Friday, May 29, 2009

Tripping is part of the whole trip


If you have been following my blog regularly, you’ll notice that I’ve changed the layout a couple of times. Unfortunately, my blog is not the only thing which has been subjected to such irregularity.

Sometimes, it can be disconcerting to know how fickle and restless I can be. I’m not sure whether this is a result of constant dissatisfaction towards things, not knowing what I really want or just a drive so forceful that it pulls me towards wanting to know and experience new things.

Two old friends once said to me out of the blue. They told me that I’m unpredictable. Not the flattering “wow-you’re-so-mysterious” kind. Their tone was more of the mocking “So-what-is-it-this-time-now? You’re-so-bloody-inconsistent” kind. Sooner or later, they both became too tired to keep up with what’s going on in my life.

When I look at some friends of mine who are so grounded; with careers, babies, homes, it’s hard not to feel lonely and lost. Contrary to what most people might think, moving from one place to another is not as exciting as it looks. Yes, in the beginning it always is, but it doesn’t last. You meet new people, develop new friendships and then it’s time to go again.

What’s left is another old vacuum with the same kind of loneliness and uncertainty.

Sometimes, it’s hard to think what’s worse; living the same routine day in and day out, or the permanence of impermanence. Whatever it is, this year was a wake-up call for me.

The misery and loneliness I felt when I was in Ethiopia has taught me that I have every opportunity to change life’s unexpected circumstances to my advantage but only if I want to. I’ve been without a career for more than 4 years now and lived in regret for the most part of it.

Somehow similar to a leafless tree during the winter, it’s time to soak in the sun and sprout. Hibernation’s over. It’s time to do something for it’s dormancy that kills, not the place or the people.

Miscellaneous 012

The first thing my husband and I did when we came to Cambodia was to adopt a kitten that was found trapped beneath another expat’s wooden floorboard. I didn’t even like cats then but what the heck. The kitten needed a home and we needed more life in the apartment. Now, she’s part of the family.

Then, I quickly jumped into volunteering work while applying for jobs. The work that I’m doing now is definitely more interesting than what I did back in Ethiopia.

Yet, there is still something missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I started this blog. I realize that I needed to do something more, something to stir my soul, not just the mind.

It comes a time in everyone’s life, I think, when you suddenly feel that you’re dead inside. It happens to a housewife, a teacher, a judge, a doctor, an artist, etc.

Seeing the misery in this world has created a brick wall around my heart, making it impenetrable. I couldn’t remember the last time I cried for a mother who has lost her child or laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes.

My photographer friend in Ethiopia told me recently that she had a sudden episode of emptiness although she is doing what she loves best. She started taking photography seriously last year and she has seen a rise in her career as a professional photographer. Just after 1 year down the line, she felt unmotivated. Dead.

She’s one of the most passionate person I know and even then, she finds it hard to stay inspired all the time.

Curious, I asked her how she managed to pull herself out of it. She wrote to me, “Every week, I make it a point to take one photo just for myself. Even if it’s the best photo I’ve ever taken, I won’t sell it. It’s for me.

So, week after week, she keeps collecting all these photos and when she feels uninspired, she’ll look at them to remind her why she loves photography.

I do believe that it’s common for most people to feel as if nothing they do is ever meaningful anymore. If you do and feel guilty or sorry for yourself, don’t. The need to feel alive and moved is what makes us all human beings.

Just like our bodies, the heart and soul need nourishment and this comes in different forms. You don’t have to quit your job or leave your home to achieve that. All you need is to find that one simple thing which can give you the joy and satisfaction you need.

I found mine and it’s writing. It’s that one thing which has constantly nourished me again and again. It doesn’t even cost me anything.

I may have moved from one place to another, from one job to the other, but I never stop writing. So far, I’ve been pretty much writing for myself. Not for money, glory, love or anyone.

A writer friend gave me some good advice recently. She said it’s important to do something else while writing. Pick up a hobby; dancing, photography, cooking or arts. She said that it’ll train me to see the world in different lenses. I like what she said.

So with this, I’m going to keep on skipping and not walking – stirring in some motion to keep my heart rate up. The problem with skipping is the danger of tripping but there’s always the possibility of pulling yourself up again.

When you manage to do that, you’ll realize that tripping is just part of the whole trip.


  1. You're not alone in this, we all have phases of our lives where we live at break neck speed or total inaction. Its like this is only way we know how. Maybe what is missing is having a sense of purpose because it makes one work towards something.

    I blame it on our Asian culture where you are defined by work and career.

  2. I'm wondering whether a sense of purpose is truly enough or we also need a sense of indulgence; doing something we truly love and just for that purpose alone.

    Yes, Asian culture teaches us to live to work, rather than work to live. Many Asians work so hard and then they save their money for the future. Not necessarily a bad thing but sometimes, I think it's important to spend some of the money to enjoy some of the simple pleasure of life; travelling for instance.

    We're also defined by family expectation and obligation.

    I think what I meant to say is that sometimes, we just need to give some time to ourselves. Everyone deserves a bit of happiness.

    After all, a happy person makes a happier worker, parent, friend, children, etc.