Once upon a time on a Valentine’s Day
Hope and summer
A walk in the secret garden
What to do in self-doubt?
What? And how?
What’s your colour?
Everyone has a colour. Many people self identify with a colour.
“It’s a child’s play.” You might say.
Sure, because in kindergarten we were all asked to pick one colour out at one point. Usually it’s also unique, at least in that group. Once, as I was five years old, we were doing some paper crafting games. Of course, everyone was asked to pick a piece of paper with one colour on it.
I went for the blue one. I always liked blue. “Choose pink. It’s pretty and it’s a girl’s colour.” I was told by a teacher.
“But I want blue.” I didn’t want to say it’s my favourite colour, because what if I change my mind?
“Blue is a boy’s colour.”
“Then I choose yellow.”
“Yellow is also a boy’s colour.”
You must be kidding me.
“Ok. What else are a girl’s colours?”
“Red, pink, and purple.”
“What about green. I like green.”
“Choose another one.”
“Fine, I choose black.”
“There’s no black in the game.”
“It’s not colourful.”
“Black is a colour, no?”
“Yes. But it’s not colourful.”
“Because it’s not pretty.”
“Black is pretty, I think. My hair is black. Look, it’s pretty. So black is pretty.”
“…Please, just choose a colour.” The teacher was getting impatient.
“I choose blue.”
In the end, I was stuck with red.
Red means good luck. That’s when I learnt that this is a fact in China.
“Everyone can use some good luck. Boys and girls both.” So I accepted.
My mother liked red. “It’s a lucky colour.” She used to say. “It brings good luck and prosperity.” She never told me that colours are gendered. Because she never thought about colours that way. She used to pick out jackets and sweaters that contained a lot of “Chinese red” (hexadecimal colour code #aa381e, a medium dark shade of red-orange). And she told me once, if she had to pick a favourite colour, it’s going to be this red.
She didn’t choose it because it’s a girl’s colour. She never cared about it. Symbolism as such was luxury for people at the bottom such as her family.
My rebellion against everything “girly” started because of my father. Since I was very little, I realised if I chose something that’s not traditionally “a girl’s choice”, my father would be very happy and very proud of me.
So, having a rebellious father and a mother who doesn’t give a damn about gendering colours, I always picked anything but “girl’s colours”.
Until I realised, I actually like red, pink, and purple.
Most of the times, I don’t have a preferred colour. Because I like every colour.
By resisting the pit called “girl’s colours”, I had been trapped in another pit called “not choosing a girl’s colours.”
You are a bucket of water from the sea
“Babies are all born as a blank paper.”
Well, we’ve got proof now that it’s wrong.
How are person is since birth, and how she/he is becoming after that, is a combined effect from both nature and nurture.
Does it mean that we are born “as papers already have something written on them?”
I don’t resonate with this metaphor. I think how we are is more dynamic and multidimensional than drawings on paper.
Like… a glass of water. Or a bucket, a cup, or a bathtub of water… Pick your own container.
In her book Untamed, Glennon Doyle said to her daughter that we are buckets of water who came from the sea. We were one. You were in me and I was in you. We are going to be one again someday.
I can’t remember how exactly she said it. But that metaphor stuck in my head.
“But, what’s the point?” I hear me asking myself.
“What’s the point of being in a bucket just to be later poured back into where I came from?”
We are not born with a purpose. We are born with the things we are naturally capable of.
Just like water. We are similar in many ways — even the same in most ways. But there are many, many ways can water be used.
There are many, many different paths for water to find its way back to the ocean, where it came from.
The purpose is not to go back to where it came from.
The purpose is the journey, the circulation, the individual path to get to the start and endpoint.
For most of us on this earth, we are not born to be who we are. In which family we are born, on our physical features are, in which area or community we are born into… none of these things say who WE are.
Because from that moment on, all we do is “becoming”.
Becoming who we are — something we can say, not as a static but a changing definition, that only holds true at the point of our lives when we are looking back.
And especially, at the moment when we get to go back to where it all started.
Like water, with every step forward, it becomes a little different than before. It’s always “becoming”.
Water can be anywhere. Even the desert has a certain amount of water somewhere in its air or way deep down its ground.
Where do you wanna be? Where do you wanna go?
What path would you choose?
Standing where you are, how do you want to define yourself at this moment?
And what do you want your inner water to be “becoming”?
Take a moment to look around.
Where is your water right now?
Which path is it on?
If I can keep living, here is my plan.
Where do I see myself in three months, one year, five years, and ten years?
Provided that I’m lucky enough to live that long.
I have never been a fan of making plans.
After my mom died of cancer a while back, I gave up making plans for myself altogether.
Planning things was one of the things she liked to do. Not just for herself, but for every one of us.
Planning was also the reason why she didn’t get to enjoy much of her life.
She just retired at that time. And since we the children already moved out and started our own lives, mom finally got to live her life free from work, and from her household responsibilities.
She wanted to hang out with her friends more. They made plans to travel through the country in the next year.
She wanted me to get married to my then-boyfriend, and have kids. “Sometime in the future I’d love to be a grandma,” she used to say, “I will take care of her/him for you if you need. You know, if you want to focus on your career.”
But planning was also the reason why she suffered a lot when she got the bad news.
Planning means setting up expectations. Expectations for the good stuff: the positive, happy, and ambitious ones. The more you invest in making this plan, the more hurt you get when it doesn’t get to become reality.
A month ago I became a mother myself. I spend many minutes every day thinking about what death means to me now.
Since my mother passed, every day I had to face my own mortality and the unpredictability of everything in life. And now, it didn’t stop. The rational side of my brain asks me more urgently: what would my death mean now? What if there is no tomorrow? What will happen to my little baby?
“Enjoy the present moment.” I tell myself, “Enjoy it now so that if anything happens at any time, you know you’ve had the most out of this purest love that you possibly could.”
But being a new mom means you can’t help but look forward to the future. You can’t stop yourself from imagining what it would be like for you and your baby in a month when she grows bigger and stronger; a year, when she starts to walk; three years, when she’s able to learn and plan with other kids in kindergarten; and six years, when she’s going to school for the first time…
Wait. What if anything happens? What if I don’t get it to see all of these happen…
I don’t want to make any plans for myself to help her go anywhere or be anything in her life. I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of making plans.
I’m afraid of plans fail to realize. I’m afraid that I will fail my own expectation.
But maybe, just maybe.
Can I be a little unafraid? Can I be so bold that I make a little bit of plan for the nearest future without carrying the weight of possible death of myself?
The best I can do is to say, maybe the 6 to 12 months.
I’m up for all the challenges for new mothers. The books say she’s going to go through some very important stages in the first year. So I’m all about recording every little step she takes along her way, from taking photos and videos to writing stuff down.
I want to make a multi-media project recording her first year in this life.
That’s my gift to her.
As for myself, I’m doing this — writing, every day.
This is already what I want to do the most. Being a newborn’s mom in Germany finally gave me the chance to do it.
So even when my writing sucks and nobody reads them, I will keep writing and keep posting, every day.
Till the foreseeable future as I’m still breathing.
Every moment until the end of that future is my moment.
And every moment is crystallized into words, including the ones you are reading right now.
Thank you for being here for my plan.
This post was originally published on https://medium.com/@clearsong
Inspiration Vault: Back to Abnormality
I heard a story today.
A young dad had a son who’s suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It went so badly that the son was expelled from school. He had bad grades and always picked fights with other children.
According to the dad, their family was in disfunction and almost broke apart.
The doctors told him that his son could only be treated with drugs. All of them had made him “like a living zombie.” He didn’t want his son to live the rest of his life like that. But there’s no alternative, the doctors told him.
In desperation, he searched for opportunities of treatment overseas. That’s when he found a training program in the US. After three months of treatment there, his son was treated well, and showed little symptoms after that.
In the end of the speech, the dad said that he went through all that and it was worth every tear and sweat. Because he made his son normal again.
It was a beautiful story of a parent going against all odds, fighting for his child’s life. But what struck me in the end was he said that his son now is “normal” again.
I think what he’s really glad about is his son will from now on, has “a normal life”.
I don’t have kids. And I believe it must have been very tough for the family to have a “trouble-maker” like that. It can be very destructive to the family if it cannot function like the other families in a society.
But I’m just wondering about this idea of a “normal person”. Is it real? How is it defined? Who can say that someone is normal and the other one is not?
A lot of things in human history have been once defined as “abnormal”. In most cases, they had to be “corrected”. But the idea of something or someone is not normal is not defined by the thing or the person himself. It is defined by its surroundings — whether it’s accepted and functional in its societal context.
We run a very strict society everywhere. That’s just how things have always been done. What we like, what we hate, have mostly programmed into our perception of the world since we were born.
When people talk about some crazy things others do, they like to say “there’s a wire misplaced in his brain.” Because it seems like he’s not behaving in a way which the general knowledge wants him to be.
We live in a society that accepts “normality”, that condemns “abnormality”, but sometimes celebrate other “abnormality”.
The abnormal people we celebrate are the ones who achieved something that the majority couldn’t, through a way that normal people might not want to or not able to go.
The “abnormals” must have behaved through their lives on an acceptable but despised situation. They have always been “the weird ones”, “the misfits”, the puzzle piece that never fit. Until one day, they do.
That’s when they got celebrated for something “extraordinary” for the majority of “normal” ones.
Who’s changed? What changed?
Maybe no one. Because we’ve all gotta play the rules or we are thrown out of the game. We either play safe, or play risky, but by achieving a common goal, to make sure that we are not outed.
I have a friend who had been diagnosed with ADHD when he’s a child. He had problems in school, went to mediocre college to study something that he didn’t like. But then changed his path to become an expert in IT Security when others thought it was too late for him to change his profession.
He had problems with emotions because people around him had problems accepting how he was. But it didn’t stop him to become a brilliant man — an intelligent, insightful, wise, and caring friend.
I’m not sure if he thinks so that he’s lucky to be “normal”. I don’t think he ever thought that he’s back to “normal” when his childhood ended. He’s still suffering from being a misfit. But he told me that he’s actually glad to be “abnormal”, even it has been bringing him much more struggle and pain.
“I spend a lot of time only in my head.” he said to me, “I go from topic to topic just not to get bored. I can’t focus for a long time but I read fast and gained lots of info while other people can’t. But I also spend a lot of time asking myself questions. I eat shitty food and smoke cigarets. I don’t exercise but I walk a lot with my dog.
I’m not sure what I feel as happiness matches other people’s definition. I am who I am. And I don’t spend time on thinking about that. It’s just in your head. I do what I’m doing. And no room in my head for judgement. That’s it.”