“How are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
Who would have thought that such a simple question would be so difficult to answer?
“How are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
Who would have thought that such a simple question would be so difficult to answer?
Everything. I am ready to let go of everything.
This post was inspired by a stressful situation that I couldn’t let go of, long beyond its solution. No matter how hard I tried. Day in day out. The worry would reappear. Then someone close to me suggested “I shed the stress”. And a lightbulb went off. Each time the repetitive thought appeared, I imagined a tree shedding its leaves. A golden leaf for every anxious thought. This visualization process made all the difference. And so did writing about it. 📝🍂
What would you say good-bye to?
Once and for all.
It could be an emotion. Or a thought.
A relationship. Or a job.
A place or a thing.
It’s time to let go of what drains you.
Let go of what holds you back.
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I have this burning (and personally I think, crazy) desire in my heart to smile deeply, sincerely and happily without worrying what people think of me. I really don’t know how to. My life isn’t bad or sad. But could it be that I am and just don’t know? I expect a truly happy smile to make my heart feel cool, calm and peaceful. But whenever I have to smile for people or for the camera, my cheeks just hurt and there is a spring forcing my cheek muscles back to unsmiling position. I really don’t enjoy smiling. I might actually dislike it.
I remember when I was in secondary school my troublemaker senior complimented me on having a really sweet smile and I keep his compliment in the pocket of my heart until today.
After that, the only comments I got were “You are too nice”, “You are to gentle”, “You are too kind”, “You are to sweet”, “You are too…”
I really dislike the word “too”.
So I changed. And then I had comments like “You are too anal”, “You are too rigid”, “You are too inflexible”. “You are too…”
Seriously, what did they want me to be?
Down the road, I became “too” many things. I decided that I really didn’t care what people say anymore, but at the same time I think I began smiling less. Other things in life made me unable to smile that much anymore. Anyway, I just became a really unreliable person in terms of my temperament, and later on, everything else really.
Later on when I started work, the first advice given by so many senior colleagues was “Do not smile no matter what. Show your firmness. Stand your ground. Show them who is authority.” I managed to “not smile” much by becoming a really angsty or antsy person. (What’s the difference actually?)
Now, since the people around me are in a really tough profession, exchanging smiles is just something that is not done often.
When I’m out with people, am I really happy? Well, it’s always nice to catch up, but I actually really…like being by myself. Still, there are some friends who really make me happy. I think sometimes my friends do manage to make me laugh and smile even when their jokes and stories are not particularly funny or entertaining in my opinion. So am I always faking a happy mood (i.e. fake a smile) when I’m out with people? To be honest, it does take a lot of effort to show a happy front. But I sincerely make the effort because I really, really appreciate those people who make an effort for me. And I perhaps really feel happy when I’m with them even though I can’t really pinpoint how or why. My eventful life has taught me that more important than feeling happy, I should feel grateful, and extremely grateful.
I think I generally know how to be grateful, but I could be even more so. Still, I’m curious.. What is it actually supposed to feel like when you smile genuinely? I think I haven’t smiled happily in more than ten years. The last time I smiled sincerely..I can’t remember. I really really wish that I can smile again, and that it doesn’t need to take much effort.
I should at least smile really, really happily when I’m with my family or my cat. But you know what? My cat thinks I’m too annoying and she’s really good at showing her dislike for me. I thought pets are supposed to love the people they live with, but I actually got really disappointed by a useless assumption. Maybe it’s my mistake for being away from home for far too long. No one actually knows me or is close to me. I’m okay with that and have no desire to let random people get to know me.
Okay so like I mentioned my desire to smile deeply and sincerely and happily might just be mental with no real reason. But I grew up believing that smiling is an act of charity or giving, one of the most sincere gifts or blessings for others.
At the very least I should not feel sad, or like I’m not worthy of giving other people a smile, whenever I lift the sides of my lips and my cheeks. But then perhaps, I am indeed unworthy of showing such a blessed gesture.
The main point of my post: Dear God, I really really miss you. There’s nothing I need more than you to make me content. Why do I allow myself to be so futilely busy and preoccupied all on my own?
I left the house feeling quite down today. But as I left, I got to witness the sunrise. I thought that I captured a nice picture of it, but when I looked back at it, it didn’t turn out the way I imagined it to be. I take this as a reminder that no matter how downtrodden you feel, every day is still a new beginning; a chance to start afresh. No matter how blur the future seems.
This is the view in front of me. My actual vision is both narrower and wider than what my camera actually sees. As my eyes fix on the first horizontally-positioned shelf that I can see from where I am seated, my vision is restricted within the range of the human visual field. Yet I also am aware that the space that I can actually see is far more extensive. Do I also see a little of the back of my shoulders even as I am looking forward?
Many thoughts were running through my mind just before this. But now it seems like I am at a lost for words. It is always like this.
Staring at the floor that reminds me of the layers of the kek lapis, a Malay traditional kueh that I never really enjoyed eating but that I somehow always manage to eat still, I am reminded of a poem that I wrote last year on the 28th of January. Why the writing is so meaningful and sacred is because it truly reflects what I was going through then. I remember prior to writing it, I was sitting in a Geography class with a clean white board to the right of me and all I could think about was how restricted I felt in my thoughts and thinking. It was as though the board was the main barrier obstructing my thoughts and I could not think beyond the physical boundaries of the walls surrounding me. I remember shutting my eyes tight and opening them repeatedly, but the only thing I kept seeing was just a blinding white nothingness hiding behind the lids of my eyes. It felt like I had a pair of mental blinkers. All I could see was nothing. All I could feel was frustratingly stupid. I remember reasoning with myself how one could only ever feel really stupid and excruciatingly vacuous if he has at one point or another felt boundlessly brilliant. I cannot force everyone to agree with my expression but that was how I sincerely felt, and I still agree with that reasoning. At that point of time, I really missed feeling talented, precocious and accomplished because my mental state was surely, I thought; believed; and felt, the complete and utter opposite.
I still don’t feel like publishing my sacred poem (to be honest it’s really just simple prose) just yet. But maybe when I find the time to (my procrastination is worse when it comes to the simplest of stuff), I’ll donate it to my chosen organisation for publishing to create greater awareness on mental health. All I need to decide on is a name. To use my real name, pen name, my known alias, a new one or just go anonymous.
In any case, since the time I discovered myself donning those mental horse tacks, I have become better. Not necessarily better than I was twenty. Definitely not better than I was five. But surely better than I was when I felt hindered by a whiteboard. This whiteboard be the metaphor and scapegoat for all the difficult things that were happening to me then.
You would think that things have improved for me significantly since. Well they have and I am obliged to always feel grateful. But lately I feel like this improvement is plateauing. In fact, I feel like I have been riding on a deceleration curve for quite awhile- you know, the one that increases at a decreasing rate. I am neither happy nor unhappy. If happiness is about experiences and my interactions with the world, I would say I am 65-75% happy. It can go up to 80% if I am relaxed, with people I really like, or if I am doing something novel or that I really enjoy. But that’s the maximum and quite seldom nowadays. If happiness is a mood, then I would say my happiness fluctuates from time to time. Most of the time my mood would put me on the middle of the happiness line, meaning I just feel meh. If it is a state, I would say I am more towards the unhappy side.
Now, back to present moment and time. I realise as I am staring at the ceiling of the library that someone might have put something like a pair of blinkers on me and my world. I feel as though there is a transparent and impalpable cloak enveloping me and my possibilities, my life, my fate. Malleable like those silicone covers that take the shape of whatever it is wrapping, this slippery and pellucid but invasive giant plastic wrap-cloak-blinkers is attaching itself unto every nook and cranny of the globe that is my life, and moulding itself into an unknown shape. This shape I really don’t know, don’t understand and don’t like. But it feels very much like Reality. Since declaring that I have no dreams, no goals, no priorities, no hopes and no fantasies, it is as though Reality and the reality of my puerile declaration have finally caught up with me. I now frustratingly feel bounded by this intangible cloak of reality while being teased by all the possibilities that lie outside it. I am convinced I can never attain all those things that lie outside my disfigured reality sphere. My peripheral mental eye sees and imagines all that could be beyond this sphere. But to bring all these wild illusions into the human visual field a.k.a my concrete reality would require a lot of time, a lot of effort and/or a lot of money, all of which are resources that I lack and am ill-disciplined in handling.
Indeed, reality grounds you to the ground so that you cannot really move that much except for within its bodiless but predestined space. I can’t change my job. I can’t just buy a new house with the little money I have. I can’t just force my friend to convert her sexual orientation. I can’t grow another 20cm by next week just because I want to. I can’t have perfect skin by 1 January 2018. I also can’t cure my ailing mother. Yet I have been able to nearly cure myself of several illnesses (I hope). I have just bought a pair of spectacles costing 1.5k because I could and also because I didn’t know what I was thinking. I have also managed to go through yet another year. All the things that I managed to get or do required me spending a lot of time, a lot of effort and/or a lot of money. What I am saying is that I am not rich enough, in terms of any one of these resources, to buy my way out of my intended reality. That is how and why I have managed to get myself stuck not only in a mental rut, but also in emotional, intellectual, physical and not to forget, the ghostly spherically-shaped reality ruts as well. Rather than lacking the liberty to write my own story or colour my own canvas, I feel bound by circumstances.
I can write, but someone put in my hand a ball-point pen when I want a fountain; I can paint but someone chose my pallete for me. The conditions that bind me make me so unexcited that my daily journals have reduced to half weekly or so entries with a record maximum of three lines each. I have spent every day reading and doing so many things but everything bores me. I am reading textbooks, Mirakumi’s books, research papers, and topics ranging from the technical details of postmodernism and classical art and climate change to mathematics and how to create a smart customer and employee info database using Excel (Don’t ask me why am I even researching that because I don’t even know myself; my brain feels empty and I am just feeding it whatever). Even when my friend came to me today with shocking news, I had astoundingly no reaction. Not that I had no feelings or thoughts. Just no reaction.
At this point of my writing, I am tempted to shiftlessly remark that I have a problem with myself and sigh and then close the chapter abruptly. But then if I actually think about 0.5cm deeper, I may decide that I don’t actually have a problem. Taking the cue to go on a sidetrack, let me just report that I have written more than a thousand three hundred words and I am amazed at my accomplishment after having suffered through my recent (and I suppose, ongoing if you don’t count this piece) writing drought. Because I am facetious like that, I shall end my long, drawn-out post with a quote, which may or may not have any link to whatever I’ve been writing. This is from a drama that I just finished watching. It is just so oxymoronically idealistic and practicable that I was just slightly drawn in by its message.
People say that life is not a fairy tale. [But] if we never give up on our dreams; if we don’t turn off our own spotlights, we may be able to create our very own fairy tales.
–She Was Pretty
I no longer remember my dreams to be able to deliberately give up on them. But I wonder, have I turned off my own spotlight? How do I tear down the damned incorporeal curtain straitening my stage, sequestering me within and maiming my view of the endless universe? God, remove these pony blinkers and gift me some wide-angle lens if I can’t have a 360° one please.
turn every challenge into an opportunity.
I received a call from my department head asking if I could help the department to cover a role because some colleagues were going to be on long term sick leave for a while. I told my head that I was not confident because I was totally untrained for it. But well, looks like I would still be doing it anyway.
Somehow I wasn’t surprised when I got the call. I think nothing can surprise me anymore. I might even be a little excited. But then I haven’t thought about all the studying I would need to do to prepare myself.
In any case, instead of feeling bitter, I thought I should turn this into an opportunity. Although I am not sure what opportunity.
That is all- the purpose of this post is not to rant or anything. But to remind myself to turn every challenge into an opportunity.
Although for what end I am unsure. I do not have an ambition and am fine living life simply and without fuss. I intend to carry on living this way, come what may.
It all started out fine. I was generally optimistic, highly so for a worrier like me, and I really wanted to do and give my best. My mentors are really one of the best few that I have ever gotten. (To be honest, all my previous mentors were great and taught me a lot).
Along the way, however, I began to doubt and question myself. Nothing seemed to go according to plan. Really not a good thing for a rigid person like me. Catastrophe for a messed up, beaten-down person who is on his knees like me.
I kept asking myself, Where is my heart? Even wrote it on a post-it and pasted it on the wall at work. Up till today, I cannot find the answer. I think that I’ve given my heart to so many people on so many occasions, put it into doing so many earthly and seemingly fulfilling things, that it either got lost along the way or shrivelled up and died. I hope it’s not the latter, because then I would be beyond saving.
I tried to follow the advice of one of my mentors; to talk to more of the young people I serve and understand them better. Thing is I understand and empathise with people too much it makes my heart hurt. And now that I am wondering where my heart is it makes my head hurt. A lot.
Really, every day is as gloomy as a rainy day in November for me these days. Because I totally cannot help everyone, and no matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to be working well. And most of the time, I don’t feel like doing anything. Many times, I don’t even do anything.
Where is my heart? is a question I asked one of the young men I work with/for (I don’t know how I should phrase this really) to reflect about. I see so much potential and future in him as well as his friends; it is a pity if they all waste themselves and their time away. He shared with me about some of the life choices he now regrets making, and I looked at him thinking of all the worse things that I have ever done in my life. Truly, whatever these young people are going through, I probably went through them as well. So I understand the pain and am able to relive the angst.
I have hurt myself so much. And the people around me. It would be a miracle for me to recover fully. A greater miracle if I could regain my heart. God has either blessed or burdened me with a myriad of incredulous experiences. I choose to take all of them as a blessing. My challenge is that I am charged with too much emotion. Sometimes whatever I say and do is not whatever my logical mind thinks, and then I have to retrack my steps, make apologies and do whatever necessary to piece together shattered pieces of broken glass caused by my blow-up or breakdown.
I pray that I find my heart, so that I can take heart and brave this world. The past five or six years have been crazy tumultous, I thank God so much for carrying me through them really. He was the one who took care of my heart and soul, and the one holding my heart and keeping it now. I don’t know what I am doing with my life, really. I never thought that I would just be going through life day by day the way I am doing now. But one thing I know is that I do not want to destroy the lives of others. If I find myself doing harm to the lives of any one young soul I am supposed to be helping, I promise myself, I will quit this mission with immediate effect.
I pray it will all be fine. That I remain strong. That God, You carry me through my every day like You always have the past quarter century of my life. That You return me my heart stronger and more resolute than ever. And that You protect and love all the people around me; those I am living with, those I am working with, those I am working for, those I am learning from, and those who are learning from me, like how You have always loved and protected me all my very short life. Amin.