Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010

Apparently, the moon tonight is a rare sight that occurs only once in 19 years. It’s hard to imagine but I’ll be in my 50s the next time it happens. I started losing count of how old I am after I turned 21. I ran out of fingers and toes.

Contemplating my mortality on the first day of a new year feels a little masochistic. But I always like to keep my expectations at the low, reachable, believable level. It’s healthier to live in easy contentment than to live to be a hundred.

Happy New Year!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

ChRisTmaS

I used to look forward to Christmas with eager anticipation. There was the buying of new clothes and dressing up. And going to midnight mass. And meeting up with friends. And exchanging presents.

I feel a bit ambivalent about Christmas now. Maybe it’s because I have grown up. The story of Santa Claus no longer captures my attention. We have so much that giving and receiving gifts seem almost futile.

Nostalgia. Gives me goose-bumps.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

MoVinG oN

As the time draws near to when we have to say goodbye, a sense of disquiet fills me. I’ve dreamt for a long time about going away. Yet a part of me hopes to be able to linger for a little while more.

The last time I stayed away from home was when I was studying in New Zealand. That was more than 10 years ago. Soon, I will be wandering off again. To a different place.

It’s going to be a new start. Not a complete negation of the last nine years of my life, but something approaching that. I have been waiting at the crossroads for too long, only to realise no one's going to pick me up. So I took a left turn.

He told me, “Don’t look back.”
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

hoLiDAy

It has been a week of the great outdoors and family time. The mountain vista commanded our attention and awe. The rainforest made itself seen and heard and felt. The sea drew us with its mesmerizing waves. We laughed so much our sides were splitting and our eyes tearing.

I have not enjoyed myself so much and with abandon in a long time.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

aWay

I’ve been away in the mountains and rainforests and seas.

It feels really good to be back in nature’s embrace.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

pReTty

Pretty people get away with so much more.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

a SmiLe

I thought I saw a familiar face among the crowd today. For a very brief moment, our glances met. While I was debating whether to smile, I am sure our brains started working furiously, to recall if our paths have once crossed.

I remember her. We met under the strangest of circumstances. I was incapacitated and incarcerated, having fought with and being defeated by Mr. D. She tended to my wounds, coming by each day, to ask me how I am.

I don’t know if she remembers me. But I smile anyway.

She smiled back.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

tRusT

It takes a long time to build up trust.

It takes just a moment to break that trust.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

KeyS

I must have been 18 when I received my first set of house-keys. Interestingly, that was also my first time living away from home. I had just arrived in New Zealand to start my university studies, and was staying in a rented room. It was exciting to have keys that I could call my own.

That first set of house-keys was significant in many ways. It meant I had grown up. It represented freedom. It proved I could be trusted to take care of myself. To hear and feel the jingling of the keys in my pockets made me smile.

I know I have come home.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

ReMemBeRinG

Remembering was tumultuous. Details you want to hide and hide from surface. Emotions you thought you had laid to rest returned. The rawness of the experience left me catching my breath.

Remembering was necessary. To exorcise the demons of the past. In facing them with the wisdom of hindsight, you negotiate a way out.

She told me to go back to the safe place.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

WaRniNg

Don't jump to conclusions.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

pLayGRouNd

It is night and the playground is empty. It feels kind of spooky walking in a deserted playground. If you listen hard enough, it is almost as if you can still hear echoes of the children’s ghosts. I pick a toadstool stool, and I sit down. To contemplate the darkness around me.

I don’t remember if I was fond of playgrounds when I was young. But judging from my fear of falling down and being embarrassed, I would guess not. Although, I think I might have liked see-saws and swings, structures which playgrounds are doing without these days.

I’ve been thinking a lot about children recently. Perhaps that is why I wandered here. I am at the age where it’s appropriate to “have children”, not that my biological clock is ticking in any sense. It’s just that a lot of what I do lately involve children, and I hope a lot of what I do in the future will involve children too. You see, I would like to be a speech therapist specializing in children’s speech issues.

My inspiration comes from many years ago. I was then a teenager helping out in a school for the handicapped. Most of the kids in my class were non-verbal, on top of their physical disabilities. Each week, I’d go down to the school and help them with their schoolwork, like colouring, or writing the alphabets, or counting. Sometimes we’ll put the music on and let them dance. I tried to interact with them as much as I could, always feeling a little sad that they were unable to communicate with me.

On my last day there, this little girl came up to me. She took my hand, pointed, and said, “Watch.” My eyes filled up with tears.

And that moment, is what I hope to recapture.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HanD IN hAnD

It was late afternoon. Shadows were lengthening. We were walking in the botanic garden. Hand in hand. I was happy. My heart bursting with joy.

It was a long while ago. We took many walks together. In fact, we did lots of things together. I am not even sure if you remember.

Then life happened. We parted ways.

Just because there’s no one holding my hand now doesn’t mean I can’t reach out and hold somebody’s hand.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A pHOto

There is a photo of me hanging on my bedroom wall. It was taken by a very dear friend whom I have since lost contact with. In the photo, I am standing on some rocks facing the ocean. You can only see my back view in silhouette against the dusky backdrop.

I was visiting my friend at that time. She had just picked me up from the airport, and we were going back to her place. En route, we stopped at the beach. I remember being very fascinated with some people who were riding horses on the beach. Although that was many years ago, the day is still as vivid in my mind.

As time passes, different people come into our lives. Some stay for the long haul, some drop by for a little while. I cherish my friendships a lot, and it saddens me when I lose contact with someone. I am sentimental in that way. One of life’s hardest lessons for me is learning when to let go.

I think of my friend often. And I wonder how she is doing.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

ThaT pOSteR gOt Me ThiNKinG

As I was on my way to the post office today, I came across a poster with a picture of an old man. Worried family members had posted it because the elderly gentleman is missing. He is suffering from dementia, so he doesn’t know his way home.

That poster got me thinking.

When I grow old, would I rather have a feeble body or a feeble mind?

I love my mind. I love being able to think. I cannot imagine living without my faculty of thought intact. Yet ironically, when I am losing my mind, I probably would have no clue that I am losing my mind. So would that still matter?

I love my physical body too. Most of it anyway. I shudder to think of the time when my body will start failing me. Or when pain starts to eat away at my being. At that point, would having my fully functioning mind make me any happier knowing my body is degenerating?

I don’t know the answers. Do you?
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

ReGreT

I remember there was a phase in my life when I was trying to figure out the concept of regret. “Regret” by definition means “a feeling of sadness about something sad or wrong or about a mistake that you have made, and a wish that it could have been different and better.” (*according to the Cambridge online dictionary)

Put like that, regret seems a little futile to me. Things have already gone wrong and you are feeling sad, and wishing that it could have been different or better. But that sadness and wishing won’t do anything to change what has happened.

Do we really want to continue feeling sad and just wishing? It becomes so easy to get stuck in a rut like that. I know, because I’ve been stuck in this rut for long enough. Slowly, I have come to the realisation that what is really important is not the feeling sad part, but what you do after (or even while in the midst of) the sadness.

Regret is passive, but we are alive.

So I have decided. I am going to stop feeling sorry for myself.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

YoU & mE = We

That was one of the better conversations we had in a long time. Where thoughts flowed smoothly, words came easily, a kindred banter. And I loved that we could laugh together, sharing jokes, sharing life.

Over the years, we have come to an easy understanding of each other. Where I can read your subtext and you can read mine. And I rest assured in the knowledge that my secrets (or at least, most of them) are safe in your keeping.

I am filled with a warm fuzzy feeling. And it’s kind of nice.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The BiG biG HouSE

When I was very much younger, I had this vision of how I want my life to be when I grow up. I wanted to build a big big house. And in that big big house would live all the people I like and admire. Friends, cousins, relatives… It didn’t matter, as long as the person is considered “nice” in my books, he or she would be invited to stay together with me in this big big house. I literally had a lot of dreams about this big big house, even down to details like the structure of the house, how the rooms looked, and who is supposed to stay in which wing.

Over the years, I have met and befriended many wonderfully kind and generous people. Whether it is a chance encounter, a brief moment of passing, long-time friends, occasional colleagues, family members, these people have touched my life in so many ways. And in my books, they get to stay in the big big house.

As I grow older, though, I realise the impracticality of having so many people under the same roof, not to mention the logistical nightmare that would ensue. Yet I miss my dreams of the big big house where all the nice people have the opportunity to stay together and to make the world a better place.

You are invited.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CaTS

The cat is sitting on a ledge on the 11th floor of the building. While it looks around curiously, I am watching it with eagle eyes, praying that she doesn’t lose her balance and fall off.

That is how I am with a lot of things in life. I am a worry-wart. Whatever is happening around me, I always think of the worst of the situation. And I do that almost unconsciously, like a reflex.

I can’t be sure but I think such a state of mind has robbed me of a lot of spontaneity in life. It undermines a lot of my experiences of the world.

I always think cats can teach us important lessons.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

tHE saMe

We share the same birth month. I don’t know why but it makes me happy to know that. Another one of these coincidences I like to call serendipity.

Sometimes I wonder if I am reading too much into things. Noticing signs and patterns and believing that they are the work of divine intervention.

It’s silly when I think about it. Like I am all of 16 and having a high-school crush again.

A mirage. Except that it isn’t.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The PaCiFisT iN Me

I consider myself a pacifist. I don’t like to stir up trouble. When the majority decides on a particular matter, I tend to go along with it, even when I might not agree with it wholeheartedly. Not that I don’t have my own opinions about things, or am unable to hold my own against the world, but I just don’t like to create unnecessary conflict if it can be helped.

However, recently, I find myself slowly losing patience and tolerance for some of the things that my friends are doing. Increasingly, I am finding it difficult to act nonchalant about some of the decisions that they make. Not that they are into organized crime or anything like that, but it bothers me that they say one thing and do something else.

I can only close my eyes for this long, before I have to open them again.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

FoRgiVEneSs

Bearing grudges, as they have told me, is not healthy. Hate brings with it deep psychological and even physical trauma. Forgiving, as they have told me, is good. One needs to let go of the hurt in order to move on.

I have often wondered, though, what forgiveness means. Does the act of saying “I forgive you” do it? Does it mean you have forgiven when you no longer feel the hurt inside? Does time really make things better?

I no longer know how or why.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

mY LifE sO FaR

There are two people I credit with saving my life. And I mean this in the most literal sense. They grabbed hold of my hand, and yanked me out from the dark hole of despair. At a time when I had given up, they did not.

There are three people I credit with giving me life. And I mean this with the utmost sincerity. They stood by me, and refused to take no for an answer. At a time when I did not want to give up, neither did they.

There are a number of people I credit with enriching my life. And I mean this from the bottom of my heart. They encouraged me, supported me, and most importantly trusted me. At a time when I needed it, we laughed together.

I owe too many people too many favours.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DrEamS & NigHtMaRes

I can remember the day in excruciating detail. From the time I woke up with a sense of calm anticipation, to the time I went to bed with a sense of quiet resignation. There was never a moment of doubt or hesitation. For that day was in many ways the culmination of all my years of dreaming and fantasizing.

I don’t remember being exceptionally happy that day. Nor was I terribly upset. I was, in a sense, beyond feeling. And perhaps that, was what pulled me through. The floating sense of being there and yet not there. A dreamscape.

Now, it just feels like a nightmare.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

reFLeCtioNs

It is eventide and the birds are chirping their last songs before darkness comes. Everywhere, people are hurrying home. You can hear mothers calling for their kids in the playground. As I sit here, wondering, and watching the world go by.

I once used to be part of this after-work hubbub. Contending with tens of thousands of people to get home. But I guess I am lucky in the sense that I have been able to walk away from all of that. Except that I sometimes miss dressing in my power suit and strutting my way downtown.

Still, I don’t think I miss work.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

cLimbiNG sTaiRs

In my desperate bid to lose some weight, any weight, I have recently taken to climbing stairs as part of my exercise routine. It’s like a drill, going from the first floor to the twelfth floor, again and again and again. Like swimming, the inane repetition is strangely therapeutic.

I work on my fractions when I am climbing the stairs. Every three rounds make a fifth if I am doing 15 laps. Or every four rounds make a quarter if I am doing 16 laps. Or every nine rounds make a half if I am doing 18 laps. And so it goes.

The trick is, I don’t look back. Or at least, I try not to.
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

LifE

"The thing about life is one day you’ll be dead."

(David Shields)
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Friday, November 6, 2009

LucK

I have been mulling over the concept of The One – The One person who is supposedly your friend and soul-mate and lover and companion and all things complementary to you.

For a long while, I took this to be the gospel truth. That somewhere out there is The One for me. And truth be told, I had my eyes locked on The One for quite some time. Long before The One even noticed my presence, I think.

The flaw in the logic of The One is that it narrows your field of vision. And it limits your interactions with people. But most critically, it places too much responsibility on The One. For how many of us can find a friend and a soul-mate and a lover and a companion all in the same person?

Or maybe, it’s just my luck.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

mOck EXam

So I took a mock “exam” this morning for the GRE. And I did horribly. Apart from a bruised ego, there is also the realization that I need to study. A lot more.

Problem is, my brain is getting rusty. I can almost hear it cranking up with effort when I am doing the sums. And that, is not good.

What I thought I knew, I don’t know. What I do not know, I still don’t know.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

pARadoX

It has taken me all of 32 years to figure out that I am the same as everyone else, and yet different.

That we are not so different from one another to escape trials and tribulations in our lives. We all suffer. That we possess unique skills and talents with which to conquer the world. We can all shine.

While it may not be a liberating insight in itself, it is an interesting paradox to consider.

Everybody is a snowflake.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

PeRHapS

I have been thinking.

I try so hard, yet it always seems as if I haven’t tried hard enough.

Perhaps, there is no lesson to be learnt.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

My fRiEnd

Once, an Elder told me he made a decision to be my friend. He said this friendship wasn't based on my behavior or how I acted; he said the friendship was based on his decision. He decided to be my friend. This friendship has happened like he said. Even if I don't see him for a long time, or if I get mad at him, he has never changed his decision.

This is true friendship.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

bEcaUSe

“Don’t come near me,” I said.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Just because,” I faltered.

Because I’ve tried so long to forget you.
Because I’ve tried so hard to forgive you.
Because you bring along storms I cannot weather.
Because you leave behind destruction I cannot face.

“So don’t,” I said, “don’t come near me. Because it’s so much easier to sit down and wait to be picked up in your embrace.”
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

DisCoveRy

I've discovered, there's no graceful way to sneeze.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

MeaNiNG & LifE

I’ve been pondering a lot about life. And the meaning of life. For some reason, it is extremely important to me that I figure it out. To what end, I am unsure, except that there is always this nagging inside my head.

And I’ve been puzzling over this: whether I give meaning to the things that I do, or whether the things I do give meaning to my life?
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Friday, October 23, 2009

dEciDeD

It was not an easy decision to give up my market research career to pursue speech therapy. Especially when it’s the transition period now and things are still in a flux. As I hear my friends talk about the market research industry, I sometimes feel very out-of-place. It is not without a tinge of sadness that I recall the last 9 years of my life, my glories and my failures in the market research world.

Yet a decision has been made, and I have been told it’s better to look forward than backward. So also I wait with bated breath for the results of my grad school applications.

It’s just that the grass always looks greener on the other side.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LoTteRy

I bought lottery the other day. $14 worth of lottery. I wanted a shot at becoming a millionaire.

It was an interesting experience buying the lottery ticket. First, I discovered that there are many different types of lottery that one can buy. Then there are multiple permutations of different number combinations you can buy. And of course, different monetary values you can win.

What really caught my eye, though, were the people queuing to buy lottery. The quiet determination with which they filled out the tickets, the self-satisfaction that lined their faces as they paid. As if each of them was privy to the special combination of numbers that would win them the top prize.

Unfortunately, I didn’t win anything.

But who can deny, we all hope to get a piece of heaven.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

aPpLicATioN

It’s been a couple of weeks since I submitted my application to Sydney University, but I haven’t heard from them yet. I should not be panicking, because results will only be out end November. Yet it is difficult to curb my anxiety (and my impatience).

When you’re waiting for something, your world sort of gets turned upside down. It’s difficult to focus on things right at hand, as at the back of your mind, you are perpetually fretting about this one thing. And this one thing occupies your imagination for better or for worse. Like a kind of learned helplessness. While you wait.

Waiting, at eternity’s gate.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

cLouDs

I haven’t lain down on the grass and looked at the sky in a long time. In fact, I can’t even remember when was the last time I did that – tracing clouds with my fingers and making up stories in my head.

In my quest for human perfection, which is an oxymoron in itself, I might have forgotten how to enjoy some of the simpler pleasures of life. Like greeting a neighbour in the lift. Or playing with children. Or reading a good book. Or laughing with friends.

It’s very easy, really.
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GRE

One of the highlights of applying to graduate school in the US has to be the Graduate Record Examination.

Preparing for the GRE is turning out to be a lot more stressful than I originally thought. There are word lists to memorise, math theorems to remember, issues to be analysed, essays to be written. My mind is tumbling over from just thinking about it.

So I bought a prep book the other day. A thick fat volume with model tests and practice exercises. And tips that promise to help me ace my exam.

I look at the questions and my mind draws a blank.
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

ThE bLueS

Come this time of year, I tend to be a bit more pensive/ philosophical/ thoughtful/ reflective. I brood more, and my already melancholic self thrives. Every cloud seems to have lost its silver lining, every rainbow missing the seven pots of gold. And I feel a bit disjointed from reality.

I call it my October blues.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

tiReD

I’ve been dogged by this extreme feeling of tiredness for some time now. I fall asleep everywhere! On the train, while I’m reading, even when I’m working at my laptop. It’s bizarre. I haven’t felt so tired in a very long while. And it’s not like I’m doing hard labour all day, every day. It’s just very weird.

I wonder what’s wrong.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

goALs

There are many things to prepare in applying to graduate school, not the least of which is writing my personal goal statements. The questions always revolve around why I want to study speech therapy and what distinguishes me from the other candidates. Either of which can risk sounding really banal, or over-the-top.

When all I want to do is to help people.

I feel called in this way.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No-MaN'S-LanD

This feeling disorientates me. It covers over my world like a soft spider-web. I feel like I’m hovering between the worlds of the sleeping and the wakeful. Struggling to peel myself away from sleep. Yet failing in the very attempt to try to waken.

Disorientation begets creative thinking.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

OveRwHeLMed

Sometimes, I look at the achievements of others, and I feel a tinge of sadness. Sadness that I am unable to reach where they are able to go. At these times, the world seems so big it is almost scary. Talent in all shape and form exists. So where does that leave me?

I have often wondered about the value of my life, and the role of my being within the greater world out there. I have also often wondered whether the world runs on purely utilitarian principles as I imagine it to. That the worth of a person is measured by how much – how well – he can contribute to society.

And I am sadly reminded of how little I possess by way of aptitude or skill. For what can I give to make the world a better place? Nothing, really.

It is at this juncture that I am overwhelmed.
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Friday, October 9, 2009

PapEr

I collected several pieces of paper the other day
They hold great significance except I cannot say

For they give me back to me
And they set me free

So here I am the only one
And the deed is done
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不知為何...

... 最近有點心酸
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

sURpriSe

I think what I like about growing up is the fact that I get to enjoy a whole plethora of different experiences. Be they happy or sad, sane or mad, good or bad, these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. Their very essence flows in me, my streams of consciousness. And I am grateful for the lessons I have learnt along the way.

But that also means that I am no longer the little girl who looks at the world with wide-eyed wonder.

Few things, if any, surprise me these days.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TeRmiNaL iLLneSs

"Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived."

(Anna Quindlen)
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Monday, October 5, 2009

pEoPLe

I think there are two kinds of people in this world. The happy people and the sad people.

Happy people look at the cloudy sky and think, “It’s going to rain today!”

Sad people look at the cloudy sky and think, “It’s going to rain today.”

I look at the cloudy sky and think, “Stop thinking in exclamation marks! It’s tiring.”
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

ConFidEnCE

Somewhere along the way, I lost a lot of confidence, in myself. Take this current madness of applying to graduate schools. Back when I was younger, I usually had one choice of school that I knew would take me in, so I never had to worry about Plan Bs and back-up strategies. Right now, I’m not so sure anymore. I feel a little like a headless chicken applying to multiple schools and then second-guessing whether I’ll get accepted, whether to apply to more schools. Life no longer operates with the certainty it once did.

I might fail and I need to be prepared for that eventuality.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

LosT

I carry a burden you do not know
It’s so heavy I’m surprised it doesn’t show
My shoulders are squared against the blow

I think of you often and a day
Why is it so difficult to make you stay
My memories of you are starting to fade and fray

As the world goes round and round
I sit in silence awed by the sound
Of a quiet vacuum that knows no bounds

I lost me when I lost you
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Friday, October 2, 2009

sLeEP

Sleep has been difficult these days.

I dream of the most horrible things happening and then I wake up.
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PoiNT oF vIeW

In the shower the other day, I had momentary flashbacks of certain key points in my life. And it was then I suddenly realised, that I have known Mr. D for a very long time. None of us remembers how or why, except that he seemed to have been there from the beginning.

Mr. D took a lot from me, out of me. I think a big part of me was naturally inclined to giving in to him. Like I owe it to him. While a small part of me was fighting back. Trying to regain what I had lost.

Give me back my point of view.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Out-OF-sORts

That strange, out-of-sorts feeling is back again. I haven’t felt like this in quite a while, so it’s a bit awkward to get re-acquainted with the feeling. Like a kind of restlessness, knowing something is wrong yet not being able to put my finger on it. And it frustrates me.

I want to scream and shout and stomp. But I don’t. I don’t want to sit and stay and stew. But I do.

I smile on the outside but not the inside.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PaiN reVIsiTeD

I’ve been obsessing about pain again these few days, since I started another series of treatment for the viral infection on my feet. Pain, in both the physical and emotional sense, is very sobering. It makes you sit up, forces you to pay attention to what is happening.

I often wonder though, whether there is redemptive value in pain. When pain consumes you, leaving nothing in its trail but the pain itself.

They say pain is a path to humility.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

tRUth

"Even if an absolute truth exists, we can’t recognize all of it."
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

bETteR

It is getting better, these days.
Time doesn’t heal, love does, they say.

I no longer clench my fists and sigh.
I no longer see the world through troubled eyes.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

FaiLuRe

I guess I’ve been pretty blessed in my life. Growing up, there wasn’t anything I really lacked – I had my fair share of toys and friends, my sticker albums and stamp collection. In school, I did well enough to progress from one class to the next, from one school to the next. After graduation, I was lucky to find a job, even luckier that I could excel in my work. Then I got married to the man of my dreams, and I couldn’t believe life could be this good to me.

But it was not to be. The marriage derailed. I was unable to work. Life as I knew it changed forever. I was left helpless, and hapless. And for someone who had never experienced failure before, those were dark days. In the midst, I even took it in my head to apply for a speech therapy course and was rejected, adding insult to injury.

Failure is like buying lottery and getting all the numbers wrong.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FoRGivEnesS

I think one of the reasons I like solitary sports is because it allows me time to be with my own mind. Like when I’m jogging or swimming, my body can go into an auto-pilot mode, leaving my mind free to wander. And in its wanderings, I hold conversations with people, I sort through problems, I ponder life.

Today, while I was running, I thought about forgiveness. I thought about the magnitude of forgiveness, and how difficult it is for me to embrace that. I thought about the gravity of forgiveness, and the lightness of being it brings. And I remember how I still clutch the hatred so desperately inside.

She said the ball is in my court now.
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LosT OpPoRTuniTiES

A boy and a girl were insanely in love with each other. They decided to become engaged. And that’s when presents are always exchanged. The boy was poor – his only worthwhile possession was a watch he’d inherited from his grandfather. Thinking about his sweetheart’s lovely hair, he decided to sell the watch in order to buy her a silver barrette. The girl had no money herself to buy him a present. She went to the shop of the most successful merchant in the town and sold him her hair. With the money, she bought a gold watchband for her lover. When they met on the day of the engagement party, she gave him the wristband for a watch he had sold, and he gave her the barrette for the hair she no longer had.

(from “By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept” by Paulo Coelho)
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

sELf

"Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul."

(Henry Van Dyke)
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

i HavE a dREaM

I have always been a big believer in dreams, real or abstract. I remember being very moved by Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and spent hours trying to memorise it.

I love it when I dream (when I’m sleeping). It gives me a sense of fulfillment, like it has been a sleep well slept. I dream of being with my favourite people. I dream of pirouettes and jetes across the stage. I dream of magic and mystery, stars and rainbows.

I love dreams (when I’m not sleeping). They give me a goal to work towards, an end for me to reach. I dream of getting my degree, helping the world, writing a book.

Dreaming while awake is a frightening contradiction.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

EnLigHTenEd

The other day, my friend spoke of reaching a new level of enlightenment about her life.

And it set me thinking. Thinking about my life. About my life and what I want to do with it.

I want… I want… I want to be a better person.

Suddenly, I feel a great sense of urgency.

We get to live life only once.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MarKEt ReSEaRcH

Nine and a half years ago, I entered the world of market research with wide-eyed wonder. It was my first job, and I was ready to impress. I worked very hard, and was surprisingly good at what I was doing. I loved the work, loved the money, loved the sense of self-importance that came along with it.

Nine and a half years later, I am re-evaluating my options. I’ve worked for two companies, started my own, and I am tired. I’m no longer sure if this is something I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

Now it’s just a job. The fairytale ended a long time ago.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

cLOse sHavE

Recently, I lost a relative to cancer. A young relative. My peer. And it brought home to me again the fragility of life. While I grieve for her passing, I am reminded particularly of the fragility of my own life.

See, I used to take my life very much for granted. I never gave it the respect that it deserved. Never paid attention to the role my life played in relation to the bigger world out there. So much so that there came a time when I was this close to losing my life.

And when you’ve had such a close shave with death, you never look at life the same way again.

You don’t say, “It’s just cancer. Get over it."
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SoMEtimEs

Sometimes, it is a matter of luck.
Sometimes, it is a genuine mistake.
Sometimes, it is an error of judgment.

Sometimes, it is a colossal failure of common sense.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

sECretS reVisiTeD

Much as secrets intrigue me, I don’t particularly like to keep them. So it was with reluctance that I listened to a friend the other day, and found myself charged with a secret. On the magnitude of secrets, it wasn’t a grave one, definitely not an issue of life and death. Yet it was serious enough to make me sit up, only to find myself alone with the secret, sworn to silence.

And I said, “Your secret is safe with me.”
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

aPpLAusE

One of the things I really enjoy about the Broadway shows in New York is the active participation of the audience. They cheer for every actor that comes on stage, clap at the end of every song, hoot at every exciting moment. I love being amidst the interaction between actor and audience. I love the electricity that fills the theatre. Like being caught in a cross-fire.

Audiences are not quite as spontaneous here at home. I have never witnessed a standing ovation, and I do go for quite a lot of performances. There is never that exchange of energy between actor and audience. There is never that level of adrenalin pumping.

Decency is a relative thing.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

i AM bACk

Travelling alone is a very intense experience. The moments of absolute aloneness taught me many things. Being with me, myself and I can sometimes be trying. Being with me, myself and I can sometimes be comforting.

When I first decided to take this long vacation to the US, I didn’t really know what to expect. I never thought I would have the opportunity to travel so far for so long. I never thought I would travel so far for so long alone. I never thought I would be alone for the reasons that I am alone now. So this trip was in part a process of my healing as much as it was a journey of self-discovery.

For example, I discovered that:

1) Weather-wise, I can deal with heat better than I can deal with cold, so long as there is little or no humidity to tackle as well.

2) I can go for about 4 days without speaking to a single human being before I start feeling that I am going mad with the constant chatter in my head.

3) However much I complain about this constant chatter in my head, I actually quite enjoy the company of my own random thoughts.

4) One cup of coffee and one banana every morning ensures a very good flow for my digestive system.

Am I healed? Enough to move on to the next chapter of my life.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

aLMosT TheRe

It is the end of my 7-week holiday in the US. How time flies.

From LA to San Diego to Phoenix to Grand Canyon to Las Vegas to Rocky Mountain to San Francisco to New Jersey to New York City to Boston to Niagara Falls to Philadephia to Washington D.C. ... each place unique in their own right, injecting me with different sensations, giving me different experiences.

Of note on this trip for me are the national parks. I love the rawness of nature that surrounds me. (As I am writing this, I see a deer feeding outside my window.) Perhaps what touched me most is being baptised by the waters of Niagara Falls (thanks to my friend for coining this description.)

The friendships formed and strengthened on this trip are also important to me. They each inspire me in unique ways, giving me new perspective on how I look at the world around me. I look forward to our continued friendship.

What a whirlwind of a trip.

I will miss this place. A lot.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

iN mEMoRY Of

Washington D.C. is filled with museums galore. From the family-friendly Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum, to the artsy National Gallery of Art and the Sculpture Garden (all under the auspices of The Smithsonian Institution), to the sombre Holocaust Museum. By the fourth museum and Washington Monument and Capitol Building and two memorials (the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial), my mind overloaded.

Museums have a way of assaulting my senses.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

tHE SevENth WoNdER

There are some things that need to be seen to be believed. The majesty of Niagara Falls is one of these. There is no way one can describe how awesome the Falls look, until you see it for yourself. I stood within inches of the base of the Falls and felt like I was in heaven. The roar of the water, the wild of the wind, the sprays that drenched me, being greeted by the rainbow mists...

It's crazy, it's incredible, it's stunning.

If there is one place you need to visit to convince yourself that there is still magic in the world, you must come to Niagara Falls.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

cLam-CHowDeR

I like this quaint little place called Boston. It has an old-world charm that is neither staid nor stodgy. The intellectual richness that abound in the many universities here draw me. From the cobbled steps of Harvard Square to the stark buildings of MIT to the cityscape of Boston University to the inspiring Massachussetts General Hospital, all left a deep impression on me.

And I can almost imagine myself living here.

Cool!
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

AdapTiBiLItY

The food-portions in US are big. Huge in comparison to what I get back home. And people here seem to accept it as a normal part of life. Waiters happily bring you boxes for you to pack whatever you can't finish. The first time my friend and I ordered a pizza, we had the leftover for 3 days after. Which makes me wonder, whether it is an issue of supply or demand.

But what is incredible is how adaptable one's stomach can be. My first burger here, I could only finish about 2/3 of it. My second burger here, I finished about 3/4 of it. But my third burger here, I finished all of it! No doggy-bagging!!

My jaws are aching from eating the 5-inch thick sandwich this morning.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

nEw YorK CiTy

Although I haven't actually walked down Fifth Avenue (but I did ride down it in a bus), I was mesmerised by the sights and sounds and people in New York City. The hustle and the bustle more than lived up to my expectations.

I stopped at the Empire State Building to stare across the whole of Manhattan and beyond. 86 storeys above ground and it was one breath-taking sight after another.


I visited Ground Zero and felt the tears welling up in my eyes reading the stories of the heroes and the heroines. Almost 10 years later and the emotions are still as raw.

I caught a Broadway musical and loved every minute of it. The singing and dancing and acting were all superb, culminating in a standing ovation at the end.

There are very few places that move me in so many different ways.

I LOVE NYC!!!
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Monday, August 17, 2009

WesT cOaST

Today is my last day in the US west coast, before I head off east tomorrow. It has been a great 3+ weeks. Of exploration. Of discovery. Of friends new and old. There is a freedom comes from exploring the world alone, and I am glad to be able to experience that. There is an excitement comes from discovering the world afresh, and I am happy to be part of that.

I fell for the glitz and glamour of LA. I like the panda I saw in San Diego Zoo. I smile when I remember the laughter shared with friends in Phoenix. I remain awed by the Grand Canyon. I am ambivalent about Las Vegas. I love the Rocky Mountain. I see the steel of the Golden Gate Bridge swallowed by the fog of San Francisco.

Many nights, many sights.

It is a foregone conclusion.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

tHe iNHeriTanCe of DebT

One thing I noticed is there are a lot of homeless people in the US. Come night, they appear from nowhere and place themselves in the doorways of shops and houses. Basically, whatever little shelter they can get. And in the day, they disappear into thin air. Like they know to tidy up and hide themselves away from the public eye.

Poverty is a difficult issue to grapple with. More so when I see the disparity between the rich and the poor. On my good days, I think I want to share all I have with the homeless and the poor. On my not-so-good days, I think I want to hoard all I have and live the high life myself.

How do I justify handing out a dollar to this beggar but not the next? Where does one begin giving and where does one stop? What can be done to break this cycle of poverty? By giving them handouts, are we encouraging them to continue with this lifestyle where they can just barely get by? Or do we equip them with some skill where they can sustain a decent existence through their own merit?

My heart goes out to these homeless people.
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gOLdeN GatE bRiDGe

So I've been in San Francisco for the past few days. Despite the erratic foggy weather, it's a lovely city to be in. It feels very dynamic, because there is such a wide mix of people here from different countries and origins. Like the bustle of Chinatown leads into the casual sidewalks of little Italy in North Beach. And the hippie neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury to the hip streets of the Mission.

We were driving on the Golden Gate Bridge just yesterday. The fog was hanging low and it felt like being in a dreamscape. And as soon as we were on the other side of San Francisco, the fog lifted. It was amazing.

One thing I love about travelling is the opportunity to see things that I don't see in my own home country. So I was in the redwood forest yesterday doing my hike, reveling in the abundance of nature. The trees so tall I couldn't see their tops.

And I remain fascinated.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

rOcKY MoUntAinS hiGH

I have always loved being out in nature, with nature. It brings about within me a sense of peace. And it is often a time I enjoy communing with God. Where my running conversations about the world around me is halted, and I let the skies and the mountains, the water and trees, the flowers and butterflies talk to me.

So when I was up in the Rocky Mountains this morning, I was speechless. I hiked on 4 different trails, saw 3 lakes and 1 waterfall. It was an amazing experience. The beauty of water set against a backdrop of mountains speak to me of God’s love that is both gentle yet tough. The chipmunks that came begging for food speak to me of God’s sense of humour. And the many blue dragonflies I saw, they speak to me of God’s creative power.

It’s good to be back home again.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

VivA Las veGAS

In this city that never sleeps, I, too, feel compelled to hurry my footsteps to keep pace with the rest. The big signs and bright lights - they lure you to spend more and more. And as I keep walking, in my half-run-walk, the buildings - they only grow bigger and fancier.

Yet beyond the opulence that dazzles, I see stories of poverty and ruin. Homeless people on the streets. Abandoned properties that have run out of funding. And it is interesting how this continuum between rich and poor runs along the same street, the Las Vegas Boulevard. From the valour of the lion thath stands proudly outside MGM Grand, to the plaza of The Venetian, to the direlect Sin City Hostel, to the motley crowd that waits at the Downtown bus terminal. The landscape changes, so does the human geography.

I was walking through the Fremont Street Experience just now, with Don MacLean's "American Pie" playing, and a thought struck me.

Only in Vegas...
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

tHe CanYOn GraNd

How does one begin to describe a natural wonder of the world? Except that I was only able to stand there filled with awe. The Grand Canyon is definitely grand, and much more. And as I stood there admiring its majesty, a chill ran up my spine.

I felt humbled, by the grandeur of the canyons. I felt small, in comparison to the enormity of the canyons. I felt refreshed, by the nature that carved the canyons. And in between catching glimpses of the rock-mountain squirrels and the Californian condors, a single word set itself inside me.

“Wow!”
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Friday, July 31, 2009

tEMpe

Phoenix, Arizona.

Very hot. Very very hot. Extremely hot. Enough to vaporise a person.

And dry. Very very dry. Extremely dry. Enough to dehydrate a person.

It's an interesting place, this, semi-arid landscape and all. How the native Americans actually once inhabited this land and made a living out of it. Often, I stand in awe of those who have gone before, at their passion for life, their tenacity and their ingenuity.

I wonder, if I can fry an egg on a car bonnet out in the sun?
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

3-Lb oRgaN

In San Diego now.

I went for the Body Worlds exhibition - the focus for this series of exhibits is on the brain. It was an eye-opening experience. To see the human brain bare before me. While contemplating the mysteries of this 3-pound organ.

I am who I am, of my brain.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

hoLLyWooD-LaND

Yesterday, I fulfilled my longtime dream of walking down Hollywood Boulevard. It was an emotional and exhilirating time for me personally. To see the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood-land. To mingle with the thousands of people who come to catch a glimpse of their idols. To just BE in Hollywood.

So much happens here. What we can see. What we cannot see. The fruition of ambitions. The destruction of hopes.

Did you know?

Hollywood Boulevard is also known as the Street of Broken Dreams.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

bRokEN DowN

Only Day 3 and my phone-cum-camera is out of order. I wonder how I will survive the next 7 weeks without a phone or a camera. It is interesting how dependent I have become on these gadgets. Where not long ago I was content to be without them.

They say necessity is the mother of invention.

We shall see.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

hELlo LA!

So here I am in LA, time-zones completely out of whack, but thoroughly enjoying myself. I'm surprised by how non-jet-lagged I feel (despite having flown for almost 20 hours), although I notice that my eyes are starting to glaze over more frequently in the last few hours.

WOOHOO!!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PacKiNG

So tomorrow I leave, for my 7-week vacation. The quiet anticipation is finally bubbling over, into a frenzy of last-minute packing, unpacking and packing again. It surprises me how much I cannot do without. Familiar creature comforts I cannot bear to leave behind. Familiar faces I find difficult to say goodbye to.

Fare thee well, my friends.

PS. Stay tuned for updates of my trip... I've decided to bring Roger ThinkPad along.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

HPV

“Approximately 130 human papillomavirus types have been identified.”

And it seems, like a never-ending battle.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

seCOnD cHaNCes

If I had a chance to do it all over again, would I still make the same choices I had before? I would, because these are the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. And I make no apology for me. Yet perhaps the way in which I react to things would be different. I suppose with the perspective of experience, I know better how to deal with the ups and downs of life.

No wonder.

Life looks different the second time round.
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DisNEylaNd

A friend asked if I had any agenda going to the US, or whether I was just going to wander around aimlessly. It’s an interesting question, one that I haven’t really thought about myself. I suppose to a lot of people, going so far away for almost 2 months, on a holiday, is just something they haven’t really thought about either.

It has been a long-time dream of mine, going to the US. For some reason, the country fascinates me. I love the diversity that is inherent in the place and the peoples. I love the idea of liberty and freedom for all. I, too, want to go in search of the big American dream.

They say perspectives change. And that change is the only constant. I wonder what happened to the Mickey and Minnie I met the first time I was in Disneyland almost 25 years ago.

*Shudders*
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

fALlinG DOwn

Many years ago I fell down a flight of steps. Or rather, I flew down it. I don’t know how it happened, except that one minute I was on the top step and the next I was splayed out on all fours on the ground right at the bottom. Nothing as dramatic as the whole of my life flashed before my eyes. Maybe it wasn’t enough of a near-death experience. I didn’t hurt, not even with my bleeding knees and fingers, bruised pelvis and shins.

High, high, on adrenaline high.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

cOFfeE & RaiN

It rained overnight, bringing some respite to the warm weather. I like listening to the raindrops hitting the ground. In the cold still air, the echoes sound crisp and clear. Like the world feels new and fresh after a wash.

I had too much coffee last night, the caffeine still buzzing in my ears now. Was with a group of good friends from high school, and I always enjoy our company together. And remain humbled by our friendship that has lasted close to two decades.

Coffee and rain, my tastes have changed.

Drip-drop. Drip-drop. Drip-drop.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

hOLidAy

I am flying off to the US next week, and the excitement that has been building up over the last few weeks is strangely muted. I can’t wait for the day to come actually, just so I can start doing something instead of sitting here in front of my laptop reading abstract guidebooks and planning. Just like how too many cooks can spoil the soup, too much research can spoil the holiday.

Whereas I think it is about keeping an open mind. To explore and experience all that is new and different. Instead of sticking with the tried and tested.

Don’t lose touch!
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

LovE

"Let us hope that we are all preceded in this world by a love story."

(Don Snyder)
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

SunSEt


From my new phone. One of my favourite moments of the day.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

gO

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go."

(Dr. Seuss)
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StuDYiNg

“Only pigs sweat. Humans perspire,” my teacher said. That was many years ago, in an English class. She was exasperated with us for using “sweating” indiscriminately between humans and pigs, no doubt. Funny the things our teachers teach us. Funnier the things we remember.

I’ve been looking at going to graduate school next year, so my mind has been on double-time researching schools, and places to visit in the US. Happily though, some of them coincide. Now I’m torn between whether to set up a meeting with the faculty, or content myself with the massive amount of information I can get online.

Will my mind still be able to stand up to intellectual rigour after a 10-year hiatus?

Hrmmm...
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

dEfinITioN

Empathy: Going “Ouch!” when the person on TV is hurt.
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

aCcePT loVe

They tell me, that with acceptance comes freedom. But I’m not so sure. Sometimes the acceptance is coerced. Because we do not have a choice.

They also tell me, that with acceptance comes love. But I’m not so sure. Acceptance does not necessarily mean I agree with what has been. It could merely mean I don’t have the strength to fight against it anymore.

To the extent that we love, so do we accept the love we think we deserve.
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It's RaiNIng

The way I think about the world around me shapes my reality. And yet reality is also what informs the way I think about the world around me. The question, though, is what is reality? However much I want to believe in an objective reality, I very much doubt that it exists. Reality is always perceived by a point of view, always subjective. That is not to say that we do not participate in one another’s reality. I like to think of the world as a Venn diagram with the many circles intersecting – shared truths about the world around us.

Rainy days give me goosebumps and strange ideas.
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

oBSeSseD

I have been obsessing over something for a long time. But even though I know it is unhealthy for me, I still do it. I still continue to obsess over it, until it consumes my thoughts day and night. Like a bad habit. It’s easy to fall into a familiar pattern of thinking and behaving.

Unfortunately, this obsession is a little secret of mine. So I am unable to share it with anyone else. So it continues to weigh me down. So it continues to haunt me. And in all of this, I am alone. Which isn’t as scary as the obsession itself.

Be careful what you wish for.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Jog

I did a 30-minute jog last night. It has been a long time since jogging felt so rhythmic. For a while, I reached that stage where I felt as if I could run forever. That sense of flight and freedom is indescribable.

I did a 30-minute jog this morning. It felt clumsy, like my legs were out of sync with each other. While I was struggling for my next breath, I was fighting the urge to stop running. That left me in a state of discomfiture.

I need to lose weight!
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

RoGEr

My biggest quandary these days has been whether to bring Roger ThinkPad along with me on my upcoming US trip. On the one hand, I am very dependent on him for all my usual daily routines like surfing the internet and writing. On the other hand, I worry about having to worry about his safety when I’m out exploring. It’s been a bit of a headache for me, thinking about this.

So I bought this snazzy new phone couple months back, boasting of Wi-Fi capabilities. I’ve been playing with it and although Wi-Fi works well and fine, it is a bit difficult to surf the internet using such a small interface. Neither does it have some form of OS where I can save my writings (to begin with, there’s no way to write notes unless I use the “save message” function in my message draft box.)

To bring or not to bring? What do you think?
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PapER cRAneS

I want to write about my friend again today. I had a dream about her. It’s one of those feel-good dreams. Where you don’t want to wake up. And even if you do, you wake with a smile. And wish the dream would come true. Sometimes you wish you can pick someone up from your dreams and hug them. This is one of those dreams.

I like my friend because she makes me feel comfortable. Comfortable enough to share some of my deepest secrets (not all, because I think we all have dark secrets that only we know, and we keep). Comfortable enough to cry in front of her and not feel weird the next time I see her. I feel safe with her.

I used to make her a paper crane every time I visited. It made her happy. She’ll keep them carefully, in a little bag. And she said that some day we’ll sit down and count them together.

Until one day, it all stopped.
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HaPpy & SAd

While my stubborn melancholic mind likes to play over those deliciously sad times in my life, I cannot also deny that there are many happy moments I’ve experienced. Happy moments that make me smile. Like snippets of conversations with good friends. Or good dreams where I wake with a warm fuzzy feeling. Or good jokes where I laugh till my tummy hurts.

I saw her again today. My friend. She’s probably one of the few people I know who can make me feel sad and happy at the same time. And as far as friendships go, that is a strange feeling.

Cognitively dissonant.
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