The one-legged mind

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 ladybugs. They would land on my hand or somewhere in front of me. When they landed, I had the 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 set high bars to shut off the other kids. I was very angry, angry with everyone. So I thought.

The only time I was nice to bugs was when I let them crawl to the tip of my finger from where they’d fly away. It’s only fair to let a living creature make a choice. Ultimately nothing stays with you forever.


If I look at the 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? Would I have built a necklace out of those meaningless trophies, which were products of 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 taking 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 cruelty, I’d inflicted on ladybugs–no, I didn’t harm my pets. Those little, sweet creatures had 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 pain like humans or animals do, but I still envy them. What is it like to have no brain and rely on your nerve cells? Moreover, what is it like to be unaware of your own existence while still ruled by survival instincts? Instincts don’t even require a cerebral cortex because pain means nothing to these bugs. Our dogs can’t understand pain like we do. And yet, pain defines everything for us.


A few years ago, I told myself that I wouldn’t get heartbroken again. And it definitely won’t happen again. I figured out that heartbreak wasn’t permanent. You get over it within a few weeks, especially if you know it happened for a good reason. Listen to your music, get a tattoo, and you’ll be content again. What happened to you is an art of living – literally. It’s even easier if being alone is the least that you’re afraid of. I always thought that I was my own worst enemy, perhaps I am, but I’m still my best company because only I can put my mind at peace.

And Vipassana proved to me that I’m far, far away 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 I knew.

So heartbreak stopped being a burden to me in 2013. Instead, I’m going through a “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’m 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 lack more common sense than I already do. If you can’t 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’m feeling anymore. My heart’s in bed, reluctant to come out and sprinkle dust on my mind. It’s nobody’s fault but mine. My heart feels like a mechanical failure on the tracks that derailed my mind. Now both parties need a fix, for you can’t separate them. 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 a thing. The lack of focus and action has deterred me from thinking for myself. I’m scared too.

When my one-legged mind went to the Vipassana course, it had 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 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. Instead of worrying about that kid’s mental health, you worry about it starting a shooting spree like mentally troubled kids in America.

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 the heart in 1994 when I glanced down at my first journal. My mind and heart began running successfully in three-legged races. And I was cheering them. I was looking inward, while on the outside, I was still torn.

Journal and fiction writing helped me to bolster my inadequacies.

I found a way to inflict pain on imagined characters without feeling guilty, as I would guide them through to redemption. I’m 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 loved ones in real life.


Up to now, my mind has always had three legs, and now I feel like it’s regressing into one leg again. I’ve been aware for quite a while that I need to take action. Or perhaps all this time, I’ve only been pretending to be what I’m 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 rouse 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.

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