Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Different Kind of Writing

This blog is almost 14 years old. Last night I stayed up late reading some of the old entries that I wrote when I was living in Indonesia. I have to admit that I kind of enjoyed reading them. It is quite interesting to see how much my thoughts and my life have evolved over this period of time.

During that time, I blogged daily, mostly from the cybercafe. All entries were written within 1 hour--the block of access time that I usually paid for. It was a simple, carefree and happy life. I'd loved the freedom of living alone and the daily discoveries of life in a foreign land.

Fast-forward to today. I have not set food in Indonesia for perhaps 8 years. I have kind of lost a bit of my wanderlust. Which probably explains my hiatus in blogging. For the past 2 years, the only travel out of the country that I made were business trips to Bangladesh, of all places. Life has been very different for me.

I'm glad that I have this blog as a depository of my personal ideas and experiences. Rereading some of my old blog entries inspires me to continue writing. To be writing consistently, the activity has to be woven into one's daily routine. I had one in Indonesia because my life was very well-regulated then. I was living alone in a hotel room and life was simple. I had likened it to living in a monk's cell. I was like a monk, spending my days in study, observation and deep contemplation of life.

I've come to believe over the years that one should always tackle life head-on. To face whatever challenges that one is presented with strength and fortitude. All of life's experiences are, to use Ram Dass's words, "grist for the mill". We experience what we experience because of the way we see the world and the way we respond to our experiences. Every experience is in a sense perfect.

I've always enjoyed writing. It is the best way to know oneself. I called it "writhink". I still keep a longhand journal, even though the entries are sparser than what they used to be. I've never been overly attached to periods of happiness nor be troubled too much the occasional sadness. Equanimity has always been my attitude towards life. I enjoy all the good things in life and I've also come to realize that one doesn't need a lot of money to enjoy life. Most of the good things in life are actually simple and cheap.

An old university classmate I met recently asked me whether I still write. He is not aware of my blog but he remembered that I used write short-stories and had even won a writing prize before. I jokingly told him that I write code mostly nowadays because it is a much more profitable enterprise.

Which is actually not far from the truth. Over the past decade I've been writing a lot of software. It is different from what I used to do in Singapore and Indonesia, which was mainly technical selling and consulting. I was never a software developer, even though I had a good conceptual grasp of software technologies. But since I returned to Malaysia, I have been writing software. I suppose it is another form of "writing". I type instructions, constructing elaborate logical structures to achieve certain applications and effects. There's artistry and skill involved.

To write--be it a grammatical sentence or a line of computer code--is to make things happen. The software I wrote certainly did make things happen, albeit in an understated way. Even though it didn't make me a fortune, it did support me over all these years. And they were difficult years indeed when I had to divide my time between work and caring for my Parkinson-stricken dad.

This year marks a slightly different chapter in my life. Perhaps I'll write more frequently on this blog. Perhaps not. Whatever it is, I will be writing. For to write is to live. I've also been toying with the idea of writing in a different language--and I'm not talking about a different programming language. :-) The thought is intriguing indeed. At the meantime, whether it is code or text, I will certainly continue reading, writing, and thinking. And the thought of being able to continue doing these things makes me, momentarily at least, happy.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lunar Rhythms of the Cosmic Fugue

I was drinking last night with some old friends at a pub in Damansara Jaya. We've always had an affection for that area because we all used to work there. I also lived there a many years as a student and when I was working in KL. The newly rebuilt Atria Mall is a grand remake of the previous one which used to house a Parkson Supermarket and some small boutique stalls.

As we all grow older we see things in a different perspective. Once we were all young, ambitious and eager for adventure. Now we've all mellowed and are appreciative of a peaceful and stable life. We tend to have less illusions.

Today is Chinese New Year's eve. The usual barrage of fireworks and firecrackers is starting to fill the night air. I can see gratitude in the faces of my old friends last night--mostly for being reasonably healthy and still able to catch up with old friends on festive occasions. We talk about some of our less fortunate acquaintances who had succumbed to cancer, stroke, heart attack or accidents. We all wake up in the morning with a great sense of gratitude.

The more philosophical among us would come to see that life is transient. We are but momentary wavelets rising and falling on the surface of a restless ocean of which the universe is. The universe comes alive through us, to experience itself--like awakening from a dream--only to fall back into the void of sleep before rising again in another form. Each life is a momentary flowering of consciousness. A spark of the divine fire.

On Chinese New Year, we cherish the ties of friendship and kinship and at least once a year, we renew these bonds and reaffirm each other of our faith keeping the divine spark within ourselves alive. Our flames get rekindled slightly, recharged by the warmth of each other's glow.

And that's how we carry on: dwindling fires, needing that occasional boost of air to reignite ourselves. It is the cycle of time that makes us realize life's faith and futility. A new generation would rise up and dares to dream bigger than us. They too shall soar and reach for their visionary peaks. Some shall grasp them momentarily and bask in their splendour. It is the birthright of every generation to conquer, as is the deathright of every waning soul to philosophize.

And on the cusp of another lunar new year, we wish each other well for our journey ahead: some waxing and some waning, like the interminable moon, like the eternal dance of existence itself, each but a single tenuous strand of notes within that larger tapestry of the cosmic fugue.