Monthly Archives: March 2011

Give It A Shot

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Today, I found out at the eleventh hour about an English public speaking competition my school was holding. On some strange whim, I decided to go for it, speaking completely impromptu while everyone else had days to prepare. On the whole, it was fun (aside from a couple of unnecessary pauses) and I’m glad I joined in the end.

I’ll have you know that, trudging my way up to the venue of the competition, gazillions upon gazillions of doubts continually sprung into my mind. You have no script. You have no topic. You have no fragments of speeches committed to memory. Heck, you don’t even speak very often. I succumbed to these doubts after a while and turned around to go to the library, only to find myself blocked by Science Club members trooping down the stairs to the lab. There was no way I could get through the crowd with my guitar case slung over my shoulder and my schoolbag hanging limply at my side.

And that’s when I thought, oh what the heck. Let’s just have fun with this.

A half hour later, I found myself standing in front of a half-filled classroom, droning on about inner beauty, coming up with random points and statements in my head. I’m pretty sure I left out a few things. But oh well.

Many times in life, and in much more serious situations (at least, more serious than light-hearted school competitions), one will have to make a quick decision. If one fears, worries, or overthinks (all my tendencies, unfortunately), one could miss out on an amazing opportunity. And we don’t want that, now, do we?

Similarly, dare to be different and do new things, or to fight for something you believe in. And who cares what others think? Many great ideas have been lost because the people who had them could not stand being laughed at, as was once quoted by someone unknown.

Everyday, we are faced with adversity. Don’t let these people get you down.

Whatever it is, give it a shot.

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. -Søren Kierkegaard

Chapters

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I view my life in chapters.

When I was 11, I wrote a song called “The New Chapter”, signifying a time for me when I had to start anew. Last year, I wrote “The New Chapter 2”, also representing a time when I started again.

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Each time something big happens – starting school, discovering a talent, starting a new activity, solving problems, facing new, more challenging trials – I start a new chapter. Like all writers, I try to start a new chapter only when everything’s perfect in the previous one, or when I’m ready to go on. I’ve got my storyline planned out most of the time… I want it to be perfect. For example, starting high school at 13 years old and staying in the school till I’m 17.

But sometimes it can’t be helped – for example, if there is a flaw in the storyline, and all writers hate that, but it happens, and one must give up plans and begin a new phase. You could have planned your character to fall for this person in the end, but you have chapters and chapters more to go. Maybe by then your story would have plunged off its line and into some river somewhere and those two characters don’t work anymore. Maybe you wanted to end this chapter after the guy gets shot but you find it sounds better if you end it here rather than there. And so you finalize your chapter.

When I’m not ready to do something (in other words, to end a chapter), I feel as though I have paragraphs and paragraphs to finish before the chapter ends. I would think to myself, “There’s so much more I want to do before beginning this!” And when one feels that way, it isn’t time yet.

But you don’t always have a choice in where your chapters end, and in that way, life is unlike writing a book. Sometimes something happens – the death of a loved one, a natural disaster. Something that us mortal beings have no control over. And when that happens, there is nothing one can do about it. One has to take it as a tiny little flaw in the tale and decide to drop plans of pages, to start over anew.

New chapters don’t always start easily. They don’t always begin because it’s expected (like starting school). Most of the time, they don’t happen because we want them to. There will be those dramatic chapters, the ones where the main character is in a dark place and can’t get out. But that chapter will end when the character has healed. And a character doesn’t just heal. They have to decide to heal. They have to want to heal. Sometimes, it isn’t about healing, it’s about believing and trying something new and frightening. Something they’ve never done before.

And that’s the beauty of it all.

Time to start a new chapter.

Bug Adventures

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So there I was, minding my own business in my room, when some annoying insect decided to take a break on my shoulder. I barely noticed it… Until it left me with a little red bump of irritated skin. I constantly attract the attention of bugs everywhere I go, so I thought nothing of it.

That evening, I ended up with three more bumps from insect bites and got mildly annoyed. I tried to look for the meddling creature but failed and had to be content with wearing a long-sleeved shirt (during the dry season!) all night to prevent more bites.

This scenario continued all week so I began a tireless pursuit of the single tiny creature that haunted me each time I set foot in my room. My efforts bore no fruit as I became increasingly frustrated with the insect that perpetually raised exasperating red bumps on my skin that I scratched in my sleep, causing ugly little things all over my arms.

Two days ago, I was trying to ignore the new bite forming over my skin, I caught a glimpse of the bug that had been incessantly, well, bugging me since forever (exaggeration?). I got up and stalked over to where it was on the wall. I smacked my hand into the hard brown-painted cement (ouch). Ignoring the smarting in my hand, I checked if I had finally caught the thing.

No! It had just whizzed around my head tauntingly and flown off!

For a quarter-hour I chased after that annoying insect. I leaped and jumped; I grabbed and grasped; I stumbled and tripped. After 15 short minutes I gave up. That thing would elude me forever.

In my exhaustion I leaned against the wall. After a few seconds I got off to resume my homework and noticed a black stain on my left sleeve and a matching one on the wall.

I went nuts. After a whole week and 15 annoying minutes of chasing, it had come to this? In the end it took no effort. And I ended up with a stain on my favourite orange shirt. And I had to clean the stubborn goop of the wall.

And of course, I accidentally squashed the insect.

Ohana = Family = No One Gets Left Behind

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Some years ago, when I was six, Disney released its 42nd animated film, Lilo and Stitch. Being an innocent (and clueless) little kid in kindergarten at the time, I loved repeating “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind” as quoted by Lilo repeatedly during the whole movie.

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I loved the movie, yes, but I didn’t fully understand it until many years later. And only in the past couple of years have I actually fully appreciated Lilo’s most commonly quoted phrase.

If home is where the heart is, then my home is with family. I wasn’t close to my family until I turned a teen (unusual, huh?), during the time when most kids turned away from their parents.

I have not seen some members of my family for nearly two years, and that’s far too long for me. It isn’t enough to email them monthly about school, or sms about the latest achievement, or call when I’m down, or chat when I have a cool story to tell. It isn’t enough. I want to see them. I miss them.

Hopefully this year. Yes, this year.

Now, time to snap out of emo mode and compose a monthly email to my aunt…