Category Archives: Rants

Palace Cinema

Before the film, at Leichhardt. Made the right choice choosing the cinema in a slightly suburban area instead of the city. The vibes are just different.

Only unfortunate thing was… due to train trackwork, took me almost 3 hours to get there, and another almost 3 hours to get back!

 

 

“I Can’t Work With Normal Kids Anymore”

Imagine my relief, when I blurted this line out, and Y, a wonderful therapist whom I greatly respect and adore, echoed my sentiments and told me that she could totally understand.

“I used to get so frustrated with normal kids as well”, she said. “I’d look at them and think – you have everything you’ll ever need and yet you are not cherishing it. There are kids who have so little, born disabled… and yet they are trying so hard” (I almost started tearing when I heard her say that).

“Yes! I felt that way even before I came here, and now I feel that even more strongly.”

R, who was nearby, also agreed, saying that once you’ve gotten a taste of therapeutic work, it’s hard to go back to whatever we were doing, because it will naturally seem so much more meaningless (he was from the corporate world, imagine that!).

And indeed, I do feel that most of the things I’ve done before has been pretty meaningless. Not all, but most.

Because when you’ve seen how a non-verbal person can communicate through singing and smiling, when you’ve seen a so-called intellectually disabled young woman reach out and give you a high-five in the middle of our drumming improvisation, when you’ve felt the hands of a 4-year old with autism stretch out and hold your arm and bring your fingers to the piano, laughing as she plays the piano through your hands, and then reach out to touch your hair and say your name in a loud clear voice… How can one go back?

How can I go back to the system where days are spent rushing through syllabus, where fancy lesson packages are prepared with no time to carry them out, where obedience and silence are order of the day, where countless events and excursions and enrichment activities are carried out not because they are truly beneficial, but because KPIs need to be met, because portfolios need to be beefed up, because people need to look good on paper.

I just want to pull my hair in despair when I think about it.

As much as I am living in the present and getting the most I can out of this amazing experience, I know that this too shall pass. And then… what?

Money

If I say I didn’t join Teaching for the money, I would be lying. Of course the money played a part in me signing on the dotted line. We need to survive, after all. We have parents counting on us. We have desires we want to fulfill. Like travel. And all those blogshop clothes. And the prospect of being paid while studying something I am passionate about seemed so very enticing when I was 16 (It still is).

But I also strongly believe that the money alone should not be the determining factor. Because if it is, sooner or later you would start comparing yourself with others who earn more. Or with those who appear to do less but are getting the same pay.  And that, is the surefire way to make yourself unhappy.

If we use money to measure happiness, we will never have enough of both.

Just felt the need to say that.

On Smoke and Fire Alarms

This is something I’ve been wanting rant about for awhile.

The smoke alarms here. In Australia. Are seriously freaky.

My introduction to them came in the second week I was here. On a quiet Tuesday evening, when I was settling into my room after dinner, enjoying the silence I had gotten used to over the past few days.

Suddenly –

A loud wailing noise from the ceiling in my room.

That was when I realised they had installed a speaker up there (Seriously, why do they need intercom speakers in every single little room, as if we can’t hear it if it’s in the hall, as loud as it is?!).

Then –

“EMERGENCY! EVACUATE NOW! EMERGENCY! EVACUATE NOW!”

I was scared – for lack of a better word – shitless.

I clamored around my room like a headless chicken for a few seconds, before grabbing my phone and passport and running out. My heart felt like it had shriveled up and was just crouching in a corner of my body, too scared to move.

The first signs of it being a false alarm occurred to me when I noticed that the people who lived above us were not rushing down like they were supposed to. They, apparently, had seen their fair share of false alarms (Unlike me).

Then, at the common room, people were murmuring about how it’s probably just another false alarm, and somebody is going to get fined for getting the fire truck down when there’s no fire.

All this time, the siren was still going on, and the voice, computerized and mechanical, was still going on about evacuating. It was deeply unsettling.

Finally, the trucks came, confirmed that there was no fire, the sirens were stopped (finally) and we returned to our rooms.

I was very much shaken, and no longer viewed the silence of the night as something comforting, but now as a suspicious, filmsy scaffolding which could give way at any time.

Just a few days ago, I was sitting in my room, doing some readings, when the intercom cackled to life again. I jumped and felt my muscles freeze up.

“Residents”, the voice began, loud, harsh and distorted. I opened my door and made to go outside to check if this was another false alarm, my heart beating wildly from the initial shock.

“This is a sound test. Test. Test.”

Then the intercom went off.

I sank into my chair and took many deep deep breaths.

Seriously. They cannot keep doing this to me. I feel like my life has already been shortened by 2 years, and I’ve only been here less than 2 months! It’s gotten so bad that I now approach the silence of each night with more apprehension than before, when I used to welcome the peace and quiet. Now it just feels like something is waiting to happen. To pounce on us in the dark.

 

So I’ve been trying to rationalize my thinking to help myself get over this fear.

The reason why I’m afraid is because I’m attached to life. My belongings, my existence. I am afraid of getting into a disaster which could endanger my life. I don’t want to die. And as we all know, attachment is the cause of suffering. If I could live with detachment, fully knowing that even my next breath is not in my hands, then I would not be so fearful.

Also, I need to learn how to respond, not react. Responding requires you to do just what need to be done at that moment. Reacting holds an emotional component. Because I am attached to my life, I react with emotion, and feel fear. If I’m able to cultivate detachment and simply respond as the situation calls for it, I’d simply be responding, and fear need not be involved. 

Easier said than done, I know. But at least I’ve got my game plan mapped out. Respond, not react. Be detached, and fear won’t have a place.

Take a deep breath, and live on.

The Grass Thing

It’s always tempting to think that the grass is always greener on the other side, that others always have it better than we do, that we’d be happier – if only we had that person’s job scope, if only we had a spouse like so-and-so, if only we had that much money…

Over the years, I think I’ve learnt (the hard way) that comparing myself with others will only bring me more misery. Thankfully, thoughts on comparing myself with others (Why can’t I be like … Why am I not more…) gave way more to thoughts on learning how to accept myself (It’s ok, you may need more time than others, but you’ll get there if you don’t give up).  Of course there are still days when I feel that I would be happier, if only… But I try to stop myself from going too far down that road.

One problem I still face frequently is how to handle people who seem to think that everyone’s grass is greener than theirs, that everyone has it better than them. I do not mind listening to my friends and colleagues talk, rant, complain and whine about their problems, be it at home or at work, but I feel that they have crossed the line when they start making personal remarks like “I’m not as fortunate as YOU… YOU don’t need to… YOU don’t have to… YOU have it so much better…” or any other lines that imply such. 

I usually feel waves of anger and indignation swelling up inside me then, but I, being me, usually do quite a good job of hiding it, laughing the person’s insensitive remarks away. Pretending to agree that “Yes, I don’t work as hard as YOU.” “Yes, YOU work the hardest and I am just slacking off compared to YOU.”

I used to wonder why I am the butt of these people’s insensitive remarks, and even reflected on the impression I give others. Am I truly not working hard enough? Am I giving others the impression that I only do the minimal? Just because I pride myself on being efficient, is it something that has been taken the wrong way?

As I got to know some of these people better, I realised – it is not me. There are simply people who will feel that the world surrounding them is better than the world they have. Making comparisons and complaints are their coping mechanisms, albeit rather unhappy ones. So no matter what I do, no matter how much harder I drive myself, they are probably going to go on saying the things they say, thinking the things they think.

And this year, I should do myself the favour of not taking their words too seriously.

Made Up

There’s a Chinese saying which says that there are no ugly women on this world, only lazy ones.

It implies that even the ugliest women can be made to look good, as long as she is willing to put in the effort. (And money)

My rant starts.

What’s wrong with feeling OK about looking plain and less than fabulous? Why are there people who feel that their self worth and importance and presence comes from how people see them, how professional they look, how eye-catching they are? Why are there people who would rather spend 2 hours making their face up, rather than spending the same amount of time on a good, meaningful and inspiring book?

If I wasn’t such a sucker for social norms, I would gladly skip the ritual of applying stuff on my face and just go out, without having to feel self-conscious when interacting with people. But because we have been brought up in an environment which stresses perfect skin and flawless appearances, I feel myself being caught up with trying to fit in, as much as I contemplate the futility of it all. Ironic, isn’t it.

Even then, it does not seem to be enough, with people asking  things like “Why don’t you try some eye make up?”

But that’s where I draw the line. For you, society, I have degraded myself to applying foreign substances on my skin. I will go no further than that!

I could… But…

I could go on like this forever, but...

Had a conversation with a friend the other day, about what is meant to be will be VS working hard to change what will be.

How do we know when we need to continue working hard for what we want, for the goal could just be a few hidden steps away, reachable by a little more effort, a little more time, a little more…?

At the same time, how do we know when to accept that certain things are never meant to be, never will be, will only bring disaster if it were to be, and we therefore should let it be?

In other words, when do we accept our lot, and when do we continue fighting?

 

When I received the call today, and heard the rather disheartening news, my mind came back to this conversation.

I guess I could have fought back, even a little. I could have argued. I could have said something. Asked questions. Anything.

Instead, I kept quiet. Silent.

Until her “hello?” forced me to reply with a “…Ok.”

I guess, I just felt so tired. Tired of explaining myself, tired of justifying what I want to do and achieve to people who probably don’t and won’t understand.

How long can you keep fighting a battle for your dreams, before you start to feel that maybe you are not pursuing the right dreams anymore?

Perhaps it is relative, and perhaps it is still too early for me to say such things. After all, Nelson Mandela waited for more than 20 years before he saw a glimpse of his dream coming true.

But I know this – my heart is restless, and I want to do what I think I can be good at doing, before it is too late to do it.

I just hope I still get a chance.

“…I dreamed a dream of time gone by

When hope was high and life worth living…”

“…So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…”