Rarely am I the star of any play, my superego tells me there’s no role fitting for me. It has me believing that so I will cling on to that dazzling stage my ego has set up for me. The only stage in my mind, in the play of my own life, starring Rosslyn as the tragic victim. Just so you know, it’s not easy playing the victim. Imagine having to deny the merest bit of power, serving it up to others, neatly plated on a tray. Please enjoy (and don’t hurt me).
Years of training have helped me fulfil this role really well. If you can’t be the victor, be the victim; it’s better than being a passerby, invisible and forgotten. Tragic roles leave an impression; tugging hearts, breaking some, drawing tears. Look at the damsel in distress, the innocent orphan, the starving artist, such passionate and pitiful creatures, wretched beauties, what’s there not to love about them? They earn sympathy and pennies.
But no, I want no sympathy, that cheap substitute for love where the gaze is always downwards on me, never at the same level. I don’t wish to be a star. I don’t need to be a star. As much as tragedies are romantic, I’d rather be a drop of rain, free-falling, landing on a leaf, then sliding on to another leaf, then another, before reaching the thirsty ground and taken in heartily.
The sun has just arced past the porch. The swans have departed east. I’m near freezing as I fought to pen this. Shaky scribbles amidst the gentle winds inviting themselves in through a window. The only window ajar. Sheepishness bounces off the glass. Am I frozen from the wintry breeze or the dismay (I might’ve spoilt something?) Sshhh… The stay is dislodged, I couldn’t wind it in.
My other half is on the upper floor reading Wittgenstein. Right now, I’m embracing his theory for some warmth and hope. I’m buying into his argument if it can save me from my current plight. There is no cause and effect. I might think I’ve caused the window damage, but it’s not real. What’s real are two singular, independent events that occurred consecutively: I pushed the window; the stay was dislodged. One did not cause another. Yes, let it be so. Relieve my guilt.
But my trouble remains. Here I am withstanding the cold air rushing from the bay, my insides shivering. 15 minutes more. 15 minutes more before he comes down for tea, and I welcome him with the truth of the window hidden in this piece and my awkward grin.
My ball-point pen calls out to me as I glanced over my pencil case to pick a tool for the morning. I haven’t held it, much less written with it, for months. Thankfully, the ink hasn’t dried up, though it’s flowing less smoothly than before. It takes a few scratches to warm up the nib for it to glide again. Still, something seems to have changed.
A few of my letters appear broken or lighter. Perhaps it’s not the pen, but the way I write, that has changed. My regular use of gel pens ensured that I write with less force and a looser grip, and that is now affecting how the ballpoint nib is inking the page.
Human beings are great at adapting, aren’t we? I have unconsciously conditioned the way I hold and direct my pen to accommodate the wet ink that eagerly spills out of the pens I’ve been using.
I adore, though, how my letters are looking now. Neater. Prettier. Rounder. Smoother. So much so that I’m punctuating my words just to write yet another capital letter, and another. The shoulders and tails of my letters are looking friendlier; more welcoming, less sharp, less hard. A gentle, graceful woman, as compared to the sassy, spunky one brought to life by gel.
I can write at a slower pace too, without the needless worry of smudging due to resting my nib on the same spot just a millisecond longer. I wonder how this might impact what I will write tomorrow, or if it even does. Looking forward to the mystery being revealed.
This is why any writing at the start of a fresh year is a sticky trap. If it doesn’t ask of me to set resolutions, it asks of me to create a vision. My imagination, impoverished, I’ve weights tied to it so I can neither see far ahead nor look beyond the week.
Settle what’s in front of you first, only then can you play, only then can you dream. Dreams are a luxury plumped by desires. Smother that desire. Cease the flame before it spreads.
No, I won’t. Why would I want to be choked on soot, suffocated, feeding on nothing but coal? I want to fan my flames. Be an arsonist, set fire to my desires. Torch them. Forge them into dreams so distinct, they become the future I’ll live for. Sear them on to my soul so they only fade when I do.
I have no idea what to write about, yet the tingling sensation in my forehand presses me on. It used to worry me when I have nothing in mind to write. My vision closes in and it blacks out, leaving me to feel my way in the dark. The rush and desire to find light and see the unknown creates anxiety when I continue to look ahead, blind, forgetting that light is also found within. A blank mind is equally, if not more, fertile ground to begin writing. No preconceived notions, no trying to be Miss Know-it-all, no unnecessary noises as distractions from what will come through me.
What if I shift my attention to the pressure in my hand? What is this desire to keep the pen moving? A tiny voice in me chants, “I want to write. I want to write,” like a toddler hungrily waiting for her food, thumping her rounded, plastic cutleries on the table. I follow this chant to my heart, and felt the tug, firm and enduring, ready to leap out of my body on to the paper and write itself. My heart is pulling itself away, and like a little girl taking my hand, tugging it lightly, she’s looking at me with longing eyes, hoping I’ll go along with her.
Oh, dear heart, what’s drawing you to write?
My means of expression when my throat is constricted. When verbalizing doesn’t seem possible, writing lets me express myself. Do I have something I want to say? I don’t. Like a child making sounds when she discovers her voice, she does it not to communicate nor connect with another. She does it because she is fascinated by hearing herself. Writing soothes me. Being able to express and hear my voice through writing soothes me. How strange and intriguing. I write to connect with myself, to know simply, I am alive, I am real, I exist. And that pleases me.