There is something about time and man's relations to it that enthrals me.
In a snapshot, time freezes, and man freezes. Is a snapshot actually alive, or dead and still?
We're living in a parallel universe to time. In the world of Time, the metronome reigns. Monochrome, monotone, singular (or is it not?)
In Our world, at some moments our thoughts are slow, or our hearts beat fast. It's a crazy telemetric reading, I half suspect it's a person itself - on drugs.
In Our world, we live by the rules of Time. Yet, do we really live in Time?
Place des Vosges, Paris, France
When I was a little child, I flew like a bird, I swam like a fish. I ruled the playground like my kingdom, I painted my dreams with pencils and crayons. I twirled around the empty school parade square, laughing gleefully as I did, making merry out of my drunken, unsteady gait. I raced my best friend to the school canteen, I had a secret hiding place.
The boy running around the fountain caught my eye. I hurried and seized a piece of his carefreeness in my phone, as remembrance of the innocence and lightheartedness I once had. I was envious he could do this without feeling embarrassed, without being afraid of looking stupid.
There were many times I wanted to express my joy and exuberance, but I moderated my feelings for fear of being judged. Yet this french boy taught me one thing: Live life to the fullest. And that also means feeling to the fullest, expressing to the fullest.
I have a new goal in life: I want to live like a child.
I want to laugh freely when I'm over the moon, and run in circles and enjoy the wind in my hair. I want to dance across the room full of adult insecurities and fears, steal the limelight and shine the light back in their faces and ask them: Are you holding yourself back?
A Wall Near Place des Vosges, Paris, France
This is graffiti art. On a side street by an aspiring artist, a youthful dreamer. A go-getter.
"Smiling is free." He smiled as he drew these words. They bounced to life under the sunlight.
Passers-by point at it as they cross the street. Some snapped pictures of it. What is it that caught their attention?
The colours which should fill our lives. The words which are true to everyone.
"Smiling is free." So smile, and be free.
Tour Eiffel, Paris, France
Aletsch Glacier, Jungfrau Region, Switzerland
Aare River, Bern, Switzerland
Obersee, Berchtesgaden Alps, Upper Bavaria
I hear my own heartbeat loud and clear, day and night. Sometimes the rustling of the grass reaches my ears. I always suspected they were trying to tell me something but I could never make it out. I really wish I could though.
Occasionally, the hiker or tourist will rest their bodies on my lap. It's funny how they are always heavy but the weight doesn't really bother me that much.
Their voices are soothing and light, and their laughter ring and echo in the air.
Today, I heard some of them sing. In their melodious voices, I pictured myself rising high up above the mountains, to a place where I could see the world beyond.
They must be saying thanks to the mountains and the water, to the clouds and the sun, to the flowers and the leaves. To the people who live behind the mountains, or to the animals that graze the grass.
Many others fell silent during the song, and their applause was thunderous, disturbing the cold, still, mountainous silence.
Then slowly, one by one, all of them left, and the sky went dark. But not before the sun beckoned me hello and warmed me up.
By Charmaine Yeo
One foot in front of the other; one step ahead of the next.
With muscle aches, skin soaked with sweat, and clothing plastered to a heaving body, a palpitating heart hammers in staccato beats.
He was frightened, anxious, yet… excited.
Cycling for the first time in a year, in the streets of Bratislava (a city he had known for six hours) had been a test of his skill in the bicycle and his faith.
In himself, in his abilities to keep up, to adapt to a place he had never been before. In the city’s bumpy roads and hectic traffic. In life— to treat him kindly and keep him safe.
He fingers the brakes tightly, ready to brake should he meet with anything wrong. He regulates his speed, never goes beyond a certain velocity… just in case he needs to skid to a halt suddenly.
He concentrates on his actions, his speed, on the road. He watches out for cars, pedestrians, for traffic signs, for the lights to turn— all while running through the map in his head.
Turn left here, go straight, turn right into this small alley…
In the process, he misses out on one historical government building, a church that had been off the map in his head. He ignores the wildflowers by the roadsides, the stray dandelion— in a crack of the tarmac— that danced so meekly in the wind.
It was small, it was vibrant, it was life.
The wheels on the bike go round and round. Yet, his eyes remain dead ahead. His feet pedal on as he dodges pedestrians.
Exhausted with the hyper attention he had been paying to his surroundings, his faithlessness leads him to rest his bicycle aside and plop onto a city bench.
A bee buzzes next to his ear. He is too tired to swat at it. Instead, he smiles and greets it.
The bee flies away.
The water sprinklers turn on, painting the wind with tiny droplets of life-giving essence. A fountain bubbles nearby, gurgling with sweet abandon.
The scent of the wind is sweet, the sun teases his skin, and with his cap sheltering him from the sweltering summer sun, he glances around and finds that the garden he was in happened to be in a castle ground.
Blinking in surprise, his smile grows as he examines the castle’s premises. He tries placing the castle in it’s correct century with his limited knowledge of world history and architecture.
The world stops, and he is in his own element, his own world, where everything is possible and nothing is ugly. Time stops, and the hustle and bustle of earlier stills, coming to a screeching halt.
This is the silence that comes after the screaming brakes, the relieved quiet of survival, the sudden admiration for the vibrance of life.
His brakes were used frequently.
He slows for an old man in a narrow street. He stops when he comes across a red light. He crawls to a near halt to miss a young child whose mother had shielded her tightly from his wobbly bicycle. He learns that, to regain control, he needs to pedal harder, move faster, in order for his balance to return.
The bicycle begins to listen to him, and his tentativeness dissipates.
Throughout the day, as he brakes and dodges things and people, he learns one simple fact of cycling: the slower you go, the more difficult it is to balance. To go faster means more stability, but stability comes with a hefty price; confidence and faith.
He wonders, if life was the same; to remain balanced, you need to keep up with a certain speed. Otherwise, balance flees, and you either crash, or wobble precariously until you either pump in more energy to keep going, or you stop and use your own feet to support yourself.
To be balanced, you need speed. To get speed, you need energy and the confidence to survive, otherwise, life is just a person precariously perched atop a slow bicycle.
At first glance, Bratislava is old, worn, perhaps a little less advanced than major cities in Europe. the streets are filled with potholes and the architecture is so last century. but behind the worn bricks and cobblestone streets lays a wonderful, vibrant city brimming with life and a zest to succeed.
It may be overwhelming at times; the sights, the scents, the people’s stoicism, but crack that initial shell open and you will find brilliance shining through; helpful friends in strangers, fascinating buildings, and most importantly, a city steeped in millennia of history.
Yet, once in a while, after hours of zipping through the city, when the brakes had finally screeched to a halt, the slow stroll of pedestrians prompt reflection, and the sheer antiquity of the city begs introspection.
To move forward, he needed to stop and regain his bearings. He needed to speed up after he slowed down.
Warm cup of coffee in hand, I find a bench and lower myself onto it. I finally turned thirty-two earlier this year and it was time to make good on the promise I had made to myself ten years ago: to visit this part of the world that I had never been to. These recent few years was an protracted cyclical blur of burying my head in work; paying off debts incurred; silently, blindly stashing away whatever I had left of my salary into the coffers. From that destined point of time I decided to make the trip a reality in my then-future to its fruition, naturally it felt like one single instance in my existence was handpicked, groomed and chosen to be savoured. It occurred to me time and again throughout those ten years that I was using the aura of such a distinguished moment in my life as a checkpoint.
Gazing into the deep, calming panel of green before me, it is no struggle to discern tree trunks from treetops; all of it forms a scene worthy of a painting, and I, likewise, of value as the painter in the mind’s eye. I chose to live life on my own terms, not bending to what others may have asked of me. I stand now, quiet in my confidence as a single woman. I believe in money and finances: I trust in its ability to work for me and garner the experiences I desire, but the trust I place in myself to be its master far exceeds such. I believe in love and romance: I believe it exists as a beautiful entity that is real between the couples I encounter daily; it just does not necessarily have to exist for me. I believe in me: I believe existence is in motion; right now, this second – all I have to do to live, is to be me.