2017

It is natural that it should be this way—i.e., that our lives are not satisfied by obtaining our goals, but rather by striving for them—because of the law of diminishing returns.

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Ray Dalio couldn’t have explained it any better when it comes to my ultimate personal goal (or should I say what I believe is everyone’s inherent goal, whether they realize it or not).
If there’s one thing that I’m feeling right into my bones at this very moment, it’s this: determination.

Happy new year, everyone.

Hey, Patricia

I always have the same answer for everyone, another autoplay on repeat: “I think they are things that you just have to face. A consequence for your action. They all come in a package. They’re small if you know where you’re going and why you’re doing what you do”.

The low hum from a vibrating machinery nearby emitted a low F tone. Another two steps forward and there came a C tone from another resonance. I couldn’t resist a smile on my face. ‘Huh, who knows that a construction site can create such a beautiful harmony’, I thought to myself, continuing my pace as I was already late to a morning appointment.

Strolling around the city again after being away for almost ten months, a pang of nostalgia hit me. This used to be home. Or, at least, I was very determined to call it home once upon a time. A lot of people asked me if I missed this city. My answer sounded like a records on repeat in my head, ‘Didn’t occur to me until now that I am here’. Just like a lot asked me if I was sure about my big move when I just arrived in Indonesia, and why the move after such a long nine years in Australia. The commentaries never stray too far away from this: “It’s very different here, you know, you won’t be able to stand the traffic. And the people. And the bureaucracy”.

I always have the same answer for everyone, another autoplay on repeat: “I think they are things that you just have to face. A consequence for your action. They all come in a package. But, they’re small if you know where you’re going and why you’re doing what you do”.

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Patricia

Noticing the road got busier as the morning went by, I made my last crossing up Little Bourke Street and finally found the tiny gem hidden behind tall skyscrapers next to a public parking space. I was not late for my appointment at all, after all.

Patricia Coffee Brewers is what the mini coffee oasis is called. When I got there, a long queue already formed outside of the cafe. ‘Looks promising‘, I thought. I have to say that I’m a shame to the Melbourne coffee snobs society (if there was any!); nine long years in Melbourne and never, not even once, have I been to this coffee shop. Tucked behind office spaces and positioned on hidden laneways – just what Melbourne darlings do best – Patricia Coffee Brewer is a spot that coffee lovers should not miss. Adopting the Italian-style coffee shop experience, where drinkers would have their coffee standing up at a counter or bar, the shop is swarmed with office goers hanging out to catch up on the latest news (I love their news stand concept!) and/or taking a little time down before their day started.

Despite their busyness, their customer service level was not even close to being jeopardized. All the baristas were very attentive and friendly. If anything, I got not only one, but two free cups of their single origins (OK, I may be biased, but hey, I got two free tastings!). Those, plus a strong cappuccino that I ordered myself, cue a very chirpy, caffeinated (dehydrated) woman walking around your town.

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The smart news stand
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Speedy & friendly baristas
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Aussie sunshine
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Colombia

I would’ve stayed all day in the shop if I didn’t have another item listed on my schedule. Unwillingly I dragged myself out of the establishment to the cool breeze of a Melbourne summer day, of course not without a warm farewell from the baristas.

Did I miss this city? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.

THERE’S NO LOOKING BACK

Remember that things have to happen in order for something else to occur.

Warning: this entry contains sensitive issue that may or may not be of interest to you, may or may not be in line with your values or beliefs. All views are accepted, judgements are welcome.

What goes around comes around. It’s a part of learning about saying “meh” and shrugging it off, about acceptance, about moving on. There’s always a reason behind everything that happens to you. All the adversities or fortunate encounters, they’re the many ways God presents Himself upon you. Now it’s up to you how you’d act or react. Remember that things have to happen in order for something else to occur. Keep your ears and eyes open. Your mind. Your heart. And one thing for sure, have faith. “For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

I particularly love this one from prophet Jeremiah:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My time is in His hands. That one I believe for sure. He knows what is best. He knows when is best. I can only do my best, and my best I shall do.

Cheers.

THANK YOU, MR. UBER DRIVER

I held my cup of long black in front of me, its warmth added a sense of comfort. “I need to go home”, I said; the words came out of my lips undeliberately, lightly, naturally.

“You should be proud of yourself.”

I stared blankly at the passing traffic, observing nothing to be exact.

“Not everyone has the guts to go all the way back home after spending a long nine years in another country. You’re really brave. I wish I could be like you”, he said while passing me some tissue.

“I’m sorry, I’m just getting a bit emotional”, I smiled at my Uber driver, wiping my tears.

He chuckled, said it was all A-OK.

Dramatic? Yes. But that was literally what happened on my very last day in Melbourne.*

A lot of people asked me how I felt weeks coming to my one-way flight. Honestly, I felt excited and relieved. It’s been too long since I had that nudging voice inside my head. I wasn’t sure if going home was what I wanted – or, more importantly, needed. The epiphany finally came after four years of indecisiveness. It was a cold morning in June last year and I was having an impromptu breakfast with my closest friend in one of the inner suburbs of Melbourne. We were talking about what possibility lies ahead for us, what we craved for, what were missing in our lives and what we wanted to do for our future.

I held my cup of long black in front of me, its warmth added a sense of comfort. “I need to go home“, I said; the words came out of my lips undeliberately, lightly, naturally. My dear friend (bless her) was shocked to hear that apparently, her jaw dropped and eyes widened (yes you know who you are, my dear). Even I, myself, was surprised. This person, this woman, who used to despise her home country so much for all the obvious reasons, wanted to go home. We started laughing; she joked about recording our conversation for a future reminder just in case I changed my mind (yet again). My friend smiled understandingly. I guess deep down we were both relieved about the fact that I finally decided to go back for good. If the words were uttered ever so naturally, that could only mean one thing, eh? ;)

And one thing it meant. That I finally came to terms with my life. I’ve finally found my purpose. It felt so liberating, re-assuring. Contentment, that elusive word that I’ve been searching for these past five or so years, finally fits in the sentence. I am now ready to do what I was borne to do. Some of the seniors that I talked to said that I have a heavy task ahead of me. My plough needs to be as sharp and sturdy as it could be, my being as strong as it could be, my faith as solid as it could be. And one important thing, I must share my burden, “because you won’t be able to do everything by yourself”, they’d said.

I have faith in kindness. I believe that everyone is born with goodness in them and we have all the freedom to choose which seeds we sow to eventually reap in the future.

“So why didn’t you go and do it?”, I asked my Uber driver, after he told me how he wanted to go back home and do something about India, for India.

“I can’t. My wife doesn’t want to. We just finished building our home and bought a Pizza Hut franchise in Footscray recently. A lot are happening at the moment”, he answered. I could see him smiling through the rearview mirror.

I guess each and everyone has their own paths and purposes in life. How they cross or intertwine with ours is a mystery unbeknownst throughout the universe. You just have to try to look closer to get a sense of it, by genuinely caring more about others, about your surroundings. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, simple gestures like words of encouragement will do, like what my Uber driver did that evening.

The comfortable Ford Fortuner made its turn and arrived in front of the black-fenced property.

“I wish you all the best. You’ll be fine and you’ll do great”, he offered his hand.

“Thanks”, I said shaking his hand, “I’ll visit your Pizza Hut joint next time I come down to Melbourne”.

*P.S. Dramatic is my middle name.

GROWING UP MEANS KNOWING BETTER

Thing is, the past would not let you go, no matter how much you try to run away from it.

Or so you hoped.

New years always give me that jittery feeling, apart from (my own) birthdays. You can see where I’m going to with this, right? I don’t have to elabo- I do? OK.

Well, imagine sitting with your peers/friends/parents on a casual end of year dinner party, you know, all good and fun. And out of the blue, one party pooper (you know you have one even within your inner cliques. FYI, I’m looking at myself here), pops that dreadful question: “So what’s your plan for the new year?”

While the question itself is harmless, I’m somewhat tempted to think that what the inquirer means to say is this: “What are you going to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? I mean look at yourself and where you are now. Are you sure you’re happy? Are you sure you’re where you’re supposed to be? Have you reached your potential and be the better version than your best self? Can’t you be more like _____ and start to get your sh*t together? Hello, responsibilities?”

Or well, maybe that’s just me when I’m asking myself the same question. Cue negative self-talk all the way. This year’s transition feels a little different, though. I’m somewhat calmer when I’m answering each and every one of those questions, compared to the previous years. I guess as you get older, you tend to enjoy the process of growing up a little bit more and get better at singling out the positives of each passing year.

The biggest takeaway for me this year is this: I don’t want to spend too much trying to make it to a future that still hasn’t happened or avoid the past that would not let me go. Thing is, the past would not let you go, no matter how much you try to run away from it. It sits in the corner of your room silently and at times (more often than not, at the very worst timing) comes over to you, demanding your full attention, wanting to have a (quick) chat, just ‘cos. And it’s up to you whether you’d say yes to its invitation or decline and politely say, “Hi again! We did have a good time, thanks for that. But at the moment I have something important that I have to do, which is being at the present, preparing for my future. So if it’s OK with you, I’ll check in with you in a bit? Just for some lessons and inspirations. KTHXBYE.”

A good while ago, my past came knocking on my door. I welcomed her in and we had a good chat. I looked back at a lot of things that happened in the preceding twelve months and I felt warmth in my chest. I smiled instantly. It has been a whirlwind of a year that started off with a great deal of ambition and aspirations, ended on a mellower tone with an assurance that I actually do have my sh*t together. This assurance didn’t come easily, mind you. It was difficult, took a lot of courage (that came from lots of support from my main support system. After a while you know what/who they are.), came gradually (it took its time), and only arrived when you successfully reached one crucial point in your life: self-acceptance.

All in all, 2015 has been a good year of contemplation and learning. Here’s a (short) list of things that I learned in the past year. I was THIS CLOSE to adding more to it, but thought I shouldn’t go too far as to bore you all with my rambles. So here we go:

  1. An ending was an ending. Letting go is not as hard as it sounds; it all comes down to willpower.
  2. Perfectionism crushes you into ruins. That place doesn’t exist, so you should stop trying to get there. Perfection is fiction.
  3. Know your currency. Don’t discount your achievements. But know that hard work only is not enough.
  4. Make peace with your past.
  5. It’s okay to be silent. It’s not okay to be silent.
  6. You can’t please everyone and you don’t have to please everyone.
  7. Lift up your head. Put it up right and walk on. Forward. Always forward.
  8. You’re always where you need to be. You have to be where you are to get to where you need to go.
  9. Humility can take you to places you never know existed, whether physically or spiritually.
  10. Life is not all pastel coloured. Waves come and go. You just need to learn to surf through it better. And trust me, you get better at it.
  11. Do work that you’re proud of. Don’t stop searching until you find one.
  12. Values. Stick to it, or forever chained by your own guilt. And trust me when I say forgiving yourself is not easy.
  13. It’s OK to be scared, but it’s not OK to not face your fear.
  14. People will never forget how you make them feel.
  15. Acknowledge your loneliness.
  16. But know that you’re not alone. Never. I promise you this.
  17. Happiness is in receiving, but contentment is in giving.
  18. It’s not always your fault. And if it is, apologize.
  19. The world can wait. Sometimes people with the greatest potentials take longer to realize their paths in life, and it’s not always a bad thing. It’s OK to be late, as long as you turn up prepared.
  20. Being a better person doesn’t come from how many achievements you have hanging on your wall or remember on top of your head, but from the love you have for others and what service you are to them.

My wish for myself this year is this:

To be (even) happier about growing up, and more importantly to be content – about who I was, who I am and who I will become. To create beautiful things in life, both physically and spiritually, even if nobody cares. To do work with purpose. To dance in the rain, whatever philosophical meaning lies behind it. To take action. To work not only harder, but also smarter, and lastly, to enjoy the ride.

I wish you all beautiful souls a belated happy new year. Let’s take the first action*!

 

 

*If you haven’t started it already ;)

JUMP

Because if not you, then who? If not now, then when?

P.S. I did this on my other wordpress blog but thought that I should share it with you all here, too. Just because it is personal. Enjoy my rant!

As you may all be aware, or maybe have experienced, majority of the wise words that we often heard these days would encourage us to “follow our dreams” or “do what we love”, all in the name of happiness and contentment.
Now, the lingering question would be ‘is it right to follow our dreams and pursue what we love’? As with any statement/school of thought, there would be an argument for and against.

Those who are part of the Gen-Y and their successors would swear by this belief with all their hearts, because who have all the time in the world to live his/her life doing things that s/he doesn’t enjoy, learning stuff that s/he doesn’t believe in, selling his/her soul to the devil and, if they’re lucky enough, being paid a gazillion pounds of gold in return? We’re all about YOLO and ‘not missing out’ and ‘living in the moment, making the most out of it’ anyway. Because if not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Those who are from the Baby Boomers generation, in contrary, would disagree. No things in life come easy. You have to earn it before you can get it. Hard work will take you a long way. “Stop being whiners and just do your job!”might be their favorite line, which I totally agree, too. That only makes sense, doesn’t it?

I have to suggest, however, that instilling the Baby Boomers’ mindset in this day and age is not easy; not when our willpower and persistence muscles are not as trained and strong as our parents’ & grandparents’*. These days, it’s easier than ever for us to say “I deserve better” and “I’m done with this, I’m going where I’m destined for.” Do we, though, deserve better? Are we, really going where we’re destined to? Or are we just chasing a dream, ballooning our hopes in the process, when actually we’re going nowhere?

One thing I’m going to admit: I’m one of the whiners. I’m one of those who think that I deserve better, and that I’ll pursue what matters to me the most, soon. Or soon-ish, I hope. Work has been terribly un-satisfying. I’m at that point where I’m concerned that I’d resent going to work forever because of what I’m going through at the moment. I share this with my Mom the other day, and as expected, her being from the Baby Boomers generation, could not understand me. I see where she’s coming from; I definitely do. But**, I just wish I could do something else that resonates better with my values.

Just the other day I read an article about the haze problem in Indonesia and how the sustainable world is an elusive dream. It tingles my nerves to read this. And it got me thinking (again, for the millionth time), “What am I doing here? How am I spending my time living in the most livable city in the world, enjoying all the perks that come with it, all the while the people in my hometown is trying to survive, let alone make it, back home? What can I do to make their lives better?”

Ideas brew in my mind. I talk to people about them, trying to take my message across the line, about how change can happen if and only if people care enough to do it. Funnily enough, almost everyone gave up immediately, even before the discussion moved to how we can propel the change. Now how can we progress if our first response to change is ‘No’?

We talk about dreamers and realists, Gen-Y-ers and Baby Boomers. We try to classify people into generations and classes, and have articles written about who do things better, which mindset is better to achieve success, why one thing is worse than another. We compare ourselves, when at the end of the day, what we really need is just a sense of care about our surroundings.

Well I do care. I guess that’s why I have been feeling uneasy about things that are currently happening in my life, which – unfortunately – translates into me complaining and whining. I’m not going to justify myself for that. That is just plain wrong. That’ why I’m not going to waste any more of my time doing something that I don’t care about, forcing myself to live the values that I don’t believe in, delivering work for people who don’t even care about what’s happening.

I’m jumping in. Head first. And I’m inviting you to jump in with me. Head first.

Again, a reminder, nothing is easy; not when our willpower muscles are as flabby as a marshmallow that’s been put under the hot sun for some time. While this statement is not to be used as an excuse to slacking, it gives a little comfort to know that we are, after all, perishable (either in the mental, physical and spiritual sense). As counterintuitive as it may sound, this should work as an affirmation for us to be okay with failing and to not give up. Some of my favorite TED talks about it here and here (among many).

 

That’s all from me for the time being.

Now, let’s jump!