Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When it feels personal...

Martin Place.
The amphitheatre. The benches near the stall with all the flowers. The Law Society and Supreme Court just around the corner. The buildings. The businesses. The library. Elizabeth Street. The steps down to the train station. Snapshots. Continual poses frozen in my mind. I am stuck in my head. Clouded with emotion and shock.

Lindt cafe.
My favourite cafe in Sydney. I was there just last year. We were all there one Friday morning on a summer's day. All the other times I went there. Pancakes with my sister. Sitting by the windows. The tastes, senses and vibes from the chocolate. The type of people who would stop by, or linger. Chocolate to go. Delectable tastes and memories in my head. In my heart.

Katrina Dawson.
A tribute. A name. A face. A person. A college resident. A fleeting memory. A brave soul. Discrete moments captured and linked together to arrive at an unimaginable ending.

They say when something tragic happens to you, you need to give yourself time to grieve. Allow yourself to acknowledge the emotions. What happens when you are not directly affected but instead, a spectator from afar. Are you still entitled to grieve? I feel entitled to grieve and mourn the reckless murder of innocence. The violation of my personal memories. The loss of lives.

We make memories. We experience moments that leave a mark on us. We go through motions not knowing their effect or how they might influence others now or in the future. We leave pieces of our hearts in the things we love and do, sincerely but possibly superfluously, only to recall them at times like this. Time and circumstances work together to filter through the past and make important that which was once a single chain in a long series of moments.

When I first heard about the Sydney siege, I was in shock, just like millions of others. Maybe if it had occurred somewhere else, it wouldn't have shook me that way. But this is my hometown. This is Martin Place. A place I know. A place I walked through, lingered on in and reflected by many times. Time is testimony to moments I spent there. How can that same place be host and witness to an event so gruesome. How can a lunatic give himself the right to intrude on that space.

And this is Lindt cafe. My favourite chocolate cafe, in fact my favourite cafe in Sydney. A warm and delightful place. Chocolate attracts happiness and innocence. It also attracts children. A non-coffee drinker, Lindt was my solace and my answer. A delectable, stylish, classy and simple venue in the midst of a seriously busy city hub. Now the innocence of the place has been violated and destroyed. Guns, fear, threats, death... how can that be forever linked to the homecoming and welcoming feeling of chocolate.

Then there are the victims. I could've been one of them. Any one of my family or friends could've been one of them. It would not be uncommon for us to stop by the cafe for a hot chocolate or a special treat. Whenever I think back to the horror that the victims and their families must've experienced, I feel sick to the bone. It is not hard to replace their images with myself or any one of my family or friends.

Katrina Dawson. What a brave soul. Ever since I saw her picture or heard her name, I felt a sense of connection. At first I thought I was empathising with her but there was another nagging yet distant feeling. And then I realised why as the cobwebs of the past cleared and I found myself facing an explosion of memories. Our connection is Womens College. The halls of residence I lived in for three years while I studied at the University of Sydney many many years ago, while approaching the end of my teens. A place where she and I lived and shared for one of my three years. A place that shaped my personality. There is no denying it. My initial university years, my college years were the most influential years in my life. Living with other women, day in and day out, sharing meals, sharing activities and events. The formal dinners. The guest speakers. The food. The random wanderings... We were influenced by the same things. For a year, we took in the same experiences. Did I know her personally? No. But I could've passed her by walking down one of the corridors. I could've smiled at her. Could she have been just a few doors away from me? Did I ever imagine that someone I used to live with but had no direct connection with would suddenly make me want to grieve for her? How is this possible?

Perhaps it is still the shock of it all that is preventing me from understanding my emotions. I am saddended. I am mourning silently in my heart a fellow college resident. I am mourning the cafe manager. Brave, brave soul. I am silently holding a vigil and a prayer in my heart for them and for their families. And I cry untold tears for my religion that gets blasphemed by lunatics time and time again for no reason. Lunatics who know nothing of its tenderness.

I cry silent tears for the #illridewithyou hashtag that touched so many of us. This is what humanity is about. I cry silent tears for the hope of humanity left in many and I cry bitter tears for those whose hearts have hardened in its face.

I long to lay flowers on the ground at the site and to write sincere words in the notebooks lying there now. I long to join in and show my little bit of humanity. But I am afar so I grieve alone. May they rest in peace and may the justice system learn a hard hard lesson, never to be repeated ever again.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The End or the Beginning?

I'm about to start the last week of my seven year journey. A career change I embarked on when everyone around me thought I had lost the plot on life. A journey that was filled with hardships and challenges and many lessons learnt. Now, it's come down to the final week. The stakes are high and the challenges during this week are the toughest yet. Just one week more. Survive this and it's all over. It hit me a few days ago but I brushed it aside. It was only this morning that the realisation dawned on me. And with it came a sea of emotions, confusing me, tugging at me here and there. And with it came the stress.

Seven years ago I took a leap of faith and took my first baby steps into an unknown world. It was a journey I started not knowing where it would take me. I changed paths many times. I had to stop and recalibrate my proverbial compass when things weren't working. It was a journey marred by extreme uncertainty but also blessed with luck and elements of success that kept me going. And I soldiered on during those times when I was close to giving up.

Seven years of my life. The same questions that haunted me at various points on my way are nagging at me now. Was it worth it? Or have I just wasted a precious seven years of my life. The best years of my life to reach an endpoint that might be synonymous to an anti-climax.

Recalibration of the mind...

This is not the end of a seven year journey. This is a means to a new beginning.

The value is not in reaching the endpoint - although one of the goals that keep you moving - but in learning lessons and becoming a richer person. I am not the same person I was seven years ago by far. I think back to my life at the start and imagine what it would've been like had I not made this change. I shake my head and think: No. Things are exactly the way they are meant to be. 

I was meant to take this journey. I was meant to endure, fight and rise above. I was meant to become the person I am today and it's all for the purpose of preparing me for something bigger and better. So it's not about the endpoint. It's much deeper and all-encompassing than that.

I am about to start the last week of a seven year journey that will catapult me into the life I am meant to live. Be the person I am meant to be and fulfill my destiny. It's about shaping who I am. It was about healing my wounds and sealing my scars and making me stronger. 

And now, as I take it one day at a time during these final challenges, I will rest assured, looking forward to the fresh start that is awaiting me.

Life is composed of a series of fresh starts, though we might not know it. I'm about to start mine..

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Our Disassociated Selves

The world is suffering from a lost innocence, manifested in our hardened souls. 

This blog post is nothing more than an inner conversation my conscience has with me, frequently. A circular conversation that starts where it ends, every single time. It starts like this.

When was the last time you cried over something that had absolutely nothing to do with you?

When was the last time you empathized with someone else's adversity?

When was the last time you actually tried to do something about it?

Maybe we claim we do. Perhaps we shrug our shoulders and think in silence that it is wrong, that it is unfair but that there is nothing we can do about it. We shift the responsibility over to someone else, not knowing who that someone is. A proverbial savior of all things who is anyone but us. And we distract ourselves and go on with our daily lives, just like those who struggle for their daily lives go on too.

I am guilty of being in a state of disassociation. I look for a scapegoat. It could be anything. The media, the news, governments, politicians, people in power not doing enough, people on the ground not going about it the right way. Fact is, we're all in the same boat, just looking at things from a different angle. There's a huger sense of cause and effect that governs our lives. There's a unique sense of balance that may seem skewed and unnatural. An oxymoron I know, but somehow it makes sense. And again I digress and find that this is just another means for me to philosophise our human condition; our dissociative selves.

I watch the news and the constant bombardment of atrocities has made it the norm to expect to see and hear these advertises on a daily basis. So I instantly shut it out. Dissociate myself from it. Out of sight out of mind. A safety latch that I hold on to, allowing me to function in a world gone mad. There are many like me. In fact I have stopped watching the news.

I occupy myself with my goals and hobbies and doing my bit of good in this world. But it's never enough because my conscience pokes at me again and asks me...

When was the last time you truly, sincerely empathized with someone else's adversity?

And the bully of a conscience replies to the silence it is faced with: you're just like everyone else, lost in your disassociated self.

And I sigh and think yes and the world is suffering from a lost innocence, an innocence that at least I still possess and see reflected in children under five years old. And my soul is not so hard after all.