24 June 2013

Having an eternal prospective

A tweet earlier today reminded me of something I used to hear and say when I was religious: We must have an eternal perspective. Washing the dishes, looking out into the alley, I remembered this phrase verbatim: what a ridiculous, silly, arrogant thing to think you can do. Have an eternal perspective.

Taman Sri Minang woke in a haze, fires in Sumatra burning, reducing — as a friend and colleague noted on Facebook — an ancient rainforest to an acrid stench. Everything is covered in grey dust and you aren't supposed to go outside when it is at its worst. We cleaned for most of Sunday and then left to Auntie and Uncle's house for a going-away party. The smell is incredible; the whole world burning just beyond the horizon.

In the heat of the weekend (tasks: mopping and napping, waiting for the night to come), I told Yoko what I realised while she was gone: we are going to be here, in Malaysia, until something moves us. I've stopped looking for a job and being able to imagine going somewhere else. It's been six months now, and I've started leaning into the curve, rather than trying to slow down, to stop. The fundamentals don't change with changes in scenery: move enough and you learn that. Like a stain you wash and think you've removed, but reappears. Any problem you have will follow you wherever you go: the weather is not the problem, the salary is not the problem. You can exacerbate problems and ease them, but you can't solve them without solving them. A tautology, sure, but tautologies are always right. Perfectly balanced equations, perfectly true.

The world may be burning, but that doesn't mean the end of anything. As I left to pick up my brother and his family at the airport last night, Yoko followed me, reaching out to say, 'I love you' at the threshold of the house. I thought suddenly, morbidly, that if I died, that moment would hang, perfectly, a kind of brief summit in a year of valleys. Kisses under smouldering incandescent light, the moon coming closer and closer, touching the treetops.