Author: joyce

Being Vulnerable Is Hard

Happy new year. It’s 2019. Every year I make an attempt to reflect upon the previous. Writing about it is therapeutic. And I miss writing. 2018 was the year of baby steps on the path of self discovery. It’s also been one of the most difficult years. I typed 3 versions of this post and deleted it each time. I wanted to write about 2018, but it ended up being a struggle because being honest about vulnerability is hard. I guess that’s why poets, painters, dancers and musicians prefer to express their pain through their work. Part of it is because of fear of judgement. The other is because you come face to face with your suffering. Not numbing yourself to the pain with your smartphone, or a new drama series on Netflix. I used to journal daily when I was much younger. I also had a blog where I would share photos of my daily life, random life events and be open about my emotions. Now that seems so difficult to do. When you become an adult, society teaches to hide your vulnerabilities, what to say, …

Book Notes: The ones who walked away from Omelas

A short story about a utopian city whose happiness depends on the suffering of a single child locked in a closet alone. Author wrote to deliberately reflect reality. We are all playing the game of life, living by the rules of a capitalist society. Can you accept the happiness of your life if you knew that your ‘happiness’ came at the expense of those who suffer? In the story, the young ones often are enraged and disgusted, but they learn to accept and even rationalise the suffering of that one child for the happiness of their own. At times some of these children do not weep or go home in rage, but simply leave Omelas. To where? Perhaps that place they are are walking to does not exist, but they seem to know where they are going. Or are we all the ones locked in the closet, too stupid to know what life could be like outside of these walls? Her closing words are sad, yet truthful: “Omelas already exists: no need to build it …

Wherein I turned 30

I was 18 when I first watched the episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, “The One Where They All Turn 30”. I couldn’t relate. It seemed distant and I thought, “why are they all so upset, 30 is still young!” Fast forward to 2017, turns out it really is pretty scary when you’re born in a first world country. Suddenly your peers seem more successful in their careers, may own a fancier apartment with swimming pools,  may have even started having good looking babies. It makes you stop to think, “What have I done with my life?” I was depressed in July (birthday month), having never truly taken a break from work, without a plan or a freelance gig in the books. I’d started working on my current business with an ex-boss, but in the developmental stage, it was hard to tell if it would be worth the effort or time. (Now I know different, but at that point it did feel uncertain!) I spoke to a few friends and realised that I wasn’t the only one. I’m thankful for the support …

Why we desperately need to change the way we travel

My worst travel nightmare is to get on a plane, travel 35000km across the world and find the exact same streets, malls and restaurants. As global brands like GAP, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret and Uniqlo start popping up at every corner of Singapore’s malls, it’s not hard to believe that this will eventually be what happens if we don’t question what we want in the world. Even more worrisome is the fact that local cuisine is slowly dying out, recipes lost, as we indulge more in avocado toast and flat whites in the brand new cafes of gentrified neighbourhoods. What would be the point of travelling then if we all crave and have the same experiences? Surely it must be more than just to upload an Instagram story and accumulate likes? Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten a crucial aspect of travel – rehabilitation. If we were to look inward before we embark on any trip and ask ourselves, “Why are we visiting this country?” I think we would have less crowded Eiffel Towers, less souvenirs targeted at tourists selling the …

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Rating: 10 / 10  – the best nonfiction book I’ve read in a while. I started this book last evening and it left me in tears. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi writes about coming to terms with death and being diagnosed with lung cancer. His journey swings to and from extreme ends of a pendulum – from doctor to patient, from English major to neurosurgeon, from living a life so full of promise and potential to never knowing how much more time you have left to finish the work you were supposed to do or how many more nights you have to cuddle with your wife and newborn daughter. As a neurosurgeon, he knows better than to question, “Why me?”. In the 0.0012% chance of it happening to someone in their 30s and a non-smoker, he knew he was still part of the group of “Why not me?”. He faced death straight on, making plans for his wife and daughter’s future, trying to go back to surgery and helping as many patients as he could, writing this book as his final call …