January 28, 2005

Fleeting Moments

Recent contemplations have forced me to come to grips with the reality of my situation. I have barely a month to go before embarking on the second year of my university life and to be honest, the prospect is giving me mixed feelings. I'm not exactly sure how I should be feeling about going back to Melbourne and how appropriate my current feelings are. At best, I can describe them as a mix ; both eager and excited and yet, somewhat wistful. There are still so many things I wish I could do before leaving for Melbourne but somehow, a month doesn't feel enough. Then again, even a year wouldn't be enough really. It wouldn't be enough for the amount of times I want to see my friends and family over and over again, just soaking in their company and aura.

The holiday on hindsight has been a good one. I've managed to pick up guitaring, a hobby I've come to thoroughly enjoy. Seriously, nothing beats just picking up that old wooden 'banjo' and strumming away to familiar tunes I've heard on the radio and television. It's a form of catharsis for me, a way in which I find certain solace ; knowing that the beautiful tunes which stream forth from that piece of wood are my handiwork. I've also been able to progress in my university degree albeit by one module, but hey, it is still some form of advancement. It's good to know that my time in Singapore has not been totally wasted and that some form of constructivitism has been taking place. Something I have to admit though, is that a small part of me, the adventurous side of me is calling out for my return to Australia, probably due to my new housemates and new room on Seascape Avenue.

I've begun to realise certain things about myself which aren't necessarily bad. I've come to a conclusion that who I am is something I can't change, and whether I'm too goody-two-shoes for some people and however that affects my prospects of getting together with someone isn't something I'm going to accomodate to. Recent events have forced me to re-evaluate my once naive standpoint of willingness to accomodate and change for faciliation of a romance or relationship.

The way I see it, to a person who's seen much of the world, who's walked down the streets of vice and lived through it, who's been to every club in town and every party in a year, I may seem like just a wide-eyed naive young boy. But to me, I can hold my head up high and know that I haven't compromised who I am, or what I stand for in how I've lived my life these past 6 years. Granted, I could have just as easily strayed off the beaten path and went down the road of clubs, drinks and becoming just as street smart as a 35-year-old vagrant living in the streets all his life. But I didn't. Why? Because it wouldn't be true to myself. Because it wouldn't hold up against all my inner values and most of all, it'd be evidence that I didn't cherish myself. Something which is so untrue. I love my body, I love my character and most of all, I love what I've become over these past few years ; how I've moulded myself from darkness into...well, relative light.

So I guess that leaves only one option for me. Who says like poles repel each other? In my case, they attract. And far greater than any other combination, at least.

Catharsis. A four year catharsis which hopefully lasts a lifetime. Can it stand the test of time? Let's leave that to the examiner to tell.

Traveller fell apart at 2:00 AM

January 23, 2005

The Prodigal Son

The wind was unrelenting as it crevassed the steep mountain slopes, threatening to knock over everything in its path, even him. It had been months since he had been down this all too familiar mountain pass and yet, it all seemed so strange to him. As he surveyed the surrounding landscape, he felt estranged ; lost even. But there was no time. The toll of the bells from the monastery interrupted his thoughts as he began to quicken his steps, hoping that he'd reach the top before the storm really kicked in.

It had been months since he had been down that narrow pass. Once a naive, trusting young altar boy, he had been pressed into service by sheer weight of familial expectations. His father had delivered him to the monastery 14 years ago and although he had faced spiritual inquisitions at times due to his curious nature, somehow the Almighty had always delivered him. Somehow, God had always stepped in and sent an answer to his never-ending questions. A year ago, he made up his mind. He decided to suppress that ever-curious nature and to accept whatever he was taught by the Abbot, regardless of whether it made sense to him. And it was also a year ago, where he embarked on his journey towards priesthood after the annual Lent festival. For once, he wanted to stop being a skeptic and for once, he felt like he needed to find validation somewhere. Even if it meant giving up his inquisitive nature. It was a done deal. He would become a priest, he would serve the Lord and he would make his family proud.

Then he met her. On one of his weekly ventures down the mountain into the village below for supplies, he caught sight of her. She sashayed past him as he attempted to keep all attention on the fruits he was picking out, but the smell of her hair pervaded all his five senses. It was wrong. He was a servant of the Lord and it was a cardinal sin for a man of the cloth to even entertain such thoughts about a woman. But he could not help it. Such was her grace and beauty that he was drawn to her, the bells of St Patrick's cathedral the furthest things from his mind now. They hit it off from the moment his first words were spoken. Both quite the intellectuals, they begun discussing all manner of happenings under the sky, from politics to philosophy to....religion. It had been a touchy subject most definitely, especially for him. In their conversations about God, she shared insights he had never considered, perspectives which he had kept himself from thinking about. As they chatted, their eyes met and it was at that moment, he knew he was attracted to her. Her intelligence, her charm, her wit, her beauty. Everything. It had all seemed so perfect... if he hadn't been wearing robes.

They'd made a decision to elope together, him to leave his life of servitude in St Patrick's, she to leave her life of working in the vineyards. The night they chose was cold and windy, and through the entire process, he'd heard his conscience calling to him, threatening deadly judgement. But he shrugged it off, eager to pursue this dream which had presented itself in front of him. As he scurried down the mountain pass, he began to silently convince himself that what he was doing was the right thing and slowly but surely, he felt God become more and more distant from his heart. He was too far down the road to perdition, and there was no chance there was any atonement for the sin he had committed.

She never turned up at the appointed meeting place. His heart sank as he desperately clung onto the hope he had built within himself and waited by a ditch on the road. The hours went by and as dawn began to break over the horizon, so too did the realisation that she had been untrue to him. She was never going to turn up and never had the intention to. To her, her life at the vineyard was content and peaceful and there was no way she'd give that up. The declarations of love for him were worth as much as his previous declarations of love for God. All seemed lost. He had never felt so abandoned as this since the day his father had pushed him off the carriage into the courtyard of St Patrick's. In a daze, he wandered the streets, living off leftovers from the occasional kind villager and working as a farmhand during the ripe season.

Now here he was again. Up that same old mountain slope he had traversed countless times. But even as the rain pelted him mercilessly, he did not flinch as he marched bravely onwards. He knew that today, he would either be struck by lightning for his betrayal or embraced once again by the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. The door to the cathedral creaked open after a short rap on it and he was greeted by an all too familiar face. Father Constantine. He seemed to have aged a century since he last saw him but the joy on his face was evident. "Son...It has been a long time. Come, sit by the fire, and tell me about where you've been." The tears began to stream forth from his eyes as the remorse began to filter in. As he gathered his belongings and made his way through that chapel door, he looked back into the storm and heaved a sigh of relief.

But even as the chapel door grinded to a close, a small stone embedded itself in its hinges and ensured that a constant gale found its way inside.

"I have returned, Father."

Traveller fell apart at 1:23 AM

January 18, 2005

The Raw Truth

After watching the movie Closer, I begin to realise my own inadequacies in terms of experience at relationships. As I was viewing the complicated transpiration of a four-way love "square" of cheating, lying and longing, I asked myself questions like why love wasn't a simpler affair. Couldn't a man just love ONE woman and stay faithful to her all his life? Why do people have to long for another and stray from people who they're really meant for the moment someone momentarily more interesting comes along? If only it were that simple. Life isn't just about black and white situations, and like everything else in relationships, there always appear grey areas in situations where we find ourselves immensely embroiled in. Unfortunately for me, this grey area in relationships hasn't been something I've been able to experience first-hand. I haven't been through rough rides in most of my relationships, I haven't seen the ugly side of people in my partners and for the most part, I'm considered an 'infant' in terms of experience in dealing with affairs of the heart.

But what is this driving force which leaves people unsatisfied even when they seem to have the most beautiful of romances? I believe it's an emotion called excitement. There's a tinge of excitement in getting together with someone new, in finding out their perks and little secrets. There's a flood of emotion in knowing that you're doing something which will draw dire consequences if you're caught. Then there's the fact that once the initial enthusiasm of a relationship wears down, you end up wanting to seek excitement in order to rejuvenate it. And if you don't find it in your partner, you end up searching for it in someone else. Perhaps that's why most people find it easy to succumb to the cheating bug, precisely because they've lost that initial spark of excitement. But of course, I'm inexperienced remember? So what I say now might not actually count for much.

There's a saying which goes "The wise learn through the pain and experiences of others". I am tempted though, to conclude that the statement is flawed. Because some things in life you cannot experience and truly learn from unless it is self-inflicted. You've got to actually experience the emotions for yourself and see what it feels like before you learn from it. For example, you'll never learn how it is to climb a mountain unless you personally make a trip up to Mount Everest. So that's it with life. Some things you learn through the experiences of others, and some things you learn through your own pain, blood, sweat and tears. Relationships are one of them. You learn through the betrayals, heartbreaks, selfishness and lies. You learn through the love, emotion, feeling and happiness.

The only consequence of learning through this method though, is the jaded vigour we bring to our final relationship. Do we really want to be less than 100% for our eventual spouses? I don't know anymore. I'm too inexperienced as I say and all I can do, is to watch and learn.

"And so it is, just like you said it would be."

Traveller fell apart at 12:22 AM

January 14, 2005

The Ice Thaws.

I think I've begun shedding some of the more cynical and cold attitudes which have been plaguing me for much of my post-adolescent years. It's odd to think that a person like me may once have been more cheerful, more forgiving and definitely more hopeful when looking to the future. Those hopes which I carried with me slowly but surely withered into broken ones as the tide of cynicism which stemmed from disappointment began to wash me over, carrying away all the hopes I had ; not quite unlike the recent tsunami's effect on the lives of over 500,000 people. Perhaps it's time to get a new perspective on life, one which doesn't involve distrust and suspicion. A new perspective, a new attitude for 2005 and hopefully, a new direction for my life. But I dare not hope for too much because as we've seen too many times, resolutions made at the beginning of the year are hardly followed through simply due to sheer unenthusiasm or purely, laziness. Ahh, but there's the cynic in me speaking again.

I've begun to start watching Singapore's soccer team in the Tiger Cup this year. After the last Tiger Cup debacle where Singapore were thrashed 0-4 at the Kallang Stadium by the Malaysians, it had seemed an impending reality ; our national team was just not good enough and would never stand to make our dreams of qualifying for the World Cup in 2020 come true. It's funny to think how a change in management and player attitudes has taken our national team so far. We've qualified from our relatively tough group stages in style, we've taken on the tough, bruising Myanmese at their own game and came out victorious and the national team even had the audacity to go straight to the heart of Indonesia for the first leg and to carve out a victory in front of an 80,000 partisan home crowd. It's not surprising then, that the performances from the Lions this year have given renewed hope to fair-weather fans who had previously condemned the entire team to obscurity in the ASEAN region. So on Sunday night, those of you who do show up at the Kallang Stadium to renew the long-forgotten Kallang roar, please show up with hope in your hearts. I will be there, with my hope tucked safely in my heart and my heart worn proudly on my chest.

Other events in my life have also provided the need for much hope with regards to seemingly impossible situations. And I've reached a conclusion. I'd rather dedicate a small amount of hope to this seemingly impossible but yet, unique situation rather than live my life forever in a cold pit of isolation and apathy. The saying "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all" is true then, because what you've experienced only makes you wiser and stronger and some things you can never learn solely through the experiences of others. I don't want to hope for too much, but somewhere inside that seemingly cold exterior, a part of me cries out for solidarity in the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation. And I've decided for once, to accede to the requests from this little part of me. To hope, and run the risk again.

Even if I do get these hopes dashed, even if Singapore is thrashed on Sunday by a rampant Indonesia, even if what I hope for doesn't materialise ; it will be fine. Because the way I see it, this is my catharsis. A way my soul and inner self can recover from the years of built up frustration and angst against the world and my circumstances. Hope. Indeed a powerful thing when used in the right dosage.

"Comin' down the world turned over, and angels fall without you there. And I go on as you get colder, or are you someone else's prayer?"

Traveller fell apart at 6:46 PM

January 10, 2005

16913 kilometres, 10509 miles, 9133 nautical miles

It's funny how we're able to comment and rant about things when we're on the opposite side of the fence. Somehow, those issues which we criticize people about don't prick us at the spot where it hurts the most and we find ourselves in a sense, facilitated to continue our self-righteous judgement. Over the past few months, I've been railing at people who fail to exercise self-control when it comes to matters of the heart, hopelessly spiralling down that dead-end of experimenting in love and ultimately getting their hearts broken. But one thing I've realised, is that when the situation itself hits you, you find yourself floundering and losing your own bearings. It's as if whatever you've said in the past doesn't count for anything and all that matters is the feeling at the present moment.

The summer in Singapore so far has been bitter-sweet. There have been things which I have done with my friends which were extremely gratifying, and yet, there were incidents which tore up an abyss of regrets within myself. It is funny then, how life throws at you unexpected incidents and people and leaves you to ponder over them while they leave as quickly as they entered your life. Perhaps this is what they mean by God's will, that some people were never meant to be in your life but merely to teach you a lesson as they pass through it. I dare not conceive this notion, however, because I've come to cherish that someone whose path crossed with mine. Together, we journeyed on that little slice of eternity, that meander in our once parallel life paths which left me only in wistful silence.

I don't know anymore, and I don't want to know. I don't want to hope, and I don't want to pine. But I figure, that little slice of eternity, will live on forever in memories. Because that's what memories were created for ; so we would have something good to draw back on through the challenges life throws us.

"Your fragrance begins to dissipate in the wake of your departure, so quickly that I can no longer catch up with you."

Traveller fell apart at 1:50 AM

January 05, 2005

The footsteps tread carefully, even hesitantly across the courtyard square. Puddles of water left over from the rainy night now became traps for the careless traverser. As the first sign of light began to break in the horizon, he stood a few steps away from the building and took it all in, the first time he had ever managed to do so. It was majestic, grand, imposing even. But none of it spelt the love, the comfort that the people inside had promised so fervently. All it reeked of was legalism, judgement and condemnation ; nothing which he had noticed previously. As he drew breath in order to internalise the shock and disbelief which seemed to seep so inevitably into his mind, the first rays of sunlight began to give the structure its intended glory. He needed to find a reason, an explanation for what he'd just heard. He needed validation. Validation for the months of faith and devotion he'd put into the organisation, the 'family' they had termed. As he lifted his foot to embark on that seemingly long journey up the stairs, he muttered a silent prayer, although to whom he no longer knew.

The air inside was still, as always. Yet, this stillness did not culminate into a sense of peace and tranquility as it always had for him when he had been here on Sunday mornings. The stillness seemed to stifle his inner being, strangle his opinions and suffocate his own fears. The pulpit seemed no longer to eminate an aura of authority and wisdom, it only served as a bastion from which all legalism seemed to stem from. The benches which were usually filled with fervent, devoted believers were now empty and seemed to echo his every footstep, as if in silent vigil over his new-found skepticism. Could he even call his new attitude skepticism? Wasn't it yet another term coined by the organisation to prevent intellectualism from taking root within them? He swallowed hard, breathed in and rapped on the door through which he had been so many times.

"Yes? Ahh, my son, what brings you here?" The voice which greeted him was familiar and yet, so alien. He sensed nervousness and perhaps, even irritation in the Reverend's tone. "I... had some questions, Father. I..." He did not even manage to finish before he was cut off abruptly and rudely. "Before you go on, son, give careful thought to this. Do you want to question what The Lord has set aside for us? Do you truly believe you can comprehend what He has decided and what He knows?" "Father, if I could just have a minute of your time...perhaps we should sit down and talk about this. Let me..." The door swung ajar at his prod and revealed a sight which he had never begun to imagine. In the Reverend's room, a young boy knelt, sobbing and naked from the waist down. He gasped in horror as realisation hit him. The hypocrisy and betrayal! He reeled backwards in disbelief and found a bench in his way. Grabbing at the arm of the bench for support, it was all clear to him now. Those months of canvassing in the streets, carolling at Christmas and giving his tithe on Sundays, they had all been foolish endeavours.

His stagger turned into an uncertain jog as he stumbled his way through the benches. His desperation soon turned into anxiety as he searched frantically for the exit. Suddenly, the very place in which he believed he had found his salvation had turned into the very place where he had lost it. Salvation. Could it still be termed that? Or was it all just a big farce? An elaborate scheme? He did not know and did not want to anymore. And as he made his way through the now crowded courtyard, he stole one last glance at the church. It was at that point then, that his heart turned to stone.

Questions, questions, doubts. So many things running through my mind now and all at once, the torrent of apathy and cynicism hits me once again. Can Christian living ever be applied to the ways of this world? I suppose not. But yet, it is so hard to keep a balance on both. One has to go, one has to stay. Question is, are we prepared to leave the ways of the world behind? Easier said than done. Most people begin their year in certainty, making resolutions and resolving to follow them fervently. These people, however, end off in doubt and often compromise. My year began in doubt, so might it then, end off in certainty? I can only pray.

Traveller fell apart at 3:23 AM

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