Raw Passage: Your Storied Life

Raw Passage: Your Storied Life

Your life is a story. A clutter of seemingly random events. You look back to highlight certain moments in your book of life that are vital, significant to the main plot. You trace each thread back to their origins, where you think is it’s beginning, finding omens, signs and ironies dispersed along the way. Until it all feels inevitable, and you think your life makes sense. You already know how this story is going to end but you’re still eager to jump ahead dying to know what happens next. And then, you realize that there are times when you look up and recognize that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

You thought you were meticulously following the arch of your story. You keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t, can’t comprehend. Either something seems important or nothing at all. It’s just a mess of moments that doesn’t seem to belong in the same genus. It keeps changing on what you pick to highlight. What kind of story is this? Is it just another coming of age tale? Is it the same one your parents told you about but with the names switched around? Is your everyday life part of an origin story that’s truly classic? Or are you unwittingly getting by from people’s goodwill? Just mistaking your own dumb luck with unexpected success. Are you a character in a romance? A tragedy in a play? A travel log full of self-discovery? Or just another ordinary cautionary tale? Are you on a cusp of a heart-breaking twist? Is this the best it’s ever going to be?

As you flick through the years, you may never know where it’s all going. The only thing you know is there is more to this story. Soon enough, you’ll flip back to this day looking for inklings and clues of what’s to come. You re-read all the chapters and sub-chapters you skimmed through to get to the good parts. It’s always a bad habit you’ve have had in your storied life. Only to discover that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.

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.

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.

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.