Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maybe we are getting this lifeline thing wrong

Maybe writing should not be so easy. A few dashes on the keyboard, a click of the keypad and instant publishing. Maybe writing should reflect the hard work of thinking and translating that complex inner landscape into a form that everyone can understand. Each word should shine like a diamond in an engagement ring, each phrase as perfectly formed and iridescent as a soap bubble. (I am writing like a thesaurus enthusiast right now, but I assure you I am thesaurus free. I must be unconsciously imitating some stream-of-consciousness author now in my word-drunk, thought-seeped state.)

Lately today I've been wondering about the conflict between our biological and our intellectual imperative. As a biological, evolutionary (or created, depending on your beliefs, I think that they are both true) being, I recognize that I don't have very many years on this planet and I am driven by my body to accomplish certain things: mate, raise children, age and die. So morose, but it is true! I am 20 years old. My body runs well, but from here on everything declines: organ function, sensory apparatus, coordination, memory, brain function, speed, parts of the body that beauty is measured by gradually decreases as cells die and don't regenerate, as hormones decrease, as bone density shrinks. For the rest of my life I will have to reconcile with the fact that I am no longer 20.

And all this knowledge (put into perspective by an excellent holiday-reading book titled "The thing about life is that one day you'll be dead" by David Shields) makes me react with wonderstruck panic: I need to get some living done! Why should I be sitting and studying and enriching my mind when I am at my physical peak of life? Can't sitting and studying and philosophic meditations be done when I'm 60?"

I realize then, how our current way of life in the more-developed parts of the world is so conflicted with our biological timeline. We spend ages 5-24 (for me, due to Malaysia's late-starting and long education system of which material I have retained little) studying up to a degree level, start working, maybe get married at 28-30 (don't want to jeopardize your career, need to get downpayment on house/car/etc) if you find the right person who has roughly the same life goals as you do. Childbirth after age 35 greatly increases the chance of birth defects. For most of history women had their first child by age 20. The anthropologist Suzanne Frayser found from studying 454 traditional cultures that the average age for brides was 12 to 15, and for grooms 18. Growing up I always found this fact (early marriage) terrifying and was so glad I lived in the modern enlightened age of equality. Now, I wonder if this is a lie. I wonder if by prolonging years through medicine and better healthcare and quality of life, by postponing the inevitable; I am just wasting more of my naturally-healthy years preparing for the rituals of adulthood and survival and find out later that either a) it didn't require all that much effort or b) that it wasn't worth it.

So what would I do if I chose to abandon my intellectual-fulfillment, career-ladder goals and seek happiness and a good life through biological means? I would start living a more balanced life, cook my own meals, run and exercise a lot, start looking for a mate to have children (10 more years till 30!), travel. Worry less about saving the world or solving our problems and be more focused on fulfilling evolutionary criteria. Immerse myself in small household tasks like cleaning. Get a cat. Drink and party more (not to the point of destruction, of course) since my liver still has amazing capabilities. Only old people tell you to be cautious, ever notice that? Keep staying in North America by any means, where making a living just seems so much easier. The middle-class enjoy a standard of living comparable to the upper-middle class at home, and with more security. Spend a lot more time with friends (while doing sports of course) - we can sit around and drink tea when we're 40 and have bad backs.

Things I would not worry/spend so much time laboring over: whether I will get a good job. World problems. Exams. Facebook. Wondering if I am intelligent. Trying to be intelligent. (I can be intelligent when I'm old. Old age=wisdom. Wisdom at young age = too much time sitting around on butt)

You may notice I am fusing traditional ways of living with the modern world to make a melange of what I consider the perfect young life. My earlier years should be about making experiences and making friends, my later years about reminiscing about said experiences with said friends. And enjoying this God-given body and capabilities, not overtaxing the mind at the expense of the body. Eating badly, sleeping spottily, not exercising enough, too much sitting around without enough action - that is the condition of college students. Where is the spirit of revolution, the passion that burns stronger than the urge to get wasted on a Saturday night, the joy of discovery and falling in love with ideas and people and ideas of people?

"Fight, fight, against the dying of the light..." but if noonday sun does not shine with life, what else is there to fight for at sunset?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The problem of learning

Through reading I gained the ability to immerse myself in a different world or see my own through different lenses. So much wisdom and wonder has been gained through this activity, and yet...

at times I wonder whether knowledge is all that worth it.

I've been reading Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse".

You can tell the mark of a great writer when, hours or days afterwards, her voice is still speaking to you and echoing in the chambers of your brain, affecting your moods, weaving its patterns into your dreams and waking time. That's how I feel about Woolf.

Her subject matter, human relationships and time and thwarted desires and ultimately, the purpose of life, cannot be ignored. The piercing clarity by which she indicts the very human, very flawed (yet beautiful) characters she creates nudges me uncomfortably. Yet by her speaking the truth, I begin to believe her. And when she writes, towards the end, about middle-age life - when Lily Briscoe (aged 44) is amazed at how even then, she cannot piece together a coherent philosophy of life and discern its meaning, but only see it as glimpses, still moments in time, the present - it filled me with despair. Like a vision shattered. Maybe, no one has found a satisfactory answer because there isn't one that stands up to close examination, that resonates with all of humanity.

I don't want to end on this morose note. I have a moral obligation to you, the reader. So now let me tell you how I feel: I feel like one thread in a large tapestry, a thread intricately connected to others that form patterns and weaves and bundles, but I am only one. I am only one and I am weak. I can be cut off easily from my path and obliterated by sickness, by loss, by mental impairment, by poor life decisions, by death - so many ways you can cut a thin thread. And yet - when I am connected to others, I am no longer just myself but am connected to all the rest. I will feel the pain when others for one reason or another are cut off. But I can support them as well. And they in tug and pull and stretch, will do the same for me. And when I fray, and eventually become dissolute...the pattern will go on. And it was not for nothing that I was there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Word of the Moment : Melange

All I feel now is...a swirly mess, a rainbow shake-down, knock-out blended mix of proteins and sugars and other good stuff and maybe some bad stuff and a little bit of the stuff that's about to blow.

Randomly, I realise that when we eat any processed food or even drink a milkshake, what we say in in it: say a banana and strawberry milkshake - isn't really bananas or strawberries anymore. They've been transformed into a shadow of their true fruitiness and mixed in with other things and you may get a hint of it, but its not, truly, a banana.

I also realised that being with people that I dislike/annoy me drains me of energy. Trying to ignore them, trying not to be visibly annoyed with them, being upset with myself for not liking them when they're not bad people (but annoying, which sometimes feels much worse - give me a charming rogue over an annoying goody-two-shoes prat for company any day) slowly saps me of any ability to treat the other people around me nicely as well. I guess this is part of growing up as well. As an adult everyone has to face people they dislike and hide it. Perhaps its their boss, or their co-worker, or their employees, or their other acquaintances - either way, there's no way to avoid them. I don't want to spend my time hating people. But it seems impossible to be neutral about it - some people annoy you just by inhabiting the same space as you.

Or maybe I'm just grouchy due to hormonal imbalances. But this makes me tired and unable to treat the people I love and respect the way I want to. I guess there is a flip side to being really emotionally affected by my interactions with people. They can give you lows as well as highs.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Watching Yasmin Ahmad commercials always makes me nostalgic for a country and a people far away. One important aspect of me is how people dress - the old t-shirts, the hand-me-down shorts, the faded skirts...in all that there is an assumption that dress really isn't that important. The most beautiful, courageous, eloquent people in her movies are often sloppily dressed most of the time. They do dress up, but it is for an occasion, a special enough reason so that even the meticulous preparation is a joyous task. A first date. A performance. A wedding. A raya celebration. These are the milestones that call for the best representation of oneself, and one obligingly steps up to task.

Contrast to American private colleges. Every season requires a new wardrobe. People say "the most important thing to me is closet space! Thank God there's enough here to fit all my clothes!" My three suitcases of stuff, which to me seemed like too much already, only half-filled my expansive closet. My roommate's is bursting with cute dresses and shorts and jeans and pretty tops. There are so many "extra things" - make-up, lip gloss, hair bands, hats, tights, bags, shoes (don't even start)...that need to be diversified for different occassions - and those mornings when you wake up and you "feel" a certain way and need to dress how you feel.

Clothes become an extension of your personality, a declaration of yourself to the world in the commercial choices that you put on your body. It becomes a barometer of taste and standards, a discreet unspoken measure of economic position.

Oh these first-world consumers who buy and throw as if the price you paid in that shop means you have absolved all responsibility to the rest of us. I wish I could walk around in my faded t-shirts, my big unflattering shorts, my grey trackpants, my kind-of worn out pretty tops and my perennial 365-days-a-year slippers as I would at home. You have made me ashamed of what I wear because I am reduced only to that in your minds. I wish you would understand that 1 US dollar is 3.4 ringgit and a relatively cheap 16 dollar sweater that you'd buy in a second costs 55 ringgit which is what I used to earn working 14 hours in my more-than-minimum-wage job after high school. I know you have people struggling with economic problems too. But that is all swept away in the mania for new clothes and cuteness and fashion sensibilities.

I asked for this, in a way. I have intruded your modest upper-middle class enclaves with the rise of affirmative action and need-based scholarship. I do not belong here and maybe I show it. But look beyond that and see my struggle every day, in every outfit I pore long and hard over, balancing budget constraints and the desire to look as beautiful and put-together as everyone else. My ultimately-purposeless labor to fit in with the rest of you.

I'm not the only one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Tears you apart, it really does. Maybe what I have isn't love, because how can love hurt you so much?
The main task now is not to think, not to think of what happened or how messy and horrible everything seems because we squish and squash our hearts together and didn't handle them gently. Like flowers here today and wilted tomorrow. That's what hearts are like, so handle gently, hold tenderly.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I remember when I first encountered that word. It was in a CD-ROM game where you sailed up the Amazon river and could choose to set your own pace - I choose mine to be "grueling", even though I didn't know what that meant at the time. It sounded like food - probably because of the "gruel" part.

I feel a bit like that ship sometimes, pressed on towards a goal which I can only dimly see, into deep and dark waters - mysterious, hinting of danger and wonders. Sometimes, the scenery is dull and energy-sapping: mosquitoes whining in my ear, a starless night, swampy trees overhanging in the still, moist air...

I wonder why I left my shallow bay where the sun shined always and I knew every path and clearing. Why I have this terrible faculty to be bored, to long for new things and new places, because new things only seem to bring loneliness and heartache.

And yet, there's a voice in me reminding me that my brain is active and alert, my hands and legs are strong to carry my burdens (and help others carry theirs) and walk this long path to someplace I don't know yet. I'll know when I get there.

And so, while the night is long, the light within me never dims nor fails, and I sail on.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Half and half

It's interesting that the more grounded and self-confident you try to be, the less people go out of their way to help you when you're trying to settle in. Some assume that because you speak good English you can handle all your affairs, you probably have relatives around for emergencies or whatever, and you're left to settle everything on your own. It's true, I guess: you can cope. But wouldn't it be nice if someone worried that you couldn't.

And wouldn't it be nice if you were dried and clean-cut, or at least, a little more simple: that your life was not a identity patched with different nationalities or countries lived in, a melange of cultures, a melting pot of languages, an indecipherable patterned Impressionist painting when it comes to your preferences and lifestyle. Yes, perhaps if we were all the same life would be boring. But standing out gets my feet tired.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Random Thought I may use one day

We say, "aim for the stars". But stars are actually huge masses of burning rock and gas that are slowly dying millions of miles away; remote and silent with atmospheric and ground conditions absolutely deadly to any human. What looks desirable at a distance is not always so at close-up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Am in a mood to reminisce

So I was cleaning out my room, and I found various gems that hinted at my growth over the years...

I hated Geography.

A very interesting essay. (In case you can't read it, it's about using different movie names to create a story.)
And there is a point in this essay entitled "How I spent my holidays" that my teacher took offense to. (Notice the underlined and question marked section.)

When my English teacher wanted us to reinterpret the famous nursery rhyme and make it a little more "adult".

And finally, the saga of "Three Young Eastern Souls", the work of a budding 8/9 year old scriptwriter.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Farmer's Wisdom

He who drives his spade into the ground but then looks up and is distracted by his neighbours' vast green fields, what benefit can he gain?

As he stares at the beauty of the unattainable, his determination fades away and his strong hands go slack. Resting his hands on the top of the spade, he places his head on it and begins to daydream. He wishes it was his, the beautiful cultivated fields, the rolling hills...he does not even bother to look down at his little square of red dust with weeds sticking out everywhere.

"Why do I work?" he says to himself in bitterness. "It would be better that I did not try. My neighbours' prosperity taunts me. His riches goad and irritate me more than gnats and thorns."

He knew, however, that if he did not sow his seeds, he would die of hunger that winter. So he did so all that planting season: breaking the hard ground, plowing it with a faraway mind, sowing with only one hand (why should he use both, it was pointless to work so hard for an outcome he had lost interest in) and wiping away the tears of injustice which fell to the ground.

When he was exhausted with his labours, he would sit outside in his plot of land and think about the neighbour whose ostentatious display he had to endure everyday. In his dreams, he owned the land next door, and someone else -someone unimportant and nameless- was plowing and cursing the little, barren ground he had.

He began to lose his interest in the little things of life that had once brought him joy. The eternal originality of the morning sun. The flowers opening their buds. The alert eyes of the sparrow, ever-scanning for danger, ready to take flight at the slightest rustle. The pride he had felt at finally earning enough to own land, the grand plans he had for expanding it; all withered into insignificance and mockery when he saw the size of his neighbour's estate.


It is harvesttime.

At first, he thinks its another bitter trick life has played on him, that his crop is sickly and frail rather than lush and green.

But one shoot sprouts up, and another, and another...

He does not connect the dots until one morning his sour countenance turns to astonishment and disbelief as his eyes take in the burst of golden rays before him. His plot, his little despised return to labour, was a waving, freeform field of gold.

Little did he know he had been planting wheat, the food of kings and princes, robust enough to feed a man for three days on one meal. He tried to remember where he had gotten the seeds from, but he couldn't remember. The early days of setting up were a blur. Was it from the seller in the market who gave him a special deal, seeing as he was a man of few means? Was it the stranger who had pressed the bag into his hand as a token of gratitude when he had saved him from a ditch? All he knew was that it was from years or decades ago, and that the little bag of seeds were what first inspired him to quit his profession and till the land.

With the sudden realisation of his good fortune, he experienced the agony of regret. Why had he not cultivated the land as he should have? Why did he let his eye and mind wander from task? Why did he...?

He stopped. Had he known he would have received a more bountiful harvest at the end of it, he would have sown more diligently. He would have laboured harder, slept less, envied not, hoped more. He knew that in his actions he deserved almost nothing, and yet he had received so much more than he deserved.

He looked up and thanked the Lord of the rains, the sparrows, the grass and the sky. Few farmers are atheists or nonreligious in one way or another - they know too well that in hard times, faith is the only thing you can cling to. And their beliefs have sustained them through so many rough seasons, growing stronger in each lean time.

He took a last glance at the neighbouring fields, but this time with different eyes. Yes, it was beautiful and perfect. But his harvest was his personal miracle, and he would not change it for the world. His neighbour had attained his lands by grace. And now, even when he sowed with envy, with his bitterness, with laziness and disappointment and failure and frustration - even so, he had received his reward. By grace alone his imperfect sowing was turned into a harvest of beauty and wholeness.

- I tell stories to unearth wisdom that I know is within me, somewhere. Beneath beauty is truth, and shining through all truth is God. That is not a story. -

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Little Updates and a Wisp of Shame

The little Updates:

1. For those who know and those who don't...I'm out of pre-u already. Finished in May. Getting IB results next Monday. *Teeth chattering (with fear, not cold)*

2. Subsequent to finishing school, which had been a martini and a tap dance away from complete pandemonium (that didn't make sense did it? It wasn't meant to. I don't.), I came back and spent time with father and mother and frequently with sister, in Singapore. I slept and ate and had irregular hours. I went to the Science Centre and marveled at Da Vinci. I ate Sushi Hi-Tea Buffet at Kui-shin Bo it was AMAZING I WANT MORE.

3. I got a new camera. It's quite pretty. I guess there are no more excuses not to put up pictures of my ho-hum life.

4. Against all expectations, I have gotten into university! I will be leaving in late August to California, United States; the land of beautiful people and expensive plastics. It rather scares me.

5. I hope to be tanned when I come home. Not like "WAH you spend too much time in the sun la don't look Chinese anymore" but hot and more importantly, intentional. I also hope to learn ballroom dancing.

6. I have attended UWC gatherings, old secondary friends gatherings, parents' friends gatherings, old primary friends gatherings and church friends gatherings since returning. I think attending and organising gatherings is all we oversea-ish back for holidays people do in Malaysia. I want to do something more important.

7. To that end, I am involved in a few (small) things now with another few upcoming :

a) planning trip with my closest friends whom I've known for 7 years now

b) trying to obtain a fly-on-the-wall invitation to watch my favorite filmmaker at work

c) attending the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit, where people of influence dispense their wisdom on stage while people of no influence at the present (people like me) dispense our foolishness in giggles and whispers among the audience. Kidding though. We actually pay a lot of attention, and ask insightful questions. Probably better questions than the often-pandering mass media does.

d) participating in a US colleges/universities application seminar in KL. Though I'd probably only be able to tell the attendees what not to do. Oh well, at least that's different:) Should I prepare for it? I feel like people who made it into the most famous places worked so hard to get there. Preparation by way of SAT books, reading up about admission statistics, internet resources, essay checkers, mother boil special ginseng on day of SAT...ok maybe not that much but yes, they have put in the due diligence.

While I put undue diligence into improving my Freecell statistics, using internet resources to find the perfect prom dress (the task is more difficult than choosing which unis to apply to I KID YOU NOT), flipping through my SAT books the night before the exam and choosing universities not based solely on their rankings (I admit I still have some kiasuness, I'm Malaysian) but on my biased, probably totally unfounded impressions of the place.

Yes, I totally deserve what I got.

Which is happiness, freedom from the menial slavery to public opinion, shock and awe (you're turning down X University for Y College?!?) and the exhilaration of embarking on a new adventure, to a place where I know absolutely no one.

I think my tendency to want to do things no one has ever done before, or at least do it differently from the people I know, is going to lead me down strange paths in the future. I don't fear hard. I fear boring and predictable.

So yes, its more likely that at 30 I will be a Tibetan school teacher teaching fourth grade geometry and drinking yak milk from my own herd, while being an underground spy for the Global Freedom Network, than it is for me to be a corporate sales executive.

At least I hope so, even if the final truth is less glamorous than my fantasies, I hope it will swing more kooky and less cubicle-y.

e) Holidaying with family in Sabah. It's my first time to East Malaysia, not counting the time I went on an ASEAN trip to Brunei.

f) Organising/facilitating a camp for Orang Asli youth to raise their awareness of opportunities for education and work beyond their immediate horizons. It's a UWC Malaysia initiative.

Anyway I think that's all for now. Sounds like a lot? Not really. I still find it hard to fill my day with activities.

And the wisp of shame? Well, that's about not updating for months. But then again, its only a wisp, because I know I've been living and that's more important:)

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Why the emphasis to create? Everyday I am told by my society, my peers, that I need to speak out, to voice my opinions, to form meaning out of chaos or at least make someone laugh ironically. Facebook's "What's on your mind?". Blogger. MSN messenger status updates. Notes. Emails.

Even school. Essays, writing without generating original thoughts or language. Science lab reports. Activity evaluations. Graduation speeches. They credit us with too much thinking. All I want is to be entertained. I will pay for that entertainment with money I have not earned, and time I do not have.

Maybe, maybe this drugged lifestyle of consumption - physical wants like fashion and gourmet cuisine, tv series and movies and the latest fad - really isn't wrong. But what is wrong is the inequity in who gets to speak. Who gets heard.

Words unlock meaning but they also limit life. A construction worker may not write a novel but he may know more of suffering than a feeble intellectual would with all of his philosophical exercises. The desire to trap feelings or thoughts in inflexible words that join to phrases connected into sentences may distract us from the enjoyment of the event itself.

And yet, where would we be without abstract thought and reflection? How would we live with ourselves without justifications, explanations, rationalisations to make ourselves feel like there was a plan when all you did was set out in the wide unknown with an unreliable compass and an outdated map?

If I had the answers I'd give them to you. But I once learned that it was more important to ask the right questions than gain the answers to them. My only worry now is that the questions above aren't really the important questions, because they can't lead to anything. Maybe I should think more about questions like, "How can I make someone's life better?" and "How can I make my own life count for something?" and "What would be the best use of my time, right now?"

If I can answer those questions everyday, there isn't anything else to ask anymore.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Losing and Gaining

As I strive more and more just to be, I realise that I've gradually lost touch with what I can do...Today I sang at the Delirious? concert and was surprised to hear my own voice. It didn't sound like my own, and it was breathy and high-pitched and weak. My singing voice has atrophied, like the muscles of a paralytic.

And I don't have the intense-planning-and-study drive anymore, even though my IB exam is not far away (month and a half) - probably because I'm already looking on to the next step, university, and if I get into American unis it doesn't matter what your final grade is as long as you pass. And all the necessary coursework I've completed already.


In exchange, I stretched, I laughed, I loved passionately and smiled like an idiot. Struck up conversations with previously-intimidating people and found them so normal, so nice. Threw my planner to one side and went with the flow. Watched movies crammed four people to a bed. Spoke what was really on my mind. Waddled in the muddy waters of uncertainty. About myself, about people. But mostly about myself, because if your glasses are foggy the whole world looks misty to you, doesn't it?

Anyway, am sleepy, so will have to leave this post to another day...tata!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dark Star

It's quite lonesome out here, scattered far out in the galaxy without my companion Erithrea, the bright mininova. My light is dimming. It twinkles less and less, if you could call a huge fearsome glowing mass burning itself up through centuries, twinkling.

Things were alright for the first millenia or so. Stardom was looking good - prospects of life on a few planets were promising and some nitrogen-breathing primitive life forms were already thriving on Planet Tuvr. Erithrea and I laughed about reaching the pinnacle of superStardom, the legendary Sun, who had 2-legged creatures building temples and sacrificing some of their own kind for Him. I always thought that was stupid. Not like that egomaniac needed any more convincing that He was the greatest star of all time.

About 700 centuries in, Planet Greqq atmosphere's was created, and life sprung up in abundance. The sheer diversity - and their fragility - was gastaking. I basked in the cool feeling of having something dependent on my rays for their survival, and I nurtured that Planet like it was my own moon.

There is something you need to understand, mortal. We stars do not think or behave as you do. You, you get tired, need rest. We do not know either tiredness or rest. We are as we are, immutable; not weak, but never having known weakness, not strong either. We are not fickle, and we can keep doing the same task - warming the galaxy - for as long as our core is solid and keeps us burning. We do not deny it is a selfish task that happens to bring some good to others. We do not need morals to justify our existence. Indeed, the creation of morals by living creatures whose very existence is a mere accident is almost amusing. I would find it so if I had a sense of humour. And yet, through observing minute behaviorisms even a star can learn the ways of lifeforms.

Now, now it is all gone. Tuvr is ashes and black hole vortex; Greqq expired in ice a thousand years ago but only after a long, long age of war and chaos that descended upon them like doomed meteors. I felt it was best to let go, turn my cold side and withhold my warmth to them that they may meet their end. I still believe it was best.

Erithrea didn't think so. She whirled and shot sparks, told me I could not forsake my duty, do as these lifers may. That it was their choice, and who could judge them, much less a star that felt no pain? That was just it though. They had no choice anymore. The dark sucked them in, and they were only grappling with nightmares and had lost all sense of reality.

So I did it, I broke my own code and that of my kin to save them - by destroying them all equally. I know I did right - I heard sighs of relief from Greqq just before it extinguished. Its people, though - their screams still torment me. I often wonder, how could I hear them in space? It does not matter. Imagination is just as strong.

I was expelled for being a dark star. Now I lay here, in the furthest outposts of space, where not even black holes exist and there is nothing, not even darkness, nor light, nor love. And here I will stay till I burn out, shrivel. That is my punishment for meddling in the affairs of life. But I had a choice and I made it, and I will burn to my last inch knowing why.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Okay since it is 2.30 in the morning and I cannot go out for a massive shopping spree (don't have the funds for it anyway, nor the appropriately-sized megamall), I shall blog to relieve this emotional diarrhea instead.

Here it goes.

The Spaces Between

There are always spaces between one unit of something and another. Atoms and molecules all the way up to stars and galaxies and solar systems. The space between the best dancers that holds them together and keeps them in perfect, mirrored motion. The space between lovers that asserts its will so strongly that it pulls them apart, leaving each one jarred and jagged.

We fight against this space; mash our bodies, intertwine our minds and emotions, knit our souls together so that there can be wholeness at last. We see the space as unnecessary, an evil force that keeps us from a higher purpose, keeps us alone and frail. Apart. Not a part.

Mother, father, friend, brother, postman, teacher, char koay teow seller. What binds us together beyond a brief moment of eye contact, a transfer of knowledge, physical touch, a joke, even love? Nothing. That is all. That is all that we can share, that we can reach into another's life.

We are, essentially, alone. The spaces have defeated us since we were born. In being an individual, we have lost that community that would otherwise be part of us. Like bees.

The spaces do not always do harm. The repelling forces work to our good as well, keeping us sane, keeping us from leeching into one another. Bringing variety into the world as we each go separate ways, mental and emotional paths that others can emulate but not follow.

Oh, but how lonely it is sometimes, and how much I wish there would be a vacuum to suck up all these spaces. The space in your smile, the averted eyes, the pause before you address me. I wish it could all be sucked up in one magical moment, and things return to what I imagine in my deluded memory it once was.

But that's just wishful thinking, and the spaces float inexorably above and around, twinkling in the still air.