Sunday, March 18, 2012

in the face of death

Dearest world, 

Don't ask me how I came up with all these questions. They're just there, in my head, suddenly, as I was bumping in my chair on the rusty bus on my way to the office one morning.

Have I dream enough?
One of my colleagues is leaving the job for a scholarship abroad, in the major that she loves. Another colleague is leaving for another job that servers her higher purpose in life, that is teaching and social works. My other colleague, having recently found out that she's an introvert, realized that she needs to find another job if she wants to stay healthy.

Then came the next question: Have my life been useful enough?
They said a life worth living is the one that gives benefit to other people. Then I wonder, does quantity  matter in this case?
Because I am very sure that up until today, my existence in this world benefits only a very limited number of people, even further down to not more than my mother and my daughter. 
Does it make my existence in this world less useful then?

And the next question: as I was standing at the platform this morning waiting for the train, feeling the morning wind breezing, softly blowing my long tunic and trousers, all black, nothing fancy or fashionable in any way: Do I have what it takes to charm?
Do I need it?
What does it take to charm people actually? And why?

Once I got to the office, I immediately share this pointless reverie to a very dear friend, who then replied by relating to her recent dream about how she met her own death. She said, you know dear, none of those questions you've just asked, none of them matter in the face of death.

And that was the truest truth, bold enough to answer all my questions. 

I'm not against asking questions, indulging the noisy whys and hows moving back and forth in your head, especially those of you with that relentless mind constantly throwing thoughts of the most random topics in the unlikeliest times.

Don't shut them down (because you won't be able to do that anyway). But keep in mind, that there are times when you have to learn to accept things for what they are, because some of them do not really matter in the end.

[article link] Writing as Catharsis

Dearest world, 

I'm currently in my relentless mind-mode on and as usual, cannot do much about it; I can't write, draw, or even talk much. My mind was so full and noisy and as the days go by, the tension built up, and it gets even more difficult for me to channel everything. Just like a bottle too full of liquid and a too small neck. To release even a single bit of what's inside will involve a lot of tension, and painful. The only thing I could do is to wait until my mind cannot take it any longer and deciding to burst by itself. Still painful, but perhaps less, maybe because I'm doing it automatically, my body decide to do that as part of a survival mechanism, to keep my sanity intact. 

Anyway, I found this nice piece about writing as catharsis

Here's a worth quoting phrase from one of the books discussed in the piece  (Story, written by Robert McKee):

“To ask this is to ask why we like to tell and hear stories at all. Perhaps, we need to be cleansed of the aimless chaos of our lives. The characters and actions of real life are raw, in unorganized state; Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman) wrote, ‘The very impulse to write springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning…’'

It helps explaining what I've been feeling all the time about writing. And it helped me write something today, even if it only this one blog post.

Hope you find it useful :)

Sunday late afternoon, 2.26 pm

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Kind of Happiness

A friend once said to me that I'm not actually bitter, but I have this tendency to stick around bitter things, dwelling on the darker side of emotion.

Well, for a moment then I considered the possibility of what my friend said. 

I'm the kind of person who enjoy my quiet time alone reading book (with an emphasize at the 'alone' part). While working at the office I use a headphone all the time to block the sound of other people and basically everything around me, unless those that I want to hear. I love rainy days. I even go as far as believing that I have this emotional attachment to rainy days. When other people turn to gloomy mood under cloudy sky, I'd quietly smile, feeling completely content and at peace.  I spend my two hours of commuting back home everyday listening to Jia Peng Fang or Yiruma. 

I sometimes listen to upbeat and happy songs, but it's always those slow beat and rather melancholy tunes that is able to make me smile and sigh with contentment at the end of the day. And most important is, I'm completely happy with those melancholy moments.

So what is it with me? Am I not being truly happy?

I've asked myself this question anyway, and honestly, I've even drafted a list in my head, consisted of things to do to get closer to bright lights and cheerful things.

But once again Susan Cain's post comforts me.

In her blog posts What Kind of Happy Are You?  Susan Cain talked about the happiness of melancholy. It's the kind of happiness you find in things that are not supposed to make you feeling joyful, like the sight and sound of rain, cloudy sky, pentatonic notes, minor key, or melancholic songs.

I didn't even know it exists before. To some people it might be difficult to comprehend, as none of those things I mentioned before normally trigger the happy feeling. But I can absolutely relate to what Cain said. If I'm not being happy all this time, why do I smile every time I get off the bus after the two hours commuting, injected through and through with the melancholy tunes of Yiruma or the piercing sound of erhu in Jia Peng Fang's music? How would I feel the unmistakable comfort silently wrap around me at the first drop of rain, if I'm not being happy?  I wouldn't be able to smile, standing under the umbrella in the pouring rain if I'm not happy. But how is that?

Ms. Cain's words sums up everything perfectly. 

"But the very communion of this act is happy-making – if you define happiness broadly enough"

After reading Susan Cain I realized that I'm not crazy, or bitter, or suicidal, in any way. I'm just completely contented with my own kind of happiness :)