In This Wonderful Grand City

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Here we are living,
In this wonderful grand city
Some of us bursting with pride,
Ignorance, or wallowing in self-pity.
With the multitude of problems in this universe
One might scoff at the idea of performing verse
For we confuse doing a little as an objective so brittle
And so let’s just go ahead and belittle –
Whatever minor act of good is out there
Because with their grand scheme of a victory, it just doesn’t compare.-

But instead of judging who’s doing more or less
Know that time in incremental bits passes
And before you know it,
To make it all fit,
You start asking yourself,
All certainty on shelf –
Am I here to make change, or am I here to make a name?
An ensemble of basic settlers
That came from a land of alphabetic letters
A simple initially empty word
That soon creates a crowded world… A name.-

Now allow your imagination to run amiss
And try really hard to picture this:
You stumble on a name of someone gone
Yet the name bears a legacy as bright as the dawn…
The name is associated with success & cleverness
The name is associated with intelligence & self-agence… A name.
This name becomes a brand, leaves a mark where it lands
The name was given life after the named left this life
A simple ensemble of lines called single letters
Meaningless at birth but meaningful seemingly forever– A name.
And everywhere you encounter this name
Always honored in some fancy hall of fame
Now take your imagination one step higher
Be ready for this – because baby, you’re on fire! –
Picture for a moment it’s not just a name…
But it’s your name.

Are you perfectly satisfied now?
Do you feel this was the answer to your life’s how?
If you made a name out of real change, then I’m really happy for you
But if you made “change” out of a name, then please let me break through,
And say that your reason of being
Exactly who you are
Was to develop skills, talents,
And let them take you quite far
Take you farther than yourself
Into the real world we call a mess
Seek out from cursed days moments blessed,
And where you cannot find none, you create
Not daring to belittle any deed,
Lest it may be most great —

So maybe you’ll leave behind nothing but fame
And consider yourself hence having won at life’s game
Or maybe you will leave one good, powerful memory
For someone that no one knows
No one cares about, no one needs,
But little had you known that that incremental small act of kindness,
Was only the seed
Starting as fleeting and spontaneously quick as time itself,
Of something great
Occurring perhaps a little later
But perfectly aligned with fate.-

Change for sublime takes its own sweet time
Progress is a slow and steady process
As if made from soft soap,
Patience and hope are found on a slippery slope
But everything within your capacity
Is in tune with real achievability
So forget about the name,
Forget about the fame,
And go make some change,
Regardless where you be
Especially in this wonderful grand city.

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-A.S.

“I’m Fine.” … But Are You?

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“How are you doing today?”

“Oh, I’m good. Just fine actually.”

… Are you?

On the way to work, on a bumpy road inside a crowded city bus, I often find myself thinking about the most random of thoughts.Today’s spontaneous reflections revolved around a word.

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I muse over this word – good. This simply spelled and spellingly simple one-syllabus sound that everyone, including myself, quickly claim to live within. Some call it fine; some well. It’s still all good.

Now let’s see: my day was good. Your day was good. Things are good here and things are good there. Apparently, we’re all just a bunch of content folks, always feeling good about our circumstances… all day, everyday. (That’s “good”, no?)

Interestingly, we all say “I’m good”, although we may be experiencing very different things, perhaps dramatically so. It only makes me wonder: when good is associated with such vague implications, often followed with little to no explanations – that one word keeping the listener hanging in suspense as to what good could possibly mean to the speaker – it sometimes makes me muse:

Do we even know what being “good” is at all, at the frequency that we use it?

Perhaps we all do, and here I am senselessly over-thinking something (wouldn’t be the first, and certainly won’t be the last time). Let’s look at this optimistically: perhaps we DO all have this invisible yet present voice within us that assures us, “tired you may be right now, emotionally exhausted you might feel, but HEY, things are good! Yeah, you tell’em the way it is! Things are fine, baby!” So you happily trust your instinct and blurt out “I’m fine!” with such adorable confidence, that it is only after you have spoken you realize the other hadn’t finished asking the “how are you” question. (Oops.)

But then again… maybe we don’t know what good is at all. Maybe we still don’t know ourselves well enough to understand how we’re feeling and why. Perhaps this is why we seek refuge in the all-encompassing “good”, “well”, “fine”, and thus successfully and gracefully sneaking out of possibly opening up to one another.

Ok, please allow me to be clear about something before you misunderstand the point of this post:

I’m not here to tell you to always be so explicit about your daily business to EVERY “how are you” you receive out of mere politeness. I know a lot of people don’t really want to know, or really care, how you’re doing.

But there are people who do care, and by simple means of a habitual response we give automatically- that “I’m fine” without thinking – sometimes walls that are not intended to be put up are suddenly there. Because the asker is left wondering, Um, should I prod further? Or is this brief answer an indication to keep my nose out of it? The question hangs nervous in midair, like a pair of shoes dangling from cables outside uncertainly.

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But if there is someone you truly care about, and all you’ve been recieving from her or him lately is “I’m good/fine” responses the past few times you’ve asked how are you out of genuine concern for their happiness… then perhaps you may want to tentatively start knocking down that invisible wall that mysteriously started to separate you two without either of you noticing it was being built through all those awkward silences.

“I’m glad to hear you’re doing good. So… Can you tell me what good is for you?”

Don’t do it out of nosiness. Don’t do it just because you’re curious, but have no plans of actively listening should the other suddenly break down in tears before you, or burst out with exciting news. Don’t do it as a social experiment to see how easily people will open up to you – because it seems that more and more people want to open up in this individualistic world that seems so closed.

Do it because you care. If society is going to keep playing the “hi how are you, oh I’m fine, goodbye now” boring game without reason, except to keep up conventional niceties – then we are going to simply become robotic in our interactions with one another.

I mean well, and I truly hope you are well, good and fine when you say you are, in the true sense of the word:

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So how are you doing? 🙂

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(And God knows Best.)

-A.S.