Atlas

Some time ago, I donned the (exoskeleton: long-sleeved shirt, dress pants, black shoes) appropriate carapace of a Working Adult for an interview.

I watched a whole population mobilise blearily for work: that daily migration out from our little crannies, as predictable as watching the fruit-bats of Malaysian caves sweep out in great clouds every evening for food.

It was Monday, after all, the first day of the Working Week. And so we all scuttle, scuttle on. It was like watching fish swim in a fast river, impelled by an unexplainable urge to seek, to spawn.

After that I returned back to school for a class on Indonesian history, learning about how god-kings of the past, fearful of their mortalities, stamped their imprimaturs on stones and centuries. How still they seemed, frozen in tableaus and academic texts. And yet their domains rippled out, mandala-like, across time and space and imagination.

I thought a little about the ubiquitous rain tree: naturalised Central American import of many names, so like our migrant heritages; how we can move so fast and yet stand so still; holding the sky up even as we move and move, and never stop; Atlas in our burdens.

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I wonder if the next half-century of my life will be riddled with this paradox: moving and moving to go nowhere. I wonder what it will feel like, to one day hold up half the sky too. (Written on the Circle Line)

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