It shall be Per-man-ment

I have a fear of permanence.

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There I said it. I am tired of being ‘normal’ about this. The truth is, I obsessively think about this concept as much as I do the inevitable end of all mankind — death. Life, as beautiful and powerful as it is, is limited by its temporal nature. So why do we act as though permanence is the grand design of this broken world? Everything else speaks against it — growth, birth, ageing, decay, sprouting. The one thing that is constant for us is change.

I know that it is the end of the year and the brink of the start of another and it is expected that merry tales and motivations will be dispensed generously. Dear reader, I’m afraid I must confess that I am too weary to cook up positivity I am not feeling. You may have noticed that the love letters I’ve written lately (if I can call them letters,) have not been consistent. I have been overwhelmed these past few months, to say the least. And I realized that I have no new knowledge or clever quotes to share except what I learnt from the very beginning of the year — , and death only puts it into perspective.

I have learned that the craving for permanence on this side of life is our innate desire for the perfection that once was and will be again. So when people are scrambling to own things and ‘get’, to build and nurture, to love and to cherish, though I am usually not as enthused because hey, it is only temporary, I understand.

This year, I have learnt that temporary is not a cuss word and it is not synonymous with suffering. For instance, imagine a world where stories had no ending i.e they were continuously being told. It’ll be like certain tv series and shows — long, draining and not as energizing. But life is very much like your favourite short story or series, it is like the longest movie you’ve ever watched or the shortest. It has a start and a finish. Even telenovela ends, Grey’s Anatomy ended. Permanence is a concept that frightens me because a part of me knows it’s unreal. A sort of false narrative we cling to to feel better. But that may just be the pessimist in me speaking. Perhaps it is my mind’s way of coping with the shades of losses I’ve had to deal with in my 24th year.

The question is not ‘why is there no permanence’. It is ‘why are we so afraid of temporary things’. Even though this fear has not made us step up and do better or be better. Every year we enter is the end of another. Every day is also the end of another. Though the loop looks redundant, one may think it’s all the same. I doubt it is. I’ve had a really hard time saying farewell to things and people I started seeing as permanent fixtures in my life. It hurt so bad. I could lie and tell you that I’ve stopped trying to ‘keep’ those things and/or people, that I have suddenly become detached but it’s quite the contrary. I feel some inexplicable sense of urgency in doing the temporary. Living, loving, giving, travelling, dreaming, being happy, and creating. I am under no illusion that these will last forever. In fact, I dread them lasting forever. I have become more comfortable with and accepting of the temporary nature of things. It teaches you to value every moment as a privilege and every experience, good or bad as a new crease to your paper.

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I leave you with this weird imagery. All of us start life as on a blank sheet — white, straight and neat. Our different life experiences modify that sheet. Some have stains, some have creases, some have words scribbled on them lovingly while others are cut into tiny pieces of confetti. It doesn’t matter how your sheet gets its marks, the sign of a paper well-lived is one that has undergone multiple transformations. One whose stains are now like art, whose body has become like a cathedral of words, a museum of adventure. That’s the kind of paper I want to be. Even if I am combustible in less than thirty (30) seconds. Especially if I am. I hope the year 2022 was good to you. And if it wasn’t, here’s to another temporary round of 365 if we live through it. Make every day count — doing what makes you actually live.

All my Love, Ballie💖



And He said unto me, Write. Author of Growing, Up North.

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