i think i have outgrown blogging. started the year with the intention of posting at least a monthly entry but it turned out making one for a quarter was equally hard. it isn’t because there is nothing to write about but it is no longer as easy as it used to. most of the time, it ends up with me asking myself this question “…and this post of my thought or an experience is important or worth my effort because…?” after which, i would probably end up putting down the key points in my journal for future reference.
still, i never quite gave it up because it is such a pity to not continue something that i have kept going since july 2007.
happy 6th year, starcrash. i wished i knew what to do with you.
listen to (or read) ben bernanke 2013 commencement speech if you have a chance. i thought it was a really humbling and compassionate speech.
couldn’t agree more on life being a life long project of developing oneself as a human being and i couldn’t help but think of my meritocratic Singapore when he questioned about the fairness of meritocracy.
he really got to me when he started talking about how people who are most worthy of admiration are folks who have coped most courageously in the face of adversities – people with little schooling but who through honest and diligent labour, has managed to clothe, feed and educate their families deserved greater respect and greater help.
reminded me of what henry james once said “3 things in human life are important. the first is to be kind, second is to be kind and third is to be kind.”
i am unsure what drove the blues away but i’m definitely feeling much better compared to 2 weeks ago! i was actually worried that the moodiness will cling onto me for a much longer time that i started quieting down and heading back to my number one comfort activity – staying home to read. eventually, i headed back to the gym, prayed (or talked to the universe), ate a little more fruits and more of my favourite food after fully recovering from a bad bout of flu.
falling sick this time made me realised 2 things:-
1. being confined to the bed is quite depressing. i used to think being able to lie down in bed is the ultimate bliss (it still is but only after a long day at work) in life until i noticed the boredom and helplessness of not being able to get up and do things. not only was it mentally and emotionally draining, i was sore all over from lying down for too long.
2. medicine alters my mood. i don’t know how much of it was caused by the medicine itself but i think it does something to your moods.
realizing these 2 things made me much more compassionate towards the bed-ridden and people who, for whatever unfortunate reasons, have to be on life-long medicine.
“be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” socrates
one week before 2012 ended…
i was still healthy and strong. took some time off from work before and after christmas to do some major room cleaning. my cleaning schedule was more intensive than my work schedule as i usually cleaned from morning to the wee hours of the night. i am really satisfied with the result. what inspired the big clean up was a long overdue mental breakthrough that came when i stood in front of a huge untidy pile of plastic and paper bags that holds a decent amount of floor space in the room.
the first thought that came to my mind was:-
“i am sick and tired of having to tidy this corner of the room only to have it be messed up after.”
the second thought that followed was:-
“what can i do to make management of all these easier?”
and then it occurred to me that:-
“if i used more of the recycling bags that i have and keep one in my bag at all times, i would have lesser (or better still, none!) plastic and paper bags to begin with.”
i couldn’t help but admit that we create most of the problems in life through our own attitudes and behaviour. dwelling on it further drove home the importance of simplifying my life…wanting less means you’ll end up with lesser things which means you’ll need less time to manage the possessions which means you have more time and energy and money to spend on the things that truly matter to you.
with this new principle, i combed through…
- my wardrobe, took stock and gave away 20 over pieces of clothing. i realized i’m the owner of 10 shawls and 12 cardigans, 10 over dresses and casual tees. this exercise made me realized i do not need another piece of cardigan or shawl or casual tees.
- my cosmetics and toiletries and realized i already had everything i needed and there was no need to add to it.
- my accessories and realized that i have not worn 90% of it for more than 2-3 years. i no longer like them and gave them away to someone who might appreciate them a little bit more.
- books and gave away 70 over books to people who might benefit from me. i have already got what i needed from these books and i no longer need them with me physically. however, i did keep some of the books that meant a lot to me.
- my old lecture and seminar notes and threw them all away. information is only useful when you need them and i haven’t touched most of them for 4, 5 years.
- my piano scorebooks. i kept them all these years mostly out of guilt and this strange desire to pick up piano again. guilt because i had memories of my mum buying whatever score books we wanted when i was younger. they weren’t cheap. but i came to the realization guilt is not appreciation for what my mother has sacrificed to buy me what i wanted. i could express gratitude by being kinder to her in more relevant ways. i also realized that even if i did pick up piano again, the last thing i want to play would be beethoven’s sonatas because i gave up piano because i couldn’t stand the classical training. in the end, i gave those scorebook away to my cousins who are collectively better than me at piano.
- gifts i’ve received over the years and random items like music players, laptop coolers, origami paper, quills, ink, paper pattern maker…
- my working area at the dining table. i told myself to always keep this area clutter free to serve as a reminder that i should keep all areas of my life clean.
- one full year of recorded expenses so i know which area to cut down my spendings in 2013. a lot of it made me gasped in horror and sometimes you need the shock factor to find your focus again.
this whole exercise of cleaning and taking stock reminded me of what pi said in “life of pi”…
“the whole of life is an act of letting go again and again…”
so that what i did to end the year before i fell sick.
one week after 2013 started, i…
- found myself enjoying the process of jotting down my thoughts for the day in my 2013 planner and decided i should continue doing this for the rest of the year. i do not explicitly use a planner to organize my life because what’s there to write in a 9am to 5pm working life. i do however, use it to record events, goals, dreams & quotes. it’s nice to look back at the end of the year.
- received my christmas present from julianne. for some unknown sweet reason, she decided to get me a kindle paperwhite. with this new gadget, i decided i should try to read more from kindle and see whether my views on ebooks will change. let’s just say that i’ve yet to read anything on it yet. what surprised me most about the gadget was the kindle logo and the word “kindle”. i felt very delighted to turn on kindle and see a young boy reading under a tree. that was very appealing to me. the second thing that surprised me most was during the kindle walk through – i have never associated kindle the e-reader with the word “kindle”. to learnt that kindle the e-reader meant kindle the word made me go wow. suddenly, what i was holding wasn’t just a gadget to read books on, it was something that will “arouse or inspire (an emotion or feeling).” that was exactly what i felt about reading and that moment of revelation was just so…moving. i suddenly felt like amazon understood the mind of avid readers. i felt like it understood me.
- wrote down my goals and acknowledge the obstacles that were preventing me from achieving them year after year – the lack of money. over the past few weeks, i realized that sometimes it’s not how much you earn but how you choose to spend the money you have. many great people were able to do great things with a lot less than what i have. when reviewing my expenses and spending habits, i realized i wanted to do too many things or to put simply, too unfocused and too indulgent. i’m not sure if i have blogged this before but one day on a train, i realized life was too short and that it was impossible to do and be everything with the limitations of time and resources. i need to focus my resources on the few things that are important to me. with that, i started asking myself “if i die tomorrow, would i regret not spending on this?” this clarity helped me accept the fact that i need to make the 2013 austerity drive succeed. i got out of debt in 2012 and now i need to learn how to use money wisely to achieve my goals and fulfill my dreams.
- decided i should continue last year’s resolution of learning how to cook. today, i came up with quarterly plans for cooking. by q12013, i should have figured out how to make homemade tomato pasta sauce, french onion soup, fry the perfect egg, macaroni salad, pan fry a fish fillet, stir fry potato and use more of real butter, olive oil and coconut oil instead of margarine and vegetable oil.
- resolved to have just two goal for my job – to have no backlogs and to find ways to delegate more effectively. haven’t quite figured out how to make it work but i have been working hard on clearing current work and back logs since the first work day.
the above are a few key goals that will help me some of the other goals i have this year. i don’t ask for much other than to continually strive towards being a better and happier person because we only have so much time here on Earth!
let 2013 be a safe and rewarding year for everyone.