I know, art isn’t always pain.

I never know what to write here. Sometimes I open up a new draft and sit down and at worst it’s like my brain got drunk and passed out. At best I’m the airport attendant who issues you your boarding pass and checks your bags, only no one is in line and there aren’t any flights going anywhere, so what am I to do? Just twiddle my thumbs and imagine all the trips I’d love to take.

It’s not just writer’s block or a lack of ideas. I think there’s plenty in my life that would be interesting to write about. I think that’s the case for most of us even though we struggle with the words. I recently read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert at the behest of one of my favourite co workers. She’s someone who really gets me and could pretty much be me we are so in synch. When she recommended I read it, I bumped it in line ahead of 5 other booked recently lent to me to read and plowed through it in 2 days.  Not because I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert (I only read the first 100 pages of Eat, Pray, Love, although I do mean to finish it), but because it seemed like a pretty relevant book to me at this point in my life. She talks a lot about creative living, inspiring the reader to create, create, create like it’s our birthright… because it is. I remember when I started this blog I felt like it was a major channel for my own creative living. I basically rediscovered my love of poetry because I decided to open a wordpress account one day. A lot of my poems exist because I suddenly had this empty canvas to put them on. This blog, though monstrously neglected, means a lot to me because I know it’s here, waiting for me. My own little universe of creative living.

I think one of the biggest things I took from the book is that your art doesn’t have to come at the cost of your happiness. You don’t have to be pained to be an artist, although it sure fuels a lot of creative work. When I think about it, though, when you’re happy, you’re happy, right? You have all this happiness energy that you exude and pour out into the world, to the people around you, and it’s a joy to do. Happiness energy is readily accepted by those around you, it amps up the happiness energy in others and everyone falls into this trap of idiotic bliss where everything is possible, so why not conquer the world? But when you’re hurt, you have to try to contain it somehow. You have to go to work, to the store, and unless you’re an asshole you have to do your best to contain the pain inside yourself so that it doesn’t taint others. And that’s where the art comes in. Since we can’t let the pain loose like we can with happiness we have to put it somewhere, right? Something has to diffuse it or it’ll destroy you. At least that’s why I think I put so much of it into poetry, and the rest of it I just dance or yoga out. After channeling all my hurt into a poem at least I can look at it and say it was all for something.

I’m not saying I only enjoy writing and creating when I’m miserable, I love creating all the time, it’s just that it feels more necessary and potent at times when I’m at critical breaking point, you know?

Semi-related, but did you guys know there’s an awesome poetry community over on instagram? I’ve been posting a lot of smaller poems there, random thoughts that come into my head (even the happy ones!) If you guys are also on there leave your name in the comments so I can find you! You can find me over there as @taehreh.

Hope you all have a beautiful day!

You know you’re lost when…

On one of my first nights in Toronto, when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and vulnerable, I was wandering aimlessly up and down this busy downtown street near my sublet apartment like a stray cat. I was eyeing everyone and everything with suspicion, walking stupidly in and out of shops/bars and just generally hopping around from place to place like a little bird who just hit its head.

lost-or-very-lost

I was in one of those hopelessly pathetic post-breakup states where you are incapable of focusing on anything other than just how impossibly alone you are.  (It’s not just me, right? I have no idea.) Anyways, the streets were packed with people socializing, loitering on the corners, smoking outside of bars, and just generally enjoying the company of others. Another exciting night in downtown Toronto.

Not for me, though. I was busy clinging desperately to the enormous welling tears which I could feel ready and eager to claw their way out of my eyes and torrent down my face. I didn’t want to go back to my new apartment to cry awkwardly in front of my new roommate. Actually I didn’t want to cry, full stop. But it was inevitable and I knew it. I felt confused; empty. I had no one to talk to and had no where to go that I felt comfortable, so when I stumbled upon a sign that read “PSYCHIC READING, $20”, I thought okay.. what the hell? I will try anything right now to feel better.

psychic_readings_black_yard_sign

She lived above some bar on the main stretch and I had to make my way through a group of rather curious and rather drunk patrons to ring her doorbell. I waited at the bottom of the stairwell, surrounded by this group of men asking me why I needed a psychic, telling me what a scam I was in for, etc. Of course I know, of course I do, I’m not stupid. I’m well aware that I’m about to waste my money. I don’t care. 

She could probably read the desperation on my face from a mile away. We locked eyes through the door for a moment before she buzzed me in. I turned the knob and made my way up her ominous stairwell with a good dose of trepidation… no turning back now. I sat down cautiously and observed her room. It was exactly what you’d expect from such a place: dim lighting, tarot cards and signs, granite palm figures on the desk, incense burning, curtains dangling around us, candles burning everywhere, and some testimonials framed on the wall describing how marvellously she changed her client’s lives and how amazing she was. Comforting.

I was still fighting to keep it together when she took her seat across from me. We sat in a bizarre moment of silence that seemed to drag on and on before she finally asked me how I was doing. I just stared meekly in her general direction. I knew the next sounds coming from me would not be pretty and so I responded with a haphazard shrug.

“You’re hurting,” she said lamely. And I say lamely because anyone could have looked at me and seen that I was on the cusp of a compete breakdown. Leave it to a psychic to state the obvious.

No shit, I thought, and then it was over.

I sat across from this woman whose name I didn’t know, in her strange apartment, in a new city, feeling desperately lost and alone, and cried like an idiot. I cried and I couldn’t help myself. Too much had happened in too short a time and the finality of it all was catching up with me. I’m sure she saw a dollar sign for every tear that rolled down my cheek. She had hit the jackpot with me.

I started to tell her everything that had happened in the last month between my (ex) partner and I. She listened so sweetly while I spewed all the frivolous thoughts in my head about how confused I was, how lost. But of course, crying is therapy and more I let out, the better I felt until finally I was able to think with some semblance of rationality again. (It seemed to slip away so easily for a while…) When I finally finished my sob story she took me by the hand and stared intently into my eyes.

“I want to be more than your psychic,” she said, “I want to be your spiritual advisor.”

Well actually.. you haven’t really done much psychic-ing up to now,  if I’m honest. But I didn’t mention that.

She started to explain that she could help me. She knew what had to be done and she could get my partner and I back together in two months tops. (Guaranteed!) Relief was mine if I wanted it, she’d carry the burden from now on. She would give me her number and be at my beck and call whenever I needed her. Anytime of the day or night, all I had to do was call or text and everything would be alright. All I had to do was trust in her to do her work.

Oh, and dish out 800 dollars for a special candle.

Uhh…. what’s that now?

Yes, you read right, eight hundred dollars… for a candle.  

I explained to her that that was impossible as I couldn’t even afford the twenty dollars I paid for the sheer pleasure of crying in her company. But she continued…

“I’m so worried for you. If you don’t do this, you’re going to become more and more upset. The crying will never stop. You will be more alone than ever.”

A bit harsh, I know, but she was only doing her job. In any case, I needed to shut this perceived avenue of revenue down for her ASAP. I mean I know I looked desperate, but there was ZERO chance I was willing to give her 800 dollars to burn a candle in the hopes of rekindling my relationship with my ex.

The interesting thing was that as I sat there listening to her try to convince me otherwise, I started thinking… What if I’m not supposed to get back with him, though? I’ve just moved across the country to start this new life, I can’t turn back now. I can’t dilute my energy like that. Isn’t there a reason why I’m here and not there right now? Why can’t you be telling me that there are great things ahead for me HERE?

These thoughts took me a bit off guard. I mean, hadn’t I been crying over my ex for the last twenty minutes because I missed him so much? Wasn’t I so upset because our life together was over? And then I realized that no, that wasn’t it. Not to say that I didn’t miss him in that moment, because I did, but it wasn’t him that was leaving me crying in a stranger’s house at 1130 at night. I was just overwhelmed that so much was happening all at once. I was in a free fall with no idea where I was going to land, and I was scared. Of course I was. Nothing wrong with that.

Suddenly it seemed entirely silly to be sat there, crying over my ex with a strange woman, when I had so much to look forward to. I’m not exactly sure what I expected to get out of the encounter. Some guidance, I suppose. A hint that I’m on the right path. Truth be told all I really needed was a friend with a shoulder, and to her credit she gave that to me and I’m grateful for it.

Crying is like writing sometimes, you just need to get it out in order to make sense of things. I thanked her for her time, she gave me her card, and I left. I left having gained everything I needed to in that moment. Just a little clarity, a little piece of mind. And she gave that to me in the exact opposite way I imagined she would.

If you guys haven’t been to see a psychic yet, I highly recommend doing so. It can be quite the experience.

Statue

You see
it wasn’t like I
couldn’t breathe,
and it wasn’t like I had been
holding my breath.

I was a statue,
waiting when you walked by
and you were a tornado
tearing your way through me.

It was like
suddenly
in that fleeting moment,
life happened.

call me dancer

If I did not dance today,
does that mean I’m not a dancer?

Maybe tomorrow
I’ll wake up,
and dance

frantically
like they say not to

beautifully
everyone’s guilty pleasure

ugly
so that they’ll call me an artist

fluidly
to send the blood to my fingers and toes

heart beating
rigorously until my body cannot withstand
the draining
my energy donned in droves
from passion
and temper

so that no can can dispute
no one can deny
sacrifice my life to prove and

call myself dancer.

They’ll have to agree.