“One moment….it’s what I want in a relationship […] it’s that thing when you’re with someone and you love them and they know it and they love you and you know it—but, it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people and you’re laughing and you’re shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes—but not because you’re possessive or it’s precisely sexual—but because that is your person in this life and it’s funny and sad but only because this life will end. And it’s this secret world that exists right there in public unnoticed that no one else knows about.”
Frances Ha 

lungpeiling:

I appreciate that for all the selfie loving, peace-holding, skinny arm Taiwanese person, there is one disgruntled oncologist in our hospital who despises pictures and thinks that having an experience is already reward enough.

I love that in Guan Shan (關山) there is one 24 year old nurse who chose…

Pourquoi? 

Why is it
We cannot be
both happy and sad
both good and evil
both young and old
both independent and dependent
both idiotic and clever
both frightened and brave
both scandalous and dignified

Why is it
I cannot
go to heaven
and go to hell?
Why is it 
I can never find
the secret bridge 
to paradise? 

yalestewart:

daltonjamesrose:

nevver:

Hey Monster

😄😃😀

A-mothereffin’-mazing. Kill me now. It’ll never get better than this.

The best.  yalestewart:

daltonjamesrose:

nevver:

Hey Monster

😄😃😀

A-mothereffin’-mazing. Kill me now. It’ll never get better than this.

The best.  yalestewart:

daltonjamesrose:

nevver:

Hey Monster

😄😃😀

A-mothereffin’-mazing. Kill me now. It’ll never get better than this.

The best.  yalestewart:

daltonjamesrose:

nevver:

Hey Monster

😄😃😀

A-mothereffin’-mazing. Kill me now. It’ll never get better than this.

The best. 

yalestewart:

daltonjamesrose:

nevver:

Hey Monster

😄😃😀

A-mothereffin’-mazing. Kill me now. It’ll never get better than this.

The best. 

My student points towards a tree whose trunk has grown straight through a rock—and then marvels at it. 

Joy is infectious. 

A storm is coming. A storm is coming.

A Wakening Sky

I wish I had a picture, but I don’t.  I hope words can suffice.

I had a major period of anxiety yesterday and I went to sleep frustrated, insecure and worried.  And I woke up frustrated, insecure and worried.

For the longest time I lay on my side, facing away from the too bright window—awake and worried.  Then, I finally shifted and turned towards the light.

Outside was a cloudy mountain in the distance.  And the 7am light shone upon the glistening patties of rice—revealing a new born green.  A flock of birds changed direction and suddenly reflected specks of white, like paint against a wakening sky. 

And I thought to myself, there is something else besides fixating on those endless things inside my head.  

What Drives You

What drives me is the knowledge that I chose life.  And, in choosing life, there is the choice to feel alive.  I am accountable.  I am responsible.  

Sometimes I forget.  Sometimes I am lost in the dullness of a moment, the nuance of a relationship going south.  The most terrifying feeling that you are the agent of your own destruction.  Sometimes in the loneliness of my cave, I am—for weeks—just getting by.  You know you’ve forgotten something, but what? And nobody else seems to be able to remind you.

I don’t think I am driven by justice or curiosity or beauty.  These are all things I dabble in when I am alive and sometimes reminders of what I am forgetting.  I go through phases of idealism, when I think—“This is your world, if you don’t shape it someone else will.”  And I think that I have purpose just by the fact of existence.  

But you don’t.  

The truth is, most people don’t get to choose to be alive.  We are thrown into this world out of our volition and, I think—I hope—for most people, this does not matter.  You find purpose later on, you expect to be propelled forward by life as a given.  Isn’t that what being driven asks for? What keeps you going? What keeps you alive? Or are you just walking homeostasis? Are you just waiting for life to run out? 

I think I didn’t always take too well to the world of the living.  When a child is born, it’s almost like grafting a new piece of tissue on a pre-existing organism.  You want it to take, and grow and to be a part of what it has been placed onto.  You want it to somehow become an agent of good; something new that becomes intricately part of yourself and heals.  

Some part of me rejected the world.  Maybe I was born with this, maybe I began to reject it later on.  Maybe I was surrounded by impending death and I was just curious of what it is on the other side of life.  I would lie on my back and look at the ridges of the ceiling, close my eyes and wonder what it feels.  I wanted to empathize with my father who was dying, yet I could not. 

It’s scary to know that a part of you doesn’t hold.  No matter what you do, it tries to fly away from what it has been grafted onto.  How to be driven when you are torn into a direction that is not of this world.  How to be committed when everything you see, hear and feel is only half acknowledged by yourself.  Sometimes more, sometimes less; isn’t that formula infuriating.  

At a certain point, life presents you with the circumstances to choose.  It gives you the desperation, the freedom and the fog.  It brings to the front and center the fact that part of you has always rejected this program you’ve been in sewn onto.  It gives you things you don’t want to live through anymore and it gives you the means to reject it all completely. To become whole, and yet nothing.  Not everyone gets this choice—not everyone needs this choice—but occasionally it happens. I guess you just have to deal.

Sometimes I wonder if my whole writing life has gravitated in orbit around this one black hole.  The proverbial wound from which art and emotion springs forth.  That most destructive and productive thing in you.  

There’s something ancient about it.  That part of you that won’t graft; as ancient as death itself.  It’s a beautiful stain that grazed you from the very beginning.  The shade that causes you to pause when others move, pause to take another look, take your thought deeper than the reality and consider something darker than what life promises.  What drives you, you wonder, the urge to keep looking? Or the task of looking away.

Anyway, I digress.  Where was I?

Sometimes, sooner or later, there is a choice.  When you sit on the ledge between life and death and realize it is not a ledge anymore.  They’ve melded into each other.  It can be so disheartening and I can understand why I would want to choose one or other other.  

Maybe it is a choice, maybe it isn’t—I think it can be argued both ways.  Maybe there was fate involved.  But I prefer agency and I prefer to think that, yes, I did make a choice .  That stain in me, that part that wanted to leave, I think I re-grafted it.  Not to this world, but to the me that lives.  To the me that engages, to the me that looks outside of myself. 

I’ve found my way to this metaphor before, but—Theseus and the Minotaur.  Monster and slayer, the two halves that keep a labyrinth whole and alive.  They become dependent upon each other.  Life, I realized doesn’t make you feel alive.  Wholeness does. 

Staying whole takes work.  Sometimes I am only one self and not the other, and I feel a sense of hollowness.  Sometimes I dwell only in the stain and I simply drift through this world.  Sometimes I get scared again and I’m afraid one is rejecting the other and things are going to split again.  But I suppose this is why intentionality matter; if you make a choice to be whole you are accountable to that choice.  You are a product, not of biology and chance, but of your own choosing.  If I made this choice, it’s my responsibility when things fall apart to put it back together.

I think that is what propels me forward and onward.  But to where? I can’t say.

Haruki Murakami writes a beautiful line in Kafka on the Shore that I think triggered this musing of spirits and wholeness and living ghosts:

”’….metaphors help eliminate what separates you and me.’”

This blog is filled with metaphor not because I am reluctant to be straightforward, but because sometimes that is the most truthful way to express what I feel.  

Sometimes I am tempted to eliminate the metaphor and begin writing more about what I have seen, what has happened, what is news to you.  Yet, I can’t seem to do that here.  I can’t seem to transform this place into what is real and tangible, forgoing what I cannot explain.  The stain.  The rejecting graft. The minotaur.  The ghost.  

I think Murakami has helped me articulate why.  Even in this most distant medium of virtual words and indirect exchanges that I don’t know how to acknowledge face to face, I do want to be closer to you.  I want to eliminate the distance, if not for an instance.  

The Lowest Numbers

Last Thursday I was assigned to proctor midterms for the lowest performing group of eighth and ninth grade students on campus.  

What must it feel, I wondered, to be at the very bottom.  Especially as a ninth grade student—when a third of the cohort you’ve started out with in seventh grade has dropped out, what must it feel to stick it through when you are almost certain you will not pass the high school exam.  

Even as a teacher—or simply a proctor, I wondered, what is even the point of trying on these exams? 

It’s probably wrong of me to think these things, but perhaps I am just someone who would give up on myself if I have only ever experienced failure. 

When my only job is simply to sit and stare for 2.5 hours, I end up noticing a lot about these students.  The group is a motley bunch.  Good-looking boys who know they are good-looking.  Thug-like boys who try to seem disinterested in school.  Clearly intelligent students who have never found school to be interesting.  Girls who cover their face with their bangs and are too shy to make eye-contact.  Girls who try ridiculously hard, using every minute of the exam.  Students who are learning-disabled and mark their exams with something in between art and written character.  Aiming for something that they can’t seem to produce in reality.  

Everyone was in pretty good spirits; probably partially because my horrible Chinese mixed up “scratch paper” for “toilet paper.”  Oh well. They were quiet and fairly well-behaved and most of them wrote down something for every question.  

When the whole school and system is so intensely focused on test scores, it’s almost surprising to see people still being people even when they are numerically irrelevant.  But why accept this system of numbers anyway, why stop being a person just because you do not belong to the system, why believe you are irrelevant just because your environment says you are.  

Sometimes I do not know what to teach to my lowest performing students.  I get so bogged up in scores, raising them and feeling like I’ve lost face if I don’t exceed expectations.  At the end of it though, it makes the whole experience feel so hollow and broken.  I wonder if this is what I impart to my students—hollowness and brokenness.  The fear of irrelevance, the weight of a life placed on a few numbers.  

That just doesn’t seem right.  I want to teach relevance even in the face of imposing irrelevance.