April 6th, 2014

A shoot in a bar today. I mean, people died here, but that’s not ‘cos of the shooting, that’s the… hey look, parquet!

March 21st, 2014

Can a writer learn style?

No, I don’t think that style is consciously arrived at, any more than one arrives at the color of one’s eyes. After all, your style is you. At the end the personality of a writer has so much to do with the work. The personality has to be humanly there. Personality is a debased word, I know, but it’s what I mean. The writer’s individual humanity, his word or gesture toward the world, has to appear almost like a character that makes contact with the reader. If the personality is vague or confused or merely literary, ça ne va pas.

March 10th, 2014

It’s like I’ve stumbled upon the Greenwich Village of Singapore.

March 10th, 2014

As we try to make sense of flight MH370 and our response to it, one word seems to be bandied around quite a bit right now. That word is ‘empathy’. As in, we need empathy during this trying time. Quite literally, the word in its original Greek form means ‘to feel within’. It’s very similar to the word ‘emotion’, which literally means ‘to have motion within’.

We do need empathy during this time. To let someone, or a situation, touch us in our inner core so much that it moves us to feel something inside. The reason some don’t appear to have ‘empathy’ isn’t because they have no emotions. It’s because we live in a world that doesn’t allow us to empathise freely. Emotion is disruptive. So to allow our emotions to well up from within during this time is a great thing, if for no other reason than because we often condemn it instead of letting it move freely in our inner world.

But there’s another word that’s just as important, if not more, during this time. That word is ‘sympathy’. It literally means ‘to feel together’. And if empathy is rare, sympathy would be like spotting a rainbow after the rain. It’s horribly rare and, we all know, it’s horribly difficult. How often do we come together and be so vulnerable to each other as human beings, as a community, that we actually feel something as a collective whole, and not condemn it? Not often. Not with all our differences, all our opinions, all our grasping of the sands as we try to make sense of things that often make so little sense at all.

That is why prayer is useful during this time. Prayer isn’t some fairy dust we are sprinkling to make magic out of an end result. Prayer is us as humans taking what’s inside - our fears, grief, confusion, anger - and learning to hold it out in hope, together. And God knows we need more things that bring us together as Malaysians, not tear us apart.

So, with no specific answer to give, I can only offer this prayer: that we would learn to have sympathy. That we, as humans, as friends and strangers, just come together and learn how to… feel. It’s not a pretty sight. We all have different empathies, and it’s not something we’re used to. But if we can learn to feel, together? That could be the most powerful thing we can do, collectively, as a human race.


March 6th, 2014

Had a great opportunity to attend The Human Library, where you meet new ‘human books’ and their side of life. Today included a former death row prisoner. All our paths are so unique, so imperfect, so ordained.

February 23rd, 2014

The National! Ears are a’poppin’, senses are a’ringin. (at Fort Canning Park)

February 20th, 2014

the distance between your heart and mine

the distance between
your heart and mine
is measured in the dark.

you avoid the sun
and hide under
the shadow of my arm.

our heads collide
at midnight
like two asteroids

at the impact
of unspoken words.

you turn the page
of a new day
in shades of orange.

you point the finger
because you wish
i would touch yours back.

your iris i see
black and hollow
but holy as hope.

i cup my hands
under the sky.
just the breeze fondling.

i live on
a line of bread crumbs.
and it’s enough.

it’s all enough.

February 10th, 2014

anatomy of the Malaysian flag

The flagmaker had plans today,
the threads and colours she shared.
To mix and match in glorious art
to make the flag that cared.

The thread of white, the call of hope
ran ‘cross the bow and sand.
The blue for sea, the unity
who stand inside this land.

The star that lights our universe
shall call for us to look.
The crescent of our honoured god
regardless of the book.

And red, red, the might of kids
in suffering we’ll fight,
to guard the tears of strangers near
with souls, our strength, all night.

No matter what the flag will pass
through wars, through rain and fire,
in tatters or in lonely strife,
in straits cold or dire.

The flag is not for us to pull
to tear, to claim, to own.
It is for us to share, to hold
in walking to and fro.

So when we find each other scarred
by troubles come our way,
the flag won’t rip, it’ll be as one
fiercely, til today.

February 10th, 2014
The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Circles" in Essays and English Traits (Harvard Classics, 1909-14, essay originally published in 1841)

(Source: invisiblestories)

Reblogged from A Poet Reflects