Saturday, March 29, 2014

Good Morning, Radzi! ^^

We yearn for simplicity, yet simplicity seems to elude the smartest of minds.

The same goes for happiness. The smarter you are, the harder it is for you to just be happy regardless of what happens. Because smart people tend to think too much into the tiniest of things, why this person should not do this, why that person should be doing that.. It's neverending.

Nevertheless, being smart is not the same as having good common sense. Which is entirely debatable and is a good topic for another day's discussion.
(chewah, sound so brainy liddat)

I consider myself somehow smart. I think a lot, and I know for sure that people who think as much as I do or perhaps even more, are not really that happy. Because we overcomplicate things. However, people change and so do people like me. We learn to let go, to be grateful and to appreciate the beauty that is already all around us, if we know what to look for and if we look hard enough, until these actions become unconscious habits.

Which brings me to my little dose of simple happiness almost every weekday morning. =)

Radzi

This is Radzi, a street sweeper that I meet on my way to work almost every working day morning.

He doesn't know my name, he doesn't know what I do for a living, he doesn't know where I work, he doesn't know where I'm from.. All he knows about me is probably the fact that I pass by him almost every morning, and that I may be a student, judging from the way I dress and how I constantly carry a book in my hand (often just for fun, yet to cultivate the read-everywhere habit) as I walk by.

I at least know his name haha.

I don't remember when did it started, what I do recall is that he's the kind of street sweeper that would pause his sweeping and patiently let people pass before continuing his work diligently, something not every street sweeper would do. One day, I decided to greet him with a chirpy "Morning!", to which he readily responded with his own simple and humble "Morning~", coupled with an equally simple and sincere smile. =)

From then onwards, as long as I see him and he's within earshot, I would greet him with the same chirpy "Morning!" and he would respond with his trademark "Morning~" too haha. He almost always has his back facing me, but when he does sometimes catch sight of me from a little distance away, he would stop his sweeping when he senses that I'm near and give me a hearty "Morning~" first haha.

I asked for his name one day out of the blue, and have added it into the routine every now and then hehe.

Maybe in that brief tiny exchange with a simple person like Radzi, I find literally no stress at all and can be at complete ease with myself. I actually look forward to seeing him when I pass by that particular stretch on my way to work, so much so that if I don't see him or he's too far away to hear me, I'm actually slighhhtly disappointed.

Perhaps it's not so much the person himself, perhaps it's just me minding too much about how I would be perceived if I choose to do something out of the ordinary with people who have more on their minds. Then again, I'm probably stuck in my own definition of myself and not that very willing to let go of who I've been all these years.

Habit, my dear, habit.

Maybe I'll cultivate the habit of greeting everyone I meet on my way to work every morning including my colleagues when I'm in the office a chirpy "Morning!" too, regardless of how each of them may react. After all, it matters not what others do to me, but what I do to others. A simple "Morning~" can do wonders, especially from an eccentric person like me. =D

Maybe, just maybe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Sun And The Clouds!

Funny how something you thought you would never, ever come to like, suddenly becomes something that you would forever be grateful for, never mind the inconveniences that it may bring.

The dark clouds.

'Twas a Saturday some weekends ago..

Drought had been plaguing the city for weeks, not only there was no rain but on certain awesome hazy days, the sun was almost this huge salted egg's egg yolk in the sky. Honestly.

No problem looking at the sun with naked eyes at all, nope. Quite a sight even.

The mighty sun.

But on that Saturday, the sun shone ever so brightly amidst dark cloudy skies! The clouds were furiously closing in on the sun, as if the skies were finally at one shot heeding the prayers and calls and wails and laments of the people in the city (especially those who have been deprived of normal water supply on a 2-day alternate basis, namely yours truly) for the normal sun and of course, RAINNNNNNN!

The mighty sun versus the dark clouds.

Usually one to cringe at the sight of dark skies, either out of a weird feeling that something bad is going to happen or just for the mere i-dun-wanna-get-my-shoes-wet excuse, I was SO happy to see the sun and the clouds, I was thisclose to dancing and jumping for joy (possibly in the middle of the road, if only I was not so self-conscious)!

Cloudy skies alert!

Every cloud has a silver lining, so they say. What if it's the clouds that give our lives the most meaning, with the silver linings golden remnants of what we've been through, which make us who we are in the end?

Would you rather embrace the rain and its life-giving waters whilst passing cars shower you with rainwater from the ground, mercifully sousing your jeans and shoes as you trudge your way to your destination, or shun the rain at all costs, cursing it for choosing to come down when you're not indoors, safe and sound?

The cloudy evening sky..

The choice is pretty much ours, good or bad, we'll have to bear the consequences anyway, consciously or subconsciously. Why not then bear them with some smiles in the midst of anger or angst or tears, and advance forward anyway? =)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

JJ Lin's Stories Untold.
Of Deaths And Memories.

Beautifully crafted, the mini movie for 修炼爱情 Practice Love, one of the love ballads in JJ Lin's 2013 因你而在 Stories Untold album, features an imaginative Flash animation with a sad story on loss and love that surrounds the theme of reliving memories, backed by heart-tugging background music.

One can pretty much guess that yours truly truly heart this one.

It's been a long time since I last watched mini movies (dramas, to be exact) made using Flash animations, used to be a fan of these back in my college days after I stumbled upon a Taiwanese website featuring a number of them. I had thought that they were pretty neat at first but the novelty eventually wore out on me, along with weak storylines.

The background music maintains a steady sad, regretful yet hopeful, beat all throughout the movie, strongly supporting the story's intended theme. Which very much appealed to the melancholic yet anticipative side of me, making me fall even more for this laborious piece of love, the whole movie itself.

The story.

Towards the end, the movie depicts several scenes..

An old woman in her rocking chair, stroking her lost cat lying on her lap, patting the hand of her lost husband sitting in the rocking chair next to hers..

A man playing with his lost child, lifting her up and holding her on his shoulders, going up an escalator that seems to stretch on forever..

A woman in a cafe, making a pinky promise with her lost lover..

The protagonist on a rooftop, hugging his lost fiancée ever so tightly..

The heart feels very, very sore everytime I come across these scenes, the same way I feel whenever I attend funerals or hear that someone I once knew had moved on to another world.. Especially if that someone was still very young, or if it's someone that I knew of more than just the name..

什麼是記憶?
What are memories made of?

An old friend of mine lost her dad to lung cancer earlier this month having fought the disease for around half a year, he was only in his 60s. Called her to check up on her, it was good to hear her usual calm and cheery voice greeting me as she answered. His funeral mass (he was once baptized as a Catholic when he was much younger) at the mortuary had just finished then. She told me that the family knew he wasn't going to make it and were prepared for the worst.. They even had a priest come to give him final blessings before he eventually peacefully passed away.

I asked her if she misses him. She said of course, this is something that only time can heal.

I vaguely remember his face and his fatherly voice and demeanour. The number of times I've seen him or heard his voice does not even exceed 20 perhaps, but it's enough to allow me feel at least a little of my friend's loss and the memories she's had with him.

If memories can be brought to life.. Would I want to live in them instead, given that I may have lost at least one who'd meant a lot to me by then?

I do not have a definite answer.

I actually thought my answer would be an outright no, but now I'm not so sure anymore as I put myself in the context rather than a general pronoun like what I would usually do.

For one, I'm one of the fortunate ones whereby my parents are still very much alive and they really take quite good care of themselves despite being well into their 60s and 70s. Much better than me taking care of myself in fact, shame on me. So much so that it is so easy to take it for granted that they'll always be there whenever I want to see them or hear their voice.

The same goes for my maternal grandmother, who's in her 80s now.

But it's not like that.. They won't always be there..
*tears forming in the eyes, nose starts running..*

Maybe it's because I'm horribly slow when it comes to discerning what are the important things in my life.. Or maybe I'm just plain spoilt.

My siblings.. My relatives.. My dear friends, some as close as family, some of whom I've known for more than 10 years.. My colleagues, some of whom I've known for more than 5 years and had seen them evolve from single ladies to wives and now mothers.. My Amway friends, whom I've learnt so much from.. All of them, some who really cared and looked out for me, they are all still here.

什麼是記憶?
What are memories made of?

Due to physical (mainly from lack of sleep) and psychological (mainly from lack of focus) reasons, I do not consciously remember a lot of things. But images, sounds and feelings from the past astonishingly make their way to my consciousness somehow, some of which I never even knew I had any memory of.

Like now.

Just because I don't recall a memory, doesn't mean it's not inside me, although under certain circumstances even memories can be manipulated. I believe there are many out there like me who only recall certain memories when it seems too late to do anything about it anymore.. When something terrible happens.. Especially when something important is forever gone..

失去才懂得珍惜。
We do not know what we have until we've lost it.

Meaningful memories are made when we connect with each other or when we do things for each other, particularly if the person whom we are in touch with or are doing things for is someone whom we treasure in our hearts. Which includes our very own selves.

Meaningful memories are also made when someone reaches out to us and do something that touches our hearts so much, that piece of memory is immediately etched onto the conscious mind. Unfortunately for many, some of those memories are eventually overwritten by new, exciting ones. Or maybe heartbreaking, depressing ones..

But the heart never forgets.

Memories are not meant to be real.. They come and go, in bits and pieces, a little like the dreams that we have when we nap or sleep. But they serve to remind us of what's important and what's not, to give us hope and strength to move forward with love and courage amidst challenges, trials and tribulations, knowing that we do have what it takes to make things work, that there ARE people who believe in us even when we ourselves do not.

Live in the moment, in the present, where everything is real. Make the most out of it, with the kind of spirit that deep in our hearts we know will continue to push us forward regardless of the outcome, constantly creating live memories.. *eyes shining*

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Little Story On Resourcefulness And Efficiency.

This is a story of Nat the fridge.

It is not known when exactly was Nat purchased, but from the time he came to the family up until now, it has been more than 20 years.

He came to the family after his owner decided to sell him to his sister's family. His owner was moving to a land far, far away.. (a neighbouring state to be exact, though it is actually quite far away also lah). And so, Nat began his dutiful service to the Lings.

For more than 20 years, he freezed and he cooled.

Then one sunny day, he wasn't that cool anymore.. Something was wrong lor!

That night, one of the daughters, Mii, alerted her siblings on FB that Nat wasn't cool anymore!
(please do pardon the dramatism, am feeling rather 废 a.k.a. nonsensical now =.=)

It's either a repair or a new one.. Poor Nat, unable to decide his own very fate.

That was when Na (ahem, me), at first reluctant to voice out knowing very well that the cost of a new fridge no matter how cheap it was was way out of her wallet's league, came to Nat's rescue.
(the names Na and Nat are purely coincidental btw)

She Whatsapp-ed (ah the beauty of technology, free and fast and fun-tastic.. Na was already in the big city btw) her old friends who are back in or have been staying in the hometown, asking if they knew anyone who repairs fridges?

Believe me, you won't know how willing people are to help until you've asked enough number of people.. The next day, out of 6 people Na asked, 5 replied and 3 gave hopeful answers wei!

Out of the 3, 2 were solid numbers. After confirming the backgrounds of the repairmen with her friends right after lunch, she went on to call the first one but no one picked up, and so she called the second one and a mature-sounding voice answered. The conversation went something like this:

Na: "Harlow? Got your number from my friend, do you repair fridges?"

Unknown fridge repairman: "Yes ah."

Na: "Before that, how should I address you ah?"

Unknown fridge repairman: "Uh.. Sia, (call me) Mr Sia lah."

Na: "Oh Mr Sia. Is like this, my mom's fridge is broken and needs some repair. Got 20+ years already (the fridge)."

Mr Sia: "Wah 20+ years already 还不舍得换啊 (still don't want to change ah)?"

Na: "Uh.. Mom say want to repair first wor.."

Mr Sia: "Aiyoh 20+ years very hard to say leh, scare later change until even worse. Aiyah OK lah, what's your address, I later come see look."

Na: (gives out address) "Thank you, Mr Sia! I sms you my mom's number ya!"

Mr Sia: "Okeh."

Na wasn't convinced that Mr Sia would actually drop by later to have a look at Nat as he didn't sound to be jotting down the address she gave him earlier, but she passed both numbers to her mom, told her mom everything and went back to work.

Around 3 hours later, Na saw a missed call from her mom after coming back from the washroom. She called back and guess what her mom said?

Nat was back to normal! It was just a broken fan actually, Mr Sia even helped to adjust some minor mishaps in Nat! He came in his motorbike and really called my mom who was out that time. Fortunately Mii was home and she brought him to Nat.

And it was merely a small fraction of the cost of a new fridge!

I was, I mean, Na was so pleasantly surprised!

The end.

Afterthoughts:

I was seriously surprised when I heard from mom that the fridge was fixed and that it had cost less than 50 only! I had honestly thought that it could be days before we could either get the fridge fixed or buy a new one (Mii was going to hunt for a new fridge as Hoon said she would bear the cost), and that even with a repair, it may be in the realm of hundreds too!

You have no idea how relieved and happy and satisfied I was!!!
I was literally smiling away like a Cheshire cat =P

This little incident means a lot to me, especially at a time when I'm constantly learning to acknowledge myself. If in the past I see only my weaknesses, now I see my strengths too.

And I like what I see and feel now =)

A big thanks to Mr Sia too for restoring my faith in how efficient people can actually be if they want to. It's a small thing to him perhaps, he's probably done it millions of times, but sometimes it's the smallest ripple that has the farthest reaching effect, slow as it may be.

The little act had certainly inspired me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

JJ Lin's Stories Untold.
My Buried Dreams.

什麼是夢想?
What are dreams?

JJ Lin's 2013 因你而在 Stories Untold album showcased a series of mini movies for each song in the album, commemorating the 10th year since his 1st album came out, this being his 10th album as well. Some of the mini movies felt very close to heart, I had wanted to write about at least the ones that touched me most when they first came out but.. Well at least I'm doing it now. *sheepish grin*

很多人一天天的長大
The more we grow older
一天天忘記他的超能力
The more we lose sight of what we are actually capable of
直到某天 某件事 某個人
Until someday, something, or someone
值得你去爭取
Worth fighting for comes along

"Go for your dreams!" or "Dreams are meant to be realized!" are fast becoming clichés in this era of the internet where almost everything or anything is made possible through the convenient, prolific sharing of information all around the world.

Or maybe they are already, despite the fact that there are still many individuals out there who are overwhelmed by qualms when it comes to taking a bigger step towards doing what their hearts are constantly urging them to do. Individuals like me.

Then there are also those who live their lives from day to day, month to month, year to year.. With no apparent inkling of what are so-called dreams by individuals like me, yet some of them are truly happy. Which I actually think is a delightful kind of happiness, 幸福. Maybe it's because they are already fulfilling their own dreams in the little things that they do everyday, with the people that they spend their time with.

That's not the case with me, though I may have secretly hoped that the way I thought things out was much simpler. I'm the kind of person with the good well-intentioned tendency to think very deep into things and end up confusing myself in the process. One may be able to tell this from the way I write. *cough*

Dreams, for me, are deep, inner desires to do something that I know I must do or my mere existence on this earth will almost be for nothing. For years I've pushed away and ignored the longings and promptings of the heart to go after what I'm here for, for reasons I never did know. Until now.

I was scared.. Terrified. I did not have faith in myself at all. Most importantly, I did not have faith in God. That He was with me all along, and will be, for eternity.

I refused to work on the talents that I'm blessed with, thinking that I will never be good enough.

I kept to myself and became a loner, thinking that if I kept it that way, no one can hurt me and I hurt no one.

I led a satisfactory life, thinking that that was all there is to my life, as long as I do not overspend and dutifully save up every month, I'll be good when retirement comes.

I was not happy. I was 'safe', but I was miserable deep inside. The word pathetic constantly popped up in my mind.

I was envious of what others had, especially their abilities to do something well. I often pondered about why do they seem to have everything going right for them while mine is seemingly slowly disintegrating as time passes by. I failed to realize that they have actually worked hard to be where they were, or went out and did meaningful things either for themselves or anyone who needs them, especially their loved ones. While I remained stagnant and didn't even bother to treat myself well.

I was puzzled and depressed when people begin to drop out of my life, people who initially were very nice and close to me. I failed to realize that I was the one who kept taking them for granted and constantly pushed them away, wishing that they would just leave me alone. Which they eventually did.

I was broke and heavily in debt when I decided to 'invest' in my sister's business, failing to see that even though it may have been the right time, she was very immature in managing money and people, and I was terribly inexperienced, not only in business but also in life. I failed to realize that I was blindly supporting her 'dream', a risk that was horribly uncalculated that not only left me with no savings and a host of debts to pay, it almost pushed her beyond her limits. Had God not intervened, I believe we may have completely lost her already.

What had all these got to do with my dreams?

First they buried my dreams, making sure that whenever my dreams attempt to surface, I would bury them again and break into hysterics, wondering why was I so useless.

Then, the gradual, strenuous process of overcoming them and learning to love myself gave me confidence to dig out my dreams again.

Wasn't easy lor!

This time, as I embark on my journey seeking for my Grand Line (am a recent converted fan of One Piece, used to watch Naruto last time *cough*), I finally realize that I am not alone. I am surrounded by 'treasures' that I never knew I had; people who love me and will do anything they can to help me out.

And God.

It's going to be tough, but it will shape my character in the process, just as God had envisioned me to be from the start (sorry Lord for all the detours I took =.=). My biggest challenge is that too, constantly molding myself to be the best version of me, imperfect yet amazing just as God had created me to be in the first place.