↠ Dispatch 007, May 2019 ↞
This dispatch is written in a state of jet-lag and I hope you will pardon me if the words that ensue seem out of place. It’s been a while since I’ve time-travelled this far across the globe and my body seems to be taking a while to align itself with the local climate and solar-lunar cycles.
In cities and forests
As a man who only took his first plane ride and holiday in his mid-20s, the concept of travelling and spending time in other places still astounds me. I consider the ability to make these trips a huge privilege and I always return a different person than when I left.
My recent travels brought me to families in other places and places where there was little humans in sight. This was a trip where the human connection was strengthened in the company of others, and the human connection was traded in for the peaceful embrace of nature. On some days I found myself laying in borrowed beds, and on others, I was taking naps on moss-covered forest floors. The crackle of conversations was balanced by the complete silence of the mountains, and the cosy warmth of family homes contrasted with the vast expanses of nature. This was a trip to heal the self, and as I returned to my own apartment, I am reminded that I am always looked after and provided for by a higher power.
It was also a trip that left me seriously considering the idea of living life in the solitude of remote, non-urban places.
Fictional Futures – A 100-day project
In my last dispatch, I wrote about how I’ve been thinking about writing ‘speculative urban fiction’ (which I have now learnt should instead be called ‘City Fiction’). I have since then rode on the #100dayproject bandwagon and used it as a vehicle to get myself working on it!
The 100 day journey started on 2nd April where I committed to spend at least half and hour each day to work on this piece of writing. I’ve kept a log of it to account for my efforts and other than my recent 2-weeks holiday, I’ve showed up to my desk every day with varying outcomes to show for it each time. Today (4th May 2019) is Day 18 of my 100-day commitment and looking back, it’s almost surprising how much can get done when I schedule and commit a time to it.
Of these 18 days, the first 10 has been about learning the components of fiction writing. As someone who has only occasionally read fiction and whose only knowledge of ‘creative writing’ is from English classes in primary school, there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, the immensity of freely available resources online meant that there was no lack of information. The challenge was to have a structure to guide it all.
After that initial initiation where I learnt about words like Beat, Scene, Sequence, Sub-plot, World-building, and more, I took the leap of actually creating something with the help of the downloaded writing templates. Doing and practicing is the best form of learning and recent days has been about that. While I have nothing to share publicly, you might be interested to know that I’m now the proud creator of badly written scenes, shitty character back-stories, and naive story arcs.
I will be continuing to nurture this passion project away from the public eye, giving it the space to ferment and mature. Perhaps one day, it might be ready to reveal a glimpse of itself to the world.
My last dispatch saw me sharing some ideas that have been grabbing my attention. For this edition, here are a few picks from my readings in the past month.
A beautiful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye that captures the heart-wrenching truth that pain and loss is a gateway to truly understanding and being kind. Here’s an excerpt to tease you into reading it all.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
I think and reflect a lot about living as light as possible and the concept of ‘enough’ has been my guiding principle when putting minimalism and sustainability in practice. This recent find fits in that thinking.
“More” is not better. More is, in fact, unsustainable and destructive, because there isn’t enough “more” for everyone.
The age of ‘content’ have given us and endless supply of images, videos, and texts. I consume a lot of it daily, and my read-later app is bursting with too much stuff. I am trying to control my consumption and this idea of thinking about it as a balanced diet comprising of a mix of healthy stuff and guilty pleasures is a fresh perspective from the usual “delete your social media” advice.
Instead, I took the advice of Nicole Wong, a veteran of Google and Twitter, who says its time for a “slow food movement for the internet.” I changed my intake to include the information equivalent of more wholewheat grains and vegetables. As much as possible, I also tried to build in some downtime by removing the temptations to binge. Thinking about how much effort professional athletes put into recovery, I asked myself “what would recovery look like for someone whose work involves giving their mind, rather than their body, a beating?”
Thank you for reading this far. Although I started writing these Dispatches as a writing exercise for myself, it is my hope that you get some pleasure or value from reading these as well. If you enjoyed this newsletter, I would be delighted if you would forward this or share with your social networks.
In parting, I acknowledge the arrival of the blessed month of Ramadan and I wish for blessings for those of you who will be fasting from dusk till dawn in the coming days. For the others, I wish for you to receive whatever you ask of life.
Till next time, be well, be love, be you.