October 2018.

2018-10-21 10.02.16

Somehow I am already living in November, October days way past. Everything mostly a blur; day and night bleeding into each other.

Perhaps plenty of thoughts find ways to enter my mind and miss the exits to leave. All the time taken up by tasks or just brain olympics. But I am grateful for the new revelations, questions and words that I somehow made time for. Be it through the transcribing work that I lose sleep over, the books I find myself reviewing or the research and interviews I conduct for work, they all give me new material and perspectives to ponder over.

It is such a privilege to keep practicing the need to stay open and to learn from all sorts of avenues I can get my hands on. And enjoy it.

So needless to say, October has been great to me. x

Lyrics to Certain Things by James Arthur and Chasing Grace looping in my head.

Poverty and inequality has been quite the topic in recent times. There are television programmes, newspaper articles and even sociology studies floating around the social media sphere with thousands of shares and opinions on the issues involved.

I think having read Professor Teo You Yenn’s book This Is What Inequality Looks Like has helped me gain the relevant vocabulary and find a way into thinking critically about this topic. The past month I found myself transcribing some videos on poverty and they made me think critically about the stereotypes/assumptions/misconceptions we readily dish out.

The book definitely opened up my mind about inequality and the whole concept of dignity needs.

If you are able, please read the book. The perspectives and situations detailed are necessary to think about – regardless of class.

Anyway, in the videos, the same reasons are raised over and over about needing these families or persons to prove themselves. The need to work hard, to prove that they are trying their best and for society to not spoil them or give them the chance to “wait for hand outs”.

It is strange that we assume the worst of these people and they constantly need to prove themselves to get a couple of hundred dollars each month. Why do we not give them the benefit of the doubt? I am sure most people are hardworking and are just unfortunate in their circumstances, instead of fitting the assumption that they are lazy or actively make lousy decisions.

(Come on, there are rotten eggs everywhere but there’s always more good eggs than bad. Right?)

I mean, every decision comes with risk. Just like how you award scholarships and then all these scholars appear on the papers for having child pornography for example. How do you justify all that money spent on the person’s education in that case?

It’s a risk. Everything is.

So why are we not rendering sufficient help in this aspect and taking the risk that is obviously worth taking for obvious change to be sparked?

Poverty should not always be assumed to be a punishment. Sometimes, it is just a crappy situation and help is really needed.

I am happy we are finally openly discussing and talking about this. I really am. Conversations are great starts to change – be it on the ground level up to getting policies to change. But we can’t just start conversations, we also need to keep them going. And I hope we don’t just talk about it either; actions do make better change than words do.

I am more than happy to carry on this conversation actually. This is a topic quite close to my heart and with more discussion points, the merrier.

Also from transcribing, I came into contact with another topic altogether. And that really made me ride out an emotional rollercoaster for two and a half days due to its tight deadline.

(Yes, I have come to enjoy transcribing while earning money from it because the topics are so random yet relevant at times. And while listening and typing out these various voices on a Google Document, I learn so much. One of the best jobs I have ever chosen to stick with, to be honest.)

This particular series got me thinking a lot about modern life and the way of living we have subjected ourselves to. Basically, whatever we deem as “basic” and “necessary” now are not really how it is supposed to be.

Our basic needs are air, water, food, human connection and the need for a purpose – whatever that is. But in some sense, one can view money, technology, fashion and all else we choose to prioritise and pursue as First World distractions.

Unnatural living.

There are individuals choosing to find their way back into nature. To connect with Mother Earth. To abandon their frivolous pursuits of money and power and search for an organic culture we are all born from.

And this kind of made me relook at the system that adopted me and the ways of living. I have always had a strained relationship with money and power in particular; they become so toxic so easily. But this has been interesting – to travel to the other extreme.

Be it by choice or through the force of nature.

Who are we then when we are stripped of material wealth? Who am I beyond these clothes I choose to spend on, the car I will never purchase and the obsessive habit of showering twice a day?

What does being only human mean and what is truly necessary to keep living?

And besides the recommended books I am waiting to be shipped in from Book Depository as well as the books I am to review (sitting on my desk patiently), I managed to read The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by the late Nina Riggs.

About her own journey with cancer, how a “small spot” turned terminal in a span of just a year. The procedures she had to go through, her emotions and her conversations with her family, friends and herself. Heavy topic and definitely not easy to even write about, Riggs managed to keep a light tone and pepper the book with humour here and there.

It never gets too gloomy, though it took me a really long time to finish the book. Even thinking about it now causes my eyes to tear, just a little bit.

I personally wonder about death a lot and what exactly is the value of a life – my life, in particular – and what it means to go “before your time”. Everyone dies, but at different times and places, but who is ever to know when it is “my time” to go or not?

Anyway, the book broke my heart in pieces but in that act of breaking, gave me clarity and a sense of resilience to carry on. For that, I am thankful for Riggs’ words and her generosity in baring her soul in words that will live on in her place.

But what’s most interesting, is reading an article written by her widowed husband – about finding love about a year after losing his wife of 17 years. My reaction was of shock, disbelief and that made known to me that I have some questioning to do. I was like: what? He is already with someone new? What of that relationship? Wouldn’t the grief last longer? Isn’t that fast? Do emotions evaporate so quickly? Oh my god, I cannot keep up. Hold on a minute!

Somehow I associate time so strongly with commitment and genuineness. Which is actually, extremely inaccurate and… disturbing. I think it says a lot about me and I am happy to be consciously aware now.

Time and commitment don’t have to go hand in hand. They are two separate things. Just like how I can stick to a programme or a person for years and half-ass it. That’s not commitment.

If you think that’s commitment… Well, You probably got to do some thinking too.

Also, moving on and forgetting don’t mean the same thing either. Sometimes we forget I guess. And I can speak for myself that I have moved on, but I don’t necessarily want to forget – there were golden moments that will always have a place in my heart, lessons learnt.

And with that, I can still make space to welcome new feelings.

Still learning, but I will get there.

Okay. Enough talking to myself and bringing myself back to these thoughts. Anyway, casual shout-out to all the amazing people I spent October with, and reminding me that I am entitled to happiness that I earn for myself. Love is to be given, as well as to be received.

And I have been receiving so much. All of you know who you are, making me smile and laugh endlessly, thank you.

Back to living in November. xx



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