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The Snowball Effect

My friend works as a school counselor. She told me that one of her students in 4th grade reported to her, with so much terror, that her friend tried to commit suicide in the media room by choking herself with wires. And that she feels frightened just being in the same classroom with her. I felt like I was suffocating just thinking about that girl. How could a child’s heart fit this much darkness? A suicidal forth-grader? This story possessed my mind the rest of that week and every time I ask my friend if she met her mother, “not yet” she would say, “her mother is busy.”

****

Waking up from that three-hour nap, I was feeling feverish. The thermometer indicated that I had nothing to worry about but still, there was something wrong. As I was taking a while to wake up from my nap, after the most energy-draining week I’ve witness in work, I remembered I made plans with one of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time. She was good company, not so much personal details chit chatting company, but a pleasant one. With the feverishness that made me feel slightly light-headed, I got ready as fast as I could and met up with her.

I first showed her my digital piano, after briefly updating her on what’s been up in my life. Still feeling lightheaded, my side of communication was somewhat slower than usual.
Unexpectedly, she sat down and played Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata. If I had to put words for the emotions this piece inspires, it would be these:
1-Mystery
2-Enstrangement.
3-There are a hundred different scenarios other than the ones your brain, in its maximum capacity, could produce.

Afterwards, we sat outdoors, the weather was alright, I just needed a single sweater to keep me warm and comfortable. We were drinking coffee under the pink and golden sky.

“I want to share something with you that I’ve never said out loud to anyone except for my sister.” My friend said, hesitantly.
“Go ahead, I am a good secret keeper.” I encouraged her, whatever it was that she wanted to say, it seemed heavy.

“The events of my life conspired to bring a person in my life, over and over again, from the age of 19 up until few months ago. I was resisting the signs of giving him a place in my life. One night I thought, I wanted to give him a chance. I called him and we talked for hours. He was very interested in my art and inspirations and my opinion about everything. About love, about life and what my sincerest, repeated prayer was about. Our conversations would last for hours until I fell asleep, to wake up intoxicated by our late night conversations. The dance of our talks was orchestrated perfectly; there was room for perfect communication to draw us into each other. A while after all of that, I met his sister, who was also an artist. We clicked.”

“One night. After few days of not hearing from him, nor I asking about him. He called me late at night and I was awake, but I didn’t pick up. And fell asleep afterwards.
His sister calls me the next morning, and tells me she walked in on him. He was lying on his bed, pills by the nightstand, without movement.
He passed away.”

I took a deep breath, looked her in the eyes and tried to communicate love to her non-verbally, my tongue was tied. The pain of another person is usually transferred to me, I didn’t know what to tell her.

“I still haven’t processed what happened. I only cried once and after that, i’ve been painting, insanely painting. Only painting. And working. I haven’t given myself a chance to even think about it. And now, I’m having this thought, what if I picked up his phone call? Could I have done something differently to save him? Why was I distant in his last days? and most importantly, what is the purpose of our synchronistic, emotional union?”

The pink clouds fell from the sky and engulfed me, I was overwhelmed with love and compassion.
And the golden streaks of the sunset, minutes after her silence, flared in her eyes. I didn’t know what to say. But I thought to myself “there must be a reason why we met today out of all the months and days in the year. There must be something for both of us.”
Some problems don’t have a solution, but we don’t value the act of vulnerability as we should. This, the mere act of finding the words to open up, this is so important. It helps the burden-carrier soar, and the listener expand. It leaves two souls expanding; one vertically and the other horizontally.

****
My friend, the school counselor, told me that the mother of the classmate who reported the suicide incident, visited their school to ask about her daughter’s academic performance. And my friend was there with the teachers. She asked about her daughter’s psychological state at home, if she was feeling ok after witnessing the suicide attempt incident of her classmate. Her mother told her secretly that her daughter is getting help for her pathological lying.
It turns out there was no suicidal forth grader.

Moonlight Sonata was still ringing in my head.

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2018

The energy field of the year beginning
paralyzed my pen against the blank page of
resolutions

What difference does it make?
If mortality is our only truth

I fuel my passion in giving
genuine pieces of myself
For the hope of being loved after I leave
as a shooting star or
as a dandelion

As the paradox of living unfolds;
the days pass by taking
more days away from me
I write this poem:
Let my mantra be “love, love all and
love yourself, no questions asked.”

My all is all I have to offer.

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Blueprint

It doesn’t take much but the temporary absence of subjectivity to understand people. I know I do. I do because I acknowledge the blueprint of our human psyche. I understand them because I am conscious of my emotions, i like to name them, I am not ashamed to name them. And I scale them, so I don’t get lost in them and confuse them with who I am. I acknowledge my feelings, and I remember the blueprint.

We have all experienced the same emotions. Together. Whether named or unnamed, we carry the root of all those emotions. And I recognize that beacon of light whenever a person unravels, that subconscious cry for compassion. And I think to myself “oh, this heart before me must feel this, more or less.” And I recall my own story, only from a different angle. It’s the same story, only each experiences it from different angles.

We all have the same capacity of emotions, only in different percentages.

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Titled: Letters to Everyone, and Myself

It started when I was nine. A blank paper was so irritating to me, something needed to be done. And when I stared at it long enough, it would speak to me. It would tell me to write. And I, submissively, felt hungry for writing. That was when I started to express my interest in vocabulary. My English teacher used to tell me I was excellent in spelling.

I never got myself to do it, though. I never got myself to write.

Or maybe it started some time before that, I don’t know. My memory seems to attach my childhood to the age of nine. Before that is vague. I am sure about one thing, though, that I started writing letters earlier than that.

Also, I started talking to God from an early age. I kept that as a secret, but I’ve glided from there.

The irritation magnified when I turned twelve. But I remember one night something whispered, “write.” Everything in my body responded to that, and my pen felt friendly between my fingers. I started with simple, unsophisticated words. But it was everything.

I used to shred the papers after writing because it felt like a secret to me. Until, one day, I confronted myself and documented 3 significant nights;

The first one, 9th of October, 2004: based on absolutely nothing, I was anticipating a disaster.

The second, 10th of October, 2004 how the storm arrived, and it was my father’s sudden death.

The third, 11th of October, the aftermath of destruction inside, utter silence; where did all the noise go?

I’ve shredded those papers a while ago too, the detailed remains of my memory, because the brain has the power to erase what no longer serves you. And I wanted to let go.

The same notebook of secrets of mine was titled “Letters to Myself,” at the age of 17 after 5 years of plain “Letters.”

Then word by word, I was growing up and expanding vertically, and horizontally. I started publishing here and there. With a push from the people I love, and myself, I’ve summoned the courage to write about sunsets and love. I finally started to understand  and admire what I saw in the mirror.

At the age of 24, I still write letters to myself, and the people I love. I also understand that the blankness of papers in its sublimity is nothing like people. You can’t write them the way you want. You can’t change them. They come, in their complex creation; a combination of a past you know nothing about, and a result of insecurities and fragilities caused by that past. They are already written, volume after volume. Rarely do they come with illustrative explanations.

It’s either you love them the way they are, or leave. You can’t write people like poetry.

 

tumblr_ofvcme22hu1uno395o1_500
Artwork: Light From the Beginning of Time, by Kenny Callicutt

 

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letters of an apathetic man

Some time last year, in a foggy vision where the part of my brain that distinguishes an hour from a minute was dizzy. In times like that you forget; what is time but a man made illusion? Aren’t the thoughts floating in space of the mind more dominant than anything else, such as time? Some time in October, my awakenings happen in October, simultaneously with times I forget to shave my beard. I was dining home on my one-man table, few inches away from my wooden floor where candles flicker, oh how they seemed like the only thing able to lose control and sway amid the breeze, unlike my body of matter that seems to be too submissive to gravity.

I keep the window half open, somewhere in the corner of my mind I am afraid that the scent of flowers in my decayed garden would think I am welcoming, or would falsely believe I can be a home to anything. The river of love does not flow through those who deny it. And those who deny it, forget -most of the time- that they are half water. 

Some time in October, I knew it should have been her in front of me, not the ghost of her idea nor her silhouette dancing with the flickering candlelight. 

It should have been her, but I have the habit of destroying beautiful things, and I know that women fall for the idea that they are the ugly reflection they see in me when their hearts are open for my words and their eyes see a false potential of myself. If those women would close their eyes, try to see me in a different kind of eye, a third one or something as such, they wouldn’t like what they see; I’ve adapted to the idea of resembling the uncomfortable void. 

And those women, they usually end up walking away from me because flowers don’t blossom without water. 

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It is not funny that you say you are “so OCD”

It is not funny that you say you are “so OCD” when you rush to adjust the tilted table cloth and your friends laugh about it. It is not funny because you don’t know what it’s like for a slight tilt to remind me of how ugly my crooked smile is. And nothing can change this truth.

It is not funny that you say you are “so OCD” when you rinse your cup twice, because when I do that, it’s far deeper than just the cup’s condition; I do that to be less harsh in judgment with myself because mistakes find a way to disturb my peace.

When you over-organize your room and think you might be OCD, it’s nothing like my reality; when I try to tidy up the maximum amount of things in my house to contrast the mess of emotions I feel inside. And I’d do that again and again until something inside feels right. I keep polishing my mirrors to silence the breaking of the glass inside. And what frustrates me the most is that it works sometimes for a while, right before the other rising of the screams inside.

It is not a joke because you don’t know what it’s like to pray countless times a day with the thought that God doesn’t love me because I feel that I am a bad person, and nothing can fix that. It is not funny when you joke about you having a sharp eye for the flaws of everything and your friends say that you might be OCD, and they laugh.

You don’t know what it’s like to see the needy eyes of my baby boy yet, and I’d avoid touching him because I can’t shake the thought of how filthy he might be. You don’t know what it’s like to keep such a secret, to try to contain my urges so that my husband wouldn’t think I’m crazy. It is not a joke.

It hurts to see that everything around me reminds me of how ugly I feel, how imperfect I am.

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

*inspired from a very intimate conversation I had with a friend who told me to write about things from her perspective.

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Untamed

It was 4:30 in the morning, and things like that always happen in 4:30 in the morning. It was one of the many nights that she felt like an alien in her body because somewhere beneath her skin, the only home she knew was him. At nights, she would get tired of the mask she’s wearing and just allow herself to be as vulnerable as she is, and she would cry. How is it, then, that his absence can be this painful, this heart-breaking? She’d wonder how her heart can bear all this pain.

Before her shoulders curl and her back curves on her bed craving the warmth of a baby in a mother’s womb, something in that space in her room dropped the word “no” in such a firm, wordless manner. It’s as if that presence was an old man with the most warming, welcoming eyes that would contain her broken pieces with just a glance that says “I understand your pain.” And it’s as if this man told her that she shouldn’t cry, and that there is a fine line between being expressive and being a victim; while the first is human and the second is a crime. So that presence of “no” echoed all the way to her ribs as her heart pumped it to her blood.

Her pillow soaked in tears, something contained all that she is and helped her go back to sleep.

It was 8 in the morning, she woke up, got ready for her day and tied up a ponytail. She wore red lipstick, because days like these only begin with a red lipstick, and she looked at herself in the mirror and smiled; she liked what she saw, because she knew things would never be the same again.

The rain on her pillow dried, and the clouds swallowed themselves and disappeared. Somewhere in her heart the sun was shining again and she couldn’t explain how fast the seasons can change inside a human body.

She looked at herself one last time before she leaves her room, and realized that this presence, this still awareness has always been there and it has always protected her, she just forgets to listen sometimes.

She placed her hand on her heart and said: “Here is home, no one can take this away from me”

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

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The Grand Presence

“What is it that is so hard for her to understand?” I thought to myself as I was standing right behind her while she was crying in front of her reflection in a long, antique, wooden mirror. She was on her knees, weeping, the way a baby does. It’s like she decided to go back in time and ask for safety in an uncomplicated manner. It’s as if she was four years old and she wanted to feel that grand, unconditional, unexplainable, fulfilling presence that would hold her, kiss her right eyebrow and fill her broken pieces with pure gold. She’d gasp for air occasionally, because deep down her heart she knows those tears are heavy for her chest, so heavy that her lungs beg for air.

I stroked her hair the way a person does to another before wording “it’s okay, I’m here” only I was silent and words did not come out of my mouth.

Why was she so blind? Does she not feel the power that’s orchestrating her life so artistically, pushing her around saying “this is important” or “pay attention to this, this is what matters”? If only she could take a deep breath and see how beautiful she is when no one is looking. She’d see how her light scare off the shadows. Maybe if she saw that, she’d stop crying. But maybe that’s the point of it all, maybe she should figure it all out herself.

I wanted to tell her everything she couldn’t see. But I couldn’t, because I wasn’t in the reflection, it was just her and the mirror. And maybe she was me somehow, maybe that’s the point of it all; maybe I should figure it all out by myself.

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

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Destino

“Destino” Spanish for Destiny, is a short film released in 2003 by The Walt disney Company.

Its production began in 1945 and was only completed after 58 years. The project is a collaboration between Walk Disney and Salvador Dali, and features music writer by Armando Dominguez. It was storyboarded by Disney’s studio artist John Hench and Salvador Dali.

The project, then, ceased due to Disney’s financial crisis during the time of World War II.

After that, in In 1999, Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, while working on Fantasia 2000, unearthed the dormant project and decided to bring it back to life. Disney Studios France, the company’s small Parisian production department, was brought on board to complete the project. The short was produced by Baker Bloodworth and directed by French animator Dominique Monféry in his first directorial role. A team of approximately 25 animators deciphered Dalí and Hench’s cryptic storyboards (with a little help from the journals of Dalí’s wife Gala Dalí and guidance from Hench himself), and finished Destino’s production. The end result is mostly traditional animation, including Hench’s original footage, but it also contains some computer animation.

Destiny tells the love story of Chronos and his love for a mortal woman named Dahlia…

Via: Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

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Serendipity Part 1

It was a cold and rainy night when it all started and I was by the window listening to the music composed by the journey of raindrops from the sky to the ground, and I needed a sign of love, not necessarily romantic love but just pure love. That which colors the horizon and watches over the trees.

“Where is it?” I wondered to myself, it was a question I frequently asked but still could not grasp the answer. One thought lead to another as the rain orchestrated my heartbeats as I curled up and fell into the world I created; my dreams.

My friend invited me over for breakfast the next day and I have the habit of taking all the time I need to get ready when I wake up, so I knew that when she told me to come at 7 a.m she really meant to say she wants to see me at 10 a.m. It was a weekend so I wasn’t worried about being punctual.

I wore my boots and sat on a chair, doing absolutely nothing while my thoughts wandered. “Coffee” I realised, that’s what I needed. So that was a motive for me to rush to her.

I took my time walking, steady steps, clear mind.

We were already on our way to a coffee shop that was a 10-minute walk from her house. I ordered black coffee. There is something heartwarming about bitter coffee that I could not put into words.

“My research is due after three days and I’m not half done.”  she said

“I’ll help you work on it as soon as we get back, don’t worry, the whole world can change in three days, the entire world!”

As I was getting ready for my speech to make her feel better and not panic so I won’t panic as a result, I saw a girl walk by the cafe’s window who looked so much like my classmate in fifth grade, so I ran out to say hi but she seemed to be in a rush. The reason I wanted to greet her was her unforgettable kindness towards everyone around her as a child, she was the kind of child who was obviously showered with love which made her, therefore, reflect it. She was heading to the left side of the cafe. As I was walking behind her before calling her name, a man in a black beautifully-tailored suit stopped me and gave me a cookie in a transparent bag with a post it on it saying “you are loved.” He looked me in the eyes for about three seconds after handing it to me, smiled and continued giving out those cookies.

I held it in my hands as I was looking at the yellow post it in the middle of people walking by, I laughed. “Timing,” I thought, “It’s amazing how things work around it”

I ate the tiny cookie and walked back to the cafe as I kept the note in my pocket.

You know what they say? Just ask a question and let it vibrate around the world without expecting an answer, and all the events that surround you will work their way to give you an answer, as long as you open your heart.

So where is love? And how does it surround me?

The moon soothing the night and the nocturnal souls below it, without expecting anything back, seemed to answer me…

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

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The Soul of Inspiration

Inspiration is unexplainable; how it takes shape out of nothingness and forces you to create something out of nothing and make it so beautiful, or ugly enough to be beautiful.

“Begin to write” the creature of the void whispered in her ear at 3 a.m as she was in the middle of the strangest dream where there was something in her brain that felt like electricity spreading throughout her body and the sound of an ambulance and everything that did not make sense in a dream, it was as if her body was a city where everyone was loud and busy.
“Begin to write” the voice whispered closer, as she woke up covered in sweat and shivers to the sound of thunder and raindrops making music.
Half conscious, she began to type;
“Who am I and what is my soul made of?”
She drank a glass of water as she glared at her typewriter, wondering, asking questions it cannot answer with the echoes of raindrops.
She stared at what she wrote long enough until it seemed to answer itself; sometimes no answer is an answer.
“Who are we, really?” she smiled, as if a secret was disclosed upon her, making its way through her cells at 3 a.m.
“Begin to write” she listened, more relaxed in her body, she did what she was supposed to do; she listened to the creature of the void in all his nonsense and non logical times when he’d ask her to do things; to create and write and become. She listened carefully to him and to herself until there was nothing else left to be said.
Then she went back to sleep, anticipating his splendid return.
© 2015 ALIA SULTAN