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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Monday, January 31, 2005

At the Urinal

We have a really small toilet here where I work.

I really hate it when I find someone I know at the urinal when I enter. If it's someone I know rather well, that's fine. But if it's just a casual acquaintance, that's when all the trouble begins.

You see, this person will then have his back faced towards me. I will then have a choice to greet him or I can saunter quietly to the next urinal, not far from him, without saying a word.

I just feel damm awkward greeting a faint acquaintance when he's clinging on to his intimate member. I don't know but it's just weird. If I don't greet him, then it's rude. And some of these casual acquaintances are people I can't offend.

What a dilemma.

Nowadays, I just try to open the door gently and sneak in quietly to the cubicles.

Where I pee unashamedly, privately and blissfully.

Simple pleasures.

Friday, January 28, 2005

In 22 days, I turn 31 and I feel like 0

It's already the end of the first month.

Just like that.

In 22 days, I turn 31 and I feel like 0.

My award-winning film hasn't been written, my fabulous body hasn't been built and my finances are nowhere.

And here am I writing my blog. Before that I was having a packet of nuts from Carrefour. And before that I was having yong tau foo.

In between that my mind floats, the clock ticks and my body ages.

I seem to be waiting. Waiting for what, I don't know.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for. But what the heck am I looking for?

The film? The body? The money? And if I found those, does it end?

Does it?

In 22 days, I turn 31. It never ends.

But I have not begun.

Everytime We Say Goodbye

Isn't BBC simply wonderful?

I'm listening to a Radio 2 show on-demand on the internet. It's Lulu presenting "the world's best love songs from the fifties to now".

As I type this, it's Ellan Fitzgerald on the playlist with "Everytime We Say Goodbye".

When I broke up with my one proper girlfriend in my life, I gave her a CD I made with iTunes. I have erased the playlist but here are some songs I remembered:

Alone Again (Naturally) - Gilbert O' Sullivan
It's So Hard to Say Goodbye - Boyz II Men
When I Fall in Love - Nat King Cole
I Try - Macy Gray
You'll be in My Heart - Phil Collins
You'll Never Walk Alone - Gerry & the Pacemakers

It was damm theraupeutic. I got the idea from Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. I cried a lot when I was putting the mix together. But it felt damm good after doing it. And looking back, it's very funny actually. I'm glad to have done it.

Since then, I have done some mix CDs for my friends. One liked his (thanks, Satan), the others are culturally inept.

Of course.

Now I'm inspired to make some CDs for friends.

And maybe one for the future partner.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Holland V

There is some major construction work going on at the Village in Holland.

I think there are at least 2 car parks demolished for the LTA's work on the Circle Line.

Despite passing by Holland V many times, I have not given much thought to all this reconstruction.

Until I saw that KFC was no more and replaced by a Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao.

Feels strange.

Not that we can do without one less KFC, but that one was special.

You see, I used to hang out at Holland V since my secondary school was in the area. Must have spent hours in that place.

Chilling, having lunch, reading comics, reading my weekly fix of Smash Hits, oggling at girls, you know the things that guys do when they're younger.

All the KFCs in the country can close for all I care, but this one is special, alongside the one at Kallang.

I remembered when I was in the scouts, we toured the Kallang KFC, as part of an educational trip. By the way, when I was in the scouts, people always make fun of us by saying we "curi ayam". Don't think we stole any chickens that day though.

Anyway, it just feels very strange that KFC is gone from its corner at Holland V.

(As I'm contemplating my next sentence, LAUNCHCAST plays Sarah Mclachlan's I Will Remember You)


Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I was at the basement of Raffles City today when my friend asked me where MNG (Mango) was in the building.


I thought all Singaporean women had this homing device which automatically locks in to the nearest Mango store.

What's with our women and Mango anyway? It seems to me all my normal-sized lady friends shop there. The petite and younger ones go to Mangosteen. The bigger ones go to Spotlight.

The curtains there are damm versatile.

I thought women were very particular about being in the same room as someone wearing the same clothes. So why do they all shop at Mango?

Walk into any design or post-production house and you will see some toys on display. For my new studio, I'm so not going to do it, although I have so many loose toys.

I'm thinking of a nice fruit basket in the studio, so all my visitors can help themselves to some tasty fruits.

No MNGs though.

Friday, January 21, 2005


From http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4457805:

Linguist Christopher J. Moore has made a career of searching out some of the world's most "untranslatable" expressions -- words from around the globe that defy an easy translation into English. Moore shares a few of his linguistic favorites from his new book In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World with Renee Montagne.

From In Other Words:

African Languages
ilunga (Tshiluba) [ee-Iun-ga] (noun)
This word from the Tshiluba language of the Republic of Congo has topped a list drawn up with the help of one thousand translators as the most untranslatable word in the world. It describes a person who is ready to forgive any transgression a first time and then to tolerate it for a second time, but never for a third time.

taarradhin [tah-rah-deen] (noun)
Arabic has no word for "compromise" in the sense of reaching an arrangement via struggle and disagreement. But a much happier concept, taarradhin, exists in Arabic. It implies a happy solution for everyone, an "I win, you win." It's a way of resolving a problem without anyone losing face.

guanxi (Mandarin) [gwan-shee] (noun)
This is one of the essential ways of getting things done in traditional Chinese society. To build up good guanxi, you do things for people such as give them gifts, take them to dinner, or grant favors. Conversely, you can also "use up" your guanxi with someone by calling in favors owed. Once a favor is done, an unspoken obligation exists. Maybe because of this, people often try to refuse gifts, because, sooner or later, they may have to repay the debt. However the bond of guanxi is rarely acquitted, because once the relationship exists, it sets up an endless process that can last a lifetime.

litost [lee-tosht] (noun)
This is an untranslatable emotion that only a Czech person would suffer from, defined by Milan Kundera as "a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one's own misery." Devices for coping with extreme stress, suffering, and change are often special and unique to cultures and born out of the meeting of despair with a keen sense of survival.

esprit de I'escalier [es-pree de less-ka/-iay] (idiom)
A witty remark that occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations defines esprit de l'escalier as, "An untranslatable phrase, the meaning of which is that one only thinks on one's way downstairs of the smart retort one might have made in the drawing room."

korinthenkacker [core-in-ten-cuck-er] (noun)
A "raisin pooper" -- that is, someone so taken up with life's trivial detail that they spend all day crapping raisins. You can spot these types a mile off -- it's that irritating pen pusher or filing fanatic whose favorite job is tidying up the stationery cupboard.

meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective)
This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love -- when you put "something of yourself" into what you're doing, whatever it may be. Meraki is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.

tatemae [tah-tay-mye] (noun)
A term often translated as "form," but it also has the specific cultural meaning of "the reality that everyone professes to be true, even though they may not privately believe it." For privately held views, the Japanese have a different term, honne, meaning, "the reality that you hold inwardly to be true, even though you would never admit it publicly." The British civil servant muttering the reproach "bad form, old boy" over a drink in the club, may be expressing something very close to the quality of tatamae.
yoko meshi [yoh-koh mesh-ee] (noun)
"As an untranslatable, this one ranks high on my list of favorites. I could not improve on the background given by commentator Boye Lafayette de Mente about this beautiful word, yoko meshi. Taken literally, meshi means 'boiled rice' and yoko means 'horizontal,' so combined you get 'a meal eaten sideways.'This is how the Japanese define the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language: yoko is a humorous reference to the fact that Japanese is normally written vertically, whereas most foreign languages are written horizontally. How do English-speakers describe the headache of communicating in an alien tongue? I don't think we can, at least not with as much ease."

duende [dwen-day] (adjective)
This wonderful word captures an entire world of passion, energy, and artistic excellence and describes a climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art. Duende originally meant "imp" or "goblin" and came to mean anything magical. It now has a depth and complexity of meaning that crosses artistic borders, from flamenco dancing to bullfighting. The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca wrote an eloquent essay on duende that explores the complex and inspirational flavor of its sense, and I know no better introduction.

Excerpted from In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore. Copyright © 2004 by Elwin Street Limited. Excerpted by permission of Walker & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Malaysia Top Prostitute Location

Somebody asked me the other day why I don't blog about my work.

Well, all I want to say about work is that I work in the marketing department in a MNC. Here, in marketing, we take tracking very seriously.

We measure our results so that we can spend our marketing dollars more wisely.

It might have some influence over my blog in the sense that I use BlogPatrol to know whether people are coming to it or not.

One of the stats they make available is what are the search terms people use in Google or Yahoo to access my blog.

It's quite funny.

These are my last 10 search items:

1) malaysia%27s top prostitute location (Yahoo)
2) automated toilets in disneyland (Yahoo)
3) %22judith huang%22 (Yahoo)
4) Roy Varghese %2B %22The Wonderful World%22 (Google)
5) asia%20killerwaves (MSN)
6) Stephen Chow speaks English (Yahoo)

Don't ask me how they got here by searching "malaysia top prostitute location".

They will tell you that tracking may not always be useful.

But don't quote me.

Monday, January 17, 2005

What are your plans?

Yesterday, an old friend of mine asked me over dinner,

"What are your plans?"

It was asked, directly, sincerely and it came from nowhere.

A fair question, no doubt, but it had me stumped.

Honestly, I have no idea. I know my short term plans most definitely. But I have no idea where I will be in 4-5 years time. Or what I want to do with my life.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios opens doors to public
Charlotte Higgins
Friday January 14, 2005
The Guardian

It opened to the sound of Sir Edward Elgar conducting Land of Hope and Glory, the Beatles named an album after it, but the public has never had access to it - until now.

For the first time the doors to Abbey Road Studios in St John's Wood, London, will open to the public. In March, studio one, the world's largest purpose-built recording studio, will become a temporary cinema, screening some of the most famous films whose scores were recorded there.

Films to be shown in the two-week festival, sponsored by the Guardian, include The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with scores by Howard Shore); Raiders of the Lost Ark (with its Oscar-nominated score by John Williams, the first to be recorded at Abbey Road); and The Talented Mr Ripley (with music by Gabriel Yared). The festival will also screen Beatles movies, including Yellow Submarine and Hard Day's Night, and Backbeat.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Biased Broadcasting Corporation

The Independent Online Edition
Why I'm happy to see Christians finally on the march
Would the BBC, you wonder, care to commission a comedy satirising the Koran?
By DJ Taylor
10 January 2005

As a Christian, a church-goer and - I hope - a concerned citizen, I sat down and watched BBC2's Saturday night post-watershed screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera with a certain amount of interest. As someone who regularly laments the absence of anything remotely satirical from terrestrial TV, I ended up thinking it rather funny: well choreographed, full of good lines and gaining most of its impact from the weird juxtaposition of mundane dialogue and mock-high art setting. No particular worries about the supposed blasphemy or even the blitz of bad language, for I knew that if any of the children had surreptitiously chanced upon it, they would have switched off in about 20 seconds.

Not everybody, alas, was so sanguine. According to the latest estimates, approximately 45,000 other concerned citizens complained in advance to the BBC. Hundreds of outraged Christians, meanwhile, demonstrated in the street outside Broadcasting House, while the corporation was thought to be taking legal action against a website operated by Christian Voice that had printed the home telephone numbers of certain of its senior executives. A report that Roly Keating, the controller of BBC2, had been forced into hiding by the resultant volley of abusive phone calls was denied.

The truly depressing thing about this stand-off - one which looks set to become an increasingly common feature of the 21st-century cultural landscape - is the absolute predictability of the attitudes on display and the complete absence of any dialogue. On the one hand, thousands of rabid evangelicals, scarcely 10 of whom will have seen the show in question, dutifully following where their leaders direct; on the other A C Grayling and the spokesperson from the British Humanist Association, whatever that is, primly regretting this "ignoble" threat to the freedom of speech. No attempt by the offended to engage with the thing that is offending them, and no attempt by liberal newspaper pundits to respond with anything other than amused superciliousness. As for the BBC's proud trumpeting of its mandate to screen challenging artistic work, this would look a great deal more plausible if the rest of its schedules weren't packed out with gardening programmes and Trinny and Susannah.

However deplorable the thought of the likes of Roly Keating being terrified to pick up their phones, the sight of militant Christianity taking the trouble to mobilise in the face of something it dislikes is actually a rather welcome development , if only because it may finally draw attention to the 45 degree-angled playing field on which debates about freedom of speech and religious tolerance take place. Of all the religions currently drawn up on the media firing range, Christianity is the softest target of all, dragged down by a public vulnerability that is generally enhanced by the actions of the people put up to defend it. Invite a bishop on to the Today programme to debate with Richard Dawkins, it may be said, and all that will follow is five minutes' worth of craven defensiveness.

One sees this immediately in the contending responses to Jerry Springer - The Opera and Behzti, the play that so enraged the Sikh protesters on its staging last month in Birmingham: on the one side, enlightened condescension; on the other, death threats, outraged local politicians and community leaders, and self-censorship. The Sikhs, one sometimes feel, are much better at these things than us timorous Bible-bashers. Would the BBC, you wonder, care to commission Behzti for its Saturday night schedule, or a comedy satirising the Koran? No, because the ethnic minorities thereby offended take these things seriously, and Mr Keating really would have to take himself away on holiday.

A similar, though less widely reported, spat of this kind took place three or four years ago in Glasgow, when the local branch of HMV was found to be selling a T-shirt advertising the oeuvre of a death-metal band called Cradle of Filth and emblazoned with the slogan "Jesus is a Cunt". HMV declined to withdraw the garment on the grounds that they were opposed to censorship. An exemplary response, no doubt, but would HMV have been equally eager to stock a shirt printed with the words "Mohammed is a Motherfucker" or "Vishnu Sucks"? Somehow, one rather thinks not.

All this gestures at a maxim lost amid the spectacle of politicians sucking up to their electoral sponsors. Either one has freedom of speech or one does not. We inhabit a cultural landscape where one religion, largely because of its association with that increasingly mythical "establishment", is fair game, while others remain sacrosanct for fear of offending the predominantly brown-skinned people who practise them. As a good liberal, I support the right of the BBC to broadcast a programme mocking the God I happen to worship. At the same time - again as a good liberal - I hope that the next time any Cradle of Filth Jesus T-shirts go on sale, the local Christians will be outside baying abuse and searching for the phone numbers of the retail executives responsible. You can't have it both ways.

Just the Facts, Mam

I felt uncomfortable when I saw a Channel News Asia journalist appearing as a guest on this morning's breakfast show on television.

She was describing her experiences in covering the tsunami disaster in Indonesia.

It is one of those things where you feel that something is not right but you don't really know what is wrong.

I'm trying to figure it all out.

For someone who reports the news on television, being objective, factual and unemotive, even detached, these are important to me. I'll take a "Just the Facts, mam" attitude anytime. I don't want to know too many personal details or accounts of experiences that are framed in subjectivity. I know it's impossible to be totally objective, but if you make an effort, people will know and appreciate it.

If a news anchor would ask her for a short comment when she was reporting the news, I think that's fine. Especially considering the scale of the disaster. But this was a morning breakfast show, and she spoke for a long time, I would say 10 minutes at least.

I don't know whether I'm right on this but what I know was, I was uncomfortable. And I think when I see her on air reporting, my opinion of her, which was formed through the interview, would cloud whatever she says.

I think the news should be the news, the newsmakers should be the newsmakers and the reporters who report the news should just report the damm news.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Of Trays and Man

I was at Tiong Bahru Plaza food court when this happened.

2 ladies were sitting at a table. They had just bought their food. One of them cleared her tray and put the plates of food on her clean and uncluttered table. With the empty tray in her hand, she looked around. She spotted the table next to her. There was a couple there eating away. There was an empty tray on their table and some dirty plates, probably left behind by the previous occupants.

So this lady, went over to their table and asked nicely whether she could put her tray on their table. They said yes and so she put her tray on their dirty, messy table and went back to her clean, uncluttered table.

Hmmm. I don't know about you but I find this strange.

It's like I have a empty box in my clean and uncluttered home. I want to get rid of it and I noticed my neighbor's house is dirty and cluttered. And so, I will just walk over and ask them nicely, "Would you mind if I put this box in your house"?

Should I do this or should I just walk over to the nearest disposal bin and throw it away myself?

I dont' get it.

Friday, January 07, 2005

God & the Tsunami

"How do we find God after losing so much in a historic tragedy? How much is our faith and a higher power tested by the tsunami killing more than 150,000 people in a matter of moments?" - Larry King Live, Jan 7th 2005

It was interesting hearing the various perspectives from the different faiths about God's role in the Tsunami.

This was something that was at the back of my mind but I never gave it much thought.

As a Christian, I believe that God is sovereign. Which means that He allows this to happen. Is He then responsible for this? Some Christians have a definite answer, where they explain with logic and reason, the reasons why such devastation and loss has to happen. Frankly, I don't have an answer. And I'm comfortable with that.

Christian education has a branch called Apologetics which is a systematic, positive and intelligent defense of the Christian faith. It is not negative, as it does not condemn the other faiths, although comparative religion is often included.

While Christian Apologetics is invaluable and has its place, there can be instances where Christians can use reason and intelligent argument to answer difficult questions in a way that makes things too simplistic.

Like the Tsunami question.

Personally, I think the best answer is - We really don't know.

But we have faith in God.

Faith is one of the pillars of Christianity, along with Hope and Love. In fact, the Bible says that without faith, it is impossible to please God. So, it's ok not to have all the answers but it's important to believe.

To believe in a God who loves us. Who died for us. Who gave us life. Who commanded us to live a life of fruifulness. Who commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who commanded us to take care of the orphans and the widows.

We may not have all the answers, but we have enough answers to play a massive role in relieving the suffering of people all over the world. Perhaps it's time to stop asking questions.

It's time to provide the answers.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Burning Bridges

A friend of mine quit her job yesterday.

Suddenly. Dramatically. Painfully.


I have been asking her to leave her poorly-managed organization (an oxymoronic term for this entity) for the longest time, so I'm happy for her. At the same time, I'm concerned as there are financial consequences.

Reminded me of the time when I quit my job 7 months ago. I had a job offer but that was for a 3 month engagement. Was risky but I took the chance. I quit but before I took that offer, I was offered a position at my present company.

One of the things that inspired me to quit despite the risk was something I read.

"A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation which made it necessary for him to make a decision which insured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy's country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, "You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice—we win, or we perish!

They won. Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a BURNING DESIRE TO WIN, essential to success. "

Napoleon Hill calls this idea - Burning Bridges.

Burning Bridges can be painful, but I'm confident, my friend, it will be all good.

In the end.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Blink Blink

For those of you who don't know who Malcolm Gladwell is, he's responsible for the monsterously phenomenonal The Tipping Point.

But if you're like me, and choose to read his new book, Blink, in the store and wait for the library to bring it in, there's a couple of free resources you can turn to.

His website, http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html, has a wonderful archive of his writings. Many of the ideas in Blink actually came from some his articles for the New Yorker.

Blink excerpts can be found here.

You can choose to put him on your iPod, at least for half an hour, if you go here.

i sleep with myself

i thought i'll just blink.

i sleep with myself. my pillow is soft. a valley, a person, usually different, but always soft.

i sleep with myself. the dreams do come. out there. but they haven't come lately. like a missing period.

i sleep with myself. she tells me. why the anger? no why the lack of it.

do i care? i do but i think. and you don't?

i sleep with myself. do monsters come? i wish they do. i wish they come. unleash hell, fire balls, and kiss me deadly. like a vampire, i rise only to realize that the blood the blood the blood.

i sleep with myself because death delays. when she does, it is deader than life. i cry. she weeps. we live.

i sleep with myself. there is another who sleeps. where is she? no what is she? she lives? flesh and blood?

does she float? then i want to be light. light. fight. flight.

i sleep with myself. there is no other.

act 2 begins when i sleep the sleep of death, only to rise, again. but why am in act 1?

again, i sleep with myself. but there she lies.

(ok, i just needed to write. doesn't make sense to you? doesn't make sense to me either. i'm alright - just needed to write. Peace)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


This is going to be huge.

Malcolm Gladwell, introduces his new book here:

" It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, Blink is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good."

How do I know it's going to be huge?

Rapid cognition.

I do make a lot of snappy decisions. Selectively. But I don't think I make a very conscious choice about what I select. Usually, it just happens.

When it comes to shopping and choosing restaurants or even thinking about where to spend the day, I'm tedious. I go around looking at prices, reading reviews and calling friends to find out more information. But as I have found out recently, such informed decisions still mean I buy a lot of junk I don't need.

Researching and thinking may still mean we make bad decisions.

The funny thing is, I tend to make snappy judgments about the really important and costly things in life. Like spending $12,000 for self-improvement courses, breaking up, becoming an entrepreneur, choosing a school or field of study and judging people from first impressions.

Not all these judgments have been wise. But all in all, I'm very happy with the majority of the decisions I have made.

One of the snappy judgments that I do real well is with actors. I love having auditions. And frankly, I usually make my mind up in the first couple of minutes. Risky? Yes. Stupid. Probably. Have I let some gems slipped through my grasp? Maybe. But I think I have made some good decisions so far. And what do I based my decisions on? Apart from gut feel, I don't have any answers.

The title of this book is Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. It reminds me of Edward de Bono in his Thinking Course when he argues that the purpose of thinking is to eliminate thinking. In this fast-changing world, we need answers quicker like never before. More often than not, there is too much information to process in too short a time. We will need to make decisions faster and better.

" One of the stories I tell in "Blink" is about the Emergency Room doctors at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. That's the big public hospital in Chicago, and a few years ago they changed the way they diagnosed heart attacks. They instructed their doctors to gather less information on their patients: they encouraged them to zero in on just a few critical pieces of information about patients suffering from chest pain--like blood pressure and the ECG--while ignoring everything else, like the patient's age and weight and medical history. And what happened? Cook County is now one of the best places in the United States at diagnosing chest pain.

Not surprisingly, it was really hard to convince the physicians at Cook County to go along with the plan, because, like all of us, they were committed to the idea that more information is always better. But I describe lots of cases in "Blink" where that simply isn't true. There's a wonderful phrase in psychology--"the power of thin slicing"--which says that as human beings we are capable of making sense of situations based on the thinnest slice of experience. I have an entire chapter in "Blink" on how unbelievably powerful our thin-slicing skills are. I have to say that I still find some of the examples in that chapter hard to believe."

Monday, January 03, 2005

Give it away

During the last few days, I have been busy packing away the things I have no need for. It is actually a painful process, knowing that the thousands of dollars spent in acquiring all these things, could have been saved if there was more self-control and reflection. There were so many things that I was tempted to keep as I struggle with the idea of financial "loss".

In the end, what I gained was a precious lesson - to buy what I really need and not what I think will come in useful. I don't think I have fully learned that lesson yet. Nobody will. It is a continual effort to keep yourself in check and requires determination and considerable effort.

It's not an entirely grim situation. I am glad that many of my possessions can be recycled by giving it to friends who will find them useful and organizations who are in need. My bags for example, some of them brand new, can be meaningful gifts to the poor and destitute.

I believe that the simple life is the grateful life. It is heartening to know how people around the world is rallying like never before to help Asia in her darkest hour. Behind all that generosity and kind will, I suspect, is an attitude of gratefulness that says, "I have so much in life, now it's time to give to those who desperately need the little that I can give them".

In my journey to live simply and deeply, I want to own as little as possible. This involves giving things away that I already own and buying and keeping only what I really need. By doing these, I hope that this will put a smile on the faces of people and to free up some of my finances to give more to those in need. This is perhaps what the grateful life is all about.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

As Little As Possible

Let me explain my inspiration as to why I'm giving away things and trying to own as little as possible.

Almost all my life, I have been a collector. Books have been there for the longest time, since the time of Bookworm Club tours in primary school. But I probably started with erasers. In Primary 6, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of comics and my first was a West Coast Avengers and Iron Man. There were toys too; Mask, He-Man, Centurions mainly. Later on, I bought Marvel Toys and Spawn, usually at Takashimaya sales and a really special sales at a Alexandria warehouse.

My dad was even a bigger collector than I. He was really into Swarovski Crystal and ivory (which is now banned). And various furniture accessories. He spent many thousands of dollars amassing his collection as well as many man-hours cleaning, displaying and admiring his collection. It must have brought him a measure of happiness. But when he died, his collection meant nothing to me.

All that he collected with so much energy, effort and expenses, I was finding a bother and a major headache.

I remembered that I made a decision to stop collecting things at his wake (except for my monthly fix of BFI's Sight and Sound).

That was in 2001. Since then, I have occasionally stumbled. Tried to get a Transformers comics and The Ultimates collection going. As well as a frenzy buy of Alan Moore's works, mainly the ground-breaking Swamp Thing series. And many other trade paperbacks.

Recently in Japan, I went slightly crazy over toy capsules or gashapon. I tried justifying by saying that it's cheap and occupies little space.

Space is a big consideration for me, in my determination to own little. I believe in this time and age, mobility is a big issue. I want to be able to uproot myself at a moment's notice. And I don't want to bring a lot with me, nor do I want to be leave many things behind. Here, I have been inspired by C K Tang's 2 tin-plated trunks.

Post 9-11, I have been thinking a lot about refugees. As last week's tsunami disaster has done the same. In the event of a disaster, it will be easier to start over again, psychologically, if you have lost as little as possible.

Having as little things as possible will help me free up space in my apartment. I look forward to a clutter-free, functional and thinking space.

Less mess, less stress, I'm so blessed!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A Simple New Year

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life....
- Henry David Thoreau

Let me begin by wishing you a Happy New Year.

To live simply and to live deeply. That is how I want to live 2005.

I don't know about the sucking though.

To tell you the truth, I don't fully know what living simply and deeply means. (What I want to avoid is joining a "simplicity movement" and take refuge in its structures and ideas.) I'm still defining it but I suspect, at its core, it's a never-ending journey of discovery.

About life. About myself. About God.

This journey will be a huge learning curve. I'm prepared for failure and ridicule. However, the rewards might be too great for me not to try.

One of my first decisions in this journey is to re-examine my possessions.

Do I have these things or do these things have me?

There are many things I have that do not serve any useful function. Instead of being of use to other indivduals, they take up space in my apartment.

I have started giving some of my books away. In the past, I have the habit of buying books at all kinds of distributor and library sales. So I have amassed a collection, which many have not been touched, and many which seemed a good idea at that time, but now a less enthusiastic undertaking.

Giving away books is easy. It's my comics and toys and my father's ivory and crystal collection that will be a struggle.

Which is why I'm giving myself 5 years to give many of these away. Ultimately, I do want to own as little as possible. In truth, I still don't know what that means.

But I'm learning.