up in the clouds

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I’ve been away for a while.

I scribble notes here and there. I write down sentences that would be the beginning of something, but end up being captions for photos on Instagram, at best.

But I haven’t been writing for a long, long time.

This isn’t to say that’s going to change drastically – at least for now. But I’m going to try.

When I was 16, I bought a journal and decided to write a page each day; and I did. I cannot say that it was all good. Years later, most of the pages got tossed away and sent to recycling. But I do have a lot of those pages in storage. When I read them again years ago during one spring cleaning, I was surprised by a lot of things – how I told a story, how vague and obnoxious I must have sounded, how I expressed myself, and how I sure should have kept writing and improved on it.

Nowadays, I realise, the reason I am not writing is because I am telling my stories and expressing my thoughts and ideas through images and visuals; I am a graphic designer.

I try using different tools to do that. I haven’t always planned for it, but when a moment feels right, I try to capture it. Then I try to make something out of it.

A lot of times I have ditched ideas right in the middle of a process, and thus I have too many unfinished projects on my laptop/bedroom/studio.

After finishing classes for the year, I decided to take the summer off, sort of like a sabbatical, only for a shorter period.

See, for the past 3 years, I have taken summers off to travel or just chill in the country. This summer, though I’ll be going on vacation for 2 weeks soon, I will be sticking around in the city and trying to get my juices squeezing into tangible work.

So here goes.

This is a video I shot from an airplane window on my way from Kerala this past April back to Beirut. I’m always fascinated on airplanes, even though I’ve been traveling quite a bit. I’m always thinking about the human potential, about how we’re defying rules of physics and human limitations, to travel, and expand, and excel, and reach beyond personal capabilities to reach a global and large-scale human potential. We’ve pushed our own boundaries to cross lands and oceans and rivers and mountains to reach faraway lands and humans, to meet and greet different versions of us and see eye-to-eye the what-ifs of other human conditions.

It’s usually quiet after take-off. The seatbelt sign is still on, so everyone is tucked in their places, with their books or magazines, their tablets or smartphones, distracted, oblivious and perfectly quiet for a moment of contemplation.

I always wonder where these people are headed. Who’s meeting them there? What are their plans? What will they be having for breakfast? With whom? Are they happy? Are they going away or going home? What is home? What is home to me?

What if this thing crashes right now? What if it happens when I’m asleep? And I do sleep through most of my flights; it is something I am happy I learnt to do. To be completely honest, I fall asleep before the security demonstration before take off and wake up right after, and then for food.

But anyway. The odds of dying in a plane crash apparently is one in every 1.2 million flights, and event then, 95.7% of passengers survive. It is more common – 1 in 5000 – for people to die in car crashes, so in my mind, I am always saying something like “not today” and doze off.

I’ve always wondered how far people dive into their minds and wander with their thoughts and imagination. Do these ideas cross their minds in moments of solitude? Do they think about life as much as they think about death? Do they see the light in all the different sides of life? Do they see the light as much as the dark in the different corners of their minds? Do they feel their own lightness in context of the world at large?

I’ve also always wondered, in countless moments of solitude, if those corners of my mind would ever speak back and say hello.

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