Raw With Love by Charles Bukowski
little dark girl with
when it comes time to
use the knife
I won’t flinch and
I won’t blame
as I drive along the shore alone
as the palms wave,
the ugly heavy palms,
as the living does not arrive
as the dead do not leave,
I won’t blame you,
I will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
and I will remember your small room
the feel of you
the light in the window
our morning coffee
our noons our nights
our bodies spilled together
the tiny flowing currents
immediate and forever
your leg my leg
your arm my arm
your smile and the warmth
who made me laugh
little dark girl with kind eyes
you have no
knife. the knife is
mine and I won’t use it
“You have to believe that who you are is okay now but also that you are capable and deserving of being something more, different, and better. You have to believe that even when others don’t believe in you and your ambitions and your perspective, that their opinions do not have to be your reality. And you have to believe that you have more good days than bad days if you’d just count your blessings more. Your perspective is everything so choose it wisely. “
Perspective. It’s a word that gets thrown around quite a bit. And I am probably one of the worst offenders. But I am unapologetic about it, because I believe that people as a whole, need better perspective. Life isn’t a bed of roses, and even if it were, roses still have thorns; thorns that could potentially hurt you. But perspective is being able to enjoy and appreciate the roses in one’s life, despite the thorns.
I have never met a person who didn’t have disappointments. I have also never met a person who hasn’t failed at something. I’d go as far as saying some of the people who I look up to the most – including my parents and siblings – have failed terribly. But the reason why I look up to certain people over others is that they don’t allow their failures to define them or make them bitter…
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“That was when I learned that words are no good; that words don’t ever fit even what they are trying to get at. When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the one that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride, who never had the pride. I knew that it had been, not that they had dirty noses, but that we had had to use one another by words like spiders dangling by their mouth from a beam, swinging and twisting and never touchingm and that only through the blows of the switch could my blood and their blood flow as one stream. I knew that it had been, not that my aloneness had to be violated over and over each day, but that it had never been violated until Cash came. Not even by Anse in the nights.
He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill the lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than pride or fear.”
– As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner.
I nearly cried the first time I saw the video. I heard the song was when I was having a miserable time at work, the beautiful melody caught my ear and I was hooked. There’s a genuine sense of vulnerability that a lot of songs nowadays lack. You can tell that the lyrics meant something to whomever wrote the song. It wasn’t just some mass produced hit meant to sell records. It’s a bit gut wrenching when you think about the meaning behind the video. Seeing the video put things in perspective, and made me realize that every one is fighting a hard battle not just me. We’re all just trying to get by while trying to make a semblance of meaning of all the struggles along the way.
It’s truly making me appreciate my parents. Despite the rough patches we’ve been through, there’s still love underneath it all. My father may not be the first person I think of when I think of my hero, but he does what he can to provide for the family. The New York Times recently delved into varying definitions of the word hero. I don’t know what your definition may be, it may be completely different from mine, but I don’t think heroes merely exist in the pages of comic books or in summer blockbusters. I think heroes are people who have the courage and the moral perseverance to do something for the greater good of the people around them. It need not be a herculean task, it can be standing up for someone being talked down upon, or voicing out the wrongs seen.
I’ve had many heroes in my life and I use them as beacons of who I aspire to be. I think that the most admirable thing about my heroes is that despite the strife they face, they’re motivated by love and faith in humanity. I do not want to live a life seeking revenge for all those that wronged me or worse: to be propelled by hatred. It’s easy to be hardened by the trying times. Every morning when I wake up to NPR, I hear of the civil unrest in Syria, or the dire state of the American economy, or some other atrocities here or overseas. It’s really hard not to grow bitter and cold, it’s much easier to be pessimistic and lose faith in people’s capacity for good. However, when I see an everyday act of heroism from coworkers, friends or bystanders I remember that the world isn’t all bad after all. There are still people out there willing to break their passivity to make a stand. It might seem naive, but I’d like to think that its not fame or money that propels them to act, but love. I still believe in the inherent goodness and altruism in people. It’s still a beautiful place despite the seeming bleakness of the times. I’ve quoted it time and time again, but I too need a reminder from one of my heroes:
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”- Kurt Vonnegut
It’s 2:45am now and I have to get to lab in a few hours. When inspiration strikes, I just go with it. If you made it this far, I hope all is well and thank you for sparing your time gracing your eyes on my random rambles.
by Haruki Murakami
One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo’s fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.
Tell you the truth, she’s not that good-looking. She doesn’t stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either – must be near thirty, not even close to a “girl,” properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.
Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl – one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you’re drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I’ll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.
But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can’t recall the shape of hers – or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It’s weird.
“Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl,” I tell someone.
“Yeah?” he says. “Good-looking?”
“Your favorite type, then?”
“I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember anything about her – the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts.”
“So anyhow,” he says, already bored, “what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?”
“Nah. Just passed her on the street.”
She’s walking east to west, and I west to east. It’s a really nice April morning.
Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and – what I’d really like to do – explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.
After talking, we’d have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.
Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.
Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.
How can I approach her? What should I say?
“Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?”
Ridiculous. I’d sound like an insurance salesman.
“Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?”
No, this is just as ridiculous. I’m not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who’s going to buy a line like that?
Maybe the simple truth would do. “Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me.”
No, she wouldn’t believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you’re not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I’d probably go to pieces. I’d never recover from the shock. I’m thirty-two, and that’s what growing older is all about.
We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can’t bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She’s written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she’s ever had.
I take a few more strides and turn: She’s lost in the crowd.
Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.
Oh, well. It would have started “Once upon a time” and ended “A sad story, don’t you think?”
Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.
One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.
“This is amazing,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you’re the 100% perfect girl for me.”
“And you,” she said to him, “are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I’d pictured you in every detail. It’s like a dream.”
They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It’s a miracle, a cosmic miracle.
As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one’s dreams to come true so easily?
And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, “Let’s test ourselves – just once. If we really are each other’s 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we’ll marry then and there. What do you think?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is exactly what we should do.”
And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.
The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other’s 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.
One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season’s terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence’s piggy bank.
They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.
Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.
One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:
She is the 100% perfect girl for me.
He is the 100% perfect boy for me.
But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.
A sad story, don’t you think?
Yes, that’s it, that is what I should have said to her.
I just deactivated my Facebook account for the first time just now.
I always thought that when if ever it came to this point, something would propel me to stop and rethink my decision. On the contrary, it was quick and painless. I haven’t been his certain about a decision in a long time. Facebook was never a grand concern to me, it’s not at the forefront of my list of concerns. I mainly used it to feed the little voyeuristic curiosity residing in me. most of the time, certain posts would provoke me to lose faith in humanity. Tonight in particular, I surrendered to frustration. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I need a break from social media, and other things that sway conscious decisions.
A friend told me a few months back that I’ve been losing myself. Back then, I gave no merit to her statement and thought that it was spite or jealousy that drove her to make that statement. I continued on the path I was going on, with the thought that every decision I’ve made thus far has been out of my own volition. In retrospect, she may have been right about losing a part of myself. I feel as though I’ve been moved from my equilibrium, and disoriented with no sight of where to go.
I’ve always heard people tell me to, “always be yourself.” I don’t even know myself anymore.Do I have the same wants and needs as before? Do I still have the right motivation and reason to strive towards my dreams? Have I changed for myself, or to please someone else? The past few months have changed me so much that I don’t even know which decisions were from my own accord, and from that of external influences. In my desire to please the people dear to me, I’ve lost track of the things I used to find so much pleasure in before. Perhaps changing was for the better, perhaps my life needed to be amended to right my wrongs. However, there’s a little voice inside my head that echoes, “Are you sure?”
And so it has come to this. I’m taking a break from Facebook, and other social media in which I used to partake. I’m trying to re-evaluate who I am, and if I even like the person I am becoming. I don’t want to be motivated by the “likes” or complimentary comments by peers and friends. I do not want to fall prey to the emperor’s clothes; I do not want to be blinded from believing what I know to be true just because other people say so otherwise. I think times like these are necessary to stop ourselves from spiraling out of control, and even further into demise. I’ve quoted this time and time again, but it truly is a necessary reminder sometimes: Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world” (Cervantes, Don Quixote.) I am under construction, and testing if my foundation is still build on solid ground. I hope that the little break will shed some light on the answers I’m trying to find.
I’m okay… or at least that’s what I try to convince myself…
The music stops, but the melody lingers
Haruki Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase)
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.
I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.
No rhetoric, no tremolos,
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.
So throw away your baggage and go forward.
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.
That’s why you must walk so lightly.
Lightly my darling,
on tiptoes and no luggage,
not even a sponge bag,
― Aldous Huxley, Island
“Loneliness as a situation can be corrected, but as a state of mind it is an incurable illness.” -Vladimir Nobokov
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed reading. It was my way of escaping the lonely isolation of my youth. Sure there were perks to being an only child, but the indescribable loneliness can sometimes be consuming. At times I felt as though the emptiness of my environment was merely a reflection of the hollowness inside. At first I read to distract myself from my situation and to appease my mother from worrying about me. As long as I looked like I was enjoying what I was doing, it seemed like everything was A-okay, that I didn’t mind her absence in my life. I couldn’t blame her, she did the best she could to provide a good future for me, and for that I am forever grateful. So fake it until you make it, it went. Fortunately enough, I actually fell in love with reading. Literature provided a comforting sense of security. I read stories I could relate to, I somehow felt like I wasn’t a lone blip in the universe. Reading felt like I was connecting to other souls that empathized with my struggles. There were others just as confused and lost as I was; I wasn’t alone anymore. It’s what inspired me to start writing. Perhaps I too could connect with someone by sharing my experiences, and someway somehow make life a little more bearable similar to how other writers inspired me to keep going. I don’t know what contribution I’ll make someday to humanity, but if my words can somehow be the soothing words of reassurance to temporarily appease others that were like the past me, then I can die a happy woman.
To be honest, I didn’t come to realize this until recently. I thought I was perfectly fine being alone, that I could survive living a life of isolation if need be. However even if I lived as a recluse, my heart would always come back to reading and writing, and literature is all about connection. It’s not a direct connection like doctors have with their patients, but its a connection nonetheless. Most of the time, you don’t really know your audience, or who ever happens to grace their eyes on your words. Themes of hope, friendship, love and the like tie people together despite the diverse backgrounds they come from. There’s a difference of opinions when it comes to how a subject should be handled, such as love and loss. And to quote Flaubert,“You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful.” I’m taking it to heart and writing not to impress anyone or gain attention, but merely in hopes that someone out there also feels the same. I don’t claim to be a good writer by any stretch (god knows there’s a lot I can improve on), but I can only write in my words and my voice, no one else’s. Despite how unique and original we think we are, we’re all just really after the same things in life: to be happy and to be loved. I suppose we all want to form a constellation out of the blips in the big cosmos we live in, to feel like somehow we belong somewhere.
Before I digress and ramble farther away from my original intention, I wanted to share the books that made an impact in my life. The books that shaped my perception about life, love, and loss. It’s these books that helped me through my darkest of times, the books that I turn to time and time again when I feel like I’m losing my way. The were the sort of Lode Star that guided me back where I needed to be. Perhaps I’ll elaborate how each have changed me, but it may be too long for this post, and it’s far too late (2:00 am) my for my mind to function properly to do them justice. Without further ado, I present the works that shaped my life: Don Quixote, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kafka on the Shore, As I Lay Dying, The Geography of Bliss, A Jane Austen Education, A Sense of an Ending, Le Petit Prince, and The Things They Carried. I hope that somehow it makes an impact in your life like it did in mine.