[mini] existential life-crisis

What have I done with my life?

“What have I done with my life?!”

There are certain moments in our lives where a situation presents, in 100” High Definition 4K Ultra HDTV, a more detail and complete view of Life (with capital L) that puts our own lives in perspective and gets us thinking/going – or to be more accurate, gets us into a mini existential life-crisis.

Well this afternoon, this situation came in the form of the Introduction and Foreword to the book: The Salmon of Doubt. The book is a collection of writings of the late great author, scriptwriter, comic, world’s no.1 nerd, animal lover and activist, Douglas Adams. The prologue by Nicholas Wroe, and the foreword by the also very funny Stephen Fry, painted the life of Douglas Adams, the extremely successful, cult-enducing, writer of The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (one of my favorite book series in this lifetime).

Sure, Mr. Adams was an ordinary human like the rest of us. He had a nerdy passion like mine and gets into massive excitement about little things like the latest Apple gadget. He enjoyed music and had even played with the Pink Floyd. And he loved his daughter very much. But I believe, at times in his life, he was also an asshole. He had that typical assholic behavior of an artist who doesn’t give a flying fuck on the implications of his action if he had a work to create or a script to finish. Yep. That one.

But I read about him creating the amazing series at the age of 25. And I read about Stephen Fry, his buddy, missing him cause now he no longer have Adams to make fun of a posh hotel soap over email, and he no longer have Adams replying him with an incredibly witty comment (over email) that would make Fry dance around in the hotel room for an hour….

…And that got me off my bed to stand around in my room, literally just spinning and looking around my room, looking at items strewn everywhere, photos in many many picture frames, mementos of life young and younger, and thinking “What have I done with my life? What have I done in my life? Have I created something significant? Have I been that person that make someone laugh and dance around in his/her room for half an hour? Why am I here??”

It was like a bewitched trance really. The spinning around like a slowed down Sufi dancer, the repeated existential questions like mantras, the extended arm, the glossed gaze over different random items. I was really having a moment..

..and I stopped.

There were 2 ways I could have continued from there. One was to go into panic mode, gasp dramatically, and silently sighed (but actually screaming inside) “Omg I’m having an existential life crisis..” and proceed to wail miserably (which is probably the path I would easily have chosen in the past). Two was to shrug the shoulder and laugh and smile and say “Haha, look at that, you just had an exciting crazy moment there. Yep, you just had a mini crisis. And yet look at what it did to you? It woke something in you, didn’t it? Good.. good *nod sagely and stroke imaginative sagely beard*).

So I went with the 2nd choice.

I feel like someone just turned on the stove in my body. My heart is pumping slightly faster, my eyes are wide open, and my skin feels electrified.

This is not about doing an inventory of what I have done with my life (Well, okay, it’s about that too. Never stop being grateful of where you are in your life, folks!), but it’s about getting inspirations and new jolts of life at the weirdest places and situations. And about mini existential life-crisis.

Crisis can be bad or good, depending how we handle it and view it. We can crumble and fall apart into a pool of unworthy self-criticizing mess, Or we can rise above it, fully aware that our lives are never comparable to anyone else’s life, and take that shocking endorphin to do something good instead.

So this is me, taking that endorphin to write you this story. And to tell you that these moments happen – they happen randomly and unexpectedly. And you have the power to use it for awesome things, which you never know, might lead you to write your first novel, or start your own business, or start a circus, or it might lead you to the best thing of all: happiness. And it’s exciting.

But you are not going to get there if you’re stuck in an unhealthy cycle of mundane life starring you as a walking zombie. So this is a reminder for you to do something fun everyday, like read a book, play music, sing, dance, or take a walk outside, or swim, or cook, or whatever your heart desires.

What I did before I picked up the book was deciding on whether I need to do the work that I’m getting paid for or let myself relax and read the book; the work that I’ve done last night and the night before, and the night before that; the work that I absolutely enjoy but I am also aware can suck me into it. I was in a little struggle of easing into taking a break and reading that book. The temptation to work was high. But I relaxed and stayed by the book cause that was my reward for working. And I’m glad I stuck by it cause it led me to my crazy lil moment.

So, have a wonderful week ahead! Don’t forget to make time to rest and do something that you love. You’ll never know what excitement you’ll get out of it.

this Dance called Life

Let’s Dance

Recently, I’ve been reminded of the magic of dance.

Last week, I talked to a mandala artist for a writing assignment. Our conversations revolved around life and how he sees it as a dance. When he referred to it as “a Dance called Life,” I was reminded of my first ever blog, also titled “this Dance called Life”, that I set it up in 2004 – the early days of blogging. (It’s actually still up and running on this massive world wide web. So if you’re intrigued, I welcome you to find it :D.)

A few days ago, I went to watch a performance put up by my old dance mates – these are the girls that I learned ballet with from the age of 5 – 14 or 15. They put up a performance as a tribute to my late teacher in the theater I performed many many times when I was young. Watching the performance brought back so many memories.

Life reminded me of my love for dance and how I relate to things through my body and movement. Movement has been an integral part of my life that has taught me so many lessons.

My early ballet classes really taught me about discipline and hard work. The early performances taught me to breathe and calm the nerves, step into the lights and perform like no one is watching. It also taught me to let go and completely trust my body to remember every movement.

Later in LASALLE, I learned about being part of the company and that dance is really a group effort. A dancer who is technically brilliant is not going to look good on stage if he/she doesn’t match the group’s energy.

I’ve also experienced so many magical moments on stage. There were many times when excitement and higher forces just took over and I became the movement and the character. There were moments where the energy of my dance mates and I became one and I could sense everyone on stage as we move together as one.

And for me, life is really one big dance.

Living is about following the inertia of the movement, allowing the energy to finish its extension before pulling the movement to go into a different direction.

There are a lot of allegros as well as adagios in life. We just have to follow the pace and be flexible.

There are many moments where you have to get on stage and step into the light, despite how nerve-wrecking it feels. There are moments when you have to wait backstage cause no matter how eager you are, it’s really not your turn yet.

We’re all really connected as one big company. Physicality doesn’t stop the connection. One person excelling is not going to make the whole thing look better. With each of our expertise, we have to move as one company. And the energy we put up, affects others.

And that there’s so much we can learn from our body if we just listen to it.

So, You, if you never dance, give it a try. If you have been dancing, never stop.

I haven’t been taking classes lately cause I just haven’t been inspired to do so. But that doesn’t stop me from moving. Dance to me is the solution to everything. When I’m sad, I move. When I’m happy, I move. When I need to be inspired, I move. When I need to wake up in the morning, I move. And so I continue moving on my own.

I am trained in a lot of things. I can do ballet, I can do contemporary, I can do jazz, I can do a bit of salsa and a bit of samba. But You, I’m an expert in Crazy dance – it’s the kind of dance where you say “to hell with form and alignment and steps” and move as however your body wants to move.

So I’d like to encourage you to do your own version of Crazy dance wherever you are. I promise you it will boost your mood, raise your heart rate, and release any tension that you may have from stress. Plus it reminds you to not ever take life so seriously, cause after all, life is just a dance.

So, shall we dance?


Attraversiamo – Let’s Cross Over!

Every first day of the year, I have a ritual of setting an intention for the year by answering a series of questions. And here’s one that I wrote on Jan 1st, 2016.

What would I like to be the biggest triumph in 2016?
To live a life that I truly want by following my intuition and not because someone said so or because the thing is something I have to do (by society’s standard or whatsoever).

And I’m quite pleased to report that I’ve been doing exactly that.

I have been living the last 6.5 months by asking the question “What do I want?”. Or to be exact, “If I had all the money in the world right now, what do I want?”. And every time I asked the question, the answer had been to see the world and to continue building a closer relationship with my family. I realized that everything else become secondary to those 2 things.

I’ve been blessed to have been able to do both of them.

So far, these are the cities/ regions I’ve stepped on my travels (counted for every new place I stepped on): Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Belitung, Bali (twice), Solo, Ciwidey, Rome, Asisi, Monaco, Nice, Lourdes, Salamanca, Burgos, Fatima, Lisbon, Maribaya.

That’s 18 places.
And I’m going to London in less than a month! How exciting is that?!

And after 17 years living away from home, I now feel comfortable being at home and I’m closer to my family every single day. I’m thankful for the love I’m surrounded by and I’m also thankful for all the little arguments and fights I’ve had in the last few months, without which, the relationship can’t evolve.

But life is about following the breadcrumbs and evolving from one breadcrumb to the next. I have again felt the wind of change. I’m now slowly putting more focus on pursuing that dream of living by the ocean and building a business and community of love. Do I have an idea how to do that? Not yet. But it will come and I just have to set sail and follow the wind.

I’m still very much jobless, which I find totally awesome but others sometimes find it weird. I still have savings and I’m enjoying my life to the fullest. I’m continued to be provided for in extraordinary ways.

I may not be working but I feel the most abundant in my life. I have gotten a scholarship to an online program and learned so much from it. I got so many free books (all from legit publishing house sources)! And I always get small little things that I want — Like yesterday I was just staring at my eyebrows and toying with the idea of using an eyebrow pencil (which i haven’t used before – i’m a totally low maintenance person and completely love my eyebrows the way they are, I just thought it would be fun), and guess what, I got a gift of an eyebrow pencil today! Yep. totally provided for.

And not just that, for the first time, I feel that I actually contribute a lot to others and society! I realized, despite all the joy, I felt quite useless in most of my past jobs (which is quite insane cause I did truckload of things) because I didn’t value what I was doing. But now that I’m actually unemployed, I’ve done many things I’m proud of. From simple graphic designs, to making meals, to assisting others with their travels. Abundance truly comes from giving what we value.

I didn’t get that travel writing scholarship that I applied for, but I’m even more pumped to write and write everyday. After all, the best way to learn something is to just do it! And I’ve been offered to write an art essay (like a curation text) for an exhibition (which makes me totally excited). And I’m in the beginning talks to be an art correspondence (sort of) for my city – or whichever city I end up living. Not sure where this is going yet, but it’s amazing how it all started with a simple readiness and a belief in my own ability.

I’m also getting more financial clarity in my life, which is something considerably new. I started working on attaining clarity about a year ago and I’m more clear on what I have financially, I know exactly what I’m spending on and where and how much my investments are and I know the type of financial freedom I desire and I’m slowly working towards that.

So let me end this by sharing the one word I picked to describe my 2016: Attraversiamo.

Yeah, I got that from Eat Pray Love. I absolutely love that word and I felt that it’s perfect for my life this year. It’s an Italian word that means “let’s cross over” or “we cross”.

I’ve crossed over oceans (literally and figuratively). I’ve crossed over boundaries and my own hurdles and I continue crossing over many roads, rivers, bridges, straits, and more oceans.

So, dear ones, attraversiamo!

Book Club

What Gives Us Our Names

WhatgivesusournamesOnce in a while I find a book that I fall deeply in love with and I would hold it dearly and read it over and over and let the words wrap me and lift my heart.

This is one of them.

It came in a mail from a dear friend in Singapore. I probably have seen it multiple times in BooksActually, but had never picked it up. So I’m extremely thankful that I received this beautiful gift.

Pang took human’s most common emotions and life traits and projected them into the people that we meet on the street, people we know, and ourselves. Through these stories, I saw myself, my relationships, my old friend Passion, my elusive friend Purpose, and was reminded of Success and Failure.

A beautiful simple book with bite-sized, yet very impactful, stories.

I’ve been recommending it to my friends and now I’m recommending it to you.

It’s only $10, and if you buy this, you’ll be supporting local talent of Singapore, and a beautiful Singapore publishing house, and also a very very awesome Singapore’s very-loved indie bookshop. And plus, you’ll be supporting literary art.

So when you get a chance, do read it. (For those in Singapore) Also available from the BooksActually vending machines at the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Visitor Centre, and Goodman Arts Centre. [I can’t wait to buy a book from one of these vending machines!]

And to end, here’s a short passage from the book.

“No one really knows where Courage came from or who his parents were. In his youth, he was considered a hero, and many things, good and evil, have been done in his name. But he prefers to be remembered for his garden – where even the tiniest seeds brave the wind and rain, he says, because it is their nature to grow or die.

I once asked Courage what he was afraid of. He joked that he lived every day in fear that it would be his last. And then as I turned to go, he whispered to me what he truly feared above all else: that things would remain only as they are.”