Friday, December 9, 2011

Pent Up

I am so full of emotion/wonder/desire for understanding right now.

I'm not sure whether its due to some weird hormonal imbalance, or prolonged social isolation (I haven't properly spoken to people in two days), but this feels weird.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I don't know where I'm going, just know where I've been
It's been sweet, it's been bitter, everything in between

Oh to exist! In a place where time and space cease to matter. To crouch in a cool limestone cave with sunlight shining through only from the mouth of the cave, and hear fresh water drip drip drip onto the glistening brown surface. Someday, maybe, a stalagmite might form there. I will be dust by then.

Somehow this image comforts me. My generation has compressed time and space into capsules we swallow every morning, evening, night; we run and we run and we are afraid to venture off-track. Inundated by information; catching and dodging questions flung like arrows. Each byte of detail about the world around me is like a decibel, they are a torrent of sound, and my ears are ringing long after I leave the crowded dance floor of my peers' conversations and chat windows and newsfeeds.

Sleep is merely an empty hole patched between bright glaring days of conscious experience. No true rest. No grateful escape.

Where is truth? What should I seek? How do I get it?

I will not find the answers here, it's not a needle in the haystack, it's not the one lottery coupon among millions whose digits match those on the television screen. It is an undefined variable in an infinitely complex, unsolvable regression.

Drip, drip, drip.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


If you were disposable, why does it hurt so much when you're gone?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thinking about Strangler Trees

Yesterday, my tutee and I read a SAT piece about strangler trees, these interesting floral curiousities that grow on big, tall trees in the tropical rainforest by seeding high up in the crevices of those trees. They begin as epiphytes, with roots extending towards the ground and towards the sun, but not feeding off their host. When their roots reach the ground and take root in the soil, they start growing rapidly and eventually cover up the hosts' roots. They also wind around the trunk of the host, eventually squeezing it to death (hence the name strangler trees). I picture a sort of king kong like scenario, navy SEALs parachuting down on many lines to bind King Kong and subdue the mighty giant.

That is neither here nor there, but just one of those interesting facts - gobbets - that've been going through my mind lately.

I've become more and more aware (not quite in a linear fashion but more like in spurts, with stagnant periods and frequent regressions) how competition has a negative effect on me. Perhaps that's why economics makes so much sense to me, its first principles are grounded on competition for scarce resources. And while the optimal outcome is an increase in productive capacity to create a win-win situation, the default mode is actually fierce competition for market dominance.

With that kind of mindset, it's hard to override the mental belief that any gain for someone who may be even remotely considered my competition is a loss for me. A natural competitive urge that people have to be the best - that urge that manifests such ugly behavior as jealousy, envy and manipulation - justified and naturalized in the name of competitive efficiency which produces the social good, creates a very twisted mindset. One loses sight of the true goal.

I try hard to be happy for other's accomplishments, and for the most part I can be. I recognize that it does contribute to the greater good, and that their gain does not diminish my status. I just wonder what it will take to change these feelings, to go against a world system where one's gain is another's loss.

I think I have always tried to create and participate in non-zero sum systems, like promoting education, knowledge, community etc. But I keep encountering the hard fact that no matter what you try to do, there is always going to be a mindset and model of competition; whether through profits or through recognition.

So to sum up there are two questions on my mind right now: How do I reconstruct my mental/emotional/physical reality so that I can push myself to work harder and improve, without the negative reinforcement of competition? And a more personal question: How serious am I about this?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

For those who love in doorways coming and going

Title from an amazing poem called A Litany for Survival by Audre Lorde.

In the wee hours of the night, bypassed by solitude or much conversation, curiously empty of obligations and deadlines, there is so much space to be filled in the consciousness, and therefore I start to think again.

Thinking is a curious activity, one day scientific man will progress beyond simple mind imaging in different colors and be able to create actual, rich, visual representations of mental activity - and find that no two people think in the same way. I am often frustrated by how circular my thought process is, I cannot explain to another why I feel a certain way or prevent recurring thoughts. I sometimes am unable even to explain what I'm thinking about, and realize then that I was thinking of nothing particular at all.

Spring break is here (it's Friday, my last class and midterm was yesterday), it's weird to have such an anticipated moment arrive (weeks and weeks of anticipation, I tell you. Other people say "WOW time went by so fast!" and I think, "Really? Are you kidding?"). I wonder if I will feel like this on my wedding day.

Body is running down, so I'll leave you all now...but I hope to update soon.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


What I have realized, (and many thoughts fly in my head when I exercise - somehow the creative fermentation process works as though in a dream, fitfully, without direction, with great emotional intensity), is that one's voice is unique and should never be compromised or sold. It is a tragedy that we must conform, shrink our natural burning brightness into halogen lamps that shut on and off on command, that produce tired thoughts and hackneyed arguments, that create efficiency but not understanding.

Lately/all my life/ I have been struggling, stuck in a lockhold where two strong and opposite passions collide. Sometimes out of necessity one triumphs over the other, as with time-sensitive decisions such as where to study, what opportunities to take, and so on. Other times the struggle is personal, and not institutional, and I have been stuck in the lockhold for years - important life decisions like what do I believe about making a living, who God is, what direction should I point my life in, and so on. For so long I have tried, have sweated for the answer, for the simple decision that flows naturally and rings with certainty of the truth. Only then, I reason, will I be able to walk decisively towards the goals I have set, assured of who I am.

Try as I might, it is hard to shake off the myth of linear progress, because there is some truth in it (and so much falsehood and simplification that leads to disappointment). Perhaps it is time for me to move beyond that, and reconcile myself to the possibility (I hesitate to say fact) that the patterns of life and meaning are much too dense for any one person to understand, their multi-dimensionality utterly incomprehensible when viewed through the limited prism that we operate in; but on the large scale, beautiful.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wading through Days of Mud

That's how it feels like, struggling against the tide of everything that's coming my way. Like it or not.

Slowly but surely it's been affecting my personal relationships as well. I don't know what I feel about that. Uneasy, for sure.

I'm telling myself that I can get through this, it's only a couple of weeks more until the semester is over. And there is a break in between.

But at what price does this achievement come (this slog seems much less grand)? Am I learning anything of use when my days are full of meetings and work and class, and when there is free time, long naps of oblivion? I live at the mercy of my moods. I keep grasping at branches that I hope can bring me up to the surface, but they turn out to be straw, or I decide that it's not worth the time.

White noise has become a fixture of my life rather than the exception. I don't want to deal with this anymore. I want peace, and quiet. Only in absence can I find my way to the present.

PS. I realized I broke my resolution to simplify my life and keep from doing too much. I have a habit of overestimating what I'm capable of doing and being happy.

PPS. Ah peace and quiet! It's 2am, but I have gotten it at last :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Going to the gym and working out has become easier, after less than a week of going regularly.

There's a period after the monotonous drag of step after step on the treadmill or pedal of the bike, after the flashes of pain shooting up your arms as you lift weights, after a whole hour spent watching bad/boring tv with endless commercials (yes, I do have to agree, after repeated exposure, that contemporary television is mind-numbing and brings almost zero value to oneself), that you pack up, leave the gym with its sweat-saturated air, and fill your lungs with the fresh outdoor breeze...

And you begin to run; truly, full of life, with love and wonder, weightless like a dream.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't you know those times when...

Even staying up feels like a great effort. You have to make a conscious effort not to feel, because feeling will remind you how miserable you are right now and how much you want to cry. Crying is good, but it attracts attention. Not good in a shared space.

Numb, so numb, and I don't even know how I got here.

This too shall pass.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More journeying

I'm in a nostalgic mood today. Reading through old emails brings back such fond memories, memories of being loved and sticking through difficult times. I think one is better able to appreciate the storms one has weathered after the fact: musing on how despite everything, life goes on. It's almost overwhelmingly sobering to see path-dependency in action: how our small actions, repeated everyday; and thoughtless habits, create our whole person. We are what we do and we think. The choices we have made (and NOT made) in the past have decided who our friends are, what kind of things are important to us, and what constitutes our identity.

Right now, I feel so young despite my almost 22 years - my naivete, my desire for all the joys and insights of life right now, right here. But I remind myself that everything that is worthwhile is not easily gained, and the journey is important. Yes. Don't lose sight of the road, while one dreams of castles in the air.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In the dark I can be everything

So it's night now, I'm at J's (hi J if you're reading this) and he's fast asleep while I am fast awake, which is unusual. Not many people can outpace me in sleeping.

It's been a good few weeks of holidays, been touching reality very much and fostering new friendships and being with the ones I love - except for family, always miss family at these times. In general, been much too busy to think, which in some ways is very good. When I have too much time to think my thoughts veer towards the negative. I don't look at the lustrous fabric of life, I look for it's frayed edges, it's loose threads. Sometimes it feels that those loose ends tug at my heart and I wish it weren't so. That most people can overlook them and walk on with life makes me wonder if those flaws are only in my head.

Yet I can sense that I've come some way - in choosing a metaphor that addresses these moments (deceiving phrase, this can last hours and days and even months) of disconnect I know that I have not completely abandoned myself to the melodramatic. The missing and the incomplete does not jeopardize the whole in a way that it once would have. I can see life as generally good, instead of an exquisite glass sculpture hanging by a thread and my realization of the fact being enough to snap the thread and let it hurtle to the floor and smash. (Incidentally I'm quite familiar with that split-second when you know something is going to fall and break but can't do anything about it, the breakage somehow always feels worse than if you didn't see it unfold.)

I've wanted to blog for quite a while, but I have profound thoughts at the most inconvenient times. Usually when I'm around people/outside and I want to write because I know I'll forget, but I can't. And I do forget. And now when I have all the time in the world to write I can't think of anything to say.

It's a New Year and I'll be transitioning out of my 21st year of life and becoming a boring 22 years old. I'm most most certainly going to be an adult soon. An adult still in an American college, with few responsibilities or direction, but an adult nevertheless. In the spirit of the newly-birthed year I'm in the mood for impossible resolutions. Life is not a direct or predictable journey from point A to point B, nevertheless it's useful to have a moral compass of sorts to look back on and compare with one's actual position.

What I hope from this year: a more diverse and interesting group of friends who will challenge and enrich me in all aspects: mental and emotional growth, adventures and exploration, forward-thinking, academic striving, facts and knowledge. I don't expect all of these from all friends, and I don't want it to be a one-way street either. I just want more of it than I have right now.

What I want from/for myself:
1) more creative pursuits and projects. It's all the rage (which is quite a turn-off), but I want something that I can branch out into and become skilled at.

2) Better time management is an important goal for the new year. A lot of the stress of the latter part of this year (and possibly the former too) has been as a result of this not being implemented well, mostly due to unrealistic expectations for myself and correspondingly not allotting enough time to self-care, laziness, interruptions, time with friends etc.
I have to learn to prioritize quality over quantity - at the same time, I'm quite amazed at how productive a year this has been. Friendships made, relationships embarked on, painful relationships resolved, personal projects blossoming, coming to a greater peace with myself about God.
There *are* still so many things that I want to try or get better at while still enjoying college life; things like dance, music, taking classes outside my chosen majors (courses in sociology, computer science, religious studies and perhaps English stand out), traveling, getting involved in activities (although that urge has lessened somewhat, getting more self-centered now and thinking about internships and grants where it used to be colleges and competitions and scholarships).
Time management goals, keeping it simple, would be to eat well, sleep enough, stay active and in tune with my inner feelings (which I realize can be less intuitive than I expect), and more often choose to be happy and see solutions instead of being crushed by problems.

3) I want to travel. Europe, here I come!

4) This is somewhat vague, but I want to establish stronger psychological boundaries between the world and myself. I feel like part of what makes me special is that thinness, that one-inch thick that separates me from my surrounding world, but I've let it get to me too much sometimes and for lack of an encouraging word or a different perspective, lapse into despondency. It's something that I can use better, this knack for feeling the pulse of people and situations, by learning how to ignore it and know that the negative aspects of it are sometimes just me being hard on myself.

5) Attending to my loved one's needs in a way that they want, not how I want it. Practical ways: skyping with friends more often and checking up, remembering birthdays and giving gifts, being there for important events, making time for conversations and being inquisitive about other's lives. Also, realizing that consistency, while not my strong trait, is important to many people and working on that (besides it also being helpful to me personally). Giving constructive feedback, and not taking criticism personally but being to view it objectively.

That's about all I can think of now. Here's to an amazing, mind-blowing 2011!