Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My muse

I found my muse.. a fact I can't talk about in real life so it's spilling onto my virtual world. A guy so deliciously unsuitable, and yet so poetic. A person I met in the depths of the Chinese winter, and who melted my heart. But by spring who knows if I'll need him anymore as the whole world thaws. That's the tragedy of muses.

He's a migrant worker, the lowest of all classes in this class concious society. But his spirit is unbroken, unlike these pampered, white collar kids who have grown up as emperors in their families. He has a wild streak, and yet no opportunities. He's smart but vulnerable and he remembers every single thing I said. I find the differences between us endlessly fascinating. I want to go with him to his native Henan province, see what it's like to grow up close to nature and the community.

We met at Christmas time, and when I came back to my real life to go to the parties, sip the drinks, and pretend to laugh with the people in my world all I could thinkk about was, "life has got to be more than this." I was just bored, bored, bored without the struggle and the injustice that opened a window into what really mattered, and who I could be.

But I don't have the courage to go forward with this. I'm a coward and a hypocrite and a liar. There's a reason why middle class Chinese people treat these workers like they're not human. There's too many people and too few resources in this country. Wasted lives and wasted potential is just par the course.

There's a danger to treating everyone like a human being. You can be polite and generous to the lowly waitress, or the scruffy builder but it's only at the very basic end of treating someone like a human being. At the other end is falling in love.

I don't want to fall for someone that can't even afford a coffee. Sounds bad but how can it possibly work? And it's worse because I know I'm capable of falling this way, ever since I decided to follow my heart.

It couldn't possibly end well.. and yet I am a moth to a flame.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The road less travelled

Everyone remembers these two lines from the Robert Frost poem, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - took the one less traveled by."

But I looked at the poem recently and the more important part is the verse above:

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

When I was at my soul destroying finance job many people advised me to stay there for three years, get a professional qualification and then pursue my dreams. Others justified their lives there by dreaming about some vague time after retirement.

In my mind this is about as logical as planning to marry a rich man, wait til he dies and leaves you all his money before marrying the poor painter you're in love with.

But this simple minded solution was an incredibly difficult and frustrating thing to argue against, because it papers over a point that no one wants to hear. The point made in that verse - that choices lead to other choices and you will never come back to that fork in the road again. It's impossible to keep the other road for another day.

It's impossible to have it both ways. And nowadays, that's a very controversial thing to say.

I recently met an aspiring, female writer in her late twenties. She was looking for a husband, and with it all the trappings of surburban respectability - 2.4 children, house and white picket fence. She concluded that the only way to have it all is to find a highly paid businessman who would support her while she writes. In her words "there can be only one artist in the family."

I wanted to shake this woman so hard - she's symptomatic of all that's wrong in the world.

What kind of writing would she produce with this kind of set up, this kind of mentality? Maybe she'd write great chick lit about women finding rich husbands. A conventional life produces conventional work. She didn't seem to understand that her means have defeated the ends because writing is a mirror for the soul.

Being an idealist, an artist, means really living on the edge of life, reporting back from the extremes of human experience. The edge of the abyss.

For me it's not about being a writer, it's about being that type of person. Writing is only the wrapping for a present. Too often I read bloggers who want to be writers with long, winding entries that have nothing to say, no point to make. Like a gorgeous present that's empty when opened.

I blame in part the relentless consumerism of modern life that tells us we should have it all because we're worth it, and we can have it all if only we try hard enough. But in that case what's the meaning of decisions? How do you find out who you are? Or what is worthwhile vs what's not?

The road less travelled leads to inbalance, and I'm struggling to accept my choice. To be unafraid of extreme experiences, and to not require the conventional.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year, Old Problems

... and here's is my problem in a nutshell:

"they danced down the street together like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, beause the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop"
- On the Road

On a brighter note, one of my new year resolutions for 2009 is to enter a ktv competition! (which I'm actually quite good at) followed by visions of me making a side-living crooning at jazz bars...