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Playing Movies In My Head July 26, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Stuff I Wride.
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Movie Reel

Funny thing about people. You look at someone: two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth; two arms, two legs, ten fingers and ten toes. One body. And you think that’s all you’re seeing, really: just one heart and mind and soul inside one body.

For a while now, I’ve started to think that maybe this isn’t quite so true. There isn’t always just a voice inside your head – sometimes there are voices inside your head, crowding the room and making a huge mess in there. You could go mad trying to listen in on everything they’re saying.

It isn’t always a bad thing of course. I sometimes hear three; it’s like sitting in the director’s chair and watching three Voices on set. They argue, weigh your pros and cons and the like. Usually one of my Voices is Religion, who somehow has the ability to shut everyone else up because the other Voices know they’re not allowed to argue with what Religion says. Sometimes these arguments make it to the director’s cut (mine), and sometimes they don’t.

Anyway, here’s another way of looking at it: we aren’t always the same person around different people. Relationships are a two-way thing, so you can’t just behave the same way to everyone. You’d have to look at the other person, and sometimes even the situation. Some people are more sensitive than others, so you have to watch what you say a little bit more; others may be more of a heart person and they definitely won’t appreciate your bitching about… well, anything.

I often find that the most interesting revelations come out when people think nobody’s looking. Like a personal blog that the owner thinks nobody visits anymore. It’s no longer a two-way relationship, because now you’re only writing for yourself. And you spill the stuff that’s been dying to get out – no pretense. And that’s when you see what kind of person they really are: the thoughts that run wildly around their heads, leaving trails of stars in their midst; that one thing or the many things that speed up their heart rate. The kind of stuff that makes you think: “I wish I knew you” or “I wish we were still friends”.

But if and when you do meet the person in real life, they always seem rather different than what you expected. They laugh more, louder. They joke often and a lot. They smile effortlessly. Because everybody knows: wearing your heart on your sleeve, that’s only the way of fools.

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Take A Walk Inside Your Head July 19, 2011

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Emotion

I don’t think very many people notice or realise it. Everybody’s so busy, caught up and entangled in the drama of their own lives that we don’t really stop to take a look at everybody else’s. Have you ever noticed how every single person is full to bursting point with emotion? I stopped to take a look today and I couldn’t help but stare.

You think you know their story, but really, there are stories behind the stories. People never tell the absolute truth because there are some things we can never bring ourselves to admit. Sometimes we do it to protect others, or for fear or shame. Sometimes we can’t stand being vulnerable, having everyone else know and never look at you the same.

I took a look at a boy I thought couldn’t care less about anything, and I found him to care so much that it frightened him. I took a look at an old friend who seemed to emphasise her laughter so that it was all anybody would see of her, and I found so much pain and sorrow I couldn’t understand how she never got tired.

We go through the days, never really dealing with our emotions. Sometimes I think the only ones who do are the ones who end up losing it, because they have to deal with so much. What is it that keeps you awake at night? It’s probably only a fraction of what you have stored inside. You know how your body automatically tries to stabilise itself when you trip? I don’t know much about Bio, but unless I’m very much wrong, our body has its own self-defence mechanisms and when we find ourselves tripping in our own heads, we can’t help but deny access to some doors.

You know, sometimes I think I time-travel. But perhaps just my soul, while my body stays obedient to the time-space continuum. There are some periods of my life where I can barely remember anything. I have flashes and glimpses of being thirteen, but most of the year is a black blur. I’m sure things happened at the end of my fifteenth, and even though people have given me the information, I can’t for the life of me put a memory to those details. But then again, this could just be me with the overdramatics again.

And then there are some doors in your head that you deliberately never come near, that you tiptoe your way around hoping it doesn’t bang open so all those dark thoughts and memories you keep stored away don’t come rushing in, flooding the space in your head.

I suppose different people have different ways of dealing with things – for you, maybe, talking about it helps. But if I say no, don’t keep trying to dig out my secrets. What right have you? This is one of those doors I never wish to open, the one I can see out of the corner of my eye, but I know I’ll never turn to face it in full view. I think that people, for a start, need to learn to stop poking and prying. And above all, respect others’ decision because what works for you doesn’t always work for me. Getting a bit personal here, but I don’t wish to have anything more to do with you if all you care about is satisfying your own damn curiosity and ‘pride of knowing’ at the expense of everything I have built up again these past months.

You know, if I could liken myself to anything, I’d be a see-saw – two extremes, always on one end or the other, but never in perfect balance. That’s how it is with my character, my personality… my emotions. I either feel too much or not enough. But you know, maybe finding yourself isn’t about discovering whether I’m really good or bad, greedy or selfless, tolerant or impatient; maybe it’s really finally realising that I’m neither one nor the other, and certainly not a little bit of both – but a whole lot of both instead.

/Side Note: What I write here is basically the reason I haven’t been writing at all the past few weeks. It’s because I’m so often brimming with emotion, that I can’t not let it get in the way of my writing. In the previous posts, I hadn’t quite reached where I have now – not sure if my glass is completely full now, but my head, mind and soul are practically swimming in a pool of emotion, yearning adventure and chasing that zest for life that I might have had once with a renewed vigour. Take a second look, you’ll see it’s written all over today’s post.

Dysfunctional is the New Normal June 4, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Stuff I Wride.
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Family

Family. What a boring topic. Who in their right mind would choose to watch a lame family comedy over an epic romance film? After all, family stopped being so great when dysfunctional became the new normal. Divorce rates are climbing higher, working parents shower their children with more money than time and grandparents are abandoned in Old Folks’ Homes. If you’re a kid, then hanging out with friends is way cooler than spending time with your parents.

Things used to be different in the past, didn’t they? People used to care more about the pride and honour of their family than romance; hence, the term ‘star-crossed lovers’. Nowadays, everybody’s looking for their own Shakespeare story. And who can really blame them? We grow up to the tune of Disney’s fairytales: Prince Charming rescues Cinderella from the horrid life at home with her step-family; Snow White is saved from her step-mother’s curse with True Love’s first kiss; Ariel finds escape from the clutches of her over-protective father with Prince Eric. Romantic love is being over-emphasised at the expense of family love, putting it way back in the shadows and, have you noticed there always seems to be something wrong with the protagonists’ family?

Clearly, the family today is under-appreciated for all its majesty. These days, everyone wants to follow the lead of Romeo and Juliet: it’s all about self and ‘true love’ before family. Did you forget how that story ends? You only end up killing yourself – an unnecessary death, if I might add.

Even in the working world, having a family is often seen as a distraction, a sign of weakness. More often than not, single women are presented with greater opportunities than working moms. For some weird, inexplicable reason, people at the top seem to think that just because you have extra mouths to feed at home, that makes you less capable. It couldn’t possibly be a motivation for you to work even harder. In fact, the only way being a family man can be seen as a good thing is if you’re a politician. Having a happy family somehow becomes a pre-requisite, a job requirement – apparently, a man’s ability to lead his country is judged by his ability to keep his family together.

Perhaps the reason why people appreciate romance more than family is this: the former isn’t always something we can have, while the latter is something everyone has, whether dead or dysfunctional or not. The children of today always feel the need to one up each other. Since everybody naturally has a family, then that’s really no basis for comparison. So instead, we turn to romance, when what we really need to do is treasure what we already have. Because that which we have, we take for granted. Always.

Family is like the sky that shelters you or the ground you step on – it’s been there for as long as you can remember. So long, in fact, that you’ve already forgotten the beauty you used to see in it.

Crippled by Your Own Fears June 4, 2011

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FailWhen I was about five, there was a little funfair held near my house. I went there one night with my mom and my four sisters. I don’t really remember much of what happened that night; whether we went on any rides or if we bought anything. I only remember one game we played that night: a diagonally upright board with little obstacles or whatnot on it. You threw marbles and looked where they landed – some spots gave you points, others could put you back to zero. We had only four marbles for a round, so after my three older sisters had each thrown a marble and scored some points, my mom offered the last marble to me. I looked at the little ball lying on her palm and I knew this was it – this was the deciding marble. This was the marble that could make or break the game. We could either walk away with a fluffy soft toy, or leave with nothing.

I guess as a kid it must have seemed like life and death. The pressure was too much for me to handle: a 50% chance of losing. Maybe even less; I don’t remember how many zero point spaces there were. All I know is I started crying like a baby and insisting that I didn’t want to throw the stupid marble. So instead it went to my little sister. What’s ironic is that we got a cute little palm-sized puppy toy – that I got to keep. Even as a kid, I was already of failure.

The problem with fear sometimes is that it keeps us from trying. We’re so afraid that we don’t try – because at least if we never try, we can still hold on to the belief that we just might have succeeded. ‘I could have if I’d tried’ is easier to deal with than ‘I tried and found that I could not’. We all want to believe there’s so much more behind the person in the mirror; that secretly there’s a light inside of us just waiting to shine and that the only thing holding it back is us, rather than our lack of talent. Nobody wants to know for sure that they’re just not good enough.

Why are we so afraid of failing anyway? Society today has created its own image of success: it doesn’t always have to do with being rich and famous. Sometimes it’s about how much you’ve accomplished in life, how many people you’ve helped or how much goodwill you’ve done. They can be good things or bad thing – but always, always, it has to be something big. As long as you haven’t earned a lot of money or saved a lot of lives, then you’re not a success story. You haven’t lived a life that’s exactly ‘worth living’. Ask any man on the street – nobody’s going to interpret success as ‘leading a very normal, very average life’.

But a lack of success isn’t always failure, and perhaps that is the reason why some of us are willing to settle for the ordinary. Because then, at least, we wouldn’t have invested all our effort, time and money on a failed venture. We’re not the rich and the famous, but we have a family and a stable income… You can’t call us failures.

The problem is, when you’d rather stay with Safe than risk a shot at success, you’re blocking out your own light. You’re preventing the world from witnessing what a bright, beautiful star you truly are. Imagine what great poetry or art could have been produced if some people weren’t so afraid of failing. Maybe the world would be simply overflowing with beautiful paintings and sculptures. Maybe we’d have found a cure for cancer. Maybe we could have saved some animals from extinction. Maybe we could have saved a life- ten- a hundred. Maybe I could have gotten a bigger soft toy. Maybe.

Bottom line is, stop thinking you can do so much more if you just take the first of that thousand and one steps – and start doing it.

When One Death means the End of the World May 23, 2011

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Earth

The issue of our dying Earth has been talked about so many times over and over again that we’re practically sick of hearing about it. Although a relatively new phenomenon that began only in the late ‘90s, being born earlier in that decade only means that I grew up with it; it was a part of my childhood. As a kid, green living became ingrained in my young and impressionable mind as the right way to go. Like how you learned what was right and what was wrong when you were so very young: Patience, Integrity etc. etc. … those were the good guys. The bad guys had names like Stealing and Punching and yes, Pollution.

But for all the talking that’s been going on in the last 20 years, how much have we actually achieved? Forget about the steps and actions we have (or haven’t) taken. We’re heading straight to the basics: do we really know how much damage we’re inflicting on Mother Earth and what we really can do to stop her deteriorating health?

Paper versus computer: killing trees or polluting the air? (Think power stations and tonnes of coal-burning.) Would it be better to watch the news on television or read about it in the papers? Or perhaps read it online? Styrofoam that releases harmful gases into the air when broken or non-biodegradable plastic? Is anybody else about as confused as I am at this point? I mean, I know what’s bad – but which is worse?

And despite all the information that’s been passed down to us, how many are actually doing anything to help – on a daily basis rather than respecting Earth Hour once a year? So how much hope do we really have of saving the Earth anyway?

You might think this ridiculous, but because we’ve grown up hearing so much about how our planet is dying, most – if not all – of us have actually become largely desensitised without even realising it. “Hey, when I was a kid, the Earth was dying then, too. Now I’m almost an adult, but the Earth hasn’t died yet. By the time I’m old and wrinkled, I guarantee you: the Earth will still be ‘dying’.” Face it. We all think this way on a subconscious level. No one actually thinks this planet will be gone tomorrow – so a lot of people just brush it off as ‘The Future Generation’s Problem’.

Sure, some of us try not to waste paper; reuse, reduce, recycle. We switch off the lights when we leave the room. We turn on the fans instead of the air-conditioning. We do good things for the planet. But sometimes, we slip up too. You just unwrapped a sweet and you’ve looked everywhere around you but you can’t find a single dustbin anywhere to throw this measly, pathetic piece of wrapping. Most people wouldn’t think twice about littering – you can’t be expected to hold on to rubbish for hours till you find a bin. Can you? (I admit I sometimes have a nasty habit of pocketing my trash, but then I’ll forget to throw it away when I’m standing next to a bin.)

But Gaia’s failing health – can it possibly be slowed down, stopped and eventually reversed? Thanks to advances in medical research, we can now expect to live longer, fight off numerous disease-triggered deaths, experience higher infant mortality rates etc. etc. The land space needed to house these 6-billion-over people alone is going to require some massive killing of rainforests. And once they’ve found a place to stay, they’re going to need and use up electricity – watts and watts and kilowatts of it. Then, as quality of life improves, they’re going to want to drive around in fancy sports cars and increase their carbon footprint. Okay, I know I’m generalising, but surely everyone knows how the devil tempts.

Personally, I don’t really think we can go back to the old days of ‘green and sunshine’. So what if everyone took public buses? (Like that’s ever going to happen.) Buses pollute the air, too. Less pollution isn’t the same as no pollution. And we’re always going to need books and toilet paper. And light. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the computer and Internet and mobile phones and basically every single thing we have right now.

I’m not saying there’s no point in going green. I’m all for ‘saving the Earth’, but the people of today – we’re not doing nearly enough.

Life’s Too Short to be Anything but Beautiful May 15, 2011

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fairydust

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is beauty in everything, but not everyone sees it. You could say it’s a cruel world we live in, but I think it’s beautiful. That doesn’t mean I’m naive. I just choose to live, and live beautifully.

Today, there seem to be a lot of broken hearts out there. The Internet is practically littered with them. Girls who are so broken they can’t get past it. Beautiful girls. And I don’t mean physically; I honestly think there’s something about being broken that makes you beautiful in your own way. It does make me sad sometimes – I wish I could blow fairydust on all these girls and cure their hearts. Everybody deserves to be happy. How long do you need to punish yourself before you can ever begin to forgive yourself?

Don’t get me wrong – I never said I wasn’t a little broken myself. I still beat myself up over past mistakes and regrets, over sins that shame me that I know I can never get past, still can’t forgive myself for things in the past that I let happen. I’ve been at the lowest point of my life, and stayed there – for about five months. I know what it’s like to wake up in the mornings feeling completely void and empty inside, to spend my weekdays going through the motions at work, weekends staying in bed all day. I’ve lost faith. I’ve had days where I can’t think of a single thing to live for. I’ve grappled with hope that didn’t stay for long. I know what it’s like. Trust me.

But the thing is, I chose to get back on my own two feet. One day I was in bed the whole day, trying to sleep off the pain, and when I was done with that, I decided I had to pull myself together. It was about time. And when you put your life back together, it means taking the lessons you’ve learnt from your past. Lessons, not traumas. Not phobias. No, nothing of the sort. You can’t be so afraid to live that you miss out on all the beautiful things life has to offer. Just because one person broke your trust, it doesn’t mean you should never trust again. I’m not saying you should keep naively trusting everyone; just trust wisely.

It makes me wonder if the world has always been this way: full of beautiful girls who can’t get back on their feet because they fell in love too young. Has it? Or is it the present culture that glorifies love too much, which at the same time glorifies broken hearts? Songs, movies, dramas – they make people want to fall in love, and when people fall out, they make them stay there. I mean, if someone broke your heart, the songs you listen to, naturally, are the ones that you relate to. Songs about the broken-hearted. And if you keep listening to these songs, how do you get out of this supermassive black hole you’ve fallen into? Or maybe we’re just putting too much blame on the media, because it’s so easy, and because they make it so easy.

So how do you get back on your feet? I can’t tell you; no one can. It’s a choice you have to make, and once you’ve made that choice, it’s really up to you how you pull yourself together.

And although I may say that being broken makes you beautiful in its own way, consider this: have you ever looked at someone and noticed how their smile lit up the room? I’m not talking about someone you love, whose smile brightens your gloomy days. I’m talking about a complete stranger or someone you know, maybe in photographs or possibly in real life, who smiled and made you fall in love with their smile because of how happy they looked and how their happiness made them glow. Believe me, there are actually people like that. I’ve seen them.

And these are the people who inspired me to want to live beautifully. So what if they’re not rich and famous, so what if they’re not stick-thin models walking the runway, so what if they’re just normal, ordinary people? They’re happy and they have smiles that can light up the night sky. If you saw them, too, you would never ask how I knew they were happy. With these people, you can tell that their smiles are genuine. Yes, I’m aware that there are people who hide behind fake smiles; but there are also people who could never hide Happy if they tried.

I want to live life that way. With the kind of smile that could light up the whole world. Because life’s a bush of roses – you can either cling on to the thorns or get to the flower at the top. Your choice.

General Knowledge (or lack thereof) May 13, 2011

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the Scorpio constellation (right) and the Milky Way

If there’s one thing our generation craves, it’s being heard. From weather reports to political support, sports to religion – basically anything and everything under the sun (and moon) – if we’ve got something to say about it, we’ll make sure we get our say if it’s the last thing we do. The popularity of social outlets and networking sites Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. etc. (the list goes on) is clear testament of this craving to let our voices be heard. The problem is, how much of what we’re saying is actually worth saying at all?

To demonstrate my point, let me begin with an example: the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11th this year. With a magnitude of 9.0, accompanied by tsunamis and followed by the Fukushima nuclear accidents, Japan became the highlight and focal point of every news media in the world for weeks. Obviously, it could never escape the attention of our Babbling Generation.

One teenager’s comment that struck out to me the most went something along the lines of ‘Japan is being punished for the atrocities they committed during World War Two’. Stop and think for a moment. Does that sound about right to you?

Personally, I think Singapore’s social studies programmes seem to have been implemented successfully. As young as ten years of age, we’re taught of how the Japanese army invaded the country. We’ve heard countless stories of how they massacred our forefathers. We’ve heard tales of their brutality and their mercilessness. But does that make all of Japan responsible?

A few years ago, a group of Japanese tourists came down to Singapore for a visit. One of the places of interest they went to was the Kranji War Memorial, where hundreds of our dead ancestors, killed in battle or simply at wartime, lie. When this group of tourists heard about the war crimes their soldiers had done unto our own forefathers, they cried. Yes, they cried. History as Singaporeans know it is a far cry from history as the Japanese know it. Local children have read of the Sook Ching massacre, of starvation and abuse. But the Japanese know a different tale: one of air raids every other day; of the bodies of fathers and brothers coming back, dead or wounded; of being the one country in the world to have been hit by atomic bombs, and two at that.

It’s amazing what one-sided stories can make you think and say, isn’t it?

Basically, what we all need to know is this: get your facts straight before you start shooting your mouth off. The uninformed will always appear as fools to the knowledgeable. To assume that we know everything when we’ve only heard one side of the story is unforgivable.

Imagine this: We’re on Earth, right? Earth plus the sun and the other 7 planets make a solar system. Our solar system is one of billions in the Milky Way Galaxy. This galaxy is only one of billions (scientists still don’t know the right estimate to exactly how many billions) in the universe. There’s only one universe, and let’s hope it stays at that. So, bottom line: one universe with hundreds or thousands of billions of galaxies, with our galaxy itself having billions of solar systems and then our solar system has 8 planets and we’re only on one of them.

Linking back to the issue of knowledge: What we know about anything can only be as much as how big the Earth is in the entire universe. It’s half past noon, I’m in the office typing away at my computer in my own little cubicle. I can hear chatter all around, so I know most of my colleagues aren’t too busy with their work. I assume they can’t wait for their lunch break. Now, what I don’t know is this: What’s the guy in the next cubicle doing on his computer? Is he doing his work, surfing the net, watching a video or composing a song? What’s going on outside the office? Is there an accident on the road? Is the canteen downstairs packed? (Hang on. I probably know this answer.) Is there anyone inside my house? What’s happening over at my old school? What’s happening in the world; did another terrorist just die? It’s 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Anything could be happening at this moment: a life could just be beginning somewhere, a life-altering decision made, a life ending.

So you see, there’s so much that we really don’t know. Scary, right?