At the observation deck, on dusk and romance.

“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Marina Bay Observation Deck

Anticipating that the sun sets in Singapore at seven, I grabbed a croissant and a curry puff from 7-11 before walking to the Marina Bay observation deck. The time reads 5.30pm.

It is a curious thing to me on how the day turns into night, and night into day. When the situation permits, I focus on the different hues in the sky during dawn and dusk, in attempt to catch the moment when light enters and leaves the atmosphere. But I never succeed. I often wonder if math could pinpoint the exact time or moment when it takes place, for what is gradual is often lost on me and only could be acknowledge retrospectively.

Perhaps this is nature’s way of saying that all changes are gradual, and I am reminded of a quote by Lao Tzu who said: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” I admit that I was never fascinated by nature as a child, but as I grow older, I feel compelled to think that nature is perhaps the most underrated and unappreciated teacher to man. One can learn so much more from the observation of nature than in literature. Thus it seems only appropriate that I am never ceased to be amazed by the simplicity of nature which mask its brilliant intricacies.

So there I was, up in the observation deck, waiting for the night to beckon. I took pictures, marvelled at the sight of what this small country had achieved, rejected the tower photographer’s offer to get my picture taken and contemplated on the assortment of souvenirs, before settling down upon a flight of stairs, observing the skies above for the last daylight to withdraw.

Then, a tap on my right shoulder.

Continue reading

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dance of the Wounded Soul

“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look,” Julius Caesar

She came to me in tears, going on and on about how she could’ve done better; about how she is definitely better than this; about how unfair the whole system is; about the lack of attention directed upon her, as though the whole world wants to see her fail.

She tried to control her tears, because her mom told her that crying is bad. But as soon as she speaks about her performance again, she inevitably loses control over her emotions and torrent of tears pours out from the corner of her hazel eyes. Suppression, it seems, had only made it worse.

I reassured her that her performance was good, except, if only to nitpick, the timing of  the turn could be better, or that pose could be held a fraction of a second longer. However, any kind words were in vain, for all she remembers was that perfect routine she had during the rehearsals and how it wasn’t perfect on stage in front of everyone.

This judgement that she bestowed upon herself is in spite of the praise that she received from her teachers, parents and friends who attended the performance. I guess, sometimes, the harshest judge is ourselves. Then I knew, from experience, that I could never say anything to dissuade her from her own harsh judgement; I could only sit next to her.

Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flight of the White Swans

“Nature is relentless and unchangeable, and it is indifferent as to whether its hidden reasons and actions are understandable to man or not,” Galileo Galilei

As I sat across the tiny round table at the coffeehouse, I looked at Phaedrus with his fingers wrapped around his mug of latte and said to him that today will be the day that I would dismantle the world of your logic and to prove, for once and for all, that you know nothing of logic.

Keeping eye contact and awaiting his reaction, I took a sip from my mug filled with cappuccino as he sets his drink atop the hardwood table. For as long as I’ve known him, Phaedrus had been lonely. Always ready for a challenge in the realm of form, he defends his idea like how a PhD student would – with precision and fierce rebuttal. Often, when he speaks, he exudes a certain quality that blurs the line between passion, intimidation and pure stubbornness, and much less his arrogance in perceiving whatever he held is right.

Too often, in the midst of defending his point, he had forgotten the purpose of the debate– to find peace in the difference of ideals. Instead, he seeks consolidation, believing that everything can be optimised in a way which makes it technically and politically correct; forever lacking the wisdom to discern between what requires courage to change with what requires the strength to accept.

Thus it should come as no surprise that he made little friends. He knew the consequences of his actions, but for Phaedrus, the very fabric of friendship lies in the ability to accept honesty, to embrace the truth. To be loved for who he is not, is worse than to be shunned by who he is. He regard man’s duty is self development, a sentiment that I share, but the difference lies therein – he holds very little regard for people who do not share his view, and make mockery of those who he thought dwells in Plato’s cave.

For all of his knowledge accumulated over the hours spent in front of books, documentaries and the internet, it did not occur to him that his exposure was increasing in tandem with his arrogance. This further drives him into isolation. But while the world looks on with disgust and scorn, I see only a misunderstood child. Emboldened because for the need for attention, and as it usually is, the stronger the exterior, the weaker it is on the inside.

And as he sat across me, barely able to contain his joy that someone had just so openly challenges him, he smiles. Unfazed and amused, he said to me with an air of confidence and surprisingly, with a hint of unusual gentleness in his tone, to bring it.

Continue reading

Posted in Discussion Paper, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Short: Singapore

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living,”  Christopher Johnson Mccandless, excerpt from Into the Wild

I had spent five days travelling alone in Singapore. Visiting friends and places alike under the scorching sun was not exactly what I was looking for, but I had a great time nonetheless. Below are journal entries entered at the end of each day. Fortunately, I had not lost my phone this time around.

Continue reading

Posted in Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Breakup

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts,” William Shakespeare

As I stand at the Victoria Harbour, looking over the night lights of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers, there is a feeling that was never present before. It exist independent of source and is beyond description; perhaps existential, but there is no doubt that it, is here.

It is going to be better. You can sort of tell these things.

Continue reading

Posted in Personal | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the couch, while watching The Amazing Race (s?)

The only television programmes that I flip on these days are those on the Asian Food Channel (AFC) and the Travel and Living Channel (TLC). And usually only during meal times, while I gobble down the occasional instant noodle, homemade pasta or cheap takeout, pretending it’s made by Jamie Oliver or that I’m having it in a European Cafe…or wherever Samantha Brown is.

European Cafe serves Nasi Kandar Ayam right?

Truth be told, I do not watch much television. I feel uncomfortable planning my life schedule around the programmes. Of course, some of you would point out that I have no problems planning my life around to the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League fixtures. But hey, stay the hell away from that, it’s different.

Thus, it was a strange evening indeed, catching myself watching the amazing race, with a bowl of pasta in my hands. You could say it was fate that landed me on AXN, fate that appears in the form of two lovely ladies, one blonde, the other…I don’t care. I just had to watch the pretty girls running around.

So there I was, on a random evening with my Bolognese beef pasta, watching the Amazing Race from my couch. Not knowing that I was about to be a witness.

Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Confession

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” Edmund Burke

My name is Alexander. I have lived for 23 years, 4 months and counting. Due to a dengue infection a week prior to the finals, my graduation is delayed for another six months. I am to be an accountant, an affiliate to the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) upon graduation.

In the past year, I had short stint being a financial journalist. Although short, it was fun. In my free time, I read and write. My favourite books include Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Being Wrong by Kathryn Schultz, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

Aside from that, I am a sports enthusiast but due to a dislocated shoulder currently pending surgery, there is not much I can do right now. Since picking up my first Zen book, Zen’s Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, I practice meditation and I also have an interest in the field of philosophy. And oh, I also play poker to pass time.

In every aspect, I am indistinguishable like everyone else. I have a certain amount of regrets for the things I did. Things I wished that I didn’t said or do. I guess we all have them, but for me, the biggest pain comes from the things I didn’t do.

This is where my story begins.

Continue reading

Posted in Personal, Zen | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments