I hope you're doing well and taking care of yourself during these trying times.
In this newsletter, I’ve often talked about how I explore creativity through play. But over the past few weeks, I’ve really struggled to find room for it. It just felt wrong to have fun.
I realized I was pushing myself too hard. I shared how I was feeling exhaustion and burnout from activism work. I needed to pace myself to ensure I could keep fighting for change in the long term.
This week, I gave myself permission to play a video game: Final Fantasy VII: Remake. I bought it over a month ago, but with everything going on I just couldn’t get myself to play it. I finally sat down and played for an hour or so. For this brief period, I was totally immersed in the game, and my anxieties were paused.
I needed that. I think we all need a little escape right now. Whether it's a video game, a movie, a book, etc... take some time to treat yourself even if it’s for an hour.
The other good news is that I managed to find a little creative light. I'm excited to share something new with you: a short story! I didn’t plan to write a story — it sort of just appeared one night. I was about to go to bed when the story popped into my head. I went to my desk and wrote the whole thing down. The whole process took about thirty minutes.
I have no expertise in writing short stories, so there was little room for my inner critic to judge it. Being an amateur liberated me to write freely. I wonder if there’s a way to channel more ‘amateur energy’ in our work? After writing it, I got a little boost of energy and drew a couple of illustrations for it. It felt great to draw again after a long while.
Creativity is funny like that. Just when you think you're in a drought, you feel a few raindrops. In my case, they fell when I was trying to sleep!
I'll take it. I've learned not to question where inspiration comes from too much. I'm just thankful for this tiny ray of creativity in my life right now.
Enjoy the story!
Update: You can read the revised version of this story on my website.
Wherever the wind would blow, Melvin would go.
When it blew South, he went South. When it blew North, he went North.
It was the only way he knew to fly.
One day, as he was gliding through the skies, Melvin sighted something in the distance.
It was an owl!
Melvin couldn’t remember the last time he saw a fellow bird. Ever since he learned to fly, his only companion was the wind.
As he got closer, his excitement turned to confusion. There was something strange about this owl.
Then, it hit him: the owl was flying towards him. This could only mean one thing. It was flying against the wind!
“Impossible!”, he thought. Melvin knew the only way to fly was to spread one’s wings and soar with the wind.
His mind was swimming with questions. He was determined to confront this magical owl.
“Hey there!”, he shouted.
The owl didn’t seem to hear him.
“Hey! Please! I need to talk to you!”, he pleaded.
Before he knew it, the owl had already flown past him. With the wind blowing behind Melvin, there was no way for him to turn around. He could only go where the wind went.
Just when he thought he missed his chance, Melvin saw that the owl had circled back, and landed on a tree up ahead.
He wasted no time and made a beeline for the tree.
“Hi! I’m Melvin! Nice to meet you… Mr. Owl?”
“Hello there! You may call me Samuel. What’s all the chirping about?”
“Oh, yes, well, you see… I was wondering… how did you fly toward me like that?”
Samuel tilted his head in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you were flying towards me…”
“Yes, yes, so I was… And? What of it?”
“…but the wind was blowing against you!”
The owl looked at him curiously. “…Have you never flown against the wind?”
“No… I… I didn’t think that was possible.”
“Ah. Fascinating… Well, my little friend, it seems you have never flown at all.”
“Oh, my… If I could fly without the wind, I could fly anywhere! Is there any chance you could teach me?”
“Hmmm. I am a busy owl, you see. Lots of hooting to do…”
Melvin waited patiently, pleading with his eyes.
“Well, alright! I shall teach you. But be warned: the hard part comes afterwards…”
“The hard part…?”
“We’ll get to that soon enough. For now, let’s take a little flying lesson, shall we?”
Off they went.
At first, Melvin could barely stay still against the powerful gusts. Little by little, he flapped his wings and propelled himself in bursts.
After much struggle, Melvin was flying alongside Samuel. The wind was now a passenger, rather than his carrier.
Wherever Samuel would go, Melvin would go.
“Wohoo! I’m a free bird! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Samuel. You’ve changed my life!”
Samuel nodded, but went quiet for a while.
“I have given you this freedom. But with it, I have burdened you with a much greater challenge.”
Melvin was confused. “…But I’m free now. What could be hard about that?”
“Now, you must decide where to go.”
Samuel nodded his farewell, and went on his way.
It suddenly occurred to Melvin that he had never actually chosen where to go.
He always left it up to the wind.
Melvin felt scared but determined. A world of discovery awaited him.
Wherever Melvin wished to go, Melvin would go.
Until next time,