guestbook

I almost forgot about my guestbook but I just read it and I’m surprised that there are new entries! Thank you for writing in my guestbook 😉 It’s such a wonderful feeling to read these words written by people I might never meet. But for some reason these connections feel very real. If you’d like to sign my guestbook too, you can click here. And if you have a blog too, let me know. I’d love to connect.

The courage to stop

“Stop” is a word I like very much.

Every day we are buried in a deluge of new information, new content, new this, new that. We are collecting and watching and reading and listening but not processing. So all of these information and content become just noise. Meaningless noise. Once in awhile, something jumps out at us, and we feel the desire to dive deeper or to process it, but we’re instantly hijacked again by new information, new content.

The cycle is deep and endless and tragic.

So it’s good to stop. Not just taking in less, but taking in none. Even one day of stopping works wonders for the soul. Three days are better. A week even better.

When we stop consuming so much new information and new content, we have time to look through our backlog of things we really want to look at. Books that are collecting dust on our bookshelf, an essay that we want to read again, an album that deserves our full listening attention, and so on. We stop consuming new stuff so we can have the capacity to digest the old stuff.

And it is the digesting and processing that is meaningful. We get to synthesise the new knowledge with what we already know, and we also get to properly learn new things without being swept away by the next Youtube video, the next great article, the next inspiring Instagram post.

Wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year and may this year be full of the best kind of stopping.

Perfume

“Never before in his life had he known what happiness was. He knew at most some very rare states of numbed contentment. But now he was quivering with happiness and could not sleep for pure bliss. It was as if he had been born a second time; no, not a second time, the first time, for until now he had merely existed like an animal with a most nebulous self-awareness. but after today, he felt as if he finally knew who he really was: nothing less than a genius… He had found the compass for his future life. And like all gifted abominations, for whom some external event makes straight the way down into the chaotic vortex of their souls, Grenouille never again departed from what he believed was the direction fate had pointed him… He must become a creator of scents… the greatest perfumer of all time.”

Best book I read last year — Perfume.

22 thoughts and lessons from 2022

1. My current favorite emotion is JOY. It’s light in the body and bright in tone, yet not overly so – a nice balance between happiness and excitement.
2. Big dreams, small steps.
3. When you feel lonely, it’s because you think nobody loves you or loves you the way you wanna be loved. But accept all love as love. Understand that no one knows how to love perfectly. And that at each point in our lives someone is always trying to love us. Accept the trying as being enough.
4. Enough is hard but always worth gunning for. (I have eaten enough. I have rested enough. I have worked enough. I’m loved enough. I have enough. Etc etc).
5. You can’t love everyone in the world, but you can love the ones you love harder. (Similarly, you can’t have everyone in the world love you, but you can ignore these people harder😂)
6. Wisdom accumulates in the person who tries their best to wake up from the slumber of life.
7. Money is just a game. Play it well, play it badly, it’s up to you.
8. The most interesting person you can be is… drumroll… your good old boring self.
9. Read fewer books but fall more deeply into each book.
10. Lesson #286 from skateboarding: If you’re coming down a slope, lean forward, look ahead and enjoy the ride. (If you’re still leaning or looking backwards, you will fall!)
11. Pay your bills on time, but apart from that, remain a kid at heart.
12. Whenever you can, be thankful for a seemingly ultra-trivial thing in your life. (Today I’m grateful that I can move my fingers and type this!).
13. Stop looking for your purpose in life. There is no purpose, but there is what makes your heart SING.
14. Nothing is scarier than empty beautiful photographs (or art).
15. If you find yourself saying “Aiyah cannot one lah” immediately change it to “CAN ONE LAH!”
16. Make no distinction between hard and soft, art and business, life and death.
17. Listen > talk.
18. We are not more special, but we’re no less special.
19. Wander aimlessly – it’s okay.
20. We all view the world through a particular lens. If you’re unhappy, change/discard the lens.
21. Force yourself to do hard things. Then enjoy the easy that comes after.
22. In the end, the highest goal is effortlessness.
Bonus 23. You or I can go anytime. We can lose everything, anything, anytime. There is no guarantee in life or death. Change is constant. Life is transient. It’s all impermanent. On this basis, let’s stop resisting joy. And may all the suffering in the world be transmuted by time. From dust, to dust. Let’s enjoy being here for now.

“Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – C.G. Jung

“Do not struggle. Go with the flow of things, and you will find yourself at one with the mysterious unity of the Universe.” – Zhuangzi

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Everyday Zen mindset

The easiest things are the hardest to do.

We can conquer the world, but if we can’t conquer our daily chores, then we cannot say that we have really conquered ourselves.

That’s why the Zen masters of the world tell us to wash dishes with absolute focus, or to sweep the floor with total concentration.

Things that we think are simple or easy can hide the deepest truths, when done with a mind that is still and present.

life cannot be organised

In a way writing is a desperate attempt at organising what cannot be organised – life. But we all valiantly try because what is the alternative.

*

My cat Bunny has died. She was already dying when our friends, who housesit for us when we travel, called us to say they were bringing her to the vet. We didn’t know she was dying then – and we hoped not – but we cut short our trip anyway and flew home, because the vet said her condition was serious.

Her heart stopped the moment we reached her side. And now her body has been cremated and she’s a jar of small bones that sits on our bookshelf, next to a photo of her.

A couple of days after she died, the sunlight spilling into our balcony created a double rainbow on the floor, and the water splashes from the kids who swam next to our balcony created random patterns that looked A LOT like cat paw prints.

I took that as a sign that Bunny was trying to communicate something to me, which is that she still exists in a form that I might not currently understand, that she’s okay, that we’ll see her again, that we travel together in every lifetime anyway, and that in every dimension and every universe we’re always a team.

*

I really enjoy hiking now.

I used to be a reluctant hiker because I didn’t know better, but now, I find hiking in the mountains one of the most life-giving things one can do.

If I have the chance I’ll write about one of the many wonderful hikes we did in Europe. Till then, here are some photos…