Tag Archives: Literature

Sad Lines (#19)

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I have been working 11 hours a day – and 3 weekends in a row. Next week I go on to emergency/ after-hours whereby I am expected to be on the floor from 10pm – 8am within the small animal hospital, or 4pm – 8am if I am on an equine shift. To say I am exhausted is an understatement. I have been fore-going sleep in order to maintain my social life as much as I am able. Last friday night some friends from church and I handed out dinner to the homeless on the streets then caught up over ice cream. And despite having to work in the morning over the weekend, I spent my afternoons reading at the beach and having wine and cheese and learning about sailing from some new friends. I am absolutely exhausted, and I probably look just as terrible. But things will be ok – I will take them as they come.

I haven’t really had time to read for leisure very much, or to write. So here are some sad lines from literature that touched my heart – even though I am not particularly sad at the moment. I think that whilst sadness shouldn’t be romanticised and placed on a pedestal, it is something that must be acknowledged and embraced. There are few emotions that we will feel as often, as deeply or as tangibly in this life, so surely learning to embrace it like an old friend would make our journey on this little blue dot just that much more meaningful.

“Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.”
– Pablo Neruda
“She vanished without a trace, swept away by the flow of time and it’s flood of people”
– Haruki Murakami
“It’s strange. I felt less lonely when I didn’t know you.”
– Jean Paul Sartre
“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on. I hope you never have to think about anything as much as I think about you.”
– Jonathan Safran Foer
“We’re each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?”
– Ursula K. Le Guin
“Your only problem, perhaps, is that you scream without letting yourself cry.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
“I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself.” – Rupi Kaur
“I hid my deepest feelings so well I forgot where I placed them.” – Amy Tan

People often say that the saddest word is “almost”: the notion of things that might have been; of opportunities missed and words unsaid: of regret. But there are so many ways in which “almost” is happy: “He almost did not survive the night”, “I almost decided not to go to the party where I met you”, “I almost lost the courage to call.”

I therefore think the saddest phrase is “It should have been you”. It is heartbreaking no matter which context I put it in. Whether walking down the aisle with the wrong man, or a mother grieving the loss of the son she cared more for.

Jolyn

Push-ups In The Air (#15)

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A friend and I recently went to an event called “Fanfic, Love and Embarrassment” hosted by the Literary Youth Festival. We really didn’t know what to expect going into it, and as it turned out, it consisted of about a dozen people (who all seemed very well acquainted with each other) in a cosy room in an old house right smack in the heart of the city. This building plays host to weekly poetry clubs, art sessions and writing workshops – it was brick and mortar devoted to cultivating art and literature in the youth of today. With wild abandon people read aloud highly-sexualised fan-fiction they wrote about themselves, poetry that stemmed from frustrated minds and broken hearts, and embarrassing song lyrics from when they were teenagers forcing every word to rhyme.

Whilst it was a public event, it seemed all attendees were part of an exclusive writing club we were not privy to. It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable and self-conscious: as if I were intruding in a stranger’s home or eavesdropping on a private conversation. The people there were truly memorable characters, they each had an aura of individuality – they were published authors, up-and-coming musicians, award-winning poets and aspiring artists. For the first time ever the words “Doctor” and “Surgeon” sat a bit weirdly on my tongue; for the first time ever they felt displaced in the company of others. I felt like I was trespassing into an alternative I did not choose.

The feeling of awkwardness quickly passed. It’s hard to feel awkward when people are pouring their hearts out in front of you. There was so much honesty and raw emotion. I found myself truly feeling for these nameless strangers I do not know.

I’ve been trying to look up the work of some of those who had volunteered to read their poems out, but have had little luck. In particular one stood out to me, she talked about being on a flight to California and watching a man doing push-ups on the aisle of plane who upon noticing his audience, said to her: “Don’t worry, I’m not pushing the plane down”. She realised then that sadness within life is like gravity, it is ever constant. It does not exist within us, but we exist within it – we learn to live within it’s rules, and do push-ups in the air.

I still don’t fully understand it, but it somehow struck a chord in me. And amongst these faceless people, I felt for the first time in a long time, even if only but for a fleeting moment, un-alone.

I wish I had the courage to stand in front of strangers and showcase all of my love and embarrassment. I think that is ultimately what writing has always been about, to make others feel something, a fraction of what you are feeling, or something completely out of your own capacity. I promised myself that I will be braver one day.

I am glad that I wandered into the messy, sticky  hearts of strangers that night. It reminded me that everyone is fighting their own battle, and of the insurmountable strength of the human spirit to persevere through the throes of pain, depression and loneliness. Of impregnable minds and the human ability to somehow.. survive.

We are all just doing push-ups in the air. 

Jolyn

10 lines & a song (Fickle Friday #38)

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10 lines from books that I do and do not own, and a song:

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”
– David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“Her legs swing complete afternoons away.”
– Jill Eisenstadt, From Rockaway

But to pay attention is to love everything.”
– Sarah Manguso, The Two Kinds of Decay: A Memoir

“There’s a fine line between thinking about somebody and thinking about not thinking about somebody, but I have the patience and the self-control to walk that line for hours – days, if I have to.”
– Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

“For you, a thousand times over”
– Khaled Housseini, The Kite Runner

“Between the hammers our hearts endure, just as the tongue does between the teeth and, despite that, still is able to praise.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To a Young Poet

“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
– J.D Salinger, Nine stories

“Laboring over a simple word, almost redeemed by what he tried to say.”
– Yusef Komunyakaa, My Father’s Love Letters

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act II, Scene II

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Tell me things that no one knows/ where does all your sorrow go/
lacing digits, touching toes/ where does all your sorrow go

Jolyn