Saturday, May 06, 2017

Hello Heartsongs

After months and months of just not feeling it, I have become mad about running again. Like really seriously running again.  As in wake-up-at-4:30-AM-run-8-kms-before-sunrise serious.

And look, I'm starting to write again. Not that I ever stopped; my journal will attest to that. What I mean is writing things for all the world to see. These days, I feel like saying things out loud again.

For a while, I stopped doing the things that made my heart sing. It's time to get it humming, yea?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Soul Scribble: Writing Letters In A World of Instant Messaging

I have four instant messaging apps on my phone.

I am connected to all of my favourite people through these apps. It’s absolutely brilliant that I can say hey to anyone, any time, anywhere and they receive it instantly, whether they are 10 or 10,000 miles away. They are especially useful for announcing news and milestones that simply cannot wait another moment.

Why then would I want to go through the trouble of scribbling or typing words on sheets of paper (not to mention constructing them to coherence), taking it to the post box, when one can easily type the things one wants to say on a keypad and send it in seconds?

Is letter-writing an archaic and irrelevant exercise in these days of instantaneous communication?

I should hope not. What letter writing lacks in swiftness of delivery, it makes up for in soul.

In this age of hyper-busyness and multi-tasking, letter writing is an exercise in being focused on a single task, a much needed reprieve for our overloaded brains. I daresay this is not something that an IM interaction can claim. Even if I am in a focused online chat with one of my favorite people, it is so easy to get distracted and save a response for much later, and sometimes, never. The very nature of instant messaging allows us to interact while we are in the middle of other things that need our attention. It’s not a bad thing; it is the way it is. While one can easily switch from one application to another, writing a letter makes you stay put and present.

The other beauty of a letter is that it is essentially a collection of unique character artifacts; the sender's handwriting, her doodles on the margin, her choice of stationery and typeface, how she tells her story, her purpose for writing. It is literally a piece of the writer in the hands of its recipient. It is the most personal keepsake of a loved one one could ever have.

I like to call handwritten letters, ‘love in the mail.’ I feel all warm and fuzzy when I see an envelope addressed to me, one that isn’t a utility bill. Reading a letter is an exercise in being in the present too. One of the most delicious pleasures in life is sitting on the sofa, reading a long and juicy letter from a friend, warm cup of coffee in hand. It almost feels like she’s there having coffee with me.

I start to think about the exquisiteness of how she made the effort to select stationery. How she determinedly set a block of time and space in her busy day, affectionately thinking of me. How she took a trip to the post office to get the letter going on its way. She may even have sealed it with a kiss.

The letter is a very tangible expression of fondness and for correspondents who share a history, love.

I am grateful for the ease of communication and information sharing that instant messaging brings. But I know that every so often, when there is a need for a more poignant connection, I will reach, not for my phone, but my pen - and start scribbling away.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Should I Quit My Daydream?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It was a question that was irrelevant whilst the mister and I were in the process of starting over in Aussie land.

Two years deep into the move and having managed to break into the workforce and getting into the 9-5 grind once more, I find myself asking that question again.

Is it time to stop?

I recently told a friend that as one-half of a migrant couple whose game plan # 1 was to find steady incomes and build our retirement fund, I was happy to land any stable and permanent work that I could qualify for. I did not need to be in love with my job. 

As of this writing I am 7 days into a role that is exactly that : permanent, stable, doable. All good things. I am grateful. Truly I am.

And yet...

I remember our first months in Sydney, a year or so ago. I was unemployed and so I had plenty of time on my hands. I spent a lot of that time making hand-painted postcards, filling my sketchbook with illustrations and drawings and uploading them on Instagram. I got likes from familiar followers and complete strangers and I beamed. In the absence of a 9-5 day job, I daydreamed. A lot. Could I perhaps do this ... and get paid for it?

I thought, hey, why the hell not? So I decided in my unemployed stupor that what I wanted to do when I grow up was draw pretty things. To make its seem irrevocable, I sent my best friend a postcard (hand-painted of course) declaring this dream.

Shortly after, I was able to find work. As it happens, when you have a day job, there is only so much time in between one work day to the next that you can spend in creative pursuits. This is the reality of a grown up.

The reality of a grown up is that you need money. A good amount of it to feed and clothe yourself and put a roof over your head. A great amount for other shiny things. (A much greater amount if you are thinking of reproducing!)

The reality is, me creating pretty things will never earn me that much money. There's much more to earning a living making pretty things than a dozen likes on Instagram. Time, effort, blood, sweat and tears and a good amount of luck are needed.

The reality of most grown up is that to earn a substantial amount of money, you get a job that's not as sexy as say, making pretty things. Having said that, perhaps what I should strive to be when I grow up is to  someone who takes an unsexy job and becomes freaking awesome at it. After all, the unsexy job pays for sexy things like tickets to the opera, paid holiday leaves, wine, etc.

But hey, it can pay for lessons on making pretty things.

So I say don't quit the daydream. But don't quit the day job either.