Dare You To Move

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone's here
Everyone's here

You see light for the first time.  It feels unbearably cold.  You hear joyous exclamations, and you hear happy sobs.  For one moment, you feel welcomed.

“I can do this.”

You don’t have to be a genius to know what that means.  Humans have been instilled with survival instincts the moment they were created in their mothers’  womb.  A skill we all underestimate.

Everybody's watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?
What happens next?

You feel the heat down your neck.  It’s your first major examination, and you feel like choking the person sitting right next to you.

It’s your first job interview, and you want to impress your interviewers.  They ask you a question that isn’t in that script that you’ve rehearsed hundreds of times.

You fall in love for the first time.  But until you speak, you remain invisible.

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

So you have it all.  A high-flying career and every single person in town wants to get to know you.  You have someone who wakes up beside you every morning.

You wonder if that’s how it plays out for everyone.  School, degree, jobs, family, bigger family, and six feet under.

You have money, you can have your ashes scattered at the highest mountain or across the most beautiful lake like they do in the movies.

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Not all days are good days.  You’ve failed your exam before.  Few months ago, your best friend passed away.  Yesterday, your partner betrays you. Today, you spilled coffee onto your pants.

And tomorrow.  What about tomorrow?  Sometimes, you don’t want to know.

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened

You open an old notebook you used to scribble in when you were in high school.  Your best friend and you wrote of things you both wanted to do when you grow up.  Out of the chunk of dreams and hopes, you realized you have only fulfilled one:  Get a good job.  You didn’t get to marry that handsome football player because you realized he’s too fat now.

Things change.  But you wonder – have they changed for the better?

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

You go to your ex-partner’s place to have a cup of coffee.  You didn’t say much.  But as you are leaving, you give that person a pat on the shoulder and say,

“I forgive you.  Nice coffee.”

You return home to your family, and you hug each and every one of them.  You have planned to sky dive for the holidays, and you want to rebuild your business from scratch.

For the first time, you ask them if they want to join you.

Your little one whines.  First major exam tomorrow.  You smile.

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened
Today never happened
Today never happened before

You no longer want to have your ashes scattered over the most prestigious places.  You want to see all of that before you die.  And when you do turn to ashes, the only place you want to be is where you can have a scenic view of your loved ones.

I dare you to move.

We Try, Don’t We?

School Days, Penang, 1995 – 2005

I spoke with an American accent.  I was brushed aside because I seemed arrogant with my ability with words.  I copy the way you speak, and it seemed acceptable – hence I started to make friends.

Acing everything was very important to me, therefore I was an overachiever.  I scored in my subjects, I took great pride in my gift of gab, stamped my mark in a land I’ve never been before with trophies, and carved my name for being one of the most influential people in school.

You greeted me every morning with a smile I see on the saddest faces, and spoke hurtful words in my shadow as I faced the sun.

I was as arrogant as you described.  I deserved all that you said, but also, I deserved a second chance.  Which you didn’t give me.

But I love you anyway.  Because I grew up with you, and I just want to remember when things were great.  When things were right.  It’s easier on the mind.

National Service, Kuala Nerang, Kedah, 2006

You may be good in a language, yet I stutter before I can utter a complete word.  I seem quiet because I dare not speak.

But then you told me you wanted to teach me.  And in return, I teach you my language.  We laugh at our first failed attempts, but later on, we grew accustomed to each other’s mispronunciations.

You wore a head scarf under the boiling weather, prayed five times a day and you look at me as a sister.  I was the only one who didn’t look like the five of you in our room, nor spoke like the five of you.  But you reminded me it didn’t matter.  There was no five of you – there were only six of us.

I read my Bible before I go to bed.  You asked me to tell you a story from it.

I smiled.

Working Days with Arts-Ed, Penang, 2004, 2005 and counting.

I was afraid at your spontaneity.  You were so brave, and so outspoken.  You spoke so loud you made my scream into a whisper.  But you spoke of joyous things, and a world with no borders.  I liked that.  I dropped the mask I once put on and forgot to remove.  You told me I had no imagination.

My mission was to prove you wrong.

You put me into the most random places in the street, and ask me to befriend the city.  It’s noisy, dusty and scorching hot out there. How can I talk to old houses?  How can I talk to old people that I don’t even know?

I didn’t have to.  I just needed to listen.  They all had stories.

They were stories about you and me.

University Days, 2006, now and counting.

I dislike the place.  And you.  You didn’t speak my language.  You seem to be very proud to be fluent in your mother tongue, which I’m not.  So I can only write my name in that language, and maybe recognize a character or two, but you cannot write a complete essay spontaneously either.  You have been stuck in that small town all your life, and I’ve seen so much already.  You’re no better than me.

You lend a hand to everyone who approaches you.  You don’t grumble, but you offer the most sincere smile I’ve ever seen.  You tell me stories of that little town of yours, I may have seen and heard stories from afar, but I’ve never heard of yours.

Your focus in what you do is marvelous, when all I want to do is get out of where I am.  Your church is the smallest I’ve seen, but you stand out when you sing and pray.  Normally, I just let myself drown in the crowd of the church I used to go to.

I’m no better than you.

Life as It Is, Today, and counting

I recognize you.  You were from my School Days.  But you’re different now, and so am I.  I see your smile again, and it’s different too.  It made me want to smile back.

I miss you, the one from National service.  You taught me a lot of things.  I was as narrow minded as I perceived you to be at first, but now, because of you, I know that being different does not mean being less than who we are.

We are made different.  You and I.  So getting along can be tricky.  But I guess that’s the whole point of it.

Thank you, whoever you are, for opening my eyes beyond colour, beyond gender, beyond language, beyond sight.

Sometimes our vision may be clouded by ego and personal judgment.  But hey.

We try, don’t we?

What’s The Difference?

My jacket has a hole on its sleeve. I didn’t realize it for quite awhile, I guess it got caught in one of those hooks. I look around the people in the library, most of them are donning jackets to shield themselves from the blasting cold air-conditioner. There were the famous three-striped Adidas jackets, some hip hop hoodies, khaki ones, among the many that I’ve seen.

Books and laptops are laid out on the tables, people reading and scribbling away with earphones plugged on. Not surprising, it’s the Study Week after all.

It’s inevitable, isn’t it? That invisible wall that appears between people. This wall has many names. Some call it Status, Race, Religion, Profession, Money, etc. Even if everyone wore the same jacket we’d still be different, somehow.

I don’t know. All I know is we’re equally lost. We’re all equally damaged. Who are these people beneath the jackets? I see students trying their best to earn their degree to get a good job. Some of them play basketball in the evenings, I’ve seen them. Children who miss their home badly. Friends who eat together everyday at the cafeteria. Ah, there’s the couple who frequently hang out at the ground floor of my apartment. Young people who are unaware of the real world ahead of them. And we’re all just trying to find our way through this maze called Life.

If you’d just take off that jacket that you’re wearing once in awhile, you’d realize the obvious;

Maybe, just maybe, for once, we’re not so different after all.

The Sun’s Been Hiding

And the angels have been crying, with tears boasting of God’s wonderful work.

Boasting of perfection.

I love rain.

It’s like bath time for Mother Earth.
Just washing away all sorts of dirt and carbon monoxide.

I can only imagine how it was like when He was on that cross.

When He was washing away our sins.

Perfection, that’s what it is.

My Mixed Morning

mixed-morning.jpg

It all started since last night, and it just pours all the way to the morning. But I guess it’s just so much more confusing and hectic when it’s the first thing you experience for the day.

So Euphonious was a blast. A hit. A HUGE success. And after every big event there’s the postmortem. You know, the meeting where we start to look through our mistakes, put the blame here and there, suggest ways to overcome it, and end it with a big round of applause for a job well done. It’s like a 4-hour love-hate thing really. After the meeting I was already tired from a long day, and then I received a text message about an emergency meeting for another event. It was almost midnight, but what has to be done has to be done anyway.  I met up with a colleague, and I was told that the VIP booklet for that event was apparently too empty.  So the committee needed to “fill it up by adding several pages of interviews” with the previous participants and the full write-up will have to be done by the next night.

And the people we’re interviewing do not know that they’re going to be interviewed.  That’s right.  We have to schedule appointments with lecturers and students, ask them questions and prepare the full write-up in less than 24 hours, besides attending classes.

This was more than I bargained for when I joined this event.  I joined this department under the condition that I’ll be contributing my designs only.   Now I’m a part-time journalist.  I don’t mind the job, but I just didn’t like how last-minute it was.  But being a person who finishes what she starts, my colleague and I divided our tasks, wished each other good luck, and good night.

By the time I got to my room my eyelids were battling to open, and I haven’t even looked through my books for the 8a.m.  quiz the next day.  So I did the obvious.  I went to bed.

I set my alarm for 6a.m., my usual time.  That way, I’d have ample time to go through my things for the quiz and plan my day.

I woke up at 7.50a.m.  I felt like I had only slept for 2 hours.  I scrambled out of bed, half cursing under my breath for being late and half hoping that I haven’t missed the quiz, even though I didn’t study for it at least I still know my way around that chapter, thanks to the endless assignments.  But somehow I was also praying that the quiz would somehow be postponed – I’d prefer to answer my questions in a calm and ready situation than a rushed one like this.  Then again, this lecturer of mine never misses a quiz.  She’s never late and she’s all about being consistent.  Just thinking of that already ruined my morning.  To make things worse, being half awake, I actually went to the wrong block, hence I wasted another 5 minutes.

She postponed the quiz to next week.

After class I immediately made some calls to the lecturer I am supposed to interview, but he wasn’t in, so I left a message and headed back to my room.

I forgot my room key.

So I went to the office downstairs to get the spare key, and just as I reached the office, no one was inside.  The cleaning lady outside the office said that the man in charge went upstairs for a short meeting.  Inside, I was screaming.

Stranded outside, with so many things in my head, I started to think what I could do before my next class, while waiting for that lecturer to call back.  Then I remembered that I’ve been waiting for a letter that has been posted about a month ago that hasn’t made its appearance yet.  So I thought of walking to the Residential College Student Unit to check and see if in any way at all it would finally appear.  But the main purpose would be just to walk there.  It’s a long walk from my block, but since I had time to kill, I needed a quiet moment to sort the mess in my head.  It was a cool, cloudy morning too, perfect for a stroll.

And there it was.  It finally reached our shores – even though it was just from a neighboring country.

I opened up the pretty envelope and inside were four pages of mail folded nicely.  The content is probably one of the most meaningful things that someone has ever written to me.  The walk back to my apartment was a slow, but enjoyable one as I read each word with gratitude for a friend like her.  Thanks Xing Ni, I finally got it.

When I reached my apartment, the man-with-the-spare-keys was back!  The moment I stepped out of his office, I just stopped and recollected my mixed up morning.  I smiled, shook my head and proceeded to unlock my room.

I’m still waiting for that lecturer to get back to me, to conduct my interviews with the other students, attend a group discussion tonight, and do the full write-ups.  But somehow, I’m not so worried anymore.

Because whatever happens, it’s all in God’s timing.

Changes

flower-copy.jpg

Another deep topic. You have been warned.

I was just browsing through some secondary school photos in my friends’ Facebook and Friendster pages, and I’d stop to wonder what has happened to some of those that I have not met for a very long time. Funny thing is, I wonder the same thing about myself. How my priorities have changed, the things I’m interested in, the friends I have, my beliefs and my perspective on things.

Change is okay, in your own perspective, when you know that you’ve experienced so much more and that somehow, you’ve grown up. But the tricky part is, when the people around you are shedding their old skins as well, sometimes you don’t quite favor their ‘new looks’, and they don’t like yours too.

Which brings us to clashes of interests. When pieces just don’t fit together anymore. When old friends seem like a whole new bunch of people. Those are changes that take a long period of time, years maybe.

And then there are those who change in almost an instant. It could be because of a promotion, or pretty things like being in love. Like *snap*! They’ve flown so far away you can’t catch them anymore. All you can do is to hope the best for them, unless, of course, they’re people you really dislike.

One of the biggest change I’ve experienced would be to learn to trust others. I’m a loner, by nature, and I seldom confide in others for fear of being judged. But God’s been good to me, and I realized that whatever weaknesses I have, each time I overcome them, they become great testimonies to those around me. I’m more willing to share my views and thoughts with others now. I’ve been blessed with a great friends and family back home, as well as those here in campus. I love you, each and everyone of you.

On a more spiritual basis, another obvious change I realized would be the ability to let go and let God. I’m the kind of person who likes to settle things by herself, and take in more than I can handle because it’s challenging. In that process of wanting to go beyond the limits, I sometimes forget that I am just human. When things don’t work out my way, I start to question why and then start to put the blame on myself and others. Then sometimes I’d pray to God and tell Him how to do the things I want Him to, and the outcome I want, and could not be bothered with what He wants. I’ve learned my lessons the hard way, and now I finally realize what it means by “Let humans be humans, and let God be God”.

I think I wonder too much about how others have changed, and I tend to forget that I’m going through the transformation myself. Many a times the biggest change always happens when one has gone through tough times, because moving on is probably the hardest, mature thing to do.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, perhaps it’s due to inevitable observation that led me to express my thoughts about this. Maybe it’s a good time now, for me to take this chance to apologize to those who thought they “once knew me”, and also the heartiest thank you to those who have stuck by me and have accepted me for who I am despite my quirks and flaws.

What about you? What is the most obvious change you’ve seen of yourself over the years?

Taking A Good Look

Coming back has been nuts. Crazy. Babanas Bananas. Bonkers. Whack.

Part 2 has a packed schedule. 3 killer tests in 2 weeks. One MAJOR event (Euphonious is back!) in 2 weeks. Designs submission for another major event in a week. And it’s been raining all day, all week. Barely have any leisure time on my hands for tennis or even a jog. I’m crossing my fingers tightly hoping that I can at least go for a movie and a good cup of Starbucks by the end of this month, it’s good therapy.

And in the midst of all of this things, it’s easy to get carried away by the busyness, cramming every single detail and deadline into one tiny, minute brain that we use less than 3% of. It’s like what Edgar said yesterday, “When I’m tired I just get really hyper, like drunk without alcohol…” to which Mildred added, “..yeah, and then at one point you just suddenly switch off everything.” Yeah, it’s like being in a heated tennis match where an audience throws a bowling ball at your head out of the blue. Just like that.

Mentally drained, the brain is more vulnerable to spam. Yeah, useless, negative things that waste storage space. One by one, overloading your already overloaded brain.

So sometimes we have to do it the conventional way. We need someone to actually help us clear out some stuff. Hands on, just digging into that pile of mess and help tidy it for you. The automatic spam-filter in our brain is out-of-order at the moment so we have to borrow someone to do the work for us.

Christians would seek God. But sometimes they tend to forget too. Most of the time, actually.

Then come along a special group of people called loved ones. Be it dad, mom, siblings, friends…people who would knock some sense into our heads. It’s amazing how the little good things they share can clear up a large amount of spam. How a simple “I had my first try at making ‘kaya’ today and it turned out good” can make us grin to ourselves silly. How a couple of friends braved the rain to buy some dinner back and sharing could bring joy and gratefulness. Or how a more-than-an-hour phone call with someone miles away from us can bring an odd sense of comfort.

How they just remind us of Him. That someone’s watching, and someone cares. And that’s just very…nice. Then we begin to see things in another way, a better way. Like just looking back and seeing how far we’ve come, how much we’ve progressed, and that our efforts are not in vain. Just taking a good look at things both sides.

I know what I’m writing is short, cliché, very ordinary and does not have any deep philosophical insights like I usually do for Kooky Lessons, but sometimes, cliché is what we need. Then we don’t take things for granted.

Thank you, you little angels that God has so strategically placed in my life, even if you’re miles away. You know who you are. 🙂