Category Archives: Writing

Beyond the Tunnel

There is light
beyond the tunnel.
The traveller sees it.
There is light
but what lies beyond?
Unanswered questions.
Mysteries.
The uncertainty that breeds anxiety.
The traveller wants to reach the light,
yet is afraid to.
So it’s true
that sometimes
even the most distressing
and undesirable of circumstances
could become familiar and comforting pain
if endured long enough.
The traveller makes her decision
and takes another step forward.

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Essentialism – Saying No.

So I recently read this book:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

In a nutshell – how to discriminate between the vital few in a society which glorifies the trivial many. How to make choices that will advance our agenda (provided that we know what we want in the first place), and allow us to focus our limited energy and resources on aspects of our lives where we can make the highest quality of contribution.

Needless to say, achieving the above consists of a fair bit of saying no.  And not long after I had finished the book,  I had the chance to practice some of the principles almost immediately.

A call from a respected person in my circle came: Would I like to perform with them in front of some Minister for some Chinese New Year event on the following Sunday?

There are several issues I have with their request.

  • Firstly, Performing = Dressing up, putting on makeup, making small talk before and after, waiting for long hours just for that few minutes on stage – all of which are not quite at the top of my favourite things to do.
  • Secondly, Sunday = My day of rest (which obviously does not include the activities stated above). That Sunday also happened to be the day when I had arranged for Skype supervision from Sydney – and I did not want to postpone it again.

 

So, my mind started going into overdrive, thinking how I was going to get out of this one in the most respectful, graceful way possible.

“Erm..That Sunday…”

“Why? Are you overseas? Not around?”

“No, I’m around. But, I have already made plans to skype someone that day… And it’s quite important.”

“Oh.”

I heard the disappointment, and it really disturbed me at first, to know that my response had been the cause of it. I had probably been expected to be really excited and thankful for the opportunity to perform at such a prestigious event, and to accept it immediately. My response must have been unexpected. Maybe ungrateful and rude, even.

But.

Now that I am able to look back on it, I feel only relief and pride. I maintained my boundaries respectfully and honestly. I made a choice that allowed me to direct my energy in an effective way, conserving it from being spent at an event that would probably have no long-lasting benefit on me or my life. They would probably think twice before asking/inviting me to another event or opportunity like this… and frankly I am perfectly fine even if they never consider me again.

I’m glad I said no. 

Framing

Recent thoughts.

Who was I before all these happened?

What kind of person was I?

Optimistic? Sensitive? Accepting? Curious?

Am I still all those things?

I’d like to think I am.

And yet I have changed – and am still changing – on this journey through unchartered life territory.

This journey has allowed me to see myself through a different lens. It has made me realise I am more resilient than I think. It has helped me forge stronger relationships with my loved ones and friends, and helped think about how I would be a better friend or companion if someone around me were to face similar issues in future. It has enabled me to discover roots and inner resources I never knew I had or was capable of.

– John Green, “Turtles All The Way Down”

I didn’t decide what came into the picture of this life, but I’m glad I still get a say in which frames I want to use.

There are always choices.

Digging Deep

So recently I have been thinking.

About how I am still alive.

And how I have made it through all those times when I thought I would not be able to.

All those days when I don’t feel like I could get through but I did, one step at a time.

Looking back, I realise we really should not underestimate the power of the inner resources of a human being.

I realise we do have the capacity to dig deep, and sometimes deeper than we think we are capable of reaching.

When the circumstances call for it, we really can rise to the occasion. And in the process, develop and gain new skills and strengths.

I am thankful for my inner and external resources – everything and everyone that has helped me through thus far.

May the journey ahead be a smoother one.

Dream

I don’t usually analyse my dreams too deeply,  but this one felt so poignant on so many levels that I felt I had to write about it.

 

In the dream, I am walking down a dark tunnel-like path. I am aware of dark hooded figures standing in a line. They are each holding a gun- rifles of sorts.

I am aware of the thought: If I act confidently and walk normally, maybe they will let me pass.

And so, even though my heart is filled with trepidation, I hold my body and head up and attempt to walk with as much confidence and normalcy I could muster.

About a few steps into this endeavour, one of the figures turned towards me. I knew I had been found out. He threw a blanket over me. I was told to continue walking. I felt the gun being pointed at my back. The hardness of the metal made me feel that the figure would be merciless if he had to. The walk continued for a while more before I felt myself struggling to wake up, and finally managed to escape from the nightmare.

When I think about the dream, I feel it reflects one of my constant fears in daily life: Being found out. Having my cover blown. Imposter syndrome. Walking through life as if everyone else was carrying a gun and ready to pounce on me for the slightest flaw or mistake I show.

Then there’s the blanket. Even though I did not put it on myself voluntarily, it did give me a measure of safety. Kinda like ignorance is bliss. At the same time, it did make me feel cut off from the world, and that generated a stronger sense of the unknown, and more fear.

It also feels slightly ironic that the moment I was exposed or found out, the consequence was that I was shrouded under a thick blanket. Is that something I do to myself in real life too? When I feel threatened or afraid that I’m not meeting the expectations of others or myself, do I put on a thick blanket over myself – perhaps to prevent my cover from being blown? Perhaps on some level, in order to camouflage my flaws, I’d rather not be seen at all. That does feel like a safer alternative.

But is it any way to live?

I have spent so much of my life being bothered by what others think, worrying that I am just not good enough for others. Maybe it’s about time I start to think about just being good enough for myself.

When Something Shifts

When something shifts inside you,

it does not announce itself.

It does not celebrate the occasion

with fanfare or festivity.

It does not step over the line

with the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd watching the end of a marathon.

It simply shifts.

Something clicks, or something happens, and it is there. It has shifted.

And because it is so quiet, so stealthy, it can be so easy to overlook.

I noticed it, a few days ago.

I noticed that the intensity had lessened.

I noticed that the internal resistance had decreased.

I found it easier to be alive and breathing.

I found it easier to be in touch with the world.

It was a pretty surreal feeling, when I realised that it does lift and things do shift.

It felt good.

Then, the morning before I sat down to write this length of words, I felt another shift. This time, a not-so-desirable one. One that would entail more difficult emotions and thoughts to grapple with.

But, I sit and look and them and smile at them. Or at least I try to.

It will lift again, I’m sure. Change is the only constant 🙂

 

Shopping and Inner Voices

On the most normal and mundane of days, I do not enjoy shopping as a recreational activity to begin with. But sometimes, I indulge in it when I’m with friends. During which I would walk around with them and inwardly gasp at how expensive our consumerist society is, while keeping up a conversation of sorts as they browse the racks. As long as it’s not for too long a period, as long as I feel we’re still making some meaningful connection – I’m fine.

But yesterday, a mere 20-minute walk around the shops transformed into Battle of the Inner Voices.

What’s the point of doing this.

She wants to shop, its her day off, just walk around with her for awhile.

Yes but what’s the point. Of all this. Of life. 

Let’s not go there. Just walk. 

Ok now she’s talking to you. Smile and say something appropriate.

Ok. Why do I always have to feel like I have to put on a mask?

You don’t. You’re choosing not to let her know how you’re feeling inside.

That’s because I don’t think she’d understand. And it’d just make everyone uncomfortable. Putting on a mask is easier. 

So don’t complain. 

I’m not complaining. I’m just trying to articulate what I’m feeling.

So what are you feeling? In the body?

There’s that weight in my chest. The foggy feeling. The feeling like something is wrong with me.

Ok just note it and let it be. It is what it is.

Smile, Smile. 

I’m trying. Why is this so hard. What’s the point, again?

It’s ok, you’re doing the best you can.

If I were better I wouldn’t be feeling this way. 

It’s not your fault, just note the sensations and let them be. See where it takes you.

It’s just… there. Where is it going? What if it stays there forever and never gets better?

You don’t know that. Just breathe mindfully. 

I can’t wait to get home and cry.