Threads, MacRitchie Reservoir, February 2017

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Charlene Hundred Day Diary 13 Comments

Day 1 of 100, Singapore

Well, that went well.

Once in a while, flying has goes utterly pear shaped. Sunday night’s flight to Copenhagen didn’t happen after all, because junior airline staff, whose only jobs are to check passengers and baggage in compliantly, tried to play customs officers. As a result, I couldn’t get on my flight, and Flemming, who was on a different flight to the same destination, had to cancel his, and have his bags pulled off the plane. There was a considerable loss of money involved (2 cancelled tickets to Europe from Singapore), and I have begun the resolution process with the airline, but I don’t have much hope that they will do the right thing. I am, after all, just another passenger paying for an economy class ticket. Another number on what I assume is a burgeoning list of numbers. The irony that I was standing in line below a sign announcing “World Traveller” while the service staff were trying to advise me on visa rules that they knew nothing about (which F and I could probably open a consultancy for), was not lost on me.

I am disappointed, more than a little angry. But I’m trying to keep my cool and remember that it could have been worse. We did have Mum’s to come back to, and time to assess the situation, agonize over how much money we’ve lost (an enormous sum, for freelancers) and see when we want to head to Europe.

We will see.

So F and I are still in Singapore, for how long, we don’t know yet. Today we went to meet with someone who works on a bridging mission between a hospital and a hospice. We toured the brand new hospice facility, taking in with appreciation, the small touches that welcome sunlight and green growing things: small reminders of life’s sweetness, right till the end. Said friend’s name incorporates the word “joy,” and she transmits that. That deep wellspring suffused with meaning and richness of a life well lived, which is often advertised as only achievable with status-infused gain (not true). The circumstances in which we met her would make for a novel, in all honesty, a tale that involves several continents, a see-saw of connections that span generations across three quarters of the world.

Later, while we enjoyed a mid afternoon stroll in the stillness of MacRitchie Resevoir Park, a missive bearing bad news pinged in from one of my dearest, oldest friends. I was floored.

A reactionary texting of love, slowed with sweaty, too-big fingers.

“I’ll write later, when I am home,” I promised. All I want to do is head straight over and give her a big, eternal hug.

All I could do, was hope that my words – and their projections of love and support, impotent though such things seem, especially given the distance between us – are of some comfort.

—-

Today I decided I would write again. If you have been following this journal, you’ll know that I have all too frequently considered getting rid of it. I am a photographer after all (or, I think I would like to be), so I should be concentrating on my photographic work, instead of paltry blog entries, which is what this journal has been reduced to.

In part, this is affected by the layout of this site. In the coming week I will be shifting the blog away from its primacy on this site, to alleviate the anxiety about its position – front and center of the site – every time I want to post something. That will help. In other part, the public nature of this journal has me second guessing any possible repercussions. I am not equipped to write about anything important to the rest of the world. It’s funny: hang around enough photographers in real life or online, and you feel like you are morally obliged to be a journalist / activist of some description. Which is not a bad thing, if you are that way inclined. Goodness knows the world needs more fighters. I doubt I’d make a good run of either.

But I am reminded that others who have fought so that I – a minority, a woman – and others like me can enjoy the privileges that just a generation or two ago, we might not have. Perhaps living the way I do – seizing the privileges that afford me such freedom and independence to pursue things that were not meant for those like me – is my own small contribution to this process. I am still not convinced that I have the right to enjoy the freedoms that I do. Possibly because I am still struggling to understand what I am. I only know that I am not what I was brought up to be: an educated, accomplished, successful, beautiful (of course) mother-type who is bringing up the next similar generation for the nation. I have failed on every single one of those accounts. What I actually am though, I don’t think I’ve figured out yet. I cannot fight if I don’t know why I believe so deeply in the things that call to me.

I often say that I’ve grown more in the past 4 years than I had in the 32 proceeding them. Losing a parent was a pivotal milestone in the growth process, but the years after that have been so focused on scrabbling to make a living that I’ve really not taken stock of what I’ve become in that time, and my journal keeping too, has withered along with the frenetic demands on a messy mind. Writing centers me, and in not writing, I’d also given up the associated solitude that allows me to process and center my perspective.

I have some hard decisions to make this year. And I am utterly unable to write about them. So I will keep a public diary instead on this blog, for a hundred days. Every day, some small observation of beauty, or a lesson, or appreciation of connections, these things that make our world, and lives, go round. It will likely not be an essay like this one, which was provoked by the intensity of this day. But two lines are better than none.

You are welcome to join me for the next 99 days of this Hundred Day Diary. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be when these hundred days are over, or what situation will find me.

Let’s see.

Comments 13

  1. Beautiful entry Treasure!

    You certainly have a gift in the world of scribe!

    Don’t ever under estimate that ability, nor the power of it!

    I look fwd to the next 100 days.

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      Thank you Markie. That means so much. I’ll be plying you with blog posts 🙂

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  2. I suspect that when you have the time and space to reflect on who it is you are becoming, you will see (as I do) that you are not a failure on all four counts (not even one).

    I can’t help but think your words must figure into your future as much as your images. You are so talented in both arenas.

    Biased? Sure. Blind? Not a chance.

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      I didn’t mean “failure” in the sense that I wish I didn’t… ok, maybe to some extent (I wish I didn’t waste school, but it’s a little late now!).

      But there is also great freedom in being not all those things. It means I get to go and do other things because I have none of those pillars to uphold. Know what I mean?

      And I haven’t put my finger on it, but that’s quite vital in some ways to where I am / might be going.

      I love that you’re biased 🙂 That is also what keeps me going.

  3. Hi Charlene,
    I don’t know how much my comments are worth (coming from a stranger on the internet), but here they are in the hopes that they might be helpful in some way.
    You write, “I only know that I am not what I was brought up to be: an educated, accomplished, successful, beautiful (of course) mother-type who is bringing up the next similar generation for the nation. I have failed on every single one of those accounts. What I actually am though, I don’t think I’ve figured out yet.” I suspect that all of us have failed to truly reach the standards others (and we) have set for ourselves. And for any who might somehow manage it, I wonder how good it really is. Accomplishing the standards seems like it wouldn’t really have too much in common with actually living and being. We’re not machines designed to perform to spec (I don’t believe, anyways).
    It sucks to feel like you’ve failed and don’t know who you are. But sometimes it seems to be even worse the closer I get to living up to the standards in my life. The closer I am to the standard, the farther I feel from myself. As odd as it might sound (and as uncomfortable as it might be), I think everything you’ve said in this post sounds like you are actually living and being. The only way to truly begin to answer to the question “who am I” seems to be to first leave the standard answers behind. They are both too hard and too easy — too hard because they’re not who we are, too easy because we don’t have to find them ourselves.
    I hope some of that makes sense. I empathize, and look forward to your diary and more pictures like the one above.
    —Sean

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      Sean,
      The standard is elusive – you might be right on that. I’m OK with failing at all those things… as I mentioned to Erin in the response above, there’s a certain freedom in knowing the bar is behind you, and especially, that you’re no longer beholden to it. What success means also, seems to vary wildly, depending on who you’re talking to. That specification hasn’t been written in detail, I don’t reckon.

      “The only way to truly begin to answer to the question “who am I” seems to be to first leave the standard answers behind. They are both too hard and too easy — too hard because they’re not who we are, too easy because we don’t have to find them ourselves.”

      That is so incredibly true. Here’s to discovery of the non-standard answers! And thank you for weighing in 🙂

  4. I stumbled onto your blog through someone on mine…haven’t heard from you in ages!

    Glad that you and Flemming are still together. It must be very strange to be back in Singapore for a while after so long away. Good luck!

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      I’ve been reading yours, though in usual fashion, going through a spate of not commenting much. Thanks!

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