Thursday, July 31, 2014

What We've Become

What have we become?

We’ve become a society that’s possessed by materialism and power. We crave wealth, we hunger for authority, we shout for attention.

We post countless selfies on Instagram for validation. We overshare our lives on Facebook, telling the world the best bits of our lives and hiding the dirty, moldy bits. We hug our insecurities and fears to ourselves, so afraid to be discovered – so afraid to be exposed as a fraud.

We have forgotten the basic things in life.

We have forgotten the very fundamentals of life.

To be kind.

To be patient.

To make another person’s life better.

We are so obsessed with pushing ourselves up we push others down. Consciously or subconsciously, we do that. We’re smug and self righteous, pompous that what we do is right. We believe we’re smarter, cleverer, above all, we are right. The sins we commit, there are justifications. We have not erred, we are the victims!

We have forgotten kindness in this world.

I truly believe having a kind heart is one of the most important assets a person can have.

I have not done anything particularly kind lately.

I have not visited any charity homes.

I have not even bought tissue paper from the senior citizens who go around hawker centres selling them.

I have not done anything where I can proudly say, I was kind. I helped. I brightened someone else’s day up.

We’re so consumed with cheering ourselves up that we’ve forgotten about other people. We’ve forgotten that when you genuinely help someone, you feel good. You feel better.

But we’re just consumed. And we’re consumers. We consume everything till we’re sick and tired of it, and we don’t know we’re sick and tired. We push down more things down our throats. We need more Prada bags! We need more alcohol! We need more clothes! We need MORE! MORE, MORE, MORE! We need more, even though we don’t have any more space. We need more commitments, more engagements with people, even though we barely have time to breathe. We need more, because it’s never enough. We’re gasping for oxygen, taking in as many deep breaths as possible, without realizing we breathe perfectly fine without us overdoing it. But we’re panicking, we’re scared, we’re little children again. And we pretend, to be grown ups. We pretend to be adults, to be all knowing. We kid ourselves that we’re wise, when we’re really all groping around looking for a light switch.

We’ve lost ourselves, and the scary thing is we don’t realize we’re lost. We think we’re on the right path, and this is the way it should be. We chase our dreams, no matter the cost. We’re hedonistic, lusting after the greater pleasures of life. We forget discipline, what we’ve been taught as children, as we spin faster and faster into this circle of confusion. We’re caught up in the moment. We don’t care about right and wrong. We close our eyes, we hashtag YOLO, we think it’s okay.

It’s not okay.

Everything has a price.

We need to fix this.  We need to peel off the unnecessary, and focus on the important things.

People are important.

Being kind to people is important.

Being good to people is important.

We know these things, we have no problems agreeing with it…but do we actually make an effort to be extra kind, or extra good? No. Most of us don’t. It’s just words, being spouted out.

This post is exactly that, just words spewed out, but I hope I’ll be able to translate my words into actions.

Thank you for reading.

What I Learned in Europe

As I write this, I'm somewhere near the airspace of Afghanistan, heading home from my 2 week holiday in Europe. I'm trying to keep awake for this flight (8 hours from Brussels to Mumbai) because I want to fall asleep and adjust my body clock back to Singapore time in my next leg of flight from Mumbai to Singapore. 

Europe was really beautiful, more so this time because it was the first time I visited in summer. No, I will not write a post filled with pictures for a few reasons :
  1. I didn't take that many photos
  2. It's beauty should be experienced in the flesh

This time around, we went to the Black Forest, which I LOVED. I love hustling bustling cities, but I also love quiet, scenic views. We headed to Switzerland before stopping by Milan, and I am struck by how different people look at different parts. Of course, this isn't a particularly brilliant statement, people in Asia look different when they come from different parts too (duh).
But when you go from a more sort of rural, village type of place to fashion capital Milan, it's quite a jarring difference. Perhaps jarring is the wrong word, because it's not unpleasant, but it's amazing to think that one day, I am in the Black Forest literally drinking milk that came directly from the cow (I kid you not! The milk was still warm! #cowbodytemperature ftw) to people watching in Milan. I love seeing women in Milan, but especially the older ones. They all have this sort of elegance and style to them, with their perfectly coiffed bouffant hairs and big sunglasses. There's just this vibe to Italians that I love - it's a real cocktail of warmth and passion infused - think amazing food, hot blooded people, and just, well, style emanating out from people! 
I don't describe this very eloquently, but I hope you understand, or get a clue of what I mean.

The main point of this, however, was not to talk so much about the geography or the places I've been, but to tell you I rediscovered a couple of things. 
I went for a Dutch wedding in Austria (and that deserves a separate post on it). It's been a really long time since I've attended any family event of any kind (nobody seems to be getting married in my family…hmm..) but I was reminded of that whole big family vibe that I used to get every Chinese New Year when the family would assemble. We haven't done that in a long time, since my grandmother passed away. It was really nice, being put back in a family setting. I think a really big factor was also that everybody was very nice and spoke to English to me (since the main languages there were Dutch and German) and they were just a very warm and nice lot of people. But, what I was reminded was that family is the same. It doesn't matter what culture you're from. The bearded uncles (ok, maybe my Asian uncles are not so bearded but that's beside the point) with their big, booming voices. The aunts, with curled hair and dresses. The cousins, telling me about their travels and what they do. It's very strange, to feel familiarity within a completely unfamiliar environment. 

Most of all, I learned some things staying with my boyfriend's family. They are just the most generous, giving people you've ever met. Sometimes, in this world, when you get a little bit jaded, and a little bit tired, and a little bit screwed over one too many many a time, you forget about the good people. You forget there are genuine people. Now, by this I do not mean to say that I'm surrounded by terrible people, which of course, is not true, but maybe when I'm too busy chasing my own dreams and ambitions, I forget about these things. And…it's nice. It's really nice to have a warm squashy feeling inside. And I like it best, because it makes me want to be warm and squashy to people too. 
(Although, some people should be squashed. Plain and simple. With a bat.) 

I had a really nice trip to Europe. It's always nice to go, but it genuinely seems to get better every time. I also took a complete break from work, and besides travelling,  did things that I always want to do but sometimes not have the time to do, like
  1. Watch the entire season 1 of Suits. I was in the process of watching season 2 on my Note but it ran out of battery in the plane :(
  2. Exercise. I managed to do a 5k (although with stops, and I did walk a little) although it sure as heck did not feel pleasant.
  3. Cycle! I used to cycle all the time as a kid, but I haven't done that in over 10 years I think. It took a while to get used to being on the bike, and I'm still not great at it, but I was very happy to get back up that seat. Truth be told, I've always intended to go cycling in East Coast Park but I was a bit embarrassed to actually do it because I didn't know whether I could still cycle or not and didn't want to make a fool out of myself…
  4. Eat a ton of potato chips. Ok, this is bad. It's back to clean eating after this. But damn those paprika Pringles!

I feel refreshed. I feel happy, and I'm excited to be going to work tomorrow. 

Falling Off The Minimalist Bandwagon...Again

It's been over a year since I embarked on the journey of minimalism - and it's been a process.
It's been a process of getting really into it, donating 60% of my closet, paring down slowly, falling off the bandwagon, climbing back up on it, and falling back off it again.
I write this today when I'm off that bandwagon.
I'm annoyed with myself, and this post is a rant about how I feel.
I went to Europe for a two week holiday, to visit my boyfriend and his parents, and I sure as heck didn't pack light. I can't tell you how much this annoys me, because I KNOW how annoying it is when you overpack, and when you bring stuff that you don't need but just ends up taking a lot of space.
Here's a list of useless stuff I brought.
I'm writing this down, so that I remind myself the next time I travel, I don't need to bring this.

  1. A hair straightener that I used once.
  2. A blow dryer that I used twice.
  3. A curling tong that I never used.
  4. 6 lipsticks I never used.
  5. 5 different nail polishes and 2 nail polish removers - also untouched.
  6. 6 pairs of shoes. Come on, what was I thinking? I only ended up using 3 pairs regularly (sport shoes, casual canvas shoes, and the third pair that I used was actually bought here.

I feel so annoyed with myself.
I've also learnt that there isn't any point in beating myself up over and over again or fretting futilely. So when I touchdown Singapore, I'm going to start back my minimalist life again.

I think what I can give myself a good pat on the shoulder is not over-buying this holiday. Sure, I bought stuff, but this time I went for quality, not quantity (and I am constantly the other way around). 

I didn't have any extra baggage stress (like I always do when I travel because I usually over-buy). There was some tax refund stress but that's a story for another day, heh.

PS. I just realised my boyfriend reads my blog and may disagree with what I said about not buying that many things. The point is, I buy a lot less than I used to. And THAT'S the point to focus on! Improvement! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Do Something!

There is this video going viral where a Filipino girl asks for the help of the public because she saw this guy in the MRT station and would like to get to know him.

Here :

What’s interesting – is not really the video, but all the mean comments. A majority of people are calling her desperate, slutty, an embarrassment, creepy, etc etc.

Honestly, I think this is way too judgmental. Come on, why are you getting so angry? Maybe if you happen to be the wife / girlfriend of the dude you can say these things, but you’re not! All this conjecture – is he married, is he gay, did he know she was filming him – it’s great entertainment, but why the heck are people so mean? Why?

I think it’s refreshing that she actually put herself out there and did something about it. Rather than mope about this guy and have him stuck in her head for the next few months, she posts a video of him. And if he’s married or gay, so be it. Maybe he’ll end up calling her – whether it’s to say ‘Thanks but no thanks’ or ‘You’re scary!’ (which I doubt), at least she will know and she doesn’t live her life with a ‘What if.’
It’s so easy for people to say, you should have just gone up to talk to him on the train. How? How often have you gone up to a random stranger to talk to, especially being a girl? I’ve never. Okay, well I’ve never either filmed a guy secretly, but that’s a different story!

The point is, she will know. And I think, an answer (even if it’s a rejection) is always better than uncertainty. If he’s nice but taken he’ll probably be flattered she took so much trouble to find him. If he’s a douchebag and gives her a mean response, she knows she wasted her time then and she can move on.

That’s my two cents! J