The Enlightenment of An Ugly Duckling

She was twenty three days old. They called her ugly. She takes feed like all of them do. But she never seems to grow, and her feathers, a few of them always fall off as she flaps her wings.

They told her that she was different. they told her that her neck will never be curved in to a perfect S-shape like Ms. Beauty Queen. She was The Ugly Duckling in a lakeful of swan.They told her no doubt many will notice her. Yes, she was special, but only because she was the ugliest among them all.
And then that day a boy came to her secret spot of the lake, and gave her a handful of grains from his pocket. And then he came back the day after, and the day after. She ate from his right hand, and with his left, he stroked her head. She was in love.
One day the boy came with worms. She loathed it. But to appease him, she swallowed those squirmy creatures. They gave her a bad tummy, and she was nauseous she could not sleep that night. The next day he came back with more worms. And she swallowed all of them. And then the next day, and the day after.
Then one day, he came to the ugly duckling with something in his hand. She knew what it was, but she took it anyway. That day, she decided. She will never come back to that corner of the lake ever again.
She swam as far as she could, avoiding the suspicious looks and glances from the others, for her eyes were red. From anger or from shame, she did not know. She reached the bank and waddled her way up. She swore never to return to that lake again.

The Ugly Duckling was happy. She was not filled with joy nor contentment, but she was happy. For she knew that she was a duckling, and an ugly one. She will never be a swan, nor will she allow herself to be a boy’s pet. She was she. And she will waddle with her featherless tail, and paddle with her featherless wings.
He gave her all that was remain of her on his right hand that day.

It was a seven letter word  that rhymes with eternity.

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Stop and Stare

The world today is addicted to SPEED. We want an octa-core processor in our phone and a faster (and faster) internet connection. We take planes instead of trains and send emails instead of snail mails. And when we really have to send something by post, we go to Fed-ex or Blue Dart.

We move around like busy ants. Scurrying up and down, here and there. We always manage to find something to put our nose in.

When was the last time you look at your watch(or the wall clock)?

“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. an alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”
―Mitch Albom, the Time Keeper

When was the last time you stop and think about what you are doing?

Will what you do now helps you be a better person and changes who you are for the better in the next 10 years? Will the decision you made now put a smile on your face years later? Will what you do now be remembered or cherished by someone, a loved one or a stranger to the very last of their breath?

I hate checking my watch ever since my trip in June 2013 to Taipei. That was the most beautiful time in my life. Everyday is marked by sunrise, and sunset. No alarms, no schedules. I ate when I got hungry, and slept when I was tired. Ever since I came back from that trip, I came to realize that the occasions where I was required to check the time are in fact the most unpleasant ones.

  1. The alarm that wakes me up in the morning, dragging me out of bed. Whether I have had enough rest or not. Lectures do not wait for the sleepy student.
  2. The boring lecture I have to sit through. I practically look at my watch once every five minutes. In an hours time, i checked the time 12 times.
  3. Waiting. Some wise man/men once said that the most time wasted in life, is wasted in waiting.
  4. Appointments. Interviews. Expecting a call, a mail or someone.

Each one of us has about a century in our hands, some of us have less. I have spent nearly a quarter of it by now. I think the one single most important lesson I learned in these 23years is to be AWARE. Not just knowing, or understanding, but aware.

“The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.”
― David Foster Wallace

How often are you aware and conscious about the breath you took?

The yogis and sages had been striving for ages to teach this wisdom to mankind. Being aware of every breath you take in and every breath you expel. No one can survive more than five minutes without taking a breath and yet how often we forget the very thing that matters the most. Our breaths, our pulse, the constant firing of neurons in our brains. The very core of our physical being are exactly the ones we least appreciate.

It holds true when it comes to life. The very people we neglect, the forgiveness we with hold. We go about our lives busy and merry, and yet we do not pause and reflect on, churn on the things that matter. Most of us do have the constant nudge and whisper in our hearts that urge us to look within, but more often than not we brush it off because we are too busy to make merry, because the merry we made do not last longer than while we are making it.

Do you know what matters to you in life?

Anyway, each one of us has a different priority in life, and different things we want to be remembered for. Some of us put intelligence as our main goal, some enlightenment. Some of us spend most of our life chasing fame and beauty, some of us love and affection. These are ALL, ALL good. For who can find a man who do not take pleasure in wealth, health, beauty and glory? The point is not to find out which goal is better than which, or whose aim is superior than whose, but to be aware of who we are, what we want and what we have inside.

Take time. Slow down. Stop and Stare.

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Let Time runs as it pleases. Let it flows while we examine our paths. Of where we had been, where we are and to where we are heading. We think we are moving, but we maybe going nowhere.

“When you are measuring life, you are not living it.” – The Time Keeper

同一片天 Underneath the Same Big Sky

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Photo Credits: I-Vonne

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we’ll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

Pause. Look up. Look at the sky. Cloudy in India, farmers in ankle deep mud working in sugar can farms. Rainy in Malaysia, men in suits stuck in traffic jams. Mid noon in Japan, girls in flashy clothes and fake eyelashes crossing the four-lane road. Dark cold night in the Pacific Ocean, fishermen lit their cigarettes and break into a song.

Stop for a moment. Inhale. 3 billion people just shared your breath.

We step on the same globe, share the same sky. We breathe the same air and bathe the same Sun. Distance and time is an invention of human being. A measurement of our limits. If life is a river, we are not the flowing waters. We are all the stones on the riverbed, embedded deep in the soil of existence. Water passes over us, like emotions and events.  We exist and we live, moment by moment.

 

出发 Let’s go

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Photo Credits: I-Vonne

出發啦 不要問那路在哪
迎風向前 是唯一的方法
出發啦 不想問那路在哪
運命哎呀 什麼關卡 ~ 亡命之徒

The beginning of our journey is often marked,

Not by thunderstorms or glorious rainbows,

Not an omen from a blackbird or signs in the clouds,

Just a small still whisper in our hearts, saying “Let’s go.”.

Some Things I Would Like My Daughter To Know

This is a post by my roommate. She is two years younger but every bit as wise if not wiser. I do not think I will ever have a daughter, but I think everyone who has one or is planning to have one would love to read this to their princesses:-). Cheers, girlfriends!

Vonnerable

1. Love yourself. You are most beautiful when you be who you are. You are at your best when you are yourself. Some personalities may seem to be more attractive to play, perhaps more accepted socially, but if you love yourself enough, you will come to understand that you are wonderfully amazing.

2. Appreciate your school friends. They know who you are. School is the playground of making mistakes, dramas, of crushes and classroom quirks, stupid silly things we do, of a common journey between friends of discovering who they are, life, and beyond.  Some memories can be reenacted at every single reunion, but never runs dry. These friends could laugh at your past mistakes, school crushes, but it makes you feel so good about yourself. Because these people know you, watched you grow, and has grown to love you as you are.  They grew up with you. Basically, they…

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Memory 记忆

Changed but Unmoved

Changed but Unmoved

I love travelling. Exploring new towns and cities, making new friends. I enjoy the sound of foreign language ringing in my ears and the air often smells different too.

I love travelling alone. My little bag and a borrowed camera, my sandals and I. We walked the paths billions before us have walked. And out of a sudden, I began to spend more time looking at the white clouds, more than my white watch.

I love travelling. Because of the moments in which my heart was touch and my spirit was lifted. I teared at the beauty of creation and exclaimed at the gentle splashing of ocean waves.

I love travelling. Weeks and months later, all it takes is just an old picture or a message from the acquaintance from the distant land to relive those memories. Memories I cherish and will cherish for a life time.

P/S: The wind-carved rocks in Yehliu taught me that in life, you cannot resist change. Change, but be unmoved. That was one of the moment in life, where I confronted my fears and dreams vis-a-vis.