Welcome to the biggest and best board game shop in Penang – RNG Games!
Nestled among classy eateries and health clinics at Vantage, that commercial area out of the front of Straits Quay, RNG Games is a roomy and casual hobby store that caters to a wide variety of gamers and enthusiasts.
There is no admission fee, and you can come in and play for FREE! How cool is that?
RNG Games has an expansive collection of the latest board games, card games and collectibles. There are lots of board games that are open and available for anyone to pick up and play.
Magic: The Gathering is also supported here, and it’s a common sight to see MTG players duking it out on the long tables.
And down the back you have a quieter, more well-equipped area for figurine enthusiasts to work on their models and miniatures.
Have you ever wondered about the infinite possibilities this world has to offer? The endless opportunities. the countless chances, the manifold permutations of Minecraft? Ever wonder what the greatest questions in the world is?
To put it simply – have you ever asked:
The greatest question there ever was
I bet you’d be lying if you said you didn’t.
Clearly this is one of the most basic human instincts, a quintessential human trait if you will. The ability to predict different outcomes and alternate futures based on a set of rules or knowledge. The power to imagine.
What if I had taken cooking classes instead of accounting?
What if I had met my friend the morning of the accident?
What if I had turned left instead?
Surely that is the greatest question that humans have ever posed. The question that elevates us from the rest of cute and cuddly fauna and flora of this planet.
What if animals could ask what if?
If they could, cats would probably stop knocking things off the table after the first time. Or not. Jerks.
What’s so special about what if?
What if we had no imagination?
Without imagination, we would be rather thoughtless creatures. We would be slaves to our basic instincts and emotions, driven by our immediate needs and present dangers.
With it we are free to explore each and every one of these possibilities in our minds, which allows us to predict ahead and create contingency plans and prepare for the worst and all that.
To see a dark sky and imagine the sweeping winds and rain. To hear a rustle and imagine a rabid poo-flinging chimp on a hoverboard.
Our imaginations are our greatest assets.
Or are they?
Have you ever spent days just dreaming about what your future could be like? Countless hours wishing you had done things differently? That you could go back and change the course of time?
We can become lost in our mental wanderings; trapped in a vicious cycle of what-if’s.
Always looking back, gazing over your shoulder. Stuck in rewind.
And as powerful as that recall can be, as vivid as those memories are, as recurring as those nightmares become, there is no redo.
There is however, recourse.
That is to open up to the imagination of others, to let others in.
No matter the pain, it will subside. Sharing with others, letting other distractions in is a form of healing. It is not a sign of defeat, nor is it a form of weakness.
Strangely enough, sometimes these may not be your friends or loved ones. That is not to say you cannot find solace in the ones closest to you; perhaps some may require a bit of distance and seek solitude or strangers as their recourse.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the what-if’s that we miss out on the very real opportunities right in front of us.
This is painting a rather poor light on our innocent and unassuming imagination. I’m certain neither of those adjectives would be commonly associated with our dream machine, but that depends on how we allow our imaginations to be influenced by our own mental predispositions.
Take a child’s imagination, if you will. Like most things, it is a blank slate, receptive to the world around it. It takes in what it sees, and this is the first fuel for its imagination.
As the child grows, more complex concepts come to bear, many things are experienced, a broader range of emotions are felt. The imagination begins to blossom forth like a wild, ravenous monstrous beast, taking it in all sorts of directions and adventures.
If nurtured, this imagination can go on to create new and wonderful things. Pretty and inspiring things. Yes.
Or it can be pounded and bludgeoned into drooling submission, a slave to pain and anguish, imagining the terror of others, the fake emotions from a fake scenario where triumph is at hand. Yeeesssss.
It doesn’t matter what situation we are in, our imagination is capable of finding a way out – finding many, many ways out. There is always a choice.
Or at least, that’s what I would like to believe.
Sure, in some situations the available options are drastically dwindled, but our resourceful imagination usually has a solution. It may or may not be a good one, but really it’s whether or not we can take the right action and carry it out.
Wait, that sounds like some really bad Hollywood movie where the protagonist and company survive silly odds based on some wacky nonsensical notion.
Now back to the analogy and the ageing imagination. As the imagination matures, it undergoes all sorts of transformation – some good, some bad, some terrifying, some terrifyingly mundane.
And as it ages it has the opportunity to look back on more and more of its past, to lament what was and what could have been. The what-if’s gradually build up, the chagrin creeps in.
Regret is something that imagination is very much responsible for. That and hindsight.
If we didn’t have the power of prediction, we wouldn’t be able to figure out the things that we could have done, and thus would be unable to lament all the missed chances and poor decisions in the course of our past life.
So based on the fuzzy snapshots we call memory (yes, yes, you have eidetic memory, go recite the numbers of pie), we bring our imagination to bear and imagine a life where things might have gone a little better, or more excitingly.
Do you have regrets?
Perhaps there are those who live without such a burden, I do not doubt it.
These are people who have grown old (well, not necessarily that old) without allowing their unfettered imaginations to run wild. Or they have just had really, really awesome lives.
Can we control our imaginations?
Wait, what am I suggesting?
Well, of course you can!
I apologise it took me this long to get to something that is remotely interesting. Oh, not really? Ok, nice to see you too!
Now how do we control these fantasy-churning, madness-inducing megaton machines?
It’s simple: with drugs.
You know, the really powerful ones that you have to take three times a day for the rest of your life that cost a thousand bucks a tablet.
It’s not surprise the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t taken over the world yet. C’mon Umbrella Corp!
I’m messing with you.
Our imaginations are wired with our minds and emotions. If you’re angry you will naturally imagine doing nasty things (no, not that kind of nasty) to those who have wronged you. If you’re sad…look, just go watch Inside Out already.
In order to harness your imagination, you just have to watch what you feed it.
Emotions and thoughts are fuel. If you don’t want to be daydreaming all the time or riddled with regret, channel your energy elsewhere!
Easier said than done, right?
Like all things worth having, this takes time and practice.
This doesn’t mean you should force yourself to only think of happy things and lull your imagination into a false state of blissful ignorance. Just treat it right and it will serve you well.
Your imagination itself could very well help you out of a dark place. Just look at J.K. Rowling. She was struggling for the longest time, but her imagination and persistence created something that is now loved and enjoyed by millions around the world.
I mean, just look at all the Harry Potter fanfic! Actually, on second thought, don’t.
Penangites sure have it lucky – you’ve got the calm blue seas under a balmy bright sky; swathes of sandy beaches; towering hills at your back; tropical rainforests interspersed with trickling waterfalls; crazy cyclists whizzing down your narrow roads.
Penang has always been this hidden gem of pearls and pride and prudence – a stronghold of businessmen and tourists. A secret blend of modern and traditional; an endless cacophony of smells and sounds and tasty food; a stark juxtaposition of relaxed colonial landmarks and frenzied industrial monoliths; a harmonious mix of ethnicities and cultures and crazy people.
And no, I don’t work for the tourism board of Penang.
Here is a really nice blog I stumbled across during my research (with my good friend Google).
And what will you do with it? Will you take the handle in yours? Clutch it tight? Travel the world and the seven seas?
What did you think when you first saw a bicycle?
Just another form of transport? Bit old fashioned there, eh ol’ chap? Wonder if I can ride one.
Most of us will have been exposed to bikes at one point or another in our childhood (even if we have yet to have the pleasure of riding one). Ubiquitous, they are. Unless you live in the South Pole or something.
I bet they have snow bikes there.
Wait, people seriously ride those things?
Did you think about taking it for a spin? Or was it an object of fear and discomfort?
I honestly can’t recall my early times atop a bicycle, but I must have cycled somewhere somehow. I certainly didn’t ride much while I was in school.
And then I picked it back up when I decided to get a bike to commute to work. Five kilometres one way. Looking back, it was really nothing. But I struggled. Especially up that darn hill.
That was perhaps one of the few positive life-changing decisions I’ve made.
And I’ve never looked back.
Now I didn’t have a bike magically fall into my lap. That would hurt. I actually consciously made up my mind that I wanted a bike, and I went out and got one. Well, I went with my mum. So it was kind of handed to me, but I had to ask for it first.
And it was a magnificent bike. Straight bar alloy hybrid road bike with gears and all that. Still have it to this day.
Now it seems cycling is making a comeback and gaining popularity as a sport and recreational activity. Many compare it to golf, like one of those sports fads that comes and goes. I think it has a little more real world relevance than golf.
Unless they turn those golf carts into a form of commute.
Ease on down, ease on down the road!
Yeah, I don’t know where I was going with this. It’s getting late.
Just don’t leave you bicycle unattended, guys. Bunnies will steal it.
That feels like an inherently sad statement, but it shouldn’t be.
Is there anything wrong with being alone? A certain stigma attached to it?
Feeling alone and being alone are two different things.
Society teaches us it’s not good to be alone. You’ll get kidnapped. Safety in numbers. Why do you talk to yourself all the time?
Okay, maybe that last one is a little worrying. But as much as we are told that as humans we are “social animals”, there are great benefits to be had from going away for awhile to be by oneself.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not decrying the advantages of community and social bonding; neither am I encouraging sitting alone in front of the computer for months on end.
I’m just saying that as with all things in life, balance is necessary.
Why should I be alone?
There are times when it might be good for the soul to take a silent stroll, or enjoy a silent moment in thought and reflection.
I feel that those who are by themselves see the world differently. When alone you have the luxury to stop and take in your surroundings, observe people and objects in your immediate vicinity with a quiet detachment. See things from outside the box.
Solo travelers will tend to notice and acknowledge others, especially kindred souls who travel alone. Therein exists already a certain bond – two who share the love of travelling light.
Like two stray photons that happen to glance past each other in a vast vacuum of nothingness.
No, this is not becoming a soulmate thing.
How often have you walked past a random stranger and something caught your eye, or you just happened to look their way and they looked back?
That momentary connection that would not have otherwise happened had you been engaged in a group chat or had a throng of people crowding around you.
But won’t you feel lonely?
I’d imagine a lot of you will think that if you spend too much time alone, you’re bound to end up depressed. Lost in your own self-pity and morbid thoughts. Brain turned to mush.
Well, here’s an interesting conundrum: we are more well connected to each other than ever before; there are literally people everywhere now, yet depression is on the rise? Suicide is up?
Is this nature’s way of culling back the population? Exceeding critical mass leads to self-harm?
All the more we need to have some time-out from the madness that is the swarm of humanity. A brief moment to catch our breaths. Look at ourselves in the mirror.
We come into this world alone. We leave this world alone. Everything else is optional.
There’s a nice cheery quote for you!
And what are you feeling now? An empty hollowness curling, swirling through your inner being? Embrace it! Know it well! For in times of strife and loneliness, it will serve you well.
Because it doesn’t matter if you come from a family of a hundred where you are never alone, or you wander the streets at night looking for home. The loneliness will come for you. One way or another, it will attempt to claim you. Perhaps when you least expect it.
But do not forget: there is another part. There are options.
You have a choice
Give in to the void, and wallow in your self-pity. Or know that you have it in yourself to overcome this. You have what it takes.
You do not need the aid and comfort of another human presence (although it can definitely help). You alone are enough to stand strong. You are all you need. Yes.
Once you internalise that, you will find a way. And as contradictory as it may sound, it is perfectly alright to need help. But only if it is necessary.
You have the power to choose.
Depression is the belief that you have lost that choice. Lost the choice to be happy. Lost the choice to let people in or shut people out. Lost your options in life. Lost your purpose.
Being alone does not make you depressed. Especially not if you choose it.
Depression is not easy, not a simple thing that we can laugh off. But while it is often associated with loneliness, it does not stem from merely being alone.
Feeling alone and being alone are two different things.
Feeling alone is often uncontrollable and assaults you even in the hearty company of friends. Being alone is a conscious decision to carve your own path; being the master of your own ship, riding atop the waves of life’s crazy antics and dramas. You are in control.
Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you end up flying solo, even if it wasn’t your intention. You still have a choice. Change it, or stick with the solo act. Life is too short to feel lonely. Accept the feeling, and move on.
Of course it’s easier said than done. Don’t expect to change things overnight. Even the malleable human mind takes time to change and absorb new things.
However, all things are under your control. Even your feelings, those awful feelings that come when you don’t want them to.
Taking time to yourself helps you to digest these feelings, to reflect on them. To know yourself.
When you can be alone but not feel alone is a good place to start.
Next time you’re walking around by yourself, notice how you notice more things happening around you. Take a moment to smell the roses. Or do something you have never done in the million times you’ve walked down this same path.
Hidden deep in the recesses of one of George Town’s many rows of Chinese shophouses is a rather magical alleyway, a quaint little secret garden of greenery!
Complete with clever will artsy pieces of natural and artificial!
Bringing a dead appliance to life!
It may look like a creepy dilapidated alley from outside, but I’d say it’s perfectly welcoming
And it wouldn’t be complete without bikes!
Come bike lah!
P.S. I mean, I could waffle on for another 230 words about nothing much in particular, if for no other reason than to make the SEO engine Google slave happy. So much of what we do online has become dictated by the search engine giant that we are at its mercy. Remember a time when people wrote random essays on random things like secret gardens for no other reason than for the hell of it? Well…they still do! But now they have to keep keywords and optimised content at the back of their mind so Google doesn’t give them the flick. I mean, sure I could just copy and paste the text “Penang Secret Garden” over and over again (interspersed enough so that the Google crawler doesn’t get suspicious and downvote me even further into the blue nothingness), but that would be far less entertaining than typing up this seemingly coherent piece of prose which is much ado about nothing; much like Seinfeld, but see how entertaining that was! And I could probably paragraph better for readability and such humdrum, but who really reads this stuff anyway? Go read about the latest Wolverine movie, why don’t you?