Saturday, November 28, 2009


Who makes the world? Are its contours shaped by our hands, our choices? Or are we merely pawns, guided by a higher power?

It is spring in the village. She walks besides him as she examines the wares of thrift stores and shops selling modest trinkets. He can only think about the times he had been to the same street earlier, with so many different people for so many different reasons. They pass the book store he used to frequent, the coffee shop he would seek reprieve in, the many faces of the shopkeepers individually unknown but collectively so familiar. It’s been ten months since he danced with her without abandon and she spun his world around. Her hand slips into his and pulls him gently out of his reminiscing, bringing his attention to the valuation and eventual haggling over the price of certain wares.

Are our actions our own and no one else’s? If so, how can we explain inevitability – the obvious actions we choose to take when faced with a choice weighed so heavily on one side? Does not the situation exert its own force on our decision? Are we really, individually, to blame?

It is autumn in the garden. The room comes with a view, the weather is perfect. Old haunts once again glide past him, but these are places discovered with her. Two months later he will be taking a late night stroll by the bay, looking for ways to kill himself in fractions, piece by piece, asking dishevelled strangers and locals for directions. But she is sitting across the room, unable to carry herself to where he is, tears in her eyes, shaking with anger, betrayal, sorrow. He had told her the truth. He had to. Was that so selfish? He couldn’t answer that right now. The truth is so often not what we want to hear. But does that make it wrong? The vacation passes. New facades are created. Fresh lies are woven. Old friendships are strained. Past lovers are invoked.

If you think about choices made that you regret, you realise how you would have made the same one all over again. Regret is not changing the past. It’s just remorse over a path you chose. It should not be about wishing you had chosen the other path, you couldn’t have. It’s about not wanting to be on the path you’re currently on.

It is summer by the bay. A nightclub situated in the old town. In fifteen months time she is crying, sitting on the bed across him not able to look at him. Right now, she sways in his arms to the music, poetry in motion, a song being written, a story being told. He bends to her swirling, wanting to only fold himself into her. She too cannot help but notice the chemistry and the physics, the symmetry and the fluidity. She smiles. He falls in love. Gears meshing together with infinite precision, they dance the night away.

While regret stems from the past, fear stems from the future. And it is important to realise that you don’t have to be immune to both to make the hard decisions. No regret means that you have come to terms with where you are and accepted that some of your actions may not have been entirely correct, but no fear means that you are ready to do whatever it takes to change all of that. It’s not about seeing the future or changing the past. It’s about making the present.

It will be winter in the valley, and the shadows will loom high. Yet street lights will pierce through the veils splintering the silhouettes of the trees, lighting up the night around him and providing him comfort. He will look for solace in a two inch pyre but not find it and blame it on inevitability, again, and wonder if he was meant not to. She will be lying in the arms of another, softly purring in her sleep and dreaming of a future different from the one she had envisioned in her past. He will hear a song sung halfway across the world and have his own epiphany, realising that no matter which city you are in, you don’t have to sell your soul to gain the world. He will instead barter his pride and make the right choice and hope for the best. What he makes of his future from then on, not even he will be able to tell.