Longing

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© 2017 Cindy Smith

@Home, Kani, Gifu, Japan.

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Writing Prompt #3

Write from the point of view of a stack of paper a few inches from the shredder…

The metallic jaws gnashed together as the sleek, dirtied paper slid inside. The wrinkled hands feeding it in didn’t even flinch. They methodically picked a piece from the pile next to me. Without Hesitation. GGGRRRZZZZ, it roared. The hands, mere ashen, dull from what may have been years of cigarette smoking, a white tan line existed where a ring once rested, puckering up the chubby flesh around it. Sad hands. Sad hands that were about to reach the end of the pile beside me. GGGRRRZZZZ, the hellish droning continued. I could feel the air thinning around me, next, my entity , my purpose of once carrying important data would be extinguished with one swoop of this hand. The slot would appear where I’d meet my untimely end. The razor edges would grip me, I’d be split into unfathomable pieces. Back to the earth. Back to where I came from.

Youth

DSC_0111-001Remember how we used to

impact each others lives;

youth clutching tightly

holding on, dependent, joyous;

without realising life’s many moments

would diffuse and disentangle and splinter;

we’d become like driftwood, coasting aimlessly

without direction, without weight,

into the streams of our days.

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© 2015 Cindy Smith

Break

We took a break from each others lives,

like shards of light splintered through the trees,

separated only by shadows.

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© 2015 Cindy Smith

Heart

My eyes devise

a certain scene

when my heart isn’t seeing

My ears deceive

a certain truth

when my heart isn’t listening

My hands wonder

a certain deception

when my heart isn’t feeling

My mind contorts

a certain reality

when my heart isn’t open

All that remains,

is the heartfelt pursuit of truth

This spoke to me – I completely identify with the need to find balance and this author took the words right out of my mouth – her fight to find equilibrium when she feels herself to be a complete contradiction.
“It’s not about all our selves being at constant war with each other. It’s about being ok that we have different selves to begin with”

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Photo taken by contributor Carrie Hilgert, a 36-year-old photographer and self-portrait artist from Northeast Kansas. After venturing into digital photography, she became interested in documenting her life with self portraits. This became particularly helpful when her life started to fall apart due to depression. All her other creative outlets left her, but she could always process her very dark feelings with self portraits. While she is doing much better now, she maintains compassion for those going through these hard things and hopes that her photography can give an honest insight into something that makes most people feel very isolated and alone.

About this photo: “I wonder why it took me so dang long to accept my own duality. I tell people as a joke, that I am a contradiction to myself. But there have been some really rough times because of that extreme nature. I spent a lot of years trying…

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Writing Workshop #2

Here is a piece written by Massimo Park, whose blog you can find here – Rumi Supertramp. I don’t want to speak for Massimo, but he is an exceptional writer who has guided and motivated the group throughout. Fantastic, but I want to see more Mass!

             Halmunee and the sky – Massimo Park

“Can’t you rebook it? I’ve got teaching at 4.”

             “He’s fully booked until next month. If she doesn’t get in to see him she’ll have to wait another month.”

             “Fine. I’ll reschedule my classes, ” I said through gritted teeth, thinking I would have to reschedule my entire week.  MY week. Why do I have to do this? Why don’t my parents take her to the specialists? After all, it is my mother’s mom. The endless appointments with doctors and specialists for my grandmother’s heart problem was taking its toll on my busy schedule. I was trying to complete my Master’s degree and hold down a full-time job tutoring students.

             “Come on halmunee!” I said impatiently as she carefully measured each step of the stairs. Immediately, I was overcome with guilt and I offered her my arm and waited patiently for her to descend the steps centimetres at a time, while I seethed inside. Once we were inside my car, she apologized for troubling me all the time and said she should die quickly so she wouldn’t have to burden me anymore.

             “No, halmunee, guenchun-ha” using one of the few words i knew in Korean, the all-purpose catch word “guenchun-ha” meaning “it’s ok, it’s alright”, yea, everything was ok, everything was alright, but then, why was i clenching the steering wheel so hard?

Why did I dream about completing my Master’s degree and finally being free of my family to escape to a job overseas, ironically in Korea, the land where my family came from?

I didn’t want to deal with my family’s problems anymore. My family’s problems! Not mine!

             I dropped her off at the apartment and told her I would pick her up tomorrow for the appointment at four. I went straight to work, running late, as usual.

             The next day, I knocked on the door to her apartment. I knocked louder, but I didn’t hear her slow shuffling feet and the soft inquiring voice, “Who is it?” even though she knew it was me. She was terrified of somebody forcing their way in. I thought it was some kind of remnant reflex from her experiences during the Korean War, but perhaps all old people feel so vulnerable.

             I opened the door with the spare key i had and as I entered her tiny apartment with the tv and sofa and the Catholic paraphernalia hanging all over the walls, I ignored the loneliness that carpeted the whole apartment. I entered her bedroom.

             “Halmunee?” I called out quietly, for she appeared to be sleeping. She was on the bed, her face set like a grim mask, like one of the traditional wooden masks carved by villagers in Korea that seemed to be smiling and yet grimacing at the same time. I approached her bed and touched her arm, “Halmunee?”

             She didn’t move and I noticed now she wasn’t breathing. I’d never learned how to take someone’s pulse, so I put my ear to her heart, and I heard the sky.

Writing Workshop

I have decided to upload some of the writing our group has produced over the last while. Basically, each of us contributes an idea for a prompt, be it visual, written or musical. This particular prompt was one where we wrote about someone with a pathology where they thought they were food. Here is what Lee came up with:

‘Scrambled eggs’ ~ Lee Frosler

I have to be so careful with every single little movement I make.
If you crash into me I will crack and break.
I’m two eggs short of an omelet, and a sprinkle of scrambled reasoning is the flavor of my noggins seasoning.
I drool into my pillow at night, everything’s a nightmare; I’m hard pressed not to explode in fright.   I incubating vultures, terrordactyls and dragon’s steam in my dream, insanity circles, I’m lost in a place you’ve never been.
A few cracks on my head, and now I’m treading on shells. Crunch, clack, clack, crunch- don’t get your panties in a bunch. Look! I’m a bird, I’m a plane- I’m a flying crash course in insane.
Your voice crackles like hot oil, and your face looks like a frying pan, your wife’ ass looks like spam. Does it look like I give a damn? No! I don’t want any of your stupid jam.
Stop! You want to whisk me the wrong way with your words, go find something else to beat; I’m not a piece of meat you freak.
Where’s my toast? My precious piece of toast… oh there you are, oh swear you’ll never leave me, you’re all I have. These fatty sausages, and grimy bacon imposters, they all want a piece of me, but I’d rather just stay here with you my precious piece of toast.
“Hey! That’s my toast asshole!”
“ It’s ok Gertrude; we just want to give you a quick bath.”
“ I want my toast! Why can’t I bath with my toast?”
“ You can’t bath with your toast.”
“ Just let him bath with his toast.”
“Ok Gertrude.”
“Of course it’s ok, give me that… I must bath with my toast; do you know what sort of a mess you would have on your hands if I were to crack and my toast wasn’t there?
Don’t worry toast; they can’t separate us, not for all the sanity in the world. Wait, what’s my name again? I’m overly easy to forget, Benedict maybe? Oh never mind… Look! The sunny sun is up! Look toast, it’s so beautiful.
When I am born toast, I might have to leave you, but I will never forget you.

~~~~~The end~~~~

 Thanks Lee!

THIS is what happens when you cycle in Munsan

I live a few kilometres from the DMZ (demilitarized zone between North and South Korea) in Munsan, a small town on the end of the Gyeonggi-do subway line, unforgettably marred with peculiarities that might forgo the local, but draw my curiosity. The most appealing aspect being the contradiction between extensive walks in the surrounding hills used by civilians – families, men, woman, children – and the remnants of a Korea at war some 50 years ago. Concealed pathways lead to dishevelled bunkers or misshapen trenches; mass storage areas enclosed into the hill tops for what I imagine were camouflaged shelter to tanks. Rusted shells of armed vehicles immersed in the hills; so deeply nestled in the earth and caked in dirt, sticks and leaves it is hard to distinguish their alien-ness, decrepit and decaying into the soil. The discrepancy continues – a tree-lined dirt road skirting the farms marked with lanterns separates into two avenues ending in small yet beautiful temples. A few kilometres away a hill stands, where a few fortunate dead view  the farms below from their graves – a status symbol even in death for the Korean people.

As I walk amidst all the contradictions, silence and mystery of these hills,  the temples, the bunkers, a war, I am simultaneously in awe yet stupefied – all of this a point for which I have no reference. Yet what comes to mind at this moment is one of my students, a young precocious and forceful individual who has not yet developed her ability to name the things around her in English. She resorts to using the word “this” whilst pointing at books, pens, pencils, her shoes and always utters “Teacher this.., teacher this, this…” in trying to obtain my attention. And walking through the pine needled paths, naked trees and fallen leaves, inhaling Springs crisp air, I find myself repeating the word “this”. This. This. This. All of this, signified and differentiated by the man given name of things, whilst remaining from a single source.  In my mind, completely redundant and serving only to detract from it’s original beauty. Taoism refers to the 10,000 things from which everything is named – yet reminds students of this unity.

It helps students of Tao to recognize the underlying connection and unity between all people and all animals and all plants and all things and all ideas. By recognizing the many manifestations, it sometimes brings us back to an awareness of the unity from which they all have sprung.

This right here, this moment, this breath, this falling leaf, this tree, this stick, this mound of sand; in all these contradictions of the mountains and hills of Korea, surrounded by this quiet, this graves, this rusted iron, natures changing season, temples freshly painted.. all of THIS. I have been using her words to draw my attention into the present as I wonder, as I think of it all. All of it will change and whither, everything that exists here will change and all that will be left is this moment, this truth. This.

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Packing for Home

I am packing up my life in Korea. I have exactly 2 months left as of today, and am in preparation for the final move to South Africa from what has been my home for the past 2 years and 3 months, excluding the 4 months I spent in SA in limbo between contracts. I can’t seem to finally seal up these two boxes and actually post them. I just keep haphazardly taking out what is inside and putting it back in again, and then, forgetting what I have packed, and have to start the process all over again. It’s odd to box up 2 years that have changed me so much. Somehow it feels like the boxes should consist of more, be of more significance since all I will have are memories and changes that I won’t know how to relate to anyone back in SA. The underside of travelling is the reality that I may not see so many of the wonderful people who have touched my life. I wish I could take pieces of you – more than just memories and thoughts, and carry them around with me, wilful reminders of our experiences, our happy times, our shared loneliness and inspiration, our long conversations in beautiful attempts at connection in disconnected times. How often can you sit back and realise that half of the people you have shared a challenging and mad year with live in other foreign countries across this expansive earth – The States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom. How can I pack up how much you all mean to me, how much you have shared with me, and much I have learnt from you? And Korea, I can’t even speak of you. The extent of lessons and a life extraordinary, so foreign and divorced from my world, but now so indivisible from my being. How do I pack this ALL into 2 small boxes?

A new School Term

It’s a fresh Monday after a 5 day vacation, a new month, season and semester at School. I have new classes, new students and a new curriculum. This change is so welcomed after a period of busyness that somehow felt like I had stopped in time, as if my feet became so heavy I had stopped moving, yet the tide of days kept me moving forward. Although times were fun, filled with challenges like writing workshops, (boring) gym, seeing old friends and making new ones, defying winter by hiking in snow but all the while going through the motions of keeping busy without completely stopping to pay attention. Now is the time to stop, take stock, and implement new routines. Morning runs or cycles, meditation, morning pages and yoga. Spring missions to plan – cherry blossom festivals, going home, a potential visit to Cambodia…

Bless you Spring and Change for the new life you bring.