Letter from Paris

– Do we have trees?
– What?
– Do we have trees there at our new place? I need them to survive. J’ai besoin des arbres.
– T’as besoin d’arbres?

He corrected my broken French then looked out the windows where London planes were waving their leaves gently under the summer sun.

– These trees, you’re happy with them?
– Yes.

Yes, I had chosen to be here for them in the first place. Apart from books, trees and skies are what keep me sane. You know, my mind is troubled these days. With 3 active volcanos and 50 open tabs with information streaming in without end, so much is going on inside my tiny litte brain. Emotions are amplified, social interactions are exaggerated, lights and noise quickly become toxic to the point I can hardly breathe. I watch myself daydream whenever possible just to have a minute or two being separated from the ‘here and now’. Sometimes, I just make an excuse to open or close the door to sneak out to the balcony and see the greeneries in the yard. Taking a deep breath, in, out, in, out. I have no idea how long more I can hold on.

The only thing I look forward to now is the Go class. Every other Saturday I go there, religiously. I’m still a beginner, all the rules and positions and tactics make my head dizzy, but in the room, we are quiet, concentrating ourselves on each move, of our own and of the other player. There’s such a deeply intense energy with all the stares anchored down to the wooden board and on to the black and white stones that makes me forget everything else. It’s almost the same feeling when I’m in the ‘flow‘. There, I meet people of extraordinary intelligence and curiosity, from the cute little sisters of not more than 10 years of age that we adults all adore to the teenager couple who by far advance before everyone else. Each game helps me understand Taekie a little better, what goes on in his mind while playing and why he gets exhausted after that, and also about life, about the strategies of looking at a forest and not focusing only on individual trees.

I once made a mistake on the class date and to avoid wasting my rush to the House of Japanese Culture for nothing, I took the liberty to go the library on the 3rd floor. It was beautiful, all airy and bright. The tables gleamed in the autumn light. Walls and walls of books lined up in solemn silence. We all tiptoed around the shelves under their stern but kind observation. In their quiet presence, I was calmed down. My monkey stopped jumping around like crazy. It was the day I came to know Kenya Hara, the brilliant mind behind MUJI purified philosophy. He has such an elegant, heart-warming way with words and proses that speaks to my heart, envelops me ever so lightly, like the scent of an exquisite fragrance that embraces everything it passes by. I lost track of time and space in books until the place closed. For the first time in weeks I could actually feel relieved.

And you know what, I started to write another script again. I had the idea hanging in my mind that I just needed to bleed onto paper. But one night, I found out that I couldn’t form words, then I couldn’t string them up into sentences. That’s when I realised the existence of this tumor inside my head that I had to let go. I could no longer afford to go on being passsive agressive, I couldn’t look at life with those cynical, critical eyes anymore. In order to write for kids, I have to be in my best state of mind, being all pure and vulnerable, open and kind and loving and forgiving. Because deep down inside, I know the little girl in me would hurt herself if I don’t stop.

But it’s not easy at all, to sit still with your own mistakes and face all the negative emotions and insecurities and hurt accumulated through the years until all the scars crack up and old wounds open and ache again.

Sometimes, I wonder if you have gone through a similar nighmare and how you have helped yourself wake up from it.



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