Awe has been the response. “Wow!” = (bombastic) (pretentious) (high level) (weird)
Spirit. It’s something that we rarely talk about or acknowledge. Heck, some don’t believe in such mumbo-jumbo. It kinda has the same ring as Magic.
I believe we all have a Spirit. It’s what makes us who we truly are. Sure the brain might have got something to do with our character. But the Spirit is what differentiates between identical twins, for example. While it may seem that our Spirit has been set, I think it changes as we grow. It absorbs the things we see, hear, feel and experience and becomes a recipe of one’s essence.
That being said, the Spirit is not always basking in sunshine; it is sometimes clouded by darkness. Whilst I may portray myself as a happy-go-lucky, smile-a-lot person, I am not always so. It is easier to show the good or happy side of oneself rather than the other. Due to the circumstances of my life, it seems that I have no choice but to show the other side(s) too. Otherwise, I might explode.
Indeed, my Spirit is quite dark at the present. This is not unusual, as I have felt this before. At least, compared to before, I now know the symptom, cause and solution. However, I have yet to gather the recipes to resolve this situation. All in good time, I suppose. But for now, I just want to warn you that there may be more negative thoughts here. Do not worry though, I am not suicidal. I promise.
It is just that I need an outlet to get rid of these nasty thoughts and emotions, and to be sure that at least one person may read. That is until there is a person who would care enough to truly listen regularly so that I do not have to express it here.
Since I am physically fine, I think this is surely a mental health problem. What is it exactly I do not know. But it is something that has been coming and going for some years now. I will seek professional help if it is truly unbearable because really all I need is (real life) constant support and companion. It’s not that complicated.
In the meantime, I shall figure this out on my own as I usually do and perhaps expect a burst of creativity, as these times usually invoke.
I feel the need to apologise to you—but really mostly to myself—for neglecting this blog for a couple of months. I have denied myself the pleasures of writing and sharing wonderful experiences and peculiar thoughts. I could say I was busy with work, which is rather demanding. But it could also be that writing had not been my priority. Indeed, my priorities had shifted.
Before graduating from university, I was quite adamant on avoiding the usual 9-5 job. I wasn’t blind to reality either and so I knew that perhaps such a job is inevitable for me. This is because I have been brought up in a system that leads a person towards that kind of situation. You go to school, you’re taught certain things and not others, the school produces quality products (students) that go on to further refinement (study), narrowing down the scope of skill (subject) to one or two, and then with that one or two field of knowledge, the individual is given a job that takes most of one’s time to produce something that only helps the economy.
I may be generalising too much but I’d say it’s the norm. That’s all the government or companies care about. They don’t care about one’s well-being. They don’t care about one’s health. If they did, they would’ve banned McDonald’s, KFC and the likes. They would’ve advocated for a plant-based diet. They don’t care about your mental health. If they did, they would allow employees to work at any time that they want as long as they meet the number of hours and the important meetings. We know that some people may be more nocturnal and some work best at dawn. And yet, we have been made to be like machines, not humans.
Being aware of this messed up or robotic system that’s been going on for centuries doesn’t make things any easier. It has just become a constant itch whenever I divert from my newly-adopted values. And indeed some of my actions have not been aligned with my values, sadly.
When I graduated, I thought that at least I could work in a company that allows flexible working hours. I wasn’t entrepreneurial enough to start a business nor was I smart enough to be a freelancer. And so I had little choice but to work for a company, which is actually not a bad thing per se. The key is to find a company that shares similar values to you and what you want to achieve. If you have no idea about either one of those, then you need some soul-searching to do, my friend.
Anyway, long story short, I found a company–Mindvalley–that creates online educational content pertaining to topics such as yoga, meditation and self-improvement. Sounds like my cup of tea! I applied and got interviewed at the HQ in Kuala Lumpur. However, I didn’t get through after the interview. Perhaps I’ll tell more about this experience on another post but basically, I didn’t feel the vibe that they seem to portray online and that perhaps I wasn’t enthusiastic or experienced enough.
Some weeks later, I found a company that deals with the environment and I applied, went for the interview and got offered a job as a trainee consultant. It’s strictly 9-6 (or longer) and I got given my own desk and chair. Sometimes, I would go on site visits, which would provide me with fresh air. But those visits are not frequent and only when needed. Otherwise, I would go to meet people in other buildings to get certain information from. That’s what basically a consultant does–80% at their desk writing reports and 10% meeting clients or going for site visits.
It’s not too bad actually. Considering it’s a small, private company I’d say it’s much more relaxed than a large, corporate company, I think. The office is about half an hour drive from home with traffic (15-20 minutes without). And the people are generally nice. Some would say I’m quite lucky to have secured a job here.
As work gets busier, the time for my “hobbies” or “other interests” gets reduced. I could no longer read for hours on end and I could not focus on blogging. Doing more work after work is nearly impossible, as I get sleepy by ten. Weekends are for spending time with family and friends or catching up on sleep/movies/TV shows etc. So, I hardly have any time for writing or even video editing. Ah, how I wish I was a vampire!
But then again, I still have the time to exercise, meet people, go out to eat, shopping, hiking and holidaying… so why can’t I make time for writing?
No motivation. No creative juice flowing. No inspiration. No mood.
Meaning, EXCUSES EXCUSES EXCUSES!
I guess this is a signal to sit down for an hour or two and re-evaluate my priorities, my needs and my wants.
Sorry if there is not much point in this post but I suppose this is just an explanation for the lack of posts on this blog. I can’t promise a more regular posting schedule until I’ve got my shit together and really make this a priority and know exactly what I would like to write about. In any case, thanks for sticking by if you’ve been doing so. And if you’re new here, apologies for the rather sombre tone of this post but I can promise you a better topic next time and that I won’t stop writing!
The 9th of June every year has always coincided with some holiday or another. The past three birthdays were spent in the UK as I was studying there, and I always did something or other. The first year in 2013 on my 20th birthday, I went punting on the River Wear with my corridor mate, Eiffel. It was a brilliant sunny day and I had a good laugh at Eiffel not being able to punt very well. We then walked around Durham and had a nice meal.
On my 21st birthday, I took an hour train ride to the medieval city of York and spent time with my bestie, Aliyyah. It was another beautiful sunny birthday! We went to a chocolate factory and learnt about Rowntree’s history whilst nibbling on free samples. I got excited when I walked through The Shambles a.k.a. Diagon Alley, hoping Hagrid would appear. He didn’t, but it felt magical nonetheless.
A day after my final exam ended in my final year, I hopped on a plane to Munich. There I joined my other bestie, Dinie, and her brother. A week of travelling in Europe! On the 9th, which was the third (or was it fourth?) day of Ramadan, we were in Rome. We took in the sights and sounds but had to resist the taste of pizza and 90 cents coffee. It was the best birthday yet.
This year, I’m in Malaysia. The 9th of June fell on a Friday, a working day, but I had decided to take the day off because no hell way was I going to get stuck in the office the whole day. So, I spent the day basically at home relaxing. Quite a contrast compared to previous years but I think wouldn’t have it any other way. It had been a long time since I was at home for my birthday so it was a good change.
I spent the morning watering the plants and absorbing the vitamin D. The afternoon was spent editing videos, watching YouTube videos, editing and posting photos on Instagram, replying thank yous to people who sent me birthday wishes, keeping tabs on the UK snap election, and rolling on my bed. A pretty chilled birthday.
For dinner, my mum, brother and I went to BMS Organic, which is an organic vegetarian restaurant. I brought along my cake that I had ordered. It was a raw vegan cheesecake by Aesthetic Eats. I loved every bit of it and I was amazed by how it was absolutely raw! I was also given another cake — a vegan chocolate cake — by a colleague at work. That was a total surprise but a much appreciated one.
We then went to watch a movie, The Mummy, because my mum loves Tom Cruise. I think it wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t very great either. I liked the message of sacrificing oneself for the one you love, albeit a bit cliché. All in all, I was glad to spend time with my mum and brother (and my gorgeous plants). I definitely had a pleasant birthday.
The office sounds like a toned-down version of what it had probably been like during the 1900s when a room full of typewriters made their joyful clickety-clack sounds. At least, that’s what the period movies usually depict. Quite therapeutic, the rhythmic bashing of computer keyboards lulls me to a state of almost-asleep. It’s after lunch and my mind would always shut down briefly around this time. I believe it has something to do with how the digestive system is using up most of the energy in the body and so the brain has to give in.
So, I sit back on my chair, cross-legged and neck tilting slightly upwards. It takes my brain at least 15 minutes to replenish the energy it needs. Sometimes it may demand more time and usually, I wouldn’t mind. Alas, Guilt kicks in and reminds me that I am paid to sit here and do work. At the same time, Pride barges in and tells me that I’m in full control of my life; I can and should do whatever I want. To appease Guilt, I wake up. To satisfy Pride, I continue day-dreaming.
It is still rather quiet, but the rhythm goes on. I wonder, as I always do, how they can keep on typing. Do they really enjoy doing their work? Is it just merely an obligation they have to fulfil? I don’t think I can type continuously for more than 3 minutes even on a topic that I find interesting. My mind pauses at intervals. Like my body, it needs rest every now and then.
The bashing reduced to two pairs of hands. The quiet remains. We are each in our own little universe. And quite suddenly, a different sound decides to join. It was first a pitter-patter and then quickly joined by a rush like that of a waterfall. The furious rain hitting the roof breaks the spell and the two pairs of hands take a breather, a pair of legs starts walking to the loo and a voice starts an empty conversation.
The above was written today. Whenever my mind feels congested and my heart is dangerously close to exploding, I indulge in writing. I played with my senses, which caused me to be present. Then, I write down what I see, hear, touch or smell. I played with the sentence structure and I gave inanimate objects some character. It may not be great, but the process sparked that thing in me that I nearly forgot how it felt. And I bloody love it.
It all started with the desire to be a part of something meaningful.
Being a fresh graduate from the UK and coming back to Malaysia meant that I could turn over a new leaf. I decided that I want to be involved in anything environmental-related. But starting anew has its challenges and one of it is finding a group of people who share similar interests. Then again, I suppose it’s not much different than finding a society to join in university.
The first time I heard about the Malaysia Youth Delegation (MYD) was during the BB4SCP event in December when one of the delegates was invited by WWF-Malaysia to give a brief talk. MYD is a part of the non-governmental organisation Power Shift Malaysia (or formally, Persatuan Belia Perubahan Iklim) that deals with climate change advocacy and mobilisation. Members of MYD track the Paris Agreement negotiations and engage with the government ministries to basically ensure that they keep their promises.
Some weeks later in January, they posted an event on their Facebook page – the Post-COP22 forum. As I wanted to learn more about how the Paris Agreement relates to Malaysia, I decided to attend the event. After listening to the panel of speakers, I got to have a little chat with Mr Nithi Nesadurai, the president of the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia and took a photo with Dr Gary Theseira, a climate change negotiator from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. That forum sparked an interest in being a part of MYD because I figured that if I wanted to be a part of a movement, I should be a part of a group that does substantial work.
And so, I brushed up my knowledge on the UNFCCC structure as a whole and waited for the time to apply for MYD. That time came, I applied, got interviewed and got invited to the Retreat. Mind you, the application process took me quite a number of hours over a couple of weeks to prepare because I’m rather a perfectionist and I needed to fully understand what I’m signing up for.
On the 15th of April, I drove about an hour to the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus in Semenyih. The purpose of this MYD Retreat was to allow the applicants to have a taste of what being a part of MYD is like. The first day was mostly about introductions, knowing what role MYD plays, what other programmes are being done by Power Shift Malaysia, and what the bloody hell the UNFCCC actually is so that we were all on the same page.
Even though it was mostly presentations throughout the day, I didn’t feel bored at all. It’s most probably because it was a two-way street all the way. It was very relaxed and informal, but we took the subject matter seriously. The presenters were very patient with our questions and I could see how they were very keen to answer them without judgement.
I’m so glad that all of us – participants and organisers – got along very well from the get-go. I guess this proves the point that you can get along so easily with like-minded people. We each hold on to the core value of caring for the environment, so that was the line of connection we had regardless of our differences. We knew that to make a change, we need to work together and help each other out. So, it’s like giving a lift instead of pushing each other off a cliff.
There was just so much information showered upon us that I couldn’t blame anyone for feeling a bit overwhelmed. But all the information was necessary and it was only the tip of the iceberg. There’s definitely a lot more going on in the climate change negotiation process, and so I think the info presented during the Retreat was either meant to scare us or motivate us. For me, it’s definitely the latter.
I think the most challenging talk for us to process was the one given by Chee Yoke Ling about the disputes between Developed and Developing nations on the climate change negotiation. Yoke Ling is one of the members of the Third World Network (TWN), “an independent non-profit international network of organisations and individuals involved in issues relating to development, developing countries and North-South affairs”. So she’s a BIG deal. I was told that other international youth environmental organisations would die for a chance to meet any of the TWN members. In that case, I consider myself lucky.
Before the Flood
This documentary was screened at 8pm on the first day. This was my second time watching it and I felt quite the same way as I did the first time – angry, frustrated, sad and a bit sceptical. The science is clear, climate change is happening, the solutions are available, and yet as a community, we are still reluctant or slow to change. I get that it’s difficult and that it means altering a bit of your lifestyle, but if we don’t take the initiative, future generations will suffer. That means your children and grandchildren unless you decide not to have children. In any case, I hope you can spare some love for Mother Nature.
On Sunday morning around 7am, we went to Broga Hills, which was about 5 mins away. This was also a part of the agenda and one that I was most excited about. This was my first time hiking up Broga Hills and I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it! We climbed up until the 2nd viewing point that was 1,150 ft (350.5 m) above sea level. I was quite out of breath by then but felt so accomplished that I sang to the tunes of Sound of Music.
Along the way, we picked up rubbish left by careless people. One of us had thought to bring a black garbage bag. This person knew that there would be trash up there because he had climbed the hill at least 7 times and sadly, there is always rubbish.
The view from atop was a mix of hills and lowland. I could see the majestic hills disappearing into the blue horizon. The lowland area had a mix of trees, shrubs, oil palm plantations, bare red land, and houses. Not very scenic, in my opinion. But I guess the feeling of being on top of the world sufficed in silencing any other subjective thoughts.
The rest of the afternoon on the second day was spent listening to the MYD members talk about their experiences going to the COP events and asking them other burning questions we had. I liked the afternoon session because it was personal and insightful.
From this session, I gathered that being the ones representing the youth of Malaysia on an international level is no easy task. There are lots of challenges such as having to attend as many plenary sessions as possible, reporting whatever information gathered on the spot, and dealing with unexpected circumstances such as delayed flights or rejected visas. And as Adrian Yeo, a co-founder of Power Shift Malaysia and MYD, said, “sleep is optional during COP”. Sounds intense!
Not The End
My contribution towards the climate change movement has only just begun. I know that I’m firm with my decision to persevere in this endeavour and I hope to work with the rest of the prospective MYD members in preparation for COP23 in Bonn this year. It’s going to be tough, I know, but as long as I have friends around me to hold me accountable, I’m sure I will work it out. I must always remember that this is not a one-man show. To change something so significant requires teamwork.