Tag Archives: life

Raindrops, Clouds, And The Other Little Things In Life

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The movement of water over a polished, tiled floor always fascinated me as a child. With the naïve eagerness of innocence, I would sit cross-legged and wide-eyed, watching precariously as rivulets of smooth, clear liquid slid gently from one groove to the next, a tantalizingly slow trickle that weaved intricate patterns as it went along, leaving a glistening trail for my gaze to follow until it resolved into a single, shapeless puddle. I wasn’t certain, at the time, what so enraptured my attention about the steady progress of the water from meager droplets to a full-formed body. I don’t think I really wondered about why; I was just too riveted by the seemingly effortless grace that enabled something that started off small and unnoticeable to grow into something that could actually made an impact. The same went with watching raindrops on a windowsill. Whether it was on the panes of the old family car or against the glass of the windows attached to my room, I was hopelessly infatuated with water of any kind. My gaze would remain stuck on droplets as they chased each other rapidly down the windows, my kid-side silently rooting for “my favourite raindrop” to win until it rolled off the bottom of the glass and I picked another random droplet to cheer for. It was good fun, and the repetitive motion was soothing and relaxing to someone like me. It was one of the few times I would actually willingly sit still – when I was witnessing water travel.

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Eventually, I grew bored with watching water and turned my attention to homework and other more important things. I still “raced” raindrops when they pattered onto my window, but when my mom and I moved into an apartment where my room faced the hallways instead of the outside, that stopped as well. I don’t often tire of things, but for some reason, watching water ceased to hold any meaning for me as I grew older. I would skip over puddles instead of watching them grow and would irritatingly wipe droplets off of objects instead of joining in on their journeys. Perhaps it was because of my temperament. You see, I’m more of a fire person by nature, really. I’ve got an occasionally overly intense personality and a temper that threatens to blow up disastrously and has been likened to a very volatile volcano. When I get passionate about something, like a book or a topic of discussion, I get fiery and expressive about them. The same way, after a while, the fire sometimes burns out. I guess that’s sort of what happened with my interest in water – there was a spark, followed by a heated blaze, then it just sort of died down and fizzled out.

Accurate description of my temper.

Accurate description of my temper.

I sound a little like I’m romanticising the whole thing, but to me, the time I ceased to view water as anything more than a necessity for basic life and an occasional nuisance was the time I stopped appreciating the little things in life. We’re all guilty of that, in a way. We stop noticing the pigeons landing on the pavement, stop caring that if we squint just right that cotton-candy cloud looks uncannily like a cross between a dog and a clown, stop pausing at regular intervals to curiously reach out and touch a particularly vivid flower poking out of the hedge. Instead, we start walking around a lot faster than our legs have the capacity of carrying us, in consequence moving around far too fast for our eyes to fully register what’s going on around us. In the words of Sherlock Holmes, we see, but we do not observe. We give excuses like, “I’m far too busy”, “I’m in a bit of a hurry”, “I have work to do” – and then we bustle along away, completely missing everything around us, focused only on ourselves and the Very Important Work that we have to do as Very Important Adults. The childlike wonder we were born with, which makes us love everything in the world and become endlessly fascinated by all things even remotely new to our eyes and minds, dissipates, replaced instead by boredom and the need to act like Grown Ups and Responsible Adults. It’s not that we can’t see the beauty of everything around us, we just don’t. And that to me is something very upsetting.

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Personally, I have always been the kind of person who notices everything around me and gets distracted by it. This probably also explains why I am extremely clumsy. I am simply not capable of walking down a crowded shopping complex without overhearing a million different conversations, observing what people are wearing, or taking an unconscious survey of the number of people there alone, with family or with a partner. If a girl looks remotely annoyed that her boyfriend has his eyes on another girl in a skimpy outfit on the other side of the polished shopping mall floor, I will see it. If a boy attempts to sneak a couple of candies into his mothers black probably fake Prada bag, oblivious to the fact that a little girl sitting nearby has noticed and is giggling about it to her father, I will notice it from all the way across the shop, where I’m standing behind a stack of magazines. If a waiter’s watch flashes from his right hand three tables away, I will observe and draw the conclusion that he’s probably left handed. And yet, despite the fact that I see all these things on a daily basis and do not possess the ability to focus on only one thing at a time, I choose to ignore the things I see around me. It’s not a conscious decision at all – it’s just something that has been hammered into me. I don’t have time to stop and observe that the butterfly with blue wings has a pattern on them that looks almost like a cat. I am simply too busy. I have things to write and people to meet up with and assignments to get done and university to get to – I simply don’t have time for useless extra bits of attractive-looking information that will add virtually nothing to my general knowledge or do anything that will help with the test I have to sit for today.

Why do I think this way? Maybe it’s because time flies so fast that I feel I have to move even faster to keep up with it. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Time flies, and life is so short. Granted, it’s the longest thing we’ll ever do, but when you really get to thinking about it, life is a painfully, frighteningly short thing. Think of all the beautiful things we miss on a daily basis when we dash by without so much as glancing at the world around us, all the sights and sounds and scents that our brain wants us to notice but we dismiss immediately as unimportant. That’s why I’ve made a pledge with myself. Despite the fact that I have a rapidly increasing workload and a lot of commuting back and forth to do, I will always make some time to stop and smell the roses – even literally, if I must, because roses are my favourite flower.

I’ve thought about this long and hard overnight (when I couldn’t sleep and just passed the time staring at the ceiling for several hours enshrouded in darkness), and I came to the realisation that it’s the smallest things in life that really make everything more fulfilling and wonderful: A genuine, honest smile from a stranger. Your favourite song playing on the radio and drawing to a close just as you pull into your parking spot at work. Taking that first sip of coffee in the mornings, or hot chocolate on a cold, rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon. Finding an extra five bucks in the pocket of that pair of jeans you haven’t worn for a month. When you wake up before your alarm rings catastrophically in the morning and can savour the glorious feeling of being able to go back to sleep again. Getting a curly fry in your order of regular fries. A sweet little text message that consists of no more than maybe ten words but still brings a smile to your face, even on the most stressful of days. What’s life, really, if we don’t enjoy the little things?

Anyone watch Zombieland?

Anyone watch Zombieland?

A few days ago, while I waited for the bus on a tiled pavement, it began to rain. Water fell into the grooves between the tiles and flowed slowly through the path paved for them. My eyes fell on them and a wave of nostalgia washed over me like a wave. I hesitated for a moment, then put down my social science textbook and drowned out all thoughts about homework. And just like that, I was back in my childhood days, surrounded by noise and bustling people but focused only on the slow travel of the water before me.

I think it’s because I finally realised that the things in life we tend to overlook are often the most beautiful.

Adjusting to Change

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I’ve been back at school for three days now. It’s a different ball game altogether this year – new subjects to learn and officially being one of the older students in the school. I’m in a completely different class from last year and most of the familiar faces of last year’s classmates aren’t in my class – luckily I still have two of my closest friends in class with me. Not to mention that a lot of my dear friends have moved school this year – one is even migrating to another country! And I’m definitely not used to the freshmen looking up at my friends and I with a kind of awe – did I do that when I was new here? Even my chess teacher is different this year.

I’m not a stranger to change – over the past few years things have altered so fast and so much that when I look back on my past self in maybe 2007, I find that I don’t even recognize that girl anymore! I seem to have become a different person every single year since then, different people who don’t even ring a bell to my mind any longer. They seem like strangers – ghosts of a past life or something like that. Sometimes it sort of unsettles me, to look at myself in the mirror and not recognize the person staring right back at me.

I’m not gonna lie, I hate change. Not because change itself isn’t good, but because it loves to say “I told you so!” When something changes, it’s almost never positive, but then a little later, maybe a week, a couple years or even a decade later, you realize that it was for the best. And change shoves it in your face, like, “See?”

Anyhow, back to the original subject – getting used to this new, alien year at school. It’ll take some time to adjust to this new routine and everything in it. I don’t usually find it so difficult to adjust, but this – this is something else altogether.

I remember watching an episode of my favourite crime show, Bones. In it, the main character, Temperance Brennan finds herself dealing with a case she finds personal. A body of a rich woman is found in a bad part of town and she goes to investigate, and she finds several similarities between her and the victim – height, weight, favourite animal, etc. When she sees the victim’s ID photo, she finds that it looks exactly like her. When she asks her partner FBI Special Agent Seely Booth if he recognizes the victim, he says no. When she hears a recording of the victim’s voice, Brennan hears her own voice. Her colleagues begin to worry about her when she has difficulty being objective on the case as she relates very much to the victim, even in terms of love life.

She can’t sleep, so she returns to her lab late at night to continue working on the case, and Micah, a security guard, finds her there. He tells her about a lecture he attended – an experiment was set up where a group of people were made to wear glasses that made them see the world upside down.  For three days, the world was upside down for them (literally, mind you). But after three days, they were made take off the glasses and instead of seeing things right side up, everything was upside down. The conclusion of the experiment was that it takes the brain three days to adjust.

It took three days for Brennan and Booth to solve the case, and after those three days, Brennan looked at the ID picture of the victim and no longer saw her face staring back at her, but the real face of the victim.

I guess what I’m trying to say is – I’ve been at school three days. Maybe when I go back on Monday, everything will seem normal. Maybe my brain would have adjusted…or maybe it would still be stubbornly unadjusted. My brain’s a little weird.

Whatever the case, change is inevitable in life and we just have to adapt to it. Unfortunately. 🙂

The key to change…is to let go of fear ~ Rosanne Cash

Happy New Year! and an excuse

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Did I say last time was a record? No way, not even close. Now it’s six months… Get that man! Six huge whole big fat wide tall months! And I used to write at least once a week!Don’t worry, I have a (sort of, something like, actually not really) brilliant excuse:

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STUDYING

You see, for the past six months up until October I had been up to my nose in studies, all for a VIE – Very Important Examination. Ok, so after October I had tons of time to blog, but I was too busy being an absolute bum, and wasting away through a whole bunch of storybooks and friend hangouts that had been put off for far too long. And before that I had been participating in a dozen different writing competitions, so I focused on that and not on my blog.

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Doomsday...

So I was all chill…until the terrifying and inevitable arrived – the red letter daythe day of my results for this VIE (yes, this is a very exam-oriented country). I sat with my best friends in the result hall – they made this huge deal of it, you know, like announcing the names of those with straight A’s, and I was thinking, like, oh no oh no oh no! I was just about dying when my name was announced along with the rest of the straight A students. Yipee! Well, that was over and done with so I got to relax. Now, believe it or not, it’s a new year! I can officially put the terrifying exams behind me until the next one – a VVIE (Very Very Important Examination – did you even need to ask that one?) comes up in another year. So I have two years till my next one, so it’s fun and games for now, right?

Except…

Next year is going to be even worse. I’m entering Form 4 in high school, and if I’m going to pay attention to all the horror stories told by my seniors, it’s supposed to be extremely difficult. New subjects, a new thing altogether – we even need to have orientation for it.

I’m not trying to be pessimistic or anything. Just…being a realist, I suppose.

Anyways, a new year is here, and I shouldn’t be being so negative! I mean, I know that everyone’s worried about the world ending in December this year, but what if the Mayans simply ran out of space on their calendar and thought, never mind, let’s just leave it like that? Maybe they ran out of space on their rock? Think about it.

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I don’t have a new year’s resolution this year, but I think I’m going to stop biting off more than I can chew (not literally, of course) and I’ll probably try to blog a little more than I did before – don’t take me up on that one, though.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a blessed 2012.

New year, new chapter, new beginnings.

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The Confounded Writer’s Block

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And… this has got to be a record. No new blog posts for nearly a month… Wow.

An old childhood favourite... Calvin and Hobbes

You see, I’d love to blog about something. Anything. Unfortunately my mind fails to allow me to think of an interesting topic that hasn’t been done before. It’s too busy focusing on my sinking History marks. And I haven’t written much in my book either. Gotta keep working on that one.

A sad scene that would likely take place at my desk.

I can’t stand writer’s block, honestly. But I honestly don’t consider it until I open my book to write in.

Oh dear me, I can’t seem to think of how this plot could go. Maybe if he kills the evil assistant… No, it’s too soon. Maybe he should make a new friend?

Then I realize that I have been having trouble with other things too, namely my blog.

Oh, it’s been a week since I’ve updated my blog! I must start a new post. Let’s see…

I then have to come to terms with the fact that I have no idea what to blog about, so I spend ages wracking my brain for a suitable topic.

Environmental issues? No, I’ve done that one before… Singing? Did that too. Oh what about this awesome book… Oh wait that’s been done on Freshly Pressed.

And in the end I’m just like:

A typical reaction of mine upon discovering that I have yet again been infected by writer's block.

Soon, a couple of hours pass and I have to get off the computer. I decide that if I stop thinking about it, I’ll come up with a good idea.

I’ll just take a break and see if something pops up. Sooner or later, it always does.

And before I know it, nearly an entire month has flown by and I’ve forgotten about the fact that I am suffering from the dreaded and highly fatal writer’s block. Until…

What’s *insert random name of friend here* doing over there on that computer? Oh, she’s blogging. Oh no I haven’t blogged in ages! How long has it been? AH!

So I go and check my blog for the first time in ages.

I’ve been subscribed to…! Oh. By someone who’s already deleted their account. Oh, look at all these comments. Well… 34 spam comments actually. I really must get a blog post going.

And that is how I came to be sitting here today, typing away.

It never fails, you know, no matter how often I follow online writer’s block solving tips. I got this list off the internet.

1. Implement a Writing Schedule.

Yes, I have gone back to the same place at the same time every day and still nothing springs to my head. Sometimes I just let my hand free-write on the paper and all that comes out is… garbage.

2. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself.

How can I not be? I’ve been trying for three weeks and still nothing comes out of my pen.

3. Think of Writing as a Regular Job, and Less as an Art.

4. Take Time Off If You’ve Just Finished a Project.

5. Set Deadlines and Keep Them.

(This is the only thing that really works for me… Except for the fact that the finished product is a little on the… well… awful side.)

6. Examine Deep-Seated Issues Behind Your Writer’s Block.

7. Work on More Than One Project at a Time.

(Three projects going on and I’m still getting nowhere…)

8. Try Writing Exercises.

(I do this in English class in school everyday.)

9. Re-Consider Your Writing Space.

(It’s actually a cosy little nook.)

10. Remember Why You Started to Write in the First Place.

(I need a LOT of help with this one.)

I do this... A lot.

Actually, I’ve discovered a really awesome way to beat writer’s block when it comes to blogging: If you can’t think about anything to blog about… Blog about the fact that you can’t think of anything to blog about.

Anyhow, I’ll just head off now… I just found a good plot for my book… I think.

At The 11th Hour (and 59 mintues)

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So, honestly, really, what is it with everyone and being late? It’s either they’re racing through the hallway looking like a wild ocelot because they’re late for a super important awesome-ly awesome seminar, or burning the midnight oil, straining to finish a report due the very next day that they knew about ages ago (wow, that was a long sentence). If neither, they’re calmly walking, slow as possible, dragging their feet, up to someone and saying, “Hey, by the way, I forgot to tell you the last billion times I saw you, for the last fortnight or so, but you have a meeting in 5 minutes.” I mean, come on, people.

Yesterday I nearly had a panic attack when I was told that selections for nationals was that day! In half an hour! Oh, and yeah, get your own transport, please. Oh, and it’s compulsory, by the way.

In the end, my teacher tells us that the thing is today and not yesterday, and it isn’t the playoffs, it’s the training. And they had me running around frantically fumbling in my bag for coins to call my mom using the pay phone that constantly says “Updating”.

Ok, ok, so I’ll admit to doing many things last-minute. Like, umm… studying for my Geography test or finishing up my Art project (due next Tuesday, just so you know) or something not-so-panic-insuing like that. Not some sort of thing that will get other people killed (or at least have them dying of heart attack).

I used to be the most professional procrastinator you’d ever meet, but I learned a few things and now I’m a bit more chill. First off, I stopped being a yes-man (or, more accurately, yes-girl). Used to be, I’d juggle marching, performances and library responsibilities all in one go. More often than not, something would fall to the floor and shatter, then I’d lose focus and everything else would come tumbling down to. Now, it’s one at a time, please.

Next, I started writing everything I had to do down. I used to cram everything into my head. Then it’d all overflow and I’d lose half my important memories (needless to say, the useless ones never spill out). This year, I watched my best friend list everything neatly down in a notebook she got for her birthday and decorate the pages with hearts and doodles, then it hit me. I brought out an old notepad that had been gathering dust in a filing cabinet and started jotting down homework, assignments and projects.

And one more thing. I set reminders in my phone for everything, from bringing my glasses when my contacts have expired to exams and meetings. It doesn’t always work, because usually I’m too groggy to read my reminders when they alarm at 5 in the morning and I just hit random buttons to silence it. More often than not, I miss the “postpone” button on the left and hit the “stop” button on the right instead. =.=

Anyways, that’s all I’ve come up with. And I still do things late! Sigh…

Today, I headed off to the training, sat down across a future opponent and asked, “This is the training, right?” And what did she say?

“No. This is the playoff.”

You… have… got… to… be… kidding… me…

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.

Just Tell The Truth

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awesomejakeman.blogspot.com

I love to sing. I love to dance. I love to write. Consequently, I’ve joined many groups that cater to all those passionate about music and the arts. It’s always been a fun experience for me.

Once, I was watching some performances by one of the clubs I decided to become a part of. The performances done were no-strings-attached shows – if you want to get up on the stage, you can, and it isn’t a competition, so you can just have fun! A particular girl stepped up to the stage and sang one of my favourite songs – completely off-key! It was no big deal, though. None of us were pros anyway. We were just there to have a good time.

When she got off the podium, I watched her rush to her friend’s side, fretting about her singing and asking whether she did alright. To my horror, her friend replied with a smile, “Don’t worry! You did great!”

Over the years, I’ve discovered that instances like that happen frequently – in fact, on a daily basis! Everyone is praising their friend’s singing, dancing, painting… and it’s all a lie. Some people would quote Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice… Don’t say nothing at all.”

But you see, that’s the point! Thumper didn’t say “If you can’t say something nice, tell a lie instead”. He said not to say anything! Of course, if you barely know a person, really, you shouldn’t say anything at all. But what if it’s your friend, asking you for your opinion? How can you not answer? Well, being a friend, you have to be honest with them and tell them what you really think, in a gentle way. Because in the end, if you tell them they did good when they didn’t, you’re just making them believe that they can do something when they really can’t. And if they get mad at you for not praising them, they obviously don’t care what you think, and are just fishing for approval and praises.

Putting it simply… Just tell the truth.

Past the Superficial

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I am sick of it. Just sick of it.

We’ve been taught since a young age, our head filled with that all-too-familiar cliché: Don’t judge a book by its cover(Which is strange, because I tend to judge real books by their covers… I mean, if I don’t wan a chic lit, I wouldn’t pick up the book with the picture of lipstick and a flower down the front, would I?). Many people quote it. Students study it. It’s the most common proverb ever mentioned.

Yet, I find that everyone makes the hurtful and mainly unconscious mistake of judging people by how they look. I don’t like people thinking me to be dumb or weak just because of how I appear. Most of these people don’t even know my name yet… So why are they judging me as if they’ve been acquainted with me all my life? It’s like (pardon the cliché again) the pot calling the kettle black!

It doesn’t do a lot to one’s self-esteem and… in short… it hurts. I just wish, just wish, that everyone could see past the superficial. And just to end this thing in such a way that you’ll roll you eyes, here’s another cliché:

Every caterpillar is a butterfly on the inside.

Regrets

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salmaadas.blogspot.com

Years ago, I wrote a poem entitled “Regrets” (no, I didn’t plagiarise Kenny Rankin’s song). Looking back on it now, I realize half the things I wrote about then do not matter to me anymore. An unspoken word, a bad test result, an experience I didn’t handle as well as I might have (half of them involve blowing up unexpectedly), a wrong decision.

There comes a time when it’s just the right moment to let things go. I’m not saying forget, of course not. Even things I’ve left in the past aren’t 100% buried in the dust. I do, sometimes, take them out of my memory box and think them through. What made me do that? What were my thoughts at the time? How can I make sure I don’t do something like that again? And if I did, in a blur of insanity, do something similar, what on earth is wrong with me?

But being serious now, there are a million things I could regret if I wanted to. I could, for example, regret my Grade 3 piano exam results (trust me, they weren’t the best) or the fact that I sprained my ankle in the worst way possible back in standard 1.

I could regret some words I’ve let slip out which I didn’t really mean when I wasn’t really thinking about it. I could regret the fact that I listened to some people and decided not to sing when I was younger. I could regret the fact that I’ve been laying off everything else I planned to do for the weekend being so wrapped up on writing this @#$!% blog post. Or I could regret that I didn’t read that book, or watch that movie, or get good marks, or…

The list goes on.

Why do we have to live with regrets? What’s done, is done. And there’s nothing you can do to alter the past (unless you’ve invented a time machine or something) or decide how it’ll affect your future. That’s all out of our hands. Think about it, do we really have time to regret and worry and fret? It isn’t right to dwell on things that have passed, and never get over it.

This is your life. What do you do with you life? You live it. DUH.

Live with no excuses, and love with no regrets. ~ Montel