As a kid, I used to trap ladybugs in a glass jar. I don’t remember what else I did with them, except that I would look for more. The spring days from many years ago were filled with lots of ladybugs. They would land on my hand or somewhere in front of me. When they landed, I had this itching crave to scrape off their wings before they could pull them in.
When I did that, they released a smelly, yellow mark on the surface, which I thought, was defecation or blood.
Many years later, I realized that some were clever enough to play dead by pulling the so-called reflex bleeding on me – a perfect and safe way to un-friend me.
My ignorance as a kid had built a danger zone for those bugs. It was like my social awkwardness had built a high barrier to shut off the other kids. I was very angry, angry with everyone. So I thought.
The only time I was nice to the bugs was letting them crawl up to the tip of my finger from where they’d fly off. It’s only fair to let a living creature make a choice. Ultimately nothing stays with you forever.
If I look at these geckos here in Southeast Asia, I believe that I would’ve had a collection of gecko tails as a kid. What would I have done with those tails, though? Built a necklace out of those meaningless trophies, which were products of other’s fear?
I wonder whether I was governed by the need to inflict pain on others or whether I wanted a sense of ownership.
I guess the latter is nothing but wishful thinking…
I didn’t get my first guinea pig until I was 10 or my first two dogs until I was 14. After all, they weren’t really mine because my mother was taking the most care of them, and they loved her the most. That was when I figured that the sense of responsibility wasn’t my strongest trait, and neither was motherhood. I was scared of being someone’s best friend and looking after plants.
To clear the nasty images of the first two paragraphs – no, I didn’t harm my pets. Those little, sweet creatures have a voice, unlike the bugs. If you lift your guinea pig the wrong way or accidentally step on your dog’s paw, they’d squeak, whereas a bug would be dead. Of course, they don’t perceive any pain like humans or animals, but I still envy them. What is it like to have no brain and rely on your nerve cell? Moreover, what is it like to be unaware of your own existence while still ruled by survival instinct? This instinct doesn’t even require a cerebral cortex because pain means nothing to these bugs. Our dogs cannot understand pain. But to us, it means everything.
A few years ago, I told myself that I wouldn’t get heartbroken again. And this will definitely not happen again. I did figure that heartbreak is not permanent anyway. You get over it in a few weeks, especially if you know it has happened for a good reason. Listen to your music, have a tattoo done, and you’re happy again the next day. What happened to you is an art of living – literally. It’s even easier if being alone is the least that you’re scared of. I always thought that I was my own worst enemy, perhaps I am, but I am still my best company because only I can put my mind at peace. And Vipassana has proved to me that I am far, far from it.
When I captured those ladybugs, I believed that I could kidnap friendship. Perhaps I did feel alone, and it wasn’t until I’d discovered cheesy story-writing that I began cherishing alone time. It became the only thing that I knew.
So heartbreak has stopped being a burden to me since 2013. Now all there’s left is “mind break.” It often comes with lethargy and apathy. Heartbreak and mind break used to be a good team in terms of writing. It’s probably because I am an emotional person too strongly steered by the heart. Alternatively, if the mind stands on its own, I tend to have difficulties being rational. I would even lack common sense. If you cannot make any sense out of mind break, imagine it like this: My mind would usually borrow my heart’s leg and run a perfect three-legged race together. My mind would also feed on my heart’s passionate energies. The daily fuel is now absent because I don’t know what I am feeling anymore. My heart’s in bed, reluctant to come out and sprinkle dust on my mind and me. And nobody is at fault, but me. My heart feels like a mechanical failure on the tracks that triggered my mind to derail. Now both parties need a fix, for they cannot be separated. I’ve never been good at finding balance. If my heart were in anguish, my mind would act instantly, whereas vice versa, there is no such thing. The lack of concentration, action and the high level of fear have deterred me from thinking for myself lately.
When my one-legged mind went to the Vipassana course, he hoped to re-create an organic leg and not just construct a prosthetic one.
If you want to become a doctor or a scientist, you’ll have a long path to go.
During the Vipassana course, Goenka said that we were merely at the stage of kindergarteners. Who knows when I’m going to make it to primary school? Is there even hope for college?
Do you wonder what had happened to his second leg before all this?
In your school, you’d probably encountered that quiet kid that was different from you and all the others. That kid might have plugged ant holes, caught tadpoles from the pond or poked snails in the eyes, etc., but never did you know why.
Did you ever notice that this kid looked down a lot? That’s because it only had eyes for the ground. If you look down too much without a significant cause, you become an “Invalid.”
My one-legged mind was saved by heart in 1994 when I glanced down at my first journal. They began running successful 3-legged races in which I was cheering them. I was looking up inwardly, while I was outwardly torn. Journal and fiction writing helped me to bolster all my inadequacies.
I found a way to inflict pain on imagined characters without feeling guilty, as I would guide them through to redemption. I am fully responsible for their actions, but not necessarily for who they are. They are born that way. I watch them change. I want to call that motherhood. I might not be their best friend, for I pass on my pain to them. That way, I protect my real-life loved ones.
Up to now, my mind has always had three legs, and now I feel like it’s regressing into one leg. I’ve been aware for quite a while that action needs to be taken. Or perhaps all this time, I’ve only been pretending to be what I am not – a three-legged racer, or in other words, a writer.
“There is only one corner of the universe, you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley.
I’ve only attempted to become a better person, or to be more precise, save myself from meaninglessness and absurdity as they cause me mental pain.
“You only grow when you are alone.” – Paul Newman.
My mind and heart were growing when I was alone. Though, with this current mind break, I don’t know how to evoke my heart into action effectively. All I can do is observe it during Vipassana or nudge it with its favourite songs in E minor.
The ladybugs had died in the glass jar unless my mother had found them and released them.