Never Flagging in Adversity

I was not the easiest person to work with – full of skepticism and negativity. Most of my high school classmates would avoid me. I was in huge internal struggles. Depressed. Despair about life. It was so dark that I there was actually a blank in my memory of a few of those moments, which I knew there was extreme pain but I couldn’t remember the details of it…

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The Navy has been a very important part of my life journey. I am extremely fortunate to be working under a dedicated group of passionate officers who accepted me for who I was, who saw my flair and nurture my creativity, who mended the broken me together.

To begin with, I was part of the army who didn’t want to let me go. Yet, I’m always treated as part of the Navy family. My commanding officer did not have to do this out of his busy schedule because I’m really a nobody but he made two calls to the personnel department to ask to keep me with the Navy family.

I am no sailor, but the officers who were under him took very good care of me too. They offered me their friendship and taught me the traditions of the seas anyway, a lot going far back into the Age of Discovery. I fondly remembered the many nights working through projects with them. The many bowling sessions we gone for. The really generous affirmation they have given me about my work and my artistry.

I also saw through a dark moment – RSS Courageous. I remembered the skies poured its wrath at us, soaking every hair and every skin on that sombre day which the military funeral took place. All soaked and cold, our hearts strung in a common heavy beat as the procession drove passed us.

Through fair winds and against rough seas, this journey had built my courage and my confidence to live on and gave me a chance to redeem myself. It is for this reason, I always feel very much indebted to the Navy and will forever be grateful to be given a chance to be a part of this great family.

Rising Early, Finding Excuses

I read in an article some time ago the benefits of rising early. One of the reasons given was that the time in the morning effectively belongs to yourself.

Considering that there’s limited things which I could do after I get home after work, for the fact that I’m just too tired to do anything more productive, I was really eager to give this “rising early” habit a try.

The final target was to wake up at 5am. After all, I am already waking up at 6.30am every other day, what’s so difficult about waking up that early? While I was schooling, waking up at 5.45am is a really common thing to do.

I set an immediate target to wake up at 6am consistently, including weekends, for the next two weeks by winding back my alarm by 2 minutes daily. I will also push myself to sleep earlier at about 10 pm.

And you know it is not going to turn out well.

My body just can’t get used to it! It seems that without the weekends to sleep in till 7.30, without those other days where I just wake up a little bit later and to hit the snooze button, two weeks was all it took to bring my immune system down.

Maybe, I’m growing old.

Maybe, I’m just not meant to wake up that early.

Maybe, I’m living in a place who’s government decide to use the wrong time! Singapore rightfully belongs in the +7 GMT time zone but chooses to align our time with KL, or East Malaysia, or Hong Kong, or Beijing (depending on what your interpretation is). In fact, I’m really already waking up at 5.30am solar time when I wake up at 6.30am! …

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A modified image from Wikipedia on the time zones used in South East Asia. The red arrow shows where Singapore is.

… Maybe, I’m just finding excuses.

at EASE with myself

2014 was empowering. 2013 was terrific. 2012 was a turning point. 2011 was frustrating. 2010 was busy. 2009 was lost. 2008 was refreshing. 2007 was… whatever

As we walked into 2015, I just want to shout it out loud to everyone that I never felt so at ease with myself and I enjoyed being myself before.

Two major influences, the gang at LusiGroup (see photo below) and Dr Brené Brown. I’m lucky to have found not one but two important studies? knowledge pool? a scripture or bible to living? (is there even a name for such treasure?) within this lifetime. Of course, I’m not discounting all the other life’s little experiences, happy ones and tragic ones alike which have taught me about something in one way or another.

Sometimes, I wished that I’ve found this earlier but I guess better late than never. Or maybe if it’s introduced a tad too early I might not have mature enough to accept the gold. Whatever it is, I wouldn’t trade my past for what I am today.

Lusi Group Christmas 2013

Christmas with the folks @ LusiGroup in 2013. Had to miss out the 2014’s as I was out of town~

Guess that a simple thank you would not be sufficient.

I’ll pay it forward somehow eh?

Happy New Year everyone~

‘The Meaning of Life’ Project by BeautifulOutlaws

A similar post on BeautifulOutlaws can be found here.

 

BeautifulOutlaws approached me recently with a set of life intriguing questions. I thought that today is the appropriate moment to answer the questions. I guess it is also a chance to test if I could indeed bare my soul and allow myself be seen nakedly.

Note: I took more than two weeks trying to answer these questions. On second thoughts, “today” is not a good description after all.

(1) What is the meaning of life to you, and why are you here in this world?

Meaning of life (noun): the purpose of life. Something that you cannot live without because without it, you will be living your life aimlessly. I believe that this meaning of life should be pretty constant throughout one’s life, unless one is faced with a crisis that completely changes him.

With that, I guess it is different from passion too because passion may change from time to time. Underneath all the passions that I have and the confusion of what I like to do, one thing that says pretty constant would be breakthroughs.

I live for breakthroughs.

But I don’t think the meaning of life is just about breakthroughs as that would have been reductive. I believe, what I am aiming for in breakthroughs are the ones that can make a difference to the human kind. Majority of my “breakthroughs” so far has to deal with the arts and how we should live as fellow human beings, which is pretty strange for me I guess as I am supposed to be an engineer by training. I guess this also answers the second question on why I think I am in this world for.

(2) What do you hold dear to your heart

Personally, two things, Sanity, Creativity

I’m not sure if I can be what I am today without a tinge of sanity. I don’t fear growing old I guess but I do fear growing insane. The thought of losing my sanity scares me.

Creativity is the part which keeps me daring to try new things. It is the part of me that keeps life interesting. It is the part of me which makes me grow as a person.

(3) What are your dreams and aspirations, however silly you think they may be? (Places to go, things to see, stuff to do.)

These are written down as my personal manifesto which can be found here: https://cfnsa.wordpress.com/my-personal-manifesto/

(4) In what areas in your life do you feel you are inadequate and wish to change?

I find it difficult at times to engage with people at their heart. I do try my best to practice empathy, putting myself in others’ shoes although a lot of times, I couldn’t help it but to think with my head than feel with my heart. Even empathy feels sort of like it is logically analysed and deduced rather than felt.

I also find a need to be affirmed by others to know if I am doing things right. Sometimes I wish I should just stop holding back, hack societal norms and just believe in myself a little bit more. I guess this is the part of me where I try to avoid conflicts: I largely try to avoid it unless it is against my conscious or my principles.

(5) Who/What are the people/experiences in your past that was life changing.

Way too many to name! To answer this, there is a need to delve into quite a bit of my history which for the most part, I am willing to share but it can develop into a TL;DR very quickly.

A summarised version of this will be that I was a negative,  insecure and anti-social boy up till the point when I entered service with the Navy and my life changed ever since. From there on, I tried to create different opportunities and different experiences to develop myself as a person and every “experience” opportuntiy which I have grabbed and every person whom I have met was part of the grand life changing experience.

So what I’m going to do instead, is to dedicate this part of the answer to those who have (1) accepted me as that negative,  insecure and anti-social boy as whom he was and (2) those who are still shaping and changing my life now.

For (1), first and foremost, it has to be my family. There was the first person whom I can truly consider as my friend, my current group of best friends, especially YM and LS, and there are four very special officers from the Navy, Jeffrey, Ivan, Ah Chua and Colonel Low (whom I’m very sure he has already risen a few ranks above at this moment). Of course, there are many others too.

As for (2), this gets really tricky as that could mean many many many people and experiences. This is another TL:DR list. If I am forced to choose five, it will have to be Lusi Lim, Brene Brown, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (the book), Toastmasters and Running events during my varsity days.

 

Thank you for making me who I am today.

(6) What will you miss/regret most when you’re on your dying bed?

To be held back by societal norms. (see answer to Question 4)

(7) What is Love?

“Baby, don’t hurt me”

Kidding.

I haven’t given this a serious thought before but I supposed love is when there is acceptance when you are yourself and when you care no matter how terrible things can get.

(8) If everything in this world freezes in time for an hour except you, and every human’s mind is under your control for that hour. What would you do?

I think I will not do anything. I’m a believer that I should not do anything unto others that I do not want others to do unto me. By the time I struggled through my integrity check, centuries would probably have passed and I will missed that opportunity so in short, nothing.

The Road Not Taken

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The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There are a million and one things on my mind and a million and one things I really wished to rant about. Three years ago, I would probably just rant. Today, I found the issues on my mind not just difficult to express, but probably beyond what the rich English language could describe.

The above poem appeared in my graduation yearbook beside a large photograph of myself. As I consulted the Google God regarding this piece of work, I realised that it is one of the most misinterpreted poem and a strange selection to put on a graduation yearbook. Here is one analysis I probably can agree with for about 80% and expresses my state of mind, right now.

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Many times in life I felt lost and aimless. When I was searching for myself six years ago in 2009 (and boy it was a long search; it took three years!), I promised myself not to be lost again when I found myself, to remain focus on my life goals. Sad to say, I believe I’m in danger of coming to another one at this moment.

This time round, the “lost and aimless” was a bit different though. While I am still focused about my teaching job which brought me a lot of joy and personal growth, I felt worn out doing all the other stuff, losing track of why the hell I am so busy with everything else. I am not sure if I enjoyed being so busy. I felt that I also lose a lot more being so busy with everything. For one, I lost my ability to make music. I am in the school band since Primary 2 and I compose my own music as young as Secondary 3. To say that I lose the ability to make music is a very big lost to me. I felt my skills in Japanese are draining away from me. I’m not sure if I felt as close to my family and my friends. And there are so much more things which I wanted to learn like motorbiking and Malay, but it seems that I’m all out of time.

As Robert Frost aptly puts it, now I wonder if I’m regretting not taking the road that was not taken.

My teacher used to tell me that life gets harder with every step. So the truth is no matter which path I have taken, this journey is still a personal one and neither one of it is less traveled. Even if I chose the road that is not taken, challenges would have been there waiting for me. Hence:

 
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

 

I’m worn out, I’m really worn out. But I am also what I am today because of the path I’ve chosen. And I’m thankful for it. 🙂