Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finding Joy in the Mundane

(The layout of this post and photos might be 'off' and messy if you're viewing this on your mobile device or on a laptop with a screen resolution different from mine. Sorry about that!)

About 2 years ago, I wrote a post on how I personally felt that the world revolves around 4 things and one of them was our obsession to feel. I went on about how some might have felt that adulthood felt boring in comparison to childhood because we had less 'firsts' and we were becoming desensitized to many things. Well, you can read about it here if you're interested.

I don't know how true that was, but it was just something I was starting to feel at the time and I was trying out this new thing called 'doing one new thing a week'. I wanted to experience many 'firsts' again. The articles on the internet were throwing grand suggestions like travelling to new places and trying out extreme sports, but I decided to just create my own list. This list was of things I was curious about, lifehacks I wanted to try out or things I wanted to do when I was a child but couldn't for various reasons. It just made sense at the time. I was turning 30, I had access to stuff then, so why should I whine about never having the opportunity to, say, learn a musical instrument? I mean, I was almost 30 then, dammit. If I really wanted something that badly to still be bitter about it by 30, I should just go ahead and do it, not whine about how envious I was of the kids who could learn playing the piano in primary school. 

Going through the list made me realize I didn't really want some of the things I thought I did. One of the items in my list was 'using a dishwasher' (well, this should give you a glimpse of what kind of list I had). I've just always hated washing the dishes and fantasized about using a dishwasher every time I saw it in a film. My opportunity came when my tenancy agreement came to an end in 2014. Immediately after, I rented an AirBnB which happened to have a dishwasher. It was then I realized I actually hated dishwashers and that I found it more of an inconvenience more than anything. Plus, I felt guilty because I felt like I was running up the water and electricity bill every time it ran. So the dishwasher and I parted ways. I was relieved though, because at least I knew now. At least I won't end up being a 60-year-old who is still fantasizing about using a dishwasher.

I've got to be honest, it really wasn't one new thing a week. Unless me watching a new movie every week was categorized under me doing a 'new thing'. I usually did that one new thing on the weekends, and some weekends I was catching up on work and others were me lazing around watching Netflix. Some months I only did one new thing a month, and others were one new thing every week. So I averaged them out and called them my 'one new thing a fortnight'. Most of them were fairly simple things too, like trying out a new recipe like making almond milk or burger patties from scratch, or exploring a new local attraction. They were my short-term happiness. 

But recently, I rediscovered.. a slightly longer-lasting form of happiness through it.

I've been renting for a couple of years now, and it's usually old houses run by old folks in their 70s who love to DIY. I love 'restoring' (for lack of a better word, the stuff I do is really simple, nothing fancy) old furniture and exchanging tips with my landlords. My previous landlord in 2014 actually taught me a cool plumbing trick which I found useful to this day. I was that kid who, after learning about the U, S and P bends in Kemahiran Hidup in secondary school, went home eagerly to apply my newfound 'knowledge', much to my parents' dismay. So when these lifehacks articles and videos were making rounds on the internet, you can imagine how excited I was. I was that person who'd go and buy a small bag of walnuts for £1 to buff out some old wooden furniture in 2014. It was just so, very, oddly satisfying.

Before and after buffing an old wooden furniture at the place I was renting with three pieces of walnuts.

Then I moved out and into a modern home and kind of forgot about the whole restoring thing. Until recently.

Last year I moved into an old home. For me, it was ideal: Unfurnished, my landlord was nice and my neighbours minded their own business. I knew it was old, because of the poor insulation and the guy who lives above me told us he's been renting his flat since 1988. My landlord is 73 with a twisted sense of humour and doesn't bother me much. Once, during a fire safety check in my flat, he told the woman from the City Council that she didn't need to check the locked cellar, it's just where I kept my stash of drugs and alcohol. Needless to say, she was not amused. He also insisted on repainting the rooms before I moved in (it really was to cover up the mouldy walls, but never mind).

The old flat had its own charm, even though almost everyone who visited us was blind to it. Haha. The previous tenant seemed to have left in a hurry. The freezer stank of something fishy and was filled with some brown liquid and no amount of lemons, dishwashing liquid, lemongrass or baking soda got rid of the smell. You know what worked in the end? I found a container of frozen kaffir lime leaves in an Asian supermarket, tore up about 20 pieces and threw it in the freezer. Yeah, daun limau purut. Amazing.

After a few months the place started to look like a home, but there was something that never failed to bother me. The poor caulk job in the bathroom. It was messy and mould was starting to set in the rubber. What's caulk? Well, it's that black or white sealant you always see around sinks, bathtubs, walls and things like that. Let me just google up a photo of what it is:

For nearly a year, every time I looked at the sink or bathtub, I was filled with annoyance. Every single shower, every time I used the toilet, every time I brushed my teeth, I felt like the shitty caulk job was taunting me. And I didn't want to bother my landlord about it since he was 73 and would probably insist on doing it himself. I had a sinking feeling he was responsible for the previous caulk job anyway. Can't blame him, it's not as easy as it looks.

"Well, why don't you do something about it?" my partner asked.

"It doesn't bother you?" I asked.

"No, not really."

So that was that. That was gonna be my 'one new thing a fortnight' thingy for that week. 

I watched a couple of videos and read a few blogposts to see what I was getting myself into, and went shopping on Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything I needed cost slightly under £13.

Piu piu piu! Check out my caulking gun.

So, below (on the left) is what's been irritating me every morning. 

Before and after removing the old caulk. New caulk hasn't been applied at this point.

Ugh, just looking at the 'before' picture is making me irritable. The sinks were fairly easy. But then came the bathtub..

No amount of scrubbing got rid of the black mould on the caulk. There was no other way, I had remove all of the previous caulk and re-caulk it. I wasn't prepared for what greeted me when I removed the caulk though.


It was nasty! Just nasty! I had to clean them up before re-caulking. I don't know how long ago the previous caulk job was, but I'm glad I got the anti-mould caulk for this. To be frank, the whole thing was tiring, especially when it required me to squat or kneel for hours in the bathtub while doing it.

But I felt like the results were so worth it.
It wasn't perfect, but it made me feel so much better. It kind of made the tub look new too.

Let me just skip through the boring and tedious process of caulking, especially when it comes to curved edges and you don't have a masking tape for the straight lines. I used my fingers to push and smoothen the caulk and ended smelling like ammonia in the end, well, rubber tappers would know that smell. I didn't have any spirit or whatever for the caulk that ended on the metal taps, so I used WD40 instead and that worked fine. Then I ended up smelling like WD40. But my taps were shiny.

With the caulk and WD40 applied. See, shiny. I had spent so long on this that the sun had set after I was done so I had to take this picture with the bathroom light on. 


So in the end, my back and legs hurt, I smelled terrible, my fingers were sticky but my taps were shiny and the previous messy caulk job was gone.

It's incredible how doing this small thing changed the days after. Looking at the sink while brushing my teeth made me happy. I started smiling while staring at the bathtub. I was like a crazy person.

I suddenly had this newfound appreciation for neat caulk jobs and those who did this thankless and unappreciated job. 

And that's the thing with my previous 'one new thing a fortnight' activities. They just felt so, temporary. I'd cook something new, eat it, and then it's gone. But when it came to something like caulking, I really felt like this small thing changed my daily life in a big way. So here's to more of doing things like these, especially those I've been postponing, and to rediscovering joy in the mundane.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Those Abandoned Dreams.

Every now and then, you come across a passage that really speaks to you. 

"Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The thing is, I know little of the context of this passage. I read the book when I was about eight, and understood close to nothing. I hardly remember any of its contents now. But I came across this paragraph again as an adult, and it really spoke to me. 

Someone entered your life, out of nowhere. They stirred feelings and aspirations that you thought were long gone or were buried too deep, and now that you realized those feelings you thought were long dead have awaken again, you're filled with a deep yearning. But for what? You start dreaming again, fantasizing the things you could be and do and these yearnings make you restless. You suddenly feel like giving up your bad habits and taking up good ones. You suddenly want to become a much, much better person. You want to become a better person who makes the world a better place for others. And all because of this uninvited guest in your life.

But alas, you're you. Deep down you know these dreams are short-lived. They'll only remain in your head. You won't actually do most of those things and even if you did, you are only that 'better' person, for a short while. Because the demons in you will always win. But you just can't shake off that you need to be better. And you both love and hate the uninvited guest for stirring those feelings, dreams and possibilities in you and you're suddenly constantly reminded of how flawed you are. But you thank them anyway. Thank you, for making me realize I am not dead inside. Thank you, for making me feel again. Thank you for inspiring me although I led myself nowhere. The flaws were all mine, and your existence made me realize what I could have been, had I not been so flawed. I will cherish these dreams forever, even if they only live to exist in the deep recesses of my mind.

My father really loved Charles Dickens. And he wanted to share Dickens' magic with me. At eight, I was absolutely fascinated by David Copperfield. He gave Dickens' David Copperfield to me, and in an attempt to get me to read it, he told me it was about the magician. My English was so bad at the time that I only realized halfway through the book that it wasn't about my Copperfield, the magician. When I confronted him about it, he merely told me that well, technically he didn't lie. David Copperfield did choose his stage name based on Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. 

And so he did.

So it was absolutely bizarre (actually, no, not at all) that I should come across this passage again as an adult and finally understood what my father was getting at. Maybe it never really occurred to him that as a kid, I would never be able to fully appreciate Dickens or understand the emotional complexity of his writings. Maybe he was all too excited to share that magic with someone. So it is by pure chance that I should revisit this passage again as an adult, and feel compelled to revisit his books and discover the magic that I was blind to as a child, and to attempt to understand my father and his world. 

And so I will.

Friday, October 6, 2017


I entered his world when he was 37.

Masa tu dia dah ada dua anak, cuma bezanya aku hadir dalam hidup dia masa dia dah selesa sikit. Hidup yang dia bina sedikit demi sedikit sejak dia datang ke Malaysia dalam bot ketika dia berusia 10 tahun. Aku pernah dengar dia cakap pasal pengalaman tu sekali je dalam seumur hidup aku, dan dia cerita pun sebab nak menerangkan kat mak aku kenapa dia tak makan telur kuning. 

"We were on the boat so long, we ran out of food, except for eggs. So we had to eat raw eggs. I couldn't look at egg yolks or anything yellow for years without feeling nauseated," dia cerita. 

Tapi tu cerita untuk hari lain. Cerita hari ni pasal aku dan bapak aku.

Mak bapak aku dedua percaya akan konsep anak pembawa rezeki. Mak aku selalu mengingatkan aku yang bapak aku naik pangkat lepas aku lahir, dan beberapa tahun selepas aku dilahirkan, kami berjaya pindah daripada rumah kami masa tu yang dipecah masuk hari-hari sebab penagih dadah suka curi makanan daripada peti sejuk kami. Juga rumah sama yang seorang penagih dadah meninggalkan 'souvenir' darahnya di atas bantal selepas ditembak polis.

Naik pangkat bermakna bapak aku dapat luangkan lebih masa dengan kami dan dia kurang stress. Mak dengan adik-beradik aku cakap dia start mellow down lepas aku lahir, dan mereka berteori sebab rupa dan perangai aku paling sama dengan bapak aku. Dan sebagai typical middle child, aku selalu, unashamedly, dahagakan validation parents aku. Bila bapak aku balik daripada kerja, aku cepat-cepat lari sambut dia kat pintu dengan senyuman paling lebar, walaupun aku tengah makan atau buat homework masa tu. Kalau dia cakap dia penat lepas kerja, aku offer nak urut kaki dia. Aku cuci kereta dia on weekends sejak aku 7 tahun. Masa sekolah rendah, aku hafal surah-surah dalam Muqaddam dan recite depan dia malam-malam sebab aku nampak benda tu buat dia happy. Bila kami sekeluarga pergi muzium masa cuti sekolah, aku bawak buku nota dan catit semua benda yang aku nampak kat muzium tu. Bapak aku happy tengok aku buat macam tu dan selalu suruh abang aku jadi macam aku. God, I was such an annoying kid. Patutlah abang aku selalu buli aku.

Bila aku kena tulis karangan 'The Person I Admire the Most' kat sekolah, aku mesti tulis pasal bapak aku. Mak aku akan kumpul semua karangan tu, dan akan tunjuk kat bapak aku. Tu antara cara aku komunikasi dengan bapak aku pasal perasaan aku terhadap dia, sebab sebenarnya, kami semua rasa kekok untuk cakap pasal feelings. Cara kami berkomunikasi macam aku cerita tadi lah. Aku repot dia apa aku achieve kat sekolah ke memana, atau tolong dia. Kami tak pernah ada personal talks. Dia punyalah rimas dengan benda-benda personal sampai kami tak dibenarkan wish dia happy birthday.

Kau tau macam ibu atau bapa yang terlalu sibuk untuk kau, tapi kau tetap asyik pergi kat mereka, tanya boleh tolong atau teman tak? Ha, macam tu lah. Dan aku percaya, sebab tu, lama-lama mereka balas balik affections aku. Bila aku start masuk sekolah rendah, baru lah dia mula bagi aku masuk dunia dia. Bila dia pergi pejabat atau hutan masa hujung minggu, atau pergi jumpa kawan-kawan dia, kengkadang dia bawa aku. Antara memori indah yang aku simpan ialah bapak aku bawak aku pergi jumpa kawan dia yang ada kedai buku dan dia bagi aku pinjam sebanyak buku yang aku nak, tiap kali aku datang. Ada lagi seorang kawan dia yang ada kedai runcit dan selalu offer apa-apa yang aku nak daripada kedai dia, tapi bapak aku selalu tak bagi aku terima. Dia selalu nasihatkan aku, jangan ambil barang free sebab nanti pakcik tu rugi dan dia juga perlu duit untuk survive. Jadi sebagai budak 7 tahun, aku terpaksa reject Paddle Pop pelangi daripada pakcik tu walaupun hati aku meronta-ronta nak. Selain daripada tu, cara kami bonding adalah dengan explore benda-benda baru. Dia bawak aku masuk hutan, dan lepas keluar hutan kami akan bukak kasut dan check kalau-kalau ada pacat masuk dan cabut pacat sama-sama. Pernah sekali dia bawak aku tengok mayat untuk medical students. I was so fascinated. Bila pikir balik, macam pelik jugak bapak aku buat macam tu masa aku 7 tahun, tapi sekarang aku sedar dia hanya nak kongsi hidup dan benda-benda yang dia minat dengan aku masa tu. Dan sekarang aku sedar kau boleh berusia 40 ke atas dan masih ada sifat kebudak-budakan dalam diri kau, yang kau akan tunjuk dekat orang tertentu dan terpilih sahaja.

Dan sebab dia nampak diri dia dalam diri aku, dia juga nampak kelemahan dirinya dalam aku. Perangai cepat baran (tapi cepat cool off), perangai degil dan idealistik. Aku rasa pertama kalinya dia sedar aku macam tu masa kami ramai-ramai balik kampung mak aku masa Raya. Masa tu, aku berusia 9 tahun. Aku suka gila balik kampung mak aku sebab dia cam dunia yang berbeza gila daripada hidup aku di bandar. Masa aku kat kampung je lah aku bebas nak meronda dan main dengan kawan-kawan aku sampai Maghrib. Sebab kampung mak aku jenis bebetul kampung, sampai tak ada jalanraya sebab tak ada siapa ada kereta. Mak bapak aku pun tak payah la risau aku kena langgar kereta ke apa. Kampung mak aku kecik, dan hampir semua penduduk kampung tu related dengan kami. Salah satu keluarga yang aku dengan rapat dengan ialah keluarga arwah pakcik aku. Aku rapat dengan anak-anak arwah pakcik aku ni. Aku tak tau mereka dah ada berapa adik-beradik sekarang, tapi masa tu ada dalam 7 orang, dan bini arwah pakcik aku ni penagih dadah. Kita panggil makcik ni, makcik A. Beberapa orang anak dia drop out sekolah untuk tanggung keluarga, dan aku paling rapat dengan dua adik-beradik yang paling dekat usia dengan aku, Z dan W.

Sebelum aku sambung, aku nak terangkan, masalah dadah ni benda biasa dan berleluasa di kalangan saudara mara aku. Aku tak pandang benda tu sebagai aib keluarga aku, tapi realiti kami. Close childhood friend aku (pakcik aku yang sebaya dengan aku) bebaru ni pun baru masuk pusat serenti. Aku tau mungkin benda ni tak normal bagi orang lain, tapi perkara ni just another realiti dalam hidup aku. Sebab aku tau, kalau mak aku tak break the cycle dan pergi ke bandar, kalau aku lahir kepada dia (sebagai orang lain?), aku pun mungkin cenderung hidup ke arah tu.

Anyway, aku rapat dengan Z dan W. Z budak perempuan yang sebaya dengan aku dan W ni adik lelaki dia yang 7 tahun dan suka tag along. Bila dah lelama spend time, walaupun kau baru 9 tahun, kau akan mula tertanya kenapa hidup dia lain gila daripada kau. Kenapa diaorang takyah pergi sekolah? Taknak pergi sekolah ke? Kenapa gigi dia reput? Mak dia tak suruh berus gigi sebelum tidur ke? Kenapa dia tak pakai selipar pergi bendang? Dan sebab aku 9 tahun jugak, aku berani tanya terus soalan-soalan ni semua. Bila aku tau dia tak pergi sekolah dan teringin nak pergi sekolah, dan tak ada berus gigi atau selipar, dan mak dia biasa hilang berhari-hari tak balik rumah, 9-year-old me was shocked by all of it. Mungkin untuk pertama kalinya, privileged bubble aku dicucuk berkali-kali. 

Malam tu, aku buat perangai SJW dan cerita semua tu kat mak aku dan merayu dia untuk pujuk bapak aku untuk ambil W sebagai anak angkat. Rupanya mak aku dan orang kampung dah lama tak puas hati dengan perangai Makcik A dan tolong aku pujuk bapak aku. Dan itu lah pertama kalinya aku nampak bapak aku pandang muka aku dengan ekspresi yang sangat pelik. Masa tu aku tak paham apa maksud riak wajah dia. Semacam kesian dan kecewa. Tapi sekarang aku paham, tu kali pertamanya dia nampak aku ada salah satu kelemahan dia, perangai idealistik, dan dia nampak aku akan dikecewakan dalam hidup berkali-kali sebab ada perangai tu. 

Dan dengan suara yang perlahan, dengan cara sebagaimana seorang bapa mat salleh menerangkan kepada anaknya yang Santa Claus tidak wujud, bapak aku cuba menerangkan kat aku yang walaupun ye, W patut pergi sekolah, dan ye, hidup kita lagi senang daripada keluarga W, kita tak boleh senang-senang je nak ambik anak orang daripada mak dan keluarga dia. Yang dalam hidup ni akan ada banyak perkara tak adil, tapi aku tak boleh masuk campur dengan cara tu. Dia cakap kita boleh tolong dengan cara lain. 

Bapak aku tak mention pun pasal dia sendiri kesempitan wang masa tu. Semua tu, sekali dengan cerita pasal macam mana dia juga idealist masa kecik, aku dengar masa aku dah dewasa dan daripada orang lain atau daripada status Facebook dia bila dia bernostalgia.

Over the years, aku nampak that 'look' berkali-kali bila dia pandang aku, dan aku paham it's the look someone gives you when they see you repeating or about to repeat their mistakes, and they remember the pain that it caused them. But they have to let you commit those mistakes anyway, because how else were you supposed to learn?

My idealistic tendencies and occasional naivety have caused me some pain and brought me some blessings. It explains why I'd join tons of contest even though I'd only win a few, why I used to aim for things that others tell me I have no chance for or why I'd care about certain causes more than I should. It also caused me a few failures and countless disappointments, especially when it comes to my tendency to idolize mere mortals. 

Aku suka ingat balik pada hari tu, sebab aku rasa hari tu aku rasa bapak aku cuba ajar aku an important lesson about the harsh realities of life kat aku dengan cara yang paling gentle yang dia reti. Dan aku akan teringat betapa untungnya aku, sebab bapak aku masih rasa dia kena protect aku daripada the harsh realities of life masa aku 9 tahun.

Sebab masa dia lebih kurang umur aku masa tu, dia dah kena naik bot demi cari kehidupan yang lebih baik dan face the harsh the realities of life.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tiga Puluh: Things I Know Now (written in 2015)

Masa scroll drafts aku tadi, aku jumpa draft ni yang aku tulis in 2015. So aku decide nak publish je lah. 

Tujuh tahun yang lalu, aku tulis satu post yang bertajuk, "Things You Wish You Knew at 17, But Clearly Didn’t", which some people found useful. Jadi sempena masuk 30 tahun, aku nak sambung dengan a simple post. Things I learned by 30 (which you might or might not find useful or relevant).

Sebenarnya aku rasa janggal masuk 30. Really. 30 feels weird because it feels so normal and uneventful. Masa early 20s, aku ada expectations macam-macam. I thought, "By 30, aku dah figure life and myself out. Aku takkan takut dengan dunia atau sesapa. Aku akan ada itu ini. Dah buat itu ini."

But 30 came sooner than I expected. One day I woke up and I was 30. I was different and I had done a lot of things since I was 20, but strangely I don't feel that much different from when I was 20. 

Jadi ni a few lessons I learned along the way:

1. Dah cakap ni, tapi nak cakap lagi. 30 will come sooner than you expected. Jadi kalau kau jenis suka buat janji dengan kawan-kawan macam, "Kalau by 30 kita tak kahwin, jom kahwin each other?", just don't. Trust me.

2. I should've been way nicer and more forgiving towards my parents. Parents aku sebenarnya ada anak masa diorang muda. Sekarang ni baru aku sedar betapa mencabarnya jadi mak aku sebab dia dah kena handle tiga anak sebelum umur dia cecah 30. 
3. Aku rasa antara benda yang pelik adalah aku banyak experience benda yang aku ingat I'd experience later on in life, by the time I hit 25. Tengok kengkawan bercerai. Bercerai dan kahwin lagi. Meninggal sebab heart attack. Meninggal sebab cancer. Tengok kengkawan tukar agama, tukar political stance, kahwin dengan bangsa yang diorang anti, eat their own words, macam-macam la. Semua ni aku nampak terjadi masa kengkawan aku in their 20s. Aku tau benda-benda ni akan happen eventually, cuma aku expect they'll happen masa aku 30-50 tahun.

So takeaway lesson untuk aku: Never say never. Because you might just eat your own words soon. Bayangkan, semua orang yang dok cakap diorang takkan jadi jenis parents yang suka upload bebanyak gambar anak diorang, became exactly that! Yang paling suka kutuk agama tetiba jadi religious, and vice versa. Yang conservative jadi liberal, dan yang liberal jadi conservative. Tak mustahil kau pun akan telan banyak kata-kata kau nanti. I ate a lot of my own words too. Nasibla aku ada blog ni untuk merekod semua benda bangang yang aku pernah pikir.

4. Aku sedar aku kena always trust my instincts. Only go for it bila hati dengan otak dedua setuju. Sebab banyak kali hati aku nak, tapi otak aku tak kasi. Also, senang gila nak rasa 'sure' ngan something. Tapi perasaan tu boleh berubah sekelip mata.

5.  On love and marriage: it's unpredictable, because you are unpredictable. Kau macam ni sekarang, tapi 5 years down the road, kau sure ke kau tak berubah? Kau sure ke partner kau takkan berubah? Would you guys be okay with that? Kau takleh expect orang nak stay the same je, sebab kau pikirlah diri kau 5 tahun yang lalu macam mana. So kalau kau nak commit, pikir elok-elok pasal ni. And sebab ni gak kau takleh judge orang yang bercerai.

6. Memang normal la rasa pressured nak buat something sebab semua orang lain tengah buat, tapi actually doing it *sebab* orang lain buat adalah tindakan yang kurang bijak. Janganlah buat big life decisions sebab orang lain buat. You might hate the consequences. Some of those decisions are irreversible.

8. Ramai orang ada short-term memory. So kalau kau mess up, don't worry, they'll only talk about you until the next screw-up comes along. Jadi kalau kau nak buat sesuatu tapi takut dengan 'apa orang kata', remember that.

9. My teens and 20s were my opinionated and self-discovery years. I craved it. Memang aku selalu dok cari orang yang macam aku gak masatu. Suka bertukar pendapat, pastu someone yang boleh validate my opinions and make me feel smart, bla bla bla. All the time. But now I find that shit annoying. Sekali sekala boleh la. Now I just want and need someone to chill with. 

10. Makin tua, kau akan rasa cam lagi senang nak jadi cynical. Nak prasangka buruk dengan orang sebab pengalaman. Dan benda ni akan pengaruh actions kau dan apa yang berlaku kat kau. Fight it. Ada orang ingat opposite cynicism ni adalah naivety. It's not. Kau boleh jadi cynical, sedar tentang benda-benda buruk dalam dunia tapi choose to remain an optimist anyway.

Cynicism exists in you because of something that happened in your past. Optimism, that's something that'll decide your future.

11. Masa ni penentu untuk macam-macam. Antara lesson paling penting aku sedar, kau takkan belajar something unless kau dah ready for it. Macam bayi yang belajar nak berjalan. Orang selalu nasihat kat kita macam-macam, and kita jarang peduli, sebab kita tak ready. Bila dah berlaku, baru kita sedar atau teringat nasihat tu. Benda ni buat aku teringat lagu Buses and Trains from Bachelor Girl. Dia dok marah kat mak dia,

"Hey Mom, why didn't you warn me?
'Cause about boys is something I should have known"

Aku rasa mak dia dah warn dah. Biasanya parents dah nasihat pasal benda-benda ni. Tapi tu lah, banyak benda dalam hidup ni, dah kena nasihat banyak-banyak pun kita tak belajar-belajar lagi. Tengoklah, kita manusia ni dah tua pun biasanya masih bodoh bila perihal cinta.

12. Yeah, aku rasa we should be nicer to the younger ones. Or at least not as condescending la. Biarlah diorang nak merasa pandai ke delusional ke apa. Masa kau umur tu, kau pun benci kalau ada orang kata, "Nanti tua kau tau lah". Macam lah we're in a better place by being cynical pun (macam lah 30 tua sangat pun). Aku paling nyampah kalau tengah happy ke apa pastu ada party pooper datang cakap, "Nanti dah tua/ dah kahwin lama/ dah ada anak/ dah umur cam makcik, kau tau lah". Nak imply semua akan end up in suffering. Macam doa buruk lak. Macam lah outcome semua orang sama. Jadi aku kena belajar supaya kontrol tak buat benda ni kat orang lain.

13. Learn from the old ones. Bukan semua nak ajar kau, tapi kalau ada tu, seriously, learn from them. Tak kisahlah kau rasa diorang ada mentaliti kuno ke, tak cukup kreatif ke. Kau ingat diorang kerja lama tu, diorang takda pick up shortcuts and tips yang boleh menjimatkan masa kau? Bila diorang start brag pasal zaman dulu lagi tough ke apa, kau layankan je la. Alah, cam tak biasa je. Kau pun sama je sekarang.

14. Tapi jangan limit diri kau sebab ada orang yang lebih tua kata kau tak boleh atau tak patut buat sesuatu. If you think it's worth doing, dan kau dah calculate the risks, maybe you should pursue it and find out for yourself. Orang tua memang banyak ilmu dan pengalaman. Tapi diorang bukanlah berpengalaman dalam semua benda. Dalam banyak-banyak paths dalam hidup ni, most people only took one. They might be able to make some calculated guesses about what will happen if you take a different path from them, but they can never know for sure.

15. Kalau benda tu memang ditakdirkan untuk kau, you will get it. Kalau bukan, tak ada apa yang leh ubah benda tu. Of course we must always try. But you could do everything right, and it might still not happen. Dan aku sedar, kalau aku asyik biarkan rasa serba kurang dan "orang lain lagi bagus, what's the point of trying?" take over diri aku, aku mungkin takkan berani buat banyak benda. So I'm glad I took (a few) risks.

Ok, dah 15 points. Sebenarnya banyak lagi, tapi cukup lah buat masa ni. Banyak-banyak sangat kang nyampah pulak. So 30 bahagi 2 = 15 kan, ha 15 cukup lah. Bye.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Krisis Pertengahan Umur Lagi dan Lagi #2

Kawan-kawan aku yang menulis status berbaur krisis pertengahan umur di media sosial bukanlah golongan pertengahan umur. Ramai juga yang berumur 20-an.

Bila orang sebut midlife crisis dulu, aku selalu terbayang lelaki tua boroi yang tetiba teringin beristerikan perempuan muda dan memiliki sports car. Tu dulu. 

Sekarang, aku hanya view midlife crisis sebagai fasa hidup seseorang bila dia berasa kekosongan dan tak paham kenapa mereka rasa begitu dan mula persoalkan segala pilihan hidup mereka. Mereka rasa kecewa dengan pilihan hidup mereka dan mula panik kesuntukan masa. Mula tertanya, "What if this is all there is to life?" atau, "What if it's too late to change my life? What if I have to live this shitty path till I die?"

Aku percaya krisis umur ini boleh berlaku setiap dekad, dan boleh mula bebila.

You only start thinking of the 'wants' when you've taken care of all the 'needs'.

Kadang-kadang aku tertanya juga, ada tak mak bapak aku atau mak bapak kengkawan aku termenung dan terasa kosong dengan hidup. Cuma aku rasa parents aku masa 30-an terlalu sibuk menyara kami dan ensure keperluan hidup cukup untuk meluangkan masa untuk self-pity lama-lama. Aku tak pasti apa hopes and dreams mak aku sebelum dia melahirkan aku dan adik-beradik aku, tapi aku pasti dia masih belum puas meneroka hidup. Masa mak aku masuk umur 50-an, dia mula melancong dengan kawan-kawan dia. Seronok jugak tengok mak aku masih dapat merasa benda-benda baru dan merasa perasaan-perasaan baru.

Dulu aku pernah tulis, kalau kita terlalu cepat atau senang memperolehi sesuatu, kita akan cepat hilang thrill dia. Macam kalau kau cepat kaya, jarang kau rasa dah cukup. Mesti kau nak kaya lagi. Kalau kau start famous kat internet, mesti kau nak jadi lagi famous. Yang dapat seratus like tu sibuk pikir macam mana nak dapatkan seribu likes pulak. Takkan pernah cukup.

Dan mungkin juga ini antara sebab ramai orang mula merasa krisis umur pertengahan lagi awal. Perubahan dunia membolehkan kita kecapi macam-macam goals. Nak travel? Ada option penerbangan murah sekarang. Everyone can fly! Nak hook up? Macam-macam app untuk kau access apa yang kau cari (dan tak cari). Nak makan sedap-sedap? Macam-macam pilihan ada. Nak jadi famous? Macam-macam platform ada. Pilihan pun banyak berbanding dulu. Pressure untuk conform dengan society tu kurang. Bukan hilang, tapi kurang. Sesetengah orang lepas graduate, tak payah terus kerja, bina keluarga terus. Tak nak kahwin pun tak apa. Tak nak ada anak ramai macam ibu bapa kita pun tak apa. Mungkin semua benda makin mahal, tapi kita tetap ada pilihan untuk indulge diri kita sekali sekala. Makanan seperti pizza atau McDonalds yang sesetengah orang rasa macam 'reserved' untuk special occasions masa kecik, dah boleh kerap dibeli. Things are changing, and so are we. Tapi naluri manusia yang selalu rasa semuanya tak cukup, mungkin tu takkan berubah. 

Bukanlah orang zaman dulu tak ada wants macam tu. Ada je. Tapi kena tangguhkan sampai anak-anak dah berdikari, pasangan hidup dah meninggal atau lepas pencen. Kalau tak payah tunggu, agaknya mereka pun mula ada krisis pertengahan umur lebih awal.

So when you've taken cared of your needs and some of your wants, what are your other wants? Are you running out of wants? Do you feel unhappy despite fulfilling some of your wants and all of your needs?

Walaupun aku benci permainan 'what if', aku tertanya juga, "What if ramai di antara kita ni tangguhkan kebahagiaan kita?"

Macam kita dah patutnya tak ada sebab untuk rasa unhappy atau incomplete, tapi kita selalu rasa tak cukup sebab kita dah tanam idea dalam kepala kita, kita hanya boleh happy kalau kita dapat semua benda yang kita nak je.

Macam kau tak ada konflik besar dalam hidup kau, tak ada masalah kewangan, ada pekerjaan yang okay, kawan-kawan yang best, tapi kau rasa tak cukup selagi tak ada pasangan. Atau orang yang ada semua tu dan pasangan, tapi rasa bosan dan kosong dengan hidup. Atau sebab tak ada benda-benda yang dia teringin sebab nampak kat internet dan kawan dia ada.

Sebab aku teringat aku tak pernah rasa kekurangan sebab keluarga aku tak sambut harijadi. Aku tak tau pun benda tu pelik bagi orang lain. Lepas aku tau, rasa cam kena pulak sambut dengan pasangan aku. Aku pun tak tau kenapa. Sama jugak kot dengan kita yang masih inginkan cincin berlian sebab ingat benda tu simbol cinta walaupun dah tau sejarahnya dan dia clever marketing je. Atau orang yang teringinkan grand weddings. Dah tertanam idea tu dalam kepala otak kita, walaupun tak munasabah.

Tapi untung kan kita kalau masalah terbesar kita dalam hidup ini adalah kebosanan.

Sebenarnya jangan risau kalau rasa macam ni muda-muda. Zaman dah berubah, tak hairanlah kau rasa macam ni awal-awal. Lagi-lagi umur 20-an. Kau mula persoalkan pilihan hidup kau? Kau bernasib baik, sebab kau masih muda dan boleh explore benda-benda lain yang kau minat dan find out samada exploring them made you happier. At least you will know. At least you have time to find out, even if you get there at 50.

Tapi kalau kau tau kenapa kau rasa down ni boleh prevent kau daripada rasa down in the future ke? Aku rasa tak, but at least, at least, you might be one step closer to understanding yourself.

In my early twenties, I wrote about a similar theme in 2009. Boleh baca di sini-

Krisis Pertengahan Umur Lagi dan Lagi #1

Aku rasa krisis pertengahan umur atau midlife crisis adalah tema yang berulang bila aku baca kisah-kisah di Reddit dan Humans of New York. Ataupun bila aku baca status Facebook kawan-kawan aku.

Kisah-kisah manusia yang penuh dengan penyesalan, persoalan dan hipotesis yang kemungkinan besar mereka tak akan uji. Juga nasihat-nasihat untuk kami yang kurang berumur dan berpengalaman.

Kisah-kisah manusia yang took the path frequently travelled, and wished they had taken the one less frequently travelled. Kisah manusia yang bosan yang hidup yang telah dia bina dengan keluarga dia, yang terasa kedinginan isteri dan tak dihargai anak-anaknya, dan kini ingin mengejar mimpi remajanya. Kisah manusia yang menyembunyikan homoseksualitinya dengan mendirikan rumah tangga dan terus menceraikan isterinya setelah anak-anak sudah ke menara gading. Kisah manusia yang menyesal bekerja terlalu keras, dan yang terlalu yakin mereka akan bahagia jika mengejar mimpi yang mereka telah lama lupakan.

Aku juga ada hipotesis. Hipotesis aku ialah aku tak pasti mereka akan bahagia jika memilih jalan hidup yang lagi satu, atau yang lagi dua, atau yang seribu.

Kadang-kadang kita selalu meletakkan terlalu banyak beban ke atas seseorang atau sesuatu untuk memberi kita kebahagiaan. 

Kalau aku dapat pindah duduk dekat tempat baru, tentu aku bahagia. Start a new life. Become a new person.

Kalau aku jumpa soulmate aku, tentu aku rasa complete. Tentu aku lebih tenang, kurang emo dan takkan mengenal perasaan sunyi lagi. Aku dapat merasa disayangi dan menyayangi, diperlukan dan memerlukan.

Situasi dapat berubah. Things will happen to you. But I can't promise you will change or feel differently. Once the novelty wears off, what's left is you. You can't escape you.

Manusia yang tadinya ingat hidupnya pasti bahagia jika mengejar cita-cita untuk melancong dan menulis buku instead of mendirikan rumahtangga dan menyara keluarga, mungkin akan
teringin the family life had he pursued that dream. Who knows. I don't. 

I just know some of us will never be content no matter what, because they keep thinking of the 'what ifs'.

Periuk Nasi

Aku ingat lagi first time aku kena pergi belajar overseas lebih sedekad lalu. Aku punyalah risau nak pergi sebab aku baru belajar bahasa negara tu selama dua tahun, tapi mak aku risau aku akan tak cukup makan. Aku reti lah goreng-goreng benda instant dan goreng telur ngan Maggi masa tu, tapi aku tak reti masak nasik.

Mak aku insist aku beli periuk nasi, batu lesung dan seguni bahan makanan instant. Aku merayu taknak bawak batu lesung sebab berat, tapi dia risau aku akan tetiba rindu sambal belacan pastu tak boleh nak buat. Aku cakap aku bukan reti pun buat, jadi tak apa lah. Akhirnya kami berkompromi. Makanan instant dan periuk nasi mini.

Jadi dengan satu per empat beg berisi pakaian, dan tiga per empat lagi berisi periuk nasi dan perencah instant, aku ke Germany. Dipendekkan cerita, enam bulan pertama, aku duduk di hostel dengan 3 lagi kengkawan aku tapi diorang lain-lain tingkat. Kami bercadang untuk makan dinner sesama tetiap weekday sebab weekends aku kena makan dengan floormates. Masalahnya, lagi sorang tu bawak periuk nasi mini jugak. 

Keesokan harinya, kami pun pergi kedai elektronik untuk survey periuk nasi yang besar. Aku lega jugakla sebab ada yang murah dan berkualiti. Kami pun bahagi cost dia antara kami berempat. Tapi masa nak balik tu, semua orang taknak angkat kotak periuk nasi besar tu sebab nampak tak cool.

"Kau ah angkat Mag, kau perempuan. Nanti kau gak yang masak"

"Aku mana reti masak nasik bodoh"

"Nanti kau belajar ah"

So last last aku pun mengalah lah dan angkat je kotak besar dan tak cool tu. Masa naik bas, aku paranoid and rasa cam semua orang tengah perhatikan aku dan kotak periuk nasi aku. Aku cecepat duduk kat tempat duduk yang agak depan supaya membelakangi mata-mata yang aku rasa sedang memandang aku. Kawan aku, arwah Jipo, duduk sebelah aku. Dua lagi kawan aku duduk belakang kami.

Dekat perhentian bas seterusnya, beberapa orang lagi naik. Masa tu bas mula penuh dan beberapa pemuda terpaksa berdiri berdekatan tiang di depan aku. Seorang pemuda pandang aku dan kotak periuk nasi aku, dan senyum. 

"Sehr gesund (sangat sihat)," ujar dia sambil memandang kotak aku.

Aku sengih kat dia. Sebelah aku, aku dapat rasa arwah Jipo tengah tahan gelak. "Dia ingat kita makan nasik gitu ja ka?", dia bisik kat aku.

Haih lah pemuda, andai kata kau tau aku akan makan nasik ni dengan benda-benda macam masak lemak cili api, masihkah kau akan rasa begitu?