Raw Passage: The 42.195K

Raw Passage: The 42.195K

21K – He doesn’t know what beach this is, but he feels he should know it. Since it’s an urban jungle, it is the first coastline and green trees he finally gets to see. The sea, well it smells putrid. Maybe it was just the ‘right place, wrong time’ sort of thing for the runner. The fine sand is getting into his shoes, but it doesn’t bother him. Though, the old women practicing their early morning Tai Chi seems to be exasperating him. Nature’s supposed to evoke emotions, but it’s not working for the runner.

25K – Just when all hope is lost and he’s thinking of walking, he finds himself a pacer, and he has a feeling he is hers too. They both swiftly gazed at each other psychically signally that this is mutual. Just when it was about to become uneventful, just when the smell of the foul sea (which oddly got a lot of people running!) was disappearing, the blond-haired runner becomes the unexpected pacer.

30K – He ran together with the pacer for 5 km now. They’re at the race circuit, and got to see the wall of fame of the F1 drivers. Each face showing a smug, a sign of triumph. Now that the sun was truly up, the hazardous heat was getting the better of the runner. But up ahead, lo and behold, a contraption that rained mist. “Thank the holy heavens!” he said. The runner playfully calls it the “Mist of Justice”. When you’ve run about 30K, you’d need to be that playful to get your spirits up and going.

35K – He knows the face of every runner, it’s familiar, it’s the face of hunger. He can hear their stomach rumble and grumble. He can hear them scream “raw chocolate cake!” He shushes his own. He hears that his pacer’s hungry too.

Food is getting closer.

40K – He now sees everything. Every runner’s here for a reason: to find strength, to overcome their demons, to find peace of mind, to earn redemption, to tempt insanity, to feel euphoria, to med back their hearts. He is here for those reasons too.

We’re almost there.

42K – Closing towards the finish line, he sprinted with the pacer. She ran faster, he ran faster. She swung her arms more emphatic, he swung his too. She stomped her feet louder, he stomped his too. So, the question finally looms, “who’s going to finish first?”

She did.

Personal: A Dream

Personal: A Dream

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau.

I don’t usually get personal on my blog. It’s intended to be a place for my existential thoughts and creative writings. But this seems like a story (or dream) worth sharing. Months ago, I had a very foreshadowing dream.

In this dream, I sat beside an old woman, a face that I do not recognize. She rudely commented on my hair, “You need to cut it now! Right now!” while pulling on it from the back. I replied to her politely, “If I may, you are being extremely rude. Don’t worry, I will. I’ve been meaning to anyways. Perhaps, tomorrow or the day after when I have the time.” She just looked at me and smiled in agreement. And then, I woke up.

This must’ve been the most vivid dream I’ve had in ages! So, I was eager to read on this and interpret it right away. There are three key elements here: the old woman, our interaction and wanting to cut my hair. Firstly, I’ve read that the old woman represents wisdom and the desire to seek your inner voice. She represents my best interest and it would be wise to listen to her.

Secondly, my interaction with her represent what I needed to do in the waking world – or essentially, how to handle myself. While she asked for change immediately, I responded calmly and asked for patience. I was still waiting for the final pieces to complete my final puzzle. My calmness showed how I was willing and quite confidently wait for things to come to be. Now, I realized that wait was to see me leave behind my business in my final months and finally solely focus on my academic pursuits.

Finally, I’ve also read that wanting to cut your hair meant that you are going through a lot of stuff and you are ready to move on from it entirely. Usually, when you have a dream like this it is in the aftermath of having just gone through something traumatic. By cutting your own hair, you are trying to change yourself on the outside as a reflection of how you’ve changed on the inside. I think it’s abundantly clear that when you go through something so extreme in your life, you become a new person afterwards. You’ll find that you’ve grown, experienced something deeper and meaningful that has made you who you are now.

The next day, I did cut my hair. And on that very day, I finally acknowledged that I was now a different person, inside and out. I felt and looked different. I could not recognize my former self nor do I ever want to be him ever again. Though, I’ve learned plenty from the harsh lessons. As I fully embraced the change, I forgave myself. When I do look back, I would smile in appreciation. I know now that I’ve become the person that I’m meant to be. When I look at the mirror, I see a matured and well-adjusted person who’s ready to answer to his life’s calling and take on the world. I’ve grown, and will continue to grow.

While it was all business, coming back from Cambodia felt like another watershed moment, and I’ve taken the opportunity to plan the next 16 months. I’ve planned an exciting future from marathons to backpacking trips to hours of intellectual writing. I’ve put real challenges in front of me.

I’m ready to take on new adventures ahead. I’m ready to live the life I’ve imagined.

Raw Passage: The Open Office

Raw Passage: The Open Office

The open office can become a constructor of identity. It is what philosopher Michel Foucault calls ‘heterotopia’. A concept in human geography to describe places and spaces that functions in non-hegemonic conditions. Places and spaces that possess no authority or domination over others. Places and spaces that offer you an important philosophy, it proposes true choices.

These leaderless places and spaces are a comprehensive web of many themes: happiness, sadness, loneliness, voyeurism, compassion, melancholy, inclusiveness and even exclusiveness and many other complex leitmotifs. Because of this, your identity changes; never in a state of stand still.

You cannot stay in one place or space nor is it is recommendable. So you move from table to table, chair to chair, space to space. Consequently, you change from one identity to another. While your micro-movements are always subtle and uninformed, they are always with purpose and choice.

A choice in the open office can bring the virtuous and unscrupulous behaviors to its occupiers. Your place and space can become a small suffocating island. You can become lazy, careless. Cue, a Peter Gibbon quote. You can be utterly pre-occupied with yourself in unhelpful ways, if you decide to. You can place yourself in constant drama in your head: collisions, swirls and frictions. Human life becomes frustrating. You would begin to remember the agitation of the here and now. As aforementioned, depressive themes can arise in your place and space. Everything becomes unearthed from the darkness and deviously focused. Are you now a poison to others? Are you just prancing and finding ways to stay afloat in the politics of the office?

Choices are important in the open office. You can make the ultimate choice for the open office to be a haven of chaotic order. It can be where your heart is when you truly accept and respect its powerful enigmatic quality. You can finally discover your great potential, create creative cosmoses, impress humankind through kindness and ultimately, grow. You can start to entangle nodded feelings and ideas. Like Andrew Carnegie once said, “my heart is in the work”. It is our true hearts that can bring insight and light when you make the right choices.

One should not call for optimistic or pessimistic reading of the open office. But to admit that it offers you and everyone in it, true choices. Choices of becoming a Gibbon or a Carnegie. Choices that would mend you or break you. Choice that would have you stand in the light or hide in the darkness. Once you do this, not only that it offers physical health but as importantly, sanity. You will finally and greatly make progress with yourself.

The Stranger

The Stranger

He is an undeserving prisoner of a very broken reality. The stranger cannot accept any standard answers of why they are the way they are. He sees hypocrisy and sentimentality everywhere and cannot overlook it. The stranger is an individual who cannot accept the explanations that is normally given to him to explain about the workplace, educational system, religion, family, relationships and the mechanism of governments.

The stranger comes from a place that creates only first world problems. One can live a life ever so unspectacular and be so ignorantly blissful. But the stranger chooses to stands outside of the bourgeois life; highly critical of materialism, it’s pinched morality and narrow concerns of money. Clearly, the stranger could have had a more privileged life. Ultimately, the life we all live is a superficial game and he refuses to play it. But for how long? He is a constant wanderer.

In the most extreme way of thinking, the stranger has once thought that we may just be biological matter that is spinning senselessly on a tiny rock in a corner of an indifferent universe. The stranger has (for a very long time now) concluded that life and the people around him can be hollow and even insincere. He has met men and women with many faces. All the while, realizes that the mask he wears is one as well.

While our lives can be absurd in the grandest of schemes, the stranger has seen light in the end of a very hollow tunnel. He resist utter hopelessness or nihilism and argues that we have to live with a knowledge that what we do will be utter futile; soon forgotten and our species irredeemably corrupt and violent. And yet, we should endure nevertheless. The stranger reminds us we should cope as well as can while accepting this absurd background. Even, triumph over the constant possibility of hopelessness. That is his purpose in this world.

Perhaps, there is a stranger in all of us. A stranger who pretends to be a part of the fabric of society but in reality, walks alone. The stranger reminds everyone that life can be worth enduring. And in turn, he lives life with full of intensity and wisdom. Once an individual realizes that life is absurd, one will perhaps be on the verge of despair. The stranger would otherwise live life more intensely; ever so committed to it’s pleasures. The stranger sees life as a lucid invitation to create beautiful things in the midst of bleakness. He is a great champion of the warmth of the sun, freshness of the clear waters, the richness of cultures and the gorgeous bodies of beautiful beings. The stranger’s philosophy: it is okay to feel that everything is a little hopeless but still live life delightfully and perhaps ironically.

Inspired by the works of Albert Camus.

Raw Passage: Our Grief

Raw Passage: Our Grief

Who knows how long I have been awake now. My mental aches are showing. Since the new year, I have been in grief. I dare not say the reasons. I may be misunderstood in ways, unimaginable. At first, it felt like a small disaster. After a while, it grew into a world-wind of thoughts and anxieties crashing down. Perhaps, my grief is a form of revenge of the many ideas I’ve pushed away. I find that my grief is not unique; it is felt by many through their own respective reasons.

There is an ultimate insight to this collective feeling: we must learn to let it take its course. During this time, I am certain crucial things we have to think about will bubble into consciousness. We will start to think about truths, ideas, perspectives, appreciations and so on. This matters intensely to our self-understanding and development. What I’ve learn so far from my grief is that, it is a chance to return to a bigger duty: to ourselves.

What we think about during our grief would sound so absurd to so many people. This is because we are needed in a certain way. We are needed to be leaders, family members, company men, bureaucrats, a good friend and so on. Our instincts won’t allow us to let them down. But their expectations have choked off important expects of who we are. Our grief becomes an opportunity to look beyond their expectations.

Now, we should dare to investigate the big questions we normally push away which had manifested itself in past thoughts and anxieties. We start to untangle feelings and ideas. Perhaps, it’s time to look into those ideas we’ve had for so long. Our grief will allow us time to get ourselves together. Our grief can become a friend to the slow process of growth.  Our grief will allow us to grow to a more complete selves. Our lesson? We shouldn’t be in such a rush to escape it.

Raw Passage: The Cafe

Raw Passage: The Cafe

The cafe is an early riser as it starts to operate while the world is still asleep. Four in the morning seems too early, even for the birds to wake and carry out their worm hunts. Chairs are put down and tables wiped. Curtains are pulled up so hastily while the first batch of coffee beans is brewed. Making coffee is almost mundane to the unwise but crucial to others. There is a secret in coffee machines, an untold narrative. The hidden world of technicians that made it possible: the thin metal tube fashioned somewhere in industrial Japan, the tiny filter from neighboring South Korea and the pot crafted steadily from a much farther place in exotic Brazil. There is a process, almost an art, that I don’t quite understand. Or at least, unable to comprehend just yet. Perhaps, I belong to the mundane? Still, unwise. But what I do know is that what it produces carries mass parts of the nation’s needs.

As youngsters, we can be curious and careless in our free thought. Now, we take the coffee into stronger consideration of its importance in our daily rituals. When we consume it at the cafe, we start to think about ideas, associations and feelings. Drinking it is an unexpected tool for thinking. We are readier to forgive, to feel love and to dare to hope again. With the songs playing in the background, we can experience extraordinary sounds and symphonies. The songs are usually random. So, we create different worlds for every different songs played. And we accept these worlds like we’ve been living in each of them for a short happy time. Nostalgia catches us like flu.

In the cafe, it is easier to love humanity. Everyone is a stranger here. We can guess the sorrows or happiness that brought them to this place. A student who struggles to memorize a hypothesis for an upcoming exam. A disappointed participant in a meeting regrettably arranged online. A conversationalist strutting her skills in speech for her peers. The sadness and sorrow is not necessarily depressing. Everyone is a little broken. The loneliness we carry about inside us meets with others and is redeemed. Meanwhile, the smiles and happiness we portray becomes an inspiration. Throughout the day, the cafe selflessly continues its task to help us to return to ourselves. Until, the chairs are put back up again for tomorrow. And the following days that come after.