I have often, in this platform, talked about the ‘dangers’ of writing. I imagine that every person who writes, in whatever form, goes through the insecurities that come with writing, whether they admit it or not. These dangers are many. The implication that your voice is special and ought to be heard. The feeling by others that you maybe, or God forbid, trying to be an expert or authority in whatever you are talking about when in fact, you have no special knowledge on the subject. The unnerving feeling that comes with baring your thoughts to the world. “How does a writer identify their unique voice? Where do I draw the line of too personal and too cold in my writing? I am doing a little bit of tethering, on the edge,” aptly writes Sharon here. Walking that fine line between what personal things can be shared and what is too personal, and, therefore, private, can be tough.
Regardless, writers will soldier on, because they are stubborn folks and egoistic too. And because the story or the idea is more important, at least in their minds.
Over the past several months, I have shared anecdotes, thoughts, ideas, and even rants on this blog. Everything I have ever written was either personal or was experienced by someone I know. Most of them were random bouts of inspiration, as most creative writing is. They were things that were hardly thought through, so they are merely a perspective and not authority.
And it has been fun, you guys. Really. Sometimes it has been cathartic. Sometimes.
Because I think there is a danger to seeking catharsis in writing- you would get to a point where your piece of mind is dependent on writing. It can be an addiction of another kind.
I have often been advised by good friends that I need to find that voice of authority or niche (I’m not a fan of this word, it is so bland and business-like) so that my writing can be identified with a defined field of experience. That I’m a bit too silly and that the purpose may be entertainment. My good pals may be right. And it is good advice. But I think that would limit the imagination. It would, in my view, defeat the whole purpose of blogging, which is simplicity and limitless imagination and expression. Freedom, basically. I think that human life is such a complex thing that it cannot be understood from a few angles. That life is equal parts hilarious and sad. That the things that make us who we are infinite. We can never identify all of them, much less understand all of them. This is why I do not particularly like the word ‘niche.’ Oh and because I am not a sucker for rules.
It is in this spirit that I have talked about many things, from refugees to animal print tights. From youthful angst to chokers, boob tattoos and piercings. Don’t even ask why- I blame it on my alter ego. He’s the one who’s messed up, not me. Seriously. Chuckles.
Anyway, without further ado (God why am I so verbose?), here are some of the memorable things (to me) that I have shared in this space. They are in no particular order of importance. If there is something that I have written that struck a chord or was memorable for one reason or other, please share in the comment box, and we can add.
Then we grow up, and we are in a constant search for something, though sometimes we don’t know that what we searching for is home. Perhaps our whole lives are a continuous search for home, for belonging, for love, for acceptance, for comfort. Because not searching for a home is to not know that there’s such a thing as home, which is a tragic thought. This search takes us to places and people and spaces and notions. In our attempts, some of us find homes in the eyes of strangers, or in the amply infinite spaces between the words found in the pages of a good book, or the ecstatic riffs of a rock song. Some feel truly home in the silent moments that solitude brings.
He felt that she was selfish with her sacrifice. The world has been unkind to her, she didn’t owe it anything. He felt she didn’t owe him anything. She was doing this to protect him. He knew it had to be like this. He knew she had to run, she had no choice. His biggest feeling for her was his respect. Everything else only flowed from this. He knew, the best thing was to sit there and watch her walk away into the distance. And he did.
I have always been one to expect more from life. But I’ve also been one who believed life is not as serious as we take it to be. I know, the irony stinks up the screen.
How does one become a hippie? Do you just go to sleep one night with a patterned kikoi at knee length, after brushing your teeth with a wooden toothbrush, a normal Somali for all intents and purposes, and wake up the following morning in tattered jeans and a Radiohead t-shirt written “CREEP”? Does one go overnight from having a decent haircut to something that only looks like a less pale Macklemore?
When it came to fashion, my folks prided themselves as always keeping with the latest trends. They never disappointed, my folks. They had indoctrinated into my bald, shiny (also empty) head that those beige Punjabi kanzus, complete with a tiny white kofia, were the coolest thing ever.
You saw the jeans, and you instantly knew that it was one of the greatest inventions of mankind— before you would discover sweatpants of course. Something that is cool, comfortable and versatile, that doesn’t need to be washed that often. And by that often you mean almost never. Such genius.
So you start to listen to music that expresses anger and frustration. You do it ironically. You listen to music that is countercultural, that is anti-establishment. You instantly love the legendary tracks of The Beatles, the gentle revolutionary melody of John Lennon, the critical and poetic verses of Bob Dylan, the deafening croon of Jim Morrison and The Doors and the passionate cry of Janis Joplin.
The visits to the barber have been considerably increasing in the last year or so. I have to admit thought that I am still slightly afraid of anything sharp near my scalp. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is real folks. I have witnessed it.
Maybe I am moving towards the other end of the spectrum— the nomadic identity. A completely different, very opposite identity. Perhaps I had to be a hippie to actually appreciate my culture.
We are often with a choice; to follow our passions, our desires, our creative journeys, or to do the ‘sensible’ thing and be a responsible and focus on livelihood. Livelihood. Why does a word that is supposed to be good instead sound so grim?
It is immensely exciting to experience this- to be at the center of an existential tug of war, the pull, and push of the entire cosmos. It is quite a thrill, isn’t it, to be shipwrecked in the vast sea of your own existence?
The truth is that we all want more from life, whether we are conscious of it or not. We all want fulfillment and satisfaction.
Pardon the philosophical tone, sometimes I can’t help it. Well, most times. Tonight is one of those nights.
There is nothing like a cup of hot coffee and a Bob Dylan record at 2 am in the morning to get you in that sentimental, reflective mood.
I imagine you are a cranky old man who complains about back pain and wears his belt somewhere around the Superman logo height. I see you sitting in the rocking chair out in the garden, cigar in hand, listening to Sinatra or Samatar, and telling the grandkids, “You hear that? That is music, not that crap you listen to.” I can imagine a night out involves sitting out on the patio. Remember how I used to have an unhealthy relationship with the dirac (dera for my non-Somali friends), and twerking? I hope I am not over that.
[Time] comes and goes- following its own path. Beyond our control. Oblivious or independent of our human wishes and desires.
“Men and pain are twins, forged of the same thing, cut of the same cloth,” he remembered overhearing the gabay (Somali poetic chanting) playing in a cassette. “A man may have many camels, but he knows that one afternoon, raiders will take away his prosperity; the yoghurt he used to enjoy, all gone. He knows he will sit in an empty straw hut, his children hungry. His camel calves will be orphaned. But he knows this is normal. He knows that sometimes, things will be beyond his control.”
The world is beautiful when people are asleep, isn’t it? When we are not stinking the air with blood, sweat and tears. When we are not lined behind each other on the roads, choking up fuel. When the elements take control as we take a take a brief rest to go back to our fast-paced but miserable lives.
It is ironical, really- that we have long complained, though deservedly, about marginalization and discrimination, but now that we have been given the control of our fate, we marginalize ourselves.
But I have always thought my writing would probably not suited for most people. I have a weird mind. Seriously. I mean who writes posts about camels making out? Or boob tattoos? Anyone? No? I thought so.
That we are not necessarily 100% victims of our destiny, nor are we 100% masters of our own fate.
Writing is cathartic. There is therapeutic effect in getting things off your chest. It is quite healing to channel my frustrations to you. You see how important you are?
It is highly essential that I rant about chokers too. Very important. Seriously. There is literary value in that noose that chics wear around their necks. Can one breathe?
But there is that weird feeling that comes with the territory of writing- the danger in baring your soul to the world, of bleeding on a page.
He always thought that leaving implied large suitcases full of things never really ever needed. But then she didn’t need large suitcases, she already had a big old one, deep inside, where she carried things around, always ready to leave. Maybe she was born to leave. She lived on the shores of where long dark nights met dew on a sleeping flower, where the somber 4 am gray moon in water seen by night met the brilliant 3 o’clock sun, where endless sheets of snow met burning desert dust.
Image source: adx.org