Thoughts

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m learning a new language (French) or the crushing disappointment of twice-failures, but lately I’ve been questioning every little thing that makes up speech, communication and thought. Like, what exactly does a certain expression mean? I couldn’t express its meaning in definitive terms, yet I instinctively know what it means, and when I look it up, there’s an ahh of recognition. But would I be able to naturally use it by myself in a sentence? What does it mean to know something, and how do we know when we know it?

In addition to this crisis of knowledge, I’m also having a crisis in thought. When we reply to other people, do we really mean what we say, or is it the first coherent thought that can be shaped into words by our lips? How do I know – how can I know – if I mean anything? I know that I, for instance, despise chilli due to the discomfort that I feel in my mouth. But it is exactly due to this discomfort that my parents revel in its taste. So why do I hate this feeling, and how do I know that I hate it? I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t know, and that it’s true.

I seem to be questioning a lot of things these days that I took for granted when I was younger, and what everybody around me seems to inherently know. Perhaps I’m simply spending too much time thinking and not enough doing.

Fears and Failures

I haven’t written at all recently, partly because I’ve been so busy with university work from the new semester that I haven’t really had time to just sit, breathe, and think. I think I know the main reason though, and that is that I’m scared. I’m scared of acknowledging my feelings, and of publishing them in a public forum that strangers will read. I’m scared of being recognised, and I’m scared of no one caring at all. My feelings contradict each other, and it should bring me back to a baseline of neutrality, but I am left feeling as divided as ever.

I’m scared of not being able to articulate myself, of being unable to convey my thoughts in the elegance and style that I envisage for myself.

I’m scared that writing about how I feel will somehow make them more real, as if my piddling contributions to the millions of gigabytes of data uploaded and downloaded from the Internet somehow means that a light has been shone on my innermost thoughts.

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I came back from cold, wet London over 4 months ago to hot, dry Sydney. It is now our turn to be cold and wet, and despite the change in season, my life has remained as static as ever. Is this how it’s going to be forever, for me? Short days of university, long nights of studying? When I graduate university and enter the workforce, will my routine of revision graduate to a routine of work? Or worse, perhaps will I be unemployed, and my days will be filled with blank staring at my computer screen, willing away the minutes of the day for the blissful oblivion of the night. Not even oblivion brought on by copious consumption of alcohol, mind, but the oblivion of sleep.

It scares me that my future seems to be one long, straight, grey road. My double attempts to drive off and away into the Cambridge sunset have failed, foiled by my own inabilities. They tell you from childhood that you can achieve anything that you want, and that all you have to do is but try. And what a good lie it is! If you fail, try and try again! Well, I’ve failed, twice, and the dull ache at the pit of my stomach tells me that an attempt for a Masters will leave me choking in the dust of others faster and smarter than me.

It physically hurts to know that I won’t be going to Cambridge in October. I won’t be spending the best years of my youth there, surrounded by others full of passion for their subject instead of the “well, I don’t know what I want to do so I’m trying this” that pervades here.  I won’t be partying at Cindies until 3am with my college friends, or taking part in swaps. I won’t be traversing cobbled streets on my way to lectures and supervisions with the world’s leading legal academics, or seeing Stephen Hawking at formals, or making friends with future actors, politicians, and scientists. I won’t be rowing at 5am, I won’t experience the week 5 blues, and I won’t be going to any May Balls or June Events.

The worst part is that I feel that I could have been happy there, could have had a wild, exciting, intoxicatingly invigorating life there. And the fact that I was there made me so like I was so close. And I loved it. I loved the history and the architecture, the feeling of academia that seeps through the city walls, the narrow pavements and towering gothic spires. I miss the hope that I had, of living in this beautiful, wonderful city. I miss who I could have been.

I wish I were smarter, someone who Cambridge would have taken in. I wish my brain were capable of providing me with crystal-clear, articulate insights in matters of law, that it could produce original revelations from hazy clouds of thought. I wish that my thoughts don’t freeze up when confronted with intimidating figures and persons. Why am I not smart? How can I be smarterI am caught in the middle-ground of being just smart enough to know what I lack, but not smart enough to get where I want.

My double-failures and broken dreams have left me hollow and with a bitter taste on my tongue that is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. All the sweetness in the world couldn’t wash it away.

La La Land – Review

It’s been a full 2 days since I’ve seen the magic that is La La Land, and my dreams still echo with its music. Of course, that might have been because I downloaded the soundtrack when I got home, but I suspect even without re-listening (many many times), I would still be singing them to myself. That in itself is a testament to the arresting power of the music.

The music is only one part of the film, which is a musical. I haven’t watched many musicals, aside from Disney movies and The Sound of Music, but this one is different. The music springs from the emotions of the characters portrayed by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and it does so in a way that is perfectly organic, complementing and heightening the tone of the moment.

As for the story: I won’t go too much into detail, only that it is a modern romance, with Gosling perfect as the male lead, a jazz pianist, and Stone captivating as an actress struggling to make it in Los Angeles. Their chemistry is believable, tangible, moving; their profound acting pulls you into the movie, makes you root for them, hope that everything will work out. I cried numerous times during the movie, but at no point more so than during the last sequence, where all that could have been are meshed in a montage so poignant that you lose track of what is real and not real, that you are not merely watching a scene play out on a big screen but that it could be real life if you just lost yourself in the fantasy for a few moments longer.

Mere words are incapable of conveying my love for this film. It is my favourite film, and I couldn’t possibly imagine anything better. It is funny without being risible, whimsical while grounded in reality, contains cynicism without being cynical. If that’s not enough, then it is also a visual splendour, with the bold colours popping off the screen in bright bursts. Even without the actors and the music, it would have been the most beautiful film.

The best films are cause for a reflection on life, and seeing this has spurred me to reorient mine.

Skiing in New Zealand

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Well, after a week of skiing/snowboarding/collecting bruises, I am back home in the real world, (not really) ready to return to uni. I have left the green world for reality, and to be honest, I’m not entirely certain I like being back.

I mean, yes, I get reliable internet again – but is that something I really want or need? During the 4 days on the snow, all I thought about was the speed and freedom of skiing, the best techniques to avoid falling over when snowboarding (my purple knees attest to my failures), the occasional bursts of infatuation with cute instructors. There is nothing so liberating as the sensation of gliding through soft powder snow. I felt more connected than ever, more in the present, more aware.

On arrival back in Sydney, what I first did, in the words of some random guy on the same plane, was turn “Airplane mode off, mobile data on.” Of course, this was hilarious when I first heard him say that, because it was the very thing I, and probably the majority of phone-owning fellow flyers, were doing. But on further reflection, I realised something quite important.

There is something very poignant in witnessing a family sitting together at a table at a café or somewhere, all looking down engrossed at the phones, not talking or interacting with one another. These scenes make me sad, because instead of enjoying the company of the people at the present, one remains hooked onto social media to check the latest updates from friends and people they couldn’t care less about, or reading the latest news. Everything is the latest, the most up-to-date, the most current. This was the picture my family made on the train back home.

Something about going on a holiday makes you feel like you are living in an isolated bubble away from the constant droning and toxic interactions of normal life. I’ve pinpointed this negative energy to the fact that we are all so connected, all the time. Constantly checking the latest updates on something completely detracts from the present moment you are in. You can’t appreciate your surroundings at the time that you are in them, and for what? For the perfect Instagram photo? The wittiest Tweet?

The age of the Internet has made us all completely narcissistic. We should stop worrying about what is happening to other people far away, and concentrate on the people we are with, the places we are experiencing. So, I’m glad that the hotel we stayed in had unfortunately dodgy wifi. At least I will never forget playing pool with a little boy and cute guys with attractive accents.

And, I’ve resolved to check social media far less frequently.

The Legend of Tarzan – Review

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really know how to write a review. I think the last review that I wrote was probably from some time before 2010. But, since I am endeavouring to better express my sentiments, I’m going to try anyway.

Watching this movie was quite a spontaneous decision. A friend felt guilty for watching Me Before You without me – a movie we had originally planned to watch together – and was adamant about making it up to me. The only other movie I had a vague sort of interest in watching, that I hadn’t already watched, was The Legend of Tarzan, having been intrigued by the trailer.

And what a movie it was. I’m so glad I watched it.

I’d never really given much thought to how the famous character of Tarzan was conceptualised. I suppose that I had subconsciously grouped it together with the likes of Pocahontas, an old legend transformed into a family-friendly Disney film. And so, I walked in to the movie theatre expecting to see a real-life rendition of Tarzan’s discovery and the subsequent assimilation and acculturation into British (or American?) society. How so very delightfully wrong I was.

The movie is not about Tarzan’s discovery, but is instead centred around Tarzan and Jane’s return to Africa after 10 years of living as British nobility. It does tell the story of Tarzan and Jane’s first meeting, though, along with Tarzan’s background, through a series of simple but emotional flashbacks. These flashbacks are interspersed throughout the main storyline, adding depth to both main characters and heightening the sense of their deep connection. Tarzan and Jane are the perfect couple, made for each other. Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie have an electric chemistry. I fell in love with the couple as I simultaneously loved Skarsgård’s frequent state of shirtlessness (those abs) and aspired to become more like Robbie.

Skarsgård’s Tarzan is a man of few words, yet he is stoic without being unemotional. Maybe it’s a Swedish thing. His quietness lends his character an impressive inscrutable, brooding quality that sends teenage girls worldwide swooning in their chairs (and yes, I include myself in that generalisation). Yet, perhaps somewhat contradictingly, he somehow manages to convey a plethora of emotions with a single look. Skarsgård contrasts Robbie’s Jane, who is a witty, feisty heroine who doesn’t sit around and wait for her lover’s rescue. She takes her fate into her own hands, and is thus the epitome of the 21st-century feminist female character. She achieve this without overshadowing the titular character, instead complimenting and completing him. All heroines hereafter should strive for Robbie’s awesomeness. Aussie Aussie Aussie! She has set a new standard for the postmodern heroine in a historical setting without seeming forced. Also, Margot is ridiculously gorgeous (I’m not jealous. This is me being not jealous). Hm.

Anyway, both performances are spectacular and utterly convincing. I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again. It may just become one of my favourite movies – wondrous cinematography, bewitching acting, perfect pacing, a beautiful romance. What’s not to love?

Despite being utterly bamboozled at the start of the film (for a few minutes, my friend and I were convinced we were in the wrong cinema), this one is a movie to remember, with lots of layers that only become clearer upon reflection. This film is about the fierce, passionate, devoted love of a couple who could not be more perfect for each other. It is also about the cruelty of (white) humanity. It is a critique of capitalism. It is about human nature. It is about loyalty, community, family, the relationship between man and nature. It is a love story.

I could go on.

(Side note: I am increasingly convinced that the best books/movies/whatever are love stories. Because love makes the world go round.)

Being an avid book-reader, of course I hastened to read Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs as soon as I realised that the movie – and the whole Tarzan universe – is based on a series 25 (!!!) books long. I’ve read the first 2 books now, and while I am of the belief that the movie (well, this one anyway) is much better than the books, the original works aren’t too shabby either. Well done, Burroughs. I don’t know if I’ll end up reading the other 23 books yet. I guess we’ll see.

Incidentally, I’ve also gained a new appreciation for African (Congolese?) culture and Africa in general. The movie has really opened up my eyes to different experiences, and now I kind of want to volunteer in an African country after I graduate.

To my own Tarzan (I have one out there right?) – I’m ready for you to show up anytime now.

Beginnings

It’s always hard for me to decide where to begin. You can never really tell where one event ends and another picks up. Who is not to say that all events are connected to each other in some way?

I’m starting this blog because I want some way of chronicling my life in a written form on the internet, where I can share my thoughts and experiences as just one more unextraordinary anonymous internet user. I want some place where I can just express how I feel without fear of being sneered at, or looked down on, or pitied.

If life is a shout in a void, then I want to be heard.