The red apple

Archive for the category “This burning world”



Five lanes, and no one is moving. Four o’clock on the interstate seems to be a witching hour that exposes the soul of the city. In this city of Angels, everyone seems like a demon.

My sweaty palms slip off the steering wheel and rest on my knees. The car in front lurches forward, and a minivan cuts in before I could move. I stopped caring about getting cut off a while ago, and now stare at the dusty car in front of me with an apathetic eye. Somewhere down the line, I hear a loud honk.

This road was a portrait of America. A road full of people, packed into their individual compartments, tugged along by one promise or another. All of them chasing a dream of being home, of being anywhere else but here. I suppose it goes to show that when everyone races for their dreams, they only share the nightmare of a gridlock. Everyone was coming from somewhere different. Office dwellers getting off from their 9 to 5, racing home to a cold dinner and an 8 hour nap before returning to their suit and tie cage. Minivans with kids in the back, exhausted from some after-school practice. Truckers sedated by the everlasting spirit of the road. Here, people were coming back from building their dreams.

The American dream is a road. It promises to take you somewhere, but everywhere you look, you find only the dismayed stares of the transient. We cling to this promise like rubber clings to asphalt on a summer day in Los Angeles. We insist that it’s ours, and lay claim to it like we do to the strip of black between the dotted white lines. But so often, we forget that the road is a force. The road is a flow that we are subjects to; no more kings of this road than moths are of the wind.

And so in these listless eyes, I see myself. In their seething anger, their shifty suspicions, in their desolate desperation.

We leave the day behind with the promise that night will bring solace. But the smog from our cars keep the stars from shining each night. Traffic is a moment of hope, in which hundreds of city-dwellers unify for one drive. Banding together for the practice of individuality, we find ourselves living this narrow contradiction.

Someone moves a few inches. Someone honks. God.Damn.Indeed.


Memory of 2011

There are certain moments that drive me to paint a portrait of it, and this is one of them. This entire past year, this past summer, I came to discover what it meant to be human.

I feel as though I’ve seen the portrait of the world, of Life, and I can’t help but to stand in awe of how utterly beautiful it all is.

It’s been a blur of music, people, and work, ultimately boiling down to a collection of experiences, like a blind man seeing colors for the first time in his life.

Music, oh sweet music. To keep discovering melodies that cause me to sway, and rediscover the beauty in old songs. To traverse the canvass of human emotions, touching on sensations of the soul that leave my fingers tingling with a certain electricity.

I just got my first real full time job where I feel like I have the entire world within my reach. I talk to people in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, and all over Asia every day. Even if it is just for work, I feel in a tiny sense like I’m travelling to these places each day. There’s a sensation of finally being truly independent. To know that I am the only one in control of my future, that I can affect those around me, the people of this world, that people rely on me, and that I am finally my own. I feel like my life is finally manageable, and understandable, yet still so full of potential.

This past summer was a turning point in my life. Ambition seeped into my breath after a month at USMC Officer Candidate School, and then travelling to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. In one summer, I learned more about humanity than I could ever hope to. The extremes of civilization, from preparing your mind and body for war, to accepting a car ride to Kyoto station from a Japanese stranger. Human aggression, ambition, kindness, beauty, and inspiration were all engendered in a series of summer images that have engraved my soul. In one summer, I had a small taste of war, beauty, exploration, affection, and ambition. I came back from the summer as a man apart. The things that have filled my mind have changed me indubitably, and my mind lingers on the great things of mankind, rather that the feeble grasps of my own desires.

The reason I love travelling is because it captures the essence of what it means to be a human on this Earth. From the moment we are born, we are always learning, growing, changing, and exploring. Touching the cold ground for the first time as an infant, and racing off in exhilaration becomes an economy seat on an airline to a country you’ve never been to, savoring the flavors and melodies of everything you will experience there. The cultures that will swirl through your soul, and leave you a different person, a better person. To travel is to learn, to observe, and to change. And this is a poignant thought that will never cease to be beautiful.

But the most salient thing about this past summer was the sense of understanding that has flooded into my mind. It’s this mindset that has set my heart ablaze with fervor for life, and an unrestrained excitement for each passing day before me. To realize how far that we have come as creatures on this planet, to realize how large this universe is, and how far we will go, it’s an unbearable vision that bears the weight of the world on my shoulders. To understand that I am fully on my own, that I have the ability to create and destroy,

I was speaking with my roommate about our futures, and about careers. We shared a sentiment of wanting to further the grasp of all mankind, of changing this planet, changing the universe. I couldn’t help but feel that this is the voice of the soul. The desire to build, to change, and ultimately to be changed by it all.

There is a certain bliss that accompanies this awareness, this understanding of the grandeur. And I think this is what makes a life a good one.

So this is my chronicle for this past year, and hopefully in the future, when I read this chronicle again, I will think back at the moment of inspiration, a genesis of life. The future is so stirring.

Moonlit fires

The world is burning as I speak.

It’s a peculiar night. The moon is supposed to be larger and closer to the Earth tonight than any other night. They call it a Super Moon, and it is only predicted to happen once every few years. I came home tonight with an urge to take my bike out for a ride, and perhaps steal a glimpse of the over-sized orb that shines each night without attention. It only happens so rarely, and this opportunity shouldn’t be missed.

But five years from now, will I remember this bike ride, where I went out to gaze upon the face of an abnormal moon? Will I remember the sheer size, and the luminosity cast from the cratered body? Will I remember a Moon, that on this night, stood tall to be seen, only to be forgotten when the sun rises?

It is a rare occurrence, certainly. But what beauty does the Moon have tonight that it does not on other nights? The Moon itself is a face of beauty. On cloudy nights, or even the witching hours of still summer nights, when it glares ominously through my window on my restless, unblinking eyes. I have come to find the moon to be a strangely beautiful face, more familiar to me than my own face, or the faces of my mother and father. It is the same face that has been with me from birth to now. It is the face that follows me, regardless of where I go. It is an inescapable beauty.

I will not remember this night, years from now. I will not remember the face of this Moon. But I will always remember the moon.

The world is burning as I speak. Perhaps I will remember living in a time like this, when the voice of a thousand men can drown out the voice of a tyrant. I hope I do. Because when we see something beautiful, the image fades no matter how hard we try to remember it, and soon we are left only with a memory that we had seen a beautiful thing. Beauty is so fleeting, because our desire for it outlasts beauty itself. And so, as the world burns, marvel at the embers, take comfort in the warmth, for it will not last. But always remember a fire once burned.

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