Yesterday, as I read my friend’s post on missing out (on life, etc.), it somehow made me think of what I had been feeling as well, and a recent conversation I had with another friend about feeling out of sorts and being quite mindless of things, of life and its happenings. Each day seems to pass uneventfully, whether it really did or not, but I don’t actually feel that I have experienced anything, and the minutes and hours just fleet by in a blur, as days morph into weeks and months. It kind of feels like a burn out, yet to say that would be a complete irony because I don’t honestly see how my current state of work, or not, can burn me out. If any, it would be due to the incessant rumination of how I can actually get out of it that has caused the severe fatigue.

As the days pass, each and every single day that becomes another part of history, the flame of hope just seem to get dimmer that I wonder if it hasn’t been totally extinguished. I try to keep my faith and trust in God, as my friends have encouraged me, that it is all in His perfect timing that things will happen. Even friends who are non-believers try to egg me on sometimes, telling me that ‘good things happen to those who wait’, or practically they would advise that in such times, it will probably take time. It has been more than 2 years, and I try to ignore the nagging negativity that is festering within, to tell myself that there must be a reason and a purpose that I am here. But with each failed interview, with each bungled attempt in application, I just get more and more demoralised.

With the lack of enthusiasm and drive for anything that I do here and now, I have tried to find some meaning elsewhere, diverting my energy and thoughts outside, which have seen me pushing myself physically to my limits. Limits, because I think my body is not getting sufficient rest from sleep, not getting enough nutrients from the food that I eat, and not getting adequate recuperative time from yoga. It sounds silly, that while yoga is meant to be a restorative and relaxing practice, it has, directly or indirectly, caused me to become injured, which is not an isolated case. Whether it is yoga that has caused the injury to the gluteus that has resulted in complications such as muscle and hamstring, ITB tightness, or the recent case of bruised or perhaps even fractured ribs, and not forgetting the inflamed or overstretched hamstring many years ago that left me out of action for at least a month, I don’t know if I am pushing myself too hard. But then again, what is considered pushing myself too hard? Is attending one yoga class per day considered too much? It shouldn’t be because there are many others who are doing much more than me, and some of them or many of them are even older in terms of chronological age. So what really is the problem?

This shuttling back and forth the yoga studios, plus the weekly Japanese language class that I was taking, have somehow drained me of all energy that when asked how I was enjoying my new home, I could only draw a blank. I have not had the time to think about enjoying it. Each day, I return home to veg out in front of the television after work, if not to partake in some simple household chores. I am hardly at home on weekends because I would be attending yoga class, and then I would either be off to my parents’ place or out having coffee and attending service. Like how we eat mindlessly without savouring the taste and texture of the food that goes into my mouths and down our throats, I am living in my new home without relishing the moments that I spent in it. I compare my home to other new homes that I see, whether they belong to my friends or to strangers who have posted photos online, and feel that my home pales in comparison. It is nowhere near to the kind of thought process that they had invested to designing and ‘building’ it up. I can only blame myself for not taking the effort to do so, that I ended up with a sub-par product, but with many things already cast in stone, so to speak, I don’t really have a choice now.


Seoul’s autumn foliage 

We all need to take breaks. And this usually involves travel, for most people, Singaporeans in particular. Somehow, perhaps due to the fact that Singapore is really small and there are limited things that we can do domestically, most of us count wanderlust as one of our traits. It also helps that we are quite well-situated to travel to many places, Singapore is generally well-connected by flights, budget or otherwise, to many cities in the world, and our passport offers general easy visa-free access to many countries.

I have progressed to taking several holidays within a year. I do not belong to the demographic group that can survive on one long trip each year, so I break my annual leave entitlement into several smaller trips. I would love to take many long trips, but that just isn’t possible for office folks with limited annual leave, and also finances-wise.

Recently, I just went to Seoul for a short 5-day vacation, because my friend couldn’t afford more days of leave, and our main objective of heading there was the autumn foliage. It was good timing, because when we went, leaves were mostly turning a brilliant shade of red, especially on Nami Island where most headed for such views. This photo had a filter from the built-in filter of my phone, but it just enhances the beauty of the view, as there was insufficient sunlight to give the photo a natural brightness it would need to look good.

October seemed so long ago, even it’s less than 2 months since the trip. I feel so tired and drained these days, while I busy myself with tying up loose ends of the renovation, which is one of the most difficult things to handle, shop for furniture and schedule for deliveries while juggling with the remnants of renovation. These, in addition to visualising and deciding on how I want certain things to be, where I want to have certain items, and what I would need, so on and so forth. Owning a place is a lot of work and considerations, and it has left me utterly exhausted, not to mention frustrated and spent.

On top of all this, balancing my usual routine and life has also proven tumultuous. I don’t know if I suck at multi-tasking, but aside from what renovating and furnishing the place needs of my time and energy, it is a challenge keeping to work, yoga and my usual attempts to meet up with friends, even if there are many occasions where they aren’t able to make it because their lives are just busier. So someone told me, if they do not appreciate my effort, then just don’t try anymore. Yes, I should try to practice that, and keep to it.

Affected too easily

As I reflect on my grouses, that tend to be pretty similar if not downright repetitive, I realise that most of the things that rile me up are exogenous. It is all too common that whenever I ride on the local subway or tube or whatever it is termed, i.e. we call it the MRT, an acronym for Mass Rapid Transit, I am bothered by people intruding into my virtual private space, or when they so much as brush against me when there is more than a silver of space separating us, making me wonder in disbelief why they would need to veer so close to me instead of keeping a wide berth, which I would definitely prefer and choose.

Even in the office, something as innocuous as someone making too much noise, as deemed by me, such as slamming stacks of papers on the desk, flipping papers loudly, sighing all the time audibly, throwing down stationery after using them so that they create a loud clacking sound on the table… I just don’t get it. Why can’t people just do things quietly? As they type on the keyboard, is there really a need to hit the keys so hard like they are afraid nobody can hear them typing?

It is all very personal, I suppose. Like how I prefer peace and quietness, and would rather do things gently and quietly, type quietly, flip and handle things with a controlled level of force so that things don’t get smashed around. It’s just that in our world where private space has become somewhat of a luxury, and more often than not we have to share breathing space with people, it is hard to not have to grow accustomed to or tune out from all these noises and distractions. We don’t exist in a vacuum and we certainly don’t live on an island where we are the sole inhabitant, so even if it drives me crazy when people do what they do, intentionally or not, I will have to learn to get over it and put it aside. Life is stressful enough as it is without us adding such unnecessary stress and pressures on our own lives. Yet how can I learn better to adapt, to tune out and to ignore?

In a state of haze…

Again, I have lost the will and motivation or inspiration to write. As I talked to a friend over lunch today, I realise that there is something I need to do. To let go and just take care. Yet it is often easier said than done.

Sometimes, it hurts a lot inside, from what I do not know exactly. Probably it is just the culmination of things that happen around, stuff people do that somehow have an impact on me, whether it is a case of over-sensitivity or over-thinking on my part, or simply because it is easier to think that way rather than feel positive. Oddly, it feels so much tougher to be positive.

Flash back to July when I went to Sapporo for holidays, we rented a bicycle on the second day when we visited Furano. In stark contrast to the first day when we went to Farm Tomita where the sun blazed down furiously and threatened to give me a heat stroke, the second visit saw the temperature almost halved as a light drizzle fall from the low-hanging rain clouds overhead. It was a cool, almost cold (at least to me) day, which made it a nice ride at a leisurely pace. However, we probably overestimated our own stamina and fitness, because some parts of the route that we had to take to the Cheese Factory were somewhat uphill that left us panting for breath. Particularly when the bicycles that we had weren’t exactly the best that facilitated easier riding.

But still, it was a nice week away from everyday life. Sapporo, though just another city like Tokyo, is rather different. It is much smaller in comparison and the pace of life seemed to be slower too. It was more enjoyable in a certain way, and each day on waking it was just to think of where we should go for our daily meals to indulge our gastronomic senses.It is haze season in Singapore right now, if that is the right term to use. Haze visits us almost on an annual basis, courtesy of our neighbouring country, but it comes at different times depending on the year. I can’t remember when it usually happens, but the last time when it was really bad was in 2013 and that came in June, when thankfully I was away on a business trip in France, and suffered through the choking haze upon my return for a day before some heavy rain and change of wind direction took the haze away pretty much.

This time, it’s already September but the haze suddenly came to us and one evening it got so bad that from Raffles Place where I could usually see far beyond the horizon of the Marina Bay area, I couldn’t even see the Singapore Flyer. Supposedly, the PSI went up past 200 that evening, but a light rain eased it slightly, and then rains over these couple of days have also helped a bit, although the wind direction is still not changing to move the haze away from us.

In one of my yoga classes, the teacher reminded us to still be thankful, because we know this is temporary, and as compared to certain cities that are perpetually shrouded in smog and haze for the good part of the time, we are already very lucky. She told us that when we have our sunny skies or rainy days back, we ought to think back on this hazy period and give thanks that we can have those hot, sunny days or wet, rainy days where the sky is blue and the air is crisp.

There are many things to give thanks for, yet I just want one thing now, though I have no idea when that is going to happen.

Blessings crown my head

As the years go by, we realise that our social circles get smaller and smaller. In most cases, it is a matter of choice because we start to get more selective of people we hang out with, spend time with, because time has become such a precious commodity that we see no point in spending these valuable moments with people who do not really matter, or perhaps people whom we feel we don’t have a connection with. In any case, my lifestyle has also dictated the way my social circle has dwindled over the years, and the energy level that I have these days just don’t lend myself to staying out for long hours whether it is after work or on weekends to socialise.

It sounds a little like I am wallowing in self-pity, what I am about to write, but this is really something that I want to write about to show a sense of thankfulness for what I have.

My birthday was last month, and I’m grateful for friends who remembered the date and sent me their well wishes via Whatsapp or through Facebook, despite that I had not publicly-listed my birthdate for Facebook to send reminders to my friends of it.

A few of my friends asked me out, but I ended up only being able to meet them, one a week or so after the actual day, another just a week ago and finally one today. Even if there wasn’t that kind of ‘fanfare’ associated with celebrating birthdays anymore, I suppose it is also a matter of choice and I still appreciate their thoughts in giving me a treat or buying me a gift. 🙂

Since young, my family never really had the habit of celebrating birthdays in a big fashion with cakes and what nots. I didn’t have any fancy celebration for my 21st, and so maybe it has also become typical for me to just spend my birthday as just any other day. While I was in school, and maybe in my younger professional days, there might have been friends who have made the day a bigger affair, buying cakes complete with candles and stuff, birthday cards and presents. These days, it is but a muted event.

Yet, I did feel a lot of love this year. My brother asked where I would like to go for dinner on my birthday. And coming from my brother, it kind of took me by surprise, and I was really touched at his gesture. There was no big celebration, sure, but what mattered was that the important people in my life were there with me that evening for dinner. It was a really traditional, Chinese-style kind of dinner, not what I usually would have picked, but my parents enjoy Chinese food and so it was an easier option for us too. I really love the char siew! The rest of the food weren’t too shabby either, but regardless the taste of the food, my heart felt warm that day. And I got a second surprise afterward, when I got home, and my other brother disappeared for a short moment and returned with 2 slices of cakes, because as he said “I don’t know what flavour you like so I bought 2.” Awww. Well, I don’t have special preferences for cakes these days, since carrot cake seemed to have fallen off the charts lately, but the tiramisu and mango cake were not too bad. I even got a candle to blow out as I made my birthday wish, which now I don’t remember what I wished for anymore.

Remembering to be thankful

Happiness can be as simple as this. A bowl of plain yogurt with a tinge of sourness, topped with granola that adds sweetness to the bowl, and a cup of coffee. Perhaps these are not the best things to go together, yogurt and coffee, the latter which would dissolve away whatever calcium is available in the yogurt? I don’t know but this is a simple enjoyment on a weekend.

During yoga class today, the instructor reminded us to be thankful that we are still alive, that our bodies still intact. She implored on us to not take life so seriously. Those were the words that I recalled, others I don’t really remember, but I suppose she was meaning to tell us that we should live in the moment, enjoy each moment and not sweat the small things. She was mentioning this in reference to the Bangkok bomb blast that took place the evening before, in downtown Bangkok in an area popular with tourists and locals. As of now, the blast had claimed 20 lives, one of whom is a Singaporean. Lives that were suddenly terminated, dreams that remain unfulfilled and words left unsaid.
I frequently lament about the various nitty gritty things of everyday life, from having to wait minutes for a train, to having people knock into me while they are rushing or blocking my way when I am in a rush… there are too many things that I can’t help complaining about, despite that deep down, as I reflect on society, on life, that there is much to be thankful for, but I, like most people, am wont to complain and feeling victimised. I need to constantly remind myself that life has given me much, despite that materially, I wasn’t born into a family with much, there has been more than enough that more than made up for it.

As I meet people whom I feel mirror who I am, I start to realise how annoying such characters can be, how much of an irritant chronic pessimists and complainers can be. I hope that I don’t continue to walk that path, but rather on a daily basis, thank God for all that I have, for all that has been bestowed on me.While I am still trying to change my attitude, which I foresee to be a difficult but not impossible endeavour, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, so what if I don’t like my job and many aspects of it, so what if day by day I feel that I am losing myself, my value, my relevance, so what if I don’t get to enjoy many of the material things in life that my peers possess, that they earn much more than me, and that I have been struggling in many areas of my life all these years, unable to break through and break free. Life still goes on, and I need to give thanks that I am still breathing and still have my loved ones around me. May they always be safe and sound, happy and healthy.


Thank You, to the one who made Singapore possible

I’m sure there are plenty of tributes all over the blogosphere, dedicated to the man who is also known as the Founding Father of modern Singapore. Most of us are deeply saddened at his passing, despite that he had lived a great and fulfilling life. I guess we feel a big sense of loss because knowing all that he had done for us, devoting much of his life to building Singapore, there can never be a second person who would come close, at least not in our opinion, for many years to come.

It is also with him leaving us that many of us get to know him better, his accomplishments and achievements, and learn that he is pretty much a misunderstood politician. I am never a keen follower of politics, and ashamed as I am to say that I do not really know a lot of the who’s who in our local government, it is just a personal preference to not take an interest in it. The only times I was ever involved were just in recent times when I had to take part in one presidential election, and the most recent General Election where the constituency I have lived in my whole life was being contested. So you can imagine how apathetic I am politically. Throughout the week which was called the National Mourning week… regular TV programmes were disrupted and in their place, features of Mr Lee were aired, showing snippets of speeches that he made, interviews that he gave and chronicles of his life. I learned a great deal about him that I never knew, and even though right after his funeral was over, on Monday morning, I started griping about the train delays again, I am still thankful to him and grateful for what we have here in Singapore that I call home.When I think back, all that we have now culminated from the policies of this one man, who became the first Prime Minister of Singapore at an age that is even younger than what I am now. How does someone have such lofty aspirations to want to build a better Singapore, when at this stage of my life, I am still drifting aimlessly in life, grousing about trivial things daily. I suppose that is the mark of distinction of people who are destined for big things.

Housing, bilingualism, clean potable water from taps, an armed forces, a generally well-connected and efficient transportation system, world-renowned airline, airport, etc. There are so many things, if not everything, that he had dabbled in to bring forth. Even without having the experience of living overseas, business trips that had led me to various parts of the world outside of the usual holiday destinations make me appreciate the convenience and safety of Singapore.

I missed the opportunity to head down to the Parliament House on a couple of occasions and was feeling extremely disappointed and uneasy. On Saturday, I made up my mind to go early in the morning to pay my last respects to this great man but was dismayed when I awoke to know that the queue had been suspended from Friday night. I headed down instead to Tanjong Pagar Community Centre to write a tribute to him, joined a file of people and bowed to his portrait.

After a yoga class, while I was having coffee, I read that the queue had re-opened at 615am, just right after I went to the TPCC. My heart was undecided but finally I went ahead with my heart’s desire, finished my coffee and muffin in a jiffy, and hopped on down to City Hall. It was a balmy and humid afternoon, with rain clouds threatening above. As I joined the steady stream of people all headed in the same direction, I overtook many as I brisk-walked along the route that took me from the exit of City Hall MRT opposite the former Capitol Building, along the street across from Raffles City to the Padang to the Esplanade, past it, all the way to the floating platform where we looped back along the Esplanade. I came to a half somewhere after emerging from beneath the Esplanade bridge (or whatever that was called). By that time, sweat was trickling down my temple and sides of my neck. For someone who doesn’t perspire that easily these days, I could only imagine the speed at which I had been trudging along. The queue inched slowly forward, but all through the route from the Padang, lots of volunteers lined the way distributing sustenance of food and beverages. Some even went as far as cheering us on, while we struggled to catch some fresh air to prevent ourselves from fainting.

The queue was unbearable despite that there wasn’t much of the scorching sun for most parts of it that day, not like what some others went through. There was some drizzle when I reached the Asian Civilisations Museum, but compared to the downpour that drenched those on Sunday, the drizzle was really a walk in the park.

Finally, after what felt like forever but was just about 2 hours, I arrived outside the Parliament House.

From that point, everything happened in lightning speed. In 2 files, we made a procession past where Lee Kuan Yew laid. I was in a daze, that as I passed I slowed a little but missed to stop and bow. I really regretted not doing that but at that point I only thought about moving on so that others could also come in to pay their last respects. As I exited the solemn hall, it hit me what I didn’t do. But I could no longer head back in.

It’s just like that with life, sometimes when we pass over something that we had considered doing but ended up not doing, there is no turning back. That is why there are always people telling us about the importance of seizing the moment and living in the here and now.

It was a sad week for many of us, and indeed I felt down but I didn’t go as far as shedding tears, even if I consider myself to be somewhat emotional these days. Perhaps it is a different kind of loss that I am mourning, thinking about what would lie ahead for us now that we have lost someone so vital to the development of Singapore, even if not all his policies and decisions were right. It was different as compared to earlier this year when my grandmother passed away; even if we weren’t as close as compared to the relationship I had with my maternal grandmother, it was heart-breaking when I saw her for the last time, lying in the coffin with her eyes closed for the last time, with pale pallid skin replete with wrinkles, a far cry from how I remembered her to be. Then, it was a 3-day wake that I attended and during the funeral as we trailed behind her cortege, I couldn’t help but break down as I thought about how we are now separated by life and death.

Anyway, Mr Lee’s passing caused me to reflect on a lot of things. I don’t know if these reflections will amount to any tangible actions but I hope it will make me more appreciative of things, be thankful of the things that I have, and learn how to live a better life.

Singapore will always be my home, whether or not I complain about its everything. I don’t believe in leaving and migrating because somewhere else is better off than here. We aren’t necessarily the best but because this is where we were born and grew up in, it’s where we belong and should work to make it better for ourselves.