Please Breathe

This post was originally from my Facebook post, written on the bus on the way back home from Kuala Lumpur. I was there for my first Pesta Buku Antarabangsa (International Book Festival) as a writer with my own book. I haven’t written about that experience, maybe I should for documentation, but here’s a bit of it:

The second person in my life to get my book was a guy I had a teeny bit of crush on. I fall in love with everybody I meet, so it’s no big deal. I’m writing this because I wrote about the first and the third, and I guess seconds deserve a write-up about too. The first person had browsed my book and the third person came for me, but this second person had a face I couldn’t read when we saw each other’s face in the sea of strangers. I immediately guessed he had his guard up 100%, perhaps afraid of something I might do or say. I know a couple of guys who act this way around me, actually. I try to return their coolness with my own reservations, but try as I may I am me with anyone. I can’t act cool because I just am not cool.

So I felt bad when the book he wanted was out of stock and what he got instead was my book. I have heard my publisher say this twice now, that “each book has its owner” and I understood perfectly that a copy of my book was meant to be in his hands. But what if it remained only in his hand, to the shelf, and never to his heart through his eyes? I sought out to return this deed of a reader-buying-my-book-when-he-didn’t-want-to. I found out when his book’s to be restocked. I asked someone to reserve a copy for me. When I found out the author of the book was going to be around, I told myself to get his signature. I left my Perhimpunan 1000 Penulis seminar early and boy, I didn’t know what I was about to learn next.

I think life as a sardine in a can would be more comfortable than being in that crowd that day. I’m not even kidding. The place was overcrowded and the author had been shifted about three times. Three different workers told me three different places where the author was. And I went to all of them. I didn’t even work this hard to meet David Archuleta. A promise to myself is one I have to fulfill. The human traffic, the smelly armpits, and the little children were my hurdles. Zig-zagged, crossed the floor, shuffled in diagonal. It was overwhelming. I told myself to give up.

I stepped onto the escalator plate to breathe and during that ten seconds of ascension I regained my peace. I don’t know how you guys like crowds and noise. I can’t think that way. I tried to find the wisdom in this situation. What is it? What can I learn from this? I U-Turned and stepped onto the downward escalator and my inner self said, “Now you go back to the main booth.” Go back to the main booth? I argued. It was NOT EASY to go in and I had to QUEUE to get out, for me to get to that booth’s one bookshelf to the other I stood immobile for an average of two minutes and now you want me to go back IN?! “Go,” she said anyway. And I did. Maybe it was some kind of a Moses’ effect, because my route was surprisingly clear and easier. I easily walked to the main booth, no hassle and traffic this time, and I could ask the worker for the updated current location of the author. And I got the information in real time this time, and when I ran to where he was there were only 10 person in the queue. When I left there were probably 50. The author’s handwriting is ugly but he’s kinda cute. The end.
(By the way, the book is BREATHE by Dr Beni Rusani. What a coincidence. And there exists a doctor who writes? I had no idea.)

So what’s the wisdom I gained behind this?

That I did not consult the quiet person in me who knew all the answers first. I depended on the information I received from social media about the author’s whereabouts and assumed it to be accurate and rushed to the mirage, only to be fooled by the illusion. It served as a reminder to me that there is a music in my soul that dances to the rhythm and tune of life. That music I can only hear when I choose to listen.

Everyone that you meet and everything that you see will teach you something about your life, and I received a refresher’s course on a chapter of my book on my fifth day at #PBAKL. I guess I needed that.

That chapter of my book is titled How To Access Inner Wisdom. I hope in times of stress and uncertainties, you know how to switch to listen to your Inner Wisdom.

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