Wallace Stevens

“In the presence of extraordinary reality, the consciousness takes the place of imagination.” – Wallace Stevens

 

Crows are gathering on tall, leafless trees outside the library. Chill sunny days with dead leaves on the ground bring a sense of peace to my mind. However, it takes a long time for this peace to sink in finally. For instance, the old me would look at things that bring joy to my mind, but I let the ugly power lines and the reflection of the library lights in the window irritate me. By now, the majority of crows have left without me even noticing it. One of our core problems is that we no longer pay attention to things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be nature or whatever is in front of our eyes. Unfortunately, we don’t pay attention to ourselves anymore. Some accuse us of selfishness when we want to do things for ourselves or plague ourselves with a guilty conscience that might not even be valid. If you forget to love yourself and things around you spin out of control, you will most likely fail in trying to fix anything, and you will drag yourself to a lower point than before. I remember when I used to reconnect with myself every week. Going to the library at the university every Saturday had become a ritual. I would stay there and write for at least six consecutive hours with music in my ears. This was how I used to iron things out with my troubled mind – letting the music talk to me, and I would talk back to it through a blog, story or my novel (which was nowhere near completion at the time). I often hinge on those memories because they leave a residue of meaning. Getting out of bed used to be the most natural thing in the world. You get up with the determination to be productive – to do something healthy. It could be anything – you could make someone’s day or even your own day; finish a book, start the first paragraph of a short story, cross-fit, call your mum.

My repertoire of things to say is never really as big as I would like it to be. My creativity used to feed on hate and anger, except that I was weak, and both hate and anger would soon turn into sadness and resentment. Staying strong has never been much of a strength of mine. The only way to vent and channel these negative emotions was to write them down and give them to characters with whom the reader can identify, although they will perceive it differently than I. But that’s the joy of writing and reading fiction. I’ve been feeding myself so much reality that I’d begun to disconnect. There are lots of responsibilities, or maybe not, but in your eyes, it seems like it is because you’re not used to it, or many things are not under your control. And communication has never been your strength. Suddenly you’re at a stage in your life where your weakness (to communicate) is challenged. The reason why you’ve been feeling consistently cold, weak and tired is that it’s the first time in your life where you’ve been outside your comfort zone for too long. Things only get more complicated as you grow older. The fearless young adult would raise an eyebrow at you. The problem is that you have experienced much more, and it feels wrong to want to talk about your fears with that young adult. You could never litter their minds with your fears as they will make their own choices anyway. It’s like talking to children. They want to see things with their own eyes and feel things with their own hearts. You will learn a lot from them since you’re no longer them.

My therapist told me never to turn off how I feel and that I need to gather my courage and express it as much as I can. The ones who care will listen and respect you. The ones who don’t listen and make you suffer for it are not part of your life.

The courage will come from remembering that you only have one life to live, and this life starts with loving yourself. See, I never loved myself. However, I’ve overcome the stage of self-loathing. I respect myself enough to take good care of my (mental) health. As far as self-love goes, there is still a lot of numbness evident, blurry vision and nausea. I want to say that music and writing help cleanse the innards of my mind, but in fact, they make me realize that there is still a lot of pain that needs to be released. My novel contained a lot of physical and emotional distress, and I’d done my best to tie together all the loose ends in whatever possible ways. However, I still feel like I’ve missed something…In fiction, the idealist has a life, whereas he lies to himself in reality. This is the tragedy that often makes me cry. You want reality and fiction to interrelate to make life more bearable, but I’d call this wishful thinking of the self. It’s a solipsistic world because only you are a part of it. The only way to engage others is to send them an invitation through a story of some kind. Perception is a significant aspect. I often wonder if people see me the way I see myself in the mirror or if they see me through a filtered lens. It’s the latter, as no one will ever see my mirror image through my eyes.

It only takes a leaf a few seconds to hit the ground. As you are watching, you are testing your patience; you are letting peace in. And a song in a minor key will help shoulder whatever sadness you are feeling. Your job is to filter this sadness through a sentence that will take it far, far away. Either that or make this sadness meaningful; make it the plot of a story. Try not to let any negative emotions slip or go to waste.

 

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