The Cloths of Heaven

One of my best friends got married over the weekend. The first of my close friends whose wedding I attended, and it might be a little unmanly to say it but I was actually quite moved by it.

Last night, as I was reading through the compendium of beautiful poems by Garrison Keillor aptly named Good Poems, I came across a poem that I fell in love with back in my University days at UWA (the University of Western Australia): The Cloths of Heaven, by W. B. Yeats:

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The poem reminded me of the speeches that the bride and groom gave over the weekend, which to me felt were beautiful not because they were polished, but precisely because they were the opposite of that: raw; slightly apprehensive; and yet absolutely sincere.

Here’s wishing you all the best Mr. & Mrs. Ng. May you both tread carefully on each other’s dreams for a long time to come.


31 Oct Bonus: I was (re)reading one of my favourite books (Words I Wish I Wrote by Robert Fulghum) when I came across this piece that I felt too apt not to share, and which encapsulates so wonderfully how I hope we all treat out significant others and/or close friends:

“Where’s home for you?” a stranger asks a fellow traveler on a plane.

“Wherever she is,” comes the reply, as the man points at his wife.

Multitasking and conversation don’t mix.

I came across this article (pictured below, with text typed out for your convenience) while browsing through the magazine Psychology Today while at the library this afternoon, regarding why one may feel not truly listened to when the person whom you’re talking to seems to be doing something else, even if that person were to be able to recite what you’d just said verbatim (word for word).

Communication is very much more than just hearing the words and memorising what that person just said. I think it’s quite like when the music on the radio’s too soft to be heard except for the major beats and rhythms — though you may know what song is playing and can more or less make out the melody, the experience of the song is completely flat as when compared to the if the music was turned up just right.

Conversation is not multitask-able
Conversation is not multitaskable

Here’s the text in the article (it’s the kind of article where readers submit their problems and an expert tries to help them out):

Title: MARIE ANTOINETTE MEETS TEXTING

Reader’s letter: My fiance is a wonderful man, and we have a happy life together. But there is one big thing we can’t seem to reach an agreement on. He thinks it’s normal that, when I’m speaking to him, he can text on his cell phone, do stuff on the computer, or play his guitar. He thinks that’s just the way the communication has evolved in our society, and that he’s perfectly capable of doing any of these things while attentively listening. But I feel unimportant, not special, and not very loved. I feel like shutting down. When I ask him to please look at me when I speak to him, he insists I am displaying a “Marie Antoinette attitude” and demanding the world to stop what it is doing just to “drink my words.” I am having a hard time accepting this.

Experts’ response: Do we need to drag out the studies showing that he’s deceiving himself? The thing about multitasking is that it breeds overconfidence in one’s capacities. And passively listening, to whatever degree he’s hearing the words that you utter, is hardly the same as being engaged in a conversation, which is a fairly minimum requirement for intimiate relationships–any relationships. Remind Textboy that personal relationships are “personal” for a reason. If he can’t give that, what else is there? Of course you feel like shutting down when you’re not getting it. By not paying attention to you when you’re talking, he is communicating plenty — that you’re not as important as his cell phone or his guitar. Then there’s the fact that there’s much more to communication than hearing some words; a great deal of information is transmitted nonverbally. I doubt whether Textboy would be so keen on texting if his boss asked him to come in for a chat. Looking someone in the eye is the primary path to being understood, and to do less than that is uncivil and disrespectful. That’s the core problem — the disrespect. That’s why it hurts and prompts you to shut down. The next time he wants to talk to you, be sure to have your cell phone handy and get busy with it, without explanation. A dose of his own disrespect might speak louder than your words. [END]

Lix Has Gone Overseas

On a business trip. Belgium — can you believe it?

Back in a week, it’s probably as short as most business trips go. But still there were many times I think we both felt that it felt like Perth all over again (four months of not seeing each other!)

I still remember when she went to Qatar for her last business trip. Also another week-long affair, seeing her after the week we were both asking ourselves, “who is this person standing in front of me?”

Reminds me of the times I look through some old photographs of “me” which I don’t remember — there’s a vague resemblance, but yet again there’s an equally vague strangeness. Is that really me? Was that really me? If it was, is it still the I who I am now?

To Lix: already missing you too! and looking forward to the you of next week 🙂

The Lost Pencil

Where’s my pencil?!
Someone stole my pencil
She screamed.

Cursed thieves, stealing
Her pencil, I thought
To myself.

Where is my
PENCIL she asked
Once more

But only
An empty silence
Replied.

Around she went,
Searching for her lost
Pencil.

No one saw it, she
Sighed. And I signed
With her.

Then
I FOUND MY PENCIL
She said.

IT’S IN
MY POCKET
WHAHAHA

Happiness — a state of mind.

It’s been a week since I completed my two-week in-camp-training (ICT) stint. For those two weeks, I complained to everyone who would listen how much I disliked it, and how I couldn’t wait for “normal” life to resume.

I can imagine how stupid I’d sound if I said now how much I missed those two weeks, and how those two weeks — no matter how maddenly frustrating and physically torturous — was actually enjoyable to a certain extent.

It is with great irony that — with my mind tuned to how I might be subjected to a different sort of torture at work tomorrow — I’m left wishing I was back at camp, where there the strong camaraderie made it all seem almost worthwhile, which is more than I can say in my work at the office.

Perhaps it is true that the grass is always greener on the other side — we are not ones to be easily satisfied with our lot — and that happiness is more a state of mind than anything external.

Who knows, but I could well be looking back on this day years down the road, thinking how wonderful it all once seemed; when the body was young and the opportunities plenty, with family and friends whom I can then only meet in dreams still around.

The New

When I get or experience something new,
I always try to make it feel
Like it’s not as soon as possible,
So that it’d be like
I’d always had or experienced it;
Like it’d never been away.

I guess it’s because
A “new something” is fleeting
While a “something” lasts a little longer.
The transcience of it all saddens me
And so I’m avoiding an attachment to the new.

That’s why I peel off screen protectors,
Drop my things (“accidentially”),
And neglect to mail in my warranties;

Why I sometimes fail to return your calls,
Forget our anniversaries,
And wished I didn’t feel like a teenager
While speaking to you on the phone,
Laughing, gushing, enjoying it all;

Because I’m afraid it’d all end too soon.

On Being Good

I just read a parable on being good in a Buddhist text (given to me by my wonderful fiancée, called The Teaching of Buddha) that I thought too good not to share:

Once there was a rich widow who had a reputation for kindness, modesty and courtesy. She had a housemaid who was wise and diligent.

One day, the maid thought: “My mistress has a very good reputation; I wonder whether she is good by nature, or is good because of her surroundings. I will try her and find out.”

The following morning the maid did not appear before her mistress until nearly noon. The mistress was vexed and scolded her impatiently. The maid replied:

“If I am lazy for only a day or two, you ought not to become impatient.” Then the mistress became angry.

The next day, the maid got up late again. This made the mistress very angry and she struck the maid with a stick. This incident became widely known and the rich widow lost her good reputation.

Many people are like this woman. While their surroundings are satisfactory they are kind, modest and quiet, but it is questionable if they will behave likewise when the conditions change and become unsatisfactory.

It is only when a person maintains a pure and peaceful mind and continues to act with goodness when unpleasant words enter his ears, when others show ill-will toward him or when he lacks sufficient food, clothes, and shelter, that we may call him good.

This story reminded me of the many times the fiancée herself has been at the end of a snide remark or been snapped at due to me (1) not having enough sleep; (2) not having enough to eat; or (3) both. So sorry! I really do wish I could carry my  friendly and gentle disposition (as my primary school teacher would say) with me all the time, even through trying and stressful times.