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. 

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Break the silence

When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said. [original post here]

There were countless number of occasions where I could have seized the opportunity to say something about situations that weren’t right, at least to me; but I didn’t. Maybe opportunity is too much of a commercialized term. No, it wasn’t just merely missing an opportunity (to start doing the right thing). I’m also puzzled by the mixed signals sent by my gut feelings. One side of my mind tells me: “go on, do something about it!“, then the other side of it tells me better to leave things as it is. And as you’d have expected, I never did anything.

Many times, I get anxiety and it feels as if these unsaid words get stuck in my throat for that moment and they subconsciously assimilate into an addition to my fear and regrets for the things I could’ve said and I wouldn’t have regretted saying them at all. Well, among the numerous things I could have said but I didn’t, there would of course be things I would regret saying them – but I’d never ever know because I have never said them in the first place.

Maybe to anyone else, it’s not so much of a big deal.How is it possible for these insignificant passing moments to become the regrets that you’ll remember after 10 or 20 years down the road? It takes alot of courage out of one, any individual from that crowd, to say something when circumstances call for it and when everyone else just prefer to stay out of it. All it takes is that first time to do the right thing, then the second and so on, so forth.

Pick your gadget.

Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why? [original post here]

My instantaneous response was: Anywhere doors!

I mean, travelling through time is fun as well. Back and forth. You get to undo the mistakes you’ve regretted for a long time. But at the same time, when we get to change such circumstances, things won’t be the same. There won’t be lessons learnt from unpleasant experiences and we wouldn’t have met the people we know of now along the way. Surely there isn’t a foreseeing function that comes with the time machine. Things could get worse the more we try to change it. But maybe buying a time machine isn’t for the purpose of trying to change situations. It could be nice to go back in time to experience trends… to soak yourself in the air of the classic eras you’ve missed.

Invisibility helmets?

I thought it’d be invisibility cloaks! The first thing that came into my mind when I think of being invisible is for the purpose of sneaking into your lecturer’s room to get the answer scripts for the upcoming final exams. Pulling pranks on the class bully without getting discovered. To the office pantry for the juiciest gossips! But there’re surely a lot more morally-right deeds one can do with an invisible cloak.

Anywhere doors because it has always been my dream to explore the world! Travel to places, without air fares and time constraints being the barriers. I would take a travel notebook with me and jump right to wherever it takes me on the other side of the door, provided if there’s a way back. Every day when I return back home from work, an adventure could really help to liven up my life. This could be my secret life behind the dullest exterior I have. Talking about the dullest exterior, I wanted to share a quote by Mark Twain – a piece of advice I heed ever since  I came across it whenever I think of how “dull” my life can get as a 20-year-old.

There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.

High expectations.

At any point of our lives, we’ve had expectations for ourselves. Then, the next time you try to spin up another expectation for yourself, you either feel more hopeful than the previous time you expect that you can do something OR the disappointment from the previous expectation calls out to you to lower your expectations and refrain getting your hopes high on them.

Are errors really stepping stones to where you want to be in the future? Of course I’m aware that everyone of us makes mistakes, it’s a universal logic. But the thing is, some of the many mistakes we commit are the ones we’ve tried to prevent ourselves from making it, just to only make it worst in the end.

Sometimes, I think there isn’t a need to make exceptional efforts to do that. And it is possible to see ourselves overcoming obstacles at unexpected times without marking it down officially. These days, I’ve been reminding myself that tomorrow is another day and there’s always this possibility (even if it’s like a brief, short-lived fizz in a soda drink) and an opportunity to change for the better. Although I realize that it’s easier said than done, perhaps I could experiment it out whether constantly reminding yourself of something positive would help to overcome the obstacles I created for myself from the beginning.

Ref: Discussions on Youth by Daisaku Ikeda

Daily Prompt: I Was Here | Alien’s note!

Daily Prompt posts: You are the first astronaut to arrive on a new, uncharted planet. Write the note that you leave to those who come after you.

Hopefully no one on Earth realizes that I’m the first earthling to land on the new planet. I’ll be leaving a prank note under the identity of an alien or an unknown creature on this planet before I get on my spaceship back home to Earth. Hopefully when that note gets discovered by the first person (supposedly), it becomes a mystery hit and then stirs up a big-time investigation in research centers, making the headlines in the newspapers on the following day.

Get out of here right now. We’ve had no disturbance before and the possible beings who could disrupt our lives is you Earthlings. 

This isn’t the place for you. Do not even consider this as your Planet Earth version 2.0. Do not even think about taking some of what’s belonged here on this planet back to your labs to scrutinize every bit of it and churn out conclusions on the survival conditions of this planet. This planet is no replacement for Earth – so instead of seeking for another planet to shift the 7 billion of you here, why don’t you channel your efforts to savage the deteriorating health condition of Planet Earth?

Before our population comes alive here, leave immediately. Once awaken, none of you are spared!

With Regards, the friendliest oh-well-let’s-say-I’m-an-Alien around here

Daily Prompt: Memories of Holidays Past

Daily Prompt posts: What is your very favorite holiday? Recount the specific memory or memories that have made that holiday special to you

I can’t recall any specific holiday where I did enjoy celebrating that occasion with anyone.

I like Christmas though. Maybe it’s because of all that buzz that’s created in anticipation for Christmas day. And this daily prompt came up right at this timing – the nearest holiday that’s being celebrated internationally; Christmas in less than 10 days!

It’s the coziest holiday yet. Even when you’re all alone on that Christmas night, it feels good to just curl up (on your own) under the blankets on the couch, facing a nice and warm fireplace. The night will be perfected with some oldies music like Johnny Cash’s or Frank Sinatra’s. Or you could put up some classic jolly Christmas songs and fall asleep to those.

The season, winter, makes a big, big difference in creating that celebratory atmosphere for Christmas. December just isn’t December without snow! In Singapore, the places I’ve gone to which have given me the closest Christmassy feeling are in hotel lounges and lobbies, churches and in Orchard Road. Oh yes, Changi Airport as well! A few days ago, I visited the Airport and one can’t simply drive past and turn a blind eye to the decorations they’ve put up along the roadsides; on the trees, and inside the place as well.

Below are three images I found on the website. This is my second time seeing all these and only now did I realize the link between these three images – they’re actually major attractions of different countries!

Trojan Horse in Turkey (?)

I see that’s the reverted Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy!

Taj Mahal in India!

Also, I remembered for the past 3-4 years, or even longer than that when I was a kid, I tied up stockings (which are in fact, my school socks) by my bed frame on the nights of Christmas Eve and on the actual day. Although I knew that Santa Claus has always been this mythical figure (whom ordinary men like us get paid to pass off as him to roam the streets and malls to surprise little children and for photo-taking sessions), I can always try my luck to get Mom to put something in it, but I don’t think she ever did notice that school sock that’s draped by the bed frame. Even if Santa exists, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to ride his sleigh past every HDB unit in Singapore with the still air to drop presents for the children.

But nevertheless, Christmas isn’t all about making snow angels and snowman, cone trees stringed with colorful ornaments and mini light bulbs around it, Santa Claus, dinners with the must-have roasted turkey and the fireplace. A family dinner seems quite necessary for an occasion like this, maybe replacing the turkey with the chicken – so it’s like a reunion. I think that’s the essence of Christmas where family members gather together.

The main reason why I love Christmas is because of the visuals I see around me. What a feast of sights and sounds! It makes me happy even when I have nothing, or little, to look forward to Christmas Day. But to experience a White Christmas is definitely one thing I look forward to doing in the future!

Daily Prompt: A Bird, a Plane, You!

Daily Prompt posts: You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice:

  • the ability to speak and understand any language
  • the ability to travel through time
  • the ability to make any two people agree with each other

I think I’ll pick the first one ; the ability to speak and understand any language. It’s already in my long due to-do list. I was hoping to learn one language at a time, starting with the local languages, then proceeding to the ones I’ve always wanted to learn for no reasons – like French because it’s always been perceived as a beautiful language and I like listening to how the French talk and looking at their lips when they speak. Ah that’s the only quirkiest reason why I’d want to learn a new language!

Learning a new language would be more difficult than Math. I tried to learn Malay language by borrowing books from the Library and watching tutorials on YouTube, ‘apa khabar?’ is the only phrase still fresh in my memory. This, I’m certain that the commitment wasn’t enough. I’ve tried to pick up French with books, purely with that. It was OK to spell out the words, but not the accents and the pronun-cee-asion – only to learn that each and every word in French has its own unique pronunciation, uniquely for that word. This was the major problem I experienced when I took up a French language module in school. Unlike the English languages, different words can have the same pronunciation, e.g. to, two, and too.  But given a choice between Math and picking up a new language, I’d still rather learn a new language from scratch, than to do Math. Even if I don’t perform well in that, it’s still far more enjoyable than dealing with algebra and numbers.

I had consider the second option of travelling through time – back to the past and to the future, but to think about the movie I recently watched, About Time ; a movie I didn’t enjoy because it made me feel really tiresome while I was watching the movie which lasted for 2 hours. As tiresome as the lead character while he was travelling back and forth in time, repeating those scenes he’d have avoided mistakes, or certain tragedies from happening, and some moments where he’d perfect it to make it memorable for his love.

If that is a temporary superpower that will go away after awhile, it’d be nice to be able to relive the moments you treasure and undo the mistakes. But I’d not want that kind of ability living in my blood for the rest of my life because I’d likely misuse it and lose control over that ability.

Daily Prompt: Inside the Actor’s Studio

Daily Prompt posts: On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses?

1. What is your favorite word?

The word ‘Paradise‘ came to me. A hell-colored flame sky. I first came across this figure of speech in the lyrics of two songs.

Velvet Crowbar by Lana Del Rey:

“Flame colored paradise for you darling,
but death doesn’t come with a warning.”

Angels Forever by Lana Del Rey:

“Paradise is a hell-colored flame sky.

Those lyrics have become my favorite ever since I heard them – especially those lyrics for ‘Velvet Crowbar‘. The literal illustration of Heaven is not too unconvincing. Heaven does look flamed when you’re looking up the sky from Earth.

Later, I found that the phrase originated from Nabokov’s novel, Lolita ; “… a paradise whose skies were the color of hell-flames – but still a paradise.”

Paradise – a heaven of temptations.

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music

This is my first attempt on this week’s writing challenge. Music. In my playlist, there’s a range of genres – from the modern pop, dance, rock music, to indie rock & pop, then back to the old 50’s and 60’s music with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and recently now, Woodkid’s Baroque Pop music. It’s always that number of the same musicians in my playlist – I hardly get any new music in my playlist, apart from new music coming from them or the oldies I will chance upon – on the radio, a memory trigger or somewhere on Worldwide Web.

I like to say good music makes me happy and it probably has the same effect on most people. I like to tap my fingers and feet (maybe just wiggling toes inside the shoes if the action of tapping feet on a hard surface seems to distract people) to music that makes me just want to get up and dance – but… if only I could do awkward dancing as cute as they two.

Nick & Jess ‘awkward dancing’ in the loft – on New Girl

I can go on talking about the music that appeals to my liking, so many songs I love. Not that I can feel most of the composers / singers who have penned the lyrics from their experiences and sung the words with their feelings. The instrumentals and the tune captivates my interest first before anything else does. Then the voice of the singer’s before the lyrics appeal to me.

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Daily Prompt: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry… | End of the World in Thanksgiving style

Daily Prompt posts: …for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.

I’d have McDonald’s. It’s an option I will try to avoid during lunch time every other school day, for I don’t want to die from having too much of it. But unavoidably, I will still have it at least once a week now. I’ll have my favorite chicken nuggets, maybe 20 pieces of it! – today, I will not listen to anyone reminding me of whatever these chicken nuggets are made of. Then I’d have some fried chicken. Just like what Minny Jackson in The Help movie has said, “Fried Chicken just tend to make you feel better about life.”

I’d not want to miss having a word with anyone who has been a part of my life, and sharing my food with them. I don’t usually favor parties, but maybe an ‘End of the World Party’ will be helpful in this situation now.  Continue reading