Skywards, and across the land

After a long while of not being able to remember the reasons why I enjoyed writing on this blog so much, it has finally returned to me.

There is no reason to hide here; no reason to obscure emotions that I may feel discouraged to discuss. Essentially, for me, this space exists as a result of a yearning for an output of internal zest: bodily marginalia that on a day-to-day basis, seems feckless and unavailing by the likes of constant disconcertment by people and immense emotion, commodifying what we feel and not being able to value what should be valued; upwells of heartfelt, tender emotion stunted.

Here, my words and emotions can reach and stretch horizontally and vertically. There is no path. There is no end. Time and space is boundless here.

And I am so thankful that such a space exists.

It would be naïve to think that everything I think and say is readily accepted by people, but that is nor my aim or intention. I want people to be stirred; inspired; moved; to feel something, anything. And if my blog doesn’t do that, it’s still okay.

Writing for this space; clumsily, hastily – typing the words that accrue from the depths of my mind is a wonderful feeling. I float skywards, and across the land.

A Year

It’s been over a year since receiving a rejection from my preferred university, and less than a year since knowing I was going to go there.

A year; a reflection.

Flicking through the clumsy marginalia and scribbles in my moleskine diary, I stumbled across the week that I spent mourning the immense loss and pain after results day, but exactly 56 weeks after that, we are here. We happen to be living now: on the 27 September. And by this time next week, I will be there. I will be in Durham.

I will (try to) document my stay there; what I get up to and student life in general. It’ll be interesting. I’m intrigued.

19

I turned 19 two days ago. I thought I’d scribble a few things down to look back on for myself in a year or two, or even five. It’d also be nice to think that others could maybe find in these coming paragraphs something noteworthy; so here goes:

  1. It’s August already, and I have come to find that staying in bed until twelve in the afternoon doesn’t exactly help to savour the little time that we have in each day— even if it can sometimes seem tedious.
  2. Time is fleeting, and you’ll want to set yourself unlikely goals. You know your limits – so stick to them and work with them. I think you’ll accomplish the most in you favour this way.
  3. Take any given opportunity to travel. The very essence of knowing the world is to see it.
  4. Do things that are invaluable to you. For me, it’s this: draw as much as you can, whenever you can.
  5. Create artwork, and you’ve got to learn how to use oil paints soon.
  6. Savour the world around you at times. It can be wondrously refreshing to relinquish everyday thoughts and just stop and look. There’s a wonderful quote to accompany this one: “When you weren’t looking, the sun got behind you! The only way to keep things slow was to watch everything and do nothing! You could stretch a day to three days, sure, just by watching!” – Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
  7. Read more. Read as much as you possibly can.
  8. Do what you can for this planet. Let it know that you are doing what you can.
  9. Write more— be it blogposts or letters, essays or marginalia; take time out of your day to do something worthwhile.
  10. Don’t try to adhere to societal standards (whatever they may be); start and stop when you want to; do what you know is right.
  11. Don’t dream your life; live your dream.
  12. Understand that people do things because they think it’s right; people don’t change for you when you want them to. Sometimes, they can only learn themselves, so be forgiving.
  13. Everything is here and happens for a reason; whether people may agree with you or not, please never lose faith in that.
  14. Be kind to others, even if they do not return it, and do not expect anything in return for favours; be generous.
  15. Practice languages other than English; never forget Japanese or Italian.
  16. Speak to your grandparents more. They hold so much more wisdom than you think.
  17. Don’t hold onto the past; relinquish past misunderstandings and mistakes; live right now.
  18. It’s okay to feel misunderstood and precluded. These kinds of things happen. The most important thing is to learn from them.
  19. Finally— live to enjoy every minute.

Houkokuji Temple: Princess Kaguya

In my last post, I introduced some recommended temples, shrines and tourist attractions in Kamakura (which if you’d like to read, you can here!). I mentioned that Houkokuji Temple was quite special to me, and this is why.

The following would probably be best described as an anecdote which I can’t quite seem to shake off.


 

I can’t help but think after precious moments like these that, some things are meant to remain in our memories for a very long time.

My friend and I had just finished taking photographs in the small bamboo grove that we planned to circle for the second time (because, well, we couldn’t get enough of its beauty). I slung my camera on my left shoulder along with my unnecessarily heavy rucksack which I seriously regretted bringing with me that day, and we began to walk back towards the entrance to the small wood.

As I looked towards the light streaming past the bamboo canes, I lowered my gaze to the shaded area which the bamboo trees began, when something small and pink caught my eye. It was a girl. She was probably about three, and had somehow managed to wander into the forest alone.

It wasn’t long before her seemingly angry parents noticed and called for her to return to them, but in those few moments I was overflown with such nostalgia that I couldn’t help but be fixated.

Flashes of pictures from Studio Ghibli’s 「かぐや姫の物語 」(Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) appeared in my mind; beautiful streaks of watercolour and traditional Japanese-inspired brushstrokes. The scene before me was stripped into a simple drawing with dashes of green and the girl’s pink figure was replaced by the similar-looking main character, Kaguya-hime, as a child.

e7a2b1b8481d7edc6583df5febf2210cKaguya-hime no Monogatari, meaning The Story of Princess Kaguya (also known as The Legend of the Bamboo Cutter), is an extremely well-known legendary folk tale in Japan, which is also considered to be the oldest known Japanese prose narrative. Studio Ghibli presents the story a little differently to the original, but it is wonderful.

Centred around Kaguya-hime, the mysterious protagonist who was found by a bamboo cutter in a glowing bamboo stalk, her life quickly unfolds in a series of wonderfully illustrated scenes. She encounters love, but also sadness; the narrative is compelling, with many implicit denotations that possess such rawness and beauty. There’s just no way my explanation can do the story or movie justice! If you haven’t seen it already, please do.

The music is also so beautiful, just like every other Studio Ghibli movie. Here‘s a link to the theme song, 「命の記憶」(Inochi no Kioku), directly translated as ‘Memories of life’.

When I saw the girl, after the scene had transformed into a series of watercolour illustrations, this music started playing in my head. And I just can’t seem to forget it.

Here’s to new beginnings.

2016 seems to have arrived unwaveringly, striding through the threshold of time without once looking back. But before beginning this year, I wanted to take time to thank 2015 for all the opportunities and new experiences it has given me; I am very grateful.

What would a new year be without slurs of resolutions and talks of new beginnings? Newly regimented exercise schemes that are never started, aims to study harder never really accomplished – the list goes on.

Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour.

Above is a remark made by Ovid, a long time ago.

Instead of failed resolutions and disappointment, know that some things are destined and some are, well, not. Be patient and content and confident; the course of nature will find its way to you. I have been inspired by Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’, which I am in the process of finishing. It has given me hope – a mere fable, but a story so touching and profound. It has been a great start to the new year.

It’s odd to think that this new year really will mean a new adventure for me. I leave to Japan in early January: the beginning of my true gap year. I look forward to what fate has kindly predestined for me.

Just a book

‘The Book Thief’, it was called. The book that changed my life.

I love loosing myself in words. Wandering into the abyss of imagination and wonder: becoming lost, and wishing it could last eternally; wading in a sea of thought that seems to extend forever.

Just like Liesel, I found myself marvelling at the power of words.

When I finally came to the last few lines of the novel, tears spewing uncontrollably from my eyes, I read slowly, with trepidation. Why? Looking back now, I think it was because I did not want it to end. This book – these words – had given me a way to escape into a fictional dream, ignited with colours and life.

Before the very end, I experienced a flash of the scenes of people and emotion that was created with words: Liesel, who read to her neighbours in a crowded basement, Max painting the tightrope towards the sun, the stars that burned his eyes, Hans’ silver eyes and his accordion, death himself…

The paradoxical themes of innocence and destruction consumed me. Like the narrator, I questioned how beauty yet so much pain could coexist. He says,

I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

This book filled the empty shell of my imagination and curiosity. So little gave me so much.

For that reason, it is not just a book, but rather a wonderful, intricate collection of words thought through with inscrutable detail, creating a fictional dream in which you can perambulate forever; a world which allows you to stride beyond human imagination – words so powerful, they make you concede the notion of what at first you thought was not imaginable. I became part of that extrinsic imagination, and I struggle to figure out whether I’d ever like to leave.

A wavering thought

The wavering thought of whether I’ve made the right decision haunts me. However, more recently, I have found faith in the idea that all things happen for a reason. Not because of some higher power that creates fate and a predestined future for each individual (or maybe?), but because whatever we do, it is neither right or wrong; the choices we make mean something – and we should have faith in ourselves.

That is what keeps me on my feet: knowing that whatever we do, we will find happiness. I’d like to think there are no such things as mistakes, and that everything we do  acts as a reminder, lesson or something to instill confidence and righteousness.