Tag Archives: introspective

Life in Melbourne (2016 in Review)

I bow down to pray
I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way
To cut through all his worn out leather
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay
~ A Million Reasons by Lady Gaga

Travel has very much defined my life in the past few years, having embarked on numerous ‘big’ travels (self-defined as one month or longer) spanning 4 continents, approaching 40 countries and an estimated 100 cities. Each ‘big’ travel has coincided with various milestones in my life: exchange semester in Europe, graduation from university, leaving my first job in Singapore and selling my stake in a backpackers hostel.

After stepping down as a business owner of the backpackers, I decided to move to Melbourne and begin a new life overseas. 2016 has been the first full year I spent in Melbourne. Primarily due to the lack of any major happenings in my life, 2016 is also the first time in the past few years where I had not done any ‘big’ travels. Inevitably, I begin to reminisce on my past travels and my mindset following each milestone, which could be described in the following words: exchange in 2011 (inspired), graduation in 2012 (hopeful), quitting my first job in 2013/14 (idealistic) and ceasing to be a business owner in 2015 (thoughtful). If I were to chart the positivity of these ‘one-word’ adjectives over time, it will be on a downward trend. Likewise, the pattern has persisted into 2016, for I will use the word – confused – to describe my current sentiments.

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I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for
~ I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For by U2

A year ago, I had intentions to write an article on chasing your dreams and following your passions, beginning it with the fast-beat pop/rock song, Counting Stars by One Republic: “Baby [I’ve] been praying hard, said no more counting dollars, [we’ll] be counting stars”. Instead, 365 days later, I am writing an entirely different article, starting it with the rock/gospel anthem, I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For by U2.

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The Price of Work

When the work is done, the work is done
We’ll be bionic and beyond the circuits of our minds
We’ll get nothing done under electric sun
Leave the weight of labour far behind

We’re the greatest story that was ever told
But we don’t know where we’re from
And the walls became but a memory
Of the days when all the work begun
~ The Day The Work Is Done by Take That

After sunset, I was strolling along Lake Tekapo and admiring the crescent moon hanging low on the cobaltish-yellow night sky. Through the earphones plugged deep in my ears, I begin to hear the anthemic beats and catchy melody of “The Day The Work Is Done” by Take That. On a short sabbatical after quitting my job, the song instantly resonated with me and I looped the song a few times.

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What Colour Are You?

Double rainbow at Lake Matheson, Fox GlacierDouble rainbow spotted at Lake Matheson, near Fox Glacier

If you were to choose a colour to describe yourself, what will it be? Will you choose red as you lived your life with passion and energy? Or will it be blue to reflect your calmness in even the most stressful situations? Perhaps, you might prefer white as you have purity of thoughts and seek high standards in life? Or, could it be black to symbolise your stoic and unnerving personality? Or are there no appropriate colours and you consider yourself to be colourless – void of any identity and ordinary in all aspects?

In Murakami’s book, “Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”, the protagonist Tsukuru is colourless amongst his colourful friends, whose names all contain a colour in it. On the surface, his childhood friends have vivid personalities in-sync with the colours in their name: Aka (Red), Ao (Blue), Shiro (White) and Kuro (Black). Only Tsukuru (Colourless) is dull and unremarkable. However, as the story goes along, you discover contradictions and perceptual differences, which to me are the central themes of the novel.

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Changes in travelling alone (Part 3)

“I did it all, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived”
~ I Lived by OneRepublic

(In Part 1, I covered the worries and apprehensions prior to undertaking solo trips and that transitioned towards Part 2, where I listed the reasons to why I love solo travel.)

After travelling alone numerous times, I realised that there have been changes in my approach towards solo travels and I have grown from an “uneasy” newbie to a “confident” traveller. And the more I travel alone, the more changes there are in my behaviour during such solo trips. Hence – in Part 3 of the travelling alone series – I will like to detail how my travelling patterns have changed throughout these solo travel experiences.

1. Becoming more comfortable with myself (introversion)

The first city I travelled to alone was Paris, and I can still remember the experience of watching the sunset over the Eiffel Tower. Being alone afforded me the serenity to savour the moments of the sun slowly setting into the horizon in such a picturesque and world-renowned landmark. Yet – although there was calmness in me, there was this lingering sense of melancholy in my heart still. As throngs of couples surrounded me, I (perceived and) envied them for being deeply in love when I only had the company of my own thoughts.

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“What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?”

Sunset near Lake Matheson, New Zealand

The title above is quoted from the book, Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson. The story is about Christine, who wakes up every morning forgetting all that has happened in the past 30 years. She still thinks she’s single and 20 years old. Every morning, she gets a rude awakening when she stares in the mirror and realises the person looking back at her is a middle-aged woman with grey hair and wrinkles. Without the ability to form memories, she continues her day-by-day life with the aid of her trusty journal and the words of her husband. But, what and who should she trust? Are her journal entries a figment of her imagination? Is her husband telling the truth?

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The Notion of Home

“If I could go back home
If I could go back home
If I’d never left, I’d never have known
We all dream of leaving but wind up in the end
Spending all our time trying to get back home again”
~ Home Again by Elton John

Travelling – especially when alone – clears my head of worries and allows for thoughts to wander freely without distractions. With this clarity of mind, the sensorial experience of listening to music gets accentuated. The meanings of the lyrics, as well as the melodic structures and vocal intonations of songs, become more apparent. A greater understanding of the music then triggers a deeper emotional response within myself. This is particularly true when listening to songs about home, which leads to me feeling especially poignant. And I will scratch my head in confusion – for wanderlust have always left me feeling unsettled at home and led to me searching for far-flung places to visit. If you are continually seeking to escape from home, why will you feel poignant when reminded of home?

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