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The Retreat Place Article

Hey Gorgeous!

I’ve been spending this week mostly in bed, down with something. I’m alright and pretty good actually. The symptoms were not bad but I had a low-grade fever and low energy. So, I cancelled all my teaching work this week and spent an awesome few days resting.

Being in bed doesn’t mean that life stops happening. There have been some big things happening on all ends of the Life’s curves and spectrums. At the end of the day, everything that happened were great and I’d like to share one of them.

So, drum roll please…

I have my first writing as a guest author posted on someone else’s site!

 

It’s not Huffington Post or The Guardian and not even a local publication, but I think it’s small accomplishment and I’m proud of it, especially since it’s a personal story. I’m also happy cause by holding the intention of learning to be a better writer, I keep being led forward to various opportunities to share my writings.

I know that I’m more comfortable sharing my stories as compared others, but it’s still not an easy thing to do.

It was my friend’s – Alaine’s – idea of writing it. We thought it would be a good way to spread the word about Social Zen Retreats. She suggested a “spotlight on Meta” type of story. I hesitated at first because most of the stories on the site give advices on how to do this or that and live a better life. But I decided to go on with the idea of sharing my story and the guys at Retreat Place liked it!

So here is the link to the article.

Thank you for being around. Thank you for reading. Even if you don’t read it, thank you for all your support.

I’m progressing onwards and hopefully will get to the dream of publishing my own book one day :).

To infinity and beyond,

The Boy Who Knew Too Much

I am fascinated by the mysteries of this universe and The Boy who Knew Too Much feeds my fascination about past lives and reincarnation.

I grew up a Catholic but deep down I’ve always believed in reincarnations and having past lives. This fascination led to an interest in Asian myths and religions as well as my own personal experiences encountering memories of past-lives in recent years. And because of this, I like reading books about children’s memories of their past lives.

The Boy Who Knew Too Much book cover
Photo taken from Cathy Byrd’s website

Lots of children under the age of 6 remember their previous lives or the time before they were born. Memories of Heaven is another book that I enjoyed reading cause it shares stories of a child’s past life and his recollection of time before birth.

When I first heard about The Boy who Knew Too Much, I was immediately intrigued by story of Christian Hanupt that recalled his previous life as Lou Gehrig. Anyone who has lived in the States and sometimes keep up with sports would have heard of this Baseball legend. Unfortunately, people also associate Lou Gehrig with the disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) – now known as the Lou Gehrig Disease, that took his life in 1941. Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge a few years ago? They were raising money for the cure to this disease.

It’s amazing to hear stories of someone who was as big as Lou Gehrig in his previous life. I also like Cathy Bird’s story of how she came to terms with this odd revelation. But really, it was Christian’s story that hooked me in.

My favorite part of the book is how it reminded me that our soul is so much bigger than the physical body and physical life we have at present. The soul has a bigger purpose and the soul is connected to the whole entire Life on this planet (and beyond?). As a human, one of the hardest thing we have to go through are separations and heart breaks. It’s nice to read stories like this to be reminded that the soul doesn’t know separation and we are always connected to each other :).

I heard one of the big production houses is making a film out of the book. Read it before it goes to the screen!

Interested to buy The Boy Who Knew Too Much? You can check it here.

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.

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.”

Belitung

Not too long ago I went for a vacation with my family to Belitung. For those of you who don’t know where Belitung is, it’s here. It’s on the western part of Indonesia. With the island next door, Bangka, it forms the Banka Belitung Province. And in relation to the larger landmass, it’s closest to the province of South Sumatra.

One of my (and everyone else’s) favorite tourist attractions there are the gorgeous turquoise sea and white sandy beaches of the small archipelago on the northern coast of Belitung island. These islands are really small and as far as I know, no one lives there. Tourists go to these islands on short day trips to see the beauty of the islands.

Pulau Lengkuas. One of the islands in Belitung's archipelago. Belitung islands are known for its large granite rocks.
Pulau Lengkuas. One of the islands in Belitung’s archipelago. Belitung islands are known for its large granite rocks.

Belitung is not as developed as that really famous Indonesian beach getaway spot, aka Bali. Tourists may find the facilities lacking as it might be more difficult getting things. International or larger chain corporations are not allowed to set up shop in Belitung cause the government want the local mom and pop industry to grow. So you won’t find any McD, Starbucks, or 7-11 here. People might have problems with that, but this makes me love the island more.

Other than the main city of Tanjung Pandan, where the airport is located, most of Belitung is made up of smaller towns and villages. In between these living areas are expanses of greens. Some are farm areas, some are swamps. They make a nice drive going from one side of the island to the other, which takes about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Unfortunately, a lot of the land is ruined from tin mines that have been abandoned. Belitung and Bangka islands produce about 90% of the tin for Indonesia. And (I just learned) Indonesia is one of the biggest tin exporters in the world. A lot of the tin mining in Belitung has stopped; it’s now done mostly in Bangka. However, the mine sites are just abandoned. These abandoned sites ends up filled with water and became still lakes, which doesn’t do much for the ecology of the areas [someone please correct me if I’m wrong]. If only the sites are closed properly, the land could’ve been rehabilitated into water catchment area or farming area, or even residential area. My brilliant childhood bestie, upon seeing the sunken oval shape of the minefield remarked that someone should turn it into an amphitheater, which I think is an excellent idea. Anyone want to set up a theatre company in Belitung? 🙂

Solar Eclipse My family’s main reason for visiting Belitung was actuallyto see a complete solar eclipse. And on 9 March, we witnessed the moon passing the majestic sun. And for a short moment in their embrace, the land turned dark. I felt the air around me tingled as people watched, some in complete awe, some in trepidation, as the sun and the moon stood in alignment on the sky.

There’s something extremely mystical experiencing darkness during the day. I felt so thankful to have watched that rare phenomena.

I had many favorites from my trip to Belitung, but the most memorable one didn’t come from the beach. It came from our trip to Museum Kata. A museum of literary and words opened by a local author Andrea Hirata, who claimed fame after his novel Rainbow Troops became an international hit.

In the timespan I was there, I got goosebumps all over my body. I knew I had these goosebumps cause I had stepped into a place full of magical creative energy. And at the same time, I found the place that I want to build one day.

One of my dreams in this lifetime is to create a creative holistic space where people can come and be creative and share their creations. And this space is all that. It has beautiful artworks on the wall. It has tons of books, with a little reading nook. There’s a small stage where they hold open mics, poetry reading, jam sessions, and all sort of performances. The museum was also created to encourage the local children to read and write their own stories.

The colorful brick buildings or Museum Kata by Andrea Hirata. Beyond those pillars are the space where they hold poetry jam, music jam sessions, and many other performances
The colorful brick buildings or Museum Kata by Andrea Hirata. Beyond those pillars are the space where they hold poetry jam, music jam sessions, and many other performances

For some people, this colorful brick compound might just be another tourist attraction, but for me it’s a place of inspiration. It spoke to my heart and I told myself I’m going to have that space one day, to inspire people to create and express themselves through creativity and the arts. And at the same time use this to connect with themselves and each others.

May you continue to be inspired in this life through what you do, through the things you see, through the people around you. And may you continue to see the wonders of this beautiful world through these inspirations.

Thanks for reading. If you want to see photos from the trip, you can find it here. And if you’re planning to go and need recommendation or help, I’ll be more than happy to do so. Plus, I can hook you up with the travel company that my parents used. (Oh and btw, I’ve been helping people with their travel. It seems that Travel Consultant is my new occupation. 😀 )