Writing under the shade of a tree

Right now I’m using my break to sit and write under the shade of this big tree. I only have 15 minutes to finish this post before I have to return back to work. So I’ve got to hurry.

Why am I writing under a tree?

Before my office moved to the other end of the street, I used to do my personal writing at the library, during lunch time. Now that I’ve moved further away from the library, I’ve been scrounging around for neat little places to sit down and write.

Sometimes it’s impossible to find the energy to write after work, so I try to write throughout the day, in bits of time between my working hours.

Finding the perfect space to write

Nothing can replace the feel of a nice, soft spot in the library, but if you have no choice but to sit outside and write, then find somewhere that’s partially private.

Writing delves into the subconscious, and if you’re one of those people who can’t think when people are staring at you, then a nice shaded area, dense with trees, is the perfect place to write.

I want to write more but I have to go back to work. I’ll be here again, making use of this private writing spot. I hope to spend more of this time working on my novel.

 

 

 

Wandering without a religion

People always find it strange when I tell them that I don’t have a religion, as if I should’ve been born with one, like the hair on my head, or the skin on my back.

All I can say to them is that I never came with one. My parents aren’t religious, but they’re not atheists either. I always have to add in this last part as if not being religious automatically classifies us in opposition with whatever religion people believe in.

But from time to time, when I feel lost and out of my element, I have yearned for the guidance and support that people in community groups receive.

And the question that sometimes springs to my head is: How do I belong? Where do I belong if I don’t belong there?

Over time I have discovered that I belong in libraries and bookshops, in the comfort of an author’s words. Whenever I need guidance, I turn to books for advice and in them I find solace.

Who’s to say that reading isn’t a religion in itself, when it’s brought me great purpose and taught me how to have an open mind?

Wandering alone in the dark, I found my religion in their words.

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to them: To find words for what we already know. ~Alberto Manguel.

Is anybody still awake?

It’s 3 am on New Year’s day, and I’ve just opened up my time capsule. The sky is dark and I’m all alone in my new house. My friends have left and my sister is still out, so I’m curled up in bed reading my last year’s New Year’s resolutions. It’s funny how the air inside the time capsule smells like last year’s air freshener.

These were my new year’s resolutions for 2018:

  1. Write a book
  2. Open myself up to love and friendships.

Just these two things. Pretty simple, but they make up a huge part of who I am, the kind of person I want to be and what makes me happy.

So did I accomplish these resolutions?

Writing a book—I have written a story, a very basic draft outline, but I haven’t filled in the missing bits yet. The story is still in my diary and I aim to complete what I haven’t finished this year. So no, I haven’t completed this resolution.

Opening myself up to love and friendships—This one has always been a hard one for me. I tend to like my own space and I have to consciously remind myself to make an effort to hang out with friends. Last year there were so many ups and downs, I have strengthened new friendships and then loosened my grip on them. Opening myself up to people is a continuous process, I just hope that my friends are patient enough to wait for me.

I have realised that 2018 was all about setting up my goals, rather than finishing them. I try to set up goals that are worth spending a lifetime trying for, so that it’s a continuous process of change.

But I’m going to add something different this year. Not only am I going to write down my New Year’s resolutions for 2019, I’m also going to create a plan for how I’m going to achieve it. And I already have an idea.

Right now, I need to sleep. I have to wake up early in the morning and go to my grandparents because we are making New Year’s dumplings. It is now 4.00am.

Is anybody else still awake?

A letter to the universe

At some point in my life, I began collecting diaries. I believed that if I wrote down the things that I wanted to achieve, then I’d be putting my thoughts out to the universe and somehow they would come true. It was like writing a letter to the universe. That’s why I own 30 diaries and counting.

But when the universe was busy reading someone else’s letter, I grew complacent and made a few mistakes. It all began when I started daydreaming about becoming a writer. I’d spend evenings working on my writing skills and mornings working on work. I thought I had a good balance going, but then came the big complaint at work.

An email came through just as I was about to go home. A few words in and my heart sank. Disappointing, she had commented. For the next few days, everyone tried to find out how I had made those mistakes. Stupid, really, it was just a lack of common sense. But it had a domino effect. Every small mistake I made was now viewed as a big mistake. I didn’t even trust myself anymore.

That was when a friend invited me along to a science conference by Michio Kaku. I’d never heard of him before, but I thought I’d give it a go. I was glad to spend my thoughts away from my mistakes and enjoy being in the company of my good friend.

Michio Kaku looked like a Japanese Einstein. He had the iconic, shoulder-length white hair and he was no doubt, just as smart. He talked about all these big ideas: the universe, string theory, Elon Musk’s BFR and the future of mankind. A little stab of panic rose in my chest. Was everyone this smart?

When he opened the floor for questions, the intelligence in the room was overpowering. “What happens when muons bend and time slows down? What happens to the junk in space? Can we download our data into avatars, and what is a soul?” were just some of the big questions directed at the mighty scientist.

Somehow, someone in the audience struck up the courage to ask Dr. Kaku a ‘slightly unrelated science question’: “Dr. Kaku, how did you sustain your passion long enough to carve out a great career?”

This peaked my interest, because I thought it had some relevance to my life.

The mighty scientist seemed to love this question. He himself had asked it many times before, to the 300 scientists he’d interviewed on his radio station. He began by telling us about the ten year old story.

He said that all successful scientists began with the ten year old story. It was the age when they received their first telescope and saw the night sky for the first time. They remembered the feeling of joy at seeing something so vast right before their eyes. Remembering the joy, was what sustained their passion throughout their career.

At the end of the talk, my friend turned to me and said, “See, you don’t need to have common sense to be successful.”

I nodded. Three hundred scientists can back up his sentiments.

The thing is, I keep trying to be like someone else, but in the end I always fall back into myself. Like stars collapsing in the universe, that’s when we shine the brightest.

Writing under the full moon

Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival. The moon is supposed to be at its fullest, but its been raining, so we can’t see it.

It’s a great time to finish the short story that I’ve been writing, the one about my Grandfather.

When I get home from work, the table is already laid out with roast duck, pork rib soup, and The Ant Noodle (the name my dad came up for a dish he’s made since I was a child.) There is a festive vibe in the air that reminds me of family, that’s why it’s a good day to write about my grandfather.

After dinner, I have a conversation with my mum about my writing dreams, conversations I’m getting more comfortable talking about in front of my family.

I tell her I’ve saved up enough money to work part-time so that I can focus on my writing. I write almost everyday, but I haven’t made substantial growth, because of time itself.

Still, my mum says that I’m not ready.

Sometimes I just want to take a leap of faith and deal with whatever comes my way, but I’m a little too sensible for that.

I feel like the moon tonight, covered, when it should be full and brilliant.

Call of the wild

A few months ago, I had the most epic apocalyptic dream:

I was vacationing on an island, with my mum, dad, and sister, when a huge tsunami swept everyone away, leaving only my sister and I clinging onto the balcony of our hotel.

When we looked around, we saw a giant crocodile statue wrapped around the entire hotel building.

Except that it wasn’t a statue, it was a real crocodile.

And it wasn’t just any crocodile, it was a giant, prehistoric crocodile.

So my sister and I made our way slowly down the building, trying not to disturb the beast, when we noticed something interesting.

Tucked away underneath the foot of the crocodile was an old box. We opened it and found an old casette player and a tape inside, so we played it.

A man’s voice crackled:

“Mayday! Mayday! This is M.C. Mcdonell. I’m on an island, and there’s been a huge tsunami. I’m the only known survivor and there’s a giant crocodile wrapped around the hotel-”

The tape stopped playing.

We all stared at each other.

“You mean to say,” my sister said, “that this has happened before?”

“I’m afraid it’s happening again.”

And that was the end of my dream. I really wanted to know what happened next, but I woke up and never got to finish dreaming.

So I went on a dig down at the library to satisfy my longing for that dream-like apocalyptic feeling.

And there, right in front of me was an old classic, rewrapped and rebound in new. I’d never read the book before, but there was an image of a prehistoric beast rearing its head on the front cover.

It reminded me of those old adventure movies I used to watch, like Indiana Jones, and The Mummy, and it had the faint whiff of my dream, so I stood there in the middle of the library, reading the first few pages:

For it is only when a man goes out into the world, with the thought that there are heroisms all round him… that he breaks away from the life he knows…and ventures forth into the twilight mystic land where lie the great adventures and rewards.

Which is why, in following the author’s advice, I ventured out, or rather, up, onto a mountain, 50 metres above ground, with Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World in my mind.

So next time if you have a dream, answer the call of your dream. It might lead you to discover one more awesome book and if you’re willing to follow it, it might lead you to the next part of your adventure.