Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When you believe

I truly believe that if I'm committed to fight for my well-being and happiness, I would reap the rewards I deserve. I hold a strong belief that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Life's full of challenges and there won't be any short-cuts of settling it. These challenges are not easily met but if we chose confidence over fear, hope over despair, believe me, they will be met.

CFA exam is one of the challenges that I voluntarily chose to meet. I've been hearing hearsay that it's one the most motherfucking exam one would've taken. Level 1 is just the beginning steps toward hell and based on the statistics, only 38% of global candidates passed the test in last December. I passed the exam not because of sheer luck, but I was there to prove that if I struggled, sacrificed and grind my hands and brains into raw meat, I could have be the one that succeed. For the record, my education background is biology based, I've never received any training in financial disciplines, including but not limited to accounting principles, financial quantitative formulae, economics and the concepts of time investing, etc. I do not regard the exam as the passage to hell, but rather, as a testament to my ability and my belief. I have developed strong interests in finance and despite my background and lack of the education thereof, I still can fight against the odds and proving that with hardship, I could differentiate from the rest of the cynic packs. And level 1 exam is just the beginning. I believe if anyone can do so, so am I.

The result was sent to my mailbox yesterday night. I wasn't aware of it as I went out alone and wanted have a chat with my buddy. I went to bukit expo alone, soaking in the rain, indulging myself in sweet and sour memories. Then, I went to find my friends to vent out my despair as I'd been struggling to find peace in my soul the whole day. Even until now, I'm still coping with my emotions, I only checked the result moment ago as I was thinking, what was the point of checking the result as she wasn't there with me to enjoy my sweet tears of success or consoling me when I suffered the pain of failure?

One day it'll be rainbow. It will. 

I dedicate the result for my family and also to an important person, whom was briefly featured in my previous post. She used to taunt me that with the amount of time being spent going out with her, did I really have time to prepare for the examination? I grinned, I said I could, and I think she did have a doubt on it. In fact, she always asked me "Don't you think you were wasting time on me?". One thing I always wanted her to know that while we're meeting out there, I also spent my private time solely for the examination. I woke up very early in the morning to revise a few chapters. I revised again before having dinner even if I got very tired from works. I woke up very early again on the weekends just to make up the time for studying. But when I was feeling strained with these routine, her figure would come to my mind. I can divide my time for her even at the cost of reading lesser materials, but that didn't matter, I strongly believe I can strike a balance between my work, my study and as well as her. That was my pledge for 2012 and she was my witness. I can still do it for I have fiery passions for all my pledges and also for those who believe in me. But for now, I'm feeling devastated and it's hard for me to find strength for doing these. 

She was one of my motivating factors that I need to try harder and harder so that when I succeed, I want her to be right by my side to witness my success, and so telling her that if I could do it, she CAN as well! I remember the end of last November, a period in which she went back to her hometown and I didn't see her for two weeks. It was an excruciating time as I tormented myself days and nights on the CFA syllabus and what was more, I missed her and I wanted to see her, even for brief moment, but in the end, reading and reading were the only thing I could do. Meantime, she mentioned before that she was facing tremendous stress but she won't tell me what was it about, I felt helpless for I wasn't there when she needed support, I kept on sharing quotes and songs that would inspire faith in herself, believing herself that she can make her dreams come true. One of it, "Rainbow Connection", hoping that she'd realize that not every wish would be answered, but if she truly believed it, she will eventually find her own "Rainbow Connection". This is the first theme song between me and her:

What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing? And what do we think we might see? Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

I sincerely hope she won't forget about this. As she considers the road that unfolds before her, it is ultimately her faith and determination that will lead her life's journey. That it is herself to shape an uncertain destiny, not anyone; this is her source of confidence, not anyone. Here's another one I told her two days ago:

I always wanted to write a poem about her. But my composition in poetry would be passed as a bucket of shit diarrhea. I've written a draft on the eve of Chinese New Year but left it beside first. And when she wanted to sever ties with me, I was crushed by it, with my emotions so disturbed and in peril, I dedicated a song to her as it was the best to describe herself. Today, with my bleak heart, I will reveal what was I've written to her:

Title: (Her name)

Oh lady, fate has brought us on a sweet summer day,
Ecstatic was I for I thought lady luck smiled upon me.
Yet, no hearts were pour out and true feelings kept at bay,
Unwavering effort you made to stay away as I can see,
Seeking distance to avoid the guilt and fear of seeing me while my dream fades.

Forget, I will not, your fair eyes and dearest smiles,
Yet, selfish as I yearn, casting us to stones,
To gaze your serene grace for eternity. My heart trembles round!
Your undivided kindness, your tears, your voice, swims before my sight,
In seas of flame my plunging soul is drowned.

Are you a dream or the truth?  Or can you be both?
You visit me in nights as well as days,
Prying the fragile heart of a tortured soul.
Elusive you are, like a needle in the hay,
No shaman tells what our future holds,
I will see loss and pain if I do not continue the race,
Crippled, like a denatured glutamate decarboxylase.

Oh lady, what are you to dread?
The shining stars of happiness are hung for you to grab.
I climbed the highest mountain ready for your hands.
While hoping, trembling, in the sky I pray,
Rise! The faith within yourself! And your confidence rolls!

And now, uncertainty lingers in future and time,
What are the cosmic consequences should our hearts falter to kindle?
In searching with memories, to find our pleasure and pain,
What scenes appear when the song plays the melancholy line?
And the rebellious heart beating riot hymns.
Praying for the sight of you in the backdrop of beautiful hill.
For the  time to come, may unity be seen.
My dearest lady, you are always my:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I'm still finding the hope and strength to pick myself up again, in time, and God speed her, she will too. I believe we can brave for the icy currents and endure what storms may come. We will tell everyone that we are tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Once You Meet Her

Never thought you could know her,
Where she came from, where she's going.
And once you meet her,
You will find that something inside is changing.

She smiles like a rainbow.
When she comes up, all are lit up.
But when she whispers,
You will hear this: "Don't chase after rainbows".

High on a hill, there's a green meadow.
All around, it's breezing,
She's smiling,
She'll let them sing angel songs.

She's like a fairy
When she's trembling, when she's dancing.
Just see her crying,
How it's nice to hold her in your arms.

You want some meanings of the life,
And go to see her.
Don't ask her too much,
Oh yes, she'll be out of your sight.

High on a hill, there's a green meadow.
All around, it's soothing,
She's smiling, wryly.
She'll sing the sun into sleep.

Everyone is sad and blue when she is far away.
Don't you know it's time to pray she'll be coming soon?
And you think you hear her voice ringing from above.

And no one knows it
Where she came from, where she's going.
And once you meet her,
Maybe you'll stay forever young.

Dedicated to a fairy who sings angel songs and also showing me that love isn't about the person you are loving but about your ability and willingness to love them truly no matter what.

...and one day in her life, she wants to be happy again, I'll always be there.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Crazy little thing called...

I forgot when did this happen, maybe years ago, I've had such a discussion with a friend of mine on "what love is" and we both have somewhat different opinions on love.

His opinion: Love is something that no one truly knows, we just have strong feelings for your partner, heterosexual or otherwise.

Mine: Love isn't something you say, its an action. When you put your partners needs above your own. That's the gist of it, but there was more.

and when years ago by again, I think my perception was somewhat reinforced again, perhaps morphed by recent extraordinary events that occurred onto me. I think true love is not being able to picture your life without a person. Not being able to imagine for an instant you won't grow old together. To be with someone and feel complete, just because you're with them. To see their faults, acknowledge them, cherish them. To see them at their best, when they're at their worst. To know that whatever happens, whatever tomorrow will bring, if they're there, you can face it with them and do so gladly.

But it's more than that. In the physical sense it's valuing someone else's pleasure and happiness more than your own, it's striving to give them as much pleasure as they give you and then just that bit more... because it's them. It's being completely and totally happy even if it's just walking down the street or seeing the sun set at the horizon, together.

Dante and Beatrice, by Henry Holiday.

Then again, we might not be together, for now. "Does it really matter?", wondering myself, well, yes, longing alone again for a better future. But this is a matter of time again. What matters is that I care for her. Just for this notion alone, it will be part of the reason why she occupies her unique place in my heart.

"All my little plans and schemes,
lost like some forgotten dreams.
Seems that all I really was doing
was waitin' for you.

Just like little girls and boys,
playing with their little toys.
Seems like all we really were doing
was waitin' for love.

Don't need to be alone,
No need to be alone.

It's real love, it's real,
Yes it's real love, it's real.

From this moment on I know,
exactly where my life will go.
Seems that all I really was doing
was waitin' for love.

Don't need to be afraid,
No need to be afraid.

It's real love, it's real,
Yes it's real love, it's real.

Thought I'd been in love before,
but in my heart I wanted more.
Seems like all I really was doing
was waitin' for you.

Don't to be alone,
No need to be alone.

It's real love, yeah it's real,
It's real love, it's real!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Perhaps the saddest romantic scene in TV history

I rewatch this episode of Futurama, especially this scene, again and again, again and again and again...

One of the saddest, most heart wrenching "NNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" scene ever shown on TV. Only those who have been in Fry's shoes will understand. (Fry finally figured out how to express his feelings for his loved one only to have it all erased and went unnoticed when they solved the time problem.)

I was told that one will never feel the pain if he or she has never even started.

Know what? It's WRONG.

The pain and suffering are most unbearable when you were denied the chances to show her how much care and love you have for her. All the feelings go unnoticed. I don't guess anything I could do will ever make you feel the same way about me that I do about you... but I'm still hoping there will be chances.

Fry, and, all the lovers who are meant for each other: Please don't give up. If time could dissolve the feelings, why not giving a chance to let time to grow the love? The hardest love of all is the one we will cherish the most.

Source of sorrow: Futurama, season 3 episode 14, Time Keeps On Slippin'

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The KEY to HAPPINESS from a neuroscientist


-Results show that people who have everything they want and lose everything they don't want are NOT happier than anyone else

-Happiness is about the mental habits you practice from moment to moment.

Don't understand? Let me try to explain..

Some will already know that the brain works in a similar way to training your muscles. Just like how the more you train your biceps the stronger they become, the more you THINK about something the stronger that mental thought becomes, and it becomes easier to think about it.


Close your eyes and think about something you don't like about yourself.

Done? I bet you managed to bring the answer into your thoughts pretty quickly right? Thats because you've thought about this before. A LOT. You are GOOD at realising your flaws. People who are genuinely "happy" are GOOD at realising strengths.

Some people think about their flaws so much they start to see it in other people. You know the quote, "takes one to know one", the more you think about things that are wrong in your life, things that make you inadequate, the more you start to see it everywhere. It's because this part of the brain is the most active, and people like this are more often than not severely depressed. 

But if I asked you to think about someone who inspires you and you look up to, and the quality that this person possesses that makes you think this way, it will probably take you a little longer. Happiness is about controlling, cultivating and enhancing those thoughts.

Watch this video if you found this at all interesting:

It is important NOT to equate this with "The Secret" stuff. There's nothing remotely like "positive thinking gets you free things" in this entire YouTube. It is about how one can be happy.

"The secret" aka "law of positive attraction" is BS. Great example: Don't worry about your bills and make yourself sick. But don't just sit there visualizing how awesome it would be to have all your bills paid off, to me that's fucking stupid as it is self delusional.

She's talking about cultivating meditative states like the Brahmaviharas. Essentially loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. The idea is that they all work together and extend outwards uniformly and unconditionally (ie: we regard enemies the same as our friends or ourselves, etc). It's not 'positive thinking', because that implies a kind of compartmentalization or denial of the negative, and this is the total opposite. After all that would be the very antithesis of Equanimity. It's more about finding more natural joy where we can within life, making it more natural through practice, and producing more of it ourselves for the benefit of others, making these states more accessible and natural so we grow to embody these traits in our lives.

What the TED talk actually talked about was fairly uncontroversial, in my view.

Thinking in certain ways now will cultivate thinking patterns in the future. The brain works by building pathways when it first encounters an experience, and the next time it encounters a similar situation, it will tend to take the shortest route down those old pathways rather than create new ones.

If you are quick to anger today, you will be quicker to anger tomorrow.

If you are quick to forgive today, you will be quicker to forgive tomorrow.

If you are quick to recover your mood and stay happy, you will be quicker to recover your mood tomorrow.

"Contemplatives" are simply people who have tried to actually sit down and pay attention to the habits of their mind, so that they might clear away unhelpful habits, and cultivate helpful ones. There's no reason to flee if you hear their traditions brought up in order to figure out what might work in the modern world.

If someone had a compulsive need to get really angry at every little thing people do... wouldn't it be a good idea for them to go sit in peace for a little while and get their thinking straightened out as to why they keep doing this? It's only prudent. That's what a contemplative is doing.

What about the thing about "positive thinking"? I do think it's important but not that kind of "The Secret" hogwash. I have a different approach. To begin with, I may have no accomplishments to start with, but telling myself I'm a failure makes it harder for me to actually go out and achieve. I'm not talking about self-delusion like "I'm so fucking pro man." I'm thinking more along the lines of "I have potential, and if I work hard I can achieve what I want." Basically just ignore the "I SUCK I SUCK I SUCK" bit. Even if I didn't succeed in the first place, it tells me something honest about myself and requires me to realize that, "in the fist place", I sucked, I don't have yet the knowledge or the skill, a lot of times I don't even have the will. So I gotta suffer a little, even live unhappy a little, so I can learn something.

In addition, people can give up easily, including me sometimes, because of tired of the PAIN and SUFFERING... it sucks to hurt all the time and very hard to stop focusing on it because pain has a way of keeping my attention. So, in order to achieve, does that mean I should ignore and lock away the negatives in my life? No, I believe that we can slowly train ourselves to look for happiness from within instead of happiness from the material world or by people's expectation imposed onto us. Rather than repressing the negative we should learn to totally accept it and be at peace with it. It won't happen overnight that we can change the habits and our years of negative wiring. But it is possible, when we still have these little things called "hope" and "faith". These two hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Key notes:
- Assuming you suck makes it harder to try to not suck. (

- People who base their own self-worth on what others think and not on their value as human beings might pay a mental and physical price ( 

Results: Overall, students were found to have a high level of self-esteem. When students were asked about what they base their self-worth on, more than 80 percent said academic competence, 77 percent said their family's support, 66 percent said doing better than others, and 65 percent--70 percent of which were women--said their appearance.

College students who based their self-worth on academic performance did not receive higher grades despite being highly motivated and studying more hours each week than students who did not rate academic performance as important to their self-esteem, Crocker found. Students who based their self-worth on academic outcomes also were more likely to report conflicts with professors and greater stress.

It is important to know how you see yourself, rather than how would others see yourself. You are the mold of your life, shape it the way that will bring you happiness.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I have too many brain cells to kill with mind blowing thoughts.

Let's get nuanced up in this bitch. For example, I've always known that the human species has existed for around 180,000 years or something like that, or even if you cut it off when we could relate behaviorally, it's something like 45,000 years.

In any event, it blows my mind - even though I know I've always known this - that all of human history that we know of is basically recorded written wise within the past 6,000 years. 

There were at least some 39,000 years of relatable human history we have no clue about other than fossil records and some tools, and a whole 135,000 years where we've even more in the dark about the day to day lives of our ancestors. It blows my mind that the vast, vast majority of our time on this Earth was never recorded and thus we simply don't know about it. I don't know why it does, but it just does. And that's a small time scale. Thinking about time on the scale of the universe is even more mind blowing.

Think about it. How in the world did this first person learned how to start a fire? What was the motivation to start a fire? That crap takes time even if you know how to do it? 

And why in the world would they use fire to cook food? Why would they want to burn the food that was so hard to get? And how did all of them did it all over the world? Who was this smartest son of a gun?

But yeah, I love thinking about it. I know some people would go back in time and visit, like, Da Vinci or Jesus but I think I'd like a week observing our badass hunter/gatherer cousins in action.

As if my mind haven't got enough chill from it, let's do a mind travelling back to the beginning of Earth's formation:

Think of the time that spanned from the beginning of the universe, the first formation of molecules, the birth of stars and planets to the first life ever emerged in a habitable planet, it is so awe-inspiring to see that it took incomprehensibly long period of time leading to my birth! I was made of the star stuff that created the universe we've known yet I have no recollection of it. While I'm alive, I will be able to store memories and recall the past. I have a personality and a feeling of free will.

I will die at some point, and all of this will be gone. My body will stop functioning, and I as the world knows me will no longer exist. But the particles that make me what I am will continue on, and may even one day be part of a separate living thing. Parts of conscious organisms interconnected by time (eg. eat chicken, harvest protein and use in muscles) are used like passing a tool from an experienced mechanic to a novice, but between species.

Also, I believe there are billions of habitable planets in this universe, and of all these planets,  this is where us, the human life started here on this planet. It is the only place known in the universe to have written history. This is the place in which I was born, not any where else, this is where my parents met and conceived me, and where my grandparents met each other and my great grandparents before them, and all the history interconnected among them, the internet, airplanes, ships, smart phones. The entire world converged onto a singularity. We've made such huge strides in the last millenia or so years its absurd. I think my idol, Carl Sagan says it a lot better than me:

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

How lonely was the beam of light? But it was there, I met my special ones. 

And who knows that all of the chained events since the beginning of time would lead to the writing of this post. It's mind chilling to know that I've got the chance to live on this planet, a place at which I could achieve greatness, marvel at the beauty of the life, seeing how humanity progress and... to be together with the loved ones.

Again, in a pale blue dot suspended as a mote of dust in the vast space of the universe, have you ever wondered how you ended up meeting the people you've known? And of all the random events that had and will be unfolded, what are the odds that at some where and some time, past, present and future, you'd be reading this post, my thought? 

Signing out. Before my sleep, I love to watch these videos again to give me peace and astonishment:

We are star stuff, the ash of stellar alchemy

Star Stuff

We Are Here: The Pale Blue Dot

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Regrets Of The Dying

I haven't read such a good piece for awhile. Got me into some thinking. 

To quote:

"For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. 

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five: 

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. 

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. 

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle. 

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. 

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win. 

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. 

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships. 

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. 

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. 

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness."


My POV: 

I think it's a lot easier to say things like this on your deathbed when you've got nothing left to fear. But life is complicated - the guy who ignores his powerful dream to quit his rat race job and open up a surf shop, or the guy who never tells his best friend that he's really in love with her so as not to break up her relationship aren't necessarily sowing the seeds of regret, they're making sacrifices for others. 

I'm not saying it applies to everything but just as saying "I wish I'd lived up to my potential" is a nicer way of saying "I wish I'd worked harder," so too can "I wish I had let myself be happier" can be a nicer way of saying, "I wish I had been more selfish."

Also, my thought experiment: 

Will the people on the death bed, if given another chance to continue living, would make actual changes in their lives? Or would they only work nominally toward happiness, eventually finding their way back to their same disappointing way of living? 

Selfishly to say I would love to live on a tropical island and swim, fish, watch TV and party with hot bikini girls for the rest of my life, but that just isn't possible. I'm not terrible at writing, and I'd like to write a history book for kids but I know I can't because I look through the blog posts all over the internet and I realize just how awful I am compared to people who are anywhere near getting even considered for publication. 

The moments before your death are like the moments after your birth, you naively assume you could easily do things like "be happy" but then you realize that its a lot harder when life hits you in the face.

Things get in the way of doing all of those things, though, especially each other. 

What if "being happy" for you means working hard to help others or secure a financially stable future for yourself/your family?

What if "staying in touch with your friends" means sacrificing time with your immediate family?

What if "the life you want to live" means isolating yourself from others and remaining stationary?

I understand that things like this are meant to provoke people into trying to better their lives, but I always hated that they rarely acknowledge that such "wisdom" in life can only come from those who are facing the end of it: all of whom probably heard this same advice some time within their own life, and so on. Worrying about whether or not you're living the life you want all the time can actually get in the way of living the damn thing, and just cause more stress and anxiety that just changing your perception rather than specific aspects of your life as it is now.

Regrets I have a few. Really the only thing I would have changed is I would have become a History teacher as I always wanted to and I would have told the girl I had a crush the most that I really liked her... but I can't stay in one place, always got to move forward.

Lastly, for those who is in their deathbed, thinking of ending or having a miserable life, watch the youtube below, it's pretty famous so maybe anyone who's bothered to read this has seen it before. It is one of the most smile-worthy, uplifting affirmations of life there is from a person who himself was close to death (and, of course, who is now passed on). It's beautiful and moving and he's got such an amazing attitude that it might encourage you a little. In the end all we have is what we have done with the life we have been given. Don't beat yourself up if you didn't achieve all your goals.