defragment.me

Why voting for the opposition means a lot to me

I've been trying to express my views on twitter but I guess that micro-format doesn't put my words in context and it makes me seem like I'm so insecure, xenophobic person.

If you know me personally as a friend, u'll know this to be untrue. I cannot be proud of much but I am definitely one of those who will actually speak up for our foreign workers and talent. I certainly don't like picking on people based on stereotypes and the country they come from. To me, it is very simple, don't do to people what you don't wish to be done to you. I don't like being stereotyped, why should I do the same?

Anyway, I will clarify my position once and for all, and hopefully, those people who care enough will read.

1. I don't have issues with foreigners.

We are all immigrants. How many of us can claim to have aboriginal ancestors? Perhaps I do think the population number needs to be managed, but that's because Singapore is feeling like it is about to burst its seams any moment.

2. The education of our youth

The reason why we depend a lot (I mean, a lot) on foreign talent, especially in the tech sector, is because there's not many local talents around. If this is true, then why are we not examining why? I'm constantly being asked to refer good independent designers. Oh come on. Why do talented designers go 'freelance' or independent here when the standards of living are so high, and in all seriousness, most clients here do not want to pay for quality? They ask for free pitches and mockups, GeBiz is setting the best example for this. Ask any design agency. How would an independent designer survive here?

In all honesty, if not because I have an international client base, as well as an increasing number of tech startups who are willing to pay for quality (though still rare), I myself wouldn't have survived. In fact, I am having issues trying to afford my rent and pursue my goals at the same time.

I can probably write another 10,000 word essay on education, but I don't want to dilute the points I am trying to make here. However, it is a fact that we're encouraged to have a herd mentality from young. We're taught to pride academic success. We're conditioned into thinking that having money and security is more important than anything else. So, can anybody tell me why we have a lack of talent here? It all stems down from the roots, isn't it?

3. The Internal Security Act

Along with many other people, I was not aware of how unjust this was until very recently. I am appalled. I am also upset that we were deprived this part of Singapore's history. Why? Google "Operation Spectrum".

‎"You dun care because you dun have friends who were imprisoned without trial for doing social work and helping the poor,” I replied. “You dun have friends who cannot come home to Singapore, you dun have friends who were made bankrupt and had their lives destroyed by the PAP government.” (source)

4. Public Housing

Okay, being pragmatic. I don't expect Singapore's property prices to be affordable because we really don't have much land. That's fine. I can accept that because I am unmarried, I have to work harder in order to either purchase my own resale HDB flat when I am 35, or expensive private property. But I cannot accept Public Housing prices being pegged to market prices because public housing are precisely for people who cannot afford property otherwise. I can't help but think, what are they trying to achieve here? Make people work very hard so that they cannot do anything else?

5. Ministers' Salaries

I don't feel comfortable when I found out *all* our ministers earn at least 1.57m, more than Barack Obama, who has to take shit on a per-minute basis. But I can perhaps learn to accept that if this is what it takes to have a non-corrupt government. What I cannot accept, is there are tons of under-performing ministers drawing that sort of salaries! They want to compare our ministers to CEOs, sure. CEOs definitely have to justify their performances to the board. Who do our ministers justify themselves to? They all belong to one party and I cannot help but feel like they're all shielding each other. Even the ones who don't perform. Can you imagine that happening in a proper board? This may as well be a family-run business!

6. GRCs

Redrawing boundaries to dilute the opposition is just not cool. Why can't we just have a fairfight? If the PAP are truly capable, why do they have to resort to such tactics?

7. State of animal welfare

If you are into animal welfare in Singapore, you'll know there isn't much effort from the government. Then again, they're deemed to be lacking in human welfare, so I guess we can't even talk about animals. I struggle to call us a progressed society.

8. Personal reasons

I would say that growing up here made me depressed and suicidal. And that it is very painful to be not part of the mainstream. It is not funny at all when you're insulted, looked down upon on a frequent basis because of academic non-success. My own mother thought of me as a disappointment. I was not accepted for the child I was. I survived it all, but I wonder, does it have to be this way for other kids like me? And it is not even about being gay. It is not buying into the whole 'Straight As' concept. Why can't our individuality be celebrated? We suppress our kids' individualities, then go proclaim a foreigner's individuality as 'talent'.

This is personal and biased, I am not afraid to say. Perhaps some other kid less emotionally sensitive wouldn't be suicidal, I wouldn't know. But I do know of other young people who have become either detached, or they just try to numb themselves with substance abuse. These are not delinquents, but truly bright minds, albeit emotionally sensitive.

I would also like to add, if not for the horribly inflated housing prices, I would be travelling around the world right now, exposing myself to different cultures and learning as I go along. I would also have more time for the non-profit work I am doing. I just find it difficult to stomach that people with a heart are forced to be concerned over survival when they can be spending their time over more meaningful issues.

I earn a comfortable income, but I am not comfortable at all. I don't even drink and party. 60% of my income (if I work my ass off) goes to rent. If that is the case for me, I shudder to think of the genuinely poor. Three years ago, a small HDB flat would have cost 1.2k to rent. Now it is about 2k and upwards, depending on location. This only intensified during the past two years. Why?

The rich are indeed very comfortable here. The poor are getting poorer. We're performing strongly economically, but the people are suffering.

At what expense, I would like to ask. All for our GDP.

I am not saying that the Opposition will do better. But let's give them a chance before threatening the voters that the value of their flats will become worthless. Can't PAP talk in concrete terms, exactly how they will 'take care of us'? Why do they have to make it sound like we're voting for the mafia? If the Opposition is shit, let time tell. But based on my personal observation in Parliament, I'll take Sylvia Lim, Chiam See Tong, Low Thia Kiang, over 90% of PAP MPs anytime. Most of them don't even bother to debate on national issues. Those who do, get silenced into submission.

As a human being with integrity, it is difficult to support a party that jailed people without trials and sued people into bankruptcy.

Can we have a government who truly cares about the people? That is all I ask for. And not have our leaders think of us like animals. I'll leave you with this quote to chew on:

“I have always thought that humanity was animal-like,” he says. “The Confucian theory was man could be improved, but I’m not sure he can be. He can be trained, he can be disciplined.” - MM Lee (source)

Turning 30

This is the year that I finally woke up from a deep slumber and remembered to be my self.

I have struggled with myself for the past 29 years. Just being myself. I tried to disown the person who was truly me and tried to live like everyone else. I failed. Miserably.

When we were kids, everyone said the key to happiness was having a good education, so I tried to do that for a while.

After we're done with school, they said the key to happiness was to have a good job, so I tried to work towards that for a while.

Then I turned self-employed, they said the only way to be successful at business was to be mercenary like everyone else – I couldn't do that and for years I allowed people to take advantage of that – that too, stuck for a while.

I wondered helplessly at the world. Is there not a place for someone like me? Full of ideals, unwilling to be mercenary, just wanting to be happy. It seemed wrong to want to be happy. It seemed 'selfish' to be pursuing your own dreams. I was labelled unrealistic, delusional, naive.

I couldn't find my place, I couldn't find myself, I struggled to cope with society's demands. The expectations, the bills, the responsibilities. The guilt. The overwhelming guilt that I was not being filial to my parents because I have chosen an unconventional lifestyle and career. That they would have to live with their daughter never being able to 'make it'. I tried to compensate them in my own ways, but I failed miserably.

The picture of my 29 years on earth seems to be summed up in one word. Failure.

I failed to get a good education, failed to hold a good job, failed to be the model daughter my parents wanted, failed in every conventional way possible. Looking back, it was of no surprise that I was suicidal. I wasn't worth a place in society's terms. I didn't seem like I deserve anybody's respect or love. I was nothing.

I am highly emotional and sensitive. I couldn't will myself to do things I didn't want to. I thought of myself weak for being emotional and sensitive. That it upsets me so greatly when I can't work on stuff that I don't enjoy. Or that I seem to feel too much. That my moods change like the wind.

It took my 29 years to realise that, everything that I detested about myself, were actually gifts.

That these gifts allowed me to be the person I truly am. To be very persistent at doing things that I love. To be determined to alleviate my own pain, and in turn, people's pain. That being such a misfit gave me such intense empathy for other minorities. To want to be happy and not settle for anything else. I refuse to compromise. I refuse to think that it is 'okay' to settle for less.

I cannot be otherwise. I can only be me and live my life the way I want to live.

That took me 30 years, and am I blessed that I know this now. To be me and no one else. To have the beliefs I want to have, eat the way I want to, sleep with my own patterns, advocate my own causes, do the things that are meaningful to me.

Nobody can be me. You're not me. Don't tell me what gives my life meaning and purpose. Meaning and value, can only be derived internally. People can put a billion dollar value on me, but it wouldn't matter if I perceive otherwise. Don't tell me what is reality. I define my own reality. Don't bind me to your perceived reality.

I have come a long way. I wouldn't have survived if I didn't believe that happiness is possible. My current lifestyle didn't magically appear by itself. It happened because I believed in it and refused to buy other people's version of reality.

The best decisions of my life, were irrational decisions. The ones that people call crazy or unrealistic.

The best years of my life, are ahead of me. I have tons to look forward to. It took me 30 years to be entirely comfortable in my skin but once it happens, there is no turning back. I have noticed something about myself lately. The more cynicism I face, the more idealistic I want to become.

The world didn't progress because of the cynics, people. It progressed because of people who refused to accept the status quo/reality.

It is great, to be turning 30.

Chronic fatigue

When I first came across Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on the website of a well-known textpattern developer, a light bulb went off in my head. That was a few years ago and it was the first time that I came across a possibility that feeling tired all the time could actually be a medical condition.

This is not the first time I've written about my lack of energy. It is an issue that has persisted all my life. I tried to do some recalling, and I don't remember feeling like I was ever "bursting with energy". I hated physical education back in school, disliked anything that remotely resembled physical activity. My family thought I was just lazy, so eventually I accepted that I was lazy myself. It didn't help that I had chronic insomnia as well, since childhood. So you can see the vicious cycle here.

I think it is very difficult for someone else to understand if they've never experienced chronic fatigue before. It is like having the kind of fatigue you get from flu, except I feel like that permanently. It is actually quite amazing I've gotten anywhere at all. But if someone can help write textpattern suffering from it, I guess I was still able to function, albeit very minimally, with maximum effort.

I wondered what exactly it was that caused me to feel this way. Lack of exercise? Poor diet? Lack of sleep? Stress? Hormonal imbalance? Dysfunctional brain chemistry?

If you look at my astrological birthchart, the lack of energy is very prominent. I have an aries stellium (sun,mars & venus) in the sixth house. The sixth house rules health, in traditional astrology, having any planets or luminaries in the sixth house was considered bad. That's not just it, because I have Pluto opposing the entire stellium. Pluto is considered an oppressive planet in astrology, having that combination just doesn't feel very fun.In other words, I was destined to have issues coping with health and energy. I do believe your chart would never set you up for deliberate failure. Challengers are there to be overcome for different reasons. Similarly, natural gifts can be a curse.

Anyway, imagine my excitement when I came across a tweet by @amyhoy saying that she had felt better after taking some supplements recommended by a doctor who wrote a book named, "From fatigued to fantastic (ebook link)". The title of the book alone is enough to excite me. I am willing to change my diet and do more exercise, but if taking some magic pill was able to have a marked improvement on my energy levels, that would really make a difference to my life.

You have no idea how much time I spend each day trying to talk myself into doing things even though I feel awful. Mentally and spiritually I want to accomplish things, but physically and emotionally I just feel down. Of course I have thought about being born with a brain wired the wrong way and having a biological chemical imbalance, I have thought about the difference medication would make to me, but I don't wish to go down that route and end up like David Foster Wallace.

I used to be pretty bitter about this, because I try so hard to be better and usually it doesn't make much difference.  I feel tired feeling tired, if you know what I mean. I gradually understood why it had to be this way from a spiritual perspective. It forces me to utilise my resources wisely because I was not blessed with that abundance of physical energy others have. I literally cannot waste my life away because I fall sick each time I feel unhappy in any given situation. It makes me understand the fragility of health. I am driven to want to spend every waking, healthy moment meaningfully because I have no idea when I'll go into a mood swing or have a terrible migraine that last for weeks. It gives me empathy for the misunderstood.

Because of my new-found understanding, I have actually sorta given up trying to feel better. I have accepted that this is going to be the way it is and thus designed my life around it. I understand I cannot function like most people, so even the work I take in has to be pretty specific. No rush, no late hours, no extended periods of working, no unreasonable stress. Out of necessity I had to be super selective, and ironically, this increased my happiness quotient exponentially.

If I didn't have physical issues, I guess I would put up with unreasonable requests just to 'survive' in this world. Everybody is working their asses off, so I feel like I should do the same in order to feel sane. But I can't. I got incredibly frustrated trying to 'work my ass off' and falling sick each and every time. Instead, now I am actually noticing an increase in the quality of my work because I am consciously trying to slow things down and paying more attention to details.

Still, despite all the good I get out of being physically weak, I would really welcome a day feeling refreshed and all new when I wake up. I am hoping that since I've had an internal shift, I wouldn't need all those nasty migraines to remind me of my priorities in life. I have a few personal projects going on that are geared towards the community, and it would really be 'nice' to be able to have that energy to move them forward purposefully.

So, I bought the book that @amyhoy recommended, read through half of it, found a magic word "Ribose" (go google it now!). Half of the content of the book were not new concepts. That sleep, diet, hormones, brain function play a huge part in our well-being. I believe CFS is the same as what the TCM practitioners call an imbalance of "qi". Basically it doesn't take much brain work to figure out that if you don't give your body enough rest and nutrients, sooner or later, all the major organs are going to be dysfunctional. I also believe that in the current state of society, it is virtually impossible to get that sort of rest for your over-stressed body to recover naturally (erm, who's going to pay the bills if I go away for a six month sabbatical ;p).

According to the book, a virus infection could cause your hypothalamus to be dysfunctional, hence causing issues to energy production. I happen to have had a super high fever when I was a toddler which I had to be hospitalized, that would very much explain why I never stopped feeling tired even as a child. There could be 101 reasons. It could be biological or genetic. It doesn't matter what reason I guess.

I am going to give the recommended treatments a try, hopefully in a future post I'll be able to document some good progress. ;)

Quake of change

The Japanese quake has shifted everyone's consciousness in different ways to a certain extent. My personal shift took place a couple of weeks before the quake, but it served to emphasize and magnify my shift. I, personally (please assume every word in this entry is my personal p.o.v from this moment onwards), don't think we have seen the last of it. Something in my gut tells me we're in the midst of a major transition on Earth.

A lot has happened in the past year. Apart from the Japanese quake, there was Christchurch, the Brisbane floods, Haiti, *that* oil spill, fish dying everywhere, etc. Even Singapore, the typically organized nation with well-equipped infrastructure were not spared flooding, which was an almost non-event compared to what was happening to the rest of the world. But it was a sign to me nonetheless.

My generation has not witnessed such a frequency of major events. It is not all doom and gloom though, as we are witnessing positive events such as the Middle-eastern uprisings. The astrologers and other 'new-age' people have anticipated these for years.

What we have been accustomed to for the past decades is not sustainable in the long-term. The ecologists, scientists, researchers know. It is a fact that our resources *are* going to run out soon, it is a matter of time. To put in crudely, even if there were no natural disasters, we're on the pathway to self-destruction.

But we're all in denial about it. Our lives carry on as though we live in another dimension. We indulge in ego-boosting pursuits, meaningless power stuggles. I am in no illusion about my personal well-being even though I live in a country free from natural disasters. I am very clear that anything can happen at any point in time, that is why I have made it a personal goal to be more mindful of my choices.

But it still took me almost 30 years of my lifetime to truly realise what it means to lead a purposeful life. There is no point knowing or understanding these concepts intellectually, it is another issue altogether to apply these concepts to my daily life. To be more aware, to have proper priorities, to know what truly matters. I have to gradually wipe away years of conditioning, I don't even think I am 10% done. Yet I am still blessed, because I don't have to be near-death for myself to wake up.

I have no idea what is going to happen in the next one-two years. I don't believe that the world is literally going to end, but I do think there is significant transition that is already taking place now, and we're all going to witness the effects in the next two years. I am not afraid nor worried, I have begun to accept the inevitability of natural cycles. I just hope to be as conscious as possible while making every choice.

I believe there is a silver-lining in every dark cloud and we can now see how a disaster spurs people uniting to a common cause and delivering goodwill with no agenda. I wonder if it would be in this lifetime that I will get to witness people uniting globally and stop the senseless power struggles. We have the means globally to eradicate wars, poverty and other issues that do not have to exist. But we don't bother except for the minority groups championing for their individual causes. We are all intricately linked and in doesn't make logical sense at all to fight for power for the sake of power. What is the point of having people accumulating all that wealth and power when we all die at the end of it? Is it about a place in history? Nobody is going to look back at him/her fondly – wow, the richest person in the world. We don't remember Bill Gates or Steve Jobs because they're one of the richest people in existence. We remember them because they made significant contributions to mankind. Mother Theresa was not wealthy. How about Martin Luther King?

I no longer wish to be all talk and no action. I no longer want to be very uncomfortable at witnessing all the disappointments of this world and yet try to be detached to it. I know I cannot be Mother Theresa. I don't have the energy nor the patience. But I can make a difference in my own little ways. All of us can. If each and everyone of us makes a small little change, the entire collective effort can change the world. Imagine if everyone of us become more conscious of our usage of resources? Perhaps less trees will be cut down, less fish will die, less nuclear plans have to be built. I am not naive nor extreme. I don't think the solution is to stop using resources or to be vegan. But actually to practice moderation and not to waste. Respect the food you're eating, respect the farmers who harvested that grain of rice. Why do we have to wait for disasters to strike before we appreciate what we have?

I have personally come a long way. I was the biggest waster you would know. I would throw away food and will not bother to recycle paper. The tap would be on full blast when I wash my hands. Now, with every single clean drop I use to wash my hands, I remember the people who do not even have water to use, not to mention clean water.

Initially, I made all these changes out of love for my partner, because she hates wastage. She has been through tough times before and it makes her see resources in a vastly different light from my peers. Somehow slowly, though my own self-awareness, empathy, and a short trip in an eco resort in the Philippines, something in me just clicked. I can no longer be the waster I was. I had to use pails of conserved water in that resort. No toilet paper which was really, really difficult for me.

The next time I arrived at a place with water and toilet paper, I knew I was changed forever. Again, I am blessed, because it didn't take a real hardship for me to make this change.

-

I have this inner fear that I will die young, suffer from bad health, or something will just happen to me before I get to do things I really want to do. Now, it is no longer a fear. It is an acceptance that it will be inevitable. Some day. I am not sure when. It could be when I am 80. It doesn't matter, as I have repeated so many times on this blog, as long as on my deathbed, I can be proud of the life I have led.

Previously, I have been waiting for the day I am in a better financial position, because how the hell am I going to do things if I am struggling to survive myself right? I now quote from an article that I have read about Buckminster Fuller, who went bankrupt and took a vow of silence of two years before coming out of it and embarking on numerous amazing projects:

If one attends to the problems of humanity and commits oneself to solving them, the universe will care for that person the same way it cares for a flower or a bird. So he committed himself to working on the bigger tasks of the world on the absolute faith that the universe’s integrity will pay him back.

And it did, for him.

I have made the conscious decision to only work on projects that I truly care about, even for my commercial projects. They will need to serve a function I actually believe in, no matter how small it may be. I will also try to make a headstart on a couple of non-profit community projects that I have put off for the past 2 years, because I was too busy with surviving. I have a few other like-minded individuals with me, and the best part of it is not knowing what is going to happen.

I am still coping to survive, but synchronistically I remembered my primary school motto, "Now or Never".

Ben, and the poor state of animal welfare in Singapore

Ben, one of the four brothers that my dog Turtle has, was special to me. He wasn't as lucky as Turtle to find his own home and had to live in a shelter for most of his life. He passed away last night.

In the middle of my busy work schedule, I couldn't do much to help when he was sick. All I could was to drive him and his people around whenever I could. Last night, it was one of the days that I could spare some time to help – it would be the very last time – I drove his body to be cremated.

Everyone was visibly upset, except me. To me, death itself is not sad. I knew it was a transition, just like birth. I was actually glad that he didn't have to suffer anymore, and he had quite a few of us to send him off.

He was a lucky dog.

Lucky, because he was blessed enough to be cared for and loved by his foster family for 2 months before he passed on. Lucky, because he had the best shot at medical help. He actually had a spike of health for one month whereby he was a little more active, when he could enjoy walks with his foster family, enjoy a bit of domesticated life and play.

How many of the strays and shelter dogs are deprived of his kind of luck before they drop dead. They are just a statistic to most of us.

In the end, I saw his illness as a blessing, because it allowed him to escape the shelter life and gave him a chance to have some kind of life out there.

Late into the last night before I fell asleep, I finally allowed myself to grieve. I browsed through pictures of him when he was healthy, letting my tears fall, not because he was dead, but because of the life he deserved to have. He was a special dog to many of us and you would have to know him to see why. A big dog that whines like a baby. He was always affectionate to us.

ben

My tears didn't fall just because I was sad. I don't think I was sad actually. I was angry and frustrated.

That Singapore, as a so-called "advanced society", is not progressed at all when it comes to animal welfare.

That the mega 6 billion budget we had this year – I doubt any of it will go to the well-being of animals.

That as a society we're still hopelessly selfish and superficial. The cute little dogs get bought, the 'ugly' strays get left behind. That so many of us just wants to buy expensive accessories and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol without ever thinking of contributing a small percentage of that money that goes into ego-soothing activities.

That the authorities that are supposed to be concerned with welfare are not. They go around killing stray dogs, paying good money for every dog caught.

That Ben, along with thousands of dogs, do not have to be stuck in crowded shelters if there are proper programmes put in place at the top level in the first place.

Would it be very difficult to put aside some of the 6 billion budget for sterilization, education and general welfare support? Please don't even mention SPCA.

If everyone of us, myself included, just put aside like $20-$50 every month, how far would it go to make the lives of these forgotten dogs a better one?

I don't even call myself a volunteer because I can offer only sporadic help. I can't even manage myself at times. But there is a small group of people who really wants to help. But they can't do much. Why? Because these people have families as well, they have their life-commitments just like all of us. They have limited resources, limited time. They have proper jobs in the day. They spend whatever little time left to do rescue work. Late at night or during weekends when most of us are catching up on sleep. They don't catch up on sleep. They can't. The animals need them. They dig into their own savings when there are not enough raised funds.

WHY CAN'T WE MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR THOSE WHO WANTS TO HELP?

I'm sorry for using caps but I am really very, very, frustrated. This issue is not even really about dogs. It is how we function as an educated society. And I really don't think much of our educated society.

All of us eventually die. Death is not the problem. It is how we die and why we die. Ben's passing would not go to waste. His death raised a dozen of issues that gave us a lot to think about.

How can we rehome more animals with the limited time, money and space we have? If we cannot rehome them, what is it that we can do to make the shelter animals' lives better? What is it we have to do to raise more awareness? That mongrels and other strays can be worthy of love and a home. And I really wonder, what is it that I can do within my lifetime, to get attention from the top level? We shouldn't be randomly killing animals anymore. We cannot continue to see them as pests. It is highly annoying to read people complaining about their scratched cars and they blame the stray-feeders.

Every single day, I try to go into a zen, loving mode and it makes it impossible when I encounter situations like this. Especially towards those who are complaining about their scratched cars.

Time heals, and I am sure the normality of life would set in, Ben's passing would be remembered but it would be a distant memory. But right at this moment I don't wish it to be that way. This is why I write. To remind myself how much more we can do.

I honestly don't have the energy nor the health to go rescue animals in the middle of the night, or pick up poop in the hot sun at the shelter – but I believe we all have something to give. It doesn't have to be money. We can only do our best. Just that most of us don't even bother about anything.

All of this apathy, will come back to haunt us one day.

The power of my choice

I believe that one can create his or her own reality. I even wrote a post on this a couple of years ago.

Somehow, I forgot. I forgot while dealing with the uncertainty and insecurity of self-employment, the stress of moving residences repeatedly, the perceived failure of my decision making.

I was upset with myself for causing myself to be caught in stressful situations. Because I've always made leaps of faith, and in the end they all seem to come back to haunt me. I was angry that I kept over-working myself due to my own insecurity. I was tired, very tired of fighting. All I wanted was some stability.

Things got so bad until there was this day when I wondered if I could de-exist permanently. Like if re-incarnation was possible, I would like to opt out, please. I didn't want to be in spirit form either. I just wanted to be nothing. All my spiritual beliefs were being threatened. I refused to buy into the whole 'you live to learn' thing.

I felt like I was being coerced into this cycle whereby I have no choice but to live life after life. I tried to see the point of it all. If living was to learn, and learning was to evolve, what if I did not want to be part of this evolution?

I couldn't see the point then and to be honest, I still don't see the point now (or perhaps non-linear time is too complex for me to understand). But something magical happened. It always does. I sink to the bottom and there's always light waiting for me there.

One fine day, a series of synchronistic events made me remember. A movie, a book, a few words. I remembered. I chose to be here. I chose this life. I probably chose all the challenges that life was throwing me. I loved the challenges. I've always attributed my growth to all my previous challenges. I needed to learn the power of limitations. I knew, if everything went smooth-sailing, I would be living a very comfortable life. There *is* a lazy streak in me. I like luxury and sometimes I just want to do nothing. Chill. But that is not what I truly want. I want a life that I can be proud of. If I was born with a body that has boundless energy, I would be doing everything under the sun without focus. There are people who know how to make good use of their innate gifts without experiencing limitations. Not me.

There and then, I asked myself. If right at this moment, I could choose to stop 'suffering' and exchange my current life for a life that is full of peace, stability and comfort, how would I make that choice?

I realised that I would still choose this life. No matter how tiring, how difficult things can get, how broken it has made me feel sometimes. I still want my life.

At that very split-second, it all returned to me. The power of my choice.

The knowledge that I have the power to make choices that will influence my own destiny. Everything that happens today is a sum of my own decisions yesterday. Now, is a consequence of all that happened before. The future, is a consequence of all that happens now. My life circumstances in this life, was an agreement I willingly entered into, before incarnation. Nobody can make decisions for me, nobody can make me make decisions I do not want. They can influence, they can guilt-trip or manipulate, but the decision is mine alone. I cannot point fingers at anybody.

There is a spiritual angle to all of this (but of course). If you realise that you are the one who has chosen the pain, hurt and difficult lessons prior to living this life, you would have the same epiphany as me.

We all have the power to create. That not everything can be understood on a physical, superficial level. That pain and suffering need not be perceived as negative. Just because it makes us feel bad doesn't mean that it is not good.

Anyway, these concepts are not something that can be explored in a blog entry. (I would recommend this book and books from Michael Newton or Brian Weiss, and the entire "Conversations with God" series. )

-

What a difference a split-second can make. I have been going on with my life with a bounce ever since I remembered. I say remembered because I have always known, but I forgot about it among all that pragmatic worries I had.

Previously when I had fallen sick, I would go into a very negative state of mind because being sick didn't allow me to do what I want, in fact, being sick places me in considerable stress because being self-employed, everyday I am sick equates to no income. Over the Chinese New Year, I was down with flu for two weeks. I was feeling very bad physically, with all that nausea, sinus-pressure, chills. But this time, even all of that didn't make me feel negative. I was constantly in a positive state of mind because I knew everything will happen in its own time and space. Nothing was impossible as long as I believe that I have the power to influence my own destiny.

I made a decision in my mind and my heart, that I would from now on, try to make decisions out of courage and not out of fear. No matter how crazy, how much risk or potential stress.

I started making these small little decisions, then some bigger ones, a couple of people-would-think-I-am-crazy ones.

And you know what. Life has been awesome since then. And I truly mean it. I know, it would continue to be awesome as long as I remember I hold the power to my choices. I have been experiencing the effects of all decisions within a short span of weeks. Some just took days. I hope to be writing soon in detail about how drastically things have progressed.

I don't know about everyone else. But I think I have finally accepted that the route to security is not one for me. I have to live my life on the edge, because that is what I truly want – a life that I would be proud of on my deathbed.

Discussing suicide

I've had a saved draft on this topic somewhere, uncertain if I should publish it. I wrote it a few days ago because I was very inspired by the community at Quora. Yes, there's a topic dedicated to Suicide at Quora, supported by a honest, open community, which gave me some hope that perhaps the society is progressing.

Today, I choose to rewrite this topic from scratch.

I believe in signs, and I was actually deciding not to publish my previous draft, because I was unsure if I was ready to cope with the repercussions. Today, in my twitter stream, I discovered this link through a tweet:

http://blog.jolieodell.com/2011/01/06/the-subject-of-suicide-why-im-alive-today/

That blog post was written because of another suicide note:

http://gizmodo.com/5726667/the-agonizing-last-words-of-bill-zeller

I knew it was time for me to write this, regardless whether people will read, react badly to it, etc.

I think it is the fear of all that judgement, all that unwillingness to share one's deepest, darkest feelings, that is pushing so many people to the brink of despair. I've been very open on this blog so far, but depression and suicide are two themes in my life that I am unwilling to elaborate on. I am in full support of maintaining an online persona that is as authentic as possible, but it is still pretty scary to have people googling my name and finding blog posts on topics like these. There's plenty of repercussions, especially professionally, but I shall have faith – if I cannot even make myself write openly about this, what are the chances of society becoming more accepting and sensitive to others who're in more extreme scenarios?

I'm no longer suicidal, but that's because I was one of the luckier ones. I went through my own spiritual, self-discovery journey, I've met several key figures who were empathetic and supportive. That doesn't mean I've stopped thinking and feeling it. Not wanting to act on it anymore doesn't take the feelings away. Not at least for me. I still go through swings when instead of wanting to kill myself, I think about whether is it possible to remove my existence permanently. If re-incarnation was possible, I would have liked to opt out, thank you.

If you ask me, what is it exactly that is causing me to feel this way? For the record, I wasn't physically abused (emotionally perhaps). I did spend a lot of my younger years having a very low self-worth and feeling rejected by everybody because I couldn't seem to fit into the mainstream. I've always felt (ever since I could remember my feelings) that I didn't belong. But for me, ultimately it wasn't "why should I kill myself", but rather, "why should I live?".

All these were not particularly triggered by any major life events. I simply remember being particularly melancholic since I was a toddler. It would seem I was born with these feelings. Uncontrollable spasms of despair. Not wanting to be involved in the evolutionary process. What is it in it for me? I'm not attracted to power as a human being, from a spiritual perspective, levelling up through lifetimes of lessons doesn't sound very enthralling either. They say it is all about Love. Though it is not easy to convince yourself of that when everything just seems so much of a struggle.

Is it a biological chemical imbalance? Or was I one of those alien souls who found life on earth especially hard (yeah roll your eyes lol)? I have no answers. Just like I have no definite answers why I keep feeling this way. Sometimes I imagine having everything life could give me and I am not so sure if I'll stop feeling this way.

I found some solace in meeting random people who felt the same way. I was very comforted by all the survivor stories I've read on Quora, saddened by those who couldn't make it. Everyone has their own time and space to move through life. Not everybody is ready to receive help from the outside world. But if they are, shouldn't we provide a better platform for them to receive help?

I have started contributing answers to questions on suicide at Quora, all I want to do is to provide a personal perspective to it. When you have never experienced depression or suicidal tendencies before, it is difficult to provide empathy to someone else going through this. The last thing we want to hear is, "pick yourself up", "things can only get better", "get medical help"...etc. What I would personally find helpful, is to hear from others who have been through the same before, in order to gain that small tiny thread of hope, that perhaps, one day, we may be able to pull ourselves out of it. We want people who would truly understand the depths of darkness, not just anybody looking in from the outside, sitting on a cushion asking you to get over it.

There are people trying to seek some form of understanding why their friends or loved ones are suicidal (Some sadly have already made the final decision). I can't describe how it is to actually hear from people who were going through the same. That is one of the best support you can get. True empathy.

Sharing experiences is one of the greatest ways you can give back to society, I believe. Just like a mentor to the student, a mother to a child. Or vice versa. I would say that could be one of the greatest attributes of humankind, imagine how much progress we can make if all of us can be unselfish and open to sharing knowledge.

I am digressing a little as usual. I find it very comforting to read similar experiences, very moved when people find my answers helpful. I cannot be sure that everyone would appreciate whatever I have to say, but all I want to do is to give my best. That would be enough for me.

It is in the same spirit which had probably triggered others to do the same. I am amazed at the amount and quality of contribution to a topic like this. It seems like there is progress in lessening the stigma.

From the awesome community at Quora (you need to be a member):

If we could all become a little more unselfish, authentic and less judgmental, perhaps that person feeling that much despair may be less afraid to share his/her feelings, and perhaps death wouldn't be that attractive an option.

Perhaps if Bill Zeller could find that single bit of courage to open up a little bit earlier, he could have found others who have gone through similar and found ways to survive, perhaps, just perhaps, it could give him a little light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps.

Looking forward to 2011

I've been writing customary annual review posts for this blog since it was incepted, it seems like I've been a little late this year. I was wondering if I should skip it entirely, for I was afraid that I will sound all doom and gloom. My mood during the transition from 2010 to 2011 wasn't very good, and I didn't want it to colour my perceptions for the new year.

To be honest, 2010 was quite crappy for me. I'll spare you the details since I've written plenty of longwinded posts about it. They say all things will come to pass, I have managed to survive it still, but I wouldn't have made it if not for the support from several key figures in my life. I know very well, that I am blessed.

From a philosophical point of view, I know adversities and change propel people forward in ways that couldn't have happened if they're stuck in a comfort zone. However, it is really difficult to keep my head afloat when just about everything seemed to go wrong. I pray for myself to get emotionally and mentally stronger everyday.

I am not sure if this bad patch has truly passed, it has lasted for more than a year now. I don't like feeling full of hope that it has passed only to realise that it was just wishful thinking. I don't want to live in my own self-fulfilling prophecy either, so all I can say is I am hoping to make the best out of everything that is given to me.

Nevertheless, 2010 was still a year that I can still be proud of. I've made my first real solo trip to Phuket and Khao Lak for three entire weeks. It was a trip that was very much necessary for me to pick up all the broken pieces. That was in May, then in August, I visit the Philippines and Taipei for the first time. Not bad at all I guess, for a travel addict. In the middle of it all, I've had two clairvoyant readings done for me, two attempted spiritual regression sessions, and one very special session where a third-party went into trance to connect to my subconscious. They were all mind-blowing for different reasons. I've also experienced a trance state for the first time in my life. That fleeting state of being connected to the Universe. These are experiences I would like to write about in detail, hopefully soon.

I've also tried a raw diet for the first time, which made me understand the importance of being truly in tune with what you truly want to do as opposed to things you try to accomplish because you think it is good for you. Did I lose you in the previous sentence? I'm trying to say, what ever new diet/regime/resolutions/goals we may have, we need to really want to do it, in fact, desire to do it from our inner-selves, else it wouldn't last long or be successful. I guess you can tell by now that the raw diet wasn't very successful for me. ;p

Despite having experienced tons of obstacles and disappointments, I still made a leap of faith in September when I came back from all that travelling. Sometimes I think I have a split personality. The paranoid one is constantly questioning the idealistic one for being crazy.

I wish the idealistic one will come out and play a little more, because if not for her, I would still be stuck in a job, enduring long working hours for minimal job satisfaction. Just that, I think the paranoid one has trouble coping with all the big decisions the idealistic one has made, there is a disconnect there that I have to bridge.

I have no idea what 2011 will bring me, this time I will have no expectations or resolutions unlike the previous years. I just want to live more in the present. I just want to fully experience life and not allow fear to consume me all the time. I also want to put my health as my main priority. You know those game characters with health bars? Mine has been borderline orange for the longest time, I would like to nurse it back to an all-healthy green bar. It keeps going back into the danger-red-zone because I never had enough time and space to be well before I had to face another stressful situation.

I thought I've over-dramatised my health issues until I can't feel my pulse anymore. I thought it was my imagination until the sinseh told me the same thing. Enduring too much stress, being unhappy and working too hard can really mess up your body. It is not worth it. I've never been the same person again since my body started acting up. Previous years I would be down with flus, fevers which lasted a couple of days max. In 2010, I've had a few week-long episodes of crippling migraine and chest pains, it wasn't funny. Nowadays, every time I don't get enough sleep or I seem to overwork my brain a little, I'll start to feel very sick. It feels like every single cell in my body is sick and I am really not kidding.

Talent and hard work can only bring me so far. There is no point in all of these if I can't even enjoy the simple pleasures in life. I don't seem to be blessed with those infallible bodies some of my peers seem to have. I take this as a sign, there is something with my life that I have to fix.

I found this article a couple of days back which was very timely. There's this part which says:

Baby mammals, including humans, learn by playing, which is why "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Boys who'd spent years strategizing for fun gained instinctive skills to handle real-world situations. So play as you did in childhood, with all-out absorption. Watch for ways your childhood playing skills can solve a problem. Play, not work, is the key to success.

I do believe in finding that sweet spot when work doesn't feel like work anymore. I've seen people experiencing that zone, whereby they spend hours doing something someone else would feel tedious, yet they seem like they're in their own happy bubble.

I would like to fix my health first, and if I don't sound too greedy, I would really like to find my own happy bubble.

I really don't dream of being a millionaire, owning a huge house with a swimming pool, or driving a sports car. I can even give up my dream of jetsetting around the world. All I want, is to be able to indulge in the present and enjoy whatever I am doing. I don't have to be flying across half the world to feel happiness. I can be happy simply by having the ability to walk freely. You have no idea how much I treasure my migraine-free status now.

It is just sometimes my paranoid and insecure pysche messes me up, I get so caught up in the stress and my lack of accomplishments that I forget, how precious it is to be able to be healthy. Just to be able to have a painless head, or a digestive system that allows you to savour food.

I hope by next year on this day, I'll be looking back in 2011 smiling at my own efforts to push myself into a better place. I would understand if I don't eventually succeed, but I would be mad at myself if I don't even have the will to try.

I guess till date, I do mope and feel down, but somehow the little hope in me is still there. There have been dark days when I really feel that I don't wish to participate in evolution anymore, when happiness and love doesn't seem enough of a motivation to live. Wanting to die is not as bad as ceasing to live. When you want to die, there's still something that you are trying to do for yourself. When you cease to live, you simply give up hope. Life or death means nothing. Happiness or sorrow means nothing.

I don't ever want to feel that way again.

With this, I look forward to this new year, wishing that I'll have the courage and conviction to face any adversity that may come, the awareness to enjoy happiness when it is here with me. I wish that I can be always honest in writing this blog, stay true to myself by being longwinded if I want to (lol), have a lot of heart in whatever I do, don't be afraid to take risks or make mistakes.

Happy 2011. :)

How to live

A simple question, with seemingly complicated answers, depending on the context.

I think the problem with me, is that I am too inquisitive. Especially towards myself. I am constantly questioning, what is the right way to live? How would I live a life full of quality and meaning? I struggle to be responsible to myself while trying to be responsible to others.

If I simply focused on being a great designer, perhaps I would be in a very different place right now. Some people have very narrow focus on their lives, they just want to be great at their work. I used to think that was my focus, until I imagined myself to be Jason Santa Maria and realised that wouldn't make me a lot happier.

I love my work, still. I just don't love it enough for it to motivate the direction of my life. If I cannot be the designer that impacts millions of people like those amazing Facebook/Twitter designers, perhaps I am better off being the designer that makes small business owners proud of their websites and products.

I believe in the theory (Malcolm Gladwell) that in order to be truly great at something, you need to invest 10,000 hours of your life. For now, I just cannot see myself sitting at my desk for 20 hours in a day. Perhaps that *are* people who work 4 hours a day and still make great stuff. Quality over quantity, isn't it?

Last week, one particular morning, I woke up feeling totally detached from the world. I suddenly felt really fatigued and wondered about life (yup, I do that really frequently). I believe in the spiritual perspective that we live to learn certain lessons. The aim is to progress so much that you rejoin the Source, the Source lives, learns and evolves through us. I'm putting this really simplistically because this is going to take thousands of words to explain. The gist is, I found myself asking, what if I am not interested in being part of the evolutionary process, whether scientifically or spiritually? If I am not motivated by money or love, neither am I motivated by rewards (spiritual progress/heaven) or punishments (bad karma/hell), then what is it in there for me to live?

It was very disturbing, this was not triggered by any particularly depressive episode. I wasn't sad. I just didn't care whether I was happy or sad. I think that's worse.

We have free will, so it seems. But the extent of this free will doesn't extend to allowing you to choose whether you want to exist or not. You can choose how you want to live, but you cannot choose whether you want to exist. For that matter, I am writing from the spiritual perspective of us having souls and multiple lifetimes.

For that day, I wanted to be nothing. I wondered if I could be nothing. This is a level that is more complex than suicide I guess. When you kill yourself, you end this life. But is there a way to kill yourself eternally?

I find the concept of existing eternally, whether surrounded by happiness or not, to be strangely claustrophobic.

Well, I woke up the next day and reminded myself that whether I like existing or not, it doesn't change the fact that I have bills to pay. If I didn't have any loved ones perhaps I could go and contemplate on my life living in a cave, but I do have people to answer to. Will I be able to live for myself one day? Maybe living for myself is that best way to live for others. I dare not take that step yet (no I don't mean killing myself but to make decisions outside the influence of anybody).

I convinced myself to put aside all my questions for now, but I know it will be something that will never go away. It has been there since the start of my life, at least for this one.

I think we all define our own meanings of life and I have no idea what is mine. The whole "live to experience" concept doesn't quite do it for me anymore. Perhaps I could find my true meaning of life if I accept that perhaps there's none.

So I no longer want to kill myself unlike my earlier angrier years. If I don't have a choice whether I can exist or not, and if I have to contemplate repeating my life lessons if I choose to end this one prematurely, then it is just pointless to end it isn't it? It is enough being trapped in an evolutionary cycle, much less to mention a vicious one.

But there have been countless moments that I truly *feel* like I don't want to live because I don't see the point except to exist in order not to create pain for others. Is this still considered having suicidal tendencies?

I don't have an definite answer. In some strange ways feeling like this allows me to feel alive. It is like having some chronic disease. It can be crippling yet strangely liberating depending on how you see it.

Today on Quora, I took the step out to follow "Suicide" as a topic. I don't know how my clients and associates would see me as a person "who was constantly suicidal in her earlier years" but I reckon being honest is the best way I want to live, for now. I don't know if my friends truly know this part of me.

I only know it means a lot to be able to connect to people like me. To provide that sort of empathy and perspective that the others can't and won't understand. You may not be able to comprehend why I struggle to live, but I celebrate the fact that I can share a virtual shoulder with millions of people like me.

I can imagine there are tons of people who feel the same way but they are afraid to be open about it. I cannot emphasize enough how meaningful it was for me to read honest accounts of other people coping with their lives, feelings and failures.

Our lives are being negatively influenced by deceit. Deceit by governments, by financial institutions, sometimes unintentionally by loved ones. We're brought up to believe in values we shouldn't. Many of us are brought up to discriminate, to look down on others, to dislike people because they're different, to chase material possessions.

If I have no idea what I want to do with my life, then at the very least I know I definitely want to be as honest as possible.

How a prolonged migraine made me count my blessings

To be able to type this sentence, in this browser window, is a blessing. Little actions that we take for granted everyday. Switching on the computer, looking at the screen, typing, creating.

For the past few days, I couldn't even bear to look at the screen, much less type. I was having a prolonged migraine attack, any form of bright lights – computer screen included – only served to intensify my pain and nausea.

When taking strong painkillers for a few days didn't help much except to numb the pain to a somewhat manageable level, I sought the sinseh's help. On hindsight, perhaps I should have gone earlier. I just didn't expect to wake up with the migraine hovering around for the past few mornings. Each morning, I would expect it to have gone away, just like the previous migraine attacks I've had.

This morning, I woke up, the pain seemed to have truly gone away (after 2 doses of some strange chinese medicine mix. The wonders of TCM). I didn't want to jinx myself, so I was apprehensive in judging my state of health. A migraine attack, something that doesn't seem to endanger any part of my life, but rendered me totally useless.

I don't know whether it is a sign of age, that I am about to reach 30, that my body cannot recover the way it had before, or was it because I have abused it so badly during my younger years when sleep didn't matter much to me. The diagnosis I had yesterday – I had an irregular pulse, my circulatory system was not working properly, hence the lack of blood circulating to my brain – was it an accumulation of all those late nights?

So the sinseh's advice to me was to keep my life right now fairly routine and disciplined, no more late nights, no more stress, no more taxing my body or mind in any way. I feel like a walking time bomb, unsure of the next moment of my next attack, uncertain when will be the next period whereby I would have a downtime spanning days.

To a self-employed solo business owner, being down for more than a day is a disaster.

I thought about my peers, some running their own startups, some passionately involved their self-initiated projects, most of them seeming to run on a bottomless oil tank. I finally understood yesterday, that I would not be like them, nor can I expect myself to be like them anymore. That self-expectation that I can still carry on like my peers, is slowly killing me.

I cannot be like them, as much as I want to. I have to be myself, to count my blessings for every day of health I can possess. To be filling each and every day with meaningful actions. For me, it will no longer be about working hard. It will be about consolidating my efforts, picking and choosing my battles.

I need to learn the art of saying no, even to myself. All those times that it was me who wanted myself to stretch over the distance. I just thought I would be capable of overcoming any form of hardship. I never expected it would be my body that didn't want to give me a choice anymore. Not at this age, not as this time of my life when I should be running at full speed ahead.

All my decisions now, will affect the quality of life I have in the next few decades. I am pretty certain that my state of health or the lack of it now is due to all those times I didn't take care of myself when I was in the full pink of health during my twenties. I suddenly think of the professional footballer that keeps taking painkilling injections in order to play, only to end up losing the ability to walk when he retires. Talent or brilliance is pretty much useless if you don't have the health.

I see this as a new opportunity for myself, since I am pretty much being forced into a corner. Having limits can actually inspire progress (Think Apple ;p). It gives me the opportunity to think about what really matters to me, and if I really have a limited uptime everyday, what should I be trying to accomplish?

I have to admit that till now I am still pretty much driven by my insecurity. This bout of downtime is simply repeating a message I've been being reminded for the umpteenth time. There's no point in having that security if I am not able enough to type this blog entry. You have no idea how grateful I am now to be typing this. ;)