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Thanks But No Thanks

Have you ever had those moments when some stranger makes an inappropriate remark about you that clearly crosses the boundaries (hey, you barely each other, ok?) and you feel like hurting that person physically, like slapping him with an encyclopedia or jabbing his eyeballs or thrusting your fingers into his nose so deep that he nosebleeds?

I have.

If you’ve seen my mobile phone, you’ll know that I’m an antique collector. My old faithful is well worn out, adorned with scratches, coated with patterns of peeling paint and has the evident, glorious appearance of a mobile phone well used and appreciated. The bottom line is, it has served me very well and we’re happy together.

And out of the blue, came this stranger (whom I have no clue who he is) in all his carnality and remarked, “Wow, what’s THAT?” and “I think it’s about time you changed to a new phone!” in his jokingly (but unfunny), obnoxious and condescending tone as he waved his brand new IPhone 4 at me.

I smiled gracefully. At that moment, I wanted to adorn his face with scratches, coat it with patterns of blue-black and give him an evident and “remarkable” appearance so that he can show the world how much I “appreciate” his unasked for comment. But of course, I didn’t. I am an educated, civilized and well poised person and I will not go so low as to retaliate at such shallow remarks. And yes, I have forgiven him =)

Incidents as such remind me of how stupid it is to chase after temporals. To chase after mere inanimate things that add up to nothing but rob me of my contentment, satisfaction and enjoyment of the things I already have. To accumulate lifeless objects that make me feel my self-worth is measured by what I possess and not by who I really am.

Jesus is clearly against such “idols” when he prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He wasn’t referring to the things we want, but the things we really need. He wasn’t referring to the things that will give us a better tomorrow, but the things that will make today count. He wasn’t referring to us tiresomely working and earning a living for ourselves but to rely on Him and ask Him to supply all our needs so that we can enjoy life itself. He wasn’t referring to the things that will make us happy, but the things that will make us see His grace in our lives.

“The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.” – Anonymous

So, do I still need a new phone? No, thanks. Unless it’s free.

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To Part or Not to Part?

Recently, as some of you know, I’ve resigned from my lecturing job at my university. It wasn’t an easy decision but there’re a few reasons behind the resignation. First, I started another clothing line and I need more time to run the business if I were to make it happen (Yes, we’ve shut down Testify Wear because my partners and I have different visions and goals for life and the company). Secondly, my three year bond with the university was finally over and I no longer owe them anything. Thirdly, I wanted a job where I can really just focus on teaching and improving myself as a Graphic Designer (with that job, I’m always assigned with tasks that are non-related to my field of work and I barely have time to explore and experiment due to the long working hours). And because of this, I was angry and bitter. I’m a very progressive person and I get upset when my job hinders me from doing what it takes to be a better designer.

Well, I thought that was finally the end of that chapter of my life and I can say adios to my university… and then came the phone call (these are the moments where Lady Gaga’s song hits you with “Stop calling, stop calling, I don’t want to think anymore”)

Apparently, my boss called and he wanted to talk to me before I go. Very reluctantly, I went to his office. I was set to leave no matter what he said (or at least that’s what I thought). Sat down in his office and he started asking the usual questions like, “Why are you leaving?” and “Anything wrong with the faculty?” or “Am I going to another university?” And then he started sharing some sort of heart to heart talk. I’ve never heard him talk like that since he’s always been critical and sarcastic from the first day I met him.

“Well, I was like you too. A few months ago, I wanted to quit too. I was fed up. But then I’d be a hypocrite if I did that because I remember challenging you guys to not quit when there’s difficulty at work. So I stayed on instead. What kind of example would I be, if I left?,” he said almost in a humbling manner.

“Oh man, why can’t you just scold me or something so I can leave completely?!” I screamed in my mind. For your information, my boss is a very proud and confident man and I’ve never heard him speak in a manner as such. He usually scoffs and hurls insults in a jokingly manner. But in moments like these, such prudent words and humility found its way to soften even the most hardened and resentful of hearts.

He asked me to consider a part time position instead. Make it a slow transition so that if anything goes wrong with the company, at least I still have a backup plan, he suggested.

I really don’t think I could’ve left after that conscience-violating conversation.

Well, as of today, I am still working for my university as a part time lecturer. This seems like the best for both worlds. I get what I want (a stable income, ample time to prepare for my company, to teach and give back to society) and they get what they want (a good lecturer, according to their evaluation anyway, to teach the students).

Lesson learnt : People do notice if you’ve got substance. Make sure you are the real deal and don’t ever, ever stop desiring to progress. And make sure you switch off your phone after resigning from your job (or switch to a new number, whichever works best).

“Show me someone who does a good job, and I will show you someone who is better than most and worthy of the company of kings.” Proverbs 22:29

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When I Fall In Love

It is official. I am single but not available anymore (that explains the long silence in this blog, haha)

Yes, yes, for those who don’t know yet, I have a girlfriend already (finally, after my whole life of bachelorhood). I think my old timer friends will laugh a laugh of relief (to know that I’m really straight) over this post as they have been attempting to figure out who I liked for all our high school and elementary school years to the extent of accusing me as gay for not liking any girls at all. I know, those periods of our lives were the hardest to stay single as the raging hormones do not really help the idea of singlehood. But I guess my resolve to stay true to my principles were much stronger.

My principles were pretty set and clear to me even at a young age. Call me old fashioned if you want, I don’t care (I prefer the term “mature”). If being old fashioned got me the awesomest girlfriend in the world, namely Chrystin (you can find her picture in my Facebook), I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

I’m no love expert, but for those who are still single, may these “principles” of mine help you find your awesomest future partner (which I know I did).

1. True love waits.
It sounds really cliché, I know. But you see, it’s true in every facet of a relationship.

I waited all my life before I got into a relationship. The reason? Simple. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get married then. Well, you can laugh if you want, but I think the goal of getting into a relationship is to STAY in a relationship. And that’s through marriage. If you can’t imagine getting married and popping up some kids, then forget it. Just stay single and don’t go about breaking every girl’s heart and along the way, yours too.

It took Chrystin more than half a year to decide whether she wants to be in a relationship with me. Six months of waiting (that’s longer than waiting for your IPhone to arrive). Just imagine! But I thought it was good test because even after half a year I was still waiting and was sure I wanted to be with her. Finally we got together because she couldn’t stand waiting anymore =)

This makes her very special to me. She’s my ONE and ONLY girlfriend. And I plan to keep it that way. But you might ask, how can I be so sure? Well, if things don’t work out, MAKE it work! It’s a whole principle on its own, I’ll probably talk about it sometime later.

2. The ball is in your hands, not God’s.
I really don’t believe in the notion of soul mates. I think it is because of such foolish mindsets (popularized by some churches or the ever unscrupulous Hollywood) that leave people single all their lives waiting and hoping for Mr or Mrs Right to appear out of a bush or fall from the sky or something. The truth is God doesn’t arrange soul mates for us! Don’t believe me? Open your Bibles and read for yourself of how God allows us to choose for ourselves a woman (or man) as future spouses! Just look up on the stories of Isaac and Rebekah or Jacob and Rachel. They (the hunks) chose for themselves if they wanted these chicks to be their wives! Even the Bible endorses us to choose (which means there’re MANY possibilities out there and NOT just ONE)! So, don’t just count on God to do the courting for you lest you end up as a celibate for life.

3. Don’t look for The One. Be The One.
No one is perfect. Period.

Instead of looking for someone who is perfect (which is impossible), I hold a principle of being the right one for the other person. I don’t quite remember where I heard this message but it did made a mark in my life to realize that love is never self seeking. It’s always about loving the other person unconditionally. It’s about changing your stubborn ways to please the other party. It’s a beautiful picture when both parties seek to do the same thing of being the right one for the other person. When you enter a relationship with this mindset of being the “right” one for someone else, the way you look at the relationship changes completely, which leads to my next principle.

4. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
When people ask me what is the right time to start a relationship, I’d answer when I start working. I would not get into any relationships when I’m still studying. Now, this is purely MY opinion. I never said this is the right measuring stick for the question, which I will attempt to explain now.

So many times I’ve heard of couples starting a relationship because as singles, they feel lonely, they want to feel loved, accepted and etc. What a HORRIBLE excuse to get yourself attached to someone whom you’ll soon discover as a complete stranger, opposite from who you think he/she is. The truth is even when you’re in a relationship, there are times when you’d feel even lonelier, even more unloved, rejected and etc. You can’t patch your emptiness with an imperfect human (chances are, he/she is also trying to do the same thing). Probably that’s why divorces and breakups are so rampant, because the other party failed to “meet” their needs. It’s about giving, not receiving. If you’re still stuck with the notion of just receiving in a relationship, then you’re really stuck with these two choices. Santa Claus or Jesus Christ. One’s your dad and the other… hm, the best choice ever?! =)

Anyway, that’s why I will only start a relationship when I have a job. That’s when I have the power to earn and to give as much as I like (when you’re a kid or a student, you use your parents’ money and that’s not very impressive, dummy).

More than just giving material things, learning to give yourself wholly (which I am still learning to do so) is probably the most important thing to do for someone you love. Well, Jesus loved me and gave His life for me. If that’s what it means to love (by giving), then I’d model after His perfect love.

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I Weep for my Nation

Following the news of churches being torched yesterday, I wasn’t disgusted. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t vengeful. Instead, my heart broke to hear of what has become of my beloved Malaysia, my country, my home.

I wept.

I don’t know if it’s the first time, but I wept for my country. I will never understand why God placed such impossible leaders to lead this nation. I will never understand why He would allow such grievous injustice and mockery of His name to prevail. I will never understand how the Christians in Malaysia could stay calm and pray in this seemingly hopeless situation.

But I too, will never understand the love, grace, peace and hope that follows.

A love for the unlovable, just as He embraced me.
A grace for the unfavorable, just as He accepted me.
A peace for the distressed, just as He comforted me.
A hope for the desperate, just as He sheltered me.

I know my God prevails. In the midst of this storm, there still is hope for my beloved country. Not in any man, government nor earthly security. But in God alone will I rejoice for I know vengeance is His, not mine.

“My hiding place, my safe refuge, my treasure, Lord you are…”

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The Art of Driving, Drifting, Screaming, Spinning and Laughing at the Same Time

You hear that saying all the time that when you’re about to die, you see your whole life flashing through your mind in a split second. Well, not for me. I only saw spinning roads and car headlights.

As usual, I was driving back home from work using the Desaria road to avoid the toll. My colleague, Mr Chun Chow, was following behind me as I was introducing him to a nice place to eat near our place. I was quite hungry and I was driving at my usual speed (which can be quite fast) but I forgot it was raining (yes, sometimes I drive in autopilot mode without my brain even functioning). So, I was driving at my usual speed (I repeat, which can be quite fast), the road is wet and slippery, there is a sharp curve ahead, my mind was in autopilot… well, you can roughly guess what was going to happen next.

According to Mr Chun Chow, he thought I was drifting and he was quite impressed actually (I drive a Kancil, the smallest but cutest car in the world). Until he saw my car spinning, that is.

Alright, now just imagine the scene changing immediately (like in a movie) to me inside my car. The scene starts with a black screen and the lingering sound effect of an unbearable pitchy noise, with the camera slowly zooming out to what seems like a throat and finally showing the image of me screaming my lungs out, holding on to my steering wheel like a barnacle to the pillar of a jetty, with the car spinning in slow motion. And there and then, you are reminded of the merry-go-round that you used to ride when you were a child, only faster, say, like 70km/h.

I thought I was going to die.

And then the adrenaline-pumping merry-go-round session stopped. Only a few inches away, there was a drain which was big enough for my Kancil to drop into (the pitchy sound effect has not ended, I was still screaming). My car had turned 180 degrees, now facing the bewildered cars that were coming in my direction.

I made a u-turn, came out (I’ve stopped screaming by then) to check on my car and see if it’s ok, went in again and laughed my lungs out, thinking “That was way too cool! Let’s do it again!!!” and “Hallelujah! Thank God I’m alive!!!”

Over dinner, I requested Mr Chun Chow to record a video of me in action should I be caught doing that in public again.

I want to thank God for giving me such an amazing, undiscovered and life-saving talent. I want to thank my mother and father for teaching me how to step on the brakes with all my heart, mind, soul and strength when I want my car to stop whatever it’s doing. I want to thank my driving instructor for never warning me that this might happen if I drive fast on slippery roads whilst making sharp curves or I never would have the privilege to experience this exhilarating joyride. I also want to take this opportunity to thank my beloved, horizontally challenged mechanic. Where would I be today without you and your constant nagging of changing my brake oils and tyres? As for all my friends out there, you know who you are. You rock.

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A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do

People will grow old, but they will not necessarily grow up.

It is pathetic to see a man who is not leading his own life but pass the responsibility to a woman instead (be it girlfriend or wife). And by me saying that, I’m not saying boys should not listen to your mother (kids, listen to your mother or God will send crows to pluck your eyes out). I am by no means being chauvinistic but I believe that a man holds the appointment to be the leader of a household or his own life. When a man does not stand up for himself but make his woman do it, then it only means one thing.

He is still a boy, not a man.

He may have the appearance of a man, huge, burly and probably hairy, but really, deep inside is the stunted growth of a little boy. A little boy who does not have the maturity and ability to think, speak and act like an adult.

And one can only imagine the pain a woman has to go through when her man has only the mind of a twelve year old. It’s no wonder that more and more women nowadays are stepping up to play the single mother role. Well, why wait and depend on a child trapped in a grown man’s body? I wouldn’t too, if I was in that situation.

So, to all the men out there, it’s time to grow up.

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An Ode to Lecturers

Another new semester has just arrived. That means another new bunch of students in the form of a bunch of “cute” challenges (may not necessarily appear cute all the time though, sometimes you feel like strangling them).

And I think as a lecturer, I can be a very different person to different individuals. It’s not that I’m always changing nor do I have split personalities, but different individuals would perceive me as a very different person simply because of their own circumstances.

To the hardworking and knowledge hungry ones, they’d love me like a walking creative juice dispenser constantly dropping pick-me-up ideas here and there.

To the slower and less competent ones, they’d dread me like an evil dictator with an intimidating hairstyle (and probably face).

To the lazy and complacent ones, they’d avoid me like I’m swine flu or some plaguing virus that saps every single ounce of fun out of them.

Well, whatever I am, my goal for every semester has always been the same. It’s for them to learn and to make sure I raise them as competent and great designers. I was a student once and I loved my lecturers who poured out their lives for us, invested in us, believed in us and gave us their very best. And most importantly, thank God for the lecturers who did not strangle us.

A salute, to all the lecturers who have to face the “cute” challenges I face everyday.

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Silence is Golden

Have you ever heard of the expression “talked you to death?” Well, I never cared about such notions until lately. Some people really love to talk. They live to talk. The eat to talk. They sleep to talk. They fight to talk. They die to talk. They… well, you get the picture.

And it’s not that bad. Really. Until you’re caught in the conversation, that is. And I was caught in one. I was in the middle of a conversation that never seems to end. Every word that was uttered seemed to gnaw me of my consciousness and talk me to death. The boredom was inexplicable. The irk was indescribable. I was at the tip of exploding and shouting, “SHUT UP!!!” when I finally got a hold of myself and was reminded, “They’re just human.”

One has to wonder, “Do they bore themselves with their endless ramblings?”

Honestly speaking, I think I am a man of few words. People tell me that I don’t talk much. I have gotten that remark quite a bit from acquantainces, friends and families. Why? Well, I only speak when it’s necessary. And that gives weight to the words of my mouth. When I speak, people listen (and some tremble). Because they know that what I’m about to say is important or it makes sense. I hate saying things that do not add to the situation or conversation.

Do you?

“The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble.” Proverbs 12:13

I think the Bible said it very well indeed. The more you talk, the more trouble you get yourself into. You have no idea how many times being silent and learning to listen has saved me from complicated situations. But fools being fools, will not restrain themselves from their folly and speak whatever that’s in their minds without weighing the consequences. Are they’re desperate for attention or are they just incapable to control their tongues? Beats me.

But one truth I learnt is this. There’s more harm in talking than listening. Just stop talking and think about it. And if you are a talker like the ones I mentioned above (it helps to ask another’s opinion about ourselves as we’re blinded at times), I beseech you.

Stop the flow. That way, we’d save the world from unnecessary CO2 emission. And probably save yourself along the way.

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Showing Off my Show Off Exhibition


Click for a larger newspaper scan.

Me and my painting.

Me and the artists.

Just some pictures from the Show Off Exhibition. We were featured on New Straits Times! =)

For more pictures, click here for my Facebook album.

Also, if you are interested to read a little more, we are also featured on some of these websites :
1. New Straits Times Online
2. Malay Mail
3. Voize
4. What’s Art
5. Life in KL