proper conversation, not mindless chatter

I love all forms of communication – written, spoken, digital or physical – especially those where we exchange thoughts & jokes.

However, as the means of communication becomes cheaper, faster, and easier, its quality dissipates. Proper conversation is few and far between – most people just send short and abbreviated text.

What I really like is phone calls or long face-to-face conversation. But they are so rare that when I do get them, my heart flutters and I feel like tying those people with a rope so they don’t leave so soon (while keeping my cool not to look like I have no friends haha!)

Maybe people are embarrass to talk since they are so used to hiding behind a screen. But if so, shouldn’t it be easier now to reply to a message, or write a simple thank you when a simple question is answered?

No, messages are normally ignored because we are flooded with so many of them that they have lost meaning. Then we conveniently blame our lack of courtesy on our lack of time.

Which is rather sad to me. So I vow to try to reply to every message and end every conversation properly. On weekends, I call close friends who enjoy engaging in meaningful conversations. I even bought a whole set of stationery to write cards and letters again. This way, I hope my everyday discourse will not be reduced to mindless chatter…

Culture also teaches us how to eat

“As wonderful as science is, culture also teaches us how to eat”, Michael Pollan explaining the French Paradox. Perhaps the secret to the the French slim figures -despite eating rich food – is dining slowly.
I miss dining in brasseries by the pavements in Paris, strolling by the Seine river with a Berthillon ice-cream in my hand, and just live without a timetable…
#stopdreaming #lifeisnotmeasuredbyfunalone #foodphilosophy

Food or flowers will do, thank you

It’s so liberating to know that you don’t need or want many things…or at least less than what you think.

I am still trying to reduce my belongings by half. I just packed a box full of things I no longer need or want. I aim to only keep things that serves a purpose and/or spark joy.

It has come to a point where belongings feels like a burden. Choosing and maintaining takes up time and mental energy – intangible things which are much more precious to me than material things (that I don’t need).

Gifts initially elates me, but later makes me feel guilty. I don’t want to get rid of things given to me out of love. And I understand the act of giving something to someone you care about – I do that often and I think its a wonderful thing.

My pretty dressing table – with just enough cosmetics and accessories – sparks joy. 
But then again, I don’t like many things in general. I have very practical, specific, and often, peculiar taste – which only a few people know. Besides, I rather have your time/company.
In my effort to not have more incoming material things, I’m letting my friends (you) know that if you want to be nice to me. You can…
  1. Take me out for lunch/dinner and talk to me about things that excites you
  2. Invite me for any outdoor activities
  3. Teach me how to cook your favourite food/ share your best family recipe
  4. Take me go fishing (bonus: barbeque the fish together after)
  5. Take me camping (bonus: building a campfire together)
If you REALLY have to give me something you can hold/buy, let it be perishable e.g food or flowers.
Now, I gotta go around the house and figure out what else I can get rid of….

Cheap but nutritious?

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?'” – Seneca

I’ve always wanted to try this: eat the cheapest food for a month, and ask myself if not having good (expensive) food is really that bad (The amount of money I spend on groceries is scary).

Those who love me strongly oppose to this idea. But I think I can come up with a rather nutritious yet cheap menu. This is one of them (I just have to do without the santan).


Recipe: Bubur Pulut Hitam In Slow Cooker

Hmm, let’s see what I can do…


Not going to let anyone TINA me

Been reading up on SEO, playing with web tools, (very little) codes, and figuring out how things work.

Most people tell me its a waste of time, coding is too hard, and a steep learning curve etc. But then we can’t let people (no matter how much better they are) to tell us to not try to learn or at least understand what’s going on.

While I’m not able to do much now (or ever), at least I could ask intelligent questions to get things I need done. I know what works and what don’t; just that I can’t fix it.

Then I remember this quote from one of my fav book:

“Only when we know….will be be able to tell those in power that they are wrong to tell us that ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA)” – Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang

Not going to let anyone TINA me.

Don’t endure if not necessary

I think I’m quite stoical in the sense that I can endure physical and emotional pain more than most people I know. I don’t take painkiller and I am very patient with people.
Recently, I thought there’s downside to it. The cough that wouldn’t go away because I can bear it, and the frustration that I mentally manage because I can take it.
A quote I loved from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations
“Pain is neither unendurable or everlasting, if you keep its limits in mind and do not add it through your own imagination’ – Epicurus
Recently, I thought life is too short to ENDURE. I don’t want to endure. I want to ENJOY.
Don’t endure if not necessary. But know that if things cannot improve, I have the strength of steel to stand it.
#sarasphilosophy #stoic

40 Days Book Fast

This year’s Lent, I decided to give up books for 40 days. It’s rare ‘sacrifice’ because reading seems to be something that one can easily give up (not true for me).

It’a also seen as a good thing. But at the rate that I was going (though much less than known avid readers like Bill Gates who read an average of 50 books a year), I’m not sure it really was.

I feel that consuming/thinking, gets in the way of creating/doing. I thought going on a book fast on Lent is the best choice – because I won’t give up reading for anyone else!

The last book I read before my 40 Days Book Fast: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton. I haven’t read (contemporary) romance novels since secondary school. But this is not your typical happily-ever-after romance novel. It’s about the reality of love, in which romance only play a small part of. I read it with much anxiety/ stress; we are all duped by the idea of Romanticism! We must navigate relationship(a) not just with feelings but with skills.

Here’s what happened when I stopped reading:

1. Withdrawal symptoms
Reading is a natural thing to do. Bored? Read. Stress? Read. Curious? Read. Feel stupid? Read. Going away on a holiday? Find something to read. Exploring a new place? Check out a local bookstore. So when I couldn’t pick up a book, I actually felt jittery. Like “What am I going to do???!!” I didn’t know that a seemingly good hobby can be bad.

2. Explore other hobbies/ get out of my comfort zone
Not being able to read made me realise that I have other hobbies like drawing and playing the ukulele. That I could also try to do other things that I normally do not like to do, like watching anime. I ended up drawing heaps of Stickgeek comic, played a few songs on the uke, watched some anime/movies e.g Castle In The Sky, Princess Mononoke, Rear Window, What If…, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

3. Do more
Because I have nothing to when I’m alone, I think I did more things. I either work, tidy up, and cook.

4. Move more
Do you know why ‘jocks’ are ‘stupid’? Because they exercise their body, not their brain. Do you know why ‘geeks’ are ‘uncool’? Because they exercise their brain, not their social skills.

I believe that we need a balance in life. Neither one is better. We should not conform ourself into a particular category that we have inclination to. Instead, we should strive to be better!

So when I was severely warned that giving up books was a stupid thing to do, I knew it wasn’t for my case. Though I would much prefer to read, I went on my exercise mat. Instead of sitting on a couch to read, I do sit ups. I did move more than I normally do. And I think it’s a good thing.

5. Lighter conversation/ less idea
What you say reflects on what you think.

“Since the time of the ancient Greeks, one’s spoken words have been seen as an expression of one’s inward thoughts and intellectual capacity,” said Edward Schiappa, professor of rhetoric and media at MIT (source)

I think that was the big downside of not reading. I felt a little dull. During the duration of my book fast, I realise conversation was lighter than usual. I speak about people more than I do ideas.

I just finished reading ‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future’ by Ashlee Vance and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, and if you speak to me now I’ll love to talk about electric cars, space travel, human as multiplanetary species and how to exhibit our work more. I didn’t have much interesting things to say/ or new idea to discuss when I didn’t read.

It’s boring but its true: moderation is the key. I think I might sometimes read excessively. Its like “Oooo, what’s new out there to read?”.

I think we should be mindful. Why do you read? Do you read because you want to learn something that will enhance my life/career? Reading for leisure is good too but I think we should also indulge in other leisurely thing like going out for a hike with friends.

I think I want to read to inspire me to create. Not read because I have nothing better to do, because I do.

Book Fast

This lent, I decided to fast on a material I’m most attached to: books.

I think I’ve never – voluntarily – stopped reading since I started to learn ABC.

Not too long ago, when I was suffering from severe dry eyes, I cried because I thought I’ll go blind and one of my biggest fear is that I have to use Braille to read (?!)

When reading became too painful (literally), I resorted to Audible (which significantly increase the number of my yearly ‘Book I Read’ list).

Nothing has stopped me from reading (not even blindness). I think it’s safe to say that books are my biggest addiction.

So 40 days without these, I can do it!