Sunday, June 17, 2018

first off,

Selamat Hari Raya!

First day raya was strategically a Friday, which allowed whole-day raya-visiting for the entirety of the long weekend -- it's been fattening, heart-warming, and exhausting.

For a while in Ramadan, I had I-should-shut-down-my-blog feelings the likes of which I hadn't had in a long time, which came along this time with deep reflection and feelings of regret, but now I'm no longer deep in the pit; now, there are feelings of having been cleansed and having forged a newer self, insya Allah. What I'm realising just now is that maybe, those feelings of regret when I was younger may have meant that I was more rapidly growing and learning and realising how I could have done better. But as a full-blown adult, this occurs less. As adults, I think that perhaps people get to a point where they feel like they've fully developed or matured and start to plateau and do things the saaaame way without really looking back or realising how things could have been done better, or that they could have been better. Unless something external that happens perhaps forces them to change. How many of us are actually driven to better our internal selves?

I have happy/positive thoughts/reflections at the moment that need to be put list-like
because it's super-duper late and I cannot really focus to produce proper prose:

*amidst the expected jibes/comments about why I'm not married yet when virtually everyone else is (which I must add I'm dealing with far better than I expected -- a good sign of my developing core self), someone asked me about work and asked about my future plans with my career, Was I going to open a clinic? How long was I going to stay in this job?: to which I answered after a beat, Until the time it feels right to go. I have blogged briefly about this previously: about how I've lived my work via my intuition and it has never felt more right than when I do. What was significant about it this time was that I was telling someone this unabashedly. I'm going to do what I'm doing as long as it feels right, and I'll go do something else when something else feels right. I have learnt that this is not typically how people make their decisions, practical as they are; but this is mine and I have always been grateful for the times I've followed my heart and gut (with some gentle tempering, but not interference!, by head).

I have a dream of being fully like this;
fully aware of the way I am and being unabashed about it.
I am a dreamer and it is awesome. 
I will achieve my dreams, even if you don't believe it.

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion;
it is easy in solitude to live after our own;
but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd
keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Insya Allah I will try and emulate this greatness,
and not have to want to run to a cave to live with my opinions.

*This personality of mine also explains why Kafka on the Shore appeals to me so much:

"Mr Hoshino?" 
"That's it." 
"What do you mean-- that?" 
"The place Nakata's been searching for." 
Hoshino looked up form his map again and gazed into Nakata's eyes. He frowned, looked at the sign, and slowly read it again. He patted a Marlboro out of the box, put it between his lips, and lit it with his plastic lighter. He slowly inhaled, then blew smoke out the open window. 
"Are you sure?" 
"Yes, this is it." 
"Chance is a scary thing, isn't it?" Hoshino said. 
"It certainly is," Nakata agreed.

Well, maybe it isn't chance, is it. Maybe there's no such thing as chance.

*what you say, and what you write about really speaks volumes about who you are.
I was struck by this again when I was reading a-famous-person's blog.

*which makes me glad most of the time how obscure my blog is, because it frees me to be as real as possible but with an element of an audience, that allows me to write differently than when I blog in private. An audience forces you to be more thoughtful about your words, and to take the perspective of someone who may not know or understand the same things, and to try and convey issues and meaning convincingly. A private blog basically has me cursing, complaining, key-smashing, praying, lamenting, without explaining anything. It's different. Writing is a beautiful and complex process that people underestimate.

*parent-child relationships are probably one of the most, if not the most, important human relationships in existence. I've come to appreciate this deeply over the past year. I see it in social situations too, and then I relate it to myself, about how parent-child dynamics or lack thereof basically impacts an individual for life. It makes sense then that after Allah and Rasulullah s.a.w., we should next be grateful to our parents.

*this isn't easy to do if some parents are not angels (in fact, none of them are!) and some are far from being one. But I've reflected that maybe, that's the point? One is supposed to learn and accept that even the ones from whom one expects the deepest and most unconditional love, will inevitably disappoint you. This is shattering to a human psyche. But again, that's the point. Because you are meant to look for a higher love; the love of God, the divine. Divine love is the highest and purest form of love that will never disappoint. God is infinite; but humans are limited, and we can all learn to love them as they are.

*this also means that once you have an infinite source from which to derive love (i.e. God), it enables you to love freely and adequately other human beings. Half the problems in the world are caused by human beings who were not loved well enough when they were young and subsequently become troubled, damaged, and then do terrible things in the world. May all of us be led to divine love in order to heal ourselves and become whole.

*it's proven yet again: the cliche Love makes the world go round.


Saturday, June 09, 2018

Ramadan is a time for reflection of the self.

If there's anything that I'm doing like crazy now,
it's looking back on myself.
And I feel like a complete mess;
like I've messed up so much in my life.
It's a struggle not to fall into despair,
and to retain some semblance of calm and equanimity,
and to keep hoping that some day,
you may be a better servant,
and the days will get better.

Friday, June 08, 2018

There are always times I wonder if I will ever get out of feeling heartbroken.

And then I would wonder if it's ingrained in my personality -- because of my strong Fi and weak Te. As a roll on from the previous post, I've been thinking non-stop about my self (and the people around me) and trying to grapple with my own cognitive functions and biases. Because of my strong Fi (introverted feeling function), I am a hopeless romantic and have a very strong passion for my own ideas and notions and ideals, and it just sets me up for heartbreak again and again and again whenever I square with reality; I lack the Te (extroverted thinking function) that analyses the real world and enables one to navigate it successfully. I am constantly living in resistance to the external world and it takes its toll.

SO, yes, since last year, I've talked incessantly about discipline, and what that is in some sense is having a good Te. A good knowledge of the details of reality and how to make what you want to happen work. I have a gazillion ideas about what should happen (because of my crazy, seriously high Ne function haha), but I can't make half the ideas happen more than half the time.

I am going to make YJ my Te shifu, haha, whether she wants to or not.
She's the closest friend I have who has strong Te --
mostly because strong Te people probably can't stand me and my drifti-ness.
She will be Chiaki to my Nodame! Hahahaha.

Rasulullah s.a.w. said: Speak the truth even though it be bitter.

He s.a.w. also said: Fulfillment is not plenty of goods; rather, it is self-fulfillment.

~ The Content of Character, Ethical Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Someone needs to expound on what this self-fulfillment means; does it mean self-actualization? The Arabic words were "ghina an-nafs". I think I've seen other people translate this hadith as Richness is not that of material wealth but richness of the soul. Shaykh Hamza chose to translate richness of the soul as self-fulfillment. Hm.


Separate fangirling post:

This is an excellent blog post explaining Outro: Tear, the last song on BTS's Love Yourself: Tear album. And there's this bit in the beginning too, where the author says:

In early works of BTS,  the songs in an album felt like…. collection of interesting short stories in a book.  But now the songs of their albums feel more like chapters in a long novel (or even novel series), bound in a more cohesive way to each other.
Love Yourself:  HER is like that….  There’s a progression of ideas and moods as you listen to the album from beginning to end.  I especially liked the seemingly bright and idealistic feel (with subtle discordant feeling underneath) of the songs at the beginning of the album…that gets more and more dark and double-edged in meaning as the album progresses.
Love Yourself: TEAR is even more cohesive.  The songs start off dark and pessimistic but progressively get brighter this time, only to surprise with the darkness of the Outro: Tear.   The lyrics seem slightly repetitive when you read all the songs together as there are some overlap of the same ideas in multiple songs.  But I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do during what would pass as the “climax” of such a long series – you hammer in the point with varied ways you can explore the main topic of the series.

Yesssss, a 100% yes. This is exactly what it feels like. As the boys have grown into men, the story arc of their music has also matured and deepened and is more amazingly worded. BTS is not just a boyband; they are telling stories, people! That is why they have such a massive following and why I am obsessed (on top of the fact that they bait people with good looks, catchy music, awesome dancing, and adorable personalities and amazing teamwork; presentation is always important, deshou?); because good stories are symbolic and resonate deeply with humans. And I am a book nerd; is there an easier way to bait me?

By the way, Outro: Tear -- please, it is so sad.
You are reinforcing my broken heart, BTS.

Farewell is my tearWithout my knowing, it blooms on the corner of my eyesThe words we could not say in the end, stream downAnd regrets crawl on my face.  
Woo take it easy,  cut out the heart slowlyYes yes,  Over the cut pieces,  step on themRegrets, regrets, so that I would not have any such remainingTear into pieces and burn my heart to a crisp 
I must say the biggest reason I’m translating this song is my need to geek out over Suga’s choice of words for “step on.” The terms he used for “step on” is an old Korean word and is not used in normal speech in modern-day.  Most Koreans are very familiar with it though, as it appears in the very well-known poem, “Azaleas” by Kim Sowol. You can read extended meaning of this poem here, and geek out with me too. 
The Korean Azaleas grow wild, often as the first flowers to bloom in spring.  They’re edible too, so kids pick them and eat them.   They’re also baby pink, not the darker reddish pink that Westerners are often familiar with. To “step on” the azaleas in this poem gives the impression of stepping on all the purity, innocence and happiness… an act of cruelty and indifference. Which emphasizes the careless cruelty when used in this song.
Sugaaaaa, so brutal but poetic. 💔

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

omgosh this is so good.

For more than half my life, I've always liked anything that helped me understand the self better -- hence all the MBTI and personality types etc etc that has littered my personal readings and obsessions. I used to see it as a way of categorising and understanding people, and there is much utility in that; it helps me get why certain people I know react in certain ways or are sticklers for certain things.

But now, especially since last year I think, and as I've endeavoured to cultivate a growth mindset: I've come to appreciate that understanding your personal inclinations basically means that you then have to consciously cultivate other areas that may be your blindspots, so that you become a more holistic and considerate person.

So, as a dominant introverted feeling person for instance, I have to consciously take into consideration, other peoples's values when I make my decisions, understanding that while I may prioritise my personal beliefs, doing so may trample on my tribe's values and beliefs -- and I have to consider how to reconcile this tension (or otherwise remain an apparent alien and constant instigator). And as an extroverted intuitive who gathers patterns from my surroundings, I have to be extra conscious and observant of the real facts before I spot my patterns! I am extremely conscious and aware of this now. I am very prone to making leaps in my pattern-spotting; but now, I'm more afraid that I may have created patterns from limited data. I have to exercise my weak Se skills and consciously practice more conscientious data-gathering.

This guy summarises it pretty well: it's not that your personality means that you can't use all those other functions that are not you. Everyone is capable of functioning in every way and manner. Your job in achieving your potential is to develop your other weak functions. As an example, he says that truly successful people (regardless of their type) would exhibit all four deciding functions:

Fi: they pursue an internal belief or idea passionately
Fe: they've got other people to believe in it too
Ti: they know their own stuff inside and out
Te: they ensure it works for other people or is understood by other people too

As an Fi (INFP), I often spout my personal beliefs and passions without caring what other people think. But I have to empathise and share this beyond myself to make an impact (my weak and missing Fe); I feel like if there's a place that I do this, it's at work at least. (: Sadly, not so much my personal life yet. I have strong Ti friends (hehe, E especially) who are so strongly Ti that they are always in danger of becoming obscure to others because they often don't bother to pander to others' apparent lack of understanding in their area of interest. People who write crazily condense or obscure material or have an impatience with incompetence, tend to be strongly Ti people, I think. (This guy who makes this video is an INTJ and I can tell, can't you? He is going on rapidly and is sometimes hard to follow, despite the fact that he's trying to help people understand this whole intricate personality system.)

This is so interesting. Alhamdulillah! To cultivating a more integrated self.

I look back on my self (even just months back) and I feel regret about the way I react or interact;
but I've learnt that having regret is not necessarily a bad thing. (No regrets! is a common phrase eh.)
Because as Brene Brown said,
having regrets means that you're learning. 
You regret that your past self didn't know what you do now.


in relation...

The Prophet, Rasulullah s.a.w. said:

Keep God in mind wherever you are; 
follow a wrong with a right that offsets it; 
and treat people courteously. (At-Tirmidhi)

Love for humanity what you love for yourself. (Ibn Majah)

~ The Content of Character: Ethical Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
(which is awesommmmmmme),
Translation and Introduction by Hamza Yusuf,
Collected by Shaykh Al-Amin Ali Mazrui

Sunday, June 03, 2018

I feel like the area of life I've gotten a grip with via intuition is my work.

From the moment I decided to become a speechie,
to the times that I've stuck to my chosen areas of specialty and interest,
and even now to the fact that I've jumped ship to be in a mainstream school setting
-- I've let myself be guided by that feeling of rightness 
and not caring so much about what people think or say;

and work-life has been a thorough joy and fulfillment. 
I feel like I'm in the absolutely right place in my work life.
I didn't get bothered by colleagues who probably wondered 
what on earth, S, you're the only one from the hospital jumping-ship into this crazy world of DSP.
I didn't get bothered by my brother and my dad who throw up their hands at me,
for being slow on the money-making ventures (i.e. setting up my own clinic etc etc).

know with a deep conviction, that I'm in the right place in my career.
And it is only confirmed by the endless opportunities that 
keep coming at me and laying so nicely at my feet.
Amazing work I'm continuously excited about.
It doesn't mean it never gets hard;
but it does mean that I do things I'm a 100% about
and that I feel guided.

There is that voice inside that will tell you,
if you let it, how to deal with life in the best way, for you
I choose to believe that it's divine. (You may not think so.)
But you have to set your anxieties aside, 
shut the world out (at least that's how I do it),
and listen.

Listen, S.
(And then after that, the work starts.
What's necessary are courage and discipline, to follow through.
Ganbatte, S!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

stepping into my storm

I'm finally reading Kafka on the Shore and slowly growing to like it more and more. 
I feel like Murakami may actually be my cup of tea.

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
~ Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Americanah wrenches at my heart in small, subtle, and unexpected ways.

At the Abuja Airport on his way back to Lagos, he thought of going to the international wing instead, buying a ticket to somewhere improbable, like Malabo. Then he felt a passing self-disgust because he would not, of course, do it; he would instead do what he was expected to do. He was boarding his Lagos flight when Kosi called. 
"Is the flight on time? Remember we are taking Nigel out for his birthday," she said. 
"Of course I remember." 
A pause from her end. He had snapped. 
"I'm sorry," he said. "I have a funny headache." 
"Darling, ndo. I know you're tired," she said. "See you soon." 
He hung up and thought about the day their baby, slippery, curly-haired Buchi, was born at the Woodlands Hospital in Houston, how Kosi had turned to him while he was still fiddling with his latex gloves and said, with something like apology, "Darling, we'll have a boy next time." He had recoiled. He realized then that she did not know him. She did not know him at all. She did not know he was indifferent about the gender of their child. And he felt a gentle contempt towards her, for wanting a boy because they were supposed to want a boy, and for being able to say, fresh from birthing their first child, those words "we'll have a boy next time". Perhaps he should have talked more with her, about the baby they were expecting and about everything else, because although they exchanged pleasant sounds and were good friends and shared comfortable silences, they did not really talk. But he had never tried, because he knew that the questions he asked of life were entirely different from hers.

I relate to this so much. How do we account for such things? That people are just different? At a different frequency? We should always attempt to bridge connection with anyone, right (shouldn't we?), but as I grow older, I also grow more cognizant of how differently I perhaps see the world. My current internal struggle involves having to square with this very fact: that most people don't see the way I see the world, and that I can't fault them for that. I can't get angry that some people don't get it. Actually, don't we all see the world differently? I don't know. It's all very confusing, and leaves me a heartache.