Tolerating

Why do you think “tolerance” or “tolerate” is a good word? I think when you tolerate, you take a ball of salt and you hold it. One day when you fall, wounded, that salt’s going to hurt you.

“Can’t you see what I’ve done all these years?! All these while I’ve been putting up with this and this is how you repay me!!!”

Understanding, on the other hand, gets the salt dissolved. When a person does something, you understand and it goes away. You won’t be holding any balls of grudge.

Have you noticed how you might be judgemental about the mother when you see a child crying non-stop, you try to tolerate the crying but inside you still plays a story about how irresponsible or stupid the mother is. But when you open up to understanding that something might have happened to them last night, or that she just lost ten thousand bucks worth of Bitcoin, the salt dissolves and a whole new feeling changes inside of you. You understand that no mother (in her right mind) would want a child to keep crying in public. Something must’ve happened that occupied her mind with something else. You’d start feeling empathetic towards her.

Look to be understanding, not merely tolerant.

Claiming My Neighbours

David Archuleta recently became relevant again in the eyes of the internet. He has been doing many shows here and there but nothing explosive that made the internet go crazy. I’ve always liked and respected that about David, that he chose out of this “Spotlight” to do his own thing.

A girl in a hijab posted a funny video of her lipsyncing to David Archuleta’s Crush (a song I hadn’t heard since Manila live). David retweeted it. It was 7 am for me, I was excited, happy, and thought the girl looked like a Malaysian internet celebrity. These young ones do a lot of silly things on the internet these days, you know? I don’t keep up.

So as always, as what I always did, where I can be, I tweeted to David that the girl’s from Malaysia and he should come back. The girl replied she’s from Singapore. I said whoops, okay, no matter. David should go back to Singapore too.  I thought that was the end, but nope. People kept retweeting it and replying saying I’m a Malaysian who is claiming a Singaporean to be theirs, and that “Malaysians don’t do that” and “Malaysian is becoming like Indonesian” etc. At first I was like, meh. Then it kept coming.

Picture in 2012, the last time most of us in South East Asia saw David live was in 2011/2012 before he went on a two-year Mormon missionary trip in Chile. I had the opportunity to fly to Manila in October 2017 to see him again after five years.

Binge Watching TV

A few nights ago I intended to take a break from my late-night “studying” sessions (read: studying for work), gracefully typing www.iflix.com into my search bar with one eye closed. iFlix is Malaysia’s Netflix I get for free since I’m subscribed to Unifi. I knew it was going to be a one-time thing. Just in case you didn’t know: I don’t watch any dramas, I don’t enjoy movies and I only listen to music when driving. Just wanted to do something out of the ordinary. I usually spend my free time watching documentaries, studying how-tos, and listening to talks (I am 100% boring).

When I clicked on the Documentary category, what came out instead were biographies about celebrities. NOPE. Horror? Nah. Adventure? Boring. I thought of Hilary Duff. Hilary Duff. That’s who I want to watch. I typed her name in the search bar and Younger TV came out. Oh man, it’s a TV series. TV series have always been out of bounds for me. Not only did I understand how much time a person would waste on watching one episode after the other, I also understand it’s designed that way so you get hooked and want more and more and more. It serves lonely people well.

YOUNGER

I watched it anyway. Three or four episodes per night. My usual 9 pm – 12 midnight spending time work-related I spent watching Younger. Guilty I felt, but at the same time, I wanted more.

Told myself work could come in later as I watched these 26 year-olds be somebody in the publishing world, understanding what my own publishers meant when they say they look for authors with no following. The editors and publishers at Empirical chase authors with thousands of followers on Twitter. The protagonist is a 40-year-old woman pretending to be 26, first faking her age to find a job, next faking her age for everything. Every night they go to the bar; if not something to “celebrate”, they’d go just for fun. They’d show up at the work the next morning looking flawless as always and the forty-year-old protagonist somehow always does her assistant job well AND has the eyes of hot looking men on her. The episodes open with an after-sex scene, kissing and stuff while I wonder if, in real life, people smell. Morning breath doesn’t seem to exist! Oh, TV, the ideal life.

I told myself, “Let’s just finish one series and see if I’m compelled to watching the next one.” Damn that autoplay button. I just sat my laptop at the edge of my table as I lay on my front on my squeezy Queen-sized bed not wanting to do anything else in that time I usually would have been productive or found out something new. Autoplay. Autoplay. Autoplay.

Last night I was up to the fifth episode of the second season. It was becoming addicting, I admit, I even took myself to look them up on Instagram. They were at the xth season already and Liza (the protagonist) was ikut nafsu kissing her big boss Charles, then somehow Kelsey (Hilary Duff) was kissing Liza’s hot boyfriend.

I shook my head. SMH. Is this even real life? I don’t think so. How could you hook up with each other like that? And what good does it bring me to watch these things? What kind of education or knowledge can I receive feeding my addiction to a TV series? The only kind of wisdom I got was that there is no point, so I no longer feel the need or want to watch the series anymore. As curious as I was, I knew watching it does nothing good. Something in me just switched. It’s as simple as that. I can’t find a good reason to continue watching (I do think it’s a good series). So I just stopped.

My entertainment is I guess not in the form of watching dramas. It’s not good for you once you binge-watch it either. I see it as a problem, an addiction problem. You might argue “at least I’m not doing drugs”. Mean or material does not matter. Root remains the same: addiction. It’s when you think you lack something so something else fills that void. The same way you feel clingy or needy around your boyfriend or girlfriend. The same way people eat when stressed. The fact that you feel so empty without it, you are addicted to it. If having it makes you happy, then not having it still makes you happy, congratulations.

If not, I say you have an addiction problem. The cure to addiction is connection. This kind of connection is not a Wifi on and off thing. The connection you lack is one that is never-ending, continuous and everlasting. We are all made of connections and I feel that you cannot establish a real solid connection with another person until your own connection with yourself is grounded. You think your husband makes up your “other half”? Take him out of the equation, do you still stand strong? A plant may wilt but a resistant plant knows to move towards the Sun. You are so full of resources, a being of intelligence. Why would you spend your precious time watching TV that makes you “feel” things or “forget everything” when you could use the time to learn how to connect?

Don’t take a pill to suppress the pain. Find out what causes it, and learn how to shovel it off entirely. Sometimes, you don’t even have a problem.

You just think you do.

Who I Want

When the issue of “love” is brought up to me
I listen to their words in confusion.
Why do I have to open up to love?
My physical heart may be the size of my fist,
(the fist I sent flying to the arms of people)
but my spiritual heart is infinite.
Love to me is defined by care, kindness, helping,
a clear connection with another being;
no walls, guards, or expecting only fun,
therefore it makes no sense to limit it to one.
My Love is not a vessel or a barrel.
My Love is the ocean that fills our world.

So, I love everybody. My ears work,
my hands open, and my smile available.
What I believe they want me to “open up” to,
is romance. Not love. I already have love.
Their idea of love means devoting self to a man,
sharing bodies, toothpaste, fries,
an umbrella, …life.

I did not go to Manila to watch a concert

It must’ve been a surprise for people who just knew me recently that I would fly across the South China Sea to watch a concert. Especially when I’m now ‘known’ as somebody who wrote about Sufism in her book. Those who had known me for a while might be surprised too, thinking “she’s not over him.”

I’ve also read about people judging Muslimahs in hijab acting non-Islamically at concerts, so I had that as a priority. I was an obvious Muslimah who was wearing her religion on her head, in a country where a province was just liberated from terrorists the day I arrived. That was first in my mind, that I acted according to my beliefs.

It wasn’t difficult. I just had to be me. Who I am is in line with my beliefs, and David Archuleta plays a big part in that. He’s not Muslim, yet he radiates light. He’s not Muslim, yet in his speech and mannerisms, he’s more Muslim than the Muslim boys I’ve met. That’s when I realised that it’s not your religion, or how much you know about your religion that makes you a good person. It’s when you know who you are, that whatever you do, the rocky boat shakes you, you come back to who you are. I supported him for that, and I still do.

By the way, Sufism is the mystical, spiritual part of Islam. Sufis are not concerned with the outer aspects of the religion, but on the relationship with The Source. They work on the inside-out.

No longer do I have huge pictures of him on my wall, neither do I know about all of his new songs. I was obsessed as a teenager, but I find it impossible to be crazy for him now I’ve earned a real, deep, respect for who he is as a person. I still have a crush on him, but who wouldn’t? He’s such a wholesome, great guy.

If I had gone to Manila to watch a concert, I would have bought front row. I know you know I know I can. In fact, a TV producer told me “I would’ve given you front row concert tickets if I knew you were up there all alone!” How the heck did I know a TV producer in a foreign country, whereas in my own country I don’t follow anything on TV? I have no idea. Just going with the flow.

I did not go to Manila to watch a concert. I went to experience this light everybody has, but keeps it hidden in their own shadows. David’s light has dimmed and shined over the years I saw him, but this time he was illuminating.

Open your windows, let the air in, and you will shine as well.

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” – Rumi

1500 Miles To See David Archuleta

Disclaimer: this post is going to be less about David Archuleta but more on my insights about the whole trip. I travelled 1500 miles to see David Archuleta. Specifically, 2430 km or 1509 miles.

When David announced his mission back in 2011, there were things I guessed:

  1. I already guessed it. He prophesied it in Who I Am.
  2. He will be back
  3. and I will be there when he is.
  4. I guessed it will be in the Philippines because his fans there are crAaAaaZzy

Years went by and I totally forgot about these things. I stopped reading his updates, downloaded/bought his music when he released them but I just didn’t care to know more anymore. It wasn’t important to me anymore to know about everything he was doing.

It was my last week of teaching in Jakarta when he announced going to the Philippines. Light bulbs went on in my head and I knew where my salary’s going to go to. I’ve been looking for meaning more than I had been looking for money, so if I hadn’t accepted the teaching job I wouldn’t have been able to afford this trip. Another story about this teaching job: I didn’t want to do it. But I guess now I know why I did.

I travelled from my home in Malaysia to get to the airport in Singapore. I bought priority passes and front rows because I just wanted to focus on my trip there. But things don’t always work out the way you plan.

Strange New Old Feeling

Dear Fifi,

I was just about to turn off the laptop and lie in bed and blink at the ceiling. I know I’m not turning the air-conditioning on that’s why I’ve already opened the windows. Don’t know about lighting the aroma candle or not. It smells lovely.

But I decided to write down about this strange old feeling that I’ve been facing for a few days now. It’s called procrastination. Where you have many things to do but you don’t want to do it. I don’t know why. Is it because I have a trip coming up soon so my head is there already? This work is important to me yet why am I not getting anything done? It’s strange, isn’t it? I’m not a procrastinator, I know. I get my work done when it’s supposed to and I get them done with pride.

SIGH. I don’t know. It’s like I’m stuck with lack of information. And it’s not that I lack information, somehow fear also accompanies it, not being good enough, etc. It happens to me too. As confident and “strong” people say that I am, I am only human with these thoughts. But that’s okay. I know that I’m not going to stay with this feeling forever. I don’t have to do anything, I think.

All these while I get nothing done because I’m trying to get something done. Wow what paradox is this? That when you fill your thinking with too much things, nothing new comes in. Oh well.

I hope to go to sleep and new ideas will come in.

Good night.

Love,

Fifi