Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mine!

One of the things that irks me is seeing reading matter that isn't attributed to its real author.

A lot of bloggers are guilty of this, and most are unrepentant. "What? I got this story in my mailbox, I like so I post, lah. Free, what."

Indiscriminate e-mail forwarding is another thing that irks me, but let's stick to one at a time. Is it too much to ask that, if you have no original thoughts of your own and yet feel the compulsion to post, you say where the text was from or, at the very least, that it's not yours?

One thing I am thankful for today: that I no longer have to edit the work of a national editor who gets her "facts" from Wikipedia. (Not a Malaysian editor. At least there's that much consolation!)

BTW, everything on this blog so far is original. Aaaaaaall mine. Mine. Mine. Mineminemineminemineminemine... this video illustrates what happens when multiple Tohs encounter seagulls and have too much time on their hands. Thanks to the folks at Disney/Pixar for the possibly brainless, solely food-minded gulls in Finding Nemo. Five years on and still inspiring.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Today, I woke up 35 minutes after I'd planned to.

Today, I finished half as much of my assignment as I'd planned to.

Today, I cooked a smaller amount of curry than I'd originally shopped for.

The other night, I broke down while talking to cell group members and told them that maybe this is just my time to be mediocre, because I don't feel like the record-breaking Ren I used to be. Not mediocre, one corrected me, but it certainly is time to let go of my own ability and see what God will do instead.

My life over the past few years has been a constant, all-out fight to carve out a life larger than the present one. Job-hopping to a position that was more prestigious, and then to one that I hoped would be more fulfilling; upgrading from a single mattress on the floor to a queen-sized four-poster; overcoming my room's chronic untidiness by adding an extra desk; taking dance classes and participating in a youth conference, stage musical and film project simultaneously while working full-time; quitting work altogether in order to go back to school. I am not unhappy with the result, and my life has been enhanced by the many, many people I've met along the way. But I am, without a doubt, exhausted from the effort.

What, I wonder, what if for once I stopped fighting the current and let it take me where it would?

Would I be able to enjoy the ride, the cushioning waves beneath and the blue sky above?

Can I learn to enjoy the present instead of reaching out a grabby hand for something better?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm rich!

I'm a bit slow, so it took a while to hit me. But I am. I really am! Evidence as pictured.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

One Saturday night, on a crowded Sydney street...

... some people might have overheard the following conversation, if they were attentive enough.

A: Excuse me...
B, stopping in her tracks: Hi?
A: I'm just wondering...
B, clearly wishing she hadn't stopped because A was so obviously going to ask for money: Yeah?
A: Do you think you could give me some spare change?
B: What do you need it for?
A: I just want to buy some food.
B: How much do you need?
A: Oh, just... oh, two dollars.
B: Are you hungry? Would you like some food?
A: Yeah, that's what I just said, I'm on my way now, I'm going to buy some. I'm just a little short.
B: I'm sorry, I don't have any change. But I do have food and I can let you have some.
A: I just want two dollars and I'll buy my own food.
B: No, I'm sorry. I don't have much money, myself. But you're welcome to some of the food I've got if you're really hungry.
A, agitated and annoyed: No. I'm going to buy some.
B: OK. (Walks off)

Image: Stock.Xchng

Does a genuinely hungry person turn down an offer of free food?

Is a person, apparently able-bodied and sound in mind, with the capacity to carry on a lucid conversation in fluent, proper English, entitled to demand $2 of somebody else's money in exchange for nothing?

I wondered if A would get her $2 and the dinner she was so set upon buying. I wondered if B would share her food with someone else.

I still wonder.

Friday, June 06, 2008

My hero (one among many)

What makes a hero?

There was a time in my life when I couldn't drive down the main road in Section 16 towards Jalan Damansara without cringing. There was a huge billboard emblazoned with a publicity still from a local action movie, captioned, "Hero No.1 Malaysia". Said still was an upper-body shot of the movie's lead character in all his shaven-headed, mustachioed, leather- ("leather"?) jacketed glory. I discovered from the movie synopsis that said character was a criminal vigilante, one who took justice into his own hands when the law wasn't working his way. (Why does that sound familiar? Maybe it's because Hollywood has already done that plot so many times and for so long that it's ready to move to a retirement village and spend the rest of its days playing shuffleboard with old episodes from Lassie.)

Almost anyone else would just glance at the ad, snicker, and move on. After all, it was just a billboard.

My response was always to wince and wonder, that's Malaysia's hero? In the first place, since when was "hero" a recognised word in the Malay language? But more importantly, who appointed him an entire nation's hero, and did anyone actually end up buying chocolate-coated wafers because of this "endorsement"? Because, yes folks, that's what the ad was for: apparently, criminal activity and confectionery are a very appealing combination.

The point I've taken a rather long time to prove is that heroes are difficult to define, and sometimes, other people try to define them for you. But if you're like me, you don't take that sitting down, and you decide to say something about the people who you think really are worth your admiration.

Brother Andrew is one of those, and if you read his autobiography, you'd see why. The book was first published as God's Smuggler, then re-released a few years ago as The Narrow Road with accompanying first-hand accounts by Christians in hostile countries. Oh, and a CD single insert by Jars of Clay, but I don't think much of "celebrity" endorsements, as you might have gathered by now. I know it's hardly in the same league as the rather-sad-fictitious-"hero"-for-chocolate-wafers deal, but I couldn't help wondering why a band's name on a book should make it sell more copies, or gather more support for the work of the book's author. When will we learn to treasure things for their value, instead of relying on someone else to tell us what they're worth?

So, the book. It has all the intrigue of a spy thriller, the dry wit only a Dutchman (and a good ghost-writer) can master, and enough stories of miraculous provision and rescue to turn the hardest sceptic's head. And I bought it because it looked pretty... no, really, I bought it because I started reading the autobiography part while book-browsing one day in 2005, and I couldn't put it down, and I had a book voucher from my generous then-boyfriend. And it's probably going to remain one of my favourite books for the rest of my life. (Though it does look pretty, doesn't it?)


What makes Brother Andrew a hero in my eyes? Courage; sacrifice for a cause greater than himself; humility; faith; selflessness; and love for his family and friends, among other things. And I'm thankful to see these values displayed in many of the men I know. The cardboard heroes of the world are welcome to stay on billboards, vainly entreating people to buy cookies; while they do that, real men are changing the world one ordinary encounter at a time.

Who are your heroes?
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