The speech I’d like to give some day.

7 November in 2015, turned out to be quite a remarkable day.

One of my best friends got married at long last, and my brother finally took that big step and moved out into his own apartment today.

Funny how shower thoughts work, but the two storylines became an amalgam while I was unwinding from the day. What would I say, if I had to give a speech at my brother’s wedding?

Some things come to mind.

In our younger days, I had to get down to school every evening and bring him home. He did a runner one time and I was scared shitless because I couldn’t find him anywhere in school. He turned out to be at the nearby convenience store, bawling his eyes out and trying to ring home.

Ice cream solves a lot of problems when you’re a kid, one of them being crying. It also sidestepped the minor inconvenience of me facing hell at home, had my mum known I’d nearly lost her younger son right then. It’s still a very important lesson I hold dear, now that I have my own kids.

That got better, as he got older. I remember shadowing him from a distance after school to make sure he got home the right way, and checked the roads for traffic before he crossed. Just to be sure.

Growing up has been a long and bumpy process for this fellow.

My brother tends to think with his heart more than his brain a lot of days – he dives into things headlong, smashes into brick walls before he learns, and experiments too much. I call him a floating cloud. That being said, he can never be faulted for not caring, because he does.

I know of a lot of siblings who never got along really well. Stan and I, never really had that problem, especially as he got into his teens and beyond. We spent a lot of time together as we got older and we would talk. It would be me strolling into his room at random, or us just getting a bite of supper together. We yakked about everything and anything, from music to books to manga to work to #lifeprotips, and obviously girls too.

He’s not perfect, but the one thing about this guy is, he might not understand, but he always listens, with the goal of getting better every day. That’s a good thing in my books, and all I can say is, I’m really proud to have him as my brother. My mum says he’s like a son to me, and in some ways, he really is. I’ve shared so much of my thoughts and experiences with him over these years, and have been a major influence on his life, it’d be a lie if I said I wasn’t pleased with the way the boy’s become a man who thinks on his feet and knows to plan, and is obviously the life of the party all the time. Never seen that before? You obviously have never seen the drunk version of Stan the Man.

Would I do anything for him? Yes. There wouldn’t even be a moment’s hesitation between the question and my answer. There’s nothing to explain, it’s just how it is.

And this day, I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out. May the happy couple have a long and blissful journey ahead, and to my sister-in-law: you chose… wisely. That’s an Indiana Jones reference by the way.

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Stolen moments

The human mind as usual, is complex.

My own mind, burns with cold logic and rationality on most days, and stays insufferably confused in that minority, when muddled emotions skitter around in an uncertain manner.

Reading old diary entries makes me realise again, just exactly how much one’s memories fade over the years. The present is moulded by decisions from the past, and it’s fascinating to see how unconscious habits of today were consciously shaped by decisions I made so long ago.

Take for instance, the way I stylise a particular name on the annual birthday cards. I’d always assumed it was a whimsical thing I did on the fly, but the entry I reread last night, makes it clear that I’d actually given thought into the initial design, a good twenty years ago. I’m mildly impressed with 17 year old me.

“But one thing that really captivates me is her smile. Or her laugh, for that matter. Watching her really makes me forget my own problems.”

Of course, nothing ever goes quite the way we want it to, especially the tender unrequited dreams of youth. We’ve all grown up and moved on, and life continues at its own pace.

At the same time, I guess some things never really change.

I told Stan about my theory the other day, about how one’s spouse is never the perfect half, the romantic “You complete me” moment of realisation we hear about in Hollywood, when one person finds his soulmate. I’ve never quite had that, and I suspect most other people don’t. I make it work by spending time with other wonderful souls, those lovely people that complete me in their own special way.

To be clear, I’m not alluding to any form of physical communion –too much of that excessively principled boy who’s always fearful of doing the wrong thing, remains in me to ever attempt something fatally irresponsible– but rather something more spiritual. It’s the simple joys of enjoying each other’s company. The warmth of reunion in a hug. Reliving shared memories, ranting about life. The fun in singing a duet just right. The pleasure of sharing good food together. Smiling at old punchlines, or that well-remembered pout that makes me fondly smile. The satisfaction of a deep conversation, something that goes beyond the usual banal topics. Being able to trust and confide, share little secrets you can’t tell anyone else. Chuckling at a good joke you can both appreciate equally well. Looking into someone’s eyes and just listening, without judging. Being able to agree at times, disagree at others, and also share a viewpoint without being overly insistent on being right. Laughter and smiles, thoughtful gestures, simple yet priceless gifts I hold so dear.

I call them stolen moments, a reprieve from my daily grind.

Honestly, I count myself a lucky man. Most married men never get the luxury of having relationships like these. They devote themselves to their other half, and that’s that.

I have an understanding spouse, two children who have turned out pretty well so far, a decent job, and life in a country I’ve always hoped to live in someday.

And I have these other people I share something special with.

Life is never simple, isn’t it? I feel like I’m in one of the best situations I could have ever hoped for, but yet I dream about something that will never come into being. The only time I can consummate such fancies, is in the hidden domain of my nocturnal dreams, where I can live out those irrational lives and pretend it is all real. Just for those brief moments.

I remain thankful of their presences in my life, and will do all I can to keep things as they are.

It doesn’t stop those dreams, however. And I suspect it never quite will.

If my kids ever read this, just know that I kept my old diaries, so that you can read them and perhaps gain a measure of understanding about how your father was like, and how his thoughts shaped the person he eventually came to be.

Signing off in the manner of old, NMTR.

(No More To wRite. Why the R, and not a W, young me?)

17 Nov 2018, on board a flight home.

Blank

I fear death less, than the moment of realisation, when it is all too apparent, that my mind, nay, my memory becomes nothing but an empty white canvas.

Family, friends, love, everything I hold dear, anything I hold of regard, even the matters I loathe – all of it fading into obscurity, a haze that the mind struggles to remember once existed.

Truly, death would be sweet release, compared with the agony of living, and not remembering. The monotony of existence, without experience.

Would there even be remembered pain, if I am but a fleshly automaton, doomed to repeat the same motions incessantly, without the volition to better the self?

As that day creeps ever closer, I can do nothing but live my days out the best I can. To be true to the self, to live without regrets. To roll with every punch, to laugh at every unexpected blessing, to be thankful, and bask in the mundane ordinariness that a simple, uninterrupted routine brings.

平凡,就是幸福。知足,就是快乐。

回忆,是让人生填上无数色彩的彩虹。

感恩。

PublishPress just made my night.

Likely boring to a lot of folks, and I’m pretty late to the party. But I just realised Edit Flow has been reborn as PublishPress – YES! And it’s got Slack integration now, love it.

WordPress editorial workflows, checklist, content calendar, it’s all coming back. Can’t help geeking out, this is awesome.

Bit of context: I used Edit Flow for The Pick and Roll back in its first year. Loved the features, but gave up due to web hosting resource limitations (yup), and non-existent plugin support. It’s great to see this plugin coming back as a paid, well-supported plugin.

I’m always a big fan of paid plugins, because when it comes to WordPress plugins, you have to make sure it’s properly supported. Security vulnerabilities, new features, integration assistance, it just gives peace of mind knowing the folks who make great products get paid for it, and have the time to focus on properly supporting it.

Patience

A work in progress.

Sidenote: this is my very first post using Gutenberg. Should be interesting ten years down the track.

On to the main thought at hand.

I’m 37 this year, and despite past years of seasoning, frustration still threatens to break my sense of composure at times.

Frustration with the way things are progressing, ever so slowly. Frustration with the pace other people work at. I’ve learnt that everyone has their own pace, and their own priorities in life, but it doesn’t make things any easier.

I feel the seconds ticking by, and my life slowly vanishing, bit by bit. There could be so much more, but I’m bound up in unseen chains, waiting upon the whims and wills of many others.

There is merit in patience, in discussion and exchange of ideas, and in thoroughness. I get all of that.

I’m not the impatient youth of yesteryear.

No longer that kid, who blitzed through his exam papers as quickly as he could, because that was how he worked.

No longer that thoughtless youngster, who raged at the corporate workplace, because the right thing was never done, and seldom rewarded, if ever.

The years have imparted through painful experience, a modicum of patience. That the fastest, isn’t always the best.

No matter – I still chafe at the invisible bonds.

WJ tells me, it gets easier as we get older. How he’s feels almost zen-like at 39. I can only hope that I get there, someday.

Unrelated: here’s one of my favourite quotes.

“Death is lighter than a feather. Duty, heavier than a mountain.”

― Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World

About that damn knee.

For the past month or so, it’s felt like my left knee’s kinda fucked. There’d be moments when I feel that loss of support, that alarming feeling when something you’ve relied on all your life, suddenly gives way for an instant. I feel like lateral movements are a gamble. And my left knee feels shaky, shakier than it used to be.

And that flash of pain that surprises more than it hurts, and then it’s gone.

One physio says, no ligament damage he can feel. One GP says, feels mostly fine, other than possible strain. Why then, do I still feel like it’s not doing well? Maybe it’s a mental thing.

MRI scan tomorrow, hopefully it’s all good.

It’s time to lay on the rehab exercises hard – gotta be more religious about this shit.

Being thankful

Sometimes, I can’t help but feel that things in life are meant to be – I’m but a leaf being swept along the river of life.

It’s amazing how much goodness I’ve had in this life so far, so many people who have showed kindness and lent me a hand.

Hopefully there will be more in the years ahead.

All I can do, is to be thankful, and learn to pay it forward.

May the circle continue.