Happy Christmas Eve to all
Don't know if anyone ever reads this journal or not (judging from how few comments I receive, I suspect none ever do), but my best wishes go out to all who celebrate Christmas either in a big way, or are simply relishing the opportunity to have a day (or more) off from work.
I generally like to take some time out at the end of the year to think about where my life has gone in the past year - how it has changed and how the coming year looks like it's going to shape up.
The biggest realisation I gained this year is really about work. Losing a job (whatever the reason) is stressful enough - what sucks harder is the months of unemployment that can follow subsequently. I lost mine in March 2003 thanks to my company tightening its belt - but more significantly, I also lost my permit to work and live in the United Kingdom. I'm sure many can relate to this - finding a new employer during hard times can be very trying, finding one who is willing to sponsor a foreigner for a work permit as well, even more so. I therefore had to go back to my home country (Malaysia), a prospect that I wasn't looking forward to at the time.
I managed to find re-employment in August 2003 as an e-business consultant for a local firm which I subsequently left for a better opportunity in October.
Some findings after 4 months of moving back to the "Third World" (as some would call it):
- It really isn't as bad as I got. I'm getting paid about 20-25% of what I used to get when I was working in London, but the cost of living is correspondingly lower. I learned to adapt.
- Quality of life (to me) is much higher. I'm surrounded by people who have a similar cultural background to mine and I've found it does make a difference. I like to think I've broken out of the stereotypical Malaysian mould (is there really such a thing, anyway) but there is some sort of camaraderie thanks to shared experiences when I'm around the people I grew up with.
Moral of the story is, I guess, money doesn't really matter so much beyond paying the bills, feeding and clothing yourself and your family and the occasional luxury. I've kept the luxuries few and far between, even though I can afford more, as an incentive - I don't want to get too used to them and lose the pleasure I derive from getting one. :)
I guess that's a good enough lesson for me for the year and hope it means something to someone if they read this. Sorry if you have to put up with my rambling, I'm at a client's site and should really be working. :P
Little piece of wisdom
Read this from someone's blog entry, and thought it was rather insightful:
In life, we juggle five balls. They are Work, Family, Friends, Health and Spirit. It is hard to keep all of them in the air at once. It is important for you to know, however, that the ball of Work is the only ball that is made of rubber. The others are made of glass. Drop your Work, and it bounces right up again. Drop any of the rest, and they become irreversibly scuffed, scratched, shattered, even.
How often in our lives do we convince ourself that the bigger house, flashier car, or cooler gadget is absolutely necessary to our well-being and stand willing to sacrifice all in the pursuit of these things?
Idea for a short story
Some days ago, I was aroused prematurely from my sleep by a phone call. After scrabbling around for the phone and trying to sound coherent talking to the other person on the other end of the line, I got a flash of inspiration for a short story and wrote a page or so. It's an idea that I need to work on but, until I find the same type of inspiration once again, I don't think I'll flesh it out yet. Might as well put it down anyway and see if anyone could throw me a spare meme or two to get the old brain working.
The piercing ring of the phone quickly aroused Jack from his fitful sleep. He cursed silently under his breath, as he had been having a particularly inspiring dream. On concluding the brief conversation, the urge suddenly hit him with all its usual force. This would be the day he would kill himself.
The desire to off himself wasn't new to Jack. He'd had this feeling many times before, more often than he could count. Most of the time, it would come and go - teasing his mind with the possibility but never actually taking a firm hold of his senses. However, this time his half-asleep brain considered it longer than more often and toyed with the fantasy.
Jack was a genius in many senses of the word. He breezed through the formalities of education, and was highly talented in the arts and sport; yet had always been branded an underachiever. Certainly not lacking in talent, his flaw in this respect was his ever-searching mind. The physical world holds many charms, but the trouble with it was its overarching familiarity and predictability - even novel situations could be extrapolated to some degree of accuracy based on prior experiences.
He'd tried drugs before, of course. Cocaine and heroin were amusing distractions, but he was never too excited about the high they produced. There was something visceral, even sexual, about them which appealed to a more primal aspect of his physiology but the feeling was fleeting and they posed no higher questions; just a feeling of desire for more. Sex was good too but the high he got in the two or three seconds after ejaculating wasn't quite worth it. Sometimes, this callous cynic just wanted to cuddle.
Not all drugs were anathema to Jack, though. He had had a life-changing experience with dissociatives and hallucinogens. Ketamine was fantastic, as was marijuana in high doses. He loved the strange vistas that opened up in his mind, with its colourful morphing landscapes and fleeting figures that he felt he could reach out and touch, but would always flit and dart away just out of reach. There was a depth to these worlds that could not be described in real world terms, and he loved exploring the universes of his mind even though his logical brain was telling him these were only images created in his drug-addled state.
"I'm getting off topic", he thought as he tossed and turned in his bed, reminiscing past experiences. He considered death again, and it still appealed to him. He toyed around with the idea of suffocating himself, overdosing on pills or leaping off a tall building but none of these methods appealed to him. While they certainly are painless (Jack did not like pain), they lacked drama. Jack viewed death as a transformation, from a known state (life) to an unknown state (being dead) and an answer to all the philosophical questions about it. "You could theorise endlessly about what happens after you die, but you won't know until you actually do it", he reasoned. He also considered it as a transformation in the people around him and knew that his death would affect them in different ways. Lovers, friends, family would probably miss him to varying degrees, but he wondered how long it would be until he was forgotten. Would they be upset? Would they feel cheated? Would they blame him for being selfish by leaving them? Or would they share in his sense of wonder and consider the same questions about life and death as he did? If he could observe or interact with the world of the living after death, he certainly would like to do a study on their reactions.
Jack sweared under his breath. It was happening again - every time he thought of killing himself, his mind wandered and the urge would go away. Fortunately, not this time. He thought about how he was going to do it and decided he was going to call a few friends around for dinner. No drama, no suicide notes, nothing. A few glasses of port, some good conversation, and a bullet in the head while they were making small talk. It should come out of the blue when everyone least expected it.
He looked out of the window. Glorious weather. Perfect.
Ramblings of a senile man?
Politicians are known to sometimes come up with the most asinine statements. This is one of those classic moments.
Quote: "They (Western powers) have not said that we are their targets yet. But they have already criticised us for not being democratic, not protecting human rights and not having press freedom. This is the beginning. When they are done with the other countries, they will turn their attention to us because we know that these colonisers will never be satisfied."
Riiiiight. Pass me some of whatever you're smoking.
After being gently chided by a friend for being a bit of a lurker, and having one too many shots of cheap vodka obtained at a duty-free shop in some random international airport in the Far East, I decided to take a stab at writing a (mediocre, admittedly) journal entry.
So here it is.
I think there is meant to be a point to writing an entry, but it eludes me. Sleep beckons.