172: Little Things

It’s been a really difficult two months for me – from adapting to a new environment to realising I’m a different person, from settling admin stuff for my finances (yet to be fully settled) to settling my finances administratively because of a new liability. I thought I would be ready for school, but how wrong I was and three weeks in now I’m fearing for my projects and studies once again. I kept thinking of the little things that once gave me joy, and realised I have done every single bit over the past two months with little to no effect. Perhaps they make work for you, if you’re in desperate need of a little pick-me-up for your own reasons.

1) Food & Drinks

I love coke, for some reason, to the point I can taste the difference between coke and pepsi. Show me a bottle of vanilla coke and I’ll immediately buy it. Recently I was aghast when I couldn’t find any vanilla coke on the shelves in NTU’s Giant, and bought the remaining two bottles left when I found them hidden in the fridge. If I wanted something non-carbonated, Heaven & Earth’s Osmanthus Green Tea would be my choice. It’s really sweet, and I have quite a sweet tooth. I’m that guy who orders a 200% sugar level bubble tea, and declare anything less than a 100% as tasteless.

When things got too much to bear, I used to get myself two pints of BnJ (and finish them within a day). Friends would know pretty well that I love ice cream, and am one person who would order a tub/pint at ice cream parlours simply because – 1) I can finish it before it turns to slush. 2) It’s more cost-efficient. No really, as compared to the price of a cup of 2 scoops, it’s more than 5x the amount of ice cream for 2x the price! Lately, no amount of ice cream could make me feel better, and thankfully still, nor fatter.

2) Smoking

I spent so much time last year alone that I picked up smoking when I was alone late night. Maybe the money I’ve spent on cigarettes meant it would be a trade-off for one BnJ pint, but the things I’ve learned while smoking made me realise this is one thing I would not stop myself from doing. There’s little things you could do when alone in the middle of the night in random places outside. The light is too dim to read a book, the environment is too cold or humid to sit and stare blankly without feeling uncomfortable. Smoking keeps me preoccupied, and lets me simply sit at a place and enjoy the solitary moment I’m blessed with. It’s also a symbol for social bonding, I have yet to meet a smoker I can not talk with, and giving a cigarette to someone else is always a nice gesture to show your sign of appreciation. Yet, these days smoking has lost its meaning. I still feel frustrated after smoking and thankfully still understand that increasing my dosage would not help alleviate my mind in any further way.

3) Activities

I used to believe that activities would keep my mind pre-occupied so I wouldn’t think of what’s been troubling me. From playing soccer to clubbing to playing games, these were sources of escapism. They kept me occupied for that moment in time, and I could feel every emotion from joy to frustration. When I began to realise I no longer find games fun, the activities that once helped slowly lost its charm. I began to lose interest in clubbing; while I still do my part as a good wingman most nights, I can’t be bothered with picking up for the past few months and rather enjoy the music. Lately, I’ve lost the motivation I had in soccer, and my fear of injuries returned which severely inhibited my performance on the pitch. I didn’t have the passion I once had, no longer wanting to improve myself and seek to get into the NTU team as much as I did for SMU. I hope I get to find the fire in me again soon, doing things I like to do and improving myself at them.

4) Roaming

I used to run to tire myself out physically to the point of exhaustion, just so I can collapse and sleep and not think about things anymore. They used to work, until I get haunted by nightmares that got me waking up in the middle of the night. I began to roam nights and they were a source of inspiration for creativity, for poems, writing, photos and videos. I think the last straw came for me when I found myself roaming aimlessly to little effect and without a trigger for any form of inspiration. It was the past few nights that I found myself numb, indicating my fears of being unable to feel have come into play and I am very much in the process of it.

5) Hanging Out with Friends

One of the reasons why I went NTU is to have a holistic university experience, and a large part of this would be having a hall life. I only hung out with a few friends until late in SMU (I can count the times with fingers), and random hangouts are the main reason why I’m still very much bonded with my small group of secondary school friends. I used to like doing this, making an effort to go down to places for my friends, celebrating birthdays and what not. Regrettably, I began to change the way I see birthdays last year. It’s a shame, because friends I hold close may have the wrong perception if I do not wish them on their birthdays, or even make an effort to do something small for them. Only a few people know how highly I once regarded birthdays, and with mine approaching in a few weeks I find no difference than how I felt last year. Hanging out with friends no longer felt as fun as it once did, and sometimes meaningless.

 

I kept thinking of all the little things above that has helped me through, even if it’s just for a short while. I know escapism is only a short-term solution, and I guess I have escaped to the point I can’t find any satisfaction anymore as they lose their novelty. I find little to no joy in carrying them out these days, 

Something happened that led me to realise and accept that I can no longer afford to allow myself to feel another sense of loss and abandonment from a person. I do not want to go through another crippling and paralysing experience of losing someone I love. I find myself getting quite emotional when hearing stories about loss, or seeing someone experiencing it themselves. I understand that people come and go, though now I’m beginning to wonder why let those who’ll leave into your lives in the first place? You reveal yourself, only for them to be uncomfortable with who you are, try to change you, or even leave. I’ve had enough of having people I regard close leave when I need them the most, I actually feel I shouldn’t even tell anyone about my thoughts anymore. That these problems are mine alone to deal with, and nobody would be willing to get their hands dirty for another person when they could be happy without me in their lives.

I’m getting too comfortable being alone, to the point I rather distance myself from groups just to have my own space. I realised I can’t be bothered at not getting to be a group leader anymore after realising I probably wouldn’t fit in and no longer the same person, when I was so intent to be one in SMU camps. I think being marginalised for sports camp and the cancellation of NBS camp made me quite disillusioned once again. I suppose I have lost and wasted my energy over the year, I no longer feel as inspired as I was and now totally unmotivated. I used to enjoy communicating with people, especially random ones, but I just can’t be bothered now.

I feel loss has made me lose my faith, both in people and in love, and it’s a clear sign and indication that I should return to counselling. I thought going to NTU would give me the new start I had hoped for, but new revelations lately has caused a massive paradigm shift in the way I see things. Loss has turned me lost. I cannot afford to let myself fall this time, nor should I seek to escape. I’ll have to accept that I can’t do this alone as I thought, and I need help. My former counsellor told me that counselling was a space for me to express myself, simply because she felt I already knew what to do and was confident with my plans alone. Sadly, not this time. Yes, I am alone once again, but I’m clueless about my future and it certainly looks bleak at this point. I used to hold pride in my identity, in being different, in believing that someone out there would see value in me when few would. I kept telling myself I’ll find my way through, somehow, but not this time. I do not feel as alive as I should. I want to feel things again.

I do not know what I believe in anymore, not even in the little things that has helped me throughout. And I don’t think finding new little things to help me through would have the same effects it once did.

171: Stories

Stories – There for Tomorrow

The cold night wasn’t trouble enough for him
Another swallow never seemed like enough for him
They say the past is the past but it never treated me like this

He couldn’t ask for a better understanding of how
What goes around comes back around twice as fast
He’s got no hope for a cure so he’ll put himself to sleep, oh

She always hoped for him to take her word for word
Never knew what it felt like feeling this unsure
She’s got her eyes on the time
But there’s no use waiting there for him

But she’s not in the world alone
But she wanted to put herself to sleep

Now we just sit back, we sit back
While we watch all of them react

So tell me what to tell you when the world won’t listen
The start to the finish, come on and let me hear
You got to speak, oh, and use up all the time you’re given
It’s time to come on, go ahead and tell your story

 

“Remember, nobody knows who you were anymore. They only know who you are, they will only judge you based on who they see. They won’t see the Asyraf that was full of life, full of energy and ideas. They won’t see the Asyraf that was confident and willing to take on anything at all. Nobody would know this was a person who believed in love as strongly as I have ever seen, and one of the sweetest and strongest person I’ve known. Nobody would know you have been the constant among your friends, even when everyone else leaves, and believe that there’s good in everyone. Nobody knows, and honestly would care, what you have done or could do, and they’ll only notice what you do.

Instead, they’ll see someone relatively quiet, someone who’s disinterested in his studies, probably someone who’s lazy and unable to wake for morning lessons and just keeps complaining about it. They’ll see someone who can’t be bothered with anything at all and just wants to have fun. 

This is who they’ll see, because this is who I’m seeing now. I’m starting to feel you have lost faith in love, even if you insist otherwise. I miss you, the old you. I wanted to say the ‘real’ you, but I think you’re one of the most real person I’ve known.”

“I don’t think you’ll ever find yourself back, you yourself said your identity was way too integrated with hers. You’re a whole new person now and I think that fact is slowly sinking into you.”

 

Everyone has their own stories. It’s easy to forget how others I have known over the past few months may have changed from who they were. I do not know what happened in their lives that turned them into the way they are now, and neither do they know mine. I don’t think we all really bother anyway to be honest, everyone is just too caught up in their own lives, myself included.

I’m beginning to wonder if their stories would matter, people tend to want to move on from the past as fast and far as they can, rather than live with the pain that comes with the memories. Maybe stories are just meant to be nothing more than life lessons, and should never be kept close but sealed in a box.

170: Enough

I’m starting to feel that I can never be enough.

Enough for someone, enough for my family, enough for myself. That no matter what I do, nor how much I try to improve myself, I’m still insufficient in some ways. I tried to improve myself in everything I’m weak at – from soccer to getting myself to learn dance to taking up photography/videography to being a better person. I’m trying to be everything at once, as told by a message from a friend here, simply because I keep feeling insufficient.

Not being enough is one of the main reasons I was willing to let my relationship go, I felt I couldn’t provide as much as I would have liked. Despite all the ideas I had in my head, I didn’t have enough time nor money to carry them out. I felt I wasn’t enough for her as a person, and I have to learn to be independent without preventing myself from being dependent on a significant other when it matters. Coupled with her falling out of love with me over a matter of months, I can’t help to feel that my love wasn’t enough for her, and for us.

I’m overloading myself, naturally, to keep myself occupied here in NTU. Having nothing to do but study was what that killed me in SMU, the lull periods in between soccer and dance had me fighting ghosts of the past every night. From signing up for latin dance, to hall soccer and committee, I’m trying to balance that with my social life and it’s only a matter of time before I realised it’s impossible to balance everything at once. I have to choose, which means I have to sacrifice time improving myself in other areas.

Today it really drilled into me again how high my expectations are of myself, after a poor team performance with my Sunday team. I wanted to take a break, simply because I felt I haven’t been playing as well as I could. Yet, I was met with violent objections by my teammates, citing how ironic it sounds that I have been averaging a goal per game. I guess deep down I just want to find the spark to play even better to help the team, when in truth they would probably need me on the field more than off it.

I must admit that this desire to continuously improve myself just to get myself feeling sufficient and good enough for myself is to move on from my previous relationship, hoping if I’m ever blessed with someone again, she’ll feel that I’m enough for her and our future, while looking for the both of us to improve together. Maybe that day will never come, until I finally feel sufficient by myself.

I hope I can start feeling that I’m already enough, if for nobody else, at least for myself.

169: Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view

- Edgar Allan Poe

Everything happens for a reason.

That’s what I, and a hell lot of other people, tell me anyway. I thought I didn’t have to worry about much finances and other shit about coming to ntu. How wrong I was. I’m supposed to be concentrating on studies, enjoying hall life, making plenty of new friends. Instead, I’m still having to handle a hell lot of paperwork and admin stuff that needs my urgent attention as they involve my finances.

Who would have guessed coming to ntu meant my subsidy would get cut to 50% because my sister got married and doesn’t count into the family anymore, raising the per capita income? Who would have guessed that getting a bike would cost me so much maintenance so early on? Why is money such an issue?

It’s hard not to think about it, as much as you would like to enjoy life, it appears happiness comes at a price. Outings with friends and such involve money, and it’s rare to find people who could appreciate just hanging around and talking cock the night away just for the company that would greatly help.

There’s no way I want a repeat of what happened in SMU. There’s no way I want to live everyday being burdened by the sense of loss which has definitely changed, and is still changing, me as a person. I wanted to be a better person, but honestly now, I think I just want to be a person who feels he’s alive and happy.

It’s also natural for me to start wondering if leaving SMU was the right option. I had it so easy then, with no worries about my finances having a 100% subsidy approved. I thought I had everything settled when I came into NTU, but now I’m feeling as though I jumped out of the frying pan and into the oven. I have to apply for bursaries, supplementary assistance loans and everything just to help myself and not burden my family anymore. It’s a hell lot of paperwork requiring help from my family members and everyone that’s willing. School has started yet my mind is completely not focused at all as I scramble to get everything settled.

Recently I have realised that I’m probably traumatised by being abandoned by so many people over the years. Loss and abandonment has been a constant theme in my life, and I’m beginning to reluctantly accept this. While I acknowledge that people come and go, I had hoped my friends would be different. Yet, someday, we all have to leave one another and perhaps we are all truly alone. I’ve had a history of panic attacks and I definitely do not want another relapse.

I came to NTU seeking a place I could find solace and solitude to call mine. I am honestly tired of struggling through life, happiness is something I could only say I’ve genuinely experienced in my 3 years being in a relationship, yet it appears this perpetual struggle is very much a part of me that I should learn to live with. And because finding someone to share this struggle with is that much more difficult, (who would be willing to throw themselves into this mess anyway right?) this is a struggle I have to face alone, no matter how much people tell me otherwise.

 

168: Free Spirit

“‘You don’t understand, you fool,’ says Yegor, looking dreamily up at the sky.

‘You’ve never understood what kind of person I am, nor will you in a million years…
You just think I’m a mad person who has thrown his life away…

Once the free spirit has taken hold of a man,
there’s no way of getting it out of him.”

- Anton Chekhov
About Love and Other Stories

167: Trust Trees

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers.

I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let faith speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is.

That is home.
That is happiness.”

― Hermann Hesse

166: Cigarette

Light it up
Take a puff
Take it all in
The sights and the sounds
The chemicals and the substances

Feel the cool wind in your hair
Feel the cool wind in your lungs
Your senses are one.

Each breath
Heals you a little
Kills you a little

Late post, backdated 13 July 2014.

ICT is finally *over*! Maybe I’ll save that for another post.

Being in camp for 5 days among new people (youngest in the battalion hoo-ah!), I am thankful (what?) that I started smoking which allowed me to better bond with people from different platoons and batteries.  One night, after making a small private talk with a fellow officer, I began to think if I would have been as sociable and would have connected with more people had I not picked up smoking.

Of course, those who knew me before would have probably heard that smoking is the one that that I would never do. I was so against the idea of smoking, wonder why the hell would I pay to kill my health eventually? Only recently that I’ve realised you could say the same thing about many other things – drinking in particular. Or perhaps a lesser evil would be, happy to say, I am a whole new person now.

No matter how much the government or people try to dissuade you that you don’t need smoking to be sociable, I have to argue that they’re wrong from my experience. I have met awesome friends smoking, and am sure I’ll continue to meet more awesome people down the road. Of course, luckily I’m still very much in control and know I need to balance this out by keeping my fitness and hygiene up.

Also, smoking is the one thing an individual could do while alone, anywhere (for Singapore i.e. outdoors). Nights out alone indoors is simple, usually it’s lighted and a book, handphone or a laptop would be the best company one could have while sitting down alone. However, once outside, say spending a late night at the beach or park, it’s too uncomfortable for you to watch a movie by yourself, nor would it be viable to read a book using whatever street lamps there are. Smoking allows you to literally do nothing and take everything in, feeling quite at peace with that solitary moment.

Though I would attempt to stop smoking, until I attain inner peace with myself, a cigarette would always be a friend there to rely on whenever needed, especially during lonely nights outside alone.

“I thought you were social?”
“Yeah, but I quit.”
[confused look as I'm taking a puff]
“Quit social.”

164: Why Must We (re)Serve

Being back here immediately reminded me of her. From the relief of entering artillery that meant I probably had more time with her , to that fateful night when she left me a message of “what if I don’t want us together anymore?” that led to a series of extremely unfortunate events, to even more joy that I was posted to fa which ensured an extra Friday night and Saturday mornings to spend with her. And of course, that numbness I felt upon returning from Thailand and subsequently genting.

I still wake up at 4 am in camp, just like how I always did during my last few months in cadet course at Khatib. Worse, I woke up to a torrential downpour yesterday very much reminiscent of scorpion king. Naturally, I started visualising how I kept our photo in my helmet, taking it out and putting it by my side for inspiration, a miserable layer of talc protecting our faces from the mud, sand, rain and tears. Each time that I was tired, all I had to do to find motivation was to look at how happy we were, and how proud she was of me, giving me that little boost of energy for another 10 – 15 minutes of digging. Many times I took our photo out from my helmet, wiped the endless speckles of rain off it, just to get a glimpse of us to make myself smile. As I’m typing this now, I was endlessly thankful that no matter how tired I am then, I always had someone to look forward to contacting at the end of the day (or rather, night) and make myself feel the shit I gone through was that much more meaningful. Now, I rush back to bunk to nothing but csi mobile game, not sure who would appreciate me talking to them in the middle of the night nor entertain me during these trying times. If I was unsure whether I missed her, I am now.

Ict is a shock, it’s not slack at all for officers, but at least we are all going through it together. Despite being new to this unit, I’m lucky to have awesome specs helping me with other fellow officers. It’s the unit life that I never gotten, being relatively more independent during my service as an officer. Thankfully, I’ve yet to fuck up badly but things would only get harder with each year’s ict, and especially during the high key Ops.

Only a few days to go, before three more camps in ntu!

“Everytime it rains, you would think of her”
– Neil Gaiman

163: Begin

july2014

 

My schedule for July 2014:

7 – 12: 295SA ICT2
14 – 18: NBS Camp
21 – 27: NTU Sports Camp
28 – 2: Hall 13 Camp 

I totally signed up for this.

Yet, all I keep thinking about is…

HOW MANY EXTRA UNDERWEAR DO I NEED TO BUY?!

#whymustreserve #becauseweloveourland #ntuloh

“It makes me so happy.  To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…
A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs.
It’s the best possible time of being alive,

when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.” 

Arcadia
Tom Stoppard