Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Sometimes, you don't realise how important, how essential a part of you is until it goes out of action.

For example, your ankle. It's a lowly protruding bone somewhere down there, near the dust...but do you know how much it does for you? It stabilises you, helps you twist and turn and dance and play, takes the weight of your body and so much more. You should really appreciate it, because it's not fun when BOTH your ankles are out of action.

Like moi.

The first one I sprained was during a netball match about two weeks ago. It was getting better - I even danced a bit during Latin American Cultural Evening! And then, today I went to a netball match again...not really because I want to play but because there's no one to substitute me.

Everything was going well until I scrambled for the ball...someone bumped into me...and CRACK I went down on one foot. The game had to continue so the opposing team lent us a player. We lost anyway (we're the most inexperienced team ever, we've only been playing for two months while others have been playing for 4 or more years).

Then I went with my friend who was going to see a traditional Chinese doctor. She rubbed and pushed and pulled (kind of like Thai massage, but more painful because the joints are sore sore sore...)

And it costs a lot....RM200 for both feet!! Now look and feel like an invalid. Going through the same slow healing process as last time, which hadn't actually finished yet, with a new foot. Feeling guilty for playing when I should have rested but also not certain what I could have done otherwise (besides not falling) because there really was nobody else to substitute, and we can't play without enough players. Worried that ankles won't be as strong after this (although doctor lady assures me that it will, since it's addressing the root cause and not just the symptoms like Western medicine).

Now I've got a test tomorrow to study for, covering everything we've learnt so far and which I'v e not studied for at all, and two bandaged ankles.

Joy comes in the morning...with faith, I shall put my trust in His promises. Things will get better.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Things will get better

Things will get better. They will. They will. And its not just now, when you feel bowed down by seen and unseen pressures, by anticipation of tests and deadlines and responsibilities to be fulfilled, by hopes and the unquenchable desire to be everything, have it all - to be perfect. And each life has its ups and downs, yes? Just because you are in an unbelievably blessed position, that you are fed and free and safe and loved does not mean you won't feel down once in a while. That you will not miss people or familiarity. That you can't shed a tear or two.

That you must, at all costs, be happy all the time. Because that's not real.

And if I am anything, I am real. I am flesh and blood and I feel insult as keenly (or more keenly) than a knife. I feel tiredness and I cannot sleep only 4 hours a night and still be fresh all day long. I can't take your lifestyle of last-minuteness and late-night socialising and sharing of deepest feelings with people I don't really know. I cannot break the tension in a group, though I wish I could. I feel like a follower trying to be a leader and failing; a duck trying to fly.

At this time, weirdly enough I remember the philosophy of the Yunnan Daytop Village For Drug Abuse, which I visited during my "AIDS Concern" trip to Kunming during China Week (which was a pretty tumultous time, come to think of it). It summarises my thoughts at this moment. Perhaps all of us, like these ex-drug users, need to be saved sometimes, and we shouldn't underestimate the power of thought and ideas to motivate us and pull us up at the time we need it the most.

"I am here, because there is no refuge, finally from myself, until I confront myself in the eyes and hearts of others, I am running, until I suffer them to share my secrets, I have no safety from them. Afraid to be known, I can know neither myself nor any other, I will be alone.

Where else but in our common ground can I find such a mirror? Here, together I can at least appear clearly to myself, not as the giant of my dreams, nor the dwarf of my fears, but as a person, part of the whole, with my share in it's purpose. In this ground we can take root and grow, not alone any more as in death, but alive to myself and to others."

-Philosophy of Daytop Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, Yunnan, China

Monday, November 19, 2007

Various thoughts

So many thoughts that I wish I had a window in my head that I could write blog entries when I walk to class, on the KCR, when I go for lunch, when I shower, in the midst of a 101 things I do where it's socially acceptable to be on your own and not talking to anybody.

Then again, I might not want ALL of my thoughts broadcasted for all the world to see. Most of them would be so boring, to say the least.

But really, this is not what I meant to blog about.

At 10+ pm, when still finishing my Bio Lab and postponing the chance to blog then, I was thinking of how far I've drifted away from what I've always professed to be close to my heart. Where is my personal relationship with God now? Does He even have a say in my life? When He speaks, do I ever stop and listen? I am so wrapt, entrapt, bedazzled in my own cocooned world that I cannot see the sparkling possibilities and the deeper truths that He would reveal to me.

I haven't gone to church in 3 weeks at least. I often don't do devotion and when I do, it's so rushed and I'm so tired I have hardly any energy left to meditate on it. I say I'll pray for people but I only do it once or twice. My life is carved into such neat porportions so that there's a slice of time dedicated to everything that needs to be done: except time for God. Time to be quiet, and to stop pretending.

The scariest thing is, I never felt it. God must be being merciful - He has not withdrawn His grace from me. I am still extraordinarily blessed. He guides me and gives me peace each day, and meets all my needs and more. He answers prayer. It doesn't make sense, to be so good to this prodigal child.

Yes, in one sense it wasn't a drastic change. But there still is. The hardness of heart. The reluctance to care- truly care, not just "hey how are you" type of care. Slowly bending to the standards of those around me. The rock of truth never erodes, but who can say that about the fine sand of belief and ritual that we grip onto?

I fear becoming ineffective as a Christian, so watered down as to be tasteless, formless, gormless, useless. Maybe not so in the eyes of the world, but in the light of eternity. God help me. I don't want that.

"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you..."

The second thing I wanted to blog about (but now has lost some of its potency) was after going to a friend's midnight birthday party, and due to a tiny miniscule immaterial probably-nothing observation, feeling a twinge where there should have been none. Ok I know I make no sense. All there is to say is that there are so many sides to each person. And the more you see them the more the glamour fades, and they are revealed to you, warts and all....whole. You feel some disappointment (how can s/he actually do that?) - you had figured them out wrong. But then again, people are not mathematical equations. And if, like in The Matrix, everything can be reduced to lines of numbers, each person is going to need more RAM to represent them than all the available computer power in the world. You decide, after everything, not to judge. Because you're not omnipotent, and you don't know what's really going on. You just wish life was simpler, people either white or...white. Varying shades of white but never darker than grey. As for the truth of the matter...time will tell. Time will tell.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Fork Stuck in The Road

I must be the most self-centred person on earth.

Despite everything going on around me; my family and friends and God and things to be done and deadlines to be met, my mind keeps circling back to the same thing: Should I or shouldn't I?

It's a very mundane issue and I've sought the advice of so many people. Dropping English A1 from Higher to Standard Level, and taking up Geography at Higher Level. That would mean dropping Biology from my schedule completely, but that isn't the issue here. If I dropped English, Bio would have to go because I then have 7 subjects and it would be pointless if I'm only going to take 6 subjects for the IB. And I'd only have 3 highers, 3 standards. Whereas if I keep my status quo, I'd have 4 highers, 2 standards.

The issue keeps revolving in my head. On one hand, I love love English. Why else did I take SPM English Literature, when it ate up an extra 2 1/2 hours outside class time each week, made me come back for holiday classes and read summaries of books till all the literary terms were spinning in my head? Because I connect with literature. It is useful, it is beautiful, it is instructive, it is uplifting and soul-shattering. Literature paints life and shows me so many colours of it I was blind to before.

English A1 Higher reads 15 books and does one more World Lit assignment (which is the one where you can be creative). English A1 Standard does 11 books but most everything else is the same.

But you ask, why do you want to take Geography, then? Isn't Geography the very subject you hated most during PMR? Wasn't your Geography teacher the most uninspiring teacher you had? (Not really, many vie for that honour, sadly.) Yes, all that is true, but things are different here! Geography is not just about maps and agricultural products and import/export. It talks about population, resources, development, many important geographical issues in the world that affect people. And in UWC, where you mix with students from more than 80 countries, it's the best place to examine and understand the major current issues in our world and how we are connected to each other. There is also a science part to it, in case you're thinking it doesn't sound like also studies things like drainage basins, litospheric atmospheres, arid environments, things like that. But all those can be useful as well to understand the way our world works, in a way that traditional sciences (Bio Chem Phys) tend not to cover in much detail.

Sooooo what should I do? Once I came here and learned that Geography was taught like this here (miles different from what I'm used to), I was excited about taking it. Still am but then, thought there's no chance cause my subjects clash. They still do, there's only that one way I can take it. I talked to the Academic Director yesterday (awesome guy): he clarified to me that there's really no difference in the way US universities would view a candidate based on A1 Higher or Standard, unless I wanted to take English Lit as a major (which I'm pretty sure I won't, due to lack of employment opportunities thereafter). UK is out of the question financial wise anyway, but I'm not planning to study law. In which case, my options are pretty open.

One more thing to consider: if I take Geog, I only have 3 highers, 3 standards which is the requirement (IB doesn't actually encourage people to take more than this, but some people do). Quite a few (I'd estimate half) the people in my first year are doing 4 highers and 3 standards. However only 3 or 4 are doing that in the second year, so most people drop before the examinations. Still, taking the old combo (4 highers, 2 standards) would give me some level of security that in case I want to drop any of my highers, I can still fulfill the basic requirement. But perhaps that's not the best way of thinking...when I have settled on the subjects I want, I don't want to give up on any of them.

So, that's my quandary in a nutshell. Views and comments much appreciated!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On Writing

"What is writing? It is a boiling and fermented put various interesting bits of experience and thought and emotion and fancy into the mix and hope something edible comes out if it."

What do you think of when you see a writer hard at work, bent over his or her notepad or laptop, steaming cup of coffee in hand's reach, brows furrowed in concentration? For me, I think of pouring, of channeling all the complexities of one's imagination into something that can be expressed with 26 characters on ink and paper. Do you ever have that magical feeling when reading a really good book, that the writer is speaking to you at that very moment and revealing to you a whole new aspect of life?

Imagine being the one to create something like that. To open new horizons in a child's mind, somewhere across the country or world and across decades. To live forever in print, the force of your personality and thoughts expressed echoing down the ages. The words you write today may change someone's life tomorrow.

Perhaps its an impossibly romantic idea, but I find it very fascinating.

Can writing over a whole lifetime be compared to steamboat on a slow boil? When you begin, there's not much vegetables and meat put into it - the soup is tasteless and watery. It fills the stomach but does not satisfy. Time passes and more things are added to the pot - vegetables and mushrooms and beef and chicken and fish and so much more. Each item bubbles and splashes a little as you put them in. And as these different ingredients simmer and infuse their unique aroma and taste into the soup; it makes it richer, thicker. It is mysterious because there is no single thing that caused it to become the way it is but a little bit of every part. At the end of the meal, even when all the food has been taken and eaten, the soup still remains and when sipped slowly, it is the tastiest part of the whole gastronomic experience.

Lately, I've been feeling like I'M being put on the slow boil...