The Ordinary Mind

I am a cat lover, although I don’t have a cat. To love pure and chaste from afar – it seems to work better this way.

One name I see fit to call my self is Dot. It has the advantage of indicating all the insignificance about one’s earthly existence, therefore a good reminder not to take it too seriously.

As a native speaker of Chinese living in the US, and too slow a learner, I find myself perpetually in this inadequate state where my first language has fallen into disrepair, while the second language has yet to rise to the occasion. It doesn’t deter me from trying to convey something authentic, though.

It must be a milestone of some sort for me, by finally getting around to start blogging at WordPress. The idea had been sitting in the back of my mind for too long. Before this, my only blogging expedition was a brief excursion on Google Plus, before that entire old town got wiped off the face of the Internet. Fragmentary remembrance of it – mostly fond memories, will stay with me for as long as I can remember. It was a place full of unsettled old souls with young spirit, holding on to their unfulfilled childhood dreams.

It all comes down to childhood dreams, I suppose. That particular something that has been lurking in you for as long as you know, sometimes prominent, sometimes obscure, but never absent. Like a low-grade fever, it is not outright display of frenzy, but a subtle yet persistent sense of restlessness. The distant cricket in the quiet of the night. The dogged droning of the engines of an airplane suspended over the ocean between continents. The fly trapped between the windowpane and screen.

Almost everyone has in mind writing a blog, doing a podcast, opening a garage workshop, planting a four-season flower garden, cooking all Julia Child recipes, capturing some photograph of butterflies … To be concise, everybody has got to follow whatever calling corresponding to their nature. You’re in this dire need of an outlet, to let out what you want to be heard but it hasn’t been spoken yet. To add fuel to the fire, Toni Morrison once tweeted, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Some days, riding on my bipolar disorder to one edge, I think I have something special to say; other days, propelled to the other end of the pendulum, I know I don’t. 

Nothing about life has remained unarticulated, I suspect, ever since humans acquired language. There is no facet of humanity that hasn’t been recounted again and again, over and over. We may vary in shapes, sizes and colors, living in disparate external situations and different time periods, but the monologues everybody carries within are the same old stories ever repeated, lifetimes after lifetimes. If there’s a book you want to read but haven’t, it’s not because it hasn’t been written; it’s because you have yet to read all the words ever been written, in the long history of mankind’s inner unrest. The problem is not I have something to say; the problem is I have to say something. 

One thing I know is, if I don’t get it over with now, I would become my parents – silently being eaten away by an unexamined life, untold misery, and uncultivated faith, while they face the looming end of season. That ingrained sense of unease and despair, muted angst and unutterable fears – no one deserves it in old age. 

On second thought, however, I realize there is no such moment as ‘getting over’. This perpetual desire for expression and connection, by whatever means available and affordable, is a basic need as fundamental as eating, drinking and discharging. We are trapped in samsara, the endless cycles of birth and death and eternal repeat. As long as you are still breathing, it is never done.

So the goal is not to get it over. The goal is to get it started. The best I could do is not writing something special, but honestly recounting everything in my given way, about an inner life ordinary and unexceptional. And hopefully, I could learn to take ease and make peace, and set all the caged cats free … 

The only way out is through.

For the kindred spirits who might come across this space by chance, I wish you wouldn’t find it entirely uninviting.   

~ Dot in January 2020 ~