Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Star Gazing

Most of the time, you can't see the stars for the lights in the city. Even in a small city like Ipoh. Light pollution, my Geography textbook tells me.

But sometimes, just once in a while when you're in a poorly lit or rural area, you can see those little sharp-edged flashes of white like the diamonds on a tiara, and it brings back memories...

A sky full of shining stars as far as the eye can behold. Bright and dim, twinkling and still, astounding you with their sheer number. Lying on a thin sleeping bag, spread out, feeling the grass beneath you move and crinkle as it brushes against the canvas each time you shift your weight.

"You'd never catch a sight like this back home," you say.

"Isn't it beautiful?" he replies, but he's not looking at you. His focus is on his beloved telescope, squinting with one eye trained on the blazing but far away, and thus unthreatening, celestial rocks.

"Come, take a look at this," he says, and you get up slowly, reluctantly to shift your eyes from the amazing view.

Hesitantly you look into the telescope: there's nothing but blackness. "I can't see anything."

"Maybe the focus is a bit off. Try adjusting the dials to the left and right a bit."

"Yes! I see something. A cluster of stars, close together. One is brighter than the others."

"Wait, let me see..."

It would almost be romantic, this illicit stargazing expedition, if not for the other guy hanging about and taking up some of the valuable sleeping-bag space. But at least he's keeping quiet, savouring the nature show on his own.

He (the one that matters) shows you his astronomy book, and points out the different constellations in the sky to you. You nod and show interest, but you're really observing his face. Watching how it comes alive when he talks about this, a hobby that he is passionate about. Passionate enough to want to share this experience with you, that your eyes would be opened, that the night sky would captivate you with its beauty like it captivates him.

Soon enough he lies down beside you on the sleeping bag, and you both talk, eyes towards the heavens, enjoying the light parade and the occasional shooting star.

You wish it could last forever, but you know it will end all too soon. Then you close your eyes to capture the moment-the scene, the sky, the boy-with all its heady emotions, in your head so you will never forget it.

It's getting later than late, and you really do need the rest for the next day. You've got a group of rambunctious children to supervise tomorrow and so does he. You thank him for everything as he says good night...or rather good morning, and then you walk back to your cabin and your peacefully slumbering roommates.

You will always remember this night, unexciting though it may be to some. And every time you see an awesome night sky studded with diamond stars, you will remember the boy who taught you to sacrifice a bit of sleep on a cool starry night; leave all your worries till tomorrow, and just revel in the beauty of the heavens.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jitters

It was a normal day, a ho-hum day, just another visit to KL as my family often makes. Only this time it was different. I wasn't just there to shop and sleep and revel in the bright city lights, I was there to meet up with some of the seniors at the college which I had just been accepted into.

At first when the idea of a meet-up was suggested I responded enthusiastically. What could be better than meeting up with the current students, so friendly and open, so willing to impart their collegiate wisdom to tadpoles like me? (I use tadpoles in its young, wriggly innocence sense. Also consider the similiarities in vulnerability: they can be eaten up by voracious predator fish at any unwary moment.) But as the day grew closer, I found myself growing a little tense, a bit anxious, a teensy worried. Why exactly, I couldn't tell you. After all, this wasn't something as intimidating as a dentist appointment or a major exam or an interview. It was JUST a casual lunch with some people I had never met before. Because strangers are just friends you haven't met yet, right?

That wasn't the way I was feeling then. As we reached the shopping mall where I was going to meet up with them while my parents and sister would go to eat and shop, I felt a knot of anxiety tightening in my abdominal region. Unexpressed, even in my thoughts, were my growing fears: that they would not like me, that they would find my opinions naive or immature, that I would have nothing to say, or worse, that I would say something that would expose my kampung roots and they would all stop eating, put down their fork and spoon and stare at me in horror and bewilderment.

Just a reminder to anyone who might find this useful someday: inner pep talks don't really work if you don't truly believe what you're saying. As I walked nearer and nearer to the restaurant where we were to meet, (I was early...that should tell you how anxious I was, for I am rarely punctual) I kept telling myself, "You can do this. You are smart and they will like you. You can handle this easily...." but it sounded so fake, like some stereotypical psychic with her crystal ball was deciphering my future in the cloudy patterns. I did an unimpressive job of calming myself down and boosting my confidence. I think my heartbeat actually became faster at this point.

I had already been feeling nauseous for some time like I had eaten something bad (though I hadn't had any food yet) so I decided I must go to the toilet first. What's more I had made a rather unadvisable choice of clothing for that day (new rule; when meeting new people, always wear something you're comfortable in and not a brand-new outfit), The top looked really nice when I stood or sat completely still, my arms by my side, but when I moved my arms around it looked rather messy. The main thing is, it added another worry to my already hyper self-conscious state: that I would look weird and people would think, "Oh no, that girl is coming to my college?!"

In the toilet, I tried to PULL MYSELF TOGETHER!! as the superhero outfitter told Mrs. Incredible. (The image of the tiny but gutsy woman whacking a dazed Mrs. Incredible with a newspaper always brings a smile to my face.)

I remembered where my true worth lies: not in my appearance or intelligence or charm, but in the eyes of an everlasting God and Father who thinks I'm just perfect. It doesn't matter if my blouse rides up again or I say the wrong thing later or fail to make a good impression although I try my best. There is someone whom is the most important Person in the universe to please, and guess what....He's pleased anyway.

You know the way you think, actually think, not narrative-style thinking with words and sentences is usually inexpressible because it's a mix of emotions, intellectual realisations and impressions, isn't it. But that was the gist of my thoughts, inside the toilet cubicle of Midvalley Megamall.

As I adjusted my blouse one last time, applied a little clear lip balm and washed my hands there, I left the washroom feeling a little less shaky and a bit more assured that whatever happened next, I would be fine. I would survive, and rise again to embarrass myself another day! Woohoo!? YEAH?!!

Looking at things that way make them a little less scary. And always tell yourself, like I did that day: "I am glowing. I am beautiful."

Nothing else. Just that. And believe it with all your heart!

Because it's true.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Everything is Changing

Written on June 18, really early in the morning
When the internet was inexplicably down

Tonight is a pensive time. One, I am growing fat. two, I realise that so many things are changing in my life, in this world, that there is really nothing I can place my hand on (metaphorically) and say, “forever, always”.

Except God. But even God can seem so far away sometimes…

As people, we know for a fact that life changes. Years go by and time causes you to flow in a different direction, sometimes it seems to come to a dead end or a particularly twisty and difficult part that you’d really rather not go across. But for streams, there is only one direction - forward. And I guess that’s the only thing certain about time - it goes on. Whether you choose to cling on to something you cannot keep or a relationship that has run its course, other people will continue to flow with the current and eventually, you must too.

I know all this, but today the whole reality of things changing and people changing just descended on me bit by bit like a fine layer of dust and it makes me so sad. The fact that there is nothing I can do to stop it. I’m changing too, realizing that the world is so much more complex and less sugar-coated than I am comfortable with. How do people cope with this?

Your friend today, your enemy tomorrow. Sweet words in the morning, curses in the nighttime. A beautiful sunrise and a menacing sunset. Millionaire this week, bankrupt the next. I could go on and on…

I realise that all those examples are ‘positive├ánegative’, which is biased. Change can be for the better too. It all depends on how an individual chooses to face it. With courage and faith and hope, or with fear and shrinking and disgust and denial? There is one thing that can never be denied a human:

Choice.
(My rational mind reminds me that there are some cases in which people have hardly any or no choice, like murder, rape and so on, but let’s stick to the normal scenarios of life and leave those discussions to a more jolly time.)

Change can break us…or strengthen us. Change can cause us to become bitter…or understanding. Change can make us crippled or weak…or cause us to develop perseverance and wisdom that we never knew we could have.

Of course I get rather nervous and worried when I think of the changes that will happen or could happen to affect myself, my family, my friends; anything that has to do with me. Even my country, my world. But with it comes an assurance that life is not random, that there is meaning behind huge (and even little, personal) tragedy, and that while some things may remain a mystery in this world it will all become clear in the next. If that makes me a dreamer or a sentimentalist, so be it. Rationalists and thinking atheists live on the quicksand of their own beliefs and theories about the world and their place in it. When something happens that they can’t explain, where will they be?

Some people say that they will not believe in something that cannot be proven or seen. But true Realities cannot be seen or proven, can they? Can truth be proven to exist? But we all know that there are things such as truth, honour, love, justice and these were not just codes that people made up; they are part of the human make-up. They are as much part of us as our XX / XY chromosomes. Rather, people used these universal truths as the basis of their beliefs and the cords that interweave and strengthen it.

Behind every magnificient structure, there is a creator and a master planner. (Unless you believe, like some, that the pyramids were made by aliens from another planet. Even then, you still have a creator, only one from outer space, that’s all.) Why not man? Why not earth? Why not plants and animals and the sea and the sky?

That is why I believe God exists.

Thus, belief in God & Jesus Christ as His son leads to complete belief in the Bible leads to reading that He knows how many hairs there are on my head leads to thinking, if He knows even that detail which I (owner of the hair) don’t even know, wouldn’t He be concerned about my future and have the best purposes in mind for me and those I love?

I end with a platitude:
Knowing Jesus is on my boat helps me to let go of my safe rock which I cling to like a limpet, (and it’s warm and safe and comfy) and embark on the sea of change, knowing that wherever my vessel goes, it’s in the hands of a master steerer.

I realise this is a rambling post. I apologise for my inability to stay with one main idea, because somehow or other my (more serious) writings are like a float - they just won't stay down!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A few thought on Emo-ness. Not Elmo-ness, oh never, please!

I was just thinking of what to write here so my blog doesn't get stagnant, and thought of the word "Emo" and how broad its meaning to angsty teenagers and young adults of the net world nowadays. So I look up my trusty Google page and what do I find?

I think this writer in Wikipedia is being rather sarcastic. You judge for yourself:

"When referring to a person's personality and attitude, most definitions of emo hold that an "emo person" is candid about their emotions, sensitive, shy, introverted, glum, and often quiet." bla bla bla...

"Emo personality is also often connected with writing poetry, which addresses confusion, depression, loneliness, and anger, all resulting from the world's inability to understand the author." -Someone's a little cynical here...

"Emo poetry uses a combination of any of: a highly emotional tone, stream of consciousness writing, a simple (ABAB) or nonexistent rhyme scheme, references to the flesh, especially the heart, heavy use of dark or depressing adjectives, and concern over the mutability of time, love or both. Themes such as life is pain are common."

That was so obviously written by an anti-emo person. And now I'm about to go all emo too, because I can't find any way to get this underline thing off!

Grr!

Goodbye, now I'm going to write an searingly sarcastic and angry poem about how useless and commercial and MAINSTREAM Blogspot is. And it WILL NOT RHYME.

Rage against the machine, people!!

Signing off,
The 'Emo' Teh puller.

P/s: Seriously, I can't get this underline thing off. It's not a ploy!