Glad

I am very glad with the way things turned out. I guess most people might find it foolish, to welcome this with glad exultation rather than an obliging acceptance, and I cannot really explain it either. Perhaps the very anticipation of what is to come is what gladdens me, like seeing a wrapped present under the Christmas tree, or the budding of a flower that will bloom in glory come spring. Yet I believe that it is more than that. I believe that this arrangement of patience in itself contains an obscure beauty about it, which lends everything a certain depth, a certain pleasant weight.

So even though so many things are still uncertain and the path ahead is unclear, I am hopeful, and I am joyful. It is enough to see vaguely far ahead to where this leads to, and to see right before me what my next step is.

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Defining

So someone recently asked me: What are 5 things which define you? It was such a huge question that warrants so much thought that by the time I finished my third, we had ran out of time. It was an interesting thing to think about nonetheless, so I shall note down my 5 things here. In a particular order:

 

1. Christ

Needless to say, the number one thing which defines who I am is Christ. I am a Christian first before anything else, and that directs every area of my life. There is no secular-sacred divide, no divorce between relationships, academics, family, and my faith. I am a child of God, and a brother of Christ.

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

– 1 Peter 2:9

 

2. People

Second to my relationship with Christ, are my relationships with others. I am a highly relational person – not in the sense of needing a lot of people in my life, but I value the few close relationships that I have. I value the trust, intimacy, and loyalty that comes with such relationships, and would devote much time and effort to maintain and nurture them. Superficial friendships bore me and I require depth – the sharing of sorrows and joys, of encouragement and admonishment, of peace and anxiety, of life. Each close friend is unique, and I love them with my life.

The strengths that arise from this include strong emotional depth and intimacy in my relationships, which are healthy things to have in life. It is hard to give any objective positive points since I am this way because I enjoy the results that it brings. However, it does lend to a higher propensity to be dependent on people, to give too much, and to expect too much. These tendencies however, have been tempered.

 

3. Writing

I see myself as a writer. This does not mean that I let my writing define who I am. Rather, writing brings with it a whole set of lens and filters with which to take in the world. You see things differently; melodrama aside, you see beauty in the mundane, poetry in the prosaic. But that’s only when you are in a good mood. When you are down, everything is melancholy, everything is sad. Yet even then, you know there is a certain beauty in it, because you know a sad story is a beautiful one. That is not all. The way I see my life is also an extension of my writing. The need for a grand narrative that makes sense is something which makes me see links, sequences, poetry and chaos in ways that others might not. It drives me to always have an account of my life – my past, present, and future. My life is my ultimate story, filled with metaphors, symbols, parallels, contrasts, and climaxes. I am a writer and a character at the same time.

This is good because everything is poetic. Moreover, the need to string things together gives my life a certain coherence and order, such that I am almost always able to give an account. It allows me pick out things to learn from, to improve upon, to beware of. It makes me sensitive to the direction that my life is taking. Yet on the flip-side, the need to understand and the need for my life to make narrative sense can drive me crazy. An unexplained and inexplicable event can bug me to no end, when I really should let it go like normal people do. Also, I believe when the writer part of me trumps the character part, which it does often, I sometimes end up feeling the need to take a certain course of action that would fit the story, rather than one that I would want as a person.

 

4. Introvert

I am an introvert. Obviously on one plane this refers to me actually being an introvert; I prefer to be observing on the sidelines before interacting with anyone new; I need alone time, to think and to reflect and sometimes just to bum around in my own company. But this can be extrapolated on a deeper level. As with social interaction, I like to observe and think before I get into anything in life, be it a relationship, a certain role, a certain task or something else. In that way, I am rather cautious. And more than just specific periods of alone time, I need space in my own life. Space to pursue what I want, space to make sense of my life. I am basically pretty content to largely be by myself, provided I have the assurance of the stability of my close relationships as avenues for my bouts of social interaction. I suppose you can begin to see the links between 2. and 3., and this. (Don’t get the wrong idea, I really am not a loner, and I actually come into contact with people very often. I usually have no problem with that.)

I value my introversion because I think it is highly important to have alone time. Without it, you cannot reflect, you cannot discern, and you cannot refocus. Sometimes, you cannot even work. I think it is good because people need to be content with their own company. The cautiousness that this extends to also allows me to fully appreciate and understand a situation (or a person) with all its (or his/her) nuances before diving into it (or a relationship with him/her). That way I am always certain of how things are and how I fit in them. Yet of course, avoiding social interaction is always unhealthy for obvious reasons, while being alone with your thoughts too often could be destructive. Also, I have learnt that an over-cautiousness can become cowardice very easily.

 

5. Idealist

I like to put on a front of cynicism, but I really am an idealist at heart. The cynicism is just something trained that I use to temper my idealism from being too unrealistic. So if you really examine the depths of my heart, you will find me to be highly idealistic. I always seem to be rather optimistic about situations I find myself in, and I always like to trust people from the get-go. Ideals such as trust, community, friendship, faith, peace, and harmony, are things I see to be important and attainable. Things are just so much happier when you are an optimist, no? Part of this idealism is of course also expressed in romanticism (with a small ‘r’). Emotions are important, and love will conquer the day. Sounds exaggerated, and it probably is, but I think this is my default state – everything else is me trying to curb it. (Although my view of love is not a very romantic one in the classical sense.) So although in my life situations I am capable of being somewhat realistic and even cynical on the outside, deep down I am holding on to very high ideals.

The good part of this is obviously that I see the good side in most things. It is easy for me to have hope, and to find joy. Even if the world isn’t as great as I believe it to be, at least I feel good thinking that it is. Of course the bad part is that I am often disappointed by situations, and people often don’t meet expectations. Often, I find myself moving too fast and expecting an eventual outcome of good to happen more immediately. Yet the wonderful thing about being an idealist is that even when you are disappointed, it is easy to pick yourself back up again.

 

There you have it. The writing isn’t great, but I am sick. So deal with it. Perhaps as I think more certain items might be replaced, or expanded, or altered. Though number one is definitely right there at the top.

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“Listlessly Anthony dropped into a chair, his mind tired – tired with nothing, tired with everything, with the world’s weight he had never chosen to bear. He was ineffectual and vaguely helpless here as he had always been. One of those personalities who, in spite of all their words, are inarticulate, he seemed to have inherited only the vast tradition of human failure – that, and the sense of death.”

The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I felt my body suddenly grow weaker, as if drained of all energy. My heart sank, weighed down by a heavy blanket of sorrow. My face remained calm, hiding the despair within. Yet the question kept rising in my mind, “What if?” And all at once I realised with horror the amount of hope I had placed in this, and how reliant I was on this hope to keep me going.

Aside

It saddens me to realise that the last post was some 3 weeks ago. I guess it is only natural that of all my avenues of writing this would be the first to go once I get busy – after all writing for self comes before writing for others.

Anyway, I have recently decided to observe my surroundings more intentionally, as an aid to my writing. I have resolved to try to put anything worthy of note into words, and to write these words down if they seem useful. Here was my first observation today:

“The baby screamed, his face turning into a horrible grimace of protest against the world, against this metal carriage which held him and everyone inside. The cry echoed loudly in the close confines, drowning out even the loud hum of the moving train. I looked at him, saw his wet pink gums through his open orifice. It was unsettling, looking at a mouth with almost no teeth. Then suddenly it closed, and he fell silent. His face faded back into a emotionless blank, as if wearied by the exertion of his outburst. He blinked, and raised his small infant hands to wipe his eyes. It was a gesture that seemed too adult for such a small babe.”

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