Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PaiN TranSfeREnCe

I have been having a series of procedures done to the soles of my feet for some viral infection that has developed there. Each procedure involves razor blades and liquid nitrogen, which is no fun. There is normally a fair bit of pain involved during the procedure itself, and pain from the swelling and blisters that form after the procedure.

In the beginning, when I first started the procedures, I would look at what the nurses are doing to my feet, in the hopes that when I see what they are doing, I can rationally convince myself it is not such a big deal after all. Still pain.

Then I began to close my eyes so I could not see what the nurses are doing, focusing my thoughts on happy things, hoping that my mind is able to will the pain away. Still pain.

So I have been prompted to look into the theory of pain transference. Recently during the procedure, I would grab a part of my arm and pinch it really really hard. Odd as it sounds, it actually works. There is still pain, but when the pain is something I can control (pinching myself), it is more bearable than something I cannot control (nurses doing the procedure). It is like manually teleporting the pain from one place to another.

I wonder if the pain in my feet will completely disappear if I simultaneously pinch both of my arms?

ChaNGe (ii)

“Be the change you want to see,” said Mahatma Gandhi.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

cHAnGe (i)

Change is more often frightening than not. Change implies that there is some disruption to the standard operating procedures. Change implies that it is no longer status quo. Change implies a state of movement, as opposed to being passive.

And change is something that only we can effect in ourselves. The whole world might have spun a degree off its latitude, but no change would have taken place unless you acknowledge that change.

We are often told to turn over a new leaf, but can a leopard really change its spots?

Saturday, September 27, 2008


We spoke about setting goals today. I tried to visualise what I wanted out of life, and I came up blank. Long time ago, though, I’m sure I had goals. I wanted to be a Nobel Prize-winning author. I wanted to be a world-famous ballerina. I wanted to grow up.

Yet now, it’s hard to extrapolate goals from the mundanity of everyday living.

We joked about the meaning of life. I am slowly convinced there is no one answer to this. She goes one better, she thinks there are answers out there we just don’t see at this moment. Either way, living should take precedence over pondering.

Yet I obsess about existential questions everyday.

But I shall get off my soapbox and let you be.

nOW yOu See it, NoW You dOn'T

"Everything is so fragile. There's so much conflict, so much pain... You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize this is it: the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along, that weird, unbearable delight that's actual happy – I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get. 'Cause it’s here, and then... gone."

(from Astonishing X-Men Vol 4 by Joss Whedon)

Friday, September 26, 2008


Poignant has been on my mind these last couple of days. In the things I see, in the things I hear, in the things I read, in the things I say. Poignant has become pervasive. It permeates my thoughts, consciously or unconsciously or subconsciously. Someone drew a screen over me and left the veil of poignant behind.

I’ve always been known to be a little melodramatic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ciRCLe oF FriENdS

Inspired, is how I normally feel after a gathering with my Inner Circle friends. Our coming together was almost magical – one called one who called another and another, and the six of us found ourselves part of a comfortable and comforting alliance.

It is rare to find friendships like that, especially in adult life, when the pressures of work and commitments at home overwhelm. Once upon a time, we sipped tea and dreamt about setting up our own company and working together. Today, we sipped tea and reminisced about the old days. So much has changed, and yet so little.

You know how sometimes things just click into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle? That was exactly what happened with us. We fitted into one another snugly.

And together, we bring out the best in each of us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

tHE PerFecT MaN

In striving to be the perfect friend, the perfect daughter, the perfect employee, the perfect student, the perfect sister, the perfect person, I sometimes forget to be me.

A person, in order to function fully and freely in the world, needs to be rooted. There must be basic anchors of beliefs and values that hold a person in place. And living under make-believe expectations keeps me chained to a self-less identity.

“Stick to the basics,” he said.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I am in a strangely reflective mood these days. Perhaps it’s because I have been going through a lot of old documents to find a certificate that I need. And going through old things always puts me in an affected mood.

Feelings I had long forgotten surface.

Smells take on a sharper note.

Ears hear the loud ringing of silence.

Tastes develop extra textures.

Eyes that have seen too much no longer know how to cry.

ThiS Is LifE?

I spend all my time waiting for something big and momentous to happen, some earth-shattering and ground-breaking event, some tectonic clash that defines who I am. But I’m slowly coming to realise, this IS life. No big bang, no fanfare, nothing stupendous. There are no alarms, no bells and whistles. There is just me and life.

It is a humbling thought. It is a sobering thought. It is a scary thought. That I am the same as everyone else. That I am no different. That this is life.

How can there be nothing more to life? How can it just be this daily grind? Is it reality or cynicism that has set in?

Stop thinking. Life is life. Shit happens.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I used to rage against the world. Against all the injustices that people suffered. Against the prejudices that people inflicted. Against the lies that humanity bought, and sold.

I still rage against the world now. But the rage is tempered somewhat. With my problems taking over a big part of me. With the knowledge that certain things cannot be changed. With the blind-sightedness that comes with age.

I still cry when I see the old lady sitting by herself eating her bread.

Friday, September 19, 2008

LaBEls & liBeLS

I was reading an article in New York Times about how “prevalent” mental illness seems to be among children these days. Not because of the advances in medical science. But because it is easier to have a diagnosis than none.

And I began to think. How many times do we fall into that trap of labeling ourselves and others? How many times do we consciously or unconsciously give ourselves a role without first thinking if that role is suitable for us? How many times do we talk ourselves into failing because we assume we are failures? The countless diets we go on, because we are convinced we are too fat? The constant struggle to be bigger and better, because we think we are never good enough?

Sometimes, I need to learn to be happy with me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

sOMethInG Has TO GivE

There comes a point when something has to give. I remember learning in physics or advanced math or some such exotic subject about the “yield point”. Then there is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

I guess I have my breaking point too. When my patience runs thin. When frustration envelopes me. When I'm ready to bite off your head, scratch your eyes out and wring your neck. When something has to give.

Do I give up? ‘Course not!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Success is not necessarily sweeter than failure. Winning is not necessarily better than losing. What we often do not see is that without failure, without losing, we wouldn’t know what is success, what is winning.

It is not just a matter of complementarities or opposition. When one door closes, another door opens. Or maybe many other doors you never really noticed before.

Not just life, and death.

A continuum, not a polarity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

nEw dAY

"Know that no day is the same as another, and that each morning contains its own particular miracle, its magic moment, when old universes are destroyed and new stars created."

(from "By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept" by Paulo Coelho)


Rejection. Is hard to accept. Even when you are expecting it.

I suppose there is this uncomfortable feeling that you are not good enough, not worthy enough, to be accepted. A necessary corollary to being rejected. That something is missing, that there is something lacking, in your person. It’s hard, almost impossible, to not take rejection personally.

Just me against the world.

“We regret to inform that your application has been unsuccessful.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The start of a relationship always brings with it a sense of wonder, of excitement, of anticipation. It is full of hope, for what is about to come. The process of interacting and connecting with the other is filled with promise… that perhaps, this is my soul-mate?

The ending of a relationship always brings with it a sense of sadness, of regret, of finality. There are many sighs, for what has come to pass. A sense of wanting to hold on, yet knowing you are unable to hold on any longer… that perhaps, this is really the end?

For tomorrow, I will start at the starting, and I will end at the ending.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


“Stop being a victim!” my friend said in exasperation.

And I’ve been mulling over his words for days now.

It is true.

When things happen, I tend to unconsciously adopt the role of a victim, I volunteer to be the damsel in distress. It is interesting, how I try to take on the weight of the world onto myself, as if it were my birthright. When I hear stories of starving children, families broken apart by war, I immediately become the hungry child, the mother who lost her son.

As if a lugubrious stance is second nature to me. My head hangs in despair. My heart aches in desolation.

Bring on the sadness! A toast to melancholy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

OveR To yOU

Writer's block.

Give me a word, any word, and I'll blog about that.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

iT Was...

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning lit up the whole sky, like a giant camera flash. Rain fell, like a million little needles. Winds lashed by, like a giant whip being swung.

I was glad to be home, safe from the elements. And I was tired from two days of ballet rehearsals and lessons. As I watched the lightning and rain, as I heard the thunder and wind, I felt wistful. Rainy days induce in me a strange feeling of nostalgia. Perhaps I was born on a rainy night many years ago.

I remember standing on the verandah looking out into the rain. I remember watching the leaves glaze over with a coat of rain. I remember the precision, the sleek wetness of the rain. I remember gazing into the sky in wonder, “Where does the rain come from?”

And I saw that the moon had left a grin.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My sTOrY

Was trying to write a short biography of myself, as a blurb to a piece of poetry I had submitted for consideration. And it was difficult. I must have spent a good half-hour agonizing over it, trying to find the right words, and only managed a meager three sentences.

And then it occurred to me, creating a piece of art takes time. I mean, I am an impatient person in general. So I tend to end up “forcing” pieces of art to take shape within a day or half a day. I cannot imagine having to work on something for months, years even. Would not the essence of the work be diluted over so much time? Just like how I am always amazed at autobiographies that are filled with speech. How can one remember conversations held a lifetime ago?

“Tell me your story,” he said.

“Where do I start?” I asked.

“Begin at the beginning.”

I took a deep breath…


"Sam, there is a wonderful Jewish teaching that tells us that before a child is born, God infuses that child with all of the knowledge and wisdom he or she needs in life. Then God puts his finger to the child's lips and says, 'shh,' making at that moment a secret pact between the child and God. As the story goes, that's why everyone has that indentation on the upper lip. It's God's fingerprint."

(from Letters to Sam by Daniel Gottlieb)

Monday, September 8, 2008


I’ve recently been plagued by this shroud of nervous energy. I don’t know where it comes from, except that it is there. I can feel it in my bones, in the rush to my head, in the many many images that race through my mind.

The good thing is, it gives me energy. The bad thing is, it makes me feel nervous. It’s an odd combination, this sensation, like something dreamed up in my mind and manifested in my person. Frenzy that knows no beginning and no end.

I am mighty. Hear me roar!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Sleep is a very interesting phenomenon. We spend about a third of our lives sleeping. Or at least, I do. And still, I always wish I can sleep some more.

I like how sleep brings about a sense of comfort to the worn-out body. I like how sleep makes me feel safe. I like the tumbling into unconsciousness, like the mind is being switched off. But most of all, I like the promise of dreams.

Dreams are very important to me. For in dreams, I am able to do things that I am unable to do when I am awake. I can achieve milestones in my dreams that my normal waking self cannot. The limitless possibilities of dreams never fail to entice me. And dreams add colour to sleep. Sleeping without dreams is not good sleep in my books.

I love sleeping. And dreaming.

Good night!

Friday, September 5, 2008


My favourite time of day is 12:34. It’s that point when I have sufficiently woken up from the morning, and alert enough before my afternoon drowse. It’s that point when the world is almost asleep, and I am just greeting a new dawn.

It’s been difficult, some days, to welcome a new day. Some days, I just don’t feel in a welcoming mood. I would rather the day stayed away. But the days come on, relentlessly.

It’s easy, some days, to usher in a new day. Those days, I am full of energy and zest. I wish the day was longer so I could do all of what I want to do. But the day ends, eventually.

Tomorrow, will be a new day again.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

i Don'T kNOw

Why are partings always so sad? Why do we always cry when we say goodbye? Why do we always find it so difficult to let go?

There is an element of uncertainty hidden in every farewell. The sense of not knowing. And it scares us, this not knowing. Not knowing if this is the last time we will see the person. Not knowing if there is a next time. Not knowing if we will still be around even then.

The road is long, and we need to keep on walking.

laNGuAgE & ThoUGht

Language and thought have fascinated me since I was young. How we use words to communicate with one another intrigues me. How meaning is passed on from one person to the next captivates me. For a long time now, I have been absorbed by the tenuous relation between language, thought and meaning.

Do thoughts exist before language? Or does language exist before thoughts? Before we had words, did we have thoughts? Before we had thoughts, did we need words? Is thought matter, and language is just a way of encoding thoughts?

I find such philosophical ruminations stimulating. Perhaps in some strange way, they help me grapple with the meaning of my life. Personally, I’d like to think that language is more than just a vehicle for expressing thoughts.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I was chatting with a friend about the conveniences that modern technology affords us today. I mean, I don’t think I can survive now without a microwave or a washing machine. And without my mobile phone or the Internet, I would feel so displaced, dislocated even, from the world around me.

It used to be that we could only chat with friends over the phone when they were home. Now we are intruded every second with SMS and phone calls. It used to be that I had to hand write letters home every week when I was in university. Now there’s email and Skype and MSN messaging.

The growth of this technological revolution is impressive. More so because it is happening in a generation where I can appreciate the “before” and the “after”. Just when I have figured out how to read a paper map, mobile phones are now equipped with GPS (GPRS?) capability. Sometimes, even the acronyms escape me.

I worry about the younger generation. I worry about the limitless possibilities that they need to face when growing up. I worry about the endless information streams they need to sort through. I worry about the loss of human interaction when one can so easily hide behind this “interface” called a computer.

But mostly, I worry that I may not be able to keep up with them.

Monday, September 1, 2008

iT's AlL GoOd?

In my interactions with people, I have always chosen to believe that everyone starts off with good intentions. Until they prove otherwise. Because I like to think, naively or not, that good is innate in man. Otherwise, I think the world would be a much scarier place to live in than it is now.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I condone all the atrocities that have been committed during times of war, times of famine, times of hunger, times of desolation. In fact, if I knew such people as Hitler personally, I would probably hate him with a vengeance.

I hear stories of cannibalism, of eating your mountain-climbing-mate-who-is-dead just so you can continue on your journey to salvation, and they gross me out. Totally.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison.