Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Forgiveness by David Whyte

Forgiveness is a heartache, a giving away, and ultimately the refusal to be possessive about the original wound; it is the act of letting the wound have its own life so that it can heal, mostly by re-imagining itself, and not by our telling the story again and again from the point of the one who carries the hurt.

Forgiveness is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, it not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source. To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to re-imagine our relation to it.

It may be that the part of us that was struck and hurt can never forgive, and that strangely, forgive- ness never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded. The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, and perhaps, not actually meant to forget, as if, like the foundational dynamics of the physiological immune system our psychological defenses must remember and organize against any future attacks – after all, the identity of the one who must forgive is actually founded on the very fact of having being wounded.

Stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, un-forgetting part of us that eventually makes forgiveness an act of compassion rather than one of simple forgetting. To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt, to mature and bring to fruition an identity that can put its arm, not only around the afflicted one within but also around the memories seared within us by the original blow and through a kind of psychological virtuosity, extend our understanding to the one who first delivered it.

Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity in an individual life, a beautiful way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves; an admittance that if forgiveness comes through understanding, and if understanding is just a matter of time and application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing and eventual blessing.

To forgive is to put oneself in a larger gravitational field of experience than the one that first seemed to hurt us. We re-imagine ourselves in the light of our maturity and we re-imagine the past in the light of our new identity, allowing ourselves to be gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us and left us bereft.

At the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being. In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now; we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough and generous enough to receive, at the very end, that absolution ourselves.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I am blogging this on my iPhone in Bangkok, and it feels somewhat restrictive. But sometimes the emotions hit you and you need to let it out.

I am in Bangkok for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday. The last two birthdays haven't been that great. This year I wanted to set aside some personal time for reflection and retreat.

I have a feeling the universe is trying to communicate with me again. Which is good - even if the message is cryptic. While I was trying to figure out what the universe wants of me, and how things have been for me the last year, I suddenly remember this young lady who was like a little sister. She passed away two years ago from complications from her lupus. As her lungs and heart was failing, she start writing notes to her friends. We all received notes from her soon after her death. I remember the news of her death came 10 days before my birthday. Then her final note to me. I almost cried when I read her note, but I was in public and I didn't want to cry amongst strangers.

in her note, she reminded me how once, when she was in a dark place because of a family bereavement, I was there for her as a friend. I didn't think much of it, but it had meant a lot to her, to know someone was willing to be there with her. In her note, she told me this, that it didn't matter what she meant to me, she wanted me to know what I meant to her.

She passed away on March 14, 2011. I just realised that I forgot her death anniversary this year. It has only been two years and I forgot her.

I am going to remember her, especially what she taught me.

None of us know how much time we really have left in this world. Honestly, if we are suddenly given only one year to live, would all the bitter grievances and past quarrels matter? No. I just know if I only have a short time to put my affairs in order, I want to spend it putting things right. I want to let the people in my life know what they
mean to me. And it doesn't matter if they loved me back. Doesn't matter anymore.

Given enough time, nothing matters anymore except the kindness.

BOOK | Finding Freedom by Jarvis Jay Masters

I want to leave my writing behind for when I am gone and the question of who I was enters people's minds. If I am executed, there will be some who believe I deserved it. But those who want to try to make sense of it will see, through my writing, a human being who made mistakes. Maybe my writing will at least help them see me as someone who felt, loved, and cared, someone who wanted to know for himself who he was. My writing will hopefully show those people that they could easily have been me.
- Jarvis Jay Masters, Finding Freedom

I have spent some time thinking about what to blog after reading Jarvis Jay Master's Finding Freedom. For one thing, the writing is simple, not exactly literary, but it felt like a breath of fresh air. Here was a man thrown into prison. As a man on death's row, society has marked him as condemned. Yet there exists a yearning to know himself truly. Even a death sentence cannot diminish the dignity of a life, nor put out the desire for life. It reminded me of something George Orwell wrote in his essay, "A Hanging":

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working--bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming--all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned--reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone--one mind less, one world less.

In the midst of great suffering, there rises the yearning to really know yourself. In his simple language, Jarvis articulated an extraordinary capacity for self-awareness. He folds his blanket every morning, and sits down on it for his meditation. Even in the midst of the violence of his surrounding, he showed that it is still possible for a kind of peace within. He struggles with it, and prison is a place where trying to help someone might just get him killed. Yet he still makes the effort. He shows up for his life.

After reading Jarvis's story, all I really had to ask myself was this: what is my excuse for not practicing wholeheartedly? Can my circumstances be more difficult than Jarvis'? Have I showed up for my life, like Jarvis did for his?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gratitude | Getting my run in tonight

I admit I didn't feel like running today. I did a bit of cycling, which I had intended to compensate for the non-running, even though I was supposed to do a long run this weekend. Sometimes you just struggle against the run.

Somewhere along the way, I got myself outside at 9 pm and just ran. Clocked 3.47 miles. Not a lot, but it's great considering just last October, I was breathless after 5 minutes of running. Running is as much a mind exercise. I had intended to run longer, but the moment I came out from the park connector, my mind just told myself I am done. And I was. The mind has strategies to keep the body from tiring itself out. But that's okay. I ended up doing some grocery shopping before heading home.

Let us just be grateful for those days when you did not want to do something, but you did it anyway, because you need to keep your word to yourself. When I keep faith with myself, I align my actions with my intentions. That's who I want to be. Little by little, just by showing up. Not a big deal to run 3 miles, I know. But it's one step forward in a life. That's what it means. And that's important.

(Night scene from my run earlier)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dr Brene Brown Speaks

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

I had the good fortune to attend Dr Brene Brown's talk this afternoon. Her TED talk helped me reconsider the way I had been living my life - that the armour I kept around myself has not served me. It has in fact kept me disconnected, diminished my life. But along the way, I also learned just how courageous I am, in those moments when I did risk, when I did dare greatly. As Dr Brown reminded us this afternoon, it is not the critic who counts. It is the one who shows up, who puts herself in the arena that truly counts. You can't change others - and you shouldn't. But what you can do is to live your truth courageous, wholeheartedly - and maybe - just maybe, you might inspire others to what to live their own lives wholeheartedly.

Live your truth. Just show up for your own life every day.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gratitude | Toilet! And Running.

I finished a 5K run this morning and the first thing on my mind was, "NEED TOILET!" Thankfully the event venue had several facilities and I could get business sone easily. I know it's crazy to be thankful for toilets, but hell - I am thankful for my legs and knees that brought me through the finish line safely and pain-free. But I will never take toilets for granted. Especially when it's urgent.

Since we are talking about my run, here's a picture of my Finisher Medal. Yes, it's pink. I have noticed. It's a run in celebration of the International Women's Day. I never understand why they think Pink is appropriate for ALL women.

I was expecting some muscle aches from this morning's run. There will probably be some discomfort around the knees for a while, but so far I can walk with no pain. My shins are a little sore when I press them, but it's otherwise ok. My legs are getting used to the distance I have been running.

I am thankful for the positivity that running brought into my life. It is probably one of the best decisions I made for myself. Running in the morning created some space in my life. Getting up at 4:30 am, I do yoga as warm-up. I eat breakfast more frequently these days. Most of all, after yoga and running, I am in the frame of mind for meditate. I am grateful for all of these.

Run. It might change your life.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Gratitude | Flu bug Allows Reading Time

I've been fighting a flu bug over the weekend. When I say "fighting", I mean it's the kind of flu bug that's half way there. You're not sick enough to call in sick at work, you can still function somewhat, but you are suffering and you know you are going to get worse down the road.

Anyway, I decided to stop fighting it and brought my ass to the doctor's office. I am not the only one sick though. I went to the doctor's office around 10am and only done around 3:30pm. I spent the time reading while I was waiting, which I realise is something I have not allowed myself to do for a while.

Everything can be a blessing. So let us just be grateful for some extra reading time. Reading material included below: