The worst thing that could have ever happened to someone is probably losing one’s dignity. The worst thing that someone could have done is probably crushing somebody’s dignity. It was bad enough for her to be handcuffed, it was bad enough for her not to be able to see his little boy, it was bad enough for her to listen to the accusation against her everyday. She could not really decide what was the worst thing for her; to be rejected or to listen to the piercing harassment against her. She could not lift up her face to see the people who were once her family, now an enemy. What has hatred and revenge ever accomplished? Will it ever satisfy your souls?
Do you know what I fear? I am afraid of my pride. It comes in many forms. It comes from being religious, being spiritual, being humble, being knowledgeable, being better than anyone else and etc. I fear that being active in the church would make me a hypocrite. I’ve seen some people who are like that. I even saw it in one of my relatives – such a pompous devoted religious man. So, he acted as a very religious and spiritual man, like he knows everything, all doctrines, the bible and Jesus and all. His approaches on us seem to tell us otherwise, for we felt the superiority in him. Maybe I am just very judging. I don’t know. But truth be told, I think I am no better. I’ve always believe that if I could say these things about him, I am pointing fingers to myself. You know what they say, it runs in the family. But, I hope that it doesn’t runs in me.
I am quite active in the church; joining classes, retreats, talks, joining some church movements and so forth. I learned many things, I enjoyed them but there is a risk of being too proud it. I am very self-conscious, I know that. My whole faith and my life would be blinded by pride. I fear that once I allow my cleverness takes over, my heart would be harden, the less I feel for human compassion. I am very afraid of my pride and I have to admit, I am full of it. Yes, I am aware of that or I would like to believe I am full of it. Modesty forbids, but when I sense pride, I prayed it would be taken away. Ironically, that also could be a pride.
Oh yes! I am struggling. Not sure if I am fighting myself or for something else. I should like to struggle in trying my best to fight for something noble. I want to stand for principles, I think I am lacking it. Though I learned many things, but I don’t have a lot of wisdom. I am at the opinion that if wisdom makes you think other people are stupid then you have no wisdom in you. False wisdom I should say. Pride easily makes you fall in that trap. That I know. And I fall in that trap many times and thus I made a fool of myself many times.
However, just like my relative, I am a religious person but not really a spiritual person. I fail to love every day. I have to stay religious you know, because without God, I don’t know what I should live for. That could also makes me proud you know…to know that I believe in God, that I am a Christian. It is really a complicated feeling. So I pray for humbleness. But then, that itself could also be pride if I am not careful. Shut myself in. Always think that I am not good enough, just being humble, like no one is more humble than me.
I could go on and on and this whole thing could be my pride. I am sure of it and of course I pray it would be taken away. I wish to it to be taken away for I just want to be human. After all, rising and falling and trying are all part of being human.
There is a difference between being a hypocrite and simply being human. All of us are going to be human. We don’t have to be hypocrites. – Fr Mike Schmitz.
All of us have different likes, different opinions, different ways of doing things. For example ‘you like sushi, I love hamburgers’, or ‘you like to travel, I like to stay at home’, ‘you like football, I like tennis’. But I think we found a common ground on one thing. ‘We want a life of an adventure’. Everyone wants to have a thrill of adventure in their lives.
Then, you ask yourself. Do I have it? Is my life exciting.
A lot of people thought that being a reporter is a glamourous job. Obviously, they watched too much television. On average, most of our everyday living will probably look like this:
Wake up. Go to work. Go home. Dinner. Sleep…repeat.
Wake up. Go to work. Go home. Dinner. Sleep…and we repeat the same thing the next day…and the next day…and the next day…and the next day…
Basically, I am like you. The difference is that I do not have a fixed working hour and I involved in church’s activities and other outside activities…that made life a little bit difficult. Despite all the busyness in my life, and some dry moments of course, I learned to live to be alive. It is not about cozen yourself into wishful thinking, but there is no greater adventure than being a human being fully alive! To achieve what we want to achieve, to pursue our goals and learn to labour and to wait patiently.
I learned that adventure is not about living with certainties, straight path, clear answers; like an engineer with probabilities. No, it is a step into an unknown path that opens up to all possibilities. Like a traveler who never planned his journey, but excited just to do it. Adventure sets your spirit on fire that illuminates your life. If you felt that you have a mundane life, or may so many frustration and disappointment, find your adventure in your everyday living because if you can’t find it in your life, you cannot find it in anywhere else.
It is also means to open yourself up to all human experience – happiness, sadness, disappointment, anger, fear, anxiety…It is only through embracing your weaknesses or problems or your fear that you are able to live up to your potential. Because then, you begin to realise how beautiful is this world.
I learned a story about Amy Purdy. She lost both her legs 1999 after contracting bacterial meningitis. When she tried her new legs for the first time, it was too painful and she wondered if she could every walk again. She was physically and emotionally broken. Then one day, she heard something on the radio, she stood up and dance with her father. Then she thought to herself ‘If I can dance, I can walk, if I can walk, I can snowboarding..I can live a great life’
In 2014, she competed and won a bronze medal in snowboarding in the Paralympic Games. She won the hearts of millions of viewers when she got into the finals of dancing with the stars.
She asked herself one day: ‘If my life were a book and I am the author, how would I want the story to go?’ That question changed her life forever.
When I heard it, I took some times to reflect on it….and I realised I wanted my life to be a story that only I can tell.
I was never comfortable in meeting people, but I stepped into the unknown to become a reporter and I met many people and heard many stories. I thought, there I know how to craft stories…this is my life now…this is what i am going to do for the rest of my life. Then, I guess life seems to tell me otherwise…it says…no…no..no..that is just the beginning. Your true and greatest adventure has yet to come. Then, I decided to step into the dark again, holding on to all possibilities. For a girl who had never speak up in her life decided to walk into that door (Toastmasters) and stood in front of the audience for the first time. I realised, my greatest adventure has just begun!
All these time, I’ve been writing the voice of other people and now for the first time I am learning to find my own voice.
So, if your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want the story to go?
When I was in secondary school, English was one of my weakest subjects. It was so terrible that I could never pass ‘C’ grade. That was the time, I decided to take up reading. Then, I had another set of problem, there was no comprehension. But, I kept on reading anyways, but the improvement was so slow. In University, I took up English Studies as my minor and my English was so bad that had to attend extra classes to improve.
Thankfully, because I’ve been reading quite a lot, I grew up loving reading and after almost 20 years of reading, I found something much more valuable that gripped my heart. I found its magic!
What I needed the most was the language skills, and reading helped. My grammar improved, so was my comprehension and vocabulary. Soon, discovered something much more interesting and exciting; I discovered the power of words; Words that inspire and words that build. Big word such as ‘unflinching will’ – a will so strong and unmoved that no matter how big the storm may come your way, you keep moving forward.
It was so exciting that I was in this state call ‘book-hunger’.
I couldn’t get enough of reading because it was so nourishing. Just like your body needs nutrients to function well, your mind needs books to think better. Watching television or movies or YouTube videos definitely had an impact on your mind, but it is not the same as getting your brain to process process and keeps your brain a little sharper. I always read at the table and when I found the passage that struck me, I highlight those passages and put a sticky note on that page. Once I finished that book, I’ll go back to the highlighted passage and write them down in my notebook. So, when I want to refer to some of the ideas, I’ll go back to the notebook.
Reading also shaped my character. People said that we learned from our surroundings and the people we met. We learn each other habits and adopt each other’s mindset. The same things with books, because books are basically ideas or mindset of another people. As I read them, I did not just read a book, I journeyed with the characters and the authors and learned from their mindset and ideas and even their experiences. When I read the life of Liesel Meminger in ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak, I discovered a new meaning in reading because there are other people who worked harder than me to learn how to read especially in times of war. As I read Bilbo’s adventure in ‘The Hobbit’, I realised I can’t cling on to what is familiar and to step into the inconveniences and uncomfortable if I want to lead meaningful life.
I read many genres and one of my favourite genres is biography. One of the people that I’ve read was Abraham Lincoln. I love Abraham Lincoln for many reasons, but one particular reason that I really love him is that he loved his books very much. Lincoln carried his book with him everywhere he went. You see, because he loved books so much that he possessed a vivid sensibility for the beauty of English language. The power of words and boy, he really knew how to use them. Books nourished him it became his academy, a place that united his mind to the greatest mind of the generation past. It shaped his character that despite the lack of formal education, books inspired him to pursue the American dreams, and one day, he became the president of the United States.
All of us are at great advantage because of our ability to read and write. If you have been reading, keep it up; but if you haven’t, maybe it is time for you to read. It might be difficult at first. But whether it is 15 mins or 20 mins or 30 minutes, it does not matter. What matters is that you read every day. I didn’t let my difficulties to stop me from reading, and because I persevered, I gained something which is much more valuable that I could ever hope for, which is the magic of reading!
I am always in the quest for stories. That is what I do actually, everyday. I make a living meeting people, talking to them, asking them questions and construct their stories. I love stories and love writing them. Though not all stories gave me pleasure, in fact most of them gave me a lot of pressure.
But I love stories; especially stories of ordinary people because every one of them has a lesson for others to learn. The lives of people who could make people stop and ponder, reflect, remember, and are inspired. I do not write just for the sake of writing, though sometimes I do that, because it is my job to write. Sometimes I got frustrated with the job I have now, but continue to go on; motivated by the possibility of finding great stories.
I write not because I hunt for stories, I write because it makes me grow as person. I learn as I write and I write as I learn. I need to feel and touch the reality from the deepest of my life through the stories I heard. Then as I empty my cup, I construct that story front the tip of my pen. As one writer said (forgot which writer) in every story you read, there must be a writer’s DNA registered in it.
People who know me will know that I love books very much. I read various kinds of genres. I do not read romance often, but my favourite genres are historical fiction and autobiography. The more I read those stories, the more I became passionate about the heroes, and the more I wanted to meet them in real life. Therefore, I wanted to write about them.
Growing up, I neither was the one shine in class nor was I selected to compete in essay writing. However, my love for books started when I was in primary school. I love books very much that I became a librarian but I did not pick up the habit of reading until I was 14 years old. I finally picked up reading because I found out that I was terrible in English. How bad? Either I flunked or the highest I could get was ‘C’. That is how bad I was, but as soon as pick up reading, I made a commitment to read every day. My comprehension was so bad at first that I needed to read few times for a page to understand. Then I started to read aloud and listen to English speakers especially those in the movies. I picked up and tried to mimic until it stuck with me. Some people said I have a spoken English of a native (though I doubt that sometimes).
I remember I entered a confessional room one day and as I started to confess my sins, the priest opened that little door and asked where I came from. That caught me by surprise.
There was one person who believed that I could write and that is my former headmistress. She was the first person to do that. She told me one day that I could pick up my pen and write. I was down one day because I could not get into science class in Form 4. Those times, people had a perspective that science class are for good students and Arts are for those who do not do well in studies. However, my former headmistress told me that being in Arts class means wider field. She told me that God put me in Arts class because He has a plan for me. Therefore, she asked me to pick up my pen and write. I did not do that until about 10 years later; I pick up my pen and write.
A Penan woman carrying her grandchild during a trip to Lusong Laku few months ago.