A Culture of Fear

Fear is the best form of control. Cultivating a culture of fear ensures everyone tows the line.

Have you ever been to a live animal show? The circus or somewhere you can ride the animals? What happens to the stronger or the smarter ones? The monkeys and the elephants? The lions and the tigers? You’ll notice they are either chained up or beaten into submission. Bent to the will of man.

And they take it. Even though they could easily overpower their captors, break free and run for it. They obediently do as they are told, following the leash wherever it drags them, diligently doing what they have been trained to do.

That’s what we do, right? We train our young, train our people in the ways of the world. Train them to look both ways before crossing the street; train them to stay away from strangers; train them to wash their hands and stay indoors; train them not to climb trees or jump in the mud.

And of course that’s all very well and good and pragmatic. No nasty germs or jihadists getting to your precious younglings. They live to see prom and puberty.

But what happens when they are old enough to think for themselves? How do you control them then? Can’t very well spank them or send them to their rooms anymore (well, I suppose you still can but good luck with that). How do you ensure your children grow up imbued with the values and virtues that you wish to instill in them?

Why, you tell them stories of course. Preferably ones with morals and lessons in them.

Remember all those fairy tales and folk stories? Neither do I, there’s so many of them. Well, how about the latest news updates? Family accosted by unruly gentleman! Fire hydrant explodes, spilling gallons of water onto the streets! I imagine they’re actually a lot worse than that.

Those places are far, far away, you say. We’ll be fine. No volcanoes or earthquakes or Tyrannosaurus Rexes where we live. We are the people that are never in the news. We are the folk that exist in between the lines, in the blank gaps where no ink or blood flows.

But what happens when it strikes close to home? When a neighbour’s house gets broken into? When a friend contracts an unpleasant disease? When a crazy dog bites someone?

We do what most sane people would do: we lock up our houses, avoid human contact, and stay the hell away from anything that isn’t human while we’re at it. Good strategy. Stay indoors, away from people, zero petting. Win.

This way, even if nothing of the sort ever happens to us personally, we’re prepared. Constant vigilance! Don’t go near the water because there might be jellyfish! Bring that mosquito repellant so you don’t die of dengue fever! Lather in that sunscreen so the black holes of melanoma don’t consume your soul! In fact, just don’t go out at all. It’s too dangerous.

Isn’t it ironic that we laugh at people who are afraid of little creatures many times smaller than their own body size, but a lot of us fear the tiniest most minuscule of adversaries: micro-organisms. Dropping an acronym like SARS or MERS will easily strike fear into an entire population. Superbugs are going to bite you in your sleep! Take more drugs, people!

I’m not saying doing any of those things is wrong or foolish. I’m merely pointing out that such things are part of the risk averse culture that is driven by fear. Part of the smothering web that slowly eats away at your sense of adventure. Chips away at your resolve to do things you’ve never done before. Keeps you safe and proper and “civilised”.

And so you stay in your safe zone, your comfort zone, where everything is neat and tidy and clean as a whistle. Where you can surf the web on your phone in peace and quiet, with zero lag.

Even if you do travel, it’s to areas deemed safe with no natural disasters or epidemics or crime or crazy psychopaths. And you book everything doubly in advance so you don’t miss out on anything ever. Check the weather to make sure the prophets have decreed that it will be just the right temperature to hazard a stroll outside for that day tour.

When was the last time you tried something new? Travelled someplace that none of your friends had been before? When was the last time you felt alive?

Do you want to break free of this culture of fear? Someone has been holding you back all these years, filling your head with notions of bad guys and fearsome creatures and failure. And now someone can set you free: it begins with you.

Get out there and do something no one else has thought of before. Try that drink you’ve always wanted to try. Jump for joy when you feel like it. Whistle even if you can’t. Who cares what other people think? Judgment never brought anyone any real joy anyway.

One of our biggest fears is the fear of the unknown. We fear what we don’t understand, like weird viruses and prions and algebra. Well, it’s no longer an unknown if you’ve done it or had it before. If all else fails, adapt! You can either conquer your fear, or let it conquer you. Which one sounds better to you? Which one will help you look back without regret?

Yes, fear is healthy and pertinent for survival. But someone said you should never have too much of a good thing. Because then you get fat. Fat with fear.

So take control of your life today. Don’t let someone or something else control you, especially fear. Because once you let fear seep in, it will spread to more and more facets of your life.

We all feel fear in our lives; it is about accepting your fear and assessing realistically just how worthy this fear is of your attention. Whether or not you’re willing to let it force you into submission, or cast off the shackles of unnecessary fear and have more control over your own actions.

I leave you with this litany from a famous author, whose identity I shall leave you to guess (or Google).

Litany Against Fear

I will not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

The Other Side Of The World

Here’s a random question: do you ever notice that you tend to chew with a favourite part of your mouth? I have a favourite side where I find my food is tastier; for those who are curious, it’s a secret. Okay,  it’s the left posterior corner of my mouth. Yes yes, I’m crazy. Welcome to the other side of the world. 

Now that you’ve had a chance to ponder the infinite wonders of mastication (huh huh), have you ever tried to consciously chew with a different part of your mouth? I’m sure you use all of mouth to chew, but when you munch on your favourite snack, I’m sure there’s a pocket that you tend to use more often.

I tried it out today, and it was more of a challenge than I’m willing to admit. Actually, when I say that, am I inadvertently admitting it? Or does using that phrase downplay the extent to which…never mind.

So there I am munching away happily, and then I think to myself: “Hey, one side of your jaw is working harder than the other. You’re going to end up with a lopsided face!”

Lopsided cartoon
Lopsided er…head. Yeah, that’ll definitely distract ya. The things you find on the internet.

Of course I knew this to be untrue, although I did ponder the possibility of this being a cause of asymmetry in facial features.  Nevertheless, I did my best to train my brain to get accustomed to this foreign sensation. I suspect doing it consciously makes it seem a lot harder than it really is.

Hi for those who complete do not relate to any of this! Well, how about brushing your teeth with your other hand? I’ve been practising, and I actually feel like I’m getting better at gripping the brush with my non-dominant opposable thumb! Yay!

So what am I on about? I doubt I came in here with a point, but I believe in the saying: variety is the spice of life. And that is what I’m getting at. Mix it up a little, jar your complacent brain out of autopilot. Even the smallest thing you change gives you a new perspective on life, a whole new grasp on reality.

Not everyone can flip like Walter Mitty and fly around the world on a whim (but these days it’s certainly an option!). But you can start changing your life with the smallest of things. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic musical montage on a magic carpet ride, it just has to begin with you.

Now for some food photos!

Waffle Burger Sam
Holy Batman, it’s a burger with waffle buns!
Fancy Pastry Piknik Pizza
Puff pastry pizza with roast duck and bonito. That’s modern food for you!

Embrace the change!

I Once Knew A Girl

I once knew a girl who taught me much about life. She taught me to cherish each moment we are alive and live each day like it would be the last. I always questioned the sense of urgency and the pressure to maximise the moment, to carpe diem. Perhaps she knew something I didn’t.

I would like to say I live in the present, not weighed down by the burdens of the past or washed around by the worries of the future. But apparently living in the present didn’t necessarily mean seizing it. I was perfectly content to be set adrift on present bliss, going about my daily routine, one day at a time. And then she came along.

She was always on the move, packed full of punch and pizazz. Her actions were purposeful, her demeanour ever effervescent. And she had the quirkiest sense of humour.

She always stressed how we should make every day count, which made her kind of stressed. She was always doing something, always had something to do. The list was endless, an eternal drive to stay alive by achieving all things meaningful.

Nevertheless, her words and actions got through to me, and I realised how simple and sedentary my own life was. How I had this little spark inside that yearned to get out and set things aflame (not literally, mind you, except for that one time…). I suddenly wanted to get out there and do things, anything, everything! Do all the things that I told myself I should do, and all those other things that I never even thought of doing.

She made me see how small my world was. How few people I knew; how miniscule the pieces of earth I had trodden on; how little experience I had in just about everything; and how big the world out there is! In short, she pulled an Aladdin on me, minus the magic carpet ride.

She also taught me not to concern myself with what other people think of me. Certainly still be mindful of others, but not let their judgment affect what is said and done. She always did what she believed to be right, and she never backed down simply because it wasn’t a popular move or it might rub someone the wrong way. I think a little stubbornness is still acceptable in this day and age, no?

And so I took these things to heart. I grabbed life by the balls (actually, I stopped playing ball sports) and did the things that I desired to do, regardless of what other people might say or think. Mind you, it was really nothing controversial; it was more like the things that people told you you couldn’t or shouldn’t do for the silliest of reasons. Undoubtedly those people had my best interests at heart (or at least I hope), but you have to draw the line somewhere.

I got a bike. People said it was too far or too tiring or too hot or too cold or too dangerous. I travelled to funky places (the kind with terrorists, but not real ones). I ate strange food (balut is the worst). I buried myself in a tomb of liquid. I threw myself off the side of a mountain. I took part in events that I never dreamed I would be able to finish.

Funnily enough, my aforementioned friend didn’t always agree with some (probably most) of my “questionable” decisions. But she never discouraged me from trying, never held me back. In fact, she always encouraged me, always propelled me forward. Maybe I just ground her gears too much and she wanted me out of sight.

So this is why I do what I do, to make every day count, to be the best I can be and do all I can while I can. To look back without regrets, to look forward without reserve. And with luck to make a difference in this world.

I miss her.

In The Halls Of Youth

Today I made a trip down memory lane, to a place teeming with life, to an institute geared on staying modern and relevant. Back to the halls of youth.

Ah, the joys of tertiary education! Oh, college days. And what a vibrant, lively place it was! Did I mention this place was teeming with youthful spirit? The place was crowded with people going about their business, each person moving with a purpose. There was the familiar din of chatter and movement; the halls resounded with the cacophony of laughter and artificial sound effects.

But let’s go back to the start, shall we? I swung by on my bike (as I do) to the back entrance of the institute, since I tend to prefer the quieter, residential roads. Well, this entrance was anything but quiet! This doorway was about to transport me from the serene lull of suburbia into the Narnia of learning.

People were pouring through the gate, but no hands! It was an automatic steel gate, which may seem like child’s play to you in your fancy first-world castle, but in this part of the world I marvel at any consistently working mechanical object. Let’s just say there isn’t a big emphasis on maintenance around here.

Perhaps I needed an access card, but in I hopped with my bike, looking like I kind of belonged in my casual attire. And what was the first thing to greet me? Not a suspicious security officer or a heaping pile of garbage. No, a neat, organised bike rack!

College bike rack
A real life dedicated bike rack! And all those bikes too.

And the sight of all those fancy two-wheeled gadgets parked there nearly brought a tear to my eye. Nearly. To be fair it’s most likely not entirely by choice; I guess I have finances to thank for that. But I’m happy all the same.

So there I was taking a jaunt through familiar territory, blending in with the crowd, taking in the sights and smells and sounds (I took a shortcut through the cafeteria). It was a little after lunch hour, but I guess college students eat late, because the whole floor was packed to the brim!

Then I round the corner and come upon a big open expanse chock full of young students and some curious adults, all gathered to witness a tournament of epic proportions – a live DotA match. I kid you not this place had more going on than most shopping malls on the weekends.

College gathering
Why is everyone just sitting there…oh.

Yes, young people and computer games. That said, it is a great, competitive game enjoyed by millions around the world. But the fact that the school lets students host tournaments like this on such a grand scale is definitely something new, because something like this was unheard of when I was in school. Computer games were frowned upon and certainly not encouraged by teachers back in the day, and I suspect that hasn’t really changed.

I’m not endorsing competitive gaming, I’m merely pointing out that an institute that lets people unwind in the fashion that they see fit is clearly a very open-minded and progressive place.

And then I came across this little gem on the wall behind me.

Desire to achieve
This quote certainly beats the competition.

I’d never heard of Ayn Rand before this, but it turns out she (yeah, apparently Ayn is a girl’s name) was a famous writer and even had her own philosophical movement, called Objectivism. You can find out more about her here. Frankly I found her picture a little creepy, but don’t tell anyone.

A noble saying and a rightful thing to be hanging up in a college that seeks to teach and inspire. Not that they are the first ones to concoct the idea of dangling motivational mantras in public places, but they do it well and they do it tastefully. And it adds a little colour to the place too. Beats some commercial advertisement or self-serving sentimental spiel.

And I believe the saying can be expanded to go beyond the creative:

A wise man is motivated by the desire to achieve and to create; not by the desire to beat others but by the desire to outdo himself.

Take that, Ms. Rand! Wait, what was that thing about beating others and self-serving sentimental spiels…oh that’s right.

I also realise that picture kind of gives it away. If you already recognised it from the first photo, then good job Sherlock! Yes, it is KDU in Penang.

I made my inquiries and found the staff to be most accepting and helpful! Even after they found out I wasn’t a student. Or perhaps it was because of that. Heh. The personnel there seem to practice a real open-door policy, and are keen to work together with people of varying backgrounds and professions. I definitely recommend paying KDU a visit, whether you’re a student or someone who wants to work together with a progressive institute that is nurturing the young minds of tomorrow.

This little visit definitely made me miss university life, and to say a little nostalgic would be an understatement. And no nostalgic entry would be complete without some food! Nothing fancy, but very tasty.

Fish bee hoon
Options are soup or fried. This be the souped up version!

The Fight Against Entropy

Here is an intriguing thought: for some umpteen number of millennia, our world and the many worlds around us have been happily going with the flow of this popular and somewhat morbid idea of entropy. The very laws that govern our universe are all aiming for that one singular goal: maximum entropy. No one really objects; it’s a pretty great system. Things get cooler and less cluttered and you end up with a tidy bit of nothingness for the least amount of effort. Sounds perfect, right?

Enter life. The very notion of life itself seems to be a sign of scorn and a mark of mockery in the face of this pervasive and inevitable entropy beast. Life is shaking its little fist at entropy, chanting:

“Not if I can help it!”

But certainly this little speck of life cannot hope to overcome something as ubiquitous and omnipotent as entropy, as much as a perky bit of zooplankton could not hope to overcome a fully grown blue whale.

Blue whale of entropy
The blue whale of entropy. See those specks? Lots of plankton in each one!

But what about an entire horde of zooplankton? An indomitable net of unified micro-individuals, as numerous as the stars in the sky, so thick even light cannot penetrate.

Let’s get to breeding, people!

That’s what life has to say, in its barely audible, squeaky voice. Those tiny, brave little zooplankton are going to multiply and organise themselves into a mighty phalanx, a great wall of microscopic proportions. And then they’re going to face down the giant.

Will they win? Probably not. Can they turn back the tide, repel the gargantuan onslaught? Probably not, but they might be able to slow it down, get all up in that big face and make some noise. Make some chaos. That’s what life is good at!

So why do we fight? Because maybe pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo makes us feel alive. That’s why we’re rebellious to the core, always eager to mess up the equilibrium, create ripples on the water, build sandcastles out of nothing. We’re spitting in entropy’s face, taunting it. Because we know we cannot win, cannot turn back the tide, cannot cheat death.

But we will do all we can. To defy entropy.

I think I’ll try defying entropy. And write a musical while I’m at it. Teehee.

Why do you fight?

Let’s Talk About Muscles

Time to get technical for a little bit: let’s talk about muscles. Now it doesn’t matter if you’re into sports or weights or nothing at all (stupid sexy Flanders). You need muscles. To live. (And if you would prefer not to strain your eye muscles on sciencey mumbo-jumbo, feel free to skip to the TL;DR!)

Now there’s a few fields of thought with regards to muscle types and groups, and they call it different things and interpret the findings in weird and wonderful ways. Generally, what most people can agree on is that voluntary muscle (a.k.a. skeletal muscle) falls into two categories: slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch muscle is a very oxygen-rich muscle type and is rife with capillaries for profuse blood supply, hence it’s alternative name “red” muscle. This muscle type is aerobic in nature and thus carries lots of oxygen and can sustain activity for long periods of time.

Fast twitch muscle is the more anaerobic of the two, and it can generate quick and powerful bursts of energy at low oxygen costs (anaerobic kind of means without air). This means it requires a lower oxygen supply in the short term but it also fatigues rapidly. It has a paler hue compared to slow twitch, resulting in the name “white” muscle, although the actual colour of it is far from white. Little twitchy mammals, such as the epitome of twitchiness Mr. Squirrel, have a large proportion of fast twitch that gives them their lightning bursts of fidgety speed.

Red squirrel
Omnomnom-what? Omnom-who-said-my-name? No-it’s-not-Alvin!

Right, I think that’s enough biology for one lifetime. You’re still here? Interesting. Now, how does all this tie in with relatively regular life as an athlete? If you’re into endurance sports such as marathon running, then chances are you’ve got a greater proportion of slow twitch muscle. On the other hand, if you bench regularly, then your upper body is going to be chock full of fast twitch muscle! Simple, right?

TL;DRSlow twitch: aerobic & long-lasting; fast twitch: anaerobic & short bursts.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to expound on the goodness of either type of muscle, or even sell you some exercise regime for the low, low price of a dollar per minute per second per second (no wait, that’s too many derivatives). I’m here to talk about how working to achieve a certain ratio of fast to slow twitch muscle can help you focus towards getting to your goal.

Table of muscle and sport typesThe table above is a somewhat unverified (oh, am I not supposed to say that?) estimate of the amount of slow twitch muscle you will find in people who frequently perform a particular path of sport or exercise. I’m truly curious about how they measure the ratio of different muscle fibres in a living (I hope) person’s body.

Another comparison that I can’t put numbers to is the difference in muscle types between men and women. It is generalised that men tend to possess a larger proportion of white, anaerobic muscle in their bodies, while women have more red, aerobic muscles. This has been postulated as to why women tend to float better than men in water, due to their lower specific gravity. Perhaps their body shape plays a part too. Wink wink.

It would seem like I would be biased toward red muscle, since my favoured activities would desire and require a greater quantity of salubrious, aerobic muscle. However, it has been observed that white muscle fibres have a much better ability to grow and increase in mass compared to their leaner brethren. So if you’re aiming to bulk up them guns or want a shorter road to a firmer build, then focus on short burst exercises that target your anaerobic muscles. Activities like weight-lifting and resistance training should give you results a lot faster than cycling for long periods.

Of course, ultimately you have to work out for yourself which types of physical exercise are best suited for your needs, as certain things work better for some. And no money back guarantees, thank you very much.

I Want To Break Free

I don’t want to be fed, I want to create! This might seem like a strange comment out of context, but do you ever get this yearning inside to make something of your own, to give something of yourself?

In our modern society, we are perpetually surrounded by things that somebody else created and manufactured. We either help make it, or we’re on the receiving end of the conveyor belt. The clothes we buy, the shows we watch, even the food we eat. Take a look around you. Which of the objects in your immediate vicinity did you have some form of input in? Doesn’t have to be personally made from scratch, but something with your mark, your own signature on it.

How did you go? More than ten? You’re doing a lot better than I am. What is my point? What is my point!? Relax, I’ll get to it. First, a simple question: if you could create one thing with your own bare hands (or feet or mouth or whichever part of your body you like), what would it be? Say you had all the resources available at your fingertips and all the time in the world. One thing. What is it?

I’m not saying mass produced things are in any way bad or derivative; I’m not advocating we stop appreciating other people’s works of art. I’m merely saying we’ve been programmed by modern marketing to acquire over create, buy over build. Programmed in the ways of the consumer. The ways that lead to the dark side.

Media indoctrination

Why all this anti-consumerism propaganda? It makes the world go round, right? I’m against it because it quashes creativity. Certainly without industry we wouldn’t be where we are today, and that I do not disagree. But who is keeping these industries in check? If one day they start churning out amber protein blocks and convincing us they’re the only thing we should be eating, are we going to stop cooking too?

Everything ends in a product these days. Need more sleep? Buy this pillow. Need even more sleep? Buy these pills. Or how about this hyper-ergonomic atomically-accurate alarm clock that counts sheep for you while playing Mozart? Who comes up with these things? The people who use their creativity. These people are the movers and shakers and the select few that make the changes governing our little streams in life. These people dare to dream, dare to do.

Perhaps you’re content to sit through the movie of your life comfortably perched in the plush cinema chair, passively watching events unfold. Happy to watch it all play out, never once wishing it could be different, wishing you could make it different. Maybe you upgrade your seat with the money you save up. Surely you’ve been to a movie that you could do much better! Then why don’t you go make it? Why don’t we go make it?

Let’s make a movie. What kind of movies do you like? What kind of mark do you want to leave in this world?

Be The Change In Your World

No one wants to hear you preach to them about how to improve their lives or better themselves, even if it’s painfully obvious. They may moan about a problem or complain about their circumstances and yet not lift a finger to change it. Talking about it and telling these things to their faces will rarely achieve the results you desire. And yet here I am on this very topic.

I’m sure we have all met people that exude a negative vibe in the way they act and speak, and I cannot deny that I myself have been guilty of being negative and discouraging towards others. We all do it, at some point or other, depending on our mood or place in life. The turning point is when you acknowledge it; the best part is when you do something about it.

So what can we do about it? Actions speak louder than words, right? If telling someone doesn’t make a difference, then how can we make a change in the people around us? Easy, start with yourself. The one and only person whose thoughts and actions you can control is you.

Change begins with the mind
Change begins with the mind.

Look inwards, study your inner thoughts; observe your outer actions, and then look outwards. Think of your family and friends. How do you think you make others feel? If you were to observe yourself interacting with your friends from a third person perspective, how would you feel about the things you are saying and doing? You don’t have to be an expert in body language to gauge how those around you react and respond to what you say and do.

And now ask yourself: do I need to change? If you find you are the one bringing up the complaints in a group setting, or dousing cold water on the things your friends are chatting about, then how do you think that makes them feel? Because at the end of the day, that is how you will be remembered.

Mentalities are by no means a simple thing to change. They are basically a habit of the mind, a way your brain is used to thinking. To change it requires practice and repeated adjustments. Here are some things to try if you feel like changing something:

  • Start by thinking more about others. Put others ahead of yourself on the daily priority list; think about their thoughts, their feelings, their well-being. I’m not saying neglect your own needs and wants, but merely turn your focus to other people rather than looking at your own issues and problems all the time. For example, if you need to stop by the supermarket, ask others if there is anything you can pick up for them. By making the people that you interact with happy, you will naturally feel happy yourself.
  • Try to include more people in the things you do. Look out for those friends or colleagues who are easily excluded. I’m sure you can recall the elation you felt when someone invited you to an event that you were interested in, so why not pass the favour on? If you are an introvert that prefers minimal social contact (trust me, I can relate), there are still many ways to reach out to others, like adding them into a group chat on social media or simply asking someone else to tag along when you go to get lunch.
  • Be thankful. A little gratitude goes a long way. It helps you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have. All part of being happier and more content with your lot in life. Of course you still strive for bigger and better things in life, just try not to lose sight of all those wonderful things you already have (like your spouse).

I admit I’m no expert in matters of the heart and mind, but if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we can only truly change ourselves. Change comes from within: you have to change your thoughts and your actions will follow suit. Your actions may then go on to inspire others to change. Be the change in your world, if no one else will. In the end, hopefully the world will be that much better because you made the effort. So thank you, and live long and prosper. Oh wait, that wasn’t Gandhi.

Gratitude
A little gratitude goes a long way.

A Challenging Life

Ever since I first laid eyes on Watterson’s comics as a little kid, I’ve always loved Calvin & Hobbes. But never did I think I would one day draw inspiration from it.

Never have truer words been said.
Never have truer words been said.

Change. Challenge. Not the two nicest words in the English dictionary. Or at least, they don’t usually carry with them positive connotations. You don’t think fluffy bunnies when you hear these words, do you? (If you do, I’d love to meet you.)

Change

To be fair, change really isn’t something that people should fear. Change merely means something different.

Like it or not, as much as we try to control our lives and make it conform to our little routine box, life always finds ways to make every day different. The key is whether or not we allow ourselves to notice these differences and create change in our lives.

You now have a choice: do you wait for life to force you to change? Or do you actively incorporate change as a part of your lifestyle?

I’ve made my choice, because I’ve come to terms with the fact that life will choose to mess with me regardless of how nicely I plan my day or how neatly I arrange my shoes outside my front door. The rains will come and winds will blow and this world will keep on spinning, so you can either let it blow and batter you, or you can ride the waves as best you can into the unknown, into the future.

Challenge

Now this is a word that should get your adrenaline gushing! Most definitions will invariably involve some form of contest or competition, whether it be internal or some guy in a suit daring you to do silly things.

Challenge Accepted!

So the question is: do we dare to challenge ourselves? Are we up for the challenge? Are we willing to push ourselves to achieve something, to do something we may not even believe we can do?

That’s what a challenge is, right? If it’s something we know we can do, is it still a challenge? That depends – how well can you do it? Doesn’t matter if everybody else in the whole wide world can do it! Can you do it?

It doesn’t matter how small the challenge is, as long as you acknowledge it and you’re ready to fight to achieve it. It could be climbing the stairs, running a marathon, or even…talking to that cute girl you always see on the bus.

The important thing is to push yourself. And to never stop doing so. But of course, take a breather and rest when you need to. We can’t all be Superman.

Afterthoughts

Calvin’s final statement tickles my fancy. I’m familiar with the term atrophy, at least in a biological sense. Atrophy is what you get when you strain your muscles really, really hard, and come in first at the race. Teehee.

Atrophy usually occurs when your body decides to cut back on unnecessary expenditure and withdraws supplies to (what it deems) superfluous areas of the body. You may have had big biceps back when you totally ripped those guns lifting them fat metal things, but give the gym a rest for a few weeks and you’ll notice a difference.

In a nutshell, it’s saying: use it or lose it.

It happens in muscle, it happens to bone;
When you don’t use it, it feels all alone;
If you don’t push it, you ain’t in the zone;
So push it real good, and get off that phone!

Like a muscle, if you don’t exercise your abilities in life, they will eventually shrink and wither. In order to thrive, life must be challenged; I daresay life must be lived. Otherwise, it wilts and becomes lacklustre and neglected. So live your lives to fullest, my friends!

Consciously make a small change, the most minor of changes, that will potentially improve your life, and see the results. Don’t stop there; that’s merely the first step. Look up into the skies, into the face of God, and say: challenge accepted.

A Brewing Storm

Dark clouds loom over the horizon of this Utopian little tropical island; there is talk weaving through the grapevine of an incoming thunderstorm. And here I am propped up at the most miniature laptop I’ve ever used in the lobby of a hostel in Singapore, in the wake of the biggest global tremor that has emanated from this region in a long time. The Minister Mentor is gone.

His title says it all: he was the politician of this country and he was a marvelous mentor to younger ministers and to his citizens and to the rest of the watching world. His words and actions have inspired generations and shaped the physical and mental mould of many nations, including but not limited to Singapore’s.

Like so many others, I wish to pay my respects at the Parliament House to the great man on the very foundation of his life’s work. And like many others, my mind drifts to the possibilities and to the future. How will Singapore forge ahead without their iron backbone, their will of steel? Has Lee Kuan Yew’s ideologies and life values been ingrained sufficiently into his lifeblood, his countrymen and women?

I have always admired Lee Kuan Yew. He has easily been one of the most prominent political figures in this part of the world ever. Ever. That means the public spotlight was always on him. And he endured it and relished it and made it work for him, as best he could. His traditional values and stern leadership carried him consistently through this mortal coil, and he barely stumbled, always pushed on, always did what he believed was best for himself and for his people.

Did you know Lee Kuan Yew loved to swim? I imagine he didn’t get a chance to do it very much when he was playing father to a whole country of people, but I guess that’s something that kept him going. Kept him sharp. Maybe I should get back to swimming more.

Oh, that reminds me, some good news: Penang just had their international cross channel swim this morning! Six whole kilometres over open ocean. And that’s not taking into account drift and waves. And I don’t mean from the spectators. Hopefully there will be more to come, since it has been a very long time since there has been anything of the sort around that part of Malaysia. Watch this space!

Now I mentioned I was lodging at a hostel. A little bit of advice to those who may plan on hitting the dormitories and shared accommodations: get a decent and decently-sized quick-dry towel and take it everywhere with you! If you have to take one piece of advice from whimsical Mr. Adams, take a towel with you wherever you go. They can be surprisingly (or perhaps I’m just easily surprised) handy! That said you might not want to get too attached to one, because certain uses may call for the greatest sacrifice a towel can give.

That’s all for now, folks. Peace out!