“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.” – T.S. Elliot, “The Waste Land”
“To what purpose, April, do you return again?” – “Spring” by Edna St.Vincent Millay
The months re-turn. April returns to haunt me. Its rain cries with me; the melancholic mists and the whirling winds blend and blur my memories buried deep within the roots of my mind.
My memories of the last year of high school torment me. All these questions and unknowns drown me in fear and regret: Who did you want to be when you grew up? Who do you want to become? Who are you? Who will you have become?
What is your purpose?
I am stuck in unknown, stuck in the dull space that yearns for a past harbored within memories–entangled with the desire to become what I wanted to be. To pursue writing– its possibility; but that passion is now lost– entombed in the dead lands. I want to re-turn.
To what purpose, to what time, April, the cruel month of melancholy, do you return?
Dull…its all dull…
I spiral…into the null..
Stuck in the bubble…
The dull, null bubble.
The pandemic pushed us into a bubble; an enclosing space in which we feel stuck, suffocated, stagnant… still. It transforms and alters the ways we interact, act, and react– the ways we live. We wonder in the word “normal” – whether things will go back– re-turn– to the way they were.
We want to go back in time— re-turn the clock and return to life as it once was– the normal: the paved road we moved simply on, lively. Away from the present space of regret, disquiet – and yield. This dull space of sick, but a different kind of sick: uneasiness, lethargy, fatigue.
I yearn for the bygone normal. I want to turn back time. I want to return to familiar memories; I want nostalgia to swallow me whole before sadness rebirths.
These times take time away from me. These times trap me in a bubble. I submerge and sink into waters and waves of my thoughts– they flood and flow within mind, the rapid crashing currents of uncertainty drown me (out).
Within the dull bubble, I hear the (un)nerving whispers of my past self: I should have been… I should have done… I should have, I could have, I would have if I…
And this dullness induces my “stuckness” and “stillness”.
I am stuck. A sick silhouette bound to my pandemic existence; my pandemic space; my pandemic self.
I try to move, to escape the painful sorrows of the mournful and melancholic memories of unachieved aspirations and dreadful dreams.
So I run away I don’t have time to catch my breath, to STOP, I still run and run and run and
something pursues me, yearns for me, seeks me. I slow down, for a moment, and look back.
It’s the pause.
Chasing me. It finds me.
It asks me to cease the running-away— the movement— begs me to STOP – to think.
Demands I slow down; it pleads with me to pause, to breathe simply, breathe and think, simply think in Time.
And Time, for just a moment, stops.
But a different kind of silence.
I hear noise, but a different kind of noise.
The winds of desire stir with memory, still– I remember a moment in time.
Flurries and fragments of a conversation with my teacher, Mr. Eisenberger, flutter along the streams of thought. I’m in the final days of Writer’s Craft, a class I take in the remaining months of high school– a “holding out to the hope” of becoming a writer, I could say. I recall what he said: “…you’re a good writer Amelia…you can do something with this…keep at this, keep this writing……I wanted to become a writer too, but you know… things just didn’t work out…”
And memory returns; the questions re-turn. I hear regret echo through the voice of my teacher. I hear my own regret, too – repeated, repeating…I wanted to become a writer too.
The pause re-turns– and I listen. I begin to re-reflect and reimagine my self– my writerly self. I ask my self, for what purpose does this memory return? For what purpose do these questions resurface to the present?
Music. I hear music, but a different kind of music.
Its subtle tunes and songs flow through the spaces, the spaces between the spaces– the cracks.
I feel something different, very different this time in April.
I feel movement; I feel transformation.
The calming whispers of all my selves re-rupture to the surface– the selves I was, the selves I have yet to become, tell me: You can be…You will…You are…You are now.
Melancholia is now metanoia.
I now yearn to seek, to (re)new a beginning, to (re)set my self(ves) toward a new dream.
I transform regret into resilience.
I am re-being a writer. The once buried lilac lost in between the Aprils blossomed into a bud of possibility–waiting to be restored and resurfaced– ready to grow with and in Time.
Tick. Tick. (Pandemic) Tock. Tock.
Tick. Tock. (Stuck).
“Are we what we do with time, or are we what time does with us?” – Mahmoud Darwish, from Poem X; In the Presence of Absence, ( tr. by Sinan Antoon) 2006.
Pandemic time is using us– we have become voids of ticking time as we stay stuck in the past– the concrete, normal, paved road– where all memories encapsulate the good times, the normal, the what was. But the thing is, the normal paved road does not allow the flowers to grow. It is through cracks that flowers can (re)surface and grow. We must revive the lilacs; we must revive the time; and revive our selves– Now.
The bubble bursts, and the seismic spaces of the world now open up to me. I am transformed.
I am no longer my pandemic existence, my pandemic space, my pandemic self.
I am metanoic existence, metanoic space, metanoic self.
It’s time for me to do something with time, instead of time doing something with me.
I reflect and re-reflect on these past months, these Aprils, and I learn to use uncertainty as power; I leverage it as a tool to look beyond this pandemic existence, to live beyond the bubble, and to transform moments of my life into new possibilities; chances and changes– moments of metanoia– that fell in between the spaces, the cracks. With purpose, seek new beginnings and understandings, new questions and ways of thinking, of writing, relating, being – (re)new forms of the self.
Look back — but not to be filled with regret or stay stuck in what could have been, but to look back only to seek within the past a “now”. Pause with a purpose.
In the Now, I pause with purpose. I notice the cracks where flowers bloom– I re-turn to a self – to selves: to re-envision, re-write, revise, and re-transform myself and all of the spaces between the selves: I am re-being a writer. I am re-turning to writing.
This is the true power of metanoia.
Vincent Van Vogh once spoke: “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow”. Amid all this chaos, pause– with purpose–and notice the cracks; the spaces of living land. The flowers bloom here, not on the normal paved road. These flowers of great possibility; and all you need to do is to water them. And as these flowers grow, time and time again when April returns, as it always does, so will you always grow too– time and time again.
“To what purpose, April, do you return again?”
To what purpose, do I return again?
I turn to re-turn because I, too, am April. I am the lilacs that bloom from the cracks of an unpaved road; I am the spring rain that (re)grows roots of the flowers of season; I am the winds that stir the roots of memory.
I am the writer that (re)writes, the writer that waters the (re)words with purpose.
I am a movement and a moment. I am metanoia.
AMELIA FOO-FAT is in her first year of the Speech and Language Sciences program. She enjoys all art forms— drawing, film, music, reading, poetry, and philosophy. Amelia is still searching for her passion, but she hopes that with time and creative writing exploration she can find her passion(s). Metanoia is Amelia’s first time participating in a PWSA symposium. One of her favourite quotes is: “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” – Plato, Symposium