Mindfulness is like Bicycle Balance

DO you know how to ride a bicycle?

I’m guessing that most of you do. Perhaps it is a skill you picked up at a young age.

Do you remember how you learnt how to ride a bicycle? Did you fall? I’m sure you did. Did you get back up and try to go back in balance after you fell? I’m sure you did. Or did you go back home to rest, and try again until you are able to ride a bicycle?

What was your bicycle learning experience like?

Even if you hadn’t touched the bicycle in a while, I know that you know that you will have no problem riding it because you already know your balance. While cycling, should something distract you that causes you to lose your balance, you will have no problem regaining it because you know your balance. Or when you know you’re about to lose your balance, you simply stop before you continue cycling.

What if I told you that your mind works the same way?

The Aha! Moment

When was the last time you experienced an “Aha!” moment?

This “Aha!” moment, sometimes also called “Eureka!”, The Greek word for “I have found it!” is defined by a moment of instant, or sudden discovery, one that you didn’t expect, but happened. It may be the answers to a problem you’ve had for a long time, or found new insight that you begin to see the world in another lens.

Let’s take a look at history and how significant “Aha” moments are in these examples:

Don’t Go Back To Sleep!

THE fuel gauge/fuel indicator of my 1999 Kembara is broken. It shows that my fuel level is at “E” even though I had just filled it with gas. My mechanic quoted me RM400 to fix it. Oh, dang, that’s a lot of money. I told him I’ll come back later. So what I had been doing is manually reset my counter after each gas fill, and do estimation as to how many kilometers I should drive before the next fill. Problem now is, I don’t remember how much I last filled my tank. Was it RM20, or RM40, or full? I don’t remember, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ll just fill it later and reset my counter again.

Now let’s look at the interior of a car. When the door is not shut properly or when your handbrake is still up, or when the hazard lights is turned on, the dashboard control instrument panel will light up accordingly to tell you what’s wrong. As long as the instrument is still fine, it will indicate when something is missing. But hey, my fuel gauge is broken but even then that tells me something is wrong. When my handbrake is up, all I do is put it down. When my fuel is low, all I need to do is fill it up. It doesn’t mean I need to immediately send it to the mechanic. All I need to do is follow and fulfill it accordingly.

Only Human Thoughts

HAVE you ever noticed how sometimes the sound of a baby crying could irk you, and sometimes you think, “Oh, poor baby.”

Or sometimes when you’re driving you could be annoyed by the sound of honking, and sometimes you just accept it as a background sound?

Sometimes your cat gets in the way, sometimes it’s the cutest little kitty on the planet.

I think this means that someone or something cannot directly cause you to be triggered unless you have been carrying that thought in your head.

If it really was the “noisy crying baby” or “bodoh punya pemandu lori” that caused you to be angry, then every single crying babies in the world and all lorry drivers should make you angry. But you and I know that’s not the case.


The first time I tried to talk about the idea of my book was in January 2015. I felt like I failed that talk so badly I started putting labels of “You’re not a public speaker” “You really should’ve prepared more” “Mama shouldn’t be there” on myself. Then I talked about it again, before it was published, to an audience in April 2017. I told myself, “You should be prepared now, right? Do better now!” And I brought home the thought that I didn’t again. I really wondered if I wasn’t meant to speak in public at all.

That was funny, you know? Because part of my freelance job requires me to stand up and talk. Why did it make a difference when I began talking about my book?

Then I was invited to a Toastmasters Club meeting.

Conspiring With The Universe

A rather popular quote has been stuck in my head for a couple of days now, and that is a sign I need to sit down to write about it. I gave it a thought and my mind had been contributing ideas to what I wanted to write, but right now as I sat on my laptop with these words, the mind kept quiet; which means I’m just going to write freestyle.

And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

– The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

It was in between 2006-2009 when I read this book. My English teacher, Ms Ng Bak Hon, whom I had grown to love dearly, was a stern woman whose presence could send chills down your spine. For me, at least, I didn’t dare talk or do anything at assembly if she was on duty; it was like she had eyes all over the place. She knew what time we usually arrived at assembly, and she knew what each of us was reading, and if we had been reading something for too long. You see, when I was in school, reading was a culture introduced by Ms Ng. Everywhere we went we had to carry a book. There was no such thing as chit-chatting or just waiting. Our time had to be spent reading.

And Ms Ng would want to see what we’re reading and would scream at us if we had been ‘reading’ the same thing for more than two weeks. As a result, when I borrowed The Alchemist, I skimmed through it. Enough to give Ms Ng an oral summary should she ask later, enough to write a quick review about, and enough to complete it under two weeks.

The only things I remember from the book was the quote mentioned above, and a shepherd who found treasure in his original place. It is only now that I can link his messages to Sufism (true enough, he did say his books were Sufi-inspired). Back then I linked the quote to another book I had skimmed through: The Secret. Law of Attraction, Visual Boards, etc, of the kind. 

Quick Update: An Email From An Acquaintance

I am moved, because this morning I was wondering if after reading A Nobody’s Observations, would people still want to buy my other books? It’s just me wondering. Not bashing myself or anything like that. Then I received this email from a classmate in secondary school. We haven’t even been talking or anything. The last time I saw her was in 2009 at graduation I think.

I edited the personal parts, but you know, these words mean a lot to me. Especially when she wrote about what I wrote to her in 2009. A reassurance. That it’s true: I HAVE been doing this for a while now.

Writers are crazy people who sit down to write anything without knowing who’d read, you know? I don’t even know who’d get my messages. Sometimes I wonder if this craziness is worth it; my time is better spent doing other things. “But I like writing! But it can’t feed me! Do people listen to you?” etc. When I received this email from an old acquaintance, I realised that maybe some of my messages do stick around.

That’s why I still write.

Dear Fifi,
This is to acknowledge that I have received your book today and I have finished reading it. 🙂
The main reason why I decided to buy your book is because I was attracted to the title – Nobody’s Observations. I was really curious in finding out the story and I was interested because it was your story.
After reading your book, I felt enlighten and I realised that I have been doing some of those listed. The book is really meaningful, it really makes us reflect on ourselves. Deep down, I guess everyone knows the right way to think or do. But some got lost or got caught up being competitive with the world. I will read it again and again to serve as a gentle reminder to myself. 🙂
It’s been 8 years since we graduated from Secondary School, so the only updates we got were from Facebook or from friends of friends. I enjoy reading your posts that pops up in my feed now and then. You are still as cool as you were back then. *thumbs up*
I remembered telling you that I want to be like you. So you wrote to me: “The secret is just being yourself and dont try too hard to please.” (This was on the Vday card in 2009)
As I moved on to polytechnic, I gave myself another name. I wonder if you could remember, I had really bad skin in sec sch. During my orientation, I had horrifyingly red acnes all over my face. I thought I couldnt fit in in my class because everyone was so different. But fast forward, I had the most amazing and happiest 3 years in poly. I was being myself (even with that scary face) and I found really good friends who accepted me for who I am.
I feel really proud of you to be doing what you want to do. I really respect you, for being such a strong and independent lady! I am still searching for mine however, slowly but surely, I will find it!
Thank you Salamahafifi (I can still remember how to pronounce your name well), for sharing with us your story. It is really a well written book. I enjoyed reading it. Iam your fan now!! And I would really like to know more about your stories and the conversations with strangers. Cant wait for your next book!! 🙂

Thank you so much for your kind words.

I would appreciate reviews on my Goodreads page as well: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35107027-a-nobody-s-observation

A Writer’s Journey – A Coincidental Meeting

Days before I went to the book festival, I decided to visit the local library at UTC Johor. I had admin work to do there and just decided to check out the library scene here. Back in Singapore I loved the library and would go literally every evening just to look at the books. If I knew I didn’t have time to read them I would still at least just want to look at the books. Or sit in between them. Some kind of a disease I have or something I’m not sure. Now with no libraries nearby me, I just go to bookstores to just look at books. When I think I can buy them, I’ll buy them. Otherwise just looking at books sends me some sort of a blissful feeling. There are books on my computer table. There are books on my side table. Books on my dressing table. Books in my bag. I used to have books in my toilet too. I just prefer my company to be books.

The library at UTC didn’t give me a sense of awe libraries in Singapore did. But comparing them would be comparing two separate governments. I guess the Malaysian government thought less of libraries than Singapore did, but oh well! I let my fingers run through the spine of the rarely-opened books, as if telling them, “Hey, mommy’s here,”. The books there were not bad, but I didn’t know where to start. The sailing of my fingers through the bookshelves stopped when I saw the name “MATLUTFI” on the cover. I opened it, read a couple of pages, and put it back. Nah, not for me. I can’t relate to these types of chatterings.

However, the book nearby Matlutfi’s caught my eye. Her name was Gina Yap Lai Yoong.