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if there’s a place I could heal
I want to be there
I want to curl up inside
the moments before the ecstasy of two feet turns
into agony
touching the ground
between a quicksilver kick and
a frozen hinge, between a 
sentimental reach and a full-throttle
bobble
I want to build a home
where transitory moments disperse
the journey between a gaze and a touch
what happens when journeys become homes?
what gets replaced?
who will visit?
who will get lost?
where will we put the vase of tulips?

dispatches from the Middle East - shared cabs and night rides

It’s been a helluva week, and I cannot be happier than ever that it’s over, especially after recent events at work. The weekendd starts tomorrow, and I’ve got some pretty fun plans for tomorrow. Cordu, a fellow intern at JT, and I are gonna go to Souk Abdali, a weekly market that sells everything from clothes straight from the wholesaler to fruits and veggies and toys. I think I talked a little about it in one of my first posts, but yeah. It’s a mecca for bargain stuff, really. Anyway, I know that I was hoping to finally write some more analysis-type stuff on things that’s happened to me, but that’ll have to wait over, you’ve guessed it, descriptions of things I did today!! Yay!!!!!!!!!1

First of all, I finally got to meet my sources and did a group preliminary interviews and somewhat solidify what I’m gonna be reporting on. Just so that I can send my pitch letter back to outlets in Seattle. So far, a lot of it is still really up in the air, but the NGO I’m hoping to profile says that they may do some field work in the next couple of weeks and I could come with. Exciting to have this project finally move, even if just a little bit. In addition, though they’re not promising anything (understandably), there might be a possibility that I could come and cover their work in Zaatari or Azraq refugee camps. Guess we’ll see, but fingers crossed.

Now, on to the next point. I also got to go to ballet class!!! Yippeeee. It’s been a month geez…. My turns are not what they used to be, nor are my balances and strength. But who cares, dancing feels so good, and it makes me feel amazing afterwards. After that, I had iftar in one of the malls in Sweifiyeh and went back to work and all that. Finished work at about 10 p.m. and then decided to go check out Rabiah neighborhood where the Israeli embassy is. I couldn’t find it after walking around the neighborhood and asking around, but it did seemed a little quiet in the area, so I decided to go back home. I told the driver to go to Jabal Lweibdeh where I live, and apparently he didn’t know how to get there from where we were. Guess what, neither did I. He also spoke about as much English as I do Arabic, only like a even a little bit less. So we kind of just drove around a little bit and at one point, this girl hailed my cab and said to go to Tajj Mall, which is a fancy mall in a fancy part of town. The driver said to come in (sharing cabs is kind of a thing here). She thanked me for letting her share the cab with me. I think the driver told her that I didn’t speak Arabic and he didn’t speak English. Well guess what, she started speaking English and got super excited. Apparently she’s a Jordanian who was born in New York and currently lives in California, but she’s in town for the time being. She comes to Amman about once every year, kind of like me and Jakarta.

Anyway, we exchanged numbers and she told me to call her if I got lost on the way to Lweibdeh lol, and we made plans to hang out later on Friday. But anyway, we passed by Abdoun, the fancy part of town I mentioned, and apparently they closed down the streets around the U.S. and Israeli embassies cause of things happening in Gaza in Israel, as well as possible protests happening here. There were protests and attempted sit-ins at the Israeli embassy last night, with arrests and stuff. There were also things going on in Irbid, which is a ways north from Amman. Rajive told me earlier that it may be crazy tomorrow around al Balad with public rallies. Not exactly sure what he means by that, or what might happen, but I guess we’ll just see. Everything that’s happening around us is fucking crazy.

Moving on with the story though, after we dropped Tala, the New Yorker-Californian-Jordanian at Tajj Mall, we set off for Lweibdeh. At this point, the driver knows where to go and how to get to Lweibdeh. But of course, we stopped for these two guys who also shared the cab with me. They didn’t speak English tho, so I couldn’t make friends or eased the awkwardness. But we went to somewhere I’m not really sure where, but it was in East Amman (Abdoun, Tajj Mall, and Rabiah are all in West Amman, the more well-off part of town), and it was kind of a ways away from both Abdoun and Lweibdeh. It was kind of awk, but I don’t really mind it though, I like driving around at night and kind of get to see the city glow with life at night, especially during Ramadan where the lives extend all the way to Sahur (that’s the Indonesian spelling, the Arabic one is apparently suhoor), which is the pre-dawn meal that people have before a day of fasting during Ramadan.

Anyway, afterwards we finally went to Lweibdeh, and the driver tried to make conversation with me, but we didn’t speak each others’ language, so we ended up conversing via informal sign language and gestures (lol). It was kinda weird, but he was nice and not awkwardly weird or rude or whatever. Anyway, I got home around 12 and drank a beer and now writing tis post while watching the news on Al Jazeera. Damn it’s depressing. The news is fucking depressing. And it’s fucking hot here.

-i

dispatches from the Middle East - first impressions.

Holy fuck. It’s my third day in Amman, and already I’m feeling the wash of sensory overload. There's so many things to see, do, and think about. Like a shit ton. 

If any of you missed the news, I got a scholarship to go to Amman, Jordan and intern at The Jordan Times, an English-speaking newspaper based in Amman. So here I am.

First of all, I love Jabal Lweibdeh, it’s the neighborhood I live in. The neighborhood is beautiful and so relaxed, and there are plenty of pleasant shops around. A lot of art spaces too. Below’s a pic of a quiet street in Weibdeh. It’s around noon on a Friday, which is a day off, and most Muslim men are away in mosques for the Friday prayer.

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Well, back to my holy fuck sentiments. There’s just so much going on I really don’t know where to start. But Amman reminds me a lot of Jakarta. There’s pockets of residential neighborhood just like Kemang, Antasari, Cilandak, or Pondok Indah (if I were to draw a parallel, where I live is kind of akin to Cilandak, which is actually where I live in Jakarta). Then there’s the central business district, which is actually really similar to Jakarta’s SCBD or Bunderan HI areas. But here, the city is especially colorless. All of the buildings are beige, although the insides can be colorful. Striking colors pepper the city on shop signs, marquees, billboards, or even laundry and carpets that hung on the balcony. And unlike Jakarta, most areas are separated by patches of dry land (it is a desert after all). The makeup of the town is also divided to these traffic “circles” based on the different hills, which are damn steep. The city’s very much a car city though. I also visited other neighborhoods today. Abdoun is pretty much like Pondok Indah, full of fancy houses and modern attractions. Some of the malls here are also ridiculously similar to places like Senayan City or something. 

On another note, I visited the Roman Theatre today. Damn it’s gorgeous. And then there’s a weekly flea market that has a shit ton of cute things. It took a lot out of me not to buy anything. I’ll probably return next week and raid it. On yet another different note, I’m having major ballet withdrawals I’ve started doing pliés in my room with my roommate’s cat watching (yes, we have a cat).

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Now on to the journalism part. Holy fuck. There's so much going on. Like how do you even start writing? First of all, I don’t know if you noticed, but Middle East’s political situation is pretty depressing you guys… For the areas in conflict, there seems to be no end in sight. There’s the situation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or ISIS, if you don’t know what that is, the Inquistr has a pretty rudimentary explainer on the background, and whether to call the jihadist militant group “ISIS” or “ISIL”). In case you don’t pay attention to world politics, which I recommend you do, ISIS is pretty much gaining international attention, not to mention reportedly planning on infiltrating Jordan. Yet, some also say that the situation is largely overplayed by the media, and Jordan isn’t that vulnerable to threats of ISIS infiltration. For one thing, Jordan is relatively more stable than its neighboring countries, and although sectarian sentiments do exist, it’s not as extreme as in other countries. I guess pretty much most of the Middle East is fundamentally sectarian. They have very strong ties to their roots and have major concepts of honor. That, when coupled with the identity crises between nationalism/secularism on one hand and Islamism (or in some cases, Christianism) on the other hand, and then coupled yet again with problematic and un-empathetically drawn borders from the colonial period (see Tarek Osman’s piece from last December for background), politics in the Middle East get pretty damn depressing.

Iraq is only across the border, yet their society is slowly crumbling away. Even the Iraqi government is pleading for help in the form of air strikes from Washington (Obama denied, but this Thursday, the U.S. government announced that it will send 300 military advisers to help Iraq’s army repel the advance of Sunni insurgents).

When you’re sitting comfortably on your idyllic Western lifestyles, it’s easy to look at it and sigh, shake your head, analyze the situation for like two seconds, and then forget about it. Here in Amman, a pretty safe city in a relatively stable country as someone who’s only going to be here for less than three months, similar thoughts occur and I still have that privilege to forget about the situation, but only to some extent. There’s so many more stark reminders of the calamity of the whole situation when you’re closer to the conflict and actually have to keep up with it for your job. You get stark reminders that these are fucking human lives. There are people who are evil enough to kill other human beings, drive them away from their homes, and tear families apart. But as much as we all would like to think of it as “good guys” and “bad guys,” it’s hardly ever that simple. It’s real shady, and they’re all gray.

Then there’s the Syrian refugee situation. Holy molly. If you’re not familiar with the conflict, which not many are, a friend of mine who also received the same scholarship I did and will be going to Sierra Leone to intern at paper based Freetown, wrote a thing about it recently for a Seattle news outlet. Get familiar. Hopefully one of these days I can get access to one of the refugee camps in Jordan (the UNHCR recently opened a new refugee camp) and write a story on one. God knows if there will be people who will talk to me during Ramadan, but I would so want to do something on the Azraq camp during Ramadan or Eid. Stuff has been done on the existing Zaatari camp, but not as much yet on Azraq since it’s still new. When you look at the Zaatari camp, now the fifth largest city in Jordan, you feel pretty bleak real fast. The gender-based and power-based violence that occur, children having to work so young, disputes between refugees wanting to get more resources, rich Arab men coming to the camps only to pick up young Syrian girls to marry in exchange for money for the family, sexual violence by the guards or other refugees, the list goes on. But also, the lack of agency that these people have is so heartbreaking. They don’t have things to do, things to see, things to talk about. It’s a fucking desert. They just want to go home and go back to their lives, but who knows when that’s gonna happen. Instead, they’re on the outskirts of a country that’s not theirs, living a subsidized life provided by people and agencies giving their time, money, and energy for them. That kind of dependency has got to do things to your humanity. Not to mention there’s  added trauma from the things they went through before they even got to the camps. By the way, today is the UN’s World Refugee Day. It’s a shame that in commemoration with this, humanitarian crises are just beginning or still continuing.

Then there’s the LGBTQIA+ community. The challenges they face and resilience they show in living their identities in an oppressive society has always amazed me. Maybe one of these days, I’ll get to writing about a local drag queen or something.

The Jordan Times. I met the managing editor there yesterday. It seems that she’s more concerned with the getting to see Jordan and visiting tourist attraction part of the trip. Which is great, but still, I came here to work. I’d love to still write a couple of pieces for them, especially about things going on within Jordan outside of Amman, like the surrounding governorates and cities. Yes, the dire regional crises is worth covering, but so is the day-to-day lives of people in the country. But given how very watered down the JT’s coverage is, I hope I get to freelance and write feature stuff for different outlets too. The above topics are just a fraction of the things to write about here. It’s crazy.

Welp, that was a long post, but it helped a lot with sifting through all these thoughts. It’s only been three days, and I’m already thinking of returning here maybe after I graduate. Then again, it’s only been three days. Ask me again in a month and we’ll see if the city has driven me crazy.

Also this is gonna sound so basic, but the Middle East is damn hot…..

-i

the tirades of a young adult ix - an analysis of airplanes, holidays, and home

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At the Tokyo Airport
by Koon Woon

Cold juice, cold Mt. Fuji,
A child alone dining.
Empty plane, empty heart.

Vast auditorium.
Hearing six tourists talk
About America.

Six bites of hot chicken.
Six swallows of cold juice.
Six hours, America.

Child alone, lonely child,
Here, six lotus petals
From Buddha, Mt. Fuji.

Where are your friends, your friends?
Where is your family?
In Buddha’s lotus palm.

Man alone, lonely man,
Where lies your loneliness?
In the mist of the world?

I literally started tearing up when I read this. It brought so much nostalgia, fear, sadness, joy, and just a whole jumble of bittersweet, confusing thoughts and feelings. At the core of everything, this is about homesickness peppered with missing the feelings I get when I’m on and/or near airplanes. Being on airplanes have always meant that I was going to some form of home. My trips back to Jakarta mean that I would visit familiar faces and places, feel some bittersweet nostalgia, and contemplate on where I’ve been and the person I’ve become. On the other hand, my trips back to Seattle mean that I would be home, be able to go to the coffee shops I always go to, see the people I always see, do what I always do, and live my life. Somewhere between that, I would change and grow and learn. Oftentimes I wouldn’t realize what I’ve learned or how much I’ve changed ‘till I actually do go back to Jakarta.

It’s funny how homesickness works for me. During regular days, I usually get homesick because I miss my parents or my cats. During summer breaks when I’m in Indonesia, I would get homesick cause I’d miss my regular reading spots and the coffee shop baristas that know my name. I’d miss the people I usually spend time with, the dance studios I go to, the broken-down couch I usually flop on after a long day of dancing. I feel like for me, and for a lot of people who’ve had similar experiences, it’s a never-ending feeling. It’s like no matter where you are or which home you’re in, there’s always that ever-present threat of homesickness, feeling of missing something, and not ever feeling completely whole. You’re always trying to do this weird dance; you try to weave in identities, experiences, languages, transnational spaces. You’re stuck in this limbo of two cultures (more challengingly, in a society that fears ambivalence or ambiguity). But despite the challenge, you do it anyway, because otherwise you’ll lose a part of yourself.

I usually go back to Jakarta either over the summer or winter break, though I’ve only gone there over winter break once since I moved to Seattle. Still, the homesickness is always multiplied over the break because everyone goes home for the winter holidays. As much as Seattle is home for me, so is Jakarta. That’s where my parents, family, and childhood friends live. Yes, I do have family here (my sister’s here, but I’ve found I have so many more relatives by circumstances than blood relatives in the states. I love them, but I usually never realize that until the winter holidays. Funny how life works, huh?). This time of year, most everyone get to feel what I feel whenever I go back to see my family: a mixture of confusion and awe at how such different characters and personalities can actually be related (for better or for worse) through a combination of miraculous selections of genes and simple fate. Whether you love or hate your family, whether they’re shitty to you or not (I myself have been privileged enough to have a loving family, but it’s important to recognize that some people don’t have that privilege and amazingly, they survive regardless), I don’t think you can’t not be in awe of this fact. Usually I get over it pretty quickly, but sometimes I still do feel envious of people who get to go through those weird moments with and feel those weird feelings about their families.

As silly as this might sound, I do miss airplanes, because being on airplanes means I should expect tears some 10,000 feet above sea level no matter how cheerful I was before that. Looking out of airplanes as the plane took off means I have a few minutes to take in a sight that I could only see once every year (if life permits). Obviously these don’t happen on some airplane trips, but it happens often enough that it becomes the first thing I associate with airplanes. Entering an airport to check-in means you’ve just went through a process of packing and/or unpacking, with maybe some not-so-pleasant life reevaluation thrown in the midst of the process. Being at airports during layovers means that you get to say you’ve been at some foreign country, if only to experience its culture through something resembling more of a bathroom quickie than a night of lovemaking with foreplay and shit. The seemingly countless hours on a large, enclosed cylinder with complete strangers mean you have so much time to reflect and to think (a.k.a. the worst things to do when you have so much thoughts and feelings). Being on airplanes mean you’ll watch really good and really bad airplane movies, and then after the x-number of movie, you get sick of them. You’ll hate airplanes and being on a 10+ hour flight more than anything in your life. It seems no matter how often I go back and forth between Seattle and Jakarta, I will never stop noticing these little things and the flood of bittersweet thoughts that come with them. As level-headed as I am most of the time, I will never stop romanticizing the trips home — whichever home I’m going to. This past summer, I went home for just three weeks. I thought I could do it and not romanticize it. I went home, hung out with my friends and family (plus cats), went and danced at my old studio, visited places I usually visited, and more. It was a nice, relaxed, low-stress trip. I thought I wouldn’t get attached, and, more importantly, I thought I wouldn’t cry. But as the plane took off and the towering buildings turned minuscule, I started bawling like a baby. I thought I wasn’t supposed to feel that way. It was supposed to be like a one-night stand, not saying goodbye to a lover only to be in a tragic long-distance relationship. Yeah, all of this is melodramatic, but it’s valid.

I wouldn’t ever have felt any of this had I not board that plane four years ago when I first went to the States. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post had I not packed my bags and said goodbye to my friends, family, then-boyfriend, and everyone else. Uprooting and traveling; it’s hard, it’s fun, it’s enlightening, it’s exhausting, it’s weird, it’s scary. Now, sitting here writing this at 12 a.m., I realize that it was necessary. Funny how life works out, huh?

xx

-i

Vision of a dancer.

A profile of myself by Annisa Rizky Amalia

Music: “Penthouse Serenade” by Errol Garner

Check out her vimeo

If you’re interested in a curated version of my life, check out imy.vsco.co

Let me back in.


First collaboration with Annisa.

Choreographed and danced by Imana Gunawan

Concept and direction by Annisa Rizky Amalia and Imana Gunawan

Shot and edited by Annisa Rizky Amalia

Music: “Let Me Back In” by Explosions in the Sky

**DISCLAIMER: Please respect the hard, creative work of persons involved in the project by not reusing any elements of it especially without permission. I reserve the rights to the choreography, I do not own the rights to the music.

danceTryptch - a dance video by Imana Gunawan, Chris Wright, and Beau Sterling.



Filmed by Chris Wright and Beau Sterling

Danced and Choreographed by Imana Gunawan

Edited by Chris Wright

Filmed at Founders Studio, Velocity Dance Center

Music: “Zero Degrees [3]” by Ryoji Ikeda



**Disclaimer: 

For inspirational purposes only. Please respect the hard, creative work of persons involved in the making of the video by not reusing any of the elements, especially without permission. I reserve the rights to the choreography, I do not own the rights to the music.

a small piece of the story.

we were children:

drenched in a world of basketball games, scrawny limbs, calling names, knee scabs and band-aids, treasure hunts, and make-believe worlds

Enthralled to be alive, curious about why cats hate dogs

and what it’s like to be married (married at 16 or married at 25?), have a job where

all you seem to do is type words and numbers on your laptop.

We were enthralled by music, by moving images of a teenage psychic

on a black-and-grey box

As if they were layers of a chocolate molten lava cake: a metaphor for life?

You were the vanilla ice cream topping of my grade-school soul.

we grew:

carefully placing building blocks of feelings and memories (outgrowing legos), a vignette of thoughts and memories of passing on secrets, reading books, falling in love, a series of self-discoveries washing us from one ego to the next.

Cerebral quests, and still curious

about how people fall in love, or why they hate

jumping from one lover to the next, suspended between destinations, continents, fuming wafts of perfumes, paying rent and 

having brunch, reading George Orwell and re-reading scripture

wondering who God is, and why we are alive

Still enthralled, but I forgot (about you?)

Look around

surrounded by nature, surrounded by newspapers and existentialism and art and the daunting prospect

of paying taxes and puffing up lists of accomplishments

We passed each other, we passed the time of day, we proceeded: I only attempted (from you?), convincing myself I succeeded.

I walk        I dance         I envy beautiful people        I drink coffee      schmear bagels             lit nicotine sticks (invitation for death, they say: he RSVPd “yes”)          I inhale fumes, perfumes, morning dew

and release an exhale heavy with

thoughts of

you

Look around.

where do I go from here?



Copyright © Imana Gunawan 

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Bangs+undercut.

Current obsessions: a poetry book, a journalism-themed nonfiction, a choreographer’s diary, and a Wes Anderson favorite.

Current obsessions: a poetry book, a journalism-themed nonfiction, a choreographer’s diary, and a Wes Anderson favorite.

the tirades of a young adult - viii: don't shoot the label-maker.

Hullo mortals!

It’s finally Spring Break people, which for me is a little piece of heaven because I get to take a breather and do some leisure writing! (Cheers! Confetti! Fireworks!)

Before I start preaching on this page, I do want to share some happy news with whomever is reading this right now: I got casted for the UW Dance Department MFA concert! (More cheers! More confetti! More fireworks!!) Basically, the MFA concert is where the grad students in the dance department get to choreograph their own pieces and the undergraduate students get to dance them. After a not-so-encouraging audition process (to be honest it’s not that I screwed up my audition, it’s just that the others were so good), I was jumping for joy (only in my head though) when I saw my name on the cast list. I was basically all smiles for the rest of the day. Now, obligatory life update aside, let’s try to weave this news in smoothly with what I'm really trying to say in this post.

Two weeks ago, I had my first rehearsal with my choreographer Natalie, and she was just the darlingest person ever. For our first exercise, the dancers had to create gestures that depict how we view various aspects of our lives, such as family, childhood, education, and even things like political affiliation and religious beliefs (or lack thereof) –– of course I can’t name every little detail here, because I do want to respect Natalie’s creative process. Anyway, before we make gestures that depict how we view these things, Natalie always asked us to explain a little bit about it first. For example, I am the youngest of two children, what do I think about being the youngest? Or, I was raised as a Muslim, what do I think and how do I feel about it? Or, how do I feel about my age, or height, or my college major? These were only some examples of the things we discussed before we made our gestures about each of them.

To be honest, I loved being able to explain these aspects of my life, and I think the other dancers do too –– though I don’t know if we love it because of the same reasons or not, but we still enjoyed it. For me, I loved being able to explain myself, because not only do I get to talk about myself (don’t you look at me that way, just admit that deep down everyone loves to talk about themselves ok. We’re egotistic, it’s human nature, deal with it), but I get to explain it in my own terms, therefore challenging whatever pre-existing judgments or stereotypes there might be of these various aspects. For example, there’s always a pre-existing judgement for the youngest child, for the Muslim or for the Atheist, for the 18-year-old or the 23-year-old, for the liberal arts majors or the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors, for the liberals or the conservatives. These pre-existing judgments are usually summarized in one word: a label. These labels then put a person’s characteristics into defined categories, putting a person’s complexities into a discernible order. 

The truth is, humans are programmed to arrange things in the world into categories; it is how we make sense of the world. Labels make it easier for us to give order to the seemingly chaotic world. It helps us remember categories, and what those categories stand for. Throughout all aspects of life, there is always a constant need for a set definition –– are they men or women? Are we lovers or friends? Is she a classical music junkie or a hardcore scene kid? Is he a jock or a science brainiac? Do they like boys or girls? As my dance mentor Amy O'Neal said, “humans are scared of ambiguity –– they’re scared of the unknown.” I think truer words were never spoken. Because of this fear of ambiguity, we always rely on labels to define something, anything, everything. However, more often than not, we forget that we as humans are complex (or we forget that other people are just as complex as ourselves; a case of Us vs Them). All of us require more than a single word to define who we are as a person. In Natalie’s exercise, all the dancers in her piece who participated explained all the aspects of their lives, and that explanation is never just one sentence, let alone a single word. By being able to explain ourselves, we get to explain ourselves in our own terms in relation to these labels and these categories, therefore making really clear who we really are.

So yes, labels are useful and necessary to make sense of the world around us. But it is just as necessary to remember than no human can ever be defined by a label consisting of one word. We as humans are never just a single word, we are public libraries filled with volumes of novels and encyclopedias. Our stories are rich, intricate, and textured, so much so that no word can ever do it justice –– no matter how appropriate that word might be to a person’s specific characteristic. We should never define another human being by a label, nor should we ever let a label define us. Labels are a shortcut, a timesaver, an easy way out. But despite it’s easiness, never forget that for every shortcut we take to define a person, there is always a longer, richer, more scenic route to take –– an infinitely rich and beautiful explanation that aptly shows a person for who they truly are.

 

xx

-i

 

Impromptu video on one Sunday night.

Music: “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” by Sufjan Stevens

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the night I got my instant camera back out, one well-spent with my housemates!

11/10/12-11/11/12

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Expectation: doing my reading assignment for my History of Early Greece capstone essay // Reality: …the photos are self-explanatory.

I remember I was supposed to go to a party that night, but decided to stay in and pretended I’m a bug instead…for no apparent reason.

I remember I was supposed to go to a party that night, but decided to stay in and pretended I’m a bug instead…for no apparent reason.

wall decor.

wall decor.

the tirades of a young adult - VI: being all philosophical and shit.

So hi world, I haven’t been writing a lot lately, which is kind of sad on my part, but I have been doing a lot of counterfactual  thinking, which is basically a snobby way of saying that I’ve had the words “what if?” repeated in my mind an infinite number of times.

See I went back home this Summer, so naturally I saw a lot of familiar places and faces, which ironically is now somewhat familiar (for more on my thoughts on homecoming, see one of my previous posts). I promised myself I wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it, and I think I didn’t either. I enjoyed the comforts of home and savored the company of good people, leaving me more grateful of them than ever. But even so, I always feel like there’s an aura of melancholy about the act of looking back (or in my case, with the addition of actually going back), even when I’m not looking back to a particularly melancholic period in my past. Just the feeling of being surrounded by things from the past kind of makes me wonder what would’ve happened if I had done something different. Where would I be? What would I do? How would I feel? What would’ve happened? How would the people around me feel? I think the possibilities are too many to count, and the emotions associated with each possibility are too overwhelming to be thought of at the same time. I think we humans are not programmed to look back, cause looking back makes us realize how helpless we are in this world, how there is absolutely nothing we can do to change anything.

You see, I believe in destiny, and not because I’m some lazy-ass dumbo who is just gonna wait for things to happen to me instead of making them happen. I believe that we humans have the capacity and freedom to make things happen, to some extent. However, I also believe that the timing and the nature of what actually happens is not for us to decide. I believe that we are just pieces of a bigger puzzle, waiting to be moved and put in the right place. We are just bugs trapped in amber.

I think this point of view is a rather ambivalent one. On one hand, if we humans are to choose our own fate (and not believe in a collective destiny), what would happen if we made the wrong choice? What if our decision to eat at a Thai restaurant instead of an Indian one could lead to World War 3? (Okay that’s kind of a long shot, but hey, it could happen). I think the pressure would be too much that way. On the other hand, it’s also a rather sad point of view. If we do decide to believe in a collective destiny, then we are voluntarily choosing to believe that we are just pieces in one big chess game, waiting for the next move, and getting ready for the inevitable fate that is the end. What a sad and tragic truth, don’t you think?

So in my train of thought, I mulled over the implications of my point of view. By that logic then, we are also setting God (or the Higher Power or what have you) up to be both a protagonist and an antagonist, depending on what happens to all beings in the finish line. The thing is, we can’t know until that time comes. We can’t know whether all our lives are a means to what kind of end: a horrendous genocide or a peaceful withdrawal of all armed forces in places of conflict. To me this is kind of like living life with mixed feelings about a Higher Power yet still leaving oneself at His mercy. I guess in the mean time, all we can do is just sigh, take a deep breath and live, while hoping that in the fullness of time our existence will be a part of something beautiful. Maybe - just maybe - that’s what the Almighty wanted for human beings to do all along. Alas, I guess we’ll just have to see.

xx

-i


image source: “You Are Here” by Sammy Slabbinck

“ Dance, dance. Otherwise we are lost. ” -Pina Bausch

Dance, dance. Otherwise we are lost.” -Pina Bausch