And I thought to myself, the night does not choose to hide. It shows itself to us fully and fully it gives way to our inner emotions, the mirror as shadow. Winter announces its long arrival and slow departure. What is darkness to those of us with promise’s light? What is this drawn breath from the heart? Wind in cycle and snow in cycle, land sounds in cycle. Countless messages, to past lives.
The streetcar down Spadina lulls one’s senses to that something beyond, the grey cloud and the red cloud, the lapping water and the calm water. This is no longer a world of wheels, nor that of beginnings and ends. When it turns (that sweet, metal curvature), the Earth turns, and we turn, and the sky deepens slowly.
The act of collecting little things of nature is delightful, children’s tales told in the early evening delightful. The granite rocks and acorns from Muskoka this weekend. The plump chestnuts on the bikelane of Hoskin Street this afternoon. The dried spotted corn from seasons ago, the mini pumpkins from Kensington Market. Those that are free are the most delightful, but regardless, they are all beautiful in their permanent impermanence.
Last week during a creative writing workshop, I was given six words by the person sitting beside me, and I was to write something from them. Here’s the first stanza of that swift poem:
In the small crack of your voice,
a greening blossom,
a raising bursting
Here in Toronto, things are picking up for me. I’ve greatly overcommitted, I’ve slowly realized this consumerist attitude I’ve led my young adult life on. Yesterday there was a discarded box of free CDs by the English Lounge. There were some bangers in there: Regina Spektor, The Strokes, The War on Drugs, The Weakerthans…
Look, I respect The Weakerthans and I know they’re Winnipeg’s jem. But sometimes I can’t help but associate their music with bland white food. Now, I hate myself for even writing that sentence, as it’s the sort of generalized Internet-culture language that I feel is not conducive to “dialogue”. Now, I also don’t admire myself for writing this previous sentence – there’s so much to imply with dialogue and I’ve appropriated the word by carelessly sticking quotation marks around it. I just… don’t feel like “One Great City!” is still of complete relevance in our more awakened times. “…our Golden Business Boy will watch the North End die.” There’s a certain level of discomfort with such a line now. It’s what Jia Tolentino said about privilege. It’s what I’m exhibiting right now.
Personal blogs are dead. Fake deep rules. Authenticity remains as the God who never wanted to be God.
Today was the Climate Strike of Toronto, and it was a damn beautiful day, clear skies and mild wind. It felt good for the spirit. Toronto’s attendance (~75 000), paled in comparison to Montreal’s 500 000. Numbers are everything, but only everything to a certain extent. Some of my friends suggested storming a Bank next time.
How do we awaken within the urgency of the situation? I know I go back and forth. Slumbering in the suburbs is quite easy, while in the big city, not so much. It’s unfortunate reflection of urgency depends on space, but I suppose it’s inseparable from it. From morning to evening people took pictures of the searching me and my poster. (What is it with artists and their empathy within an insufferable egotism?)
Walking down the streets against people and against the sweet sun I unwillingly found myself in a parade of sorts (“parade”, as my friend put it). Spontaneously and greatly, protestors blocked the intersection of College and University until around 7:00 PM. Night had fallen quickly. I felt lost, although juicing apples helped a little, like the band-aid you are grateful for.
Anything I could say on a day like this is weighed with too much philosophical air to amount to something I’d accept as good honesty. (I’m starting to think that honesty itself doesn’t really matter, and what does is whether it’s good or not.) Although my friend said something I wanted my heart to remember forever and forever: “Just remember… whatever you do, you cannot ignore him. You need to be nice to him, because he didn’t do anything. It’s all in your mind.”
As a “young”, “emotional”, “confused” person, I’ve realized and I’ve been persuaded that many of life’s parts are a series of contradictions and tensions that need to be dealt with or else left alone. Today I had a conversation over spotted apples and it’s made me think about what exactly what I want from life, both because it did and because I wanted to capitalize on such a rare instance of lucid confusion. I would like to keep this list as short as possible, and they are only numbered to keep track of the amount of points.
1. Spending time and taking care of my family and friends.
2. Learning, enjoying, creating, experiencing poetry, literature, art.
3. Understanding nature by living in it, and to properly respect it and defend it.
4. Making a living from something that I am proud of.
5. Sharing love.
6. Questioning myself and answering myself.
7. Realizing life in its chaos and order.
Goddamn, lists make everything seem so simple. But perhaps there is a simple side to things. That would be reassuring – a warm and reliable thought.
After a tough first week back in Toronto (why do I always think I’ve got ahold of the transition?) I am moving into the end of the second week, beginning of the third, with a much more elated heart. In some ways I would prefer not to admit that so overtly, but I suppose I should admit some good things, sometimes.
Today David Suzuki spoke to a group of us up on the rooftop patio of the UofT’s Sustainability Office (which is, if you didn’t know, within the Exam Centre – top floor). He was in his blue jeans and blue sleeved shirt, and tinted glasses. The beard was as ever. The talk began with everyone introducing themselves – everyone was very impressive, which meant that I adopted a defensive inner attitude, despite my complete awareness and acceptance of my relative “inadequacy”. This was a result of the feeling that I had done nothing significant to help the environment in several, several months. Which was true. Between work and the LSAT, I was simply indulging in books and beautiful words.
Perhaps at around the halfway point, David Suzuki, while answering a student’s question, declared that in terms of his work in environmentalist, he was “a complete failure.” That declaration should’ve jolted me, but I think my awareness was too taken by the sheer vulnerability of his answer to truly consider exactly what he was saying. But at the end, he launched into a memory of his grandchildren. He told us how his daughter and her husband had moved into the family house, so the Suzukis could help raise their newborn twins. When the twins were around five months old, Suzuki held them and started weeping. His daughter and his wife quickly snatched the babies away (there was a chuckle at that) and wondered what was wrong? What was wrong, was the future these children would never have. “I feel so much shame for what we [his generation] have done.” His tone was completely changed by then. There was no longer a hint of a joke at this idea of failure. He brought his arms to his knees – back bent, head low.
After the talk, most of the students stayed on the patio to chat with each other. The empathy was palpable. I don’t think I had a lot of my defensiveness left. We didn’t receive a lot of concrete answers, but we witnessed a sharing of soul. This was a poetic event at the end of it all.
After biking to Almond Butterfly for a bagel and eating it fondly in Trinity’s Quad, I returned to my room to continue studying. At 6PM, I rushed out of my room and grabbed my bike. In the Quad, I bumped into a Chinese family. The father was an engineer of some sort. He was very adamant about my future, told me to dream “the big dream!” We exited at the same time, and as I propelled myself on the bike, he left me with one last “jia you!” Do you see how hard it is sometimes to deviate away from the well-meaning expectations of Chinese parents? It’s something bigger than all of us, even though it’s ultimately an illusion.
Downtown Toronto is not very bike friendly. But I made it to the Waterfront after a detour through Nathan Phillips Square, where a celebration of Mexican Independence was happening. I think there was some sort of Bachelor’s Auction happening on the main stage. The Waterfront was less illuminated than I hoped for. You forget how tall the buildings really are. I ate my apple with some birds watching me. A boat sped past with an energetic, young couple dancing and a driver who looked like he could not give less of a shit. A little water/foam splashed on my clothes. I biked back home, the sun setting dark. Ate some, studied some, picked up my violin. A week ago I felt so lonely I couldn’t fall asleep. Life moves on like waves and it’s probably best not to hang on too seriously at any point.
Ah. The furious cycle of August. Not over! Not over. But what feels like soon, and what is soon. In the beginning of it all I had made a trip to the library, and came out with two books from Chinese Non-Fiction. The smaller one was a a truly small one, the type with the cover-jacket-flap-in-one that purported to concisely summarize the Cultural Revolution (Oxford). The second was a wider, longer hardcover, pink on the cover with forest green lettering, which spelled out “Written on Water”, by Eileen Chang (Columbia University Press). I didn’t touch them, for I was reading “Lands of Lost Borders” by Kate Harris, and “The Grapes of Wrath” by Steinbeck. These two books both deserve a post on their own. However, I won’t be able to accomplish that if I only allow myself to write here in the fleeting pattern that I am now.
Anyways, as I quickly blurted to my friend S through my phone typing, reading Eileen Chang has felt like a literary awakening to me. And I suppose feeling, in the literary realm, is being. She feels (IS) like a friend, a strong woman, a lost woman, a highest intellectual, a natural soul. I am furiously writing passages from her book on the white half-piece of paper I carry between the pages. I wanted to cry when she wrote,
“China is a nation of words… An excessive faith in the power of words is our most distinctive characteristic.” (38)
and also when she wrote,
“What a shame that we occupy ourselves instead searching for shadows of ourselves in the shop windows that flit so quickly by – we see only our own faces, pallid and trivial. In our selfishness and emptiness, in our smug and shameless ignorance, everyone of us is like all the others. And each of us is alone.” (52)
and definitely cried when she wrote,
“When sitting in a tram, I sometimes happen to glance up at a gentleman standing in front of me, looking as grand as could possibly be, elegantly attired, refined, clearly a breed apart. But only seldom are such men’s nostrils clean. Thus the phrase: “No man can be a hero in the eyes of those below.” (10)
I am currently only on page 60. I want to quote everything. I’ve been finding myself in a sort of finding-people-to-admire-and-to-guide-me phase. I wonder if it’s an effect of all this resume-writing and “career”-building, attempting to latch on more concretely to ideologies and people whom you have confidence in, given their ideal success – in your mind, that is. Perhaps also an effect of Fleabag’s incredible speech/revelation to Hot Priest. (“Just fucking tell me what to do, Father!” and the ensuing “Kneel.”) Anyways, as long as I do not systematically worship. Emotionally, I’ll have to accept, I think.
Tonight I revisited Susanne Sundfør’s “Music for People in Trouble” and I listened in awe to this once-in-a-light-year artistry. For a brief moment the setting sun peaked from the heavy, lightening gray clouds (which had been spewing life all day) and the road glistened with yellow. There was a rainbow, east. I thought about how much I will miss my room come Toronto. Very much a materialist thought, given the generous size, the comfort, and overflowing books of my room. One of sentiment too.
Summer fruit is meeting its end. The cherries and strawberries my mom bought from Costco were partially rotten, and not nearly as juicy, plump as a few weeks ago (cherries, especially). The watermelon is still divine, however. I can’t believe I have one week to get my shit together for Toronto. I need Casy’s or Hot Priest’s guidance.
Which I have, like slipping into a river half-consciously, allowed to dictate my summer’s happiness and unhappiness.
Which I un-proudly recognize as not-a-bad struggle to have.
Which has made me dream of Europe as necessity like food – delusion.
Which my parents plopped me into, and have kindly encouraged me through.
Which is just a number, just a 500$+ number, just a career-deciding number, just a damn set of three numbers between a breath and a smiling or a brooding.
Which makes me wonder: Is this what the GaoKao feels like? Does God play any part in this? Can I define this as difficulty? Will I have to admit to something I would rather not? What good does being sorry for myself do?
Ah… To be purposelessly dangling your legs whilst on top of the pyramid.
In no particular order, just as I think of them… Spoilers definite.
1. Opening scene of Season 2. The regality, that jumpsuit… the mirror’s truth/horror.
2. “Is it me, or is it God?” – the heartbreak and the tenderness.
3. Hot Priest’s speech about how romantic people are actually very strong. I felt giddily validated. Can we also speak to the bride and the groom’s outfits? So… on point. Refreshing!
6. Boo coming [through] the door again, wearing Fleabag’s beanie and trenchcoat.
7. Martin’s son sending a warning to Fleabag after his bassoon performance.
8. “… Weaky.”
9. Breaking the fourth wall / “Kneel” / That scene with Obama. The classics that I need to mention.
10. “People are all we’ve got.”
I am trying (perhaps obsessively, perhaps counterintuitively) to spend less time on Instagram and Twitter – but more so the former. I am reasoning that if I have the platform to write my “b-list” thoughts in a slightly more fleshed-out manner than I could on social media, I will devote less and less attention/importance to said social media. Also, would love to meet more like-minded and just plain interesting people. I know I can do that in real life too – but sometimes something other than “real” life is nice, just as long as I remember what is the “real” life.