Kindness.

Kindness, to me, simply refers to an act of extending a hand to someone in need of it. The act doesn’t have to be elaborated or witnessed by another to be regarded as an act of kindness. The key to kindness is taking initiative. 

Especially in today’s society where competition is rising so quickly from one individual to another and so on; for the majority of us, we probably find ourselves getting more self-involved to keep up with the race and for some people, to even excel beyond what’s expected of them. It’s a harsh environment to thrive on but as compared to the past, today, it makes it more possible for us to come to terms with the statement – “dreams do come true“.

But in the midst of pursuing our ambitions, kindness is like the alkali that neutralizes the acidic solution (tension) that’s bubbling between one another. That was the only metaphor I could think of to describe and relate it to this situation. Witnessing unscripted acts of kindness demonstrated by random strangers in the public warms the heart, even when you’re neither the giver or the receiver. 

Whether kindness is an obligation or a choice, its meaning differs from an individual to another. Personally, I think of it as much a choice rather than something you’re obliged to do, that you feel obliged to do just because we all belong to the human race. I find it a choice because there’s really no hard feelings if you choose not to be kind and, and not to be mean either.

Talking about this, I remember this quote I came across with in one of Daisaku Ikeda’s Daily Guidance book, which was implying something like “choosing not to save someone is pretty much the same thing as killing them“, but of course it was being said in a less aggressive manner. Sometime back, (let’s say, it’s in a war kind of situation,) I never saw the act of not doing anything to save someone the same thing as sending them to meet their makers. This has little to do with kindness, it’s not that much of a big deal. But I wanted to bring it up because I thought it was very meaningful, memorable enough to get stuck in my head for many years now although I can’t remember the exact words to it. 

Then, awhile ago, my friends were talking about something quite similar to this and we ended up in a discussion about a “What Would You Do?“- kind of situation. A choice of losing your life to conscience, or sacrificing your conscience for life. I thought I gave quite a disappointing answer, at least I feel that way. I tried to excuse myself by saying that I’d never know how I’ll react unless I was thrown in a scripted scenario, like in the hidden camera show. This just reaffirms me that there’s always a difference between what you hope for and what you want to do. There’s always this gap I’ll struggle want to try to close.

Anyway, this is another story to share another time. These are all the thoughts that I have on kindness, for now, before the thoughts run even more wild and deviate from the topic. 

Cruel World

 

My absolute favorite from the album. The first listen, the song didn’t appeal to me. Took me awhile to fall in love with this song. Listening to this feels like sitting in one of those rides in the theme park that spins you round and round, then it only gets faster and makes you feel dizzier until towards the end when the spinning slows down and you walk out of it feeling all wobbly.

I’m bad in identifying musical instruments in a music piece, besides the drums; cymbals and the guitar. The way I’d describe the instrumentals all the way to the chorus would be: the song started out with the distinct strumming of the electric guitar. One strum after another, you’ll start to hear the sound of the drums as the pre-chorus moves in. When the chorus is sung, you hear the sound of cymbals hitting against each other beat by beat.

Lana starts the song, singing in her usual melancholy voice, with occasional pauses, and her voice is crisp clear. The pre-chorus, below, feels like the verge of “losing it”. The juxtaposition of the “bible” and the “gun” placed in the same line and possessing both of these contradicting items at the same time – one that is supposedly used for salvation, the other used for a complete opposite purpose. The way I’d interpret these lyrics is that she’s trying to get back at the guy for the love that was never returned, or betrayed.

Got your bi-ble, got your gunnn
And you like to par-ty and have fun
And I like my can-dy and your wo-men
I’m finally hap-py, now that you’re gone

Then the coarseness of the voice creeps in the chorus part.

Put my little red party dress on
Everybody knows I’m the best, I’m crazyyyyy
Get alil bit of Bourbon in ya
Get alil bit of suburban and go crazyyyyy
Because you’re young, you’re wild, you’re free
You’re dancing circles around me
You’re fucking crazy, you’re crazy around me

Maybe it’s the sense of helpless and self-abandonment that appeals to the listeners. There are the highs and lows. Though I can’t relate abit to this song at all, like one cannot feel depressive about something that haven’t happened to them. What I like about this song is how the instrumentals and lyrics complemented each another, how it’s churned out in a mix well enough to produce the intended feel.

Yes, the music or the lyrics aren’t rhythmically catchy the way most pop songs in the billboard charts do. I would also agree that some of the other songs in this album would sound more pleasant, in both their music and lyrics. But there’s just something about Cruel World that makes it stands out from the rest.

Joy Luck Club

“This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.”

Joy Luck Club has kept my time, as well as my thoughts, occupied for the past month. I first came to hear about the book title when it was mentioned by a Philosophy professor who conducted the university admission interview with me.

The result of the interview? He didn’t give me the approval to admit into his bachelor’s programme, but what I gained from that interview was a good read; served with a side of food for thought, lasting enough to remain in my memory for quite awhile before another plot takes over from there. I bought the book online. No second thoughts on the purchase, even though it was just S$2. The yellowed paperback cover and the pages did justice to how much it was charged but the story was certainly worth more than that.

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