32 – Work in Progress

Yesterday was my birthday.

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I woke up and took a shower early. While waiting for my hair to dry I put on a lotion mask and meditate. It’s been quite a while since I started looking after myself again. This body, this skin, these eyes and ears and hands and feets are those who help me to exist, to experience and to enjoy life. They are the shell but also a part of the gift that I’m blessed with. They deserve all my respect and care, as much as my mind and spirit do. A white T-shirt and a deep teal flowy skirt later, summer is officially at the door. I put on a dash of red lipcolour and rushed out into the sun.

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When we had a power cut, I suddenly felt so joyful just like a child having an unexpected break when the teacher has to go out of the classroom for a few minutes. Skipping down the corridor, I was grinning from ear to ear, Kinfold issue on Home kept close to chest, when I met him halfway. I must have looked super excited and happy that he smiled back, amusedly. The gentle kind of smile that melts your heart. It was beautiful. And this is also where things get dangerous. The moment I caught myself behaving childishly in front of someone is exactly when I have opened up, to trust and let in. It’s the moment I become most vulnerable. All guards down. No defense left. I am as bare and fragile as a tiny little daisy under the warm spring light. It’s almost possible to hear the flower stirring, its petals figetting against each other, ready to bloom.

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After lunch, I sneaked up to each desk and place on them a chocolate muffin from Marks and Spencer. I always wanted to give away such small gifts. The purpose is not about letting everyone know it’s my birthday but rather just about spreading some love without anybody knowing it. I thought about how they often say INFJs want to save the world anonymously and chuckled. After all, why not treating well those I get to see everyday? They are fine people, diverse and distinguished, and very kind, too. I spent the whole April trying figure out how to live, to really, really live. To feel connected to present, to touch a real hand and hug a real person, to feel cheerful creating things, cooking, drawing, painting, writing with my own two hands. Whether it’s a pen or a knife, on paper or on a cutting board, whether it’s the sight of a new moon, the smell of early lilacs or the sound of miso soup bubling from the stove, I wanted to go back and retie my life to those organic, lively trivalities that make up the reality around me. I wanted to wake the senses that I almost forgot to use and nuture the relationships that I didn’t have time to take care of.

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I was the last to leave the office, and the sky was sulking with weighty gray clouds menacing a coming rain. The chilly wind on the first day of June made me shiver. And all of a sudden I felt bewildered. And alone. I have always been alone for as long as I live. The bittersweet taste at the tip of my tongue turned sour. Birthdays are always the time when I feels most isolated. As much as I crave for real connections, generic ‘happy birthdays’ only leave me cold. This year, I received in total 3 wishes, 2 from close friends in middle school and university, the last one from a little friend who shared the love and admiration for our muse. They are the only ones who remembered and actually made an effort to reach out for me in time of ‘locking down’. Without a Facebook account, noone seems to remember my existence. How have we come to this point in life? Without an algorithm to remind and facilitate our memory and action, we have ceased to devote a little time and energy to keep someone included in our life. We have given up and submitted to the highly advanced artificiality. The more I look at the world, the more I am horrified that what Nicolas Carr describes in his best-seller “The Shallows” are becoming so threateningly prominent and mainstreaming. Often, I have the feeling that I am the only one fighting against the world. In this secret battle I’m trying my best to relentlessly staying alert, taking self-aware choices for important things in life, horning conscious craft, going for intuition and personal creativity, living slow and deep. But having the courage to refuse to delegate to computers, smart phones and other digital devices the best part of humanness and humanity is sometimes not enough. Just a small individual against a high tide.

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Raining was already sparingly knocking against the window but I was home, safe and sound. The meal I was preparing was far from a feast for a proper birthday dinner. I have never been much of a big cook. Rather than an aspiring chef or a food enthusiast, I have taken in cooking just to treat myself well. I love the sound of a boiling potato soup in a cold winter night or the familiar warmth of rice late in the afternoon. I cook because it takes only a hot and flavoured dish for one to feel home and loved.

Peeling a persimmon while waiting for fried tofu, I was humming. “But you can keep me inside the pocket of your ripped jeans.” I suddenly remembered how mom was always singing to herself when doing housework. Was she lonely, too? Did she just wanna fill the void or did she enjoy her own time and space? Did these songs do their job of consoling her soul and bringing back nostalgia to her mature years? Growing up, I had always taken her work and effort for granted, never thinking that one day I might be able to relate to her feelings of standing alone by the sink and doing the job of taking care of and serving for the whole family.

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I watched “Litte Cabin in the Woods”. I had determined to save the latest episode especially for the day when I could go home and enjoy this sweet little treat before going too bed. It made me smile and laugh throughout. Shin Hye and Ji Sub are just so adorable. Two people of the opposite sex, age, personality and experience deliver entertaining and meaningful experiments. The show creates such a calm healing vibe yet is fully charged with dynamics and surprises that it immediately flew up to the top of my list. Through each week I’ve learned a lot about slowing down, re-finding the center of daily life and re-focusing on body-mind balance. Seeing them discover the little joy of living simply in the middle of the forests makes me feel like it’s possible to change and incorporate those things into mundane existence in a city. Even just listening to the narrator’s honeyed voice will sooth your tired heart.

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The day drew to a close at 12h30. Another new day had already begun. I rolled inside the soft blanket, looking up through the skylight above my head. The Great Bear was shining, vividly bright through thin strips of clouds. “There is but one Paris.” Under these sparkling stars, no matter how hard it can get, I’m still holding strong. And life goes on.

 

 

 

 

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