We Want it Both Ways

Every time I board a flight, get settled into my seat and burrow in for 7 hours across the Atlantic, I feel more poignantly than ever that my time and memories are escaping with the miles.

A tether tying me to my first love and former phases grows ever faded as the water laps against it with a tireless rhythm.

It’s a fact that is too cold to the touch. I want it both ways like a petulant child. My past, future and present in one breath. The former flutters and beats of the heart to remain a fixture, when I know very well that flutters are too erratic to sustain a life. Rhythm requires consistency while holding space for the occasional offbeats and counter melodies. That’s the beauty of a song.

And while tender spots of the past aren’t shoved away with sheer will, they can while away before you know what you lost. Soon it takes a picture to remember a face or a scent to remember a once vivid day. Flexing the muscle hurts after it’s had time to atrophy.

It is convenient to think that those moments, even if forgotten, will forever be an inseparable fiber comprising our core, but if we can’t distinguish one strand from the rest, then how does it serve us? What reassurance is there to take?

We can’t be shielded from the brutality of time, it carries on oblivious to our growing pains. In fact, defining it at all is in willfull ignorance to its true nature and essential intangibility. It is multi-dimensional, extending in all directions like a thousand hand Buddha.

But the remembering and forgetting that unfolds in its grasp, that is something we can take into our palms. Like an hourglass turning over, the fragments forgotten may wash over us again, sand streaming through our fingers. The grains that stick have the potential to unlock another inclination, dream or potential yet untouched.

It’s these stubborn particles clinging to the creases of our skin that seed a new branch. They allow us to hang on to their tender yet sturdy limbs, hoping for one last deep inhale before we fall back into the rushing stream beneath us. At the top of our breath, when the scent is no longer discernible, that’s when we open our arms and pray the landing is soft. We know that soon enough, the stream will unearth another grain of sand for us to discover on its shore. It’s this certainty that offers a convergence point, a place where our weight can hinge and set forth on a new direction, complementary and essential to the already constructed form.


An absolutely gorgeous scene of a Thousand Hand Guan Yin performance, as seen in the stunning documentary, Samsara.

Feature image is of a painted Greta Garbo originally photographed by Cecil Beaton and taken from http://karolienrijksen.tumblr.com/, artist unknown.

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