#366: “You look happy”

I was in the lift with a fellow neighbour on my way up to my floor. She was a tall Caucasian lady, middle-age, dark hair, slim build, tan, and she had dark coloured eyes. She was carrying what I think was two wooden table stands. She was walking ahead of me before we got into the lift, and despite carrying the two stands, she kindly held the door for me (twice).

While we were in the lift, we acknowledged each other, and she said something that really surprised me,

“You look happy.”

My immediate response was, “Really! Do I?”, and she replied yes, I did. We couldn’t converse further because her floor was coming up, so I quickly said, “Have a good evening”, before she left, which she returned in kind.

Those three words got me thinking till I reached my door. My lower floor neighbour made me aware of my apparent happiness, and, upon reflection, I did realise that I was happy. Perhaps it was the companionship I experienced today while preparing and giving my group presentations, or the dinner gathering with friends made on exchange. But looking a little further, and being aware of things such as my stable relationship, the security my parents offer me, the home that I live in, having food on the table, being able to attend university, I thought to myself, “Unhappiness is always lurking, so I should enjoy my state of happiness.”

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#366: “You look happy”

#365: Art and beauty, something out of nothing

I’m currently reading “Eat. Pray. Love.” by Elizabeth Gilbert for a tourism course I’m enrolled in this semester and I came across this lovely paragraph on the beauty of doing nothing, and the art of making something out of nothing:

“We are the masters of bel far niente.”

This is a sweet expression. Bel far niente means “the beauty of doing nothing.” Now listen—Italians have traditionally always been hard workers, especially those long-suffering laborers known as braccianti (so called because they had nothing but the brute strength of their arms—braccie—to help them survive in this world). But even against that backdrop of hard work, bel far niente has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly con- gratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life’s achievement. You don’t necessarily need to be rich in order to experience this, either. There’s another wonderful Italian expression: l’arte d’arrangiarsi—the art of making something out of nothing. The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat. Pray. Love.)

I too would like to be a master of bel far niente and l’arte d’arrangiarsi.

#365: Art and beauty, something out of nothing

#364: Dear parents,

Dear parents,

When your child asks for your opinion about something, and your response is “No” or a rejection of any sorts, and your child probes “But why?” because s/he wants to understand the rationale for your rejection,

DO NOT FLARE UP AND THROW IN THE “BECAUSE I SAY SO” MOVE IN THEIR FACES.

Your child is capable of thought and understanding. Give them credit where credit is due. Explain, don’t explode.

#364: Dear parents,

#361: Is there a way out?

Relevant track: P!nk – Beam Me Up

THE r’gion issue between R and me resurfaced recently due to the manoeuvres made by our respective parents. Helplessness has found its way into our lives when everything seems to be going well, again. R’gion is the elephant in the room, that all parties are withholding confrontation with. It scares like hell, the thought of having to forgo what we have because of clashing beliefs that belong more so to the generation that precedes than to us. As for me, I’m reminded of the feeling of being on borrowed time. Is there a way out for us, for all of us? Where all parties can win?

#361: Is there a way out?

#360: my first earthquake experience

As foreboding as the title sounds, I need to clarify that I didn’t experience said earthquake at its worst. And I’m very thankful for that.

For moments, I felt my mortality in all its entirety.

Today, New Zealand was struck by two earthquakes, one that was magnitude 6.1, and the other 5.1 (Daily Mail). I refer to the 5.1 magnitude quake. I was at my cultural anthropology lecture with about 100 students in Victoria University of Wellington when the lecture theatre floor shook (neither violently nor mildly) beneath our feet.

My first thoughts were of surprise, that I felt the tremor before I saw the projector screens shake. Maybe our tactile sensors react and signal to our brains faster than our visual system. Maybe our brains process tactile sensory stimuli faster than visual stimuli. But what stuck with me was what and how I felt after: genuine fear. It wasn’t overwhelming fear, but it made an impression on me. For moments, I felt my mortality in all its entirety. I had lingering thoughts that more quakes could strike again, and I would be caught in their aftermath next time.

This was the first earthquake I’ve experienced that I can recall with confidence from memory. I am shaken, or I remain shaken because I have not moved on from it. Perhaps when I shift my attention to and busy myself with the revision I need to do for my two upcoming tests in two days time, this anxiety will disappear into the past, and all that will survive is the memory of having experienced an earthquake that I may retell in time to come.

#360: my first earthquake experience