176: (Re)Birth Day

Below is the post for my last birthday before I created this blog.
Dated 19th September 2013.

Birthdays

This year, I find myself performing a forgotten ritual I practised for my birthday – spending time at the airport alone to do some soul-searching. The only obvious reason that I am doing so again is needless to be mentioned, and I decided to explore the idea of rituals for my 21st birthday.

I definitely did not expect to spend my 21st at the airport, I thought times like these would be only a distant memory, yet I find myself currently seated at the same spot like 2007-2009, looking at the same view. The only changes in the environment are the décor of the place – there’s an exhibition explaining how the logistics of an airport works. No matter how much a place may change, memories stay the same. No matter how much a face may change, your memory of that person remains.

This time last year I had grand visions for my 21st, an extravagant party no less, as I believe in the idea of celebrating birthdays. It is a yearly ritual to remind yourself that you have a purpose in life, and to explore new meanings you have accumulated. It is quite unfortunate, yet without regret, that I lack the means to celebrate my birthday this year.

Previous years, I have had more questions than answers, asking myself how I could deal with things that were troubling me every moment that I was idle. Maybe it’s maturity, or maybe it’s fatigue, whatever it is, this year I have an eerie sense of calm as I type these words. It is as though I no longer seek answers and am content with the questions. It feels as though I am able to embrace the unknown rather than fear it, finally feeling free from within to dive into the darkness.

Definitely it is quite ironic that no amount of “Happy Birthday” wishes could help me feel happier. The truth is I am far from being happy with the life events that have occurred this year. Learning how the one you love is not the one for you is surely not easy to deal with; my faith (in love) has yet to be tested so hard before.

I would like to believe I have put in my fair effort at showing those meaningful to me how much I value their birthdays. I appreciate the friends I have who put in their bit of effort in acknowledging mine and are thankful for them, even if they do not share the meaning of birthdays in the same regard as I do.

The ritual of spending time at the airport is a compromise made to the original idea of exploring new places each birthday. I would like to travel every birthday in the future, learning new things as I venture into the unknown. It would make me feel reborn, like how a new baby comes to life fresh to learn in an unfamiliar environment. By putting myself into a new place each year, perhaps I could gain new enlightenment and enrich myself with new insights.  The airport is the closest place I could get to the free unknown that lies beyond.

Every year, on this day, I would be lost.

And in the midst of being lost, I hope to find myself – over and over again.


Another year older, another year wiser. Or so I’m told.

True to my words, I am still lost, and in the midst of finding myself.
True to my words, I am at a new place this birthday, in my hall in NTU, after deciding against heading to Raffles’ Marina tonight.
True to my words, I am far from happy, and I have an eerie sense of calm about it.

Schoolwork and projects has prevented me from heading to the other end of Singapore and spend my birthday at the airport yet again, but I still find myself doing some soul-searching. I thought of how much I have changed since the past year, and though I feel not much did, I know deep down I am no longer the same person as I was.

I used to believe strongly in birthdays, yet those left ironically can’t be a testament to what I would do for someone’s birthday. Birthdays mattered so much to me, it is a day you should be happy and a dedication to a gift to the world: your very own life. I believe in the butterfly effect, and every person’s life you have come into contact with would definitely not be the same without you. Yet, the past year has taught me that birthdays don’t mean shit unless you want it to.

I no longer see the point in giving and making an effort for someone’s birthday anymore, including mine. People all have their own lives, what is yours in terms of their time and energy? Then, I felt birthdays are clear indicators to how much you mean to a person, or people. Their actions to you proved your worth to them in their lives. Now, after all the people who left (especially those whom I spent time and energy on), I realised that my closest friends are the ones who did almost nothing at all. They may not be there for this one day, yet, they have always been there for me when I needed them.

Losing faith in birthdays is a sharp reminder of how I have lost faith in a hell lot of things I believed in. It reminded me of how much I have changed, even if I do not feel so. It also resembles a niggling scar of what caused me to have a paradigm shift on things, giving me a whole new perspective on life, and love. It has been the most difficult struggle over the past year. I am still recovering, and thankfully the relapses are not as intense as they once were, and thankful I managed to get myself in order somehow. Of course I’m anxious about getting another full-blown episode, especially since I have no more means of escape, but that is a problem I should not worry about now. There is still the cognitive dissonance concerning if anyone could ever find value in me in this transient, free-spirit state. Yet, it is this uncertainty that I thrive in, which unfortunately unsettles a lot of people who seek security and stability. I am already beginning to feel myself wary about revealing too much about myself to people I’m getting closer to.

I am fighting hard from turning myself numb, because fear has kicked in. I have posted before of how I cannot afford to fear about turning numb since naturally, I have an inclination of diving right into my fears to overcome them. Me fearing numbness would mean it would only be a matter of time before I have lost complete and utter faith in love, turning me faithless. Hope is what keeps faith alive, and if I were to remove the most fundamental block of my life, hope would cease to exist. I have been living without hope for quite some time, which explains why I feel as though I’m floating through life instead feeling alive. I’m at a wonder sometimes how I could manage to get things done, somehow, and I fear it was with numbness that things are possible.

I do not want to live a life going through motions and living just for the sake of it. I used to pride myself being different, and thankfully I have learned to appreciate how everyone is different after all, even though who live a conventional life. I still want to be a better person, and I hope I do not be a person in the eyes of everyone else but myself. I guess this is something I would solely focus on over the next year, since I’m already too comfortable being alone. I wrote a note on resolutions last year, but honestly I am not looking forward to anything much now and simply trying to live with each day, by terrible day.

I want to feel things again, finding connection with myself without numbing myself from another, and feel alive.

175: Feel. Dance.

I planned to write something about dance last week, and after catching SMU Indancity’s production titled “STEPS: COLOURS” yesterday, I decided to continue this post today. It’s always nice to watch a dance production, especially contemporary/lyrical jazz/rumba, and I can’t help but to think if I could ever express myself freely as I would like to in dance. I saw two videos last week on dance that inspired me, and reminded me how dance is one medium I could use in my bid to continue to feel things

One Legged Breaker

In the video above, the title speaks for itself. I used to think dance is something I cannot do, but the above proves that you set your own limits. I’m really happy for this guy to be able to express himself despite his (apparent) limitations, and should be a reminder if I ever tell myself that I’m unable to feel nor dance anymore.

Blue Journey (America’s Got Talent)

All dances tell a story, and I’m impressed by how this partnership managed to incorporate technology to enhance their dance. This is absolutely amazing, and truly inspiring.

Candace Blue & Mark Ballas – Rumba (Dancing With The Stars)

If there’s one song I wish I could come up a choreo with, especially if I have a dance partner, it would be Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera. This song defines me now, in trying to understand myself better through the past year. I still want to feel things, as strongly as I could, and expressing myself through dancing to this song is something I hope I could do in the future.

I’m really glad I picked up dance last year, and it’s definitely something I would not drop along with soccer. Although I have little interest in competing, I still hope I could continue to learn and improve myself to be a better dancer, and that I will never numb myself from feeling.

174: The Last Song

I woke up this morning with the tune and lyrics of this song stuck in my head.

It’s only after reading the lyrics again that I’ve realised about the same time last year, this song was a feature of my life. Who would have known I would end up truly leaving SMU?


The Last Song – The All-American Rejects

This may be the last thing that I write for long.
Can you hear me smiling when I sing this song, for you?
And only you.

As I leave, will you be someone to say goodbye?
As I leave, will you be someone to wipe your eye?
My foot is out the door, and you can’t stop me now.

The hearts start breaking, as the year is gone.
The dream’s beginning and the time rolls on.
It seems so surreal, now I sing it.

Somehow, I knew that it would be this way.
Somehow, I knew that it would slowly fade.
Now I am gone – just try and stop me now.

You wanted the best, it wasn’t me.
Will you give it back? Now I’ll take the lead,
When there’s no more room to make it grow.
I’ll see you again, you’ll pretend you’re naive,
Is this what you want, is this what you need?
How you end up let me know.

Will you need me now?
You’ll find a way somehow.
You want it too.
I want it too.

As I go, remember all the simple things you know.
My mind is just a crutch, and I still hope
That you will miss me when I’m gone.

This is the last song.


When will, or would, I ever stop writing this epilogue? 

173: Nightlife

There comes a point of time when everything you thought was once magical turns ordinary.

I restarted clubbing after breaking up, but for the past few months, I find myself disinterested in it. I rather enjoy and feel the music rather than look for girls to bump and grind with. Yesterday I met a friend I clubbed with last year who has seen me at my worst, and appeared quite shock at my lack of approaches. 

I used to say “Hi” to everyone around me, if they’re open and fun enough they’ll reciprocate. I have been met with many weird stares, complete ignorance and even verbal abuses. Rejection is common in clubs, it’s natural for girls to think every guy out there is aiming to prey on them when some of us just wanna have fun with everyone. And then there are those guys who are evidently hunting because of their complete lack of response to your greeting.

These days, I’m alright just simply dancing to the music for the whole night. Even when there are those girls who barge into a group even when there are vultures – i mean guys – circling them, I tend to avoid their erratic bumps. Not that I’m that great of a dancer, but I’m starting to find it a turn-off with girls who can’t dance in clubs, bouncing and jumping and ending up stamping your feet. This explains why I’m beginning to develop a natural attraction towards dancers.

Dancers, real dancers, are people who express themselves with the help of music. It’s with learning dance that I began to understand myself better, and find yet another medium of expression. I’ve always found it more meaningful to be able to share your expressions with another. Yet, for dance, it’s difficult to find a partner on the same level as you. Worse, it’s even more difficult to find a partner you could connect with.

Connection. Perhaps that’s what we are looking for, even in clubs. Both guys and girls look to connect intimately with a random stranger, either a quick release for the night or hoping to find someone who could offer something more. Perhaps I have found connection with the music rather than people. Yet, sometimes even when I force myself to act for the sake of being a wingman, I find a tinge of anxiety over rejection when I used to not give two cahoots about it. Even when I manage to make a girl comfortable, there’s a tinge of fear at being abandoned if I were to try to get intimate, because it’s not always you get to meet someone cool for the night. My friends wonder what the hell happened to me, and I do too, but they don’t complain as much if I had helped them catch one or tanked for them the mother hen or farmers of the group. After my job is done, I immediately retreat back to a space I could find and simply enjoy the music.

Maybe I have grown disillusioned with the whole pick-up game of the nightlife. All I want is to feel things again, and the music is the only reason why I’m still found in clubs at times.

172: Little Things

It’s been a really difficult two months for me – from adapting to a new environment to realising I’m a different person, from settling admin stuff for my finances (yet to be fully settled) to settling my finances administratively because of a new liability. I thought I would be ready for school, but how wrong I was and three weeks in now I’m fearing for my projects and studies once again. I kept thinking of the little things that once gave me joy, and realised I have done every single bit over the past two months with little to no effect. Perhaps they make work for you, if you’re in desperate need of a little pick-me-up for your own reasons.

1) Food & Drinks

I love coke, for some reason, to the point I can taste the difference between coke and pepsi. Show me a bottle of vanilla coke and I’ll immediately buy it. Recently I was aghast when I couldn’t find any vanilla coke on the shelves in NTU’s Giant, and bought the remaining two bottles left when I found them hidden in the fridge. If I wanted something non-carbonated, Heaven & Earth’s Osmanthus Green Tea would be my choice. It’s really sweet, and I have quite a sweet tooth. I’m that guy who orders a 200% sugar level bubble tea, and declare anything less than a 100% as tasteless.

When things got too much to bear, I used to get myself two pints of BnJ (and finish them within a day). Friends would know pretty well that I love ice cream, and am one person who would order a tub/pint at ice cream parlours simply because – 1) I can finish it before it turns to slush. 2) It’s more cost-efficient. No really, as compared to the price of a cup of 2 scoops, it’s more than 5x the amount of ice cream for 2x the price! Lately, no amount of ice cream could make me feel better, and thankfully still, nor fatter.

2) Smoking

I spent so much time last year alone that I picked up smoking when I was alone late night. Maybe the money I’ve spent on cigarettes meant it would be a trade-off for one BnJ pint, but the things I’ve learned while smoking made me realise this is one thing I would not stop myself from doing. There’s little things you could do when alone in the middle of the night in random places outside. The light is too dim to read a book, the environment is too cold or humid to sit and stare blankly without feeling uncomfortable. Smoking keeps me preoccupied, and lets me simply sit at a place and enjoy the solitary moment I’m blessed with. It’s also a symbol for social bonding, I have yet to meet a smoker I can not talk with, and giving a cigarette to someone else is always a nice gesture to show your sign of appreciation. Yet, these days smoking has lost its meaning. I still feel frustrated after smoking and thankfully still understand that increasing my dosage would not help alleviate my mind in any further way.

3) Activities

I used to believe that activities would keep my mind pre-occupied so I wouldn’t think of what’s been troubling me. From playing soccer to clubbing to playing games, these were sources of escapism. They kept me occupied for that moment in time, and I could feel every emotion from joy to frustration. When I began to realise I no longer find games fun, the activities that once helped slowly lost its charm. I began to lose interest in clubbing; while I still do my part as a good wingman most nights, I can’t be bothered with picking up for the past few months and rather enjoy the music. Lately, I’ve lost the motivation I had in soccer, and my fear of injuries returned which severely inhibited my performance on the pitch. I didn’t have the passion I once had, no longer wanting to improve myself and seek to get into the NTU team as much as I did for SMU. I hope I get to find the fire in me again soon, doing things I like to do and improving myself at them.

4) Roaming

I used to run to tire myself out physically to the point of exhaustion, just so I can collapse and sleep and not think about things anymore. They used to work, until I get haunted by nightmares that got me waking up in the middle of the night. I began to roam nights and they were a source of inspiration for creativity, for poems, writing, photos and videos. I think the last straw came for me when I found myself roaming aimlessly to little effect and without a trigger for any form of inspiration. It was the past few nights that I found myself numb, indicating my fears of being unable to feel have come into play and I am very much in the process of it.

5) Hanging Out with Friends

One of the reasons why I went NTU is to have a holistic university experience, and a large part of this would be having a hall life. I only hung out with a few friends until late in SMU (I can count the times with fingers), and random hangouts are the main reason why I’m still very much bonded with my small group of secondary school friends. I used to like doing this, making an effort to go down to places for my friends, celebrating birthdays and what not. Regrettably, I began to change the way I see birthdays last year. It’s a shame, because friends I hold close may have the wrong perception if I do not wish them on their birthdays, or even make an effort to do something small for them. Only a few people know how highly I once regarded birthdays, and with mine approaching in a few weeks I find no difference than how I felt last year. Hanging out with friends no longer felt as fun as it once did, and sometimes meaningless.

 

I kept thinking of all the little things above that has helped me through, even if it’s just for a short while. I know escapism is only a short-term solution, and I guess I have escaped to the point I can’t find any satisfaction anymore as they lose their novelty. I find little to no joy in carrying them out these days, 

Something happened that led me to realise and accept that I can no longer afford to allow myself to feel another sense of loss and abandonment from a person. I do not want to go through another crippling and paralysing experience of losing someone I love. I find myself getting quite emotional when hearing stories about loss, or seeing someone experiencing it themselves. I understand that people come and go, though now I’m beginning to wonder why let those who’ll leave into your lives in the first place? You reveal yourself, only for them to be uncomfortable with who you are, try to change you, or even leave. I’ve had enough of having people I regard close leave when I need them the most, I actually feel I shouldn’t even tell anyone about my thoughts anymore. That these problems are mine alone to deal with, and nobody would be willing to get their hands dirty for another person when they could be happy without me in their lives.

I’m getting too comfortable being alone, to the point I rather distance myself from groups just to have my own space. I realised I can’t be bothered at not getting to be a group leader anymore after realising I probably wouldn’t fit in and no longer the same person, when I was so intent to be one in SMU camps. I think being marginalised for sports camp and the cancellation of NBS camp made me quite disillusioned once again. I suppose I have lost and wasted my energy over the year, I no longer feel as inspired as I was and now totally unmotivated. I used to enjoy communicating with people, especially random ones, but I just can’t be bothered now.

I feel loss has made me lose my faith, both in people and in love, and it’s a clear sign and indication that I should return to counselling. I thought going to NTU would give me the new start I had hoped for, but new revelations lately has caused a massive paradigm shift in the way I see things. Loss has turned me lost. I cannot afford to let myself fall this time, nor should I seek to escape. I’ll have to accept that I can’t do this alone as I thought, and I need help. My former counsellor told me that counselling was a space for me to express myself, simply because she felt I already knew what to do and was confident with my plans alone. Sadly, not this time. Yes, I am alone once again, but I’m clueless about my future and it certainly looks bleak at this point. I used to hold pride in my identity, in being different, in believing that someone out there would see value in me when few would. I kept telling myself I’ll find my way through, somehow, but not this time. I do not feel as alive as I should. I want to feel things again.

I do not know what I believe in anymore, not even in the little things that has helped me throughout. And I don’t think finding new little things to help me through would have the same effects it once did.

171: Stories

Stories – There for Tomorrow

The cold night wasn’t trouble enough for him
Another swallow never seemed like enough for him
They say the past is the past but it never treated me like this

He couldn’t ask for a better understanding of how
What goes around comes back around twice as fast
He’s got no hope for a cure so he’ll put himself to sleep, oh

She always hoped for him to take her word for word
Never knew what it felt like feeling this unsure
She’s got her eyes on the time
But there’s no use waiting there for him

But she’s not in the world alone
But she wanted to put herself to sleep

Now we just sit back, we sit back
While we watch all of them react

So tell me what to tell you when the world won’t listen
The start to the finish, come on and let me hear
You got to speak, oh, and use up all the time you’re given
It’s time to come on, go ahead and tell your story

 

“Remember, nobody knows who you were anymore. They only know who you are, they will only judge you based on who they see. They won’t see the Asyraf that was full of life, full of energy and ideas. They won’t see the Asyraf that was confident and willing to take on anything at all. Nobody would know this was a person who believed in love as strongly as I have ever seen, and one of the sweetest and strongest person I’ve known. Nobody would know you have been the constant among your friends, even when everyone else leaves, and believe that there’s good in everyone. Nobody knows, and honestly would care, what you have done or could do, and they’ll only notice what you do.

Instead, they’ll see someone relatively quiet, someone who’s disinterested in his studies, probably someone who’s lazy and unable to wake for morning lessons and just keeps complaining about it. They’ll see someone who can’t be bothered with anything at all and just wants to have fun. 

This is who they’ll see, because this is who I’m seeing now. I’m starting to feel you have lost faith in love, even if you insist otherwise. I miss you, the old you. I wanted to say the ‘real’ you, but I think you’re one of the most real person I’ve known.”

“I don’t think you’ll ever find yourself back, you yourself said your identity was way too integrated with hers. You’re a whole new person now and I think that fact is slowly sinking into you.”

 

Everyone has their own stories. It’s easy to forget how others I have known over the past few months may have changed from who they were. I do not know what happened in their lives that turned them into the way they are now, and neither do they know mine. I don’t think we all really bother anyway to be honest, everyone is just too caught up in their own lives, myself included.

I’m beginning to wonder if their stories would matter, people tend to want to move on from the past as fast and far as they can, rather than live with the pain that comes with the memories. Maybe stories are just meant to be nothing more than life lessons, and should never be kept close but sealed in a box.

170: Enough

I’m starting to feel that I can never be enough.

Enough for someone, enough for my family, enough for myself. That no matter what I do, nor how much I try to improve myself, I’m still insufficient in some ways. I tried to improve myself in everything I’m weak at – from soccer to getting myself to learn dance to taking up photography/videography to being a better person. I’m trying to be everything at once, as told by a message from a friend here, simply because I keep feeling insufficient.

Not being enough is one of the main reasons I was willing to let my relationship go, I felt I couldn’t provide as much as I would have liked. Despite all the ideas I had in my head, I didn’t have enough time nor money to carry them out. I felt I wasn’t enough for her as a person, and I have to learn to be independent without preventing myself from being dependent on a significant other when it matters. Coupled with her falling out of love with me over a matter of months, I can’t help to feel that my love wasn’t enough for her, and for us.

I’m overloading myself, naturally, to keep myself occupied here in NTU. Having nothing to do but study was what that killed me in SMU, the lull periods in between soccer and dance had me fighting ghosts of the past every night. From signing up for latin dance, to hall soccer and committee, I’m trying to balance that with my social life and it’s only a matter of time before I realised it’s impossible to balance everything at once. I have to choose, which means I have to sacrifice time improving myself in other areas.

Today it really drilled into me again how high my expectations are of myself, after a poor team performance with my Sunday team. I wanted to take a break, simply because I felt I haven’t been playing as well as I could. Yet, I was met with violent objections by my teammates, citing how ironic it sounds that I have been averaging a goal per game. I guess deep down I just want to find the spark to play even better to help the team, when in truth they would probably need me on the field more than off it.

I must admit that this desire to continuously improve myself just to get myself feeling sufficient and good enough for myself is to move on from my previous relationship, hoping if I’m ever blessed with someone again, she’ll feel that I’m enough for her and our future, while looking for the both of us to improve together. Maybe that day will never come, until I finally feel sufficient by myself.

I hope I can start feeling that I’m already enough, if for nobody else, at least for myself.

169: Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view

- Edgar Allan Poe

Everything happens for a reason.

That’s what I, and a hell lot of other people, tell me anyway. I thought I didn’t have to worry about much finances and other shit about coming to ntu. How wrong I was. I’m supposed to be concentrating on studies, enjoying hall life, making plenty of new friends. Instead, I’m still having to handle a hell lot of paperwork and admin stuff that needs my urgent attention as they involve my finances.

Who would have guessed coming to ntu meant my subsidy would get cut to 50% because my sister got married and doesn’t count into the family anymore, raising the per capita income? Who would have guessed that getting a bike would cost me so much maintenance so early on? Why is money such an issue?

It’s hard not to think about it, as much as you would like to enjoy life, it appears happiness comes at a price. Outings with friends and such involve money, and it’s rare to find people who could appreciate just hanging around and talking cock the night away just for the company that would greatly help.

There’s no way I want a repeat of what happened in SMU. There’s no way I want to live everyday being burdened by the sense of loss which has definitely changed, and is still changing, me as a person. I wanted to be a better person, but honestly now, I think I just want to be a person who feels he’s alive and happy.

It’s also natural for me to start wondering if leaving SMU was the right option. I had it so easy then, with no worries about my finances having a 100% subsidy approved. I thought I had everything settled when I came into NTU, but now I’m feeling as though I jumped out of the frying pan and into the oven. I have to apply for bursaries, supplementary assistance loans and everything just to help myself and not burden my family anymore. It’s a hell lot of paperwork requiring help from my family members and everyone that’s willing. School has started yet my mind is completely not focused at all as I scramble to get everything settled.

Recently I have realised that I’m probably traumatised by being abandoned by so many people over the years. Loss and abandonment has been a constant theme in my life, and I’m beginning to reluctantly accept this. While I acknowledge that people come and go, I had hoped my friends would be different. Yet, someday, we all have to leave one another and perhaps we are all truly alone. I’ve had a history of panic attacks and I definitely do not want another relapse.

I came to NTU seeking a place I could find solace and solitude to call mine. I am honestly tired of struggling through life, happiness is something I could only say I’ve genuinely experienced in my 3 years being in a relationship, yet it appears this perpetual struggle is very much a part of me that I should learn to live with. And because finding someone to share this struggle with is that much more difficult, (who would be willing to throw themselves into this mess anyway right?) this is a struggle I have to face alone, no matter how much people tell me otherwise.

 

168: Free Spirit

“‘You don’t understand, you fool,’ says Yegor, looking dreamily up at the sky.

‘You’ve never understood what kind of person I am, nor will you in a million years…
You just think I’m a mad person who has thrown his life away…

Once the free spirit has taken hold of a man,
there’s no way of getting it out of him.”

- Anton Chekhov
About Love and Other Stories

167: Trust Trees

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers.

I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let faith speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is.

That is home.
That is happiness.”

― Hermann Hesse