To you who might have forgotten

This is what we may have forgotten—

We may have forgotten our ability to shine. We have been stuck in the darkest corners of our lives that we have forgotten we are light. It happens. One day, we wake up and we know nothing. We are only surrounded by darkness—pitch black, nothingness. We try to grasp things; we try to find reasons for every little thing that we do not know. But often, we are left with the crippling fear of the unknown.

We ask ourselves repeatedly if this is it. If this is the worst thing we could have experienced. If this is the tunnel and we’ll be reaching for the end where we see no light. And in the process of wanting to find light, we have forgotten that it has been inside us all along. We have forgotten how to shine because we have invalidated the idea that within us, light illuminates.

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We may have forgotten our ability to crawl. Often, when we talk about rising above the ashes of sadness—of avoiding it, of wanting the assurance that we do not become it, we immediately think of the verb – stand. We stand up; we rise. But most people struggle to find the strength to stand up, and that doesn’t make them any less strong. It makes them human. And to become vulnerable, despite the world constantly trying to steal your softness, is such a beautiful and brave thing. When we become human, we open ourselves up to every pain. We fall back many times, and we may have understood the notion that in the end, we will be incapable of rising above because we can no longer stand up. The truth, however, is that we do not need to immediately stand up in order to rise above. We can, after all, simply crawl. For progress is progress no matter how little it may seem to be.

When we were little, one of the first things we have learned how to do was to crawl. That, in itself, was a milestone. When we crawl, we have that little strength within us — the heart to start over, to take things one step at a time, to not be afraid of becoming small for a short while because there is the ultimate belief that all this will be worth it. That in the end, we bloom.

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We may have forgotten that we have the capacity to choose. We blame circumstances for many things—we blame it for not allowing us to find ourselves, for wandering off, for being lost. We blame the universe for letting us go astray, for not letting us meet the possible love of our lives. We blame fate for not bringing two souls together, for not finding our soulmate, for not allowing us the happiness we know we deserve. We blame many things—heck, we even blame Mondays. We blame Mondays for our lack of motivation, for our hatred of the things we do. But goddamn, we do not hate Mondays. We hate the idea of being stuck into something and wanting it to end. We do not live for the weekends because living only for the weekends entails the idea of us not living our lives to the fullest.

The thing is, we can always choose. We can choose not to blame anything—not the universe, not fate, not circumstance, not even Mondays. At the same time, we can choose not to blame ourselves for the many things we have failed to be, the many things we have forgotten to do and to become. The only thing we can do is to choose the path where we know our heart truly is. We can choose to become the persons we want to be—a doctor, an artist, a writer, a poet, someone who longs for love, someone who seeks love, someone who is loved, someone who loves.

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We may have forgotten what it’s like to feel alive. We have often resulted into thinking that when challenges arise—when we think we have done everything we could yet we still find ourselves stuck in a difficult situation—we end up thinking that there is nothing else we could do. However, when things become difficult, when things become too much, when we end up basking in the almostness of giving up, there often appears something or someone we can hold onto. These—something or someone—are the things that could make us feel alive.

While we often want our own little selves to be the reasons of euphoria and life springing forth from within us, we almost always find ourselves encountering things and people that ultimately allow us to keep going. We tend to find simple reasons for our existence among simple joys in our lives—the many firsts we have done in this lifetime. The first time we learned how to ride a bicycle, the first time we had a sleepover with our best friend, our first day in kindergarten, our first day in high school. There are and perhaps, there will be many firsts to come in this lifetime—our first kiss, the first time we cried over an exquisitely beautiful movie or a heartbreakingly wonderful book. There are other firsts—the first time our hearts were broken over the wrong ones, the first time we fell in love over the possibly right ones (but who is to say if there really is the right one?), or even that moment, with all the luck in the world, our shoulders brushed against a then-stranger who turned out to be our person.

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So, why have we forgotten all these? Perhaps, these have all been preserved in the deepest, dustiest corners of our minds. Maybe, even then, when we thought we have forgotten all these—our ability to shine through, to become light, our ability to not give up, to crawl while struggling to stand up, to choose, to feel alive—we have all just been waiting, longing, wanting to remember. We want to know that deep down we are all these, that we can be all these. Perhaps, the problem isn’t so much as forgetting, but remembering—the struggle to remember, the struggle to know, the struggle to be. Perhaps, the struggle is excruciating, or maybe—just maybe—it can be beautiful.

And so when the crippling fear of the unknown touches our existence, allowing doubt to slowly settle in, and darkness to fall behind us, let us embark on a journey towards light—one that will allow us to experience firsts and make room for seconds and thirds and all the lasts in this lifetime. A path that unravels ourselves as light—one that makes us feel alive, one that allows room for growth, one that allows us to feel, to love, to simply be. And one that allows us to be the sun—unfailingly rising, unapologetically beautiful, golden.

Larme D’or Artwork by Anne Marie Zilberman

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If feelings had a diary

If feelings had a diary, feelings would make a list. If feelings can make a list of what is true, maybe this would be it.

  1. I get easily attached. It starts with this overwhelming feeling of caring too much. There is this need to go all in for another person because I am not the kind of person who goes halfway.
  2. I am afraid to let go of people. Because I have been attached to you, I now have the inability to let go of you. Despite you being such a huge toxic in my life, I still find myself wondering how you are and often weighing the good times I had with you against the bad. More often than not, the good wins. Because when I look back to those times that felt good, those were the times when I felt free and happy. I understand that once a toxic is in your life, you must find a way to cut it out. But you were once a constant, so how can I let go of the familiar just to find myself swimming in the dark?
  3. We may have been labeling ourselves as friends, but we’re not. I realized that we have stopped being friends for quite some time now. I look back to our old conversations, and those seemed natural—not one thing felt forced. But we talk now, and it is such a struggle. I have to try to catch up with you because at some point, you have left me into a place called, ‘we will get through this together’, but you’ve moved on. You’ve found new people who understood you better because you are now in a different place than I am. I’m stuck, and you’ve moved forward. And for the longest time, I’ve been happy for you. But not once have you looked back to see how I was doing. You assumed I was fine, and that’s the worse part. You thought I was fine, but all I felt was stuck.
  4. I need people who will not hinder my growth. Our friendship has always been about you and your loud personality. And I’ve always felt small. But I’m tired of feeling small. I no longer feel the need to restrain myself just because you are no longer someone who applauds my growth.
  5. I need to surround myself with people who truly understand me. I have always been different. This is both a blessing and a curse. To stand out in a crowd that tries so hard to fit in is a wonderful opportunity to find oneself. On the other hand, to be different can mean that no one else understands. I have always struggled to know who I really am, what I can do, and who I can be—the limitless possibilities I can find myself in, the weaknesses that disguise themselves as strengths and vice versa, and the many versions of myself that evolve as time passes by.

I need people who understand what it means to be lost. Because the thing is I have always tried to find you. But this time, it’s about me. It’s about loving myself more. It’s about choosing me.

  1. I need to stop feeling like I have to explain myself to anyone. Because I do not need to feel like I owe anyone an explanation. I have always had this need to let people know me better, to let them know who I am, what I am thinking. But life is too short to think about what anyone else thinks about me. It is exhausting to have to put other people first before your own. It isn’t about being selfish. It’s about knowing that there will come a time that you will have to choose yourself. Because in the end, all we really have is ourselves. The thing is you have made such a big deal about the decisions I’ve made. You do not support most of it, and even when I try to explain myself to you, you disregard everything I’ve said. So, really, what is the point? My soul is tired from having to exhaust myself of words and redirecting them to people who are incapable of hearing the volume by which they speak.
  2. It’s okay that you have found your people. I have mistaken you to be my person, and I do not blame either one of us for that. I think that part of the idea of you becoming my person was the idea that you understood and knew me well. But things change, people grow, and nothing ever really stays the same. You were a different person then, and I was, too. Maybe this is better for us—to grow up while growing apart.
  3. I want to allow myself peace. I deserve calmness. I deserve fresher air to breathe while having to let go of toxics in my life. I want to allow myself peace—to have the ability to walk away from people who treat me less than what I know I deserve. I want to allow myself peace—to be able to look at you and not feel an ounce of resentment. I want to allow myself peace because I deserve it.
  4. I want to be able to look back while moving forward. When my heart is at peace, I want to be able to look back and see this as the attempt of the Universe to set people apart just because there is nothing to grow from. Because the Universe knows what it is doing, and it understands the need of falling apart for better versions of human beings to fall together.
  5. You are not someone who is easy to outgrow. But I am not someone who is built to settle. I do not want to settle for a mediocre friendship, even more so a mediocre love. I do not want to settle for whatever is there. I know what I deserve, and you are not it.

Photo by Daehyun Kim

Human Tetris

You know how the game Tetris works? You put pieces that fit. You put them into place. The longer you find places for each piece to fit, you win the game. The thing about the game is that it ends, no matter how hard you try to find pieces that fit. Its impermanence and a thousand possibilities of facing the losing end in a fleeting moment is what make Tetris a game of odds and chances. And as humans, we have been taught repeatedly how so many of the good things in our lives tend to transform into something finite, lose its luster, and eventually fall apart. All these happen, they say, for us to eventually make room for better things to fall together.

We all go through life embodying a Human Tetris—the idea that someone will fall into place in our lives. And as we go through it, we realize we do not seek people to come to us. We do not necessarily force pieces that don’t fit. We simply let be. We go through it, I supposed, as waves constantly crash along the shore, or the way the sun rises every morning. Pieces—people—have a way of finding us without us having to force our way into their lives. If it’s a piece that fit, it will find a way to stay. If it’s a piece that is meant for another, we should gracefully find the courage to let go.

The idea that someone will find a place in our lives is the same idea of falling together. You see, falling together is not falling in love. But the way I see it, falling together is a way to fall with love. It does not identify with everything romantic, but it does identify with love. You can fall together as friends; you can fall together as lovers. You can find a click that works, and a “Hey, me too!” that sparks friendship. Falling together could be the universe allowing souls to form bonds that go beyond this lifetime. Falling together could simply be God saying, “Yes.” But whichever the course goes, falling together is the idea of two people—friends or lovers—finding a place in each other’s lives, following a pattern of Human Tetris, a routine that maybe only them could understand. It’s a language that only them know like the back of one’s hand, or inside jokes which will set only the two of them in series of hysterical laughter.

Falling together like puzzle pieces, like human tetrises, allowing to let someone know you from the inside out can take a long time. Falling together begins in an utterly defenseless and vulnerable way—the way you would struggle to find a place to let the piece fit with only seconds before another tetris falls right behind. Falling together—fitting puzzle pieces— takes a lot of work. It takes patience to create something beautiful. It takes courage to leap and fall together with love—always with love.

But there are countless times when pieces don’t fit. The idea, that is the Human Tetris, is also a game of odds and chances. While we may set our minds to a particular piece, we must always allow some room for not knowing—the inability to know what the future may bring, but the courage that allows us to take giant leaps of faith into the great unknown. There are times when the human tetris whom we have already considered our person—who knows us inside out—becomes the person who decides to leave. Leaving does not necessarily mean the connection was meaningless, that the click detached, that the feelings were something one simply outgrew. And while it may take a lifetime to get over someone who knew us inside out, leaving could mean that there is nothing else to grow from, that the pieces broke because the spaces between two souls were significantly getting wider—the way other tetrises fall behind faster every second until there’s no place for a piece to fit. Leaving could mean that falling apart is just as constant as falling together. It may seem like we have found our person—our human tetris—but we only realize how we may have already put our hearts on the line for someone who could only love us part time. We may have blinded ourselves for finding permanence in a temporary world.

But if there’s falling together then falling apart, there is also falling back. And when we have reached the edge of falling apart, we see light in the end. That’s when we know that while falling apart is a series of dark stages, of feeling hopeless and of wallowing in sadness, there are also countless of silver linings that await—a complex yet beautiful dynamics of a Human Tetris.

We begin anew; we give ourselves a fresh start. It’s a way to fall back into a routine with hope, writing a new chapter in our lives. And while we may falter along the way or meet seemingly almost perfect human tetrises, we’ll have the lessons of the old whom we have mistaken as our person to teach us that in choosing to fall back, we risk putting our hearts back on the line. We brave our way through a blank space and quietly say, “Jump, heart.”

Artwork: (Yet) Unknown Artist

Originally found in http://madkidss.tumblr.com/post/122889493617

Disclaimer: There is a band called “Human Tetris” but it has nothing to do with this article. 

‘Let’s drift apart.’

Let’s drift apart―not because we want to, but maybe because it’s necessary. I find myself contemplating about the idea on whether or not a guy and a girl can truly be just friends. And you know what? It is possible. It’s possible to have a platonic relationship with a guy or a girl. It’s possible to treat them like a brother or a sister, without having to make them feel as if you have just put them in the friend-zone (or sibling-zone).

But I’ve always felt like it’s different with us. When I met you, I was fifteen. And I could have sworn I liked you right there and then. We were two seats apart, and I was trying to subtly catch a glimpse of you. When I did, you were already looking. It was a unique sensation―to have been given that kind of attention, to have been noticed.

Maybe I liked you because you saw me. And then, we became friends. I tell you things the way I would tell some of my closest friends. What can I do? You get these feelings; you hide them. But the attachment is still there. And so, you turn these feelings into friendship. And you channel everything into that particular ship that you know has a chance of sailing. And so, we sailed. We’ve been friends from then on, and for the last five years.

I remember telling you I liked you. I remember spilling clumsy words such as ‘I like you’ and hearing terrible phrases such as ‘We can still be friends’ and ‘I’m sorry’ from you.

But I held out hope when I knew I shouldn’t. It was a different kind of hope, though. I hoped that we would still be friends even after I told you how I truly felt, and we were. We played the role of being just friends quite well.

I’ve gotten over you, you know? There were years in the span of five years when I felt nothing. I felt like we were really just friends, and that I can tell you anything. It was the way you would tell me about all these grand gestures you were willing to do (and really did) for this girl you really liked. It was the way you have left an impression that you truly are a hopeless romantic, a gentleman, and a man who stands by chivalry.

But by Year Four, I grew tired. I grew tired of the role we were playing, and my feelings were coming out like volcano eruptions that I had no control over. I told friends about the girl you liked because hearing them and keeping them to myself was a burden I do not wish to have. I needed a place to fall apart when you told me about that time when the girl you liked rejected you and put you in that friend-zone (like, it did not hurt at all when you did the same to me). I needed people who would listen to me when I listen to you mumble on about the girl of your dreams at 3 a.m. I needed someone to comfort me when I am hurting over you while you are hurting over someone else.

And life, with its irony, allowed you to find out how I tell friends about the girl you used to like. You looked at me, betrayed. And I couldn’t tell you why I did it. But even if I did, would it make a difference?

Year Five has gone, and we’re living in a world where we play the roles of virtual friends and real-life strangers. Truth be told, I miss you. You were a good friend, and I sometimes blame my heart for getting the best of me. But maybe we needed to drift apart precisely because we have finished playing the roles life has given us.

And maybe someday, we’ll come across roles that are about a boy and a girl, who once knew everything about each other, fell apart, detached. But when they saw each other, a smile hangs across their faces.

And right then, they knew that they’re happy to start life all over again―this time, with one another.

Art by Deanna Staffo

Are you awake?

Yes, or as Katy Perry would sing, “I’m wide-awake.”

You know what’s so special about the time between 1 A.M. and 5 A.M.? You have all that time to yourself. The world expects nothing from you. You can think. You can dance like nobody is watching (because, really, nobody is watching―everyone’s travelling around, sound asleep in the city of dreams). You can listen to songs countless of times from Eminem’s Mockingbird to Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One to Bon Iver’s Skinny Love. You can quietly belt your heart out to Tori Kelly’s Dear No One, or reminisce so many almosts with Tamia’s Almost. You can think some more. You can feel too much. You can feel less. You can feel again.

You see, the thing about the time between 1 and 5 in the morning is that you are you. You feel yourself going through the calmness of time and inhaling the silence it brings you. You can feel yourself exhale, “I’m alone, but it’s ok. All is well.” And really, it is. It isn’t some petty attempt at trying to be ok. It’s real―you are ok. You feel good about the quiet this time brings you; it does not bother you. You feel yourself doing something productive within these hours―be it your homework due in less than six hours, or just some writing you love to do for fun.

The thing about this time is that you feel too much. Whether it’s hashtag 2, 3, or 4 AM feels, you know that when this time hits, you are bound to feel all things at once (or sometimes even overfeel―but who is to say whether or not you feel too much?) For some reason, you reminisce about what used to be good. You would think about that time in high school when you and your friends would just sit on the grass and talk for hours, or that time you all ordered pizza and ate ice cream and felt good. You would even remember that time when you all passed silly notes in class, or how the bus ride going home would be the best part of your day. You would think about that time in college when you aced your Math and Accounting exams (because the feeling of acing a wildly known difficult subject is something that is truly quite unforgettable). You would think about that time when you cried during your Philo orals because wow―the feeling of learning so much more about life and love and hope and even doubt overwhelms you.

You would look back at that time when you used to talk to someone about everything, and how now you two are just strangers again.

“It isn’t all that bad,” you’d say, “At least, we’re still Facebook friends.”

And you’ll repeat these words in your head, and you’ll realize how sad it was that you live in a virtual world―you have your online friends and your online life. And you’d think, “But it would be better if we are still friends now―if we aren’t just keeping each other in our lives for the sake of it. If we didn’t feel obligated to be friends because we have been doing that for the longest time. It would be nice if you aren’t just ‘there’ online, but you’re actually there. It would be nice if we still talk. But even on Facebook, we stopped conversing about life and love and hope and dreams and the future. You know what―I miss you.”

And there will be many instances, you know? Those times when you’ll look back and imagine what it would be like to still be friends with the people that you had to let go of. Not because you didn’t care about them anymore, but because there is nothing to grow from. You have to let go of them because they no longer positively affect your life. They hinder your growth. They turn into toxics, and you are exhausted from having to keep up pretenses all the time. But you are there in your virtual world in the hours between 1 and 5 in the morning. And you are tempted to type their name in the search box, and see what’s going on in their lives―if they are ok, if they are well, if they are happy. And you almost click on that message box and tell them, “Hey, I miss you.” But you didn’t. You almost did, though. You almost did.

And so you see, the time between 1 and 5 in the morning makes you do the craziest things, makes you live in a different world, makes you feel so many things all at once. And at some point, you’ll get tired from having to feel so much during these particular hours because the feelings consume you. And you grow tired from having to think about people who no longer think about you. Because the truth is, there is a hauntingly beautiful idea behind the rawness of your feelings between 1 and 5 in the morning. Because these are feelings that you rarely show to anyone. These are the feelings that people you meet had to break walls for because your heart is surrounded by great towers, protecting the very essence of fragility that is your heart.

And soon, you’ll realize why the hours between 1 and 5 in the morning are the best hours to spend your time getting lost at the idea of you consumed by your own thoughts and feelings. It’s when you’ll learn to discover the limitless emotions that your heart can feel. It’s when you’ll realize the countless thoughts your mind can think of. It’s when you’ll know that everything you do is a step towards being awake―being wide-awake from the reality that will overwhelm you. And when you sleep and dream and wake up the next day, you’ll know how to face tomorrow because you know what it’s like to lie in bed, wide-awake, and wait for another day that you ultimately hope has the potential to be better than everything else that happens in between 1 and 5 in the morning.

And when that potential you hope for blooms and grows, you’ll see it; you’ll feel it. And when it happens, you’ll just know.

Photo Source: http://themobilemovement.tumblr.com

Wavelength

One day, it will hit you. You will realize why there are some people who are not worthy of you. You will realize this at 3 in the morning when your mind wanders off to the land of the could-have-beens and should-have-beens. You will realize why people come and go. And why, despite your best efforts, people decide not to stay.

You will lose friends along the way, and you will leave pieces of yourself in the things and the people you used to love. You will cry your heart out, and you will want to do something to get them back. You will want to chase after them because you would think, “They are worth it.”

Don’t.

Don’t look for the people who leave you broken. Don’t go after people who stay only when it’s convenient. Don’t wait for their text at 1 in the morning. Don’t get upset over the utterly frustrating feeling of being seenzoned on Facebook. Don’t let yourself be dragged down by toxic people in your life. Don’t chase after people who didn’t want to stay. Don’t ever think that it is impossible to find happiness just because you were once broken. These people come into your life and leave when it’s time. The role they play in your life has passed and you will feel an overwhelming sense of sadness over people who you thought were worthy of your time. Because in the end, you want what everybody else wants―assurance. You want to know what it’s like to be sure. You want to know that people won’t come and leave you when things go rough. You want to know that friends are not just there when things are easy. You want to know the feeling of liking someone and not just the idea of it. You want to know that you have people who are in the same wavelength as you.

And that’s the hard part, isn’t it? Because the truth is, it sucks when we are no longer in the same wavelength as someone. It sucks when things are no longer the way they used to be. No more hours of talking online, asking how your day was, how you feel today or any other day, what your plans are for tomorrow, or the next day, or in five years. No more phone calls and text messages, no more gossiping about who likes who or who had a crush on who. No more spontaneous night-outs and unexpected visits. No more random sleepovers and pleasantly-surprised-we-saw-each-other-in-the-mall moments. No more sending of hilarious videos, or songs that made you feel infinite, or movies that made you feel something else. No more routine, no more familiarity.

And it will feel like people throwing darts straight into your heart―hitting bull’s eye, unknowingly ripping your heart out. And you’ll think and think and think and think and overthink. And you will ask yourself whether it’s you. Did I talk too much? Am I boring? Did I laugh too much? Did I vent too much? Did I say too much? Did I cry too much about almost relationships? Did I send them way too many messages―Facebook, SMS, Viber, (for crying out loud, name all the damn apps!)? Did I speak too much? Did I feel way too much? Was it all just me?

Two things: first, you can never be too much. You are enough.

Second, it’s not just you. Any relationship is a two-way street. Be it a friendship or a love relationship, it takes two people to form it and it also takes two people to break them. I am not saying that you had it all figured out, that you had it all together, or that you exerted all the effort. The thing is, if you’re the type of person who’s all in, good for you. You know what it’s like to go all the way for someone to make it obvious that you want them in your life. But when the other person doesn’t exert as much effort as you do in the relationship that you have or that they do not reciprocate at all, you will doubt. You will ask the above questions, and you will blame yourself for people leaving.

Don’t.

You have done your part. You have done what you can. You didn’t just go halfway there, but you went all the way. You want them in your life, and you have shown it to them. You were there when they needed a person to talk to at 2 in the morning, or when they wanted to watch a movie on a Saturday afternoon. You were there when they wanted to eat at Burger King at midnight. You were there when they cried over failing Math for the second time, or that time when they just felt lonely. You were there to offer them your shoulder when they needed a good cry. You were there―every piece of you was there.

And while you know in your heart that you are someone who would always go the extra mile for another, you have got to start learning that you have to leave some for yourself. Do not ever forget about yourself. While you may love someone with all your heart, never forget to love yourself first. Learn to let go of people who treat you like you are temporary because you deserve so much more than a friendship or love that is based on convenience.

Instead of asking why people leave, ask yourself about the lessons they have left you with. Maybe they taught you how their absence will feel like drowning, but eventually you will find yourself swimming through it. Eventually, you will keep your head above water. Maybe they taught you how leaving is just like sunsets disguised as pain because in the end, there will still be a sunrise that awaits you. There is a tomorrow for you. There’s a new beginning―a chance to start over. Maybe they taught you how different wavelengths are just ways for two different people to cross paths with each other and know that despite being different, there are a thousand things to love about the idea of being unique. And maybe the thought of them gone forever is a reminder that the pain will change you but it will never define you. They will leave claw marks and scars, and it will hurt in ways unimaginable. But soon, you will heal. It may take some time, but you’ll get there.

So when people leave, let them. Don’t hold them back. Don’t cling to them. Allow yourself peace, and know in your heart that you cannot go after people all the time. Know that despite wanting to be with them, you deserve so much more. Know that your worth goes beyond the way they took you for granted. Know when it’s time to say that you’ve had enough. Know that choosing to move on from people who chip away at your happiness is a step towards creating a braver version of you with a heart that is slowly learning to be happy on its own. Know that this time around, it’s about you.

Painting by: Joanne Lee

Her, her friends and my favorite shirt

I’ve been having a life-long affair with this girl. She’s the type that likes being held 24/7 and she likes smothering you with affirmation. She always tells me that I deserved every star that died and clashed to form the every atom in my body. She makes me feel like the oxygen that trees produce for me was an ode to my existence. I just love being with her, I live for her—and the more I get to spend time with her, the more I want to inch in a little closer and linger longer than the last time.

Her name is Happiness, she also goes by the name of Contentment, Euphoria—well whatever you want to call her. To me, she really doesn’t need a name, all I know for sure is that she is pure and true but like all great and beautiful things she has this one flaw:…

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