Late night musings

There is a quote from the documentary The Minimalists, it goes: "Love people and use things. The opposite never works." From my personal life and observations at large, however, I do believe the world these days runs on exactly that – Love things and use people. It cannot help itself, it is saturated with capitalist considerations, consumerism and conceit. It cannot turn back, like its unceasing overuse of plastic.
And I was an optimist once, foolish me.

I believe the only thing people can do – those who still harbour some faith and glow – is to be extremely aware and reflective of the people, things and thoughts you choose to let into your life.

You will think unkind, ungenerous thoughts sometimes, but you are only human. Process these thoughts fairly.

You will obtain some things you will regret. It is okay, try better next time. You can only beat yourself about it so much.

Know that some people will use you, but they cannot help themselves, and sometimes you cannot help but let them. It is inescapable. This is life.

Love people and use things. I suppose it is still a worthwhile mantra to consider, despite all said and done.

In the still of the night 

I miss the night. I miss its long, quiet companionship. Sometimes I brave the tiredness I know will come, just to feel enveloped in it again. These days I sometimes weep in the darkness, an old friend that has witnessed all manner of emotions my whole life. Am I talking to God? Or just thinking with the night? Sometimes it feels one and the same. 

Little tornado wakes up at 6am. As someone who has always been writing and searching thoughts and meaning when everyone else is asleep, this means these days I have to force myself to sleep at a certain time. I do so reluctantly each time. But there are days when I linger around the stillness as the two boys in my life dream away, and I keep myself awake just because it is simply what I have always done. 

I feel guilty about weeping. I feel as though my sadness sometimes stems from a place of privileged choice, and I have no right to feel sad. I feel guilty about feeling isolated sometimes, even though I know I am loved and nurtured by so many. I feel guilty about missing my home so badly, when I am setting up a home here that I feel passionately about. I feel weak despite knowing I have the strength to feel totally fine again the next morning, with new zest and verve for life. I weep about being a woman, and then guilty about doing so – that I want this life, that I want to be a mom, and therefore I know I have to go through all this. I weep about knowing that I vowed to make myself happy and not be dependent on my husband for my happiness, yet because I am a mother I do need him in this partnership. And so I am dependent on him. That as I feel another baby growing within me I am growing more limitations to my efforts and dreams. And then I feel guilty for thinking all this, for I know how lucky I am to be able to have these children, and how grateful I am to be able to live in the comfort of choice and warmth and love. I feel guilty for not being able to do the usual things that made me strong and happy, because … Am I not a lion? Do I not roar? Am I less than the other mothers who have done this their whole lives, from time immemorial? It is as though I fight these thoughts in the day, scoffing at my own doubts and fears, and in the sweet comforts of the night, I lay down my arms and fight no longer. 

I weep into the night. There is a strange sound in dead of the night – it sounds like silence, but it also reverberates within my ears. Imaginary crickets, like the phantom cries I sometimes think my son makes. I am unsure if this is my memory of the night or of youth, but it gives me a sense of peace. That in all its stillness and quiet, the night is talking back to me. Softly. I’m here. I’m listening. Be free.

As a child I remembered crying in the night once in a while too. I do not remember why. I do not remember being an intense child, but as I read my diary entries from when I was nine years old, it is clear that I have always needed some form of release. As a teenager I remember the sleepless nights, those bouts of insomnia which could also turn night into foe. There were times I tried desperately to be a morning lark, convinced that this would deliver more promise and efficiency. One night, failure to sleep despite my exhaustion meant I kept shaking my head from left to right, in a bid to tire myself out to sleep. When I failed to sleep after that, I would cry desperate tears. Sometimes, crying definitely worked and I would drift into blissful nothingness. 
These days the weeping sometimes comes on undramatically. Like an afterthought, or a reflexive yawn. Sometimes they come in waves, just switched on by a thought. Sometimes I blame the hormones, out of tiredness, out of laziness. It is easy to blame biology when your mind feels heavy with thoughts wrapped with lethargy. Sometimes I don’t know why I fucking weep. I lead a comfortable life and I have no right to these tears. People who have suffered more have shed far less or none at all. They thrive and persevere. I try to comfort myself by justifying – I do really try to thrive and persevere myself. I do all I can to keep myself busy and active and present. I know that the responsibility for my life and joys are mine alone. And yet, in the companionship of the dark, the tears come out to play. They come out to worry no one in the light, they come out to enjoy the safety and tenderness of the night.  

Fond Travel Memories

Those who have been to our home know about the seemingly random photograph of a man on a horse displayed on our wall. I had such a laugh when I first saw it because it is a little jarring in the midst of all our other personal photographs. I had come back from Malaysia and he had put some framed photos up. I was like WTF is this guy doing on our walls??! My husband argued that he really liked the photo and it reminded him of such a nice day in Argentina!

I must admit that I love that photograph, and today especially so, when we caught this very gaucho on British TV this afternoon! I really squealed when I saw him and other gauchos we spent time with on TV, it truly was such a joy. Ann was packing in the next room and I actually asked her to come out and look at ‘our’ gaucho. (A gaucho is an Argentinian ‘cowboy’, or horse whisperer, which may be an oversimplification really)

That day we spent on that estancia, or ranch, was the most relaxing day we had in Argentina. It was the beautiful outdoors, la pampas. We chatted with locals. We had the best food and we rode horses, and I played with dogs … it was truly a wonderful day. I have only ever written one proper travel review in my life, unprompted, and it was for this estancia – Camino Pampa – on Tripadvisor. We have since recommended it to other friends who may be going to Argentina.

There he is on the right!

Sorry about my foot, haha. But there he is again!

So yeah, a post that has nothing to do with decluttering or non-consumption. It just made us really happy today remembering that day. Reminded us that this is the kind of travel we like, when we interact with locals. But hey, actually, perhaps it also is about the home – we have something on our wall that truly sparks joy. So this is what it means. When we see it, when we explain it, when we even think about it. It’s just good vibes. And I guess that’s just a lovely thing to have in our home. Thank you for putting this photograph up, Anh, that was a good call ūüėČ

x

People Around You

Maybe it’s because I’ve been happy with the company of my best friend, Ann, who is now here in London. I love having her around! Maybe it’s because¬†Valentine’s Day has just passed, and even though we do not celebrate it, I have been reflective about my husband and child. Just grateful for how we are and what we have. Maybe it’s because Chinese New Year is now over, and so are our planned hosting or celebrations in the house. I’m feeling zen and much more relaxed about life in general here in London.

I don’t know if if my de-cluttering goals have helped with that. For I have also taken steps to add elements of ‘spark joy’ in my relationships.

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Pix by Ann. A lovely day out chatting with your sister from another mother is just the best.

I told Ann about some steps I had taken this year about who I had been hanging out with too, or allowing into my space and frame of mind.

It is a little tricky in London, for it is not my ‘hood’ yet, even though I have been living here on and off for 10 years now. In Malaysia, I must admit I am flush with choices. So many wonderful people I love are there, and there are so many interesting people I can meet or do projects with. I’m not saying there are no such people in London – obviously there are! – but I do not have the same roots or networks yet. And these past few years have been a bit mad for me – new country, new career, new home, new baby. It’s not going to get any less mad. I wish I could drink my brains out ¬†I knew I needed to find other ways to keep sane and happy, so I am doing things this year to keep everything together.

On the relationships and friendships side of things, these are some things that have happened:

  • Not only removed crap and added things that ‘sparked joy’ in my house. This needed to apply to who I hung out with or allowed in my ear/head. After learning about a friend¬†who was ever ready to¬†gossip about me (dude,¬†are we still in college?), I came to the conclusion that I just needed to change the nature of the relationship – bam, you are now an acquaintance. No drama needed. But one needs to actually remove them from your ear or head – it makes no sense if you are hearing from them every day (whether online, on feeds, in chat groups), when you wouldn’t want to actually spend time with them on a daily basis anyway. That just sparks¬†yuck.¬†Their¬†feeds make you feel¬†gross or¬†negative? You¬†want to curse or barf when they say certain things? ¬†Unfollow the feeds. Remove yourself. Un-attach.¬†It’s early days but it’s been so important and good for me.

 

  • They say ‚ÄėYou are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ While I may not necessarily agree with that to a T, I agree with the concept. Obviously I am so far away from my most loved. But I still try to make sure they are in my life as much as possible – I chat with them, write to them, think about them. I want to make more effort with people I really love, respect or am curious about. I am also taking steps to get more involved within my immediate community, and do things I used to do in Malaysia. It will take time and effort, but these are quality ways to spend my time.

 

  • I think I have rebooted some anxiety re my feelings about feelings. Haha. Don’t worry about feeling uncool or affected¬†about relationships and friendships. Over the past few years I have realised the coolest, most macho, most zen people have more than their fair share of issues to do with relationships. You think boys and men don’t have these dramas or issues – I can assure you that is absolutely wrong, they just deal with it a bit differently. The coolest cats also have issues, sometimes relationship drama you wouldn’t even be able to imagine. I’ve seen that a lot of dysfunction comes from people who have trouble expressing or speaking about issues, and a lot more people get hurt along the way sometimes. This year I have decided I will write about it all, because I think I have finally accepted that this is who I am. What can I say? I am an overthinking and over-feeling little shit. And I shall embrace this insanity – bring it!

 

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When you don’t buy crap, you can treat your friends to a real special birthday lunch at Duck & Waffle!¬†

 

  • I have said sorry or tried to make amends with friends where an apology or discussion is necessary. I think all of us have that – a past encounter or issue you have felt bad or uncomfortable about in hindsight. I have done that when I was younger, but it takes a certain strength to do it now the older you get. Perhaps the ego or comfort zone (‘just leave it’) gets in the way some times. I do it when I sincerely feel I was being an ass, and I really want the person to hear my apology. Whether the person forgives me or not is totally not up to me, and they have every right to feel the way they do.¬†That’s not up to me.

 

Well that’s mostly it. So yes, I have decluttered my home, and I have kind of ‘decluttered’ some relationships. I suppose it is apparent in the word ‘clutter’ – it is a mess, you don’t know what is there, really. You feel torn about things and you know you could be happier. It can feel so fucked up.

So now I feel better. Will it stay this way? Who knows?

x