There was a point last week when I was feeling some internal turmoil, I don’t know why but I started reading my journal entries that I had written when I was in Bali during last December.
It was like an exercise in remembering: remembering who I was in a place of calmness and peace, remembering what I had worked out within myself then. Somehow coming back to an urban city threw me back in chaos. It is as though the city herself has an influence of how we feel, akin to the feelings we feel when we are swimming in the ocean or when we are walking in a desert. There is only so much sovereignty we can have without being shaped by the environment we live in.
I remember I used to be even more sensitive to being in a city like Singapore. I hated going out, because going out meant being in crowds, and the crowd made me feel like I had to be anxious and in a headless rush like them. I keenly felt the frustration and stress of the peak hour crowd.
Since moving back to Singapore in 2015 I have grown to be much fonder of her. She is urban and dense, but she tries to keep us sane by having greenery everywhere. The urban density of a small city like Singapore was inevitable and remains so, but at the very least there is some buffer between the busyness and us.
But spending a week or so in Bali made me realise I am still very much affected by my living environment, how tense I get when I have to navigate living in a city. This is where my people are so I don’t have a desire to move, but there will need to be deliberate effort in finding other ways to ground myself to a center.
It is weird how words from myself just from a week or two before can be so grounding to me. Sometimes I don’t recognise myself in my writing. I get this sense of bewilderment even from reading previous entries of this public journal. Who is this person? Why have I forgotten her?
I guess growth and learned insights may not be linear or permanent. Clarity comes and goes. If not for these snapshots of myself in time and writing, I would not remember most of the lucid moments in my existence. Half the time we live life in a blur, we take the oncoming of sleep and sunrise like it is our entitlement.
This forced writing however – I have promised myself that I would at least publish once a week so some weeks I have to force myself to sit down and write – compels me to seriously think about the current state of my life and what swims in my thoughts. If not for my writing would I be so conscious about my existence? Some days like today I sit down and my mind is murky, confused and unwilling. But since it is a promise I have to sit till words form on my screen.
When words come, clarity follows. Sometimes when writing I get this very visceral feeling like I am singing a song to my soul. It is like a crumpled shirt waiting to be ironed and warmed.
This year, I feel like writing more. I am reading more progressively, and every day I feel like I am learning something new about the world or myself. I forget these lessons because I don’t note them down. I should.
For my future self, when she is lost.