Youngest kid of six with an inferiority and black sheep complex, but determined that God saves not just his soul to heaven but the remainder of his manic-depressive life, so others won't say he became a Christian and remained a jerk.
i won't be transparent before i'm opaque. and you'll get to know me starting from the small things: who my favourite bands are. what kind of movies i like. who are my heroes.
I’m convinced that when confronted with sincere, real love, the Jesus factor will become obvious. But let’s not plant the cross before we carry it. I’m not trying to con you.
Some dreams are meant to be achieved. I know that. But maybe other dreams are meant to drive us, privately. Never known to anyone but ourselves.
It is a sadness that, when choosing between crying and sighing, will choose sighing. I'd almost say that melancholy is being sad about sadness itself.
On memory and nostalgia
It saddens me when life moves forward and people decide that certain things are worth forgetting.
I've learnt that the word irregardless is filed as a non-standard word in the English language. That's a lexicographer's way of saying it's not a real word.
Crowds are fickle things. So when we stand in the thousands and cry against the present government, do we know who we're actually crying for?
People always want the best for themselves. But I want to sometimes take second or third or fourth best, just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. It must feel like shit to always come in last.
On growing old
Leasehold property make me feel sad. It doesn't matter how old the family photos are that you put on your wall. It's your family but it's not really your wall.
I ask you, if God loves everyone, and if God is also incapable of loving evil, how can there be such a thing as an evil man?
On a daily basis
One line quips, like this.
Friday, January 25, 2008
yes. to melbourne i return. here's a smile.
Labels: memory and nostalgia
6:43 pm ]
Thursday, January 24, 2008
No! Not now!
5:48 pm ]
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
ON SWITCHING ON AND OFF
Are you someone who can compartmentalise?
cos i'm not. people who can compartmentalise are those who can box up their emotions and thoughts and worries with nice solid dividers. when they're dealing with one, all the rest remain neatly tucked away inside their 5 by 5 cubicle in the brain. i envy those people. cos i'm nothing like that. and being able to compartmentalise would make the quality of my life right now just that much better.
me, my thoughts and emotions blur into each other. a relational gash creeps into office work, a money problem creeps into lunch hour. nothing inside me respects its own boundaries. they're like a backpackers dorm or a nudist beach - very little, if not nothing, is sacred, and all my joys and woes walk into each other's rooms without so much as a knock on the door. needless to say, this kind of thing makes a person quite crippled.
but there are people who can switch on and off. they get into a fight. 15 minutes later, when they need to put their head down and work, they switch the fight off and switch the work on. they know how to will themselves into saying "not now" and they plug out and plug in completely. when the work is done, when the fight can be dealt with, they plug back into it and resume. how robotic, i used to think. how absolutely soulless and mechanical. i would never want to be like that.
but it's so practical, ya know. i start this year thinking that i'd like to learn how to compartmentalise a bit more. maybe not to the extent that i trade in the concerned soul in me for mr ruthless efficiency, but perhaps just to the extent where a minor icky thump doesn't strike me down with paralysis.
aah... the life of a robot. they always make me feel so foolishly human.
Labels: hope, survival
10:09 am ]
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
WORKING ON PRODUCTS AGAIN...
...makes me happy.
6:57 pm ]
Monday, January 21, 2008
TO QUOTE: ON AMERICAN FREEDOM
"America touts itself as the land of the free, but the number one freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace. Once you exercise this freedom you've lost all control over what you do, what is produced, and how it is produced. And in the end, the product doesn't belong to you. The only way you can avoid bosses and jobs is if you don't care about making a living. Which leads to the second freedom: the freedom to starve."- Tom Morello, Rage Against The Machine
11:49 am ]
Sunday, January 20, 2008
ON LIFE WITHOUT TV
10:08 pm ]
Saturday, January 19, 2008
ON TAKING INSTRUCTION
What are you like when you're told what to do?
ps charlie once preached that obedience to god is doing when told, without asking first. he gave the illustration of a guy in the line of fire - when told to duck, he doesn't ask why. he just ducks. same thing with god - when he says This, you This because you may have as little time to stick around and debate on the logic of Thissing as it takes for a bullet saying hello to your head.
but i'm not good with being told what to do. and in the past two days, i've had to look at this trait in the eye and either stare it down or back off. this is me thinking it's time to back off.
the main thing about not liking being told what to do is not really the message but the messenger. i can take instruction from leaders - i don't have an insurbordination problem. whether it's my team leader at work, our bigger bosses from on high, to my cell or zone leaders in church, or pastors (definitely pastors) or even the tricky one with parents, i'm generally receptive and inclined to nod my head at the dispensation of instruction.
the other category of people to whom i don't have a problem taking words from are peers whom i deeply respect. these are people who have clinched the buy-in factor. off the top of my head, vernon and adrian are two such people. they have shown that they care enough about me, we have shared enough cups of everything over long nights talking, for me to put my head down and say yes when they give me the boot in the arse.
but in my okayness with them lies the stark comparison - all the other people. i don't like being told what to do by the rest of the world. i get rebellious. i feel like doing the opposite sometimes, just to wind them up. just to show them that they have no business talking down to me. it's rebellion and i'm naming it. but it also has another name and it's respect.
respect is a very big thing for me. and i believe that peers should respect each other as peers. i have a big problem with peers dispensing advise when no one's looking for any and i've experienced this enough times to know that it's gonna happen again - it's i who have to deal with it. and while i may not appreciate my friends violating our lateral relationship, maybe sometimes god puts words in the mouths of imperfect communicators and i need to close my eyes to the messenger and just listen to the message.
it's not easy. and believe me, there's a sincere bone somewhere in me that wants to change. with whom do i start?
Labels: friendship, identity
4:20 pm ]
Let's get down to it.
12:50 pm ]
Friday, January 18, 2008
Tithing = good thing.
1:56 pm ]
Thursday, January 17, 2008
IF NOT NOW, LATER
I wanna lie down and look at the stars.
7:53 pm ]
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
CAN YOU LEND ME YOUR PHONE, COS MINE IS BARRED AND I'M HERE TO MEET SOME FRIENDS (AND I DON'T KNOW WHICH FLOOR THEY'RE ON)
Thank you so much, nice tenth floor lady.
8:51 pm ]
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
"How many deaths must it take till we know that too many people have died?"
- Bob Dylan, Blowin in the wind
A lot of the time when we hear about a suicide, we ask ourselves and the people around us, what would make a guy do that? what would make him so hopeless that he had nothing else to live for? and when we ask these questions, we ask them on the assumption that a very heavy event triggers a guy to find a rope, tie it onto his curtain rail, stick his head in it and hang himself.
but i think it's not like that at all. i think it's like this: when a damaging event happens, it puts a noose around a man. but he doesn't just hang himself because of it. he goes out walking every day with that noose looped around his head. he will meet people with it, talk and have drinks, maybe even joke about it.
it's then left to circumstances to do the rest of the work. and what they do to him - metaphorically speaking - is they put dark veils over his face. they do this so that the world looks a little dimmer. a relationship hurt continues to squeeze. another veil. a creditor telephones another time. another veil. the question is not how traumatic the trigger incident was but how many veils he has over his face so that his whole world looks, over time, less and less hopeful, and more and more constricting.
and when it gets dim enough - when circumstances have overpowered him enough - he remembers the noose around his neck. and he uses it. he jumps off a building, he slits his wrists, drinks poison, hangs himself.
there's no point being dark for the sake of being dark. suicide is as real and confronting for me today as it was about seven years ago when i walked in it myself. and if i've learned anything between then and now, it's that pain without redemption is meaningless. we hear a sad story, we feel terrible about things, and then a week passes, work piles up, friends take us out and we forget about it. that's pain without redemption.
i want to redeem something from this. i have friends who are constantly walking on threadbare rope. i have friends whose lives are built with very thin glass. i want to help put a plank beneath their feet. take them from their glass vessels and put them in vessels of stone. if you don't have friends who are awkwardly built like that, then your friends have done very well for themselves. but i know one or two. and i know i can't save their lives. but maybe if they'll let me get close enough, i can help take off some veils. make the world a bit friendlier again.
it's rude to face suicide so early in the year. but bob dylan is right. if this doesn't jolt us into caring a bit more for our fragile friends, i don't know what else it's gonna take.
Labels: death, defeat, hope, survival
10:46 am ]
Monday, January 14, 2008
ON GETTING THE BEST
People always want to the best for themselves.
they want their kids in the best schools. they want to drive the best cars available. they want the best jobs. the best opportunities. the best deals.
for some things, i can see the reasoning behind it. if i'm gonna buy a copy of the raveonettes' new album, i'd like to buy it at the best price available. there's no qualitative difference between picking up the same record for RM10 and S$23. but most of the time, when we hear people say that they want the best, they're not talking about simple things like the best price for the same thing.
they're talking about best complicated, subjective things. best school. best tv. best job. in short, the best lifestyle, or godforbid, the best life. but do we really know what the best life is? are we only taking stabs in the dark because what we think is the best is actually what everyone else thinks is the best? how do you really quantify what is the best kind of life for anyone?
and while i'm on this, how do you really know if what the best is for someone else is also the best for you? if we're all created unequally, and that some of us are better at some things than others, and we all like different things, then surely, something has to be wrong when all of us are chasing after the same idea of the best life. one of us has to be wrong.
i'm really sure now that the best thing for me is almost necessarily different from the best thing for someone else. because i'm not someone else. and if there is even such a thing as "best", then mine is out there, shaped uniquely for me to meet who i am. it doesn't have to be "the best". it just needs to be the best for me.
but really, i want to go another step further and say that a culture, a community that is always going after the best for themselves is a community that will eventually consume itself. it is cannibalistic and cannot sustain any semblance of charity and goodwill to others. i'm writing now as a christian - perhaps also to christians. seriously. if you always get the best, it means that your neighbour is always getting second best. and i don't want that for my neighbour.
i don't want to always get the best. if there is such a thing as "the best", i'd like for us all to get a scoop of it every once in a while. i want to sometimes take second or third of fourth best, sometimes take the worst just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. it must feel like shit to always come in last. why should anyone have to always feel like that?
no, i don't want the best school for my kids. i don't need the best tv for my house. and i don't need the best the world has to offer for myself. i have my own tastebuds and they're personally refined enough for me to ask for the ordinary things that i love. show me that and i'll show you a fulfilled life.
Labels: christianity, philosophy, society
10:18 am ]
Friday, January 11, 2008
TO A FRIEND WHO JUST LEFT
I don't even really know him.
i just know that he was a very knowledgeable guy with a bookshelf full of titles that read like the who's who of a worldview seeker. the first time i met him was with a group at his house. everyone played on his playstation, but i didn't. he sat with me and we started talking about hinduism. i quickly found that he knew his mahabharata and his vedas. i later saw them on his bookshelf.
he told me that he'd been looking into the stuff that the rishis put into ancient sacrificial fires, and had come to the conclusion that they were burning up hallucinogens. i thought that was quite funny, but he was serious when he said that the vedas were all about sex, drugs and rock n roll.
he showed me his poetry. we talked about films and surrealism. he passed me a copy of luis bunuel's un chien andalou. it's somewhere - i have to dig it up.
we talked into the night, him about extraterrestrials and me about the harmony between the gospels (because he asked). when the night ended, he said that he hadn't met a christian who could talk about "these things" before. i felt happy. i felt happy that he had found himself a christian who was almost as interested in his convoluted journey of belief as he himself was. and when i reached home that night, i told myself that perhaps i was called to reach guys like him.
a few days later, he dropped me an sms telling me that he had two copies of hitler's mein kampf, and that i could have one if i wanted. i accepted it. so yes, i've got a gift from him and i'll forever treasure it.
the next time i met him, it was over lunch. he cooked a mean pork dish, among others. the playstation came out again. this time, i played. maybe if i didn't play, he'd have sat with me again. and we'd have talked again. maybe that conversation could have led to more exchange between us. maybe i could have given him a shred of christian hope. he didn't look like he was looking for any that day. and i thought some playstation would be fun.
that was the last time i met him. two nights ago, he hanged himself in his room.
i don't even know what to say about this. i just know that his passing is a notable loss to me, because somewhere in the back of my messy head, i always told myself that he was a friend that i was very interested to get to know better.
apparently, not interested enough. now, all i can do is pray for you.
Labels: death, tributes
1:42 pm ]
Thursday, January 10, 2008
AS CLOSE TO PERFECTION AS I KNOW
Simon & Garfunkel in a sunny room in the morning, browsing books together.
11:00 am ]
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Crime! nice. what did we have on our plate
7,000 gang robberies
12,000 car thefts
24,000 night time break-ins
we had an incident at home in muar last year. intruder fell from the roof into our garden, just outside the wet kitchen. the man was knocked out by the fall. my mum called the police. one hour later, they sent an ambulance. they got the intruder up and led him out to the street and released him. the police never showed up.
the police station is down the road from my house.
mister prime minister, my house doesn't need a cctv camera. we need a policeman when we call for a policeman.
apparently, the police are smarting over the fact that "non-firearms robberies by single individuals" have gone down. two possibilities.
one - maybe last year they all got themselves firearms?
two - maybe now they're all gang robbers.
but seriously, what are everyday people gonna do about crime? as a young churchgoer, i'm told to look beyond myself and be concerned about the world i live in. what am i gonna do about crime? pray? jewel said, "there are many people who pray for peace, but if praying were enough, it would have come to be".
i think this is the reason why i avoid reading the papers. i don't feel like i can influence the outcome of what goes on in our country. i know that if everyone thought like that, change will never take place, but when i see stats like this, the whole thing just looks... so big.
Labels: in the papers, society
1:56 pm ]
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Run a google image search on "success" and observe this strange thing. coming in a close second to sporting pictures are pictures of men in corporate clothing standing on a variety of summits, like mountains. i mean, what's that supposed to mean?
people always talk about success as if there's a universally acknowledged understanding of what success means. they say things like "yeah, he's very successful" or "the event was a success" or "here's how you find success".
but you and i have heard enough stories about people who do very well in their jobs and drive nice cars and live in boutique apartments and are filing divorce papers. you and i know that that's not success. so why do we keep on talking about success as if it's something that can be measured by what meets the eye?
let's expand our vocabulary. especially christians - you above all people should know that value lies not in what you can pay for things but what god had to pay for you. talking about success as career advancement and swanky living does not register on my radar and should not register on yours.
cos i'm convinced now more than ever that in the kingdom of god, success has an entirely different definition. it's a definition that anyone - christian or not - will know whenever they do a quiet and honest inventory of their lives. it's a success of their personhood. it's a success of their humanity. so let's use new words. let's not say that "i know of a very successful man who had marital problems". that is not success. let's take a long hard look at all those "key to success" quick fixes, because those keys open doors that lead to a flimsy kind of glory.
let's begin to speak in a language that truly reflects what we believe.
Labels: language, society
9:23 am ]
Monday, January 07, 2008
ON THE WILL OF GOD AND PRAYER"Yet not as I will, but as you will"- Jesus in Gethsemane, Matt 26:39
When you pray for something to happen, how do you know it's going to happen? you don't really know, do you?
i've come to the realisation that i can't know if it's going to happen. is that faithlessness? no, it can't be.
some people pray and they believe that they will get what they ask for. when they don't get it, they lose hope. they reassess their prayer requests. they reassess their perceptions of god, who overnight has suddenly become either less giving or more mysterious. i've come to the idea that perhaps the fault lies in misplaced faith.
i can't know the will of god. i can ask for things to happen but i can never really know if any of them are in line with the will of god. so i've learned something recently. when i pray, i no longer believe that what i pray for will come true, but that i'm speaking to a god who can make it come true.
there's a difference.
i no longer have faith that my prayers will be answered. that's just being presumptious. my faith is in the god to whom i am praying. i believe he is the god of the impossible and that if he wanted, he could in fact answer my prayers. so i let him know. i believe he can do it. i even hope that he will do it.
but to have faith
that he will do it?
maybe if you know the almighty like a brother, you can sit here and tell me you know exactly when you're praying the will of god. right now, i'm quite sure that i don't know how to guess him or double-guess him. and for this one young man, it's enough that i recognise both his goodness and his complete ability to wield that goodness.
as for my ability to pray a god-willed prayer? who knows when that will happen. and when it does, how the heck will i even know it?
Labels: christianity, hope
2:55 pm ]
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Ok, I wasn't expecting that.
8:03 pm ]
Saturday, January 05, 2008
What a tough crowd.
10:04 pm ]
Friday, January 04, 2008
4:05 pm ]
Thursday, January 03, 2008
8 THINGS TO DO IN 2008
I don't have 208 things that I want to do this year. Not even 28. Just 8 things.
8 things that I'm not really expected to get done, but if I did, would represent some kind of personal triumph of sorts. I've even gone as far as to categorise them, just so that my resolutions are balanced. I've also imposed a couple of rules to my resolutions.
The first rule is that all resolutions must be quantifiable. Therefore, I can't say that I wanna be more polite this year
, I gotta say I wanna say Good morning to X, Y and Z every day
. Quantifiable. Easy rule.
The second rule is that all my resolutions have to be somewhat processual. They either gotta be maintained throughout the year or there are enough tasks on it to last the whole year. None of the resolutions can be crossed out after one big act, like how I did want to resolve to travel overseas this year
. Resolutions like that don't foster good habits.
So, in no particular order, my 8 resolutions for 2008 are:
1. Send my laundry in every Thursday or other practical day within a week of that Thursday.
Knowledge and cognitive development
2. Finish 8 books.
3. Meet Vernon for dinner fortnightly. That's just 26 meals.
4. Exercise purposefully for 30 mins every week.
5. Do my Tenrox every Friday when I don't feel like working.
6. Tithe. Properly.
7. Produce and give away five oil or acryllic paintings.
8. Go for prayer meet on non-cell weeks.
5:20 pm ]
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
ON MIRRORS AND HOUSEKEEPINGYou don't really know what you look like. You only know what your reflection looks like.- Athalia Lee
I've been looking into mirrors more than i normally do. not because i'm the new narcissus on the block either, just that i've been needing to look presentable. mirrors are curious things. look at them too often and you're vain. look at them too little and you realise you've been going everywhere with facepaint that says 'I is idiot' for the last few days. it's a tricky balance. the same balance applies when holding a mirror up on your own blog.
i think GCB was terribly depressing last year. from chinese new year onwards, i was whining about life, post after post. let's hope this year isn't as miserable yea. i tried the one-liner daily post thing in december and i'll be continuing that. (the idea is to register on people's rss feeds everyday - clever or not?)
i've always flirted with the idea of being more political on my blog. dunno if i'll go down that road. but i know i used to get really disproportionately fired up over ridiculously inane things. like people who wear che guevara tees
. what an angry boy. well, i'm not so angry anymore. but i'd still like to see myself passionate again. on a mildly related note, ps lee choo always says that young adults need to stop whining about their own lives and start looking at and being concerned about the world around them. she couldn't be more right. so this year, i'd like to whine less about my life and whine more about why the world is so full of stupid idiots. (:P)
regretful bunny is still my baby. he'll pop his head out every once in a while.
otherwise... it should be business as usual. and i'm not resolving to post more. ok. i'm feeling very self-conscious now. there comes a point when looking into the mirror where you know that you don't have 'I is idiot' written on your face and looking for another ten seconds isn't gonna make it appear just so you can wash it off. housekeeping is done.
happy new year!
11:21 am ]