Friday Post

I woke up today with a annoying sound of my dogs barking. It was the usual thing every morning as Mum let them out to play. Usually it is annoying, but I did not particularly mind it. Today, my body was stiff and tired. Had been like this for few days. The dogs barked at 630am. I should not be getting up for another one hour, are you kidding me! But the tiredness made it easier to go back to bed and I did.

Forty five minutes later, I woke up. Check my Whatsapp and Facebook. About 20 messages on Whatsapp and two notifications on Facebook. Alright. Nothing important. I didn’t want to get up until 740am. I had to get up, it was 740am! Took a shower and got change.

I browsed through YouTube and I saw Britain Got Talent ‘wow, first ever magician to show real magic trick’. I tap on it and right in the middle of the video, I was crying. Once I finished, I wiped my tears away, waited till my eyes colour back to normal then I went to the dining room and had my breakfast, pretending that nothing has happened. But something had just happened in my heart. In my soul. Are you kidding me? A magic trick that brought me to tears. That is real magic. But the real lesson was, that life is so unpredictable. But we can make it beautiful. So beautiful that one day we can wow ourselves and other people.

All those mundane lives, those annoying little things, who doesn’t have it? But are we able to see it in a different way?

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The Forest

I liked forest very much but scared of it. The serenity sometimes gave me chills. The quietness, the touch of breezes, the music as the birds sang above me and distance away made my heart race. People said you shouldn’t talk in the forest, or else you would be hunted by something you cannot see. Whether true or not, better take precaution.

“Why are you always looking at the streams?” Grace suddenly asked me. I didn’t expect to be asked that way. Yes, I had looked for streams throughout the journey. The sight of those glassy and graceful flowing waters or sometimes just dead calm, they were just fascinating. What would a forest be without streams? I think it would be like a body without the heart. Dead. Or a person without a soul; dead to everything around you. Streams give life to creatures; they make the trees, the grass, the plants grow big and beautiful. They give relief to animals; quenching their thirst and cool them down from the heat of the summer’s sun. They make the forest a forest.

“Oh, I did?” I replied.

“Yeah,”

“I just love them.” It was the only answer I could give her. I forgot that Grace was a very observant person. She picked up small details, details that I might have missed, but she picked them up. She had great empathy, no wonder she was an award-winning journalist.

couldn’t be like her. I lose focus easily. I wondered how does it feel like to be in the forest 40 or 50 years ago? I was not born at the time, but I bet they were very thick and the streams were roaring. The forests were teeming with life! My parents used to tell me that they used to bathe in the river. Bath at the river?? Ewww… I mean… why would you wanna do that? That is just gross! Bath at that muddy river..yuck!

“No…honey…the water was very clean during my time. It is brown now… but my time… it was clear..you could see your feet! We took our soap, our towel..extra shirt and just bath there.” My mother used to say that.

I missed that! The people of my generation missed it! What a pity! My grandparents used to see wild boars in the forests, they were everywhere. They knew the hornbill had come as they listened to that majestic sound of wing flapping, as that big bird flying overhead. They listened to birds singing in the dawn chorus. Forests were once a home, now, it seems foreign. In my place, There were people still keeping in touch with nature, for them, it was still their home, for me, it was a getaway. My job allowed me to visit such places, but as I looked around me as I walked through that thick forest and I watched that stream, I asked myself, how long will it last?

Why Do I Read Books

Why Do I Read Books

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!

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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’.

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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.

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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!

 

The Conversations

Blind people have amazing stories to tell.  About the amount of fear that they had to go through; of living in darkness all their lives; of trying to live their lives without being too depended on others, although most of them have to live with financial assistance for the rest of their lives.  Getting out of the house, getting in and out of the bus, going out to the market for groceries, somehow the environment wasn’t very friendly to them.  The only tools they could use to ensure income was their hands.  Basket weaving was the main income for many of the blinds here, well…once upon a time.  Rattan is getting scarce these days and so the demand for them to develop more skills is getting higher.  Some chose to become masseuses – as health is getting popularity, sometimes, they could have decent income.  Some chose to beg on the streets.  They had a centre to help them to develop skills, but somehow, not knowing the reason why, they refused to be in the centre despite numerous persuasions.

Nevertheless, many were forever grateful for the centre and for those who had helped them so much in their lives.  Those who sent them for massage training for example, those who trained them to make crafts despite not able to see, and those who trained them to become excellent athletics.  Douglas Nyambung is a great case.  He has been Malaysia’s defending champion in paralympic swimming for almost 20 years.  No one in Malaysia had ever broken his record at the pool, except himself.

I’ve also talked to people with cerebral palsy – great stories of success and triumph – about dreams of breaking ribbons,  just like Joseph Choo.  Running has changed his life.  Joseph is also an Olympian, a competitive runner who won many medals.  He made it to Paralympic games in Athens in 2011 and of course came home to his proud parents with medals.

Talking to an autistic boy was an interesting one too.  Though a little skeptic whether a conversation could actually take place, 13-year-old Clement Belun answered my questions with so little problem.  He came into spotlight when he first step on the stage to become an emcee in June, 2012 during the National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) opening.  He was a little shy, but not shy enough to share his dreams to me.  He loved cultures and lifestyles and he liked to put them into frame.  That led to his great passion – photography.

“I want to become a photographer when I grow up.  I know to take photographs.  When time comes, I will capture the lifestyles and cultures of different people in digital images.”

I had the privilege to talk to a world famous Canadian BASE jumper Lonnie Bissonnette last year.  An inspiring man who didn’t give up on his dream despite been told that he would never jump again.  He had an accident when he did his 1,100 jump.  Bissonette is the world’s first and only paraplegic BASE jumper.

Remember those school times,  where you passed around those papers just to have conversation with your friends behind you, in front of you, or maybe just beside you.  Teachers were teaching in front no one was allowed to make a noise.  Two of you were having conversation, but it looked as if you were taking notes.  Interviewing 27-year-old Amy Lau brought me back to that old times.  She was probably one of the most interesting people I’ve talked to thus far.  She had hearing impaired since birth.  I don’t want to say ‘deaf’ because it felt rude.  Anyways, it was interesting also because it was the quietest interview i’ve ever done.  It didn’t feel like I was interviewing her at all.  I felt like I was talking to a new friend.  There was no recorder, just notebook and a pen.  It was just smiling and writing.

Her life was pretty ordinary – not all that great like the few people I’ve mentioned.  But, one thing she was passionate about; her family.  Amy is married and her husband also has hearing and speaking disabilities.  However, the couple is blessed with a one-year-old son who did not inherit their disabilities.

Amy told me that she wanted to become a good sign language teacher.  I’ve always wanted to know how does it feel of not being able to hear, she said everything was just quiet.  Well, obviously.  She did not know how music sounds like.  Surprisingly, she loved movies, of course with the help of the subtitles.  Her talent was in making crystal and baking.

Her husband worked as mechanics.  He switched from being a baker to mechanics because he needed better income to support his wife and son.  His aspiration was nothing but being a good husband and a good father to his son.  I asked them, ‘Do you wish that you could hear and talk just like other people?’ and their answer was no, because they learned to to live with their fate.

“It’s okay that I can’t hear or speak.  I can still communicate with others in my own way.  I have a family and I am not lonely,” Amy said.