And so we watch and so we learn/With eyes wide for our dreams to yearn

Posts tagged ‘past’

Handprints

When I was in Rajasthan I stood in a temple and held my hand against a print on a wall. The village had been abandoned for centuries, lost and forgotten, save for the story of their disappearance, tourists clambered over old stone houses and posed amid the ruins. All we knew now, was that the village was haunted. 

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But I stood. In that temple. With that handprint. It wasn’t the only handprint, but this one was in my reach, close enough that I could stand on tiptoes and press my palm to match hers. I knew it was a ‘hers’. Another woman, just like me. 

But she was a woman of long ago. Who’s language I could not understand, even as today words stood carved on the pillars of that temple. Who’s life and culture differs from mine so greatly it takes whole books of ideas to understand. A woman’s handprint, henna red against sandstone. Bu I had been told, I knew what that means; a woman condemned to die. 

In my world, our world, we tell stories to each other, to explain feelings and ideas and what mere facts can explain. We share lives and fantasies as easily as the sun shares sunlight, as the breeze shares coolness with our vividly alive skin. Just think. To be alive. We weave our stories as immortality, armour against our world of fleeting life, held onto with every passing second. Because without them, we forget. What can we remember, but the stories we spin our lives into? Does this make us more substantial, documenting every moment of our existences, with diaries and momentos, Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. Clinging to our nows and making them forever. 

But we forget. 

We forget that lives happen, lives are lived and loved and lost in the hopes of so many, desperation and joy repeating like the seasons. That a woman once stood where I was, and grieved. Not just for the loss of her husband, but the loss of her life. Having tied all her worth to a mere mortal, her life was to be cut as surely as his was, be it by her jumping or being pushed onto his burning body. Cremation for two, because surely love burns eternal.

The real forever lies not in our tweets and saved MP3 files. It lies in handprints, scattered across the globe. It lies in carvings, not in rooms of wood and stone, but in time. We are as old as the universe, truly, and each moment we breathe merely adds to the compilation of time we barely know ourselves. 

Every inch of our planet is layered with the past, of stories and lives told over and over again. Searching for something greater, never knowing if we’ve found it. Will we find it? Maybe, one day. But until then, we can only feel. We can only remember.

We remember for those long gone, what their worlds would have been, when lives ran so alien to your way of now. They weren’t as different as we imagined. They felt wonder and curiosity and fear and pain and joy, just  the same. They died, just as their forefathers did before them. And as feet tread this well worn path, again and again, baby steps of change incrementing us forward imperceptibly, blinking under the sun, one handprint comes to mind. Red, small, thin. The handprint of a wife without a husband. The handprint of a woman about to die. A piece of humanity amid the wreckage ensued by time…more than what is left for so much more if our past. As obscure as our future and as alien as martian life…and yet, her handprint fitted mine, so perfectly, perfectly…

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A Story

“Tell me a story” she whispered
“Tell me a story and send me away
Sweep me off my feet by the light of day
Take me to a dream in shades of grey
To a world where magic is more than they say
Show me people more real, brighter than day
Darker than night, with new games to play
Show me a world and make me part of its own”
And so she was taken and so she was shown

They danced and they shone, brilliant as fire
Young as she was, saw only desire
“Dance with us, you can challenge our games?”
Daring and eager, she stepped into the flames

She laughed, twirling, swept up with the gale
Exhilarating freedom yet powerless and frail
To do and to be whomever they cared
They ran with abandon, a wildness shared

“But a friend?” She asked
“Bring me a friend in whom I can confide
Someone to trust, have nothing to hide
Compassionate, clever, mysterious inside
Same evils we’ll hate, same morals abide
Sisters we’ll be, ‘spite continental divide
To live and to love, to treasure with pride
Oh, what would I give for even one!”
She discovered with joy, new journey begun

With glee and with smiles, flying onwards steadfast
Exploring the world, the future, the past
Like Icarus as one, glorious on high
But with pain wings do melt, for all things must die

She fought and she fled, seeking solace in flight
Searching out sparks in overpowering night
But the tangled lines bound her body and soul
With it’s magic around her, keeping her whole

“So show me a way,” she begged
“Show me a way to be safe, to be free
For this world that I love has enraptured me
It’s molded and shaped half my destiny
Without now I fear that I cannot be
It’s pain and it’s pleasure, trepidation and glee.
But this balance in night is insanity!”
Heart not be parted, the seed had been sown
The fire awoken, this world now her home.

Travel: It Changes You

You know when people ask you how something has changed your life? And expect a nice, 100 word answer? Hehe, sometimes it isn’t so simple 😛
Because the thing that people don’t realize is,  is the fact that travelling has been one of the defining elements of my entire life. Literally, I had crossed 2 continents before I’d reached my second birthday. The first few years of a child’s life massively influences them in every way, studies have proven it. Babies imprint on people, things and places, whether they remember or not. My feelings towards a Russian refugee who helped my parents with me during the first 6 months of my life are inexplicably deep, tenderness to that only a handful of my blood family share. In the way some kids grew up in a city or rural town with their close family, I grew up with misadventures across Hong Kong and China, St Petersburg and Amsterdam, Turkey and Portugal.

Winter in Edinburg Scottish Highlands Loch Ness Edinburgh Castle

Kids start primary school with a few friends from the neighborhood, I began feeling foreign and strange, missing my best friend from Edinburgh. In the way the old folks have kick-knacks on shelves that “No, don’t touch that, it’s fragile” we have Zambian wooden carvings, Russian dolls, Indian drums and Moroccan cushions. It was much as part of our family as religion is to others’. Just as my family settled down, and Time in Oz > Time Overseas, and our world shrank to ours and the neighboring state and travelling became a distant dream, we took off for 2 months in Indonesia. My sister and I, who barely remembered more than lingering fragmented memories of Before, truly discovered budget travelling with a backpack. It completely opened our eyes, our conscious minds, to how wonderfully easy it all was, to catch a plane or a boat or a bus to wherever your finger landed on a map. Especially if you took the cheapest option and paid attention when the locals started haggling. Not only was this incredible adventure more economical, it was more real. We learnt the language and met people and went to the least-visited tourist sights. I think it had the most effect on my littlest sister, who was 3 the first time, 6 the second. We made sure to show her, when we flew over the coast of Darwin, to explain how we weren’t in Australia anymore, and she took to it all like a duck to water. Watching your country fade by, with the scuttle of clouds under sky more impossibly blue than you’ve ever seen before…it gives you a profound message of exactly how small the world really is, how easy it is to find your place in a brand new city with fragmented communication – smelling and hearing and seeing things more vividly than you thought possible. Your senses go into overdrive when you travel, you learn to drop ingrained expectations and habits, to adapt to new (or less) road rules, to manners and reactions in everyday interactions, to savor everything that is new, different or even slightly the same.

Kid by the Boats Lush Greenery at 70 km/h Classic Architecture in Bali
And this is doubly the case when one travels by oneself to the other side of the world. To be completely alone, and completely free, in a completely alien environment…it is one of the most incredible and indescribable life changing experiences. When everything, down to the weeds in the cracked pavement, the direction of traffic, the language on the tv’s, the clothes, the music, the buildings and the weather are utterly brand new, the metaphor of soaking things in on a wonderful family holiday is akin to playing in the rock pools and then being swept out to the ocean in a storm. You see so much, you don’t have time to absorb a fraction of what you’re hearing, everything that was your bedrock of support – lost at sea. It’s a psychological onslaught combined with an ecstatic sensory input. The textiles and aromas from crafts that are a blend of Incan and European worlds, ocean, sierra, rainforest and desert climates – waterfalls and glaciers that went thousands of meters in every direction.

Living with teenagers who only knew a tiny square of the universe, so small and yet so rich with heritage and history, showing clearly in their eyes and their blood. And then there were others, explorers like myself, who understood the joy of flight and the thrill of travel – and bonding with them, sharing our adventures with like-minded spirits, together from so many places in a moment of coincidence. It was 12 months of magic, 2012; a Balinese Christmas and a germanic Argentine Easter, India on the phone and Bolivia across the river, where I never stayed in the same place for more than 8 weeks solid, travelling from almost the Antarctic circle to within the tropic of Capricorn…and when I went home, my world shrank to a 50 km radius. Ire turned back to my secure family, friends who had never left the city and going to the beach 15 minutes away a special occasion.
Skyline of my beloved Cordoba The Igazu Falls. Sheer awe-inspiring magnificence. 300 year old remnants of spanish missionaries Buenos Aires at night Bariloche, in the foothills of the Andes Los Caballeros celebrating in the Intersection La Boca, Buenos Aires The Puerto Marino Glacier, in all it's icy glory Northern Markets in the Hills of Salta Guitarists that we were, in a cross-cultural group session

When you travel, you are bombarded by the majesty of the chaotic life on earth, until you learn to adjust your sails and navigate the winds of the universe. Your mind expands more, than you ever thought possible, to span oceans and languages and cultures – you see how much more there is to the world. How much more there is to living.