable to pay for that richness. It was a bare fact, and there was nothing I could do about it, and it did not matter how much I yearned in my heart to understand her more completely. Underneath the lake’s smooth surface, it hid wonders that I could not see and could never comprehend. And I had wanted so much to show her my world, the world that I came from. But our constraints could not be broken; we were trapped in them as long as we lived and it was futile trying to break free of them. That was why things ended the way they did.

A fish’s dream should stay in the water and a goat knows better than to get its hooves wet…

I gasped and choked, sputtering out of the broken surface of the water, heaving in huge breaths of fresh air. I had tried to breathe in the water that was her lifeline… the execution of such an exercise in futility stands as a mocking testimony to my blindness. The pain and disappointment in my heart might be intangible and metaphorical, but there was no denying the searing sensation throughout my entire airway and lungs.

Finite boundaries.

This will only get worse.
I will not concede that
I love you
And I say with certainty that
We were never meant to be
I was stupid to think
We can last forever
I felt as if
You have never loved me
And I’m wrong for thinking that
I could be the best for you
I am trying to show that
My studies
Are more important than
You
Now, I realize
Love is a waste of time
It’s not true that
I love you.

Now read this in reverse.

Freewriting

I hold a freezing star in my hands. It’s so cold that it’s burning, melting its own core and eating at our flames with relentless trickles. It’s fire and water in one, hot and cold. Blazing and pouring. A perfect yin and yang, a complete fusion of yin and yang— an absolute expanse of grayness, but just an equilibrium balanced at the wrong end.

It used to shine with a warm glow, so comforting to look at and to feel in my palm; it was the brightest and most beautiful thing in my world. It was an infallible guide in my darkest nights. Always this star, this one single star that gave me so much strength and hope day after day.

Perhaps I held it too tightly in my hands. Perhaps it did not like the touch of my coarse fingers. It turned cold, as if trying to get away from me. It stopped glowing, and instead became a shiny black mass, like a piece of coal, staining my hands, leaving dark streaks and imprints behind.

Perhaps mortals like me should not dream of owning stars, as if they could ever belong to us. Perhaps it was wrong of me to have picked this one out from the sky, that one night in spring. Someday, I would have to place it back, hide it deep into the endless sky, where I would never be able to find it again.

(At the boundary of two distinct worlds, I partially submerge myself in your element to get a glimpse of the universe that you come from. I cannot stay indefinitely, but the certainty of briefness is what makes the time we spend together, exploring each other’s worlds, so sweet. We both know that I would have to leave very soon.)

 

(to be continued… indefinitely)

Drifting through streets of industrial Hong Kong
Dimly lit stairways quietly lure us deeper
Into this old beating heart, throbbing
Through the dust and smoke, a constant
Unchanged variable, through colonial days
To the handover, there are still men who live by

Lifting crates and smoking.
They used to play cards,
Now they have iPhones.

Narrow alleys, motor repairs graced with
Graffiti, uncivilized sophistication
Slipping through backdoors, stuffy fire escapes,
With abandoned offerings to gods
Rows of rotting Chinese buns pinned with incense
Going up and up, straining our ears for
Footsteps of security guards, who turn out to be
Lonesome, craving for company.

These rooftops don’t give panoramic views,
But here they show you what the Peak cannot.

Integrated into the hazy skyline,
Isolated from the perpetual bustle,
We take pictures of ourselves like
Typical teenagers
With the backdrop of ordinary buildings
Caressing us, into this city with a face
We finally see.

You can’t escape from the system.

Life is not without a sense of irony.

this

is a playground for my unspeakable thoughts.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.