It’s My Party

And I’ll cry if I want to. That’s how I feel about every birthday. It’s your day, your date, your cake, your chosen arrival into this world, your celebration, yours, yours, yours…. and it’s your time to own it.

For me it’s the best time to reflect. To look back on a year that’s past and take into account everything that’s happened: the beautiful, the average and the ugly.

More often than not, when you do this, you marvel at everything you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come (even in the failures) and it gives you that extra oomph to tackle the next year.

This morning while drinking my tea in bed I took some time to think about the last year and I reflected, I remembered and I let go.

In a year I’ve:

  • Lost some friends and made some new ones
  • Holidayed in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Beijing and New York
  • Knocked off an item on a childhood bucket list (the Great Wall)
  •  Re-discovered my passion for writing
  • Lived, a life of charm
  • Cried in buckets, laughed in buckets and puked in buckets (too many Long Island Ice Teas, it happens)
  • Evolved emotionally and spiritually through some heartache and heartbreak
  • Stayed the course on steering and manifesting a life of my choice, my liking and my responsibility

It’s easy to dwell on these things, to gloat in a sea of achievement and get stuck in an illusion of glory. But it’s also dangerous.

I’m proud of myself for the journey I’ve travelled thus far but I also realise that this list does not by any means reflect my biggest blessings for the year.

While I would say that receiving my father’s birthday gift in the post after 36 years of waiting, is right at the top of the list, it doesn’t quite top the list. Sorry Dad.

My biggest blessings this year are that I get to spend Christmas and New Year in my own country, that I get to celebrate it with my family, and that I get to do all this in summer.

In being away from home, I realised that we can climb the highest mountain, make the most money, drive the fanciest car, live in the biggest mansion and travel to the most exotic places but it all means nothing at the end of the year, at the end of your life and at the end of time.

The only things that really matter are those you love. And it was at this time of year, my birthday and Christmas that I really missed my family and friends. You know, the ones who put up with your bullshit and still offer a shoulder to cry on, the ones who give you everything when they have nothing and the ones who love you no matter what.

So after spending 2 summer’s away from home, from family, and from friends, I treasure all the calls and the messages I received today, I treasure the laughter and tears I’ve shared with all of you, I treasure the support but most importantly I treasure the love.

I hope that when you get to celebrate another year of your life, you reflect back on your list, give yourself a pat on the back and move on with a tidal wave of love and gratitude for the ones you love and who love you back.

Be blessed. Be thankful. Be love.

 

 

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Finding his Soul in a Book

This post came to me unexpectedly. I was actually trying to write about someone else but I guess their lives were so intertwined that this had to come first. Or maybe it’s because I’m going to a place I know he would have known everything about. He would have quoted the length of the Great Wall, spoken of the importance of its history and of the war, and of course why it’s one of the wonders of the world. He may have even quoted some Chinese philosopher.

 “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.” – Ray Bradbury

I knew a man once who was exceptionally intelligent. He quoted passages from ancient texts, acts from Shakespeare and facts from encyclopedias. He was so intelligent in fact that he seemed a tad eccentric to the mere average minded. He was athletic. He was strong. He was brave. He even saved a man’s life. He had more brilliance in him then most of us are gifted with.

His name was Reginald Victor Basil Lawler and he was my grandfather.

When I was 10, I got to experience a rare glimpse into the mind of what I would call a genius, others a mad man. Either way it was like a trip into a wonderland.

I was writing about his life. And the event that changed it forever.

He spoke his truth with the brush strokes of an artist. Powerful. Vivid. Intense. I wasn’t hearing words, I was seeing pictures. I was living the moments with him. I was right there in the war. Young and disillusioned. Hungry tired and scared. Looking around at a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Big trees, lush vegetation and a lazy flowing river. Life in abundance. And in one thunderous blink, that same landscape becomes a desolate, black, ashen mess. Life. Less. “This is what war is”, he said, “in an instant, a flash, life is taken away.”

It wasn’t the loss of human life that shocked him the most. It was the destruction of nature. It was the power of the human hand to either create or destroy.

He came back from war with a medal for his quick thinking heroics. But he didn’t feel like one. For how can one claim any kind of victory on the back of such loss? He came back with grief and darkness.

And the only way that grief and darkness could escape their imprisonment was through books. He poured his pain into books and drank it from a bottle of whiskey. The shackles of imprisonment held him tight like a comforting monster.

People may remember him just like that picture. Dark, desolate, scary even. I think he was largely misunderstood. He had the mind of a philosopher, poet, writer, artist, scientist and mathematician and yet he was none of those. He was born into a country and political system that forbade him from being all that he could be because of his pigmentation. He wasn’t supposed to think, he wasn’t supposed to know things, and he wasn’t supposed to have a voice. He was supposed to do as he was told, live where he was told and keep his big mouth shut when he was told.

Imagine a man with a beautiful mind being told to live like an empty headed boy. The pain, the disappointment and the effects of the war led to a gradual deterioration.

At some point he surrended to life. He held up the white flag and gave in. I can’t say if it was due to ill health or just no longer having the will to live. But even when he could no longer physically take care of himself he could still quote Shakespeare or Omar Khayyam. His mind remained razor sharp. And that is all he had in the end.

His books, his medal and the story I wrote about him are the few things that are left of him. I don’t even know if there are books anymore, just one, which my father is in possession of: Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

I paged through it 2 years ago. The worn cover and pages brown with age. And I saw the eyes that had run through those words. And I felt the fingers that had touched the pages. Not from one soul but two. My father never would have taken anything from my grandfather when he was alive but he insisted on having this book when he died.

I wonder if my father realizes that it is through this book that he is connecting with the soul of my grandfather. His father, a man he could never connect with while he was alive.

My grandfather left a part of his soul in that book, and it continues to touch those left behind with or without their knowledge. Because he is there.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies……………something your hand touched some way…………”.

ASSfixiation

My mother says that only BAD girls swear or use foul language, so if you’re my mother or you believe the same thing then DON’T READ ANY FURTHER cos I’m about to be a BAD girl.

If on the one hand my mother is very much on the straight and narrow then my father on the other hand is, well, on the other hand. He has a condition called ASSfixiation. When he is in the presence of someone who presents the behavioural tendencies of an ass, he tends to have a reaction: reddening of the face, frothing at the mouth and a spewing of unprintables. Medical experts have confirmed no immediate cure but have suggested alternative methods for dealing with it.

My father being my father, has found through experience that the only thing that eases the pain of this ASSfixiation is to inform the said ass that they are an ASSHOLE. Now he doesn’t whisper this under his breath, or do it behind their backs, no, my father being my father, does it directly to their faces. This is how the scene goes: the ass will present the behavioural tendencies of an ass, my father goes red in the face and starts frothing at the mouth, and then let’s a out a BOOM BOOM BOOM ASSHOLE. Conversation over, walk away. Done. Period. And then the world starts spinning again.

If you’ve lived in my household for long enough, you take this scene for what it is, comedy. My father has a condition, he can’t help himself.  Now, everyone, and I mean everyone, has been called an ASSHOLE: starting with the maid, the gardener, the cashier at the grocery store, the teller at the bank, the petrol attendant at the garage, the neighbour,  the cousin, the nephew, the children, the dog, the referee, the TV, the plumber, the electrician, the ex-wives, Thierry Henry and so it goes on and on and on. Don’t get mad, he has a condition, he can’t help himself.

If you’ve lived in my household for long enough you will also have learnt exactly what behavioural traits trigger the ASSfixiation. Being that I’m my father’s daughter, I think, I’m just gonna come straight out with it and say that never before have I come into contact with such a high concentration of ASSHOLES in such a small amount of space and time.

If you already know who you are at this point and feel insulted, don’t get mad, my father has a condtition. If you’re not sure, keep reading. I’m about to channel my father.

To the one who sent me a text message at 11h50pm on Friday night to say “wake up” and then another one at exactly 1:20am on Saturday morning to say “can u text me the bus times from Daegu to Kunsan”. Ummmm, no, I was sleeping……..ASSHOLE. I just needed to get that one off my chest.

To the ones who TAKE TAKE TAKE but never GIVE GIVE GIVE……..ASSHOLE ASSHOLE ASSHOLE.

To the ones who’ve spent holiday seasons with me, ones who I’ve invited into my home, cooked for, shared a drink with, bought gifts for, given time to but who seem to have developed amnesia, deleted me off facebook farewell events because I’ve taken too long to respond or leave without saying goodbye…….ASSHOLE.

To the ones who say they don’t have girlfriends when actually they do and still call me to meet them downtown for a drink……..…ASSHOLE

To the ones I deleted off facebook but who continue to stalk me…..ASSHOLE

To the ones who think I’m a concierge disguised as a friend…….ASSHOLE

And lastly, my favourites, to the ones I offer a helping hand to but want to take my whole arm, and more……….ASSHOLE

Don’t get mad now, my father has a condition, he can’t help himself.

This seems like a good time to take Kanye West’s advice and use the thug plan and runaway as fast as I can!