February 23, 2005

10 Lessons

In retrospect, the summer which has gone past seems to have whisked itself by in the blink of an eye. It's come and gone too soon and suddenly, I find myself staring at the prospect of another 9 months without my family and friends too daunting. I'll be honest, even as the minutes tick by, I am feeling sad about returning to Melbourne. Granted, I'm really excited about the new house and new housemates. But who can blame me, really? I've lived 20 years in Singapore and every time I leave, it's definitely going to be a drag.

Looking back, though, I've learnt alot from my time here in Singapore.

1. Sometimes, some things are just not meant to be. The more you try to push for them, the more you'll end up adding misery to yourself.

2. Opportunity doesn't knock twice. When it comes by, you either grab it with both hands or watch it flutter away in the wind.

3. Love is a subjective term. Make sure you allocate yourself ample time and space to get to know the person before making any hasty decisions.

4. Be sure of yourself in whatever you do. Enter into something half-hearted and you find yourself whole-heartedly in deep shit.

5. Sometimes, people let you down. Yes, even your friends. Closest ones.

6. We only live once, so make the most of everything or live in regret.

7. Life is essentially a struggle between the flesh and the spirit. So either you give in to your flesh or you fly high in spirit.

8. Relationships which aren't working out must be ended promptly, or you risk dragging yourself down the mire.

9. Find out the facts before you pass judgements. Because the decisions you make while your vision is clouded ultimately could ensue in accidents.

10. Home is where the heart is. No doubt about that.

It's weird really. How this time around, leaving feels exactly like how it did the last time. But the way I see it, I've got to do what I've got to do. There's no running, no escape. Not to say that I don't enjoy my time in Melbourne of course, I do. But somehow, home is always where the heart is. See you guys on the other side. Till November.

"Nobody told me we'd only get one chance. I didn't know that our time would turn so fast. Why we have to say goodbye I don't understand."

Traveller fell apart at 12:20 AM

February 20, 2005


I think in life, many of the issues and problems we contemplate and encounter regularly entail a sense of timing. Everything in life, is all about timing really. And timing is what makes the difference between a success or a failure, a date or an evening alone, a life saved or a life ended. If there are lessons to take from my time back here in Singapore for the summer, this must be it. That timing and opportunity are not to be squandered, to be gambled away on the table in which we must all play that poker game called 'life'. To have seen an opportunity for happiness or accomplishment slip away is as good as stabbing yourself in the back ; quite literally, you're sabotaging your own future. And I think recent events have forced me to re-think my policies and regards with reference to certain affairs of the heart.

I'm not sure whether it was mere chance or coincidence that she replied the way she did. But I'm glad. Because it shows that we are two of a kind, that we share similar interests and tastes, that perhaps there is more to us than just a laugh and friendly banter. To say that I'm falling for her would be premature, simply because I feel that the period we've spent together has been too short a time for me to say I like her. But there are definitely the budding thoughts and intentions which I try to hold back, but come bursting through like a strained dam. I've had thoughts about what life would be like if I did go after her, if our friendship would be ruined as a result, if we would be happy together and I've realised that sometimes, I think too much. Why not just enjoy the ride and take things as they come?

Because Joel, that's just the way you are. Calculative, contemplative, analytic and risk-fearing.

But isn't it a risk worth the while? Something which I won't live to regret?

But you won't. You'll just sulk and hide in the corner, watching and waiting. Till it passes you by and you hang your head down in agony all over again. The agony not because you missed the opportunity but because you succumbed to your apprehension yet again.

Ever felt like a song totally fit the mood? Well, this one certainly does. If only I had the guts to play and sing it for her. That'd be the day, Joel.

Lifehouse - You And Me

What day is it
And in what month
This clock never seemed so alive
I can't keep up and I can't back down
I've been losing so much time.

'Cause it's you and me and all of the people
Nothing to do, nothing to lose
And it's you and me and all of the people and
I don't know why, I can't keep my eyes off of you.

All of the things that I want to say
Just aren't coming out right
I'm tripping on words, you got my head spinning
I don't know where to go from here.

Cause it's you and me and all of the people
With nothing to do, nothing to prove
And it's you and me and all of the people and
I don't why, I can't keep my eyes off you.

Something about you now
I can't quite figure out
Everything she does is beautiful
Everything she does is right.

Cause it's you and me and all of the people
With nothing to do, nothing to lose
And it's you and me and all of the people and
I don't know why I can't keep my eyes off of...

You and me and all of the people
With nothing to do nothin to prove and
It's you and me and all of the people and
I don't why, I can't keep my eyes off of you.

What day is it
And in what month
This clock never seemed so alive.

Yeah, I can't keep my eyes off of you.

Traveller fell apart at 2:57 AM

February 14, 2005

Of Hearts & Arrows

It's here again, that season of love where roses suddenly cost $50 a stalk. Where stupid people do absolutely ridiculous things all in the name of romance and idealism. It's strange after all, how love loses its lustre the moment all these things are stripped from it. How love becomes just another raw emotion the moment it isn't tragic, romantic or thrilling. Saunter through the streets of Orchard Road later today and you'll see my point. The commercialism, the needless waste, the false sense of romantic value which all culminates in a night of debauchery. It's abit overwhelming frankly, how human civilisation has managed to make a holiday originally planned for massive sex orgies in the Roman Empire into what Valentine's is today.

I've recently been told by close friends that I'm too picky when it comes to girls. Somehow, I don't quite agree. I don't think there's anyway that I could be too fussy choosing a prospective girlfriend, especially when it concerns my future and basically the next 40 years of my life. They say that looks don't matter, that it's the character that counts. I beg to differ, really. It's a foolish and naive assumption to make about the opposite sex. Looks DO matter, whether we like it or not. Modern society has been conditioned to offer advantages and favours to the better-looking. It is a fact of life and it is in no way a different thing when it comes to affairs of the heart. Truth is, she's got to look good. Well, at least good enough for me not to gag or feel pissed off if I were to face her 24/7/365. Pragmatically, and rather frankly speaking, there's also got to be a healthy amount of lust I feel when I look at her.

Don't get me wrong now. I'm not implying that looks and lust should be the basis of a relationship. Getting together for the wrong reasons would be suicidal, not just emotionally but financially as well. Looks should never form the platform on which you base your feelings for the other person. But somewhere, somehow, in that complicated equation we often draw on in order to call our obvious affinity to our significant other, there's got to be a mix of 'looks' and 'healthy lust'. Seriously. It's idealistic and stupid to believe that looks don't matter and I'm willing to take anyone on in a debate to prove to me otherwise. And I think when all's been said and done, I've come up with some really important and yet, pragmatic conditions for my prospective wife/girlfriend.

1. She's got to be really brainy - This is really important. I cannot stress this enough. I will not tolerate dimwittedness and I have absolutely no patience for simple-minded people. Call me an elitist or simply intolerant, but stupid people will never gain a foothold in my hierarchy of friends nor will they get more than 10 minutes of my time. But of course, brainy here doesn't just mean intelligent academically. She's got to be street smart and witty as well.

2. She's got to be pleasant looking to me - Yet another important point I cannot stress enough. I've got to be able to stare her in the face for many days straight without feeling pissed off. It's true. It's a fact. Let's not deny it, looks DO matter. Some people say I've high taste and the girls I have my eye on are usually really pretty. But hey, this is your ultimate happiness you're talking about here. Can you afford to be wishy-washy?

3. She's got to be opinionated - I don't want to be talking to a block of wood all day who doesn't have her own opinions and judgement on matters. Politics, theology, entertainment news, current affairs. I want to be able to discuss with her at length about all these issues and be able to engage her deeply in an involving conversation. A certain amount of feistiness about her would be really appealing as well. An ability to think independently and yet, be able to offer support whenever I need it.

4. She has to be ambitious - I don't want a phlegmatic housewife who stays home all day and tends to the kids. I want her to be engaged in society, to be involved in daily affairs and to be able to stand as my equal in the working world. Yet, I want her to be able to offer her support to me in case I need it. She has to be career-driven and yet, able to put aside those ambitions in the event that family needs her more.

Selfish of me? Perhaps. But hey, you can't afford to be care-less about picking your future spouse. Settle for the best, nothing less. Especially when it concerns your future happiness. Any less? You'd just be short-changing yourself.

"I don't mind spending everyday, out on your corner in the pouring rain."

Traveller fell apart at 2:31 AM

February 08, 2005

Red Season

"Joel, when are you going to settle down? You see your cousins all brought their girlfriends and boyfriends. Where is your girlfriend?"

Unexpected words which my grandmother uttered the moment she saw me at reunion dinner. It's strange, really. Because I'm only a tender 22 and last I checked, marriageable age is at least 5 years down the road. So what's all this fuss about me showing up at reunion dinner unaccompanied? But grandma's question did get my head spinning. I started asking myself when I was ever going to find someone and manage to bring her to my annual reunion dinner. It was a daunting question and the headache was compounded when all my cousins showed up at the dinner table with partners-in-tow. The pressure really mounted from then on.

I think the entire concept of Chinese New Year is a novel one. Which other culture practices this unspoken meeting point somewhere in late January to early February, where extended families meet and exchange gossip and small talk? The red packets are secondary, seriously they are. When you get to your 20s like me, you start to realise the amounts inside dwindle and the red packets become more symbolic than significant. What becomes important is the act of meeting up, filling in and basically just watching how your relatives age. It's been no exception for me either. Somehow, this year's Chinese New Year seems...dampening. It's not that I don't like my family nor the festivities. It's more of a realisation that with each passing year, some people from the family pass away and you realise their absence at the next Chinese New Year. It's a thought which creeps into your mind and goes 'Time is a fleeting, and we are all dying. Slowly but surely.' Morbid yes, but so true.

Barely 2 weeks before my return to Melbourne. Mom's been nagging me to get started on my packing and I must admit, for good reason as well. The amount of stuff I have to bring back begins to pile up more and more as I go on with the packing. It's a phenomenal amount of luggage I have to carry back really. But I think, in a sense, it's symbolic of the amount of emotional luggage I have to lug back to Melbourne as well.

"When will I see the light at the end of the tunnel? Don't know. But for now, the darkness beckons."

Traveller fell apart at 11:26 PM

February 04, 2005

Innocence Lost

Have you ever had dreams as a child? I'm sure we've all had them. Be it the care-less dreams of being a dancing ballerina or the ambitious ones of chasing down the bad guys as a cop, we've all had our own fair share of naivety in youth. I'm sure we've all played cops and robbers, had "tea parties" and invited our friends over to share in our childish endeavours. But over the years, those walls of youthful innocence, slowly but surely found themselves eroded by the swosh of apathy and corruption which emanates from every corner of the media and society. My question to you today is "How far has your imagination taken you?" Have you given up your childish dreams in search of more 'adult-like' ventures? Are we truly more adult-like when we gradually learn to give up what we REALLY want in exchange for what society wants from us?

I think in this world, people don't often believe enough. Too much has been placed on the concept of proof, evidence and faith by sight. Whatever happened to good old chivalry and faithfulness? Loyalty and honesty? The centuries may have brought progress in terms of scientific and medical advances, but society since the ancient ages has just been in decline. The human race has been made to tolerate and to "understand" immorality. We cheat, lie and steal without batting an eyelid and in doing so, we leave ourselves only in a vicious circle of mistrust and sin. Don't believe me? Ask a man on the street today if he would spare you $10 and offer to give him your address to claim payment later. Chances are he'll look at you with a cynical smirk and wave you off. Truth is, we've traded in imagination and idealism for pragmatism and reason. Which may not be such a bad thing because pragmatism does carry with it a certain level of level-headedness and objectivity. But too much of anything is always a bad thing. Human society today focuses too much on pragmatism and realism, too much on guarantees and bonds.

And some people say we've made tremendous advances in terms of civility and civic-consciousness since the Middle Ages. What a fallacy, what a lie.

"Innocence once lost, can never be recovered."

Traveller fell apart at 1:52 AM

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