On the need to forget it all

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Photo by pawel szvmanski on Unsplash

When it finally happened, I forgot to remember you. Because I had allowed myself to be swept away on the currents of what was ebbing and flowing around me then, and quite by accident more than intent, those currents led me away from you the way it would nudge a person away from shore. Gently, invitingly, persuasively. Until you swim further away from that perceived safety. Until you lose sight of what was holding you back.

When it finally happened, I was caught up living…


And what if they’re all we have?

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Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

Unspoken words. Unexpressed apologies. Explanations, regrets, confessions, professions, accountability… so much of what needs to be said that remains conversations in our heads. What actually happens if and when that right moment comes along — when the right song is playing, when dispositions are suitably matched, when there is perfect alignment between our inner world and the one we express outwardly — is it only then that truth can be spoken between two people?

There is a lot of focus on “authenticity” these past years. I don’t get it. Isn’t that simply the original state of our being, before we…


That Truth-or-Dare Question

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Do you remember how I used to ask you as we lay side by side, with absolutely no need to do anything except to take up our place beside each other: “Are you happy?”

My hand on your stubbled cheek, my gaze on you, and I swear, I felt you. That source code in the genome of life, that thing they call the soul, the essence of you, the life and blood pulsating and coursing within… you.

I could always feel you.

And you would gaze right back at me, somehow, almost always with a thin sheen of tears in…


They’re so much more than just fabulous filters and #hashtags

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My life is pretty, I decide, almost every time I scroll through my Instagram feed.

I bet yours is too, if it’s based off social media.

That exercise of scrolling through Instagram is probably today’s equivalent of having “our lives flash past before our eyes,” complete with appropriate filters to convey moods and dispositions at the time, plus a caption for context.

But what exactly is it we’re sharing and archiving?

At the times when we do stop racing through our photo streams (also a loose metaphor for how we live our days?), and actually look more closely at certain…


Joyce Gan | I wish I knew.

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Photo by Christian Sterk on Unsplash

“Just the other day, I cried.”

“What’s wrong?” Asked in alarm, surprise, confusion.

I wish I knew.

“Well, sometimes, you just have to let it out, you know?” I smiled.

That was four days ago and I haven’t stopped searching for the source of those tears.

They weren’t the result of one those days designed to wear you down completely. And also not the silent weeping from a particular sadness. Nor the kinds of tears we offer in tribute to good storytelling that has moved us sufficiently in whatever medium the story was…


And what we don’t.

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Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

“Look. That one, that star,” he said and pointed up.

“Which one?” She shifted herself on the playground step to get a better view.

“There…”

She pulled her head all the way back and traced an invisible line from his finger to where he was pointing and yet she couldn’t see what he wanted her to see… —

He bent his head and placed a gentle kiss on her throat.

— but yes, she felt what he wanted her to feel.

There they sat in their usual spot at the playground in her condo’s compound and they chatted. Of what…


You’ll be surprised what comes up

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(Image/Steven Houston on Unsplash)

There’s one story I’ve been rewriting every year for a decade now. It’s a story where the facts don’t change, circumstances and characters remain the same, but the grand narrative takes on a different perspective every time.

It’s the story of my life, and I invite you to begin yours too. Why invest all that time to write a story we know like the back of our hands, you may wonder.

Truth is, it’s a story we may think we know oh-so-well, but it’s also one that will continue to surprise with every proper rewrite.

Each time I rewrite mine…


Take a closer look.

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Photo by Mercedes Álvarez on Unsplash

A friend recently shared that she would never buy a preloved item, be it a piece of clothing, accessory or even vintage furniture.

“It’s just… secondhand. I don’t know where it’s been, who its previous owner is — maybe he’s even deceased! And anyway, there’s definitely some damage done to it.”

“You know they do clean out these things and fix them up right?”

“Yes I know, they are in so-called ‘mint’ condition. But just because they’ve got a beautiful label — “preloved” — tagged on them, it doesn’t change their status that someone else didn’t want them anymore.”

Ouch.


Joyce Gan | Now, you choose.

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Photo by pawel szvmanski on Unsplash

“Never do drugs,” Mom used to say to me. “Well, unless it’s love. That, you’re allowed to be addicted to.”

And cigarettes and alcohol, I could almost hear her say to herself.

“But you wanna only do the right kind of love,” she would continue in her usual manner, like she was talking to someone else who wasn’t sitting right beside her. “That may be hard to find, but you’ll want to look hard for it. Along the way, you’ll probably get a taste of the wrong kind… well, take what comes and then…


Joyce Gan | Stay.

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Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

The alarm goes off at 8 am just like every other morning and she opens her eyes wearily to take in her surroundings. When she’s made sure that she’s in her own bed, she rolls over to her side and closes her eyes again as she tries to recall where she’s just been.

At his house, she takes in a deep breath as she remembers and gives herself time to allow that one ragged breath to ease the soreness in her heart.

He had introduced her to his kids, well, specifically, to his son. As she…

Jois G.

Giving in to those lil voices in my head.

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