Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Of eLEpHaNts aNd ChAiNs

He told me a story today. About elephants.

In order to keep the baby elephants from wandering far, zookeepers chain them to a wooden stake in the ground. Being young, the baby elephants do not have the strength to break the chains. And so, they learn to stray no further than where their chain ends.

When the baby elephants grow up to be jumbo elephants, they still stay within the confines of the chains’ length. Even though the jumbo elephants now actually do have the power to snap the chains and roam freely. They don’t. Because they have no knowledge of their might.

What are the chains that bind us? What is stopping you from breaking free?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

oN a DaRK AnD sToRMy NigHt

I sit surrounded by noises of the night
Crickets, bullfrogs, rain and cars
If I sit really still and tight
I can hear the wind rush in from afar

At night my mind comes awake
Thoughts that elude me in the day
Come trotting out for me to take
Before morning snatches them away

The point is there is no point
The thing is there is no choice
What gives, you say
Choose life, I pray

Monday, October 29, 2007

GiViNg Up

Giving up. Throwing in the towel. Washing my hands off this. Calling it quits. Packing it in. Backing away. Withdrawing. Stop doing it.

So many ways. Of giving up.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

ThE WoRLd wE SeE

The problem is that seeing is never plain. The woman who has just found a new lover gazes out her kitchen window at the overgrown lawn and sees there luxuriance, a wild and delicious excess. The man who has just lost his job looks out the same window at the same lawn and sees there more evidence of his decline. There is always something that is behind our seeing, something prior to it. Even the so-called objective standpoint of the scientist, however valuable and important, is not an absolute frame of reference but rather grows out of a particular set of interests and concerns. Thus the question arises: If we must see the world clearly in order to choose it, what world must we see?

(from Learning To Fall by Philip Simmons)

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I cried. The heart-wrenching, tears-brimming-over, gasping-for-breath kind of crying. It came suddenly. And it stayed for a long time. I cried for me, my family, my friends. I cried for my life, my being, my self. I cried for the poor, the destitute, the world.

With the warm tears dripping down my chin, I realized something.

Crying can be very liberating.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I cut myself the other day, near the knuckle of my finger, and it was painful. It still is painful because every time I bend my finger, the wound seems to re-open.

I was reading a book the other day, about how the author was abused as a child, and it was painful. The kind of pain that makes you weep even though you have no experience of the abuse nor know the person who was abused.

I visited my ex-boyfriend the other day, with his wife, and it was painful. It was a bittersweet pain that grips your heart for a moment and then passes, because you are now finally convinced you can lay the dream to rest.

And she asked me, “Do you believe there is meaning in pain?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WaLK tHe RoaD

All we have to believe with is our senses: the tools we use to perceive the world, our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.

(from American Gods by Neil Gaiman)

What happens when that road our senses show us is a dead-end?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I had an incredible urge to run away just now. I don’t know why or how but I just needed to run, to leap, to fly, with the wind. To run forever.

But I am so tired. Exhausted and bone-weary tired. I want to sleep, to slumber, to lie down, with the earth. To sleep forever.

In this moment, in this moment that goes on forever, I am caught.

Caught, in a forever moment.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WitHOuT tHe TrAPpiNgS

I sat by the river after work and people-watched.

The river was a muddy-murky grey, but that didn’t stop the tourists in the little motorboats from laughing and taking photos. It was nothing near the crystal clear water in the Maldives or Mauritius.

There was a cigarette butt peeking out from under the stool. Nearby, mothers were variously screaming at their children not to run too near the water’s edge, or calling for them to come see the water. Meanwhile, a little girl fell down and cried. It was nothing like the picturesque scenes from Cathedral Square or Eiffel Tower.

I thought about my friend, about how nice it would be if my friend were there with me too, and I SMS-ed my friend. It was nothing compared to having my friend walk with me on the beach or exploring the rainforest to see orang utans.

And yet, I sat there by the river for an hour, soaking in the sights and sounds. I was mesmerized. It was not picture-perfect. It was in fact chaotic and messy. But that, that is life. Dirty water, wailing children, sitting alone.

And I am humbled.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

tHe LasT

The last time I met you was long ago, in another world, in another lifetime.

The last thing he said to me was, “You must take care of yourself.”

The last supper Jesus took, with his 12 beloved apostles.

The last, the last.

The last book, the last chapter, the last page, the last sentence, the last word.

The last straw, that broke the camel’s back.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Birthdays, seem to take forever, especially when you can’t wait to grow up. Birthdays, come and go so quickly, especially after you stop trying to count them.

Birthdays, are deeply personal, deeply reflective. Birthdays, have a way of making you think about life.

Sometimes, holding on can be really difficult.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Every once in a while, knowledge happens.

Like the other day when I finally understood what my ballet teacher had been telling me for ages, to tuck in my tailbone.

Like the other day when I finally discovered that despite all of my narcissistic fantasies, I am only human.

An all-too-human human.

tHe LitTLe oLD LadY

Today I passed a hunched little old lady on my way to the train station, sitting in a wheelchair. She was selling packets of tissue. A lady approached her, gave her two dollars, and walked away.

What I thought was a hunched little old lady suddenly yelled at the top of her voice, shouting to the world that she was no beggar, that she makes an honest living by selling tissue.

In her voice and in her eyes, I saw the fierce determination of one who wasn’t willing to give up, no matter what life had thrown her way. Hunched and little though she was, bound to the wheelchair, she had a stature and presence that could equal any one of us walking by.

And I thought, I don’t want to grow old.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

pOiNTs Of VieW

A cup half full. A cup half empty. Two ways of looking at the same thing. Yet how difficult. To cajole your mind into discovering the other side of the coin.

There is me and you and them. There is this and that and the other.

There is life and death and what happens after.

Multiplicity. Like a kaleidoscope. Or being in a house of mirrors. A circle with infinite angles.

Will one day the mind topple over with too many points of view?

Monday, October 15, 2007


These are enervating thoughts, the thoughts of despair. They crowd back, unbidden, when human life as it unrolls goes ill, when we lose control of our lives or the illusion of control, and it seems that we are not moving toward any end but merely blown. Our life seems cursed to be a wiggle merely, and a wandering without end. Even nature is hostile and poisonous, as though it were impossible for our vulnerability to survive on these acrid stones.

Whether these thoughts are true or not I find less interesting than the possibilities for beauty they may hold. We are down here in time, where beauty grows. Even if things are as bad as they could possibly be, and as meaningless, then matters of truth are themselves indifferent; we may as well please our sensibilities and, with as much spirit as we can muster, go out with a buck and wing.

(from Teaching A Stone To Talk by Annie Dillard)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

nOt MuTUaLLy EXcLusiVe

Would someone who had never known democracy or political freedom miss it? Would you feel the loss of something you never had before? Would happiness not be happiness if there wasn’t also sadness? Would the darkness not be so painful if you did not know the joy of light?

Perhaps, it is because we have the capacity to be happy and sad that makes life. Maybe, it’s about mutual inclusion. That life only makes sense when you take the good and the bad together.

A friend once said, “You can’t just want the birds singing at your front porch without them also shitting on it.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

jUSt BrEAtHe

I made her a butterfly the other day. I wanted to give her something she could remember me by.

Actually, every time I visit, I would fold a paper crane for her. And she would keep them in this little box that she carries around with her. And she said she could count how many there are some day.

A friendship forms, over time. I tell her secrets I don’t tell anyone else. I feel safe with her. I trust her, with my life sometimes.

And she said, “Just breathe.”

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

aLPhaBEt SouP

Campbell’s Chicken Alphabet Soup. When I was little, I’d pick out letters to form words before I ate them, which made the whole soup-drinking experience that much more enjoyable. I don’t remember if I really liked the soup actually, but it was definitely fun trying to scoop all the alphabets that made up my name into the spoon (all 21 of them, and they all had to be in the same mouthful).

I don’t like beansprouts. I remember when I was in school, I would painstakingly pick out all the beansprouts from my fried noodles before I ate it. And then with the pile of beansprouts left behind, I would shuffle them around to form my initials and leave them on the plate like a declaration.

And every time I go into bookstores or gift shops selling bookmarks or keychains or magnets or notepads or stickers or any of such paraphernalia with names on them, I would always check if my name is around.

I am such a narcissistic freak!

Monday, October 8, 2007


Fear is a strange and wild animal. It is a creature that roams mysteriously inside you. Sometimes, fear wears itself like a protective armour on you, keeping you safe from dangers unknown. Sometimes, fear rears its powerful head over you, making you do things you otherwise wouldn’t. Yet fear, is always so hard to grasp. At times irrational, at times logical. At times emotional, at times physical.

Fear, it is almost as if you can taste it in your cold sweat, feel it in your trembling tendons, see it in your eyes alight with fire, hear it in the pounding of your heart, hold it in your open arms.

What are you fearful of?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

bLiND SpoTs

It is a little past 1am, and the night air is cool. Cold, in fact, my arms are sporting goosebumps. I hear crickets and cars. And the voices of toads after a day full of rain.

My spectacles cracked the other day. A deep angry line runs right through the middle of my right lens. I now peep at the world through two fragments of the lens hanging precariously together by the force of the frame.

And my blind spot prevents me from getting too giddy. The crack is so right in my face that I sometimes don’t see it. Like a lot of things I don’t see about myself. Perhaps because I don’t want to acknowledge that they are there. Perhaps I don’t know they are there.

But it’s important to confront your blind spots every once in a while.


It is very misty today. Outside my window, I can’t even see the rooftops of the houses opposite me clearly. Like someone veiled a piece of white lace over the landscape. It must be terrible for burn victims to live through all the gauze and bandages.

Yet that which protects also prevents you from experiencing the world. Like loving yourself too little, or loving yourself too much.

And he asked, “Why do you have friends?”

Saturday, October 6, 2007

a BrOKen-WinGeD biRD

I am a bird with a broken wing
I am a mockingbird that cannot sing

Life is heavy, life weighs me down
Life is sad, life makes me frown

She said to fight
But the light’s too bright

I am a bird that is too tired
I am a wind-up bird that’s come unwired

Please let me sleep
A slumber forever and so deep

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly

-- Langston Hughes

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Beading, is a skill that requires much focus and attention to detail. Looking through the pattern books, selecting a pattern that you like, counting out the beads, threading them, working with the beader’s tools… Often, it is an all-consuming task.

Beading, is also a very solitary skill. It is just you, and the beads, and nothing else matters while you are working on that project.

I like to be alone, but I don’t like being lonely.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

cOMinG aGAiN

The darkness is coming back again. I can feel it. In my bones.

Isn’t it strange that in a world full of lights, that darkness can come creeping upon you so silently, stealthily, scarily? You would think that with all these artificial light that stretches our days into nights, that the darkness would retreat somehow, somewhere. But it doesn’t. It never does.

The darkness lays in wait. Always. For the opportunity to pounce again.

And I can feel it crouching, unknown, unknowing.

I wonder what the darkness will take with it this time?

Monday, October 1, 2007


We were discussing death the other day.

How suddenly some people die, and the regrets of those left behind.

How slowly some people die, and the pain they have to go through.

How some people don’t want to die, but cannot escape death. How some people want to die, but cannot escape life.

Like the man who jumped down 35 stories and did not die.

You know what’s worst? Life sucks, and you don’t die.

a QueStiON oF oWnERsHip

I was on the train today and I saw a lady studiously looking through various pieces of paper. She was all focused on the task at hand, and it intrigued me. And I realized she was looking for a maid.

The pieces of paper had things like height and weight and colour description (light or tanned or dark, I think I saw). It also had things like “What I can do” and “What I want to say to my prospective employer”, where the maid writes down things like “I can cook and look after kids and clean…”

I did not realise that this is part of the process of looking for a maid. Like looking through their CVs.

And suddenly I’m appalled. Since when have we earned the right to own other human beings?