Greetings from Abroad

in

I think I could fall in love with photography. ^^

Was actually quite against photography as an art form. It's way too easy to just point and shoot. Painting, drawing, sculpting - all these require much practice to perfect but Photographs can be corrected so easily with Photoshop!

But these photos are just so breathtaking, aren't they?
Then again, some are more difficult to take than the others. (quote adapted from Orwell).

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Wishing upon fallen stars.

in

Afire, flaming,
Wondering how
and why and where
and when.
Questions flit about,
under and around.
They flash and fade,
swirl and twirl.

A chase is on!
I run and chase,
cajole and beg.
I tease and trick,
leap and grab.
Finally! (Yes!)

The trapped question
disintegrates,
melting out of my clutch.
I failed to scoop it back.
Failed, failed, failed.
Perhaps...
it wasn't meant to be.

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Self-Love

in

A case of narcissism. Self-love in which one listens to one's voice - thoughts, opinions and all - without genuinely listening to what others have to say.

Such listening's always laced with the need to prove others wrong, that they have wider and vaster and more superior knowledge than them. It's often common for one to form replies to others' words even before they have completed the sentence, in one's self-interest to impress.

Made a decision to speak less and listen more, to listen with love, to speak out of love, to act out of love. Not, of course, out of self-love. But out of love for humanity and the glimmering soul that lies within all.

Made a decision to promote growth, to aid growth of others. Made a decision not to shackle others' to my very own narcissistic tendencies, to let them be the best that they can be without negative judgement, criticisms and demoralising words. Made a decision not to draw attention to myself, but to pay attention to others.

Harder than it seems, harder than it seems. As difficult as any other changes in one's psyche. Learning to listen, it's not easy at all.

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Classica

in

Am loving the cello concertos of Brahms, Vivaldi and Bach. Their soothing strains washes over me in comforting waves, invariably inducing a state of deep relaxation.

Such wonderful tunes, so thoroughly calming and lilting! The musical notes - such vibrancy and vitality! - dance in the air.

Music possesses the dialectic tensions of the ephemeral and eternal. The fleeting and the lasting. Music - wondrous and sublime.

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Blessings

in

The ending is a beginning just as life and death defines each other. The poignancy and sweetness of a moment feels sharper and sweeter in the subsequent moment of quietness.

Time moves along, oblivious to the protests of the human beings it sweeps away. We all want more time to do more - earn more money, acquire more knowledge, impress more people. Is that why one keeps feeling stressed? Is that why there is never a second of sheer silence, tranquility, peace?

The year's coming to an end. Many experiences - both good and bad - swirled around me. I stood in the middle of the vortex, trying to make sense of it all.

I was glad when an army friend whom I had long lost contact with began to contact me again. He was a joyful and insightful presence. I was glad when I celebrated the birthdays of a few close friends with them. I was glad when I grew closer to my brothers. I was glad when I had the rare opportunity to visit Brunei. Oh, I was glad for many many things.

And all those numerous conflicts shall be cherished too, for the lessons they impart and the growth they force.

Some of the things I was glad for would probably be too insignificant for others to consider as worthy of attention or delight. But, nevertheless, treasure them I do.

Just counting my blessings, I guess. In a world filled with few people who could ever be satisfied.

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Random thoughts (II)

in

Just completed an ink drawing on canvas and am luxuriating in self-satisfaction.

It feels as though each stroke's a step further away from Art, a little farewell wave to what I love.

Been revising my maths and science recently. All the knowledge are flowing readily into the mind, reconnecting neurons. The knowledge feels familiar, strangely warm and welcoming.

It's much easier to choose what the rest are choosing than to make unique choices.

Been asking a few friends why they wanted to study business. And it all boils down to money. For the love of money, must we forsake what we can be?

Too young to understand the complexities of life and living. Or simply just too reluctant?

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An MRT ride

in

Was quite embarrassed today. Embarrassed due to the overwhelming sense of self that I suffered from.

Saw an uncle with a head of white hair standing quite far away from me, perhaps around 3 metres away, while I sat on the plastic, unfeeling MRT seat. I could not rest easy, not while someone else was in greater need of the seat I was resting. Squirming a little, I thought of how I could give up my seat to the aged uncle.

Many people were standing in front of me, each absorbed in themselves, in their own worlds. Was quite reluctant to shout to grab the uncle's attention. Embarrassed about disturbing the egocentric reverie of the people around me, all oblivious - deliberately or otherwise? - to the people around them.

I squirmed on the chair, guilty about being so self-conscious that I dared not do what was right. What if the uncle rejected me? Won't I feel disconcerted? Could still remember the time when I graciously gave up my seat to a granny, only to have her reject it most vigorously. That time, the carriage worth of people was roused from their worlds and stared most curiously at the two of us.

Just thinking about this incident caused my face to flush. Perhaps, the past has been limiting my present. Perhaps, if so, I shouldn't let it limit me any more.

For no rhyme or reason, I thought of a quote and drew strength from it. 'When you're 18, you're only too conscious of what the world is thinking of you. When you're 40, you no longer care for what the world is thinking of you. And when you're 60, you realise that the world had never been looking at you.'

So I stood up, blocked the way to my seat and boomed, 'Uncle.'

No, not really, I merely squeaked. The uncle didn't manage to catch my voice. Ended up getting a rather curt stranger to get the uncle on to my seat. The sombre coolness of the strangers around me, surprisingly, didn't affect me much.

Felt a sense of serenity that was profoundly beautiful.

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An esoteric idea

in

'When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don't forget: The only thing that is ultimately real about our journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That's all there ever is.

Your life's journey has an outer purpose and an inner purpose. The outer purpose is to arrive at your goal or destination, to accomplish what you set out to do, to achieve this and that, which, of course, implies future. But if your destination or the steps that you are going to take up so much of your attention that they become more important to you than the step you are taking now, then you completely misses the journey's inner purpose, which has got nothing to do with where you are going or what you are doing but everything to do with the how. It has got nothing to do with future but everything to do with the quality of your consciousness at this moment.

The outer purpose belongs to the horizontal dimensions of time and space; the inner purpose concerns a deepening of your Being in the vertical dimensions of the timeless Now. Your outer journey may consist of a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.

As you become more deeply aware of this one step, you realise that it contains within itself all the other steps as well as the destination, this one step then becomes transformed into an expression of perfection, an act of great beauty and quality. It will have taken you into Being, and the light of Being will shine through it.

This is both the purpose and fulfillment of your inner journey, the journey into yourself.'

- an excerpt from the esoteric The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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Ringing the Bell

in

Standing by the roadside, ringing a little bell, asking for donations to the Salvation Army... The combination of activities probably concocts the most potent invisibility potion.

People walked past me, oblivious to my presence, greetings and vigorous bell-shaking. Some sped up, tilting their heads in another direction. Others looked determinedly forward as though their wildest wishes were waiting for them 20 paces away. A few even had the audacity to wrinkle their nose and sniffle while bypassing.

Well, I despised those who clutched to their Burberry/ Chanel shopping bags while ignoring the pleas for donations to help the needy.

I was feeling rather uncool, wearing the crimson apron while soliciting donations. It really felt quite embarrassing when people wouldn't - couldn't? - acknowledge my presence.

But why should I be embarrassed when it's all those stingy, selfish people who should be?

It was almost aching, the diffidence of the society to the cries of the needy.

I could break into their houses in my scarlet volunteer's apron, wave the bell around in their faces and they would still ignore my presence even while I make it off with their most prized worldly possessions!

The powers of a bell and apron. Never underestimate the invisibility it confers.
*
The indifference of the bulk of the society was punctuated by the occasional Samaritan who donated most generously, sometimes up to $15.

It was heartening when someone suddenly walked up to put a crisp ten dollar note into the collection box. A couple even laid down their shopping bags so that they could forage for their wallets deep within their handbags.

Really gratifying, the warmness that some Singaporeans showed, particularly in contradistinction to the pointed arrogance of others.
*
And for 2 hours, I smiled almost ceaselessly.

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Crossroads

in

Been drawing and drawing and drawing... It dawned on me that my path in life may be radically altered within a year.

I told my mum that I'm not planning to get a degree. Her expression was priceless.

She was stuttering, shocked, racking her brain for an apt reply. She couldn't comprehend the supposed madness of this act. She couldn't understand why I decided to give up a stable career just to build castles in the air.

To alleviate her discomfort, I told her that I was only joking. Even though, I wasn't.
*
I don't want to throw myself back into the insane fray of academia. I don't want my life to vanish in smoke as I pursue facts blindly. I don't want the rest of my life to be the same as the preceding days.

True, I got decent grades for all my exams. True, I could pretty much get into any college course that I want to get into. True, I could live a stable life if I so wish. True, true, true, all true.

But I'm sick and tired of living like that. It feels as though there's two of me. One who wants to live up to others' expectations of me and be worthy of their admiration and love. Another who simply wants to live for himself, whatever the circumstances, whatever the consequences.

Casting leaves in the wind and trying to read my future from the fallen leaves was useless. For I can't understand the language of the world, much less the language of my dreams.

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Dvorak's madding melodies

in , ,

Was listening to two of Dvorak's symphonies and ended up feeling an aching emptiness.

The emptiness consumes, demanding more and draining more. It was as though I was falling into an abyss with each dying strain of melody.

I tried to stop myself from falling, but it's difficult. It's almost inexorable, the impending doom. Dvorak had guided the listener into a pit of human conditions, leaving them there to languish in despair.

I guess, I'm not really comfortable with such intrusion, such disturbance to my psyche.

I'm still the little kid who wants the world to be bright and cheery.

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The Devil's Encore

in ,

Just attended this play - The Devil's Encore - by a local drama house.

The set was lovely, a celestial surrounding. Light bulbs floated, dimming and brightening according to the tempo of the play. An ancient-looking bonsai sat dignified in the middle of the room, calm and composed. Alas, the air of mystery and beauty was let down by the plot.

The protagonist was alternating between a monologue and a soliloquy, sometimes speaking to the audience while sometimes pretending that they don't exist. He, too, has to act out multiple roles.

It was confusing, to say the least. The fluctuating personae, timelines, techniques.

I could see people on the other side of the room, fidgeting and whispering under their breath. Found myself wondering when the play would end...

There was an ambivalent feeling resonating within after watching this play. Just tints of feelings that I couldn't define nor understand. It felt as though the director had tried to address a philosophical dilemma and ended up falling flat.

It was supposed to be a meditation on life and death, of love and loss, of pleasure and pain. It didn't fulfil any expectation, save the last one. It felt really painful watching this play.

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Radiance II and Organic I

in

Radiance II is an exploration on swirling colours that sing in a harmonious melody. Done in the traditional (and tedious) wax-resist method of Batik, this work has been lovingly guided into existence.

Hues of scarlet and orange dance in graceful motions, dazzling the eye with their radiance, brilliance. Love this work for the melancholic swirls of energy that invigorate and yet, soothe.

Fumes of wax taunted me while creating the little beauty beneath. It's really no wonder Batik's a dying art, the painful procedure - hot wax, headache-inducing vapors, stubborn stains - is contributing to its demise.

But whenever I lay my eyes on any eventual painting, I'd be so filled with awe. This is all worth it. And I would embark on the troublesome route again, each time thinking that it'd be my last and each time breaking the promise to myself that it'd be the last.

Art is about beauty, philosophy, truth. It will always be a part of us, no matter what happens, no matter whichever paths we thread. 

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Guiding messages

in

Just received an sms from a student who I once tutored.

He asked if the inspiring quote I send him on visions and determination months ago was by David H Kellen, a soccer phenomenon. It turned out that he forwarded this particular quote to another friend who wanted to know more about the origins of the speaker. (I was actually referring to Helen Keller, the deaf-blind political activist, lecturer and American author.)

I had wanted to be constantly around my students, a solid presence that they can rely upon, immutable, unchangeable, dependable.

It was tiring, constantly fretting about them, wishing that I could be there to motivate them when everyone else - parents, siblings, friends, teachers - put them down with their pejorative derision. And so, as their O levels approaches, I smsed them motivational quotes on a regular basis.

Of the four students, two of them revealed that they forwarded the messages to spur their friends onwards too. It warms my heart to see them responding to my hard work.

Besides art, teaching is another activity which I truly enjoy. It's really satisfying when students messaged me out of the blue to thank me or seek advice.

I remember writing a poem - Anything can be - on a little Post-it paper after reading it to a student and asking him for his opinions on it. He stuck that little sheet on the wall as a constant reminder for himself to strive on.

When that paper was dislodged and gently floated downwards, he quickly grabbed it and exclaimed, 'wah, precious paper, cannot lose.'

This is the reason, above all, why I enjoy teaching.

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Loving

in

Beginning on a number of artworks and am really excited over them :]

It's kind of thrilling, each experience with an artwork.

Do I get tired of art? Of doing it daily?

A girl asked the matron if she ever got tired of helping to deliver a baby. Both were perspiring, drained but exhilarated. The baby they just delivered was snuggling in the warm embrace of his mum. The girl was on tenterhooks, feeling as though the matron's answer might hold something which she was searching, something, anything.

The matron replied with a luminous smile, 'no, I don't, for each experience is different.'

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Bubbling Joy In Barcelona

Sycophany/ Self-preservation

Romance of the two wisdom teeth

Art Appreciation 101