Friday, January 26, 2007

The Soul of a Traveller

Tunner (Campbell Scott): We're probably the first tourists they've had since the war.

Kit Moresby (Debra Winger): Tunner, we're not tourists. We're travellers.

Tunner: Oh. What's the difference?

Port Moresby (John Malkovich): A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment they arrive, Tunner.

Kit Moresby: Whereas a traveller might not come back at all...

- The Sheltering Sky, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

We are all travellers, because there's no turning back in life. You only pass this way once. Every experience in life, no matter how small, changes you in subtle ways. If you are conscious of each momentary change, then you'll learn to distill the lesson behind every experience, behind every sight and sound.

We all experience life in different ways: Each one of us could be looking at the same painting, but our impressions will be very different. There's no experience that's common to all.

We could all be watching the same soccer match and supporting the same team, but the effect of the experience--be it the ecstasy of victory or the humiliation of defeat--produces different karmic consequences, different lessons, to each one of us.

If you have the mentalilty of a tourist, you'd treat each sight and sound like a photographic snapshot to be permanently stored in the storehouse of your memory, to be recalled and savoured again as and when you choose to.

But if you are a traveller, each experience is like a death and a rebirth. You are no longer a collector of memories; you are a soul in continuous transformation.

Your life at any moment in time is the sum total of all your past experiences. At any moment in time, you are a new person, reborn from the previous moment--the fulfilment of your past karma.

Sometimes, we mistakenly think that we are tourists: we meet a friend, go to a movie, enjoy a good meal and then go back to our regular lives. We will only bother to pause and reflect when we encounter an accident or something unexpected. And we call that a "life-changing" experience.

If we'd care to observe, every experience in life is a life-changing experience simply because we can never go back to the previous moment anymore. You are not the person you were when you first started reading this blog entry. If you have the soul of a traveller, you'll understand what I mean.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Life of Leisure

I've finally managed to complete my long overdued upgrade to the new Blogger template. When I first started blogging in 2003, Blogger didn't have a lot of the features which come standard with any blogsite today: things like comments, tags/labels and blog titles were not supported.

Only paying pro-Blogger users were allowed to upload pictures to their blogs. We had to integrate comment services and picture-hosting from other free service provider sites; blog entry titles had to be hardcoded in HTML. That is why you still see these ugly double titles appearing for all my old posts. And also, now that I'm using the Blogger commenting feature, all old comments are not displayed anymore.

Even though I have been blogging less and less frequently lately, I don't intend to stop doing so. I'll blog whenever I find those bits and pieces of time in between more "important" tasks. There are so many things vying for my time, but this year, I hope to allocate more time for leisure activities such as blogging.

Despite my hectic work schedule last year, I'm quite surprised that I still managed to read quite a number of books. Among the books that I thoroughly enjoyed last year were Chin Peng's autobiography, Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History; Marquez's Memories of my Melancholy Whore, Theroux's Hotel Honolulu plus all the 3 volumes of Ted Miles's diaries. In general however, I'd usually go for non-fiction, unless there's something interesting from Marquez, Kundera or Theroux.

One of my many eccentricities is a fondness for reading musical scores. Classical music is one of my major passions, and I find my enjoyment of the classics greatly enchance if I am able to read and listen to the music at the same time. Hence I also collect musical scores. Whenever I go to Borders, I'd try to check out their collection of music books. Among my most treasured possessions in my library now is a wonderful five-volume set containing the complete piano works of Beethoven, which I'd chanced upon in Jakarta.

The Internet is a great place to download sheet music and so many of them are available free. I also find musical notation visually and aesthetically pleasing--it's like calligraphy. (Calligraphy is also one of my many interests).

I must admit: I have way too many hobbies to pursue! That is why I am always reluctant to take up things like golf or diving--they are simply too time-consuming and not to mention, expensive. There are only so many hours in a day, and so many days in one's lifetime. I have no choice but to prioritize.

I've always believed in the healthy formula of 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work and 8 hours leisure in a day. If we manage our time well, we should have sufficient time to enjoy our favourite leisure activities, and also to blog about them too!