Friday, 1 December 2017

Punch Drunk, Dumb Struck, Empty.

Curse the things that made me strong for so long.

Recurring (and also misremembered) lyrics which kept going through my head as I was struggling my way through some of the worst days of my career. Not immune, apparently, from some good old-fashioned quarter-life crisis it seems! But I suppose it's as good a time as any to really start wondering where exactly it is we go on from here.

At the precipice once again of decisions to be made which will have far-reaching consequences - somewhere to the tune of the next 6 to 10 years, at least - and it's clear I can't afford to make these with quite the same outrageous disregard for the consequences as I've always had in life. Only by God's most undeserved grace could I have found myself where I am now - and I guess at last it's time to grow up and own up to these decisions now.

Cannot muddle through life purely on a hope and a prayer, so reliant on these 5/10 cents "abilities" to get by anymore. So far, I suppose, so good (at least I haven't completely messed everything up. I think.), but this cannot be the way ahead. Almost the latter half of my 20s now and only now am I finally coming to realize this! The things I thought I depended on to get me where I've gotten so far, will not see me through this next stage. I don't have the goods to be complacent, anymore.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Traveler's Paradox.

So I've had cause to consider, in what shall soon prove to be a most transient October, what the true consequences (if that's even the right word) of travel are. And by consequences I refer to all of it: the objectives/end goal of travelling; the costs incurred (not monetary); the lessons to be learnt.

Context: Spending most of October away, and not by choice. I suppose this is in contrast to other occasions I've been away for a bit, most of which were undertaken voluntarily and with fairly specific objectives and outcomes in mind for myself.

This time it's more a product of circumstance, and most tragically, circumstances as a product of work. In some ways it's the existential lament of: is there really a difference between me being away, and me being home? (what, exactly constitutes "home"?) It's the sneaking suspicion that, quite simply: no one cares. 3 days, one week, the whole month, no matter. That nobody misses a walk-on bit part player who fulfils no vital role in nobody else's lives. The indictment: Not irreplaceable.

Which brings me all the way back to 2010 and the beginnings of the persona so naturally yet purposefully crafted - the hashtag solo hashtag backpacker hashtag traveler. Looking back I cannot help but wonder - what was I doing, and more importantly, why?

At the most fundamental it was this: to prove I could. Who knows why 18 year old kids do what 18 year old kids do, anyway? Perhaps it was the flush of power from coming off my first decent job and a 4-digit paycheck. To prove that no, I did not have to depend on my parents, that here I was at last, come into my own, 18 and ready to conquer the world, or at least survive whatever came my way.

And inadvertently, as my (surely misguided) sense of adulthood was confirmed by the decisions I'd made that year, as the prospect of an education abroad (also the apex of all that I had and could envision for myself, having no concrete plan beyond such an achievement) beckoned, this desire too solidified into a goal very much attainable. Having achieved so little of worth, I had so much to prove - and the only way to prove myself was to do this all alone. Not, clearly, with the help of my family (that tangled, complex knot which hangs over every single of our heads). Nor even, in clear defiance of John and Paul and co., with a little help from my friends.

Without ever quite knowing this was - absolute independence, that is - what I'd set out to pursue, off I went - unmoored, unhinged.

The traveler's paradox: complete freedom and the desire for something (or someone) to go back home to. What do you do after proving to yourself whatever you have to prove? Freedom for freedom's sake is a hollow achievement. At some level, perhaps, everything we have set out to do and achieve cannot merely be for our own sakes. Growth and development and all that good stuff cannot occur in a vacuum - and if you do not have the past (as well as, as much as we hashtag solo types refuse to admit it, people from your past) to benchmark against, then really all this growth and proving yourself is quite meaningless. Perhaps there is some truth to the statement that we are all nothing more than the sum of what we leave behind.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Collision Courses.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

- One Art, Elizabeth Bishop

And here we are,
In search of new memories to be created
we rush ever onward,
into brand new disasters
if only to distance ourselves from old ones.
No matter!
Love, or die trying
we say!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

You are Perfect in All of Your Ways.

And what a year it's been! A truly fantastic December to cap it all off and imbue myself with the hope that 2017 is going to be worth looking forward to indeed.

It really hasn't been the easiest of years (a fantastical aspiration perhaps) as I've kinda had to muddle my way through a whole bunch of stuff in almost every aspect of my life - learning to prioritize and also to cope and also to make do and to make peace with failures and disappointments. Relative successes but also their attendant, subsequent failures too - a year of pruning. Of some of these "important" things being sheared off - painfully; finally. Of coming to terms, somewhat, with God's plans for my life.

Knowing that I do not know the future, but trusting Him with it anyway.

And hopefully this sense, as the new year approaches (as the latter half of my 20s beckons.....), of a certain solidification does not end up a mere figment of my wistful imagination. This sense of things slowly coming together, at last. After a year of almost aimless striving and headlong - almost senseless even - charging into some of these things, almost by default even. That finally, there might be some ground beneath my feet at last.

And even further beneath this sense, underpinning all this, I think maybe I'm beginning too to answer the question: and what if this all comes crumbling down? The career the financial stability the relationships the cell group the whatever it is? Does the new year look good because all these things look good? Or could there be more to it than this? Maybe I'm starting to believe this not just in my head, but in my heart too.

Which perhaps has been the lesson for me throughout this whole year, or maybe even the last few years. Of learning how to let things go, and into the hands of God.

So I guess that's it for the year - see y'all in 2017!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

For Someone Else.

It's the last goodbye I swear
I can't rely on a dime-a-day love
That don't go anywhere

I learn to cry for someone else
I can't get by on an odds and ends love
That don't ever match up

I heard all you said
And I took it to heart

I won't forget I swear
I have no regrets
For the past is behind me
Tomorrow reminds me just where

Can't quite see the end
How can I rely on my heart if I break it
With my own two hands?
I heard all you said and I love you to death
I heard all you said don't say anything

It's the last goodbye I swear
I can't survive on a half-hearted love that will never be whole.

What strange paths life takes sometimes. Who could have guessed this is where we'd end up after all this time, after all the twists and the turns, all the longing and uncertainty and missteps and self-doubt and heartache? How does it make sense that sadness is the only way out of this tangled mess we've somehow contrived to get ourselves into? What does it mean when mutual disappointment and regret mean nothing at all?

Not quite nothing, perhaps. But it's the lingering frame, in my mind, of two on-screen lovers making the most colossal mistake of their lives, never considering the possibility that this, this might be a mistake after all. Whether from pride, stubbornness, or some sense of responsibility, or duty, or something. And you're sitting there and you're thinking: what responsibility? duty to whom! what are you guys thinking? come on. please. please! wake up.

It lingers. That's what regrets do, after all. And yet some things, once begun, can never be undone. No matter how much they hurt, no matter how much you think and re-think them. Irreversible; past the point of no return. And the earlier you recognize that the better - for everyone involved. Because some things are simply irretrievable. Because everything changes. Circumstances change. People change. You can never step in the same river twice.

And so the narrative unfolds (perhaps even concludes - maybe nothing else happens.) Complex equations on a curve achieving a brief, brilliant, intersection; nothing but a beautiful tangent in time. And then separation: inevitable, irrevocable, undeniable. Quite simple, after all.

f(t): As t (time) increases, so does x (where x refers to any number of things - distance, indifference, etc.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that these things happen. That these are the inescapable (sometimes inexplicable, despite the fancy equations) consequences of trying to figure out what exactly life is meant to mean to you. And that yes, despite the hurts, this is how you trudge on, one step at a time - bloodied feet or not. Would you have it any other way? Because despite these things, I don't think I'd have done anything any differently. (Okay, that's a stretch. There's plenty of things I wish I would have done differently - but none of the big things, I guess is what I'm trying to say.)

No matter how much I rue my immaturity, my haste, my impatience, my lack of faith, etc. Could I have learnt these lessons and grown this much over this last year any other way? These things shape you, let you discover and even mould you into the person you're supposed to grow into. Because these things were meant to do just that.

And how could I ever want it any other way? Because there are things you just cannot regret. How can I ever say that I regret these things, when these things include too all these memories, accumulated slowly over all these years, culminating in the brief frenzy of those final few months? (I will not tarry here - self-preservation dictates that this must be so.)

Wrong time, wrong place. Wrong people. Maybe this was never meant to work out after all. Maybe we were uniquely unsuitable for each other. Uniquely placed to disappoint each other in unique ways. Maybe 1 percent was a bridge too far for us. But I will not, cannot, regret trying. It really would have been such a pity otherwise, no? At least Icarus flew.

So yes. This is how life goes - one day at a time - t increases, we move on. Because we have to. And a curious, unmistakable optimism: if even our mistakes turn out this way - for the better, in case you misread the tone of this post - then surely we are in good hands. As I cannot help but believe, increasingly, that: we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, who have been called according to His purpose. Because if there's anything that I've learnt it's this: to put my faith in God; not in the things of this world.

Such a basic lesson, that. Fundamental, really. But until you find yourself putting so much faith in, pinning so much of your hopes on, these other things, you never really do realize just how hard it is to do something so basic. Just how important it really is.

As this slowly winds down; as I begin to lose my train of thought and grapple with what else there is left to say - with what else there is that I should not say - there is at least this one more thing: I'm sorry that this whole post is such a self-centred one. This was not meant to be a confessional or anything; simply one person's attempt to navigate the minefield of emotions and reactions that all this has triggered. As above, self-preservation dictates that this must be so. Anything else would be a much more painful affair.

I can strive for at least a modicum of objectiveness and detatchment only by looking at things from a purely singular point of view: that of someone tacitly accepting the outcome of this (that this was; this is; this had to be), looking back, looking for what he's gained, weighing this against what he's lost.

I wish I could say: For you, a thousand times over. But I can't. (And it's not because of you.) So I simply have to accept that what's done is done, because I can't allow myself to think in any less-clear terms.

(And it's not because of you) because you deserve someone who would persevere; someone who would fight harder to get through to you. And that someone is not me. Because after the initial frustration (even bitterness), after the initial struggle, I really did make peace with the facts - no matter how much I wanted to at times, I could not and would not do anything to change those facts. Again: uniquely situated to disappoint.

So here it is: the last goodbye. How often do you get to appreciate that word? "Good-bye". And I sincerely do believe, and trust, that it is indeed good. I wish you nothing but the best (this, unfortunately, has the ring of Adele to it sigh) in all that you do - and you have got so much more yet to do! Friends, I'm pretty sure, only want the best for each other, too. This is not our last goodbye yet; merely a bittersweet farewell to a now-closed chapter of our lives - one that will always hold many cherished moments, fond memories - closed now, and forever. Goodbye (:

Monday, 13 June 2016

1500hrs and all is well.


This is a time for lovers. As the rest of the world makes their way home, rests beneath their sheets, sleeps on the MRT, beats their wives, runs out of things to say to their friends, makes plans to meet hopefully sometime again this year, wonders why their children are not home yet. As the rest of the rest of the world, the lost and the wild and the exuberant, brushes teeth and puts on makeup, tries on six different outfits perhaps meant to seduce or maybe merely meant to restore some sense of self-worth, the only way that's left? As they slink their separate desolate ways back to their respective sanctuaries/hells, into their double locked gates and abuse or their dark clubs and gyration and excess and loss of self.

These streets are for lovers. The sidewalks meant for two and the two-seat benches at parks and the alcoves barely sufficient for two bodies bound by the belief and the fear that the world consists only of the other.

The quiet is for lovers. For murmurred declarations of love, for philosophy and the separate pursuit of the only question that matters: is love enough? and the follow up: how can it not be? For frenzied-hand-scrabbling in the dark and the urgency of motion.


This is a time for nobody. For the nobodies who make up so much of everybody. As the rest of the world dreams, lies in restful oblivion. As the rest of the rest of the world slips out of darkened spaces, makes plans for real food and real sustenance despite fatigue and drunkenness and disappointment, pretends desperately that life is not slipping away, that the excesses of youth can be replicated without any consequences.

This is a time for regrets and terrible decisions. As you lie awake at night wondering at the consequences of all these things over all these years, as you make unsound promises to yourself to effect change at last, as you begin even to believe yourself and that these 4am epiphanies actually represent a turning point in your could-be-so-much-better life, as these late-night visitations of wisdom and revelation occur again and again and again, as you wonder how much anything has changed at all.


This is a time for [fill in the blank]. Who are you without the urgency of the night and the madness of deep morning? Who do you think of in the middle of the day before you are assailed by the doubt and loneliness and sorrow of nightfall? [Who thinks of you?] What do you mean most of the time, unmasked by sunlight, stripped of shadows and the poor excuse of alcohol and the mumbled pleas of sorry I'm just really tired?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Consider Us Disturbed.

There's something so beautiful about rain at night. The light from the street lamps diffused and scattered by all these droplets; the thrum and the hum, the pitter and the patter, in the quiet, in the dark. The sense of things being washed and swept away, of cleansing. That as the rain silently fades away, as the morning comes, as all these recede - things are made new again. I love the rain at night - minimal disruption, maximal beauty - just as things should be, no?

Of course not. Minimal disruption - what a terrible aspiration!

Anyhow. Just had one of the most enjoyable Saturdays in a loooooooooong while - from reading terrible Lang Leave poems in some random cafe, to the most satisfying massage I've had in my whole life, to making it back home by public transport - alongside pretty much the greatest bunch I could have chosen to spend one of these rare free Saturdays with. Thanks fellas!

Thanks for reminding me that happiness and joy et al ain't that far out of reach after all. It's been so easy since beginning work to discount happiness, dismiss our chances at it, with all these excuses of fatigue and priorities and stress and all these other things.

If we'd only known what we were getting ourselves into! All these kids huffing and puffing to grow up, really...

Life and its crazy revolving door of people who appear and disappear just like that. Spit out in different directions and that's just that - different lives, different trajectories - life goes on. But goes on where, exactly? Sometimes it seems we're all just getting on with our lives, moving on from past hurts and successes, we're on the up and up! And yet we never seem to end up anywhere at all.

Ah, but maybe that's just the myopia of loneliness.