In Residence




January 1st, 2021


Sitting on this pier pile, with the best views to the gleaming United States Capitol, and proximity to luxury yachts, gliding planes, and energetic bikers and scullers, I lived, what appeared to be an envious life.



The hardwood marine wooden stump, my home, though no longer part of a tree and denied its energy source, had embraced the water sediments and weather elements, forming an attractive patina. Moreover, the wooden piles were still functional—housing small birds, like myself, and securing large boats. In sharp contrast, I remained static—a spectator. My life was nothing to covet.

Having secured my comfortable spot, I subscribed to an impoverished existence—binge-watching, retail numbing, malicious gossiping and low culture subscriptions. The more clutter I amassed—invisible imprints on my mind and soul, as well as physical rubbish—the more extraordinary I felt. It never dawned on me that I was content living vicariously through others lives, feeling a false sense of importance. The comfort of watching and cheering (and anonymously disfiguring) had hardwired me to hide my inadequacies under denial. I failed to question: “Why didn’t anyone cheer for me?”

If at all a lightning thought reminded me of my passivity and pretentiousness, I immediately convinced myself, “I can’t drift like a gossamer leaf; I can’t fly like an elegant butterfly; I can’t soar like a powerful plane,” the excuses kept rolling, naturally and steadily, helping me drown the fact that my life was an excuse.

Crustaceans—low culture entertainment and varied forms of distasteful consumption—had damaged my brain cells and destroyed my thinking abilities.



Life got to the point where I had become part of the fixed setting, and everything appeared larger than me. It was in one of these blurry moments that realisation struck—I had a pathetic life—which sent shivers through me. How was I going to get rid of the poison that had slowly and steadily turned me into an irrelevant and resentful spectator with a narrow worldview?

Unlike the wood piles, which had beautifully weathered, my mind had reduced to crumbling decay; I had become that small person referred to in a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

Strangely, the weathered pier stumps that were my comfort zone had come to be the educators that would set me free. On eventually noticing piling wraps that protect marine piles, I decided that I too had to secure my mind—cocooning it with nutritious content—in what I saw, heard, smelt, ate and touched, and how I moved, interacted and conversed.

For days on end, I tussled with my crippling fear, eventually gifting myself curiosity and freeness. And much to my delight, I took a leap of faith—I took flight with all my might. Now, I hum along with bees, dance with the wind and swerve with the planes. I am free to finally feel the fragrances of spring, the lushness of summer, the kaleidoscope of autumn and the starkness of winter.



By actively steering towards material that leads me to self-reflection, I have learned invaluable lessons–first, we might be unable to fly at the same altitude as others, but we can always soar to our best capacity, and second, it’s essential to travel alone, access those parts of you and the world that will make you grow. As we periodically reexamine our life, we become increasingly empowered, zoning out sloth spectatorship, instead, zoning in to be the applause of our story.

As a reminder to myself—of how far I have come—from time to time, I circle and return to the pier stump—constantly crediting my effort at transforming my life—from being in a pickle to participating in life with relish.