I come from a nation large and strong
Where we raise our voices in song
Sing praises unto the heavens and earth
With a dozen languages of different words
Our people, we know of tragedy and pain
We know more of loss than of gain
Yet we seek not to dominate
We seek a commitment to cultivate
We have the land, the labour, the love
We have sun and moon, is that not enough?
We have seeds sown all over our nation
So why, may I ask, are we still in recession?
Since 94 we have overthrown Apartheid
We are living legacies of Mandela’s fight
Our existence in itself is what makes us free
So why are people suddenly chasing money?
All of you South Africans are smart enough to
Stand there and tell me Zuma did this to you
And if we as a People claim to fight corruption
Then is not desire for wealth simply giving up our freedom?
I say this to you, my country, we do not need money right now
We will need it in the future, but first take a look around
You see that backyard of yours, that you forgot was even there?
Well that’s a perfect spot for a home garden, use the sunshine and the air
You there, standing by the window with nothing in your hand,
Go to your yard and look around, find a plot of sand
Take your fingers and your palm and lay them on the ground
Now you can draw a picture there by wiggling your hand around
And you, Mr, Mrs, Miss whoever you are
With your fancy trucks and empty unused cars
Why don’t you get up and register those wheels
To collect soap, food, and deliver some meals
We as a nation, we have been through much
And this lockdown has been a little tough
But remember, we’ve also overcome much more
Than just staying home and closing a door
For all the sacrifices our ancestors have made
We must have compassion, we should not complain
We as a nation have only one mission
To consider and respect each other’s fight for freedom
I have only one request today, my beloved South Africa
That we take one minute to remember Nelson Mandela
Think about why he pushed Equality instead of money
The fundamental philosophy of what it costs to be Free
South Africa, my people, my nation, my land
I wish we could help each other understand
That there is only one way to overcome mass corruption
We must be fully committed to tackling our own oppression
We must become open to change and transformation
We must set a good example for the new generations
We must become cooperative, constructive, and creative
We must focus on being productive, only in sports are we competitive
Slowly as we build ourselves, our skills, and our souls
We will see progress within the nation, and then we can make goals
We must, as People, take some responsibility
We within ourselves must have accountability
South Africa, my beloved, I pray for all of us
But mere prayers are not going to be enough
South Africa, my love, let us unite as one
Let us keep living and striving for our free-dom
She looked at me with insecurity in her eyes, as if pleading for sympathy.
Much as I tried to muster up a shred of compassion, she had used up the last ounce left in me. Used it up on some medial triviality that was, if anything, inconsequential to the matter at hand.
For years, I had done my best to understand the root of the issue. For years, I had given a part of myself to her — my ears, heart, time, energy. I had been sympathetic towards experiences far out of my scope. My arms were always open for embrace, my head was always open to another perspective, but my soul was guarding my heart from digesting more than I could stomach.
Then it happened.
One day, I opened my eyes and realized that she was a living, breathing reminder of everything I had already overcome. She had the demeanor of a human, but the behaviour of what used to be my undefeated demons.
I was at the end of my tether, a tether I didn’t even know existed — perhaps very few people had ever dared reach it. Even fewer lacked the cognizance to know where my line lay.
But she, I suppose, fell into that category of “one of the fewer”.
I confronted her, of course, regarding the levels of disrespect radiating like Venus’ sulfuric acid — she didn’t “mean to”, she just couldn’t “help it”. Apparently it was my fault for letting her speak in that manner, for not defending myself.
Well my apologies for choosing to rise above the need to be unnecessarily defensive.
I took her advice, nonetheless, to prove a point. I “defended myself” by not taking blame for other people’s transgressions. This was, incidentally, viewed as “interrupting” and “not letting the other person finish speaking.” (Rambling, honestly).
Well my apologies for having self-respect and guiding a conversation instead of enabling validation.
How did I even let it go on so long?
I’ve been there before.
I’ve been in her shoes before. Those juvenile, self-centered, self-indulged, narcissistic, insecure, egotistic, defensive, over-analytical, paranoid, anxious shoes.
I’ve worn something like that.
Many moons ago, but in those shoes I’ve tread those paths — climbed the mountains and rolled down cliffs, drowned in lakes and washed up on shore, broken my bones and worn them casts.
But I am not there now. Nor do I want to go back to any of it.
So when I say that I am out of sympathy, it is not selfish or uncaring. It is not callous or heartless.
It is that I will no longer allow anyone to twist something beautiful into their distorted versions of reality. I cannot fill the voids she won’t admit exist, and will not validate insecurities that are hers — not mine — to fight.
My darling, if you ever read this, I’m sorry that I’d ever let you mistake my kindness for weakness, but I’m walking away because of the strength I’ve mustered up after recovering from this battle. I can’t let you interpret my words to your advantage simply to justify the mistakes of mine you continuously repeat instead of move past. I cannot keep being the buoy you cling to when you get stranded at sea, repeatedly. It’s time for you to pull your own weight — I’ve left you with enough care packages and tools to sift through, but it’s up to you to figure out how to use them.
You’re on your own, darling, but in a way that you need right now.
I’ll see you on the other side. Hope you make it out alive.
Signed with the kind of love you’ve yet to understand,
After years of exploring the Black Hole, I returned to humanity.
I tried to speak of this experience with humans, but not everyone was as open-minded. Of course, there were some who took an interest and enjoyed hearing of my travel journeys. Those were able to live vicariously through my shared experience. But then there were the sceptics, the ones who thought I was speaking gibberish and manipulating people for the sake of attention.
I wasn’t, but I can understand why they’d felt that way. After the Black Hole, I actually understood much of what I didn’t even realize I had yet to know.
See, though the Black Hole was filled with a great deal of what people call “nothingness”, it was only in the surrender of ego did I finally see everything within the nothing.
In becoming so detached and removed from humanity, I finally grasped the essential elements that drive them in such a manner.
My distance showed me that humans are simple creatures with complex insecurities. Simple in that they are hedonistic, utilitarian, narcissistic, and competitive. They capable of anger but also joy, strength as well as weakness. They love as deeply as they hate, they rest as much as they work. Humans are simple in that they are multifaceted beings striving to become one.
But humans are also complex in that they often have displaced emotions. They project insecurities in inappropriate manners at the wrong moment due to egocentric defense mechanisms. They are far more often controlled by ego rather than truth. Driven by image over honesty. Humans portray weaknesses as strengths and are offended when shown the same image from another angle.
Returning to humanity, I had to uproot examples within the human world in order to portray a realization to which I came within the Black Hole.
It is that one simple way to test the complexity of a human ego is to take one out of its comfort zone and see how it responds to change. See, the ego, combined with personal experience, is what determines how adaptable a person can be.
Prominent examples can be seen in the following areas within today’s humanity: racist arrogance (feels uncomfortable around people of different color), xenophobia (inability to communicate with those who speak other languages), gender bias (expects to be served by the opposite gender), religious intolerance (quick to disagree with any terminology pertaining to other beliefs), ageism (judgemental of people from other generations).
Having been hiding in the Black Hole for so long, I’d become so outdated as to what had been going on in the physical world. Much as I had obtained a theoretical understanding of the human ego before my journey’d commenced, it was not until I became void of my own did I see clearly the prominence of it within humanity.
…And with that newfound knowledge, as promised, I shared it with the world.
Not for the fame, not for the glory, but simply because I was curious and am now excited about the discovery.
Sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the adventure written in these three parts. It has been a delight journeying with you.
May you, too, reach a sense of enlightenment, acceptance, understanding, and peace from within. May you learn to exist on your own without relying on the ego.
I kept that promise — except… I did it metaphorically. No, I did not join NASA and fly to the physical Black Hole on which Einstein and Hawking both have astounding theories. Nay, I traveled to a metaphorical Black Hole and was sucked into a world that I never would have thought existed. A parallel universe on earth, so to speak, where time-zones collided with human measurements of time. Where humans behaved much like the depictions of demons I had read about in literature. Where all that I knew of the world had crumbled into a pile of what I now realize was a childish idealisation of humanity.
I went to the Black Hole — if anything, simply because I was curious. At that age, it was never about the glory or fame. It was never about the money or the risk. It was about the innocent curiosity of wanting to know what lay ahead.
Of discovering a secret that the world hadn’t.
Yes, it was an egocentric drive, but one with a positive outlet that drove me to do crazy, unheard of things that I can now understand experientially rather than limited to vocabulary. It was the push I’d needed at the time, incidentally, the one that pulled me so far away from my ego and into a universe without a self.
In this universe, my shell was invisible; the egocentric shell, the human cloak which I wear to shield myself from vermin, was not brought into this place.
It was disconcerting. I felt disoriented and “not my-self” because essentially, I was not my “self”, I was just… me. I floated around the universe as an unnoticed observer who tried to make its presence known by way of habitual behaviour derived from the egotistic persona. None of my actions were familiar, and yet they did not feel wrong at the same time.
I felt myself changing in this universe. Am I growing or am I stagnating? Am I moving forwards in the wrong direction or walking backwards in the right one? Am I floating or am I flying? Am I drifting or am I surrendering my power? Am I strong or am I weak?
These questions I’d pondered left-right-and-centre until years later, I reached a final conclusion.
Do those answers actually matter, or am I just distracting myself from escaping this void I’d been so curious to explore?
It was right at that moment a pathway magically appeared. A dark spot had appeared in the Black Hole (which was filled with a surprising amount of light, so much that you couldn’t actually see anything. You know that feeling of total darkness? Well imagine total brightness, it ain’t that pretty either.) But that darkness meant a way out, a way back into humanity.
A way back to me…
The answer to the question was actually quite simple: the answer doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with the knowledge that counts.
Though anyone could’ve told me that in a second, the pathway only appeared because I had reached something they call acceptance. I had to accept simplicity and deny mediocrity.
After years of exploring the Black Hole, I returned to humanity.
I tried to speak of this experience with others, but…
It’s hard to just “be you”
When you have an above average IQ
And an array of unexplored worldviews.
We all have thoughts, we just think about different things. We all have ideas, we just want to achieve different results. We all have routines, we just want to be comfortable in the world we create for ourselves.
But there are thoughts I have and don’t verbally express because writing is my language and speaking is just a habit.
These are thoughts many people call “reactions”. In my head, I can think of countless sarcastic or logical comebacks that could easily put people in their places, but when the moments strike and conflict arises, I have learned to take the path of least resistance. Yes, it is true that once upon a younger year I was a more aggressive, more impulsive, and more abrasive version of me.
Much like any human who has ever come to terms with human nature, I, too, have had a fair share of mishaps. I have been narcissistic, arrogant, prideful, greedy, selfish, dishonest, undisciplined. I have been unnecessarily aggressive with those I’ve valued, undeniably obsessive over my own ego. I have been to many places that most people still avoid, and I have seen things most people would call fiction.
This was part of my journey, my past. It is an area of self that has taken a long time to let go of — as do most issues pertaining to the human ego.
I have been down a path most people (statistically as well as knowledgeably speaking) don’t return from, but here I am to tell the tale. Now, sitting here writing this, I am brought back to a statement I made at the age of nine, when I once dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I told people “When I become an astronaut, I will make it my mission to go down the Black Hole and make sure that I come back and tell the world of what’s really there.”
Since your mysterious disappearance, a lot has happened and changed. Not just externally, those are almost expected, but intrinsic transformation beyond even my wildest of imaginations.
It has been a year of adventure, of exploration, of growth. A few days ago, these words came to me and many unanswered questions finally found their resting places.
Real love remains even after your ego breaks.
While I’ve always known that ego has been my greatest challenge in life, meeting you is what taught me to stop leaning on it. To stop leaning on my own understanding and perception of reality. You and I had a few brief and deep conversations, we connected on a level that not many can do so naturally. There was definitely a form of chemistry between us, yet neither of us seemed to know what to do about it.
I battled myself for months, deliberating whether or not to make a move or contact you. I wanted to, each and every day.
But I knew that what you deserved, what you needed, and the type of understanding that you required was beyond my capabilities at the time. Much as I wanted to be strong enough for you emotionally, much as I wanted to give you the space you needed to grow, I couldn’t…
…because space is not a luxury I’ve been blessed with until more recently, and thus could not give what I did not have.
For this, I apologize, sincerely. I am sorry that I couldn’t give you what you asked for, that I couldn’t be who you needed me to be, and that I couldn’t see what it was you were trying to show.
Having come to terms with a neurological condition in recent years, learning how to integrate in an overwhelmingly temporary world, and moving past a series of repeated traumas in a few years whilst refusing to be victimized is honestly not an easy feat. Not easy, but still possible.
When we met, I was coming out of a dark hole, still crawling back to life. You met me when I was battered and bruised, torn and tethered. When I was nothing but a shriveled up patient in recovery who had just taken off a cast and had yet to relearn the functionality of those decayed muscles.
When we met, I was still in metaphorical rags.
I can understand why you left; I must’ve looked like a zombie coming after your brains. Maybe I was, figuratively speaking…
It was your soul.
It was your beautiful soul that drew me to you in the first place. I’d been living without one for so long that your radiance was an inevitable magnet to me; that bright light you see as you leave the tunnel of darkness.
I followed the light. I followed you…
By the time I’d finally made it out of the tunnel, you were gone!
Lost and displaced I was for a while, calling out to you and reaching out, not knowing why you’d disappeared.
Until now, I never figured it out. But I do love you, in the way you asked me to…
You wanted to be loved like the sun: from a distance, your light is lasting and appreciated. Up close, your passion burns so hot that you accidentally hurt those who overstep those boundaries. You pull away to protect the ones you love, not because you’re avoiding them, but because you want to keep them safe.
You, more than anyone, know your passions like no one else.
For that reason, you live your life the way you do, nomadic as a passenger. You don’t want to burden others because you know you can’t take on theirs either, yet you want to be loved nonetheless.
You deserve to be loved.
It has taken us this much distance for me to finally understand that. To understand how you want to be loved.
That, darling, is the love I can give you, because I don’t love anyone with the intention of ever “getting over” the person.
If I choose to love, then that love lasts; it doesn’t disappear, it merely transforms.
I do love you in the way you asked; it may not be what I had expected of myself, but it is what it is.
For the longest time I have kept you sheltered and kept you protected. I have hidden you in the crevices deep below the depths, beyond where even I myself dare not reach.
But I have listened to the echoes within the silence, riveting from your soul and out of my hands. I have heard your yearn for greatness, your desire, your push, your drive, your motivation. You want to leave a legacy.
I tell you, my dearest, what it is that makes you great.
Your “greatness” was neverabout you. What makes you great, is that you have those who stand behind you, who stand beside you, who stand with you through thick and thin, sun and rain. What makes you great, is that you are merely a reflection, an embodiment, of those you have chosen to place in your life.
You encompass all that they are, and in turn, envelop them with the love you have received. My dearest, you do not take more than you are willing to give; and you do not give more than you get.
I know you — you knew me once, but I…I know…you…
My dearest, you are destined to be great, and remember… that it is never about you, rather it is about how you reflect all that has been instilled in you. Your influences are what make…you.
Remember this, darling, remember…you…
…that continuous memory legacy in the making.
Be not afraid of greatness.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness,
and others have greatness thrust upon them.
I am going to write this from the perspective of an older self that you have only recently come to understand.
There was a time you thought you knew it all, m’dear, you thought you had it all figured out. Much of it owed to what those around you allowed you to believe; they put you on that pedestal you never asked for, gave you the attention you never felt you deserved, treated you with their version of “respect”.
Young self, you must understand one thing, not everyone is like you. Yes, you’re self-indulged, but they, m’dear, they are self-absorbed. They’re too caught up in the busyness of their own lives to appreciate all you have to offer. So hold onto some of it, dear, don’t give all of it away.
You invite them into your world, but you have yet to discover the galaxies inside of you. They know not of these universes that you, too, are unaware of at this moment, but they see the light shine through and are drawn to it.
You can welcome them, m’dear, you were born to be hospitable. You were born with arms longer than the average human, arms that reach around the world and embrace the souls that are in genuine need of touching. It’s what you do, because of the kindness, grace, and mercy that has gotten you this far. So don’t take it for granted, m’dear. Hold onto that.
One day, you will reach a realization that you can choose who to let in — yes. everyone who enters deserves respect and sincerity, but not everyone will choose to stay. And for that reason, my young self, know your boundaries and accept your limits. Know your role in their lives, and accept that you can’t be a saviour to your entire world.
Sometimes, transformation does begin by letting go, by pushing yourself off the cliff that was once your comfort zone, your nest.
One day, m’dear, you will meet someone who can and will do for you all that you’ve done for others. Someone who will look at you, appreciate you, and not want to let you go. Someone who not only has that desire, but also that willpower.
So for now, m’dear, do not rush. Don’t be that impulsive naive self that got you into the wreck in the first place. The wreck was so long ago anyway, it may as well be a divers’ hub by now. Swim away, m’dear. There’s nothing more you can do than you’ve already done to atone for the atrocities of your past.
I am that future you never dared to dream of, m’dear. That future is now present.
Embrace it, love. It’s time to stop surviving the storm and start thriving from what the waves have washed ashore.
Now that you’ve learned to shield yourself from waves and breathe underwater, how about moving on up and learn to ride that wave?
For the full version of the collection, click the link at the bottom.
“Duties call, and Lady Aria must step up to the throne and rule the Kingdom of Zyne. Due to the obligations and responsibilities weighted down by her title, Lady Aria loves silently from the shadows as she performs her life as a masquerade for Zynites. These are the letters between Lady Aria and her secret love, known only to peasants as C.H.”