And there will be a flame

It is a cloudy Sunday morning – the autumn sky looks like a very light grey shroud devoid of shadow or light, making the world around, that flavourless cityscape I can see through the widow, look anaesthetized. There is no wind; the trees stand very still; the electric cables here and there hang motionless. I can hear no rushing cars, no laughing school kids and no old ladies of many colours argue down the street, near the bakery shop. Somewhere in the house, dad is watching television as he always does – the lulled voices of commercials and various programs are an unescapable background noise in the flat.

It is a day neither good nor bad. It is not a day that calls for an epiphany; the special moment of revelation seems even less likely as steam gradually builds on the windows which take on the wan colour of the clouds. I can no longer see the buildings across the street, or the trees that stand very still and the electric cables here and there hanging motionless from their posts.

I have caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror earlier – sleep-deprived, sallow, hollowed cheeks, hunched shoulders and lank, unkempt hair. My pyjamas have stains on them; I can see all around me that the house is not so tidy. I have been sad for too many days.


And yet, I can feel a new emotion crackling inside. It is not a flame; I could not even call it a spark, but perhaps it needed to begin on such a dull, faded day for if it can catch fire today, when there is no precious light and no vivid colours, perhaps it will endure. It speaks in a really soft, barely audible voice and sings to me: “This is not you in the mirror; remember the promise that you made”. It is true that I made a promise to someone, a vow to keep on drawing, writing, painting, reading, studying and laughing. It is also true that I asked this person to promise me she would endeavour to get better and heal so she could be happy. She promised she would try – I want her to succeed because I know she can, but the only control I have is over my part of the contract. And my part I want to fulfill, because if I do, perhaps the crackling sound inside my heart will catch fire to be a flame. And maybe I can keep it ablaze, one day at a time.

Perplexed and content

I cleaned my bedroom today and was perplexed by the sheer amount of my belongings. I am not one to simply go around and buy things just for the sake of acquiring goods, but I am a keeper, and over the years, the little things I had became many.

So I started questioning myself: do I need all this? The answer was: “Mostly, yes.” Most of what I own is painting and drawing material, books and anything essential to being a student and teacher, or memories.

However, even after I answered the question for myself, something still did not feel quite right. I kept wondering why we surround ourselves with so many items and knick-knacks, as though we never had enough… It is a perplexing issue and there is no clear solution to it. I suppose some people try to fill the emptiness inside of them; others are envious; others still perhaps simply enjoy pretty things and decoration… And things accumulate… If you never get rid of anything you buy, even if you are a reasonable person, it will accumulate and little will inevitably become much.

Then, I remembered some of the quotes by Epictetus that I read yesterday on WordPress:

“First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.”

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ”

Perhaps it is these quotes that prompted my reflexion this morning. I do not need more things, for I already have what I need. I have lived away from home with very little and was quite as happy, if not more, as I am today. And I have told myself what I would be – I must now do what I have to do.

That’s why I would like to try and not buy anything new for myself (unless it is absolutely necessary) for a month. It is not about rejecting society and wanting to go out to live in the woods like a hermit. I just want to spend more time appreciating everything I already have, because really, I am content.