Austin Lam

“Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build.” 

— Martin Heidegger, Building Dwelling Thinking 

In a metaphysical landscape of
Salvus and Sanctus,
We must imagine ourselves
Where the linear passage of time
Warps to conform
Not to the powers that threaten
But to us — cloaked in Time’s colours.  

The They,
Black steam locomotive
Takes us to its terminus.
Accept not this reality
Reject it; Fight it.

We must imagine our deaths on the horizon
Must reckon that
The way of life is full of suffering and pain
Sorrow filled to the brim
Overflowing from fountain.
Memories glide upwards and
Finger monuments
Warping and reaching across space and
Time, in desert storm
Placing you in a chokehold against freefall’s edge
Realization that
Our lives are not our own
We do not belong to ourselves
But to the world.
Flowing fountainhead of everyday life
Belies discrete blocks, made up
Of our mouth noises
Of our thought bubbles
Of our limbs flapping about
In ostensible organization
In actual disarray
The way of life is harsh and unforgiving
Soft sympathetic glances.
Scattered amidst the chaos
Mercy lies in the distance 

Home — we seek
Salvus and Sanctus space
By the inner voice:
Playground of the imagination
With its apoplectic movements
Lava spewing forth
Writhing and bellowing
From the deepest crevasses
Creeping dance of twisting and breaking limbs
Pain matures and becomes
Standard bearer of truth
Sentinels of a beating heart 

Inhabiting an alien world imbued with suffering and beauty
Filled to the brim with
Milk — spilling over
A mirage of subdued beauty
Backwards slit
Allows solace to gush forward

Where danger ascends, we dwell in safety
By our Irreverence against the higher powers
We lash at the gates of Heaven
Ceaseless movement, avoiding
Swallowing gesture of the unknown lands and known lands of suffering 

There is an uncompromising beauty in this world that is
Both brutal and gentle in its touch.
Where danger threatens us, we grasp Beauty it in its entirety
The way of experience matures
And becomes guards for us all
Beauty holds us in its home
In a consecrated landscape
Salvus and Sanctus place.

Austin Lam (@austinaldenlam) is a first-year Psychiatry resident in the Research Track at the University of British Columbia. He completed medical school at the University of Toronto and, prior to that, studied psychology and philosophy at McGill University for his undergraduate degree. He maintains a strong interest in philosophy and literature both outside of and intertwined with school/work.