Category Archives: Reflection

The Questions of Our Lives

Why, and how?
Again and again, the questions we ask.
It’s so easy to give in
to the weight of our “problems”
To think that we are the only ones
who have pain and suffering.
Maybe it’s just easier
to focus on the narrowness of one’s world
than to dwell on the galaxy of questions and seeming unfairness
the inexplicable suffering and unequal lots in lives everywhere.
It’s easier to think of what is in front of us
than to look at the too-big picture
So big we can’t even see the ends.
Life goes on with questions,
and perhaps their unanswerable ness somehow makes the journey
Bearable.
For if all our questions were one day answered,
what else would we live for?

How Have You Been?

Every once in a while, perhaps over a meetup or in the middle of a social situation, a well-meaning friend / person would ask: “So how have you been?!”

And there are times when I’m tempted to answer:
“Oh you know, the same. Fluctuating between the usual states of self-doubt and the possibility of self-actualization, sometimes swinging between them several times within a day. And then of course I try to find authenticity amidst every experience and situation, which again is easier said than done. And my thoughts, while seemingly rooted in the mundane, also frequently go back to what it means to be human, what defines our existence, among other threads of philosophy and spirituality. Emotionally, I tend to question the basis of my every-changing emotions, and trying to observe the mind in the mind has been an ongoing project for some time now. That’s… basically how I’ve been. How about you?”

Maybe sometimes replying “I’m fine”, or “good” … Could be more than just adhering to social norms or obligations.

Maybe it’s a cover up for the inexplicable and inevitable complexity that is us.

Your Point Is?

Some time back in early May, this happened.

When you’re someone who pays excessive attention to how the other person is feeling in any conversation you have, it can hurt pretty bad when you feel that the other person doesn’t reciprocate, or doesn’t seem to have the same ability to care about how others – aka yourself – can be impacted by the tone they use, the things they say, the way they put across certain things.

It was a Saturday evening, and the friend and I were walking along the civic district, making our way to an evening concert. She was telling me about a boy in her class. He has anger management issues, and despite his ability to rationalize and process through his actions when he’s calm, the moment he is triggered he forgets everything has has said, promised and vowed, and goes berserk again in one viscous cycle after another. She sighs in exasperation and says: “What happens to the rational voice inside when he is acting up? He is a deep thinker and fiercely intelligent. Why does he allow himself to go berserk the moment he is triggered?”

I wanted to reply, in a nutshell, that because when someone is overcome with anger, it’s not the rational brain that is working, but the primal brain, the lower level brain, the one that executes fight or flight mode, the survival mode. While rational thinking is a process, there’s hardly any room for that in fight or flight mode – the body simply reacts. And children who aren’t given enough alternatives or coping mechanisms to their fight or flight mode, could end up becoming adults who react in the same way every time they encounter strong emotions.

It all sounded pretty good and logical in my head, of course.

But somewhere in the process of getting the words from my brain to my mouth, they morph into sentences that trail off halfway, words that get stuck, thought links that fade away. I think I must have paused somewhere along “Anger is a very primal emotion…”

And then it came.

“Uh huh. So your point is?”

BOOM.
I’m in an interview room, trying to explain my entire life’s philosophy and beliefs to a panel of judges who are going to determine the value of my life.

“So your point is?”

High heeled shoes tap impatiently on the cold marble floor. The air is thick with murky silence as I try to breathe and push the words from my head to my mouth, hopefully in a coherent order. To articulate what had been a beautiful, logical chain of thoughts in my head.

“So your point is?”

My point is that I see enough value in this conversation to pursue it with you. I value you enough to attempt to share what I think about what you have just shared with me.

“So your point is?”

The point is that I’m inarticulate, useless at speaking off the cuff about things that matter the most to me, so why should I bother?

“So your point is?”

BOOM.

I’m back along the streets of the civic district, making our way to an evening concert.

“So your point is?”

I take a deep breath.

“My point is…”

I speak slowly and gradually bring the words out, one by one. Not that I really remember what I said anymore. Friend was silent as she listened. Maybe she is unconvinced. Maybe she took something from my reply to mull over. Whatever it is, I’m glad she didn’t come back with another “but…”. Because by then I needed to retreat, needed shelter to heal the wound and fear.

Until the next time we have to be Out There again.

Get my point?

Disclaimer: Friend in this episode is a close and good friend whom I enjoy talking to and sharing ideas with. I just tend to forget how straightforward and impatient she can be at times, and then things like that happen. She said “so your point is?” ONCE and the rest of it took place in the recesses of my easily-stimulated, INFJ mind.
And yet, life goes on.

To Know What We Want

On a Friday evening, I met up with an ex-colleague. And we talked about the usual things. And among the things we spoke about, I realised one thing.

Knowing what you want to do with your life is a great privilege.

It’s so easy to assume that everyone knows what they’d want to do with their life. Who wouldn’t know what they want?

But the truth is that it’s much easier to know what we want at the material level than at a deeper level. It’s easier to decide what kind of movies we want to watch, which brands of clothing and bags we like, than to know what moves you, motivates you, and inspires you. And to have the circumstances to realise our aspirations are even more rare.

So today, I am thankful for the simple fact that I know what I want to do with my life (for now), and that I am equipped to live closely aligned enough to those aspirations.

Perfection will never be permanent, and maybe all we will ever have are glimpses of it. But knowing where we are in proximity makes all the difference.

Protect Your Grass

So, apart from not being tempted by the grass on other sides, and spending effort to cultivate our own grass, we must also remember to protect our grass once we have managed to cultivate a semblance of our own grass.

And that could sometimes mean:
1. Taking time out from social obligations to spend time watering our grass.
2. Trimming our grass when they get too big to be well-maintained (grass can grow really quickly) – quantity over quality.
3. Exchanging grass maintenance tips with others who have succeeded in grooming their own grass.
4. Being sensitive enough to know what our grass needs at different seasons and time periods
5. Realising that every grass responds differently to the environment, and every grass owner’s style of different. Learn from others (point3), but don’t compare.
6. Trusting that our grass actually already knows what they want, and sometimes all is needed is for us to listen to them (go back to point 4)

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