Sunday, November 27, 2011

When peace descends on me

Sadness is everywhere. Death, divorce, destruction and tragedy. These are among the things that make us sad. Some are able to bear their misfortunes bravely. Others, however, are too wrapped in misery to move on.

We crave for a perfect spouse, a beautiful home, plenty of money, supportive friends and relatives, lots of good luck and all those things that make us happy.

But what happens when sadnesses are more than joys. Take the man who can't seem to manage without his wife who died recently. Or the farmer who lost his vegetables as a result of flood damage. Consider the case of a battered wife whose husband treats her like trash.

Can we ever get over our troubles? This question dates back to ancient times. Early humans had to endure the elements, hunger, animals and other humans, among others before things got better.

Experience has taught me that life may seem unfair but it has also shown me that hard times will come to an end. Patience is the name of the game. An incident which wrenched at my heart six months ago doesn't feel so bad now. A misunderstanding with a beloved sibling is slowly being resolved. I have lost interest in the expensive dress that I wanted weeks ago. They say time is a great healer and I couldn't agree more.

That is why Brad Pitt's quote on happiness resonates with life's complex themes and emotions: "I think happiness is overrated. Sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're not. There's too much pressure to be happy. Being at peace is more of a goal for myself."


Indeed, people expect you to be happy all the time. They can't handle it when you're not your usual cheerful self. But you can't feel bright and cheerful and full of energy everyday. That's a fact.


Seeking peace is a more manageable aim. The golden rule of handling a crisis is to stay calm. When disaster strikes I tell myself that this will pass. I will do everything possible to mitigate its consequences but I have to persevere with difficult stituations. It is possible to create a haven of peace and tranquillity but you have to work at it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A drop in the ocean

The monsoon rains come in November, December, January and February. They continue for most of the day.


The monsoon season in Malaysia didn't mean much to me until I came face-to-face with it recently in Kuala Terengganu, the state and royal capital of Terengganu. I was there on an assignment and soon realised that travelling is much more difficult during this period of heavy rain in the east coast states of Malaysia: Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.

This year's monsoon rains have flooded many villages in the three states but that is another story.

The monsoon blew relentlessly into my face as I dashed to the lobby of Felda Residence, my home for three days, from the vehicle that took me to the hotel from the airport. I dumped my stuff in my room on the sixth floor after checking in and came down to a waiting vehicle which will take my colleague and I to the famous Pasar Payang (Payang Market), the city's main shopping area.

Even though it is not far from the hotel (a mere 20-minute walk), it would have been impossible to saunter to the market because of the rain. My shopping experience was an exciting one and the torrential downpour left my colleague and I stranded at the market. But I didn't mind. I have always liked the rain, which stopped long enough for us to get on a trishaw whose rider bravely cycled back to the hotel.  

As soon as we reached the hotel, it rained again. It was a day of intermittent showers and they continued for most of the three days we were there. Other colleagues from Kuala Lumpur who were with me in Kuala Terengganu constantly wondered about the social life of residents in the city during the wet months (November to February) and felt pity for what they were enduring. "What do they do at night?" asked Anis.

It is business as usual, says a Terengganu-born teacher, who seems immune to this often asked question. My friend Nelson Fernandez, a journalist, who covered the east coast states for 10 years loves the rain, howling gale and rough sea. Others, like a photojournalist, find it a problem to cart her camera and other gear.

For Fernandez, the mournful cry of the wind was at once sad and comforting. It worsened his loneliness (his family stayed back in Kuala Lumpur) but in some strange way it also consoled him. After a day of hard work, he turned to the roar of gale-force winds for solace. "It's hard to explain," says Nelson, who is now back in Kuala Lumpur. And when large and dangerous waves rise majestically from the ocean, he reminds himself that he is only a drop in the mass of salt water that covers most of the earth's surface.

I see where Fernandez is coming from. I felt the healing power and cleansing quality of the elements too and without realising it I was in introspective mode. Overnight rain had freshened up the view from my room window. Then a light rain began to fall and it set in steadily by the time I went for breakfast.

When I returned to my room, I looked out of the window and saw people walking in the rain, some with umbrellas, others without. I contemplated braving the bad weather and going for a walk. I stood by the window, hesitating over whether or not to do so. The fact that I didn't have proper rain gear stopped me from leaving my room.

As the saying goes: "He who hesitates is lost." Did I lose a good opportunity in not going for a walk?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seek peace rather than happiness

Quotable quote


"I think happiness is overrated. Sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're not. There's too much pressure to be happy. Being at peace is more of a goal for myself."



Brad Pitt

Source: New Straits Times, November 15, 2011