Saturday, November 29, 2008


I am not by nature an impulse-driven person. Much as I like to be spontaneous and carefree, the rational and cautious side of me wins hands-down. Most of the time anyway. Although I often wonder whether it is true that I would rather err on the side of caution, or whether I am just a scaredy-cat who doesn’t dare to venture out of her comfort zone.

Having said that, I do have my impulsive moments. Like the time when I decided I needed socks. And I bought close to 15 pairs of socks, within the day. Or the other time when I decided I wanted to read. And I bought close to 20 books – of which the majority is still lying in their shrink-wrap untouched.

My birth sign is Libra, a pair of scales. Balance, is what I seek.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Food has a very interesting role within my family. Not only is food energy-giving and life-sustaining, food also serves as our moral and philosophical compass.

We have a favourite story of the Big Cookie. Long time ago, a mother left her son in the village while she went into the city for a couple of days. When she left, she tied around her son’s neck a very big cookie that would last him the duration of her absence. But alas, when she returned a few days later, her son had died because he only ate the cookie as far as his head could reach.

We also have a favourite philosophical question, “Would you rather starve to death or binge to death?” And during mealtimes, we would often debate on this topic quite intensely. And it shows in our attitudes toward food. Whether we live to eat or eat to live.

Would I rather starve or binge? I think that depends a lot on what I’m denying myself of, or what I am indulging myself in.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pay iT FoRWarD

Often, when someone does something nice or kind to me, I wonder why. I wonder why I have been picked to receive this special favour. I wonder why the person would choose to help me instead of someone else, perhaps more deserving. And I realized, there is no rationality in acts of kindness.

I remember watching the movie “Pay It Forward”. I remember how intensely the message of the show resonated with me. I remember being so inspired I wanted to start my own version of paying it forward.

When I do something nice or kind to someone, I don’t expect there to be any returns (I think it’s pathetic if relationships became so transactional). So, the simple joy of seeing the person smile is enough. And the knowledge that you have made the world a slightly better place for someone, even if it is for a moment.

Loving, has little rhyme, and much less reason.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LonGEr thaN ALwaYs

I must have mentioned that I am not the most patient person. I may be lazy and like to procrastinate, but I am still an impatient person. So while I was waiting for the little green man at the traffic light the other day, I nearly killed myself by trying to jaywalk.

You know how they say that just before you die you will see your life flash by you in an instant? Well, that didn’t really happen. It was just a black blankness in my head. There weren’t any bright white lights, nor were there film reels of my life. There was nothing.

I suspect death is a lot like that. Just a black blankness stretching into forever. Without consciousness, there can be nothing. At least, I don’t think it is something that we can comprehend while we are awake. Except for our dreams, our sleeping hours are an unreality to our conscious minds.

Maybe dying is like falling asleep. Just longer than always.

Monday, November 24, 2008

wHat Do i KnoW?

I’ve been feeling a little wistful these days. It’s the holiday season. While people rush about to buy Christmas gifts and prepare for the New Year, I’m struggling to come to terms with the year that just passed. And it’s not only about weighing what I have done this year nor is it about writing new New Year resolutions. It’s about learning to take things in stride. It’s about learning to let go. It’s about learning that I need to learn more.

Not until quite recently did I discover that there are a lot of things I do not know. Like how the bulb lights up or how you shouldn’t climb into your bath-tub with the toaster oven switched on. I am sure I must have learnt this before during Physics class, but there is little or almost no retention of the material. The immensity of “knowledge” that is out there for me to pick up is … limitless and mind-boggling. Where do I start?

I think little children have it right. The easiest way to start is by asking, “Why?”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a FoREveR MoMeNT

I have, for a long time, been bothered by the concept of a forever moment. For sometimes, it just so happens that you are entirely consumed by what is happening at that particular point in time. And all your focus is on that. And that moment seems to stretch into forever.

They tell me it is a matter of perspective. Imagine a big piece of white canvass with a black ink blob on it. Some people will describe the ink blob down to the minutest detail. Some others will see there is a white piece of canvass yet to be explored. The perennial problem of the glass half-empty or half-full.

A forever moment. A moment that stretches into eternity? Or eternity caught in a moment?

Friday, November 21, 2008

mY SafE HaVEn

When I was studying in New Zealand, there was a place I loved to visit. It’s a little clearing on a little hill. The path to the clearing is lined with tall pine trees on both sides. I loved to hear the crunch of dirt and fallen tree branches while walking. I loved to be able to pick up pine cones along my way. I loved to imagine that that was the path where my knight in shining armour would ride down and sweep me away into a life of eternal bliss.

I would visit the clearing very often. I liked to sit there and stare at the little town far below me. It’s a pretty place, and because there wasn’t anyone who really visited there, I adopted the clearing as my own safe haven. Some of my best pieces of poetry were written there.

It’s also a place I visit when I felt sad. A little way off the clearing lies a cemetery. Sometimes I’d take a stroll there when I was feeling down. There’s something comfortable in the quiet of the cemetery. It reminded me of the fragility of life. It also reminded me of the resilience of life.

Now, all I have are memories of that place.


I learnt a very important lesson in forgiveness today.

I’m often very torn when it comes to forgiving people. I’ve always felt that when I forgive someone, I’m doing wrong to myself. Yet if I don’t forgive that person, I feel awful. And then I realized, I have never really tried to separate the act from the person.

To me at least, I have always taken the thing that the person has done to hurt me as part of the person himself or herself. Which is why there is this feeling of betraying myself when I try to forgive someone.

But forgiveness does not mean that I condone or accept the wrong you have done to me. Forgiveness means that I am able to see you as separate from the act. Forgiveness means I can look you in the eye and still trust you.

Forgiving is really really hard.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

bEinG WhOLe

I like to sit alone and think. I let my mind wander. Sometimes, it could be a familiar refrain from a song I like. Sometimes, it could be words that I read from a book. Sometimes, it could be stuff that friends write to me in emails. And suddenly, my mind takes on a life of its own.

I love the plasticity of my mind. That it is able to think, to rationalize, to dream. But, too much of something good may not be that good after all. Just like my mind, and how it argues itself into corners it can’t get out of.

I’ve been thinking about Humpty Dumpty, and how he could not be put together again. Humpty Dumpty fell, and he could not be whole again. I fell, I broke, and I can’t decide if I am still whole.

“You can’t appreciate wholeness until you see it from the perspective of God,” she said.

Monday, November 17, 2008

thE PoTatO BaLLeRinA

I spent the morning sewing ribbons onto my pointe shoes. The process is time-consuming. First, I cut the ribbons into correct lengths. Then, I make a marking on the pointe shoes where the ribbons should go. The ribbons need to be burnt at their edges to prevent fraying. And the sewing part is where it gets tricky, because the needle should only go through the canvas part of the pointe shoes and not the satin layer outside. Lastly, elastic bands are sewn on at the Achilles heel part of the shoes to allow for better fit.

Pointe shoes are actually very interesting creations. With just a hardened box at the top of the shoes, it allows a ballerina to stand on her tiptoes. And suddenly, even a short girl can look tall. In some inexplicable way, I find it easier to balance myself in pointe shoes rather than in soft shoes. The box evens out the centre of gravity, allowing each toe to have a hold on the ground. Of course, the toes go through a lot of wear and even more tear.

My teacher said I look like “a sack of potatoes” dancing… sigh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

dO I LoOK Fat?

I have always been a big proponent of telling the truth. Truth is one of those values in life which I will not compromise, like no killing, equality of life for all, etc. It must be something I have picked up over the years, because I remember I wasn’t the most truthful kid in my neighbourhood when I was little. But now that I’m grown and “have experienced life”, as they say, I have incorporated truth as part of my personal value system.

The only blemish on the horizon – white lies. The matter of white lies puzzles me. Telling something untrue in order not to hurt people. Must it really be one way or another? I hate being a hypocrite, telling lies. I also hate to hurt people, telling the truth.

“So do I look fat in this dress?”

Truth is often brutal.

Friday, November 14, 2008

CoNfiDEntLY DouBtFuL

I have realized something interesting that happens during my ballet lessons. And it has something to do with the frame of mind in which I attend the lesson.

When I go into the lesson full of worry that my teacher will scold me, and that my classmates are all picking up so fast except me, I tend to have a wobbly lesson. My worries would prevent me from focusing and concentrating, so that I find it really difficult to execute the movements.

But when I go into the lesson with a light heart, wanting nothing but to be able to dance and express myself, I tend to have relatively good lessons. I trust that my body would have enough dance-sense to carry me through the lesson, and usually I do not do too badly.

Self-doubt, is a very powerful force.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TheSE thInGs cALLeD FeEliNgs

As I am wont to do, I had a pseudo-philosophical discussion with a friend yesterday afternoon. We were talking about emotions, about feelings and how they impact on us.

For a very long time, I was under the impression that there are “right” feelings and there are “wrong” feelings. (There are many personal, familial, social forces at play in contributing to the perception that feelings are “right” or “wrong”.) Like feeling happy is considered “correct”, but feeling angry is “not correct”. For example, what happens when I feel angry is that I don’t acknowledge the feeling is there. I sweep it under the carpet, and the emotion gets buried deep inside me, because it is considered “wrong” to show anger. Over time, when enough of the negative emotions have been collecting, they start to boil over, and show themselves at inappropriate times.

So now I’m slowly learning, that although there are negative emotions, these negative feelings in themselves cannot be considered “right” or “wrong”. They are a lot more complex than that, actually. And having the awareness and being able to articulate these feelings inside us is part of the process to becoming human.

My friend also mentioned something interesting. That often, these so-called negative feelings are actually “nurturing” feelings as well. Because they force us to look at what is causing the distress, and prompt us to show some care for ourselves.

“Take a deep breath. Ride it out for now.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My impatience often gets me into trouble. I get annoyed having to wait for things to happen. Like waiting my turn at the swimming pool (because some person decided it was much more fun to swim breadth-wise across the pool instead). Or waiting to cross the road. Or waiting in line to pay.

This impatience is most obvious when it comes to my attempts at artistic pursuits. I look at my seniors in ballet class and I impulsively think I can do those steps too. I start a piece of drawing and I have to get it done within the day (or within hours if possible). Working with media that need drying, like clay or stained glass, is hard for me.

Sometimes I think, if I could live my entire life in one whole day, I might do just that.

And she said, “Day by day. Little by little.”

Sunday, November 9, 2008

aiR-dRYinG CLaY

My latest discovery in my artistic quest is air-drying clay. I’ve been playing with it for the last couple of days. It’s a difficult, yet interesting, medium to work with.

Air-drying clay is not as malleable as Play-Doh. Neither is it as sturdy as plasticine. So here I have this mixture that is part-floury, part-lumpy, and the determined artist in me was trying to make elephants. The first elephant I made by fashioning the different body parts individually and then putting them together. The second elephant I made by molding the whole animal from the same lump of clay.

The putting-the-body-parts-together part was difficult, because the clay lumps do not cling easily once separated. Eventually I had to use water and a little cocktail-pick to painstakingly meld the parts together. The teasing-out-elephant-from-one-lump-of-clay project was difficult for its own reasons. The clay was too soft to take firm hold of the shape so while I was working on the head and trunk the left limb would be deformed and vice-versa.

Good art takes time to create.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


"The jobs so many dogs really perform is to allow us to project our feelings upon them, to assume they are excited or downhearted or lonely when we are. 'He’s so much happier when he’s out in the country,' my husband always liked to say about Beau. And maybe he was right. But I suspect it is he who is happier in the country, and he liked the idea that he and Beau were of one mind."

(from Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen)

Friday, November 7, 2008

sOBeRinG LesSoN

I learnt a sobering lesson. When bad things happen, they happen together. Successively. Consecutively. One after another. And an accumulation of bad things happening drags my mood down down down.

Curious phenomenon. It’s like when one bad thing happens, our senses are tuned in to only react to the bad things.

Have we become too caught up in the bad things that we have forgotten to count our blessings?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

LosT WitHOut yOu

A friend asked me why my MSN message read “lost without you”, and he insinuated that I was pathetic.

In just a span of a few months, I lost a place in the speech therapy course that I am keenly interested in, I lost a very good friend and mentor, I lost a job that I was only centimeters away from getting, I'm losing what I once thought was the dream of my life. Hence I’ve been pondering on the concept of loss, and the impact it has had on me.

Losing something is often painful. That sense of disbelief, that sense of rude shock, that sense of dismay. And more often than not, losing something leaves me feeling lost. I am a relatively “sticky” person, in that I tend to be overly attached to things, to ideas, to concepts, to events, to people. Without these anchoring me to life, it is very easy for me to lose myself.

Of course I feel lost without you. You taught me how to light a match in the darkness. You fished me out when I fell into the deep well. You have been my solace. I am not pathetic, just grateful.

Lost without you… but I’ll survive somehow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Every so often, things happen that make me feel there is a grand design to my life, my existence and to the world around me. Snippets of songs that perk me up when I am down. Words of wisdom when I am feeling lost. Friends getting in touch when I am feeling lonely.

Or times when I am thinking about something or someone and the incident happens or I come into contact with the person I was thinking about. I guess if I look around me long enough, I can probably find evidence of coincidences everywhere.

Yet I wonder, are coincidences just merely that? Random events coming together? I like to believe, though, that things happen for a reason.

And maybe coincidences are a way of letting us in on the magic of this world.

WhaT It TakEs to Be A SupERheRo

If you realise that your idols are human too, would you be happy or sad? Happy that you may be like them? Sad that they are only like you? I’m feeling a bit ambivalent about this.

I just discovered today some things that I would rather not have discovered about a person that I respect and admire. I suppose I should have stopped, but I craved for the information. And like eating up that last chocolate, I am now feeling guilty. Not that there was anything scandalous or illegal going on. It is just the fact that that person is also human is starting to sink in. And that, hit me hard.

In my world of comic-book superheroes and television idols, the people I admire have larger-than-life and out-of-this-world personalities. Even if they are human, they are only human for part of the time. While they have a second life with which they don their superhero power and idol glamour.

Pity, reality chugs along and labels us plain humans.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I must have a face that says, “Please feel free to ask me for directions.”

Just in the past week, I’ve been asked for directions on three separate occasions. And they all seem to have an interesting story to tell.

I met the first uncle in the hospital. He said he had just sent his neighbour to hospital on the ambulance and he didn’t know how to go home, coupled with the fact that he didn’t bring his wallet. So I whipped out some money and sent him off in the correct direction.

Then I met another guy on my way to ballet while a torrential rain was pouring. He was trying to get to church, but as I was rushing for my class, I pointed vaguely in the direction that he was supposed to go and mentioned he might like to take a cab instead.

The last man I met just last night on my way home. He was “lost” in a completely different part of town than where he was supposedly staying. And I have a relatively poor sense of direction when it comes to roads because I travel only by the train. He wanted to know which direction to walk in so he could walk home. Again, for some reason I cannot really remember, he didn’t have money on him (he was robbed?). So I whipped out the last bit of money I had in my purse and waved him off to the train station.

Crooks or not, it’s hard to ignore someone who has cornered you with their pitiful story.

Wouldn’t you err on the side of generosity?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

DifFiCuLT quEStiOnS

Would I tolerate polygamy to be with the man of my dreams? Would I love a man so much that I am willing to share him with others? Would I be willing to trade fidelity for a few stolen moments of being with my darling man?

These are difficult questions. Questions that I hope I’ll never have to answer.

Yet it’s an interesting thought experiment. The concepts of love and the man of my dreams. The concepts of fidelity and adultery. They are closer to me than I first imagined.

Because when push comes to shove, I actually don’t know which way I’ll go.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

cOMe hoLD My HanD


Regret. Feeling sad about something wrong or a mistake made and wishing it could be different and better.

A friend asked if I have any regrets in life, and I was hard put to answer. Regret presupposes that things are either correct or not. But what if it isn’t always so simple? Between right and wrong, mistakes and successes, there is ambivalence and fear, insight and indifference.

Sure, I regret not having continued with ballet lessons when I was younger (as opposed to me attending classes now with my inflexible body and feeling all clumsy in class). I feel sad about it. But that is not necessarily wrong or a mistake. It was just that at that time, circumstances extenuating or otherwise made me choose what was then the best option for me. And I have heard say that decisions cannot be deemed just right or wrong.

Is there really regret? When it cannot be any different or better?