Another jump

“Jump first, fear later.” – SK the potato-lover

I did a lot of jumping in 2009 and landed on my face more than my feet.

So here I am, bruised, broken and about to take another jump. Maybe I’ll fly. Maybe I’ll fall into the sea again.

I lost my faith in many things in 2009: God, my capabilities, love and people I once cared about.

But I made new friends. I learned new things about life and myself that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

All the fire and pain burned away illusions and left me with new truths.

And as always He has been waiting, holding out a hand.

I take it and dance into a new day and a new beginning.

You don’t just throw people away

Just when I think I’m walking away from theatre to concentrate on music and serious writing, the stage coaxes me back.

The best bit is being able to combine my love for music and story telling into helping get a play off the ground. It’s a scary yet exhilarating collaborative endeavour. It’s going to be a lot of hard work but I hope it’ll be worth it.

Right now, I’m dreaming up soundscapes in my head. I’m hearing the city, its voices and the music it plays. Feeling the rhythm, the beats and the ‘soundtrack’ of Kuala Lumpur. A city I love and loathe, own and disown.

Our director said something that I keep hearing over and over in my head, a refrain that still haunts me at night:

"You don’t just throw people away."

I know what that feels like – to be ‘thrown away’. Cast aside. Dismissed. Made to feel not good enough. So easily replaced.

It hurts. Part of getting over that is acknowledging the pain and purging the bile that threatens to accumulate in my throat sometimes. I spent half the year getting over someone I stopped seeing in January and right now am still dealing with the fallout of drama I didn’t expect to encounter. But that’s life for you. At least drowning myself in the arts makes me feel closer to whole.

Looking through YouTube for inspiration, I come across this song from Pasek and Paul’s song cycle, Edges. I love the show; its lyrics are fresh, its melodies fun and it makes me want to write my own songs for the stage.

The song Dispensable, though, is painful to listen to. No, not because it’s a terrible song. The lyrics just hit home far too easily.

"I hope that I won’t have to wait to heal. Until you feel as broken as I feel."

That’s the sad bit. I want to be OK. I want to just be over every hurt and heartache but healing takes time and sometimes, I don’t get a say over when I really will be OK. Time, I find, heals nothing. Dulls the pain, maybe. But time does not fix things. It doesn’t.

Wounds will heal when they heal and life, being the bitch it is, likes to rip wounds open before they get a chance to even scab over.

Dispensable

What hurts the most
is knowing that I love you more
than you love me.
So there’s nothing I can do,
though you say it isn’t’ true.
You wont have a discussion,
and you know the repercussions.
All of your reasons,
are easily defensible.
So you can cleanly walk away from me,
I guess I’m now dispensable

What hurts the most
is packing up a box of things
that once belonged to us.
Is the T.V. yours or mine?
Are you already feeling fine?
I don’t know what you’re thinking,
I start slipping and keep sinking.
I try to understand it,
but it’s just incomprehensible.
The one that you once loved is now alone,
accepting he’s dispensable.

Show me, feel something.
Let yourself scream.
Prove that this is harder for you
than you make it seem.
While I’m shattered,
you act happy to be free.
Say I mattered as much to you,
as you always will to me.

I hope that I wont have to wait to heal.
Until you feel as broken as I feel.

What hurts the most,
is watching you be done with me,
when I’m not done with you.
What will you tell your friends?
Is this how it really ends?
You’re adjusted and collected,
all together uneffected.
You found your solution,
you always were so sensible.
You never opened up enough to hurt.
And dared to be…
Dispensable

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Our love affair with lies

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked that of Jesus.

“What is wrong with telling the truth?” That is my question.

I laughed over nasi lemak last night when friends of mine playacted the “It’s not you, it’s me” charade oft-played during breakups. Yet the humour underlined that human dilemma, that hang-up we have about sparing people’s feelings.

That’s bullshit.

A lie is still a lie, no matter how you sugarcoat it.

My relationship with my oldest friend is defined by our commitment to always, always be frank with the other. I am who I am partly because she loved me enough to tell me what I needed to hear. Always.

A guy I dated last year was a textbook case of ‘sayingwhatyoudon’tmean-itis’. It got to the point I could never trust him anymore – whatever few memories we had were tainted by all the truths he covered up, all the white lies and things he never meant. The saddest part? Dishonesty pretty much became his default state.

Friendship to me is a covenant. Truth is its foundation. I might hurt a friend’s feelings today by being blunt but I will lose the friend’s trust forever if I should ever be caught out in a lie.

If I call you friend, I will not lie to you. I won’t even tell you a dress looks good on you if it doesn’t. Or I like your haircut if I don’t.

Because I want you to know, with absolute certainty, that I mean it when I say:

– I care for you.
– I want the best for you.
– I am happy for you.
– I believe in you.
– I’m here for you.
– I love you.
Say what you mean.
Mean what you say.
Is that too much to ask of people today? I suppose it is.

Joy in your happiness

IMG_2535.JPG

Some occasions are more than mere celebrations. Which was precisely why I chose to make a trip all the way to Penang just to attend Peter and Wuan’s wedding dinner.

Anyone into the local blogging scene will recognise Peter as a prolific blogger passionate about the rights of those with special needs. Being bound to a wheelchair hasn’t stopped him from being vocal about the rights of the disabled, even if he occasionally rubs people the wrong way.

I have always admired his tenacity and dedication. Beyond that, he is also gracious, kind and really rather funny in person.

Wuan, you could say, is his rock. She has faithfully stood by him through the years and behind her demure facade, she is probably one of the strongest women I know. Where Peter can be emotional, she is calm and steady. Her gentleness and giving nature are things to admire. She is also quite the photographer, something Peter’s justifiably proud of.

I despise romance novels but Peter and Wuan’s love story is one for the ages. Because it is real. It’s true. When I see them so happy together, I feel happy too.

It’s easy to give up on love in this time and age. You see women marrying for money, men collecting trophy wives and trading up once the woman’s youth and beauty fades. Society and its twisted notion of beauty, celebrating the skeletal, the shallow, the vapid and the vain. I get so sad listening to people tell me they’re lonely when they’re really just waiting for someone who matches all the requirements on their lists. They would rather be in love with a fantasy ‘perfect’ person than ‘settle’ for a real, flawed human being capable of love.

Speaking as someone who’s been broken many times by the relationship game, I say it’s a wonderful thing to see someone get it right.

To Peter and Wuan, may you be blessed and happy in your life together. May God watch over you, guide you and comfort you through the challenges life may bring.

Most of all, I wish you love. All the days of your lives.

I think I’m seeing a pattern

Twice this year I’ve encountered people as guarded as maximum security prisons.
I’m sensitive to walls and my first reaction is to then find out why they’re there in the first place.
What I have yet to be good at is discerning when storming the castle is a good idea.
Is it worth the time caring about someone who makes it damnably hard? Who puts up a thousand and one defences, makes one hundred and one excuses. Who, everytime you gain an inch, steps back and grabs a mile.
I got the same answer from both ‘castles’:
“I am what I am.”
Some people are emotional cripples. Unable to really give or really receive affection. When it’s thrown their way, they shy away or attempt to control it. Or set rules. Or refuse to accept it unless it’s received from cleared, chosen sources.
Why waste your time caring about people too self-absorbed or too dysfunctional to care back?
My mind tells me it’s a waste of time.
My heart tells me that God does just the same. Cares about us even when we turn away. Even when we ignore Him. Even when we don’t make any time at all to be with him.
But maybe for God, it hurts less.

Justice isn’t just a political party

As the Tweets keep coming in about the brutal suppression of the anti-ISA protests, I wonder just how much more of this we can endure.
We are seeing change whether we, or the government, likes it or not. There is a shift in public awareness that we cannot deny and we see it clearly in today’s youth.
They’re more aware, more well-informed, more concerned about the future of the country. They discuss openly politics, good governance, ethics and social justice. It’s the way it should be -the future is theirs, after all, and they have every right to fight for it.
But being for the country does not, my countrymen, equate choosing a political side. I see boors on both sides of the divide. On the left, the worst are the over-idealistic fanboys who forget the opposition heroes are men, not deities. I shake my head at my friends who rant about their countrymen who refuse to stand up and be counted at rallies or public protests. There are many ways to effect change – public demonstrations are one means but not the be all and end all.
Then on the other side are my friends who complain about how protestors are causing traffic jams. Evidently doing your Saturday shopping is far more important that your fellow citizens expressing their discontent with an unjust state of affairs. Then there are the much too entrenched politicians too busy, going on questionable overseas trips and building huge mansions, to address the needs of the poor and the needy.
Which side am I on? On God’s. No side but God’s. But it’s ironic that for a nation that puts ‘Belief in God’ right at the top of our national creed, we don’t reflect it in the Malaysian mentality.
Do we ask ourselves if we met our Maker tomorrow if he would be pleased with the way we conducted our lives?
Would God forgive us our bribing the policemen to let us off for traffic offenses, real or fabricated?
Would God really be fine with us either cursing our countrymen for protesting or cursing them for not protesting?
Wouldn’t God ask us why we didn’t do more for the hungry, the oppressed, the sick and the suffering?
Is God really more concerned with unmarried couples getting it on than with orphaned children, impoverished widows and those deprived of basic necessities?
A caveat here – if you don’t believe in God, atheists are cool with me too. And if you did good for its sake and not for some hypothetical deity you don’t believe exists, that certainly says something for your character.
The point I’m trying to make is you can call for governance, ethics, compassion and yes, justice, without it being political.
It’s not political to want to do and be good.
To do right by all people and not just the privileged few is something everyone should have the freedom and space to do. No one should need to pay allegiance to a party or political messiahs to do the right thing.
Here and now, I profess no political leanings. No party affiliations. No belief in any creed but God’s.
I just wonder what God thinks of water cannons, tear gas and the unarmed people they’re used on.

This troubling absence of desire

'Tis true: there's magic in the web of it

I haven’t wanted to eat for awhile.

Since November actually.

See, there’s a difference between wanting and needing to eat. I eat now when I know I’ll be incoherent at a meeting. Or once my stomach is making loud, painful demands.

It troubles me because I used to love food. Then it starts to dawn on me that my favourite dishes all had associations with feelings and not so much taste.

The best lasagna I ever had was in a small cafe where I would hang out after school to attempt my Add Maths homework. Alone with my books in the midst of the smells of the kitchen and the comforts of a cushy booth. School was hard but right then, right there it was all good.

The best kurma I’ve had is my mother’s. But then I also remember the care she’d take with her cooking, the times she’d take a mouthful of rice in her hand and feed it to me. Every time I eat with my hands, I think of her.

The best pastry I tasted was in Copenhagen, Denmark. The danishes in La Glace don’t crumble – they melted in your mouth. It wasn’t at all what I expected. But then I never thought I’d be holidaying in a little flat on Istedgade, cooking kai lan in oyster sauce and seeing the street walkers come out after dark from my window.

All the food I loved all were associated with memories, with feelings.

Then I remember I had a breakup in November. Aah.

I remember telling you I loved you more than life.

I recall never being happier in my life than that long ago summer in Denmark.

I remember when I first saw you I stopped breathing. So cliche but really, I was frozen to the spot. Right then, right there you were all that existed for those few seconds before I came to my senses.

I have never wanted nothing more than I have wanted you.

So now I gave you up, I have nothing left to want. I pick at my food. I have no cravings, no longings to fill the void.

There was a temporary moment when I played with fire, when I momentarily attempted to rekindle whatever passion I hadn’t given over to you. The trouble was my matches fell on damp soil. It’s painful to hear within the walls of your own home the words: “I keep thinking of this girl and I don’t mean to offend you but you aren’t her.”

It hurt but at least I felt something. Now I’m back to feeling and wanting nothing.

I gave you everything, it seems, and kept nothing for myself.

As the Fool said to Fitz: I have never been wise.

Confused, broken and searching

The past month has seen me obsessing over Type theory. Why, at the grand old-ish age of 31, am I only now delving into personality theory and figuring out my motivations?

I don’t think it’s ever too late to make the effort to get to know your constant companion: you.

At different stages of our lives, we want different things and we are different people. I had to take some time to reassess what I wanted and where I intended to go.

At 25, I had a nervous breakdown. I’d thought that I had achieved nothing in nearly a quarter century of existence and questioned why I deserved to breathe. What difference had I made to anyone or anything? Existential crisis – not fun.

Looking back, I feel a lot more compassion and perhaps some puzzlement at the sheer amount of self-reproach my younger self was capable of. Now I’m feeling lost at sea once more. Time for some pause. Some thought. Some prayer. Some reflection.

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of change for me and I admit it’s been hard trying to adjust to so much change. I’ve been so tired, my eyesight has deteriorated a lot, my digestive system has pretty much decided to go its own way. A lot of it is work stress, combined with my own tendencies to bottle up my feelings, put up a stoic front and push the limits of my endurance.

I wasn’t coping well. Why? I looked at the situation. The people. The events. In the end, I decided it all boiled down to me and why I was reacting the way I was to work.

Type theory has been interesting in that aspect, labeling me an ‘INFJ – Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judger’. One definition can be found here. Lucky me, I’m supposed to be rare. Hard to get to know. Many sided enough that INFJs often confuse themselves. Joy.

So armed with enough type theory books to load a camel with, I took good long looks at my traits, the way I approached life, work and other people. I’d recommend Type Talk at Work for most people already in a career. For the people still figuring that part out, I’d say the book Do What You Are is an invaluable resource.

Of all the definitions I read, one particular profile rang a clear bell about my current issues.

FORESEER DEVELOPER – INFJ
Personal growth. Sustain the vision. Honoring the gifts of others. Taking a creative approach to life. Talent for foreseeing. Exploring issues. Bridge differences and connect people. Practical problem solving. Live with a sense of purpose. Living an idealistic life often presents them with a great deal of stress and a need to withdraw.

So my ideals and reality aren’t gelling right now. What do I do now to get past that?

I guess I still have to figure that out.

I have been, and always will be your friend

Sunflower

Image by palestrina55 via Flickr

When my entanglements ended, as was their wont, I would sever ties and walk away.

It seemed pointless to ‘remain friends’ or ‘keep in touch’.

It’s over. Go.

Yet now I find myself eating with and greeting old lovers.

There is no self-consciousness.

No need to play act or pretend. No anxiousness. No fear of being left vulnerable.

It feels so good now to leave behind expectations, recriminations, real or imagined sins.

“Remember this and do not abuse it,” I said to one last night. “No matter how angry I might get at you I will never stay angry for long.”

There is no talking about the past.

We move forward as former intimates getting through the rest of life as friends.

It is far too easy to mistake physical proximity with real intimacy.

I believe the truest connection between two people is one forged with care, effort and honesty. To genuinely have real affection, to give real consideration is far harder for some than stealing a kiss or moving in the dark.

There is nothing to hide. Nothing to be afraid of.

Not anymore.

We play too many games

Play 'N' the Game album cover

Image via Wikipedia

This is not a post slamming gamers. I’m talking about different kind of games. The games we play at work, when dating, with our family members or our friends.

In an ideal world, communication would be direct, clear, honest. But we hide behind a lot of subterfuge, sending mixed messages and complicating the simple.

We put on facades, execute overly contrived strategies and in the end, we get so lost in the games we play that we forget and totally miss the objective.

I can safely say I didn’t play any games when I was on a casual ‘lunch date’ today. We talked, it was good conversation and it might just end there for all I know. Other women might play bait/switch, make gestures showing interest and all that. I leave those kind of games to insipid women’s magazine relationship articles. It was simple today. He talked, I listened. I talked, he listened. At the end of it, I was direct and clear (I think) and told him “You can call me if you want.” That’s exactly what I meant. If I thought he was boring/scary/not someone I’d see again, I’d have said thanks for the company. And left it at that.
 
Work is a different story. The communications field is a tricky minefield where strategy and approach is always bandied about. How do we make the client see that our counsel makes sense? How do we convince media our client has something to say? The direct approach, I find, isn’t always the best. Different landscapes and people require different tactics. Sometimes it’s the iron fist in the velvet glove. Sometimes it’s outright flattery. Sometimes I need to play the personality card or the ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ game.
 
If I see it as a game, work is a little more enjoyable. But at the end of the day, there are real things at stake – reputation and revenue. Work may be a game but it’s a serious one. I’m still learning the rules as I go along but I’m finally, finally catching up.