Growth is Hard

I think I closed myself off to information and knowledge, in some ways, because it became too much to handle and I wanted a reprieve. It’s easier to remain ignorant because it doesn’t push you towards actually making a decision; towards actually choosing between doing what’s right and what’s wrong. Sometimes the conflict is too much for us, myself included.

But I’m learning that that conflict is actually necessary to be able to grow. I have to ask myself constantly: do I want to remain stagnant and keep my senses closed off just so I could escape the storm inside? Or should I actually face what’s coming head-on and try to emerge from the conflict a changed and hopefully better person?

It’s really hard though. Some days I succeed and others I fail. At least I can say I’m finally trying though.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

artwork unknown

A Letter to Love

Dear Love,
and all the forces that brought us together.
I’m here right now,
one of the key places where it all began.
It started with a heartfelt confession
and an unexpected gasp
that seemed to echo into the night.
A tsunami of emotions, a shaky yes,
that, over days, settled and gave way
to the purest love that I have experienced yet.
I was always uncertain and afraid back then
But you pushed someone my way
who had enough faith and courage for the both of us.
Thank you for that, really, and so much more.
I look back and all I can remember is
love, kindness, happiness;
all the things I wasn’t sure I was ever gonna get.
It’s almost a year now, did you know?
A year filled-to-the-brim with memories,
each of them so precious and meaningful,
all of them a part of my soul now.
Love, I think I’ve found someone
who I’d like to fly on the back of a giant butterfly with;
who I’d like to not just share stories,
but to make stories with as well;
who I’d like to stargaze into the night sky in silence with;
who I’d like to readily include in my precious me-time
just to make it our we-time.
He is very special to me, Love,
someone who has a complicated relationship with geese;
someone who gets loopy if he goes all day without coffee;
someone who can be too carefree for his own good, at times.
He’s someone who is passionate about things
and isn’t afraid to show it; like a river, he once said,
but we’ve established that he too can be an ocean sometimes.
Someone who not just appreciates the weird in me
but someone who can rival it just as well.
He’s someone I can see a life with, Love,
so I implore you to let that come true.
I know he will make the world a better place,
whatever he does in life, but I would love it
if I could be by his side supporting him while he does that.

Thank you, Love,
times 69,
times infinity.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

artwork unknown

For Abbu Jee

This one here is for you, Abbu Jee. Every time I see you or get to have deep conversations with you about your poetry; every time I see how passionate you are about your work and writing; it always sparks something inside of me as well.
You are an incredible human being with entire universes inside of you, and as I see you get older and more feeble, there is an urgency inside of me that pushes me to ask you more; to learn as much as I can from your spectacular mind.

I know I’m not the best of grandchildren and for that, I am truly sorry. I’m trying though, little by little, every time I get to see you. I hope you can feel that. I hope you know how much I care. I hope you can tell that I’m trying my best to make up for all the time I lost and wasted.

I am so proud to be your granddaughter. And I hope I do you proud in this life as one of the few in our family who are trying to explore the writing world.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

(a picture of my grandfather’s most recent book-in-progress. He has written and published several by now MashaAllah. This one, though, has a special place in my heart because he asked me for my opinions throughout. I cherish that he trusts me with this)

I Promise

Today started out pretty normal, like just every other day. Another day of conversation of love and laughter with you, so blissful and unreal and so full of joy. Part of me wishes I hadn’t ruined it by asking the question that I’ve always feared the answer to. Maybe I’d still be happy right now if I hadn’t said anything. Instead, here I am thinking too deeply again and my heart hurts after every few minutes, but that’s okay, that’s to be expected. It’ll go away eventually.

I would always avoid thinking about it; about a time where we might not be a team anymore, in more ways than one, like we are right now. Before today, I would always distract myself before I delved too deep into that thought. It hurt too much to think about it. But today I asked you, still naively hoping that your answer would be the reassurance I so desperately have been looking for and wanting to hear. It was not. Not entirely. It was realistic and practical, honest but kind, just like you always are. I got my answer, the one I was afraid of, but maybe, in the long run, I’ll thank you for it. Maybe that’s what I needed right now, a reality check. I don’t blame you in the slightest, love.

Normally, when something like this happens, I feel like pulling away and becoming distant, just so I can save myself from the eventual pain. I’m not going to lie, a huge part of me wants to do that right now; to isolate myself and hide under the covers until at least tomorrow. But as much as I want to, I won’t let myself, for a number of reasons. One being, that that would probably be playing right into Fate’s hands and would lead to exactly the outcome that I fear so much. Two, who knows how much time we have left, and I don’t want to spend it moping around when I could be doing something I love, like making you laugh.

I’m afraid, so desperately afraid, of us parting ways and what would come after that. But I don’t want to let that hold me back. I don’t want to regret never giving it my all. I want to spend every moment we have left learning more about you, talking to you, listening to your voice and your words, gazing into those eyes I’ve come to know as well as my own, making you laugh the laugh that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished the greatest thing I ever could in this life, and giving you all the love my smol body can muster.
Maybe every time we talk about our future now, about Zonita, the atlas, playing soccer in the backyard and that house surrounded by a huge hedge, it might hurt a little knowing that it might just be wishful thinking on our parts, but I’ll still smile real bright for you on the outside and believe and dream, just as big as before. That’s something you taught me how to do well; to dream as big as my imagination will allow, to be happy and to have faith in each other, and in Fate. It might be a huge gamble but if I’m ever going to put my belief into anything, it’s going to be us.

So I’m going to continue wearing my heart on my sleeve, to love you with all I have, to learn from you as much as I can, to collect all these precious and timeless memories with you and let them keep me warm on days where we’re so far apart. I’m going to pray with all my might because there’s only so much we both can do and the rest is up to a Higher Power. I’m going to do what you told me from the very beginning – to take each day as it comes. I’m going to spend every day with you like it’s my last and I’m never going to give up unless it’s evident that letting go is what we need to do.

And should the dreaded thing happen someday, I know I’ll be eternally grateful for your existence and for your part in my life. You’ve taught me so much. You’ve taught me love, laughter, imagination, trust, belief and happiness like no other. You’ll be someone I was glad to have crossed paths with, every second of time spent with you so fruitful and beautiful, and I’ll move forward with my head held high, thinking about all the precious lessons that you and life have taught me, and I know I’ll be okay eventually.

I just desperately hope that you’ll be okay too.

I love you, with all my heart, and I’m going to continue for as long as I have the will to and have breath in my lungs, Zu. I promise.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

manga art unknown

 

Distance and Loss

Distance does something to you. There are moments where you’re filled with a deep-rooted ache, like something irreplaceable is missing from your life and you desperately want it back. There’s always the uncertainty that the distance will change things and it’s agonizing to know that you have no control over that. All you can control is the time you have at present, so far away from the ones you love, but you are forced to learn how to function without seeing them every single day. You realize how often you took the times you had together for granted, and you vow to never let that happen again the next time you see them. You wish for the days to go by faster because you miss them so much. Some days it’s unbearable while other days, life manages to distract you enough to not feel it as strongly. But the ache is always there; it just hits you harder on some days more than others.
Distance really is a test of love and patience, I realize, and I hope I can be one of those fortunate souls who manage to endure it.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely.” —Charles M. Schulz

Loss does something to you. It shakes your whole world in an instant, and without warning, you’re pushed off a cliff. At first, it doesn’t quite hit you yet and you’re just falling. But when it finally does, you crash into the ground and you feel the breath knocked out of you. And for a while, the only thing you can focus on is the pain, surrounding you, drowning you, and eventually, becoming you. It shatters you completely and the only way you can put yourself back together is when you embrace it; like a tree, you grow around it until it becomes something you carry with you for the rest of your life. Time makes things easier but it never erases them. They live forever in your heart and in your mind.
And if you look closely at the night sky, you’ll see a star you never noticed before. It shines brighter than the rest, and it twinkles at you. I’ll let you in on a little secret: that’s them, smiling down at you from the heavens, reminding you that they’re closer than you think and that they’ll always be there.

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” —Edna St. Vincent Millay

© Ashes 2019

~~~

artwork unknown

Giving Up

i am tired,
tired of trying.
in the long run,
it probably did me good,
but right now
every breath i take
is agonizing.
these tears pouring,
they sear like hot lava.
this heart is heavy
and is feeling so much:
inadequate; pointless; lousy;
full to the brim with sadness
for the people around me
who have lost so much
but push through life anyway.
i wish to do the same,
and maybe i’ll wake up tomorrow
with the same fire in me as before.
but right now, i’m giving up
and i hope the people who love me
can let me do that,
can see that that’s what i need,
and can understand that
i don’t know what i want to do
tomorrow and every day after
but right now, i give in.
today, i concede to the demons
and invite them in
so i can feel all the pain full-force
and savor every second of it.
i hope that’s okay.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

artwork unknown

Overwhelmed

I am scared. I am tired. I am guilty. I am hurt. I am overwhelmed.
I feel like there’s this constant pain in my heart; sometimes it’s like a dull ache, whereas other times it’s sharp and pointy, like needles pricking into my mind and my heart.

It’s in these moments I feel the most lost. It is then when I wonder why I’m only strong enough on some days and why I concede defeat on others, that when I have incredibly supportive people on both of those days who are always rooting for me, why their words are only a balm on some days while they are a burden on others. It’s on those days where I wish for the inexplicable need to be taken away from everything, held, caressed and spoken soothing words to, but this feeling is rivaled by the incredible need to keep everyone away from me, away from the darkness that was so much worse before but is still there; ugly and all-consuming like a black hole waiting to leech out all the light from inside me and anyone who comes into contact with me.

Today is one of those paradoxical days, one where I don’t know how to get better, or if I even want to.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

(Artwork unknown)

A Call to Arms

It’s an unusual combination:
desolation and determination.
You’d think one could not exist
in the presence of the other.
Yet, here they are,
coexisting in relative harmony;
uncommon but still present
in a single entity.
On the one hand,
I feel faint and weary,
too tired to make the efforts needed.
On the other hand,
I feel a tiny spark deep in my bones
urging me to fight just a bit longer;
if not for myself,
then for those who believe in me
when I don’t have the strength to.
It’s like simultaneously
being pulled towards the shore
and being weighed down
by a heaviness in my soul.
It’s like I bear the weight of the sky
on my small, feeble shoulders,
so call me Atlas, why don’t you?
And call for help, someone, anyone,
for it won’t be long
before I collapse
into millions of particles
of ichor-covered pixie dust.
Blow them into the winds, I beg.
For, returning to nature
is all that I wish for tonight.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

Artwork by Roswita Szyszka

The Stillness

It seems like we’re always running. We’re either running towards something or away from something, whether it’s a person or a job or a life goal. That’s what our lives seem to have become: a perpetual motion, so much that when there comes a stationary period, we don’t know how to deal with it.

We’re all so focused on achieving things and becoming something that we fail to appreciate the pauses in between; in fact, we’ve started to fear them. These stagnant moments feel like a waste of time to the people who’re constantly moving, and anyone who stops to smell the roses is thought to be falling behind. It makes me sad for the people who just want to take a break.

We are human beings, not robots. We always talk about the part where we fail and fall down and the part where we persevere and get back up again, but we don’t talk enough about the parts where we choose to remain motionless, like when we’re sprawled all over the ground after falling or remain unmoving after getting back up again. In fact, we’ve accredited this stillness as something bad when it’s actually very natural.

I wish more people understood that it’s perfectly okay to not be moving, to just take some time for yourself where you can contemplate on everything or nothing. Life is meant to be more than hustling and bustling. It can be about the quiet and the calm moments too.

So if at times you want to take a break from the hubbub of life, that’s completely fine.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

© Ashes 2019