Diversity of Selves

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Sunshine through full-length glass windows, iced latte on a makeshift coaster out of recycled paper, wooden furniture and warm yellow lights; the kind of afternoon your breaths are slow and time passes without you realizing. Three weeks before I am Sydney-bound, where a whole new chapter awaits, I am incredibly thankful to be celebrating this Chinese New Year season of reunions for one more time. The red packets, oranges in pairs and dress-up aside, isn’t it intriguing how our paths can diverge so vastly from those within the same generation? This piece is about the prominent differences that contribute to our diversity.

I am an aspiring Occupational Therapist. My love story with public healthcare was the result of countless service opportunities. I recall vividly, the first time I stepped into a Dementia Daycare Centre – healthcare professionals assisting patients with every functional task; bringing food from the table to one’s mouth, supporting them by the elbow as they take slow steps to get from one side of the room to the other. Slowly, as they put one foot after the other, taking sharp, short breaths in between. Having the same conversation with a single patient over and over again for the first time, I was heartbroken. I left the Centre that day, promising never to return so that I never have to be in such a helpless position again. With the support of peers from Interact Club in Junior College, I continued visiting every week for 2 years. In about 3 days, I am bound for Sydney to pursue Occupational Therapy in the University of Sydney.

I am, also, a daughter to my parents. My first part-time job was at McDonald’s, at the age of 14. Cleaning tables then scooping fries, the ultimate promotion was to eventually stand before the cashier. I was obsessed with the idea of pulling weight at home financially so working part-time did not stop until the year I took ‘A’ Levels. In the day, I was a student; in the nights or weekends, a student care teacher, an administrative assistant or a waitress. In hindsight, I think they were my desperate attempts to feel worthy of my parents’ unconditional love and a relief to the powerlessness in face of their late nights and exhaustion. Today, though, I have learned that the people who love us, love us just the way we are.

I can tell more stories than one, and many more than just these two for sure, about the person I have become today. This is so for each of us in this space: every one of us have multiple stories that give reason to our being and do justice to the complexities of our identities. This phenomenon is one I refer to as the “Diversity of Selves”, where we each accumulate incredible stories across time. In a reality where we have immense opportunities like never before, our everyday choices have compounded and resulted in each of us living in a similar time while experiencing this time in vastly different ways. Think: Polytechnic, ITE or Junior College? Local universities or overseas? Doctor, lawyer, businessmen, engineer or a job not created yet? The privilege of these choices we get to make today contributes to the library of stories we build in our lives and to the increasing diversity of selves.

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What I Now Know

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Three weeks back in Singapore and three weeks left to Sydney, we are at the midpoint. This morning is characterized by warm sunlight, slow traffic and glistening waters of the Singapore River; the aftertaste of an early coffee fix and comfort of my go-to outfit on days where self-care tops my priorities spell joy. Five-stars. What a privilege it is to have had mornings like this, where I stop doing and just be. The intentions for the month was to tie up the loose ends in this beautiful place I call ‘home’ – to bid temporary goodbyes to sights and sounds, place a comma on the stories of friendships and bask in the company of those who love me as dearly as I love them. This piece, inspired by the recent bedtime read What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey and ventures into the learning space of students younger than myself, is written with the benefit of hindsight.

Days ago, I had the opportunity to stand before the January Induction Programme (JIP) ladies in Raffles Institution. JIP invites Rafflesians from the secondary counterparts, together with the Direct School Admission (DSA) students, to enroll into Junior College weeks earlier than the remaining one-third of their batch. Majority of whom from the alma mater close to my heart, this sharing was one that reminded me of the incredible growth I have experienced in the past years with the blessing of some inspiring educators and my family. I vividly recall the confusion with which we brought ourselves through the school gates every morning of JIP, asking in our heads why must we start school earlier than the others? What I now know is that JIP is largely a relief to the administrative weight of enrolling hundreds of students at once, and importantly, a subtle touch of sensitivity to the transition of expectations.

On the way, I asked myself what do I now know that I wish to share with them. “Shame was once at least a two-person game – it took one to shame the other. As we grow up though, we’ve learned to do it all by ourselves. We learn to, on our own, transform ‘I failed Mathematics’ into just ‘I failed’ and ‘I made a mistake’ into ‘I am a mistake’.” The Lecture Theatre fell silent. What I now know is that no one is ever a mistake or a failure, including ourselves, and it takes compassion to slowly forgive ourselves and one another. Those who will stay in our lives and embrace us for our authentic selves, will stay; you tell that with time. What I now know is that boy who dismissed my convictions or the girl who made fun of my hair, were not going to stay anyway.

Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, refer to these people who earn the rights to our greatest vulnerabilities and truest selves as Dutch Uncles. What I now know is that they are plenty and the key to finding them is to first be true to who we are. It takes courage.

Last night, the first Strong Mind Fit Body Student Champion Development Programme (SCDP) team gathered for our first session proper together. SCDP is designed to benefit students aged 15-17 in self-development capabilities while equipping them with project management skills necessary for serving community needs with greater effectiveness. The first session together saw self-discovery exercises based on Bozyati’s Theory of Self-Directed Learning – the honesty to self, critical; bravery in sharing, commendable. What I now know is that in finding the courage to share one’s thoughts and one’s being with authenticity, we get better at being whoever we want to be (instead of who we think others want us to be). May we be bravely ourselves and find the ones who truly love us.

Remember Singapore

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Turkey, ham and egg white sandwiched between wheat bread accompanied by a tumbler of white chocolate mocha; starting the day with breakfast in the comfort of Delfi Orchard Starbucks. Incessant traffic of vehicles, an abundance of sunshine through the full-length glass and background chattering in French, hello again. A little less than two weeks back in Singapore (after a month in America), the characteristics of this place I call home are more stark than ever. The pace of our footsteps, the daily choices that have become routine and the majority who look like me – these sights and sounds have become more pronounced given the wealth of time I have to slow down and immerse in the familiarity. This piece, written as I commence the one-month countdown in Singapore, hopes to capture the fleeting picture memories that would count more than I can imagine when I am living in Sydney. It is in my deepest hopes, that it inspires you to appreciate the subtle parts of our being we are not so mindful of.

First, on architecture. Remember the width of the roads – just enough for the cars to drive parallel to one another, with almost no room for careless shifting of the steering wheel. Remember the buildings: rectangles are popular because it is space efficient but they also make odd-shaped buildings representing an architect’s statement stand out. Remember the curves of Star Vista and the sculpted works of art in Raffles Place, the indentations of the walls in Outram Park MRT Station and the way the natural lighting brings life to Bras Basah MRT Station. I learned from a conversation with a friend doing architecture in university that the proximity of amenities in Singapore contributes to the livability of our community spaces. There is convenience and joy in everything you need in your living space being within walking distance along with an important by-product, the interactions with neighbours whom we live amongst.

Second, on nature. The fraction of our views that is the sky is usually no more than one-fifth, unless you stay in the East or go by the sea. Then, the days where you chance upon the view of the sky being anything besides one shade of blue dotted with white, remember the joy of basking in nature’s beauty and inadvertently, smiling. Remember the assortment of trees and bushes that line our streets, representative of our pioneers’ dreams of making Singapore a beautiful green space all over. Of which, approximately 95% of the greenery is imported from elsewhere, symbolic of the efforts we have made to be a hub of synergy and diversity. Remember the park connectors and the good memories associated with cycling adventures made on these trails. Some say Singaporeans too often, forget to slow down to ‘smell the roses’ and embrace nature. What little know is that our furrowing of eyebrows while we are heading to work or heading out for lunch, is not an indication of our unhappy selves but merely a response to nature shining brightly in our faces (literally). We are constantly in touch with nature, alright.

Third, on people. Remember the chapalang of languages and expressions that have become so uniquely Singaporean: our own version of English. An exquisite beauty, we rarely realise the poetic device applied when rojak is both edible and an adjective. Singaporeans are poets. There is, too, an adaptability we give ourselves little credit for, that shows in our code-switching based on fellow Singaporeans’ age and race. We know the lehs and lahs that help us connect in an instant and the jiak ba bui (‘Have you eaten?’ in Hokkien, a dialect), characteristic of a nation that appreciates food as an experience and privilege. When all else fails, we point at pictures and get creative (or impatient). Remember the conversations and what was often talked about – amongst peers, school and grades; amongst youths, the change we wanted to see and be; amongst working adults, various indications of purpose. The most precious, though, the conversations over the dining table where family is present. Remember that home is a feeling.

Days ago, on an UberPOOL towards the airport to meet a friend stopping over in Singapore, the vehicle passed by the Bugis area and then Orchard in the wee hours of the morning. Slightly before daylight and while the fluorescent street lamps accentuated the sky line, I noticed numerous new buildings that had still been surrounded by white hoardings (as they were under construction) before I had left for America. These changes taking place gradually every day, put together in a short span of a month, can be testament of our astounding pace of development and evolving landscapes. This leaves the possibilities of this space in the time from my departure almost unimaginable.

Remember the way you know how to get around and where to get the best foods; the perfect conversation starters and the deep connection with Singaporeans that you have practiced in all the years of your life. These are the days you walk a little slower, breathe more deeply and enjoy coffee at coffeehouses that give your panoramic views; here are the moments you close your eyes and take picture memories you can refer back to once more and the times you accommodate the schedules of all whom you love, to hold comfortable space with them. Remember these, and come what may.

Joy, For Sure

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Rays of sunshine peek in through the windows of my bedroom and the overhead fan whirs above me. With the aftertaste of warm Milo and Oreo cookies lingering in my mouth, I have spent the past hour reading The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz while awaiting sunrise. Jetlag had me up early this morning. It is the second day back in Singapore after a 27-day adventure in America, filled with reflection and learning, I can’t help but think How incredibly lovely it is to be back home.

This time last year I basked in a new normal – no more studying day and night, no more anxiety, but instead the taste of liberty bringing pleasure. My days were freestyle, guided only by my own aspirations and appointments with loved ones. The school timetable that dictated my expense of time was replaced by a planner. I remember then, as I have now, I cleared out my cupboards and rearranged my desk. A trip to town had me return with new stationery and accessories to my humble abode. I bought new books, sold old ones; got a haircut and clipped my nails. I remember thinking to myself, What a beautiful life. As if these little routines have become my occasional practices to feel rejuvenated, the beginning of a new year and the return to Singapore has seen exactly that. I’d like to think that practicing a year of wholeheartedness and reframing with intentions rather than goals has allowed me to be more adept at experiencing the joy.

My bedtime go-to is now What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey. Categorized by themes, the first is ‘Joy’. In which, she writes, “the gift of deciding to face your mortality without turning or flinching is the gift of recognizing that because you will die, you must live now. Your journey begins with the choice to get up, step out and live fully.” Perhaps these seemingly mundane and insignificant practices mean so much to me because it represents taking ownership; being responsible for the environment and frame of mind with which I ‘live fully’.

In 2016, an incredible practice was a gratitude journal. For every day of the year, I took the last waking minutes before turning in to write at least three moments from the day for which I am thankful into my planner. Brene Brown explains that joy is an emotion associated with vulnerability because we are uncertain of whether we are deserving of joy. As a defense, we sometimes do not allow ourselves completely experience the joy – to dampen the vulnerability we necessarily dampen the joy. To kick the bad habit, this piece is truly an expansion of what goes on in my head at different points of the day as I take pictures with my mind of the fleeting moments and the gratitude journal practice I am once more practicing for the year ahead.

Moments that fill us with hope and love and faith can often be fleeting, but with every moment comes a choice. The choice is to sit it out or dance and each time, I hope you dance.

On Embracing Imperfection

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The lights outside are beautiful; having spent hours on a high stool before a vintage-style bar table against the full-length glass window, I have fallen completely in love with the view from here. Thinking Cup is a café recommendation by a friend – the panoramic view of Boston Common, a central public park in downtown Boston, is absolutely breathtaking. The rain drizzles incessantly, but does little to blur the scene of the colourful lights outlining the silhouette of each tree. The pavilion in the distance is a work of art on its own with lights of red, blue, green and yellow dotted along its shelter. Passing cars and people taking quick, small steps bring life to what would otherwise be static. Overhead is a cylindrical wire-meshed casing that wraps around a dim, yellow lamp. There is a surreal knowing that life is beautiful and that so much lie ahead of us; all thoughts I am privileged to bask in. These thoughts, remind me of the time I shaved – with the struggles aside and dilemmas reconciled, the inner peace seated in the chair two years ago; I remember thinking then, as I am thinking now, that I want to remember this moment forever.

The current read is Grit by Angela Duckworth, another investment to the Strong Mind Fit Body Student Champion Development Programme which we have been working hard to develop during this trip to America. The Programme is designed to empower students in secondary school with project management skills and self-development techniques to be better – better at finding out the needs of community and meeting them, better at investigating themselves and who they are. It is, really, a thoughtful curation of all the skills, tools, strategies and capabilities from renowned, game-changing academic researchers, essential for the 21st century millennial. This piece is about embracing imperfection: because the hard truth to all who are awaiting perfection before trying is that we are all, truly, waiting for nothing.

Growing up, I have lost count of the talks or lessons, motivational speeches and enrichment programmes that have employed the “what is your passion?” opening strategy. An awfully open-ended question that is meant to pry into your gut for ‘truth’ and ‘meaning’, it gives a false promise that the answer to this singular question will rid our lives of uncertainty and misguides young individuals into searching for some form of a magical entity that will come to you one day. Finding one’s ‘passion’ has so often brought to mind a vivid image of a highly motivated individual doing something (anything) day and night, with a smile on his or her face and a deep sense of satisfaction. It is usually described as an end-point more than a process and the message sold, then, becomes that “all you’re doing now will become worthwhile when you’ve found your ‘passion’, that one thing you’re willing to do anything for.” In the words of Angela Duckworth, “Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming, they’d rather show you the highlight of what they’ve become.”

We are conditioned to applaud good performances, praise excellent results or nod in agreement to brilliant products of innovation. Too little attention and time is spent on reading biographies, listening to stories of lives besides our own and way too little affirmation returned for smaller victories – a job well done in a single assignment, one choice that exemplifies an invaluable core value or the absence of negativity, for example. The result is that while we are deeply inspired by those who appear extremely devoted to their line of work and dare say, “I love what I do”, we fail to appreciate that this does not happen overnight. We consciously understand that it takes hard work and effort, but intuitively we are attracted to the idea that it is divine and God-given, it just happens. We prefer a story of an accomplished pianist who “one day, just knew that music was his ‘calling’,” than a story with the same accomplished pianist who “practiced and did little but practice for his entire college life, dropping out of school and facing disapproval at home”.

This unhelpful message creates a cloud of confusion around the idea of passion and of the more important purpose that we are truly in search of for fulfilment. Did you know that the root word of “passion” is the Latin word “passio”, which means “suffering”? Analysis of the etymology of passion has it that at the core of what we today know as ‘passion’ is ‘suffering’ and the willingness to be in the state of suffering. The starting point of discovering passion – that thing you’re willing to suffer for – is not an easy on either. It takes a whole lot of exploration and experimenting to find out what it is that you’re interested in, and then, what you’re so interested in to transform into passion. If we truly acknowledge the value of ‘passion’ and the importance of it for dedicated and sustained (possibly life-long) good work, then we have to start inspiring passion, truly.

Perhaps, where we might start is by embracing imperfection. The fear of rejection and disconnection is found everywhere, even in the classroom which is meant to be a safe space to learn. Given that failure is a necessary part of learning, the implications have it that the classroom is also meant to be a safe space for failing. Yet, it is in these classrooms that we have learned to be afraid of failure. The sniggers from classmates that are left unaddressed, the subtle social hints we give one another and the different messages that are sent about grades; we implicitly learn to not fail. The irony lies in that while it is common sense that perfection is impossible, we expect from others (and ourselves) perfection. We cringe at shortcomings and reject flaws. This is unhelpful to the necessary process of finding passion – it is through the route of discovering interests that we find this so-called ‘passion’.

So I think, perhaps, where we might start is by embracing imperfection and this piece is dedicated to the incredible dutch uncles who have embraced mine.

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The Resolution: Take Courage

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Saying goodbye is a process; typically, long-drawn and characterized by the search for closure with the passing of time. In the refreshing start of a new year, we bid farewell to the year that has past and the time for resolutions (or revolutions) have arrived. There is, though, continuity that persists regardless of how we try to convince ourselves of episodic progression – we’d like to say 2016 I was like this but 2017 I am going to be like that, or 2016 was about this but no more in 2017. Ambitious ventures, each one of these claims no less than a tall order. As a history student, I am more inclined to recognise the thread of consistency that stretches through time regardless of the arbitrary measure of time that humankind has imposed upon ourselves. This piece, on my resolution for 2017, builds itself on the foundations from lessons of 2016 and dig deep into the principle that I would like to hold close in the year to come.

‘Courage’ is derived from the Latin word ‘cor’ that means heart. A fair share of Brene Brown reads in the past year has lead me to believe that what this truly entails is to be wholehearted in living. From earlier days, to have courage has always been associated with devoting one’s whole heart. This requires a whole lot of vulnerability and the willingness to show up where challenges are plentiful. In reflection of the most fulfilling moments I’ve had – the brave moments speaking before an audience, the times I stood up for something I believe in, the community projects executed in spite of fear of judgment and the difficult conversations confronted – I notice the importance of being in a space where I engage only with convictions I am aligned with, where I am being real.

Courage in being myself: I would like to respond to the learning from discovery and exploration with self-compassion. The road ahead is once more filled with uncertainty with unprecedented turns and U-turns, only few amber lights to slow down at. The decisions we make along the way and the stories we tell ourselves, with extra thought, allow us to investigate elements of our truer self. The ‘discovery and exploration’ of our circumstances and environment can transform into that about ourselves. Too often, we respond to lessons about ourselves with blame or shame for being a certain way; for just being the way we are. Our ‘I have done something bad’ too quickly transforms into ‘I am bad’ and the mold of ‘how we ought to be’ perpetuated by media and social shaming does little to assure us that we are okay (when in fact, we are). I would like to strive for the courage, not necessarily confidence or certainty, just the willingness to engage from a place where I believe that I am enough, however I am.

Courage in being vulnerable: I believe the relationships we hold dear significantly deepen with a conscious willingness to be vulnerable. When we are ready to say I am not okay and I am thankful for you, we are also ready to interact on a whole new (deeper) level of authenticity and courage. Painfully learning the down sides of a society that doesn’t know how to cry in front each other or admit unhappiness even, I am even more convinced of the importance of connecting with others on an emotional level. From our earliest days, we have experienced emotions without learning – we wail at discomfort and laugh heartily when tickled. Now, let’s unlearn the years of ‘masks’ and ‘shields’ that we have mastered with proficiency. The choice does not lie in whether or not we experience emotion, but in whether or not we engage with our emotion.

The Choice Theory states that the only person whose behavior we can control is our own and no one else’s. We can only give others information and allow him/her to act upon that information based on his/her own choices. You might not realise it but at all points, we have a choice. I am ready and excited to exercise personal choice consciously this year. It is in subscribing to choice theory that we avoid the external control psychology that lies on the other end of the spectrum, where we each manipulate feelings and thwart facts to achieve what we hope for at the expense of trust and connection. On a more spiritual level, choice liberates us when we choose to take ownership of circumstances. Every circumstance, just as a story, has equal chances of swaying toward infinite possibilities – it can pan out in different ways and mean different things to us, all within our control. If we own our stories, all of it (those that make us afraid, brave, betrayed, refreshed, all of it), then in exercising personal choice, we write the ending. I’d like for the courage to make choices where I own each of my stories.

In all honesty, there is fear for the year ahead: What would the preceding 4 years away from home look like? What happens to the support circles that I have become deeply connected with in the nation I call home? What lies ahead in the foreign university? But just as darkness is necessary for us to recognise light, I believe we are most cognizant of courage in the presence of fear.

For 2017, I choose Courage. This isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about showing up and being real.

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The Many Ways To Travel

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Amtrak is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation in the United States; it is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States. We have been on board for slightly more than 3 hours, heading from New York to Massachusetts. The ever-changing scenery we pass by at constant speed has been a feast for the mind and soul – endless plains, leafless trees, beautiful architecture and vast oceans; there is something about being in this (seemingly) non-stop train that inspires a sense of serendipity. There is calm and joy. On the way to the 10th State I would have visited in America, adding to a repertoire of places once travelled to, this piece is on Travel.

Frivolous. As an environmentalist, I am acutely aware of the detrimental effects of hopping on a plane to arrive halfway across the world. The heat and noise emitted aside, the particulates and gases alone are responsible for an incredibly astounding proportion of the developed or developing world’s carbon footprint. The social injustice trips me every time – the price of environmental degradation (resulting in the extreme weather conditions that affect agriculture, for example) is so often disproportionately paid by less developed countries; resource-scarce, they are also the countries who are most unequipped to cope with its implications. The documentary titled ‘The Age of Stupid’ once led to a promise to self to cut back on air travel, but time and again for various reasons, I have found myself back on board a plane.

My first flight experience dates back to 2007. I hardly remember the flight itself but I know there was no other way I could have arrived at Hong Kong with my family and shared the vivid Disneyland memories I occasionally recall. Let’s take stock of the environmental debt (specifically, from air travel) ever since:

2007, Hong Kong | Family Holiday

2009, United States of America | Destination Imagination World Finals

2011, United States of America | Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

2012, United States of America | Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

2013, United States of America | Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

2014, Cambodia | Interact Club’s International Understanding Trip

2014, Vietnam | Youth Corps Singapore Office Go Green Project

2015, United States of America | Family Holiday

2016, Hong Kong | Youth Corps Singapore Learning Journey  

2016, United States of America | Family Holiday

The love affair with overseas travel is one I have come to be familiar with. Being in a different space facilitates practices that allow us to live (and not just exist). We learn to better appreciate where we call home from witnessing the infinite possibilities that sometimes leave us shifting with discomfort. The vastness of what lies beyond can inspire a sense of humility as we realise the small place we occupy. Novelty in store with each day’s passing, almost addictive – numerous fresh sights, endless learning and brave adventures. There is much to fall in love with in the valuable experience of being brought away from home exploring new boundaries and in some ways, discovering oneself.

We are better at being human, too, if we leave the new town or city with a sense of hope that we influence our local communities with. The birth of Strong Mind Fit Body itself is a culmination of personal development and exploration that happened both in and out of Singapore. I have once given careful thought to the dilemmas of overseas service but this piece is less about that than about being a critic of travel, in general. Travel internalizes the identity of us all as ‘global citizens’ (though ironically having little effect on the global awareness of the abovementioned environmental crisis). In many ways, my global perspective and the accompanying agency to be a part of problems beyond the geographical boundaries of our country has been inspired by travel.

Debatable, though, is whether the tradeoffs that we make are worth it – the environmental cost for the temporary pleasure. The addiction towards travel has seen ‘overseas holiday’ become synonymous with occasional getaway or an escape, sometimes even framed as ‘necessary’ because of the stress levels with which we work. Travel has become the only agenda to look forward to for the rest of the year or the only way to get a real break. I have been contemplating the means through which we can prolong the effects of travel so we don’t return only with a longing desire for more but a truly, deep appreciation where we can be content. Then, maybe, I would consider it worth it. We can memorialise moments with photos but the fleeting emotions fade eventually; we can write diary entries that articulate thought and perspective, but they rarely bring the same satisfaction albeit preserving insight.

Mindfulness on this year’s 27-day America Adventure has allowed me to revisit very real emotions and learning that I similarly, benefited from in 2016. Searching for sustainability, though, has lead me to the discovery of the spirit of travel which I believe, with practice, we can relive over and over every day and anywhere. Perhaps, it is this attitude of discovery that we travel with which truly brings us the adrenaline rush or deep joy. Maybe, it is the creativity and curiosity, our inner child’s assets relished in this time that truly rejuvenates us. Revisiting memories from the past weeks in America, I can only imagine them once more, closing my eyes and trying to reconstruct the details carefully. The emotions remain fleeting.

What truly inspires the emotions, though, can be derived from applying similar principles – the thoughtfulness, the curiosity and creativity; principles that do not become irrelevant even if we return to our homes. This is about our reframing of everyday. In the absence of flight, I had once found incredible energy from travelling within Singapore and revisited this energy in loving to learn in school. Following this train of thought, the revelation has it that these were, too, forms of travel. The same attitudes applied and the (metaphorical) walking boots worn, I had travelled even without the plane.

For 2017, I wish only for countless travels – physical and metaphorical. Here’s to the books I will read; courses and modules I will attend; people I will cross paths with; forums and plays, conferences and talks I will have the privilege of attending; the family and friends I will continue to savour precious moments with. Here’s to the incredible stories I will listen to and tell. In face of them all, may I rid myself of fear and anxiety, carrying only the imaginary luggage of thoughtfulness, curiosity and creativity and self to brave the uncertainty that travel comes with.

Bon voyage to us all!

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