Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Letter To 15 Year Old Me.

Dear Ana,

I would like to share some wisdom with you, things that I have learnt in the past 30 years. I wish I can go back in time and done certain things differently. There are some regrets and mistakes, without which I would not have learnt what I am about to share with you.

Forgive those who made and broke promises with you. Their ill-chosen behavior is in no way reflective of your true value and worth. Idealistic as you may be with regards to those you love, they are nothing but flawed human beings. To expect more of them would only invite disappointment and pain. I am not asking you to refrain from trusting anyone. I merely ask that you see them as who they are and not how you want them to be.

Puan Aminah, your Primary 4 teacher was wrong to call you 'Stupid.' You are intelligent and bright minded. You will go far in life and education. She mistook your playfulness and forgetfulness as stupidity. Apparently, she had a limited English vocabulary. Yes, she may have been your teacher. But teachers do not know everything. No one does. Even experts are only knowledgable in their own field of expertise.

Sit up straight and avoid slouching. Its not only bad for your posture but also your overall appearance. Be brave to speak your mind and embrace stepping out of your comfort zone. Mistakes are the best way to learn well.

Many of your friends will come and go, but some will be around for a major part of your future. Stay good at keeping secrets others have shared with you in strict confidence. As interesting as your internal dialogues are in your head, once in a while do step out of it and listen to others with curiosity and unconditional acceptance. All this will prove to be positive habits that will assist you in your future career.

Be more worldly and less naive. Not everyone will love you the way you love them. Each has different definitions for common words. Many say something but mean something else. Guard yourself from feeling upset or let down by this. Make integrity and self-honesty as non-negotiable values of your life.

Learn to be more flexible of others. Just because you think you know the best way for doing something does not make it right and suitable for others. Its alright to have differences. Embrace the diversity of wisdom and points of view. Two heads are better than one. The more the merrier. However, do your level best not to be easily influenced by the opinion of others. Be courageous in forming your own. There are people who will be interested to know how you think. Because your opinion matters.

Leave past traumas behind. Your past does not define who you are, no matter how much subconscious influence they may have on your current behavior. You can choose better when your head and heart are clearer. Take your time to sort them out. Its easy to confuse your emotions with your thoughts.

You will lose people you love through life and death. There will be times when you will have to force yourself to walk away from something that makes you happy and feel beautiful. This will not be easy to do. But sometimes when life makes us do something out of lack of choice, we must learn to understand that is life's way of telling us to move on along. At the end of a rain storm you'll find a rainbow arching above you as the sun shines through the drops of water. Blink your tears away so you will see more clearly. Let go of whatever that burdens your heart. You need to travel light. There is no sense in lugging unnecessary baggage.

Not everyone will love and care for you. Not everyone who cares for you will love you. Not everyone who loves you will care for you. Beware of confusing the two. Caring does not mean love. Sometimes, caring comes alone. Guard your heart against these childish expectations. Your heart will be spared of pain.

You will meet the love of your life. He will possess all the criteria you need in a man, husband and father to your children. He will struggle to help you gain confidence and assurance. He will assist you in fulfilling your truest potential. He is a rare find. He is waiting to find you. And he will. You'll be utterly happy with this man in your life. But you will have to learn to love selflessly too, after all he will do for you.

You will have two beautiful daughters who will make your heart swell with pride. Love them like you've never been loved before. Give them whatever you never got while you were a child. They will be your best investment and asset throughout your life. Look forward to being a good mother to them. You will be their everything until they grow up. Then, you will also have to let them go.

In short, what I am trying to say is this: Live. Love. Let go. These words are easy to remember but hard to do without experiencing some level of pain. Hard. Yes. But not impossible. Just do your best. Your utmost best. Leave no room for regrets. Life may be challenging but its never dull. And in its excitement, you will find your true strengths and flair. You are unique and avant garde. You are as colourful as a peacock. There's no way you can pretend to be simple turkey. Embrace your originality. Make no apology for who you are. People who matter to you will be proud of you. As for others, their opinions are as insignificant as they are.

Remember: Live. Love. Let go. You will be magnificently fine. Trust me. I am.

Lots of love,

45 year old Ana.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy 20th Wedding Anniversary, Yang! We Made It!!

Dear Yang,

Wow! We made through to our 20th wedding anniversary after all! Isn't it amazing how time flies? I feel as though it was just yesterday when you proposed to me in front of Ayah, much to my surprise. The months following that day is a flurry of memories... wedding plans, honeymoon, making our home, having children and seeing them grow up into two beautiful, intelligent and warm hearted young ladies. We must have done something right along the way. Or maybe we were simply lucky to have found each other and clung on to one another through thick and thin, through sick and sin...

I am the first to admit that as much as I tried to be the best wife I could be to you from the word "GO!", I was hardly a flawless one. And despite my complexities and past traumas, you stood by me relentlessly and patiently. My strong, quiet hero. My savior. My pillar of strength.

You enjoyed the things I do best with great fervour each time I did it and you chose to overlook my shortcomings with much loving understanding. I can't begin to imagine how my life would have been without you over the past 20 years. We survived through a helluva lot, didn't we, Yang? We did it.

I knew I could always count on you to be strong when I was weak, be patient when I was tempestuous, be hard-working when I was feeling lazy. And the most amazing thing of all is your loving and quiet support in being there to hold me each time I was in pain. You are still doing that, even now.

My trust in your judgment and decision making hardly wavered, as you lead our family with full confidence and resolution. Your belief in my capabilities and intelligence gave me the inner strength to work my way out of the darkness of my fears. You saw my truest potential and you supported me unfailingly until I reached the top of my Everest. For that, I am forever grateful and indebted to you. You gave me room to grow and space to spread my wings. You gave me the freedom and blessings to be who I am without any explanation or apology. I am who I am today because of you and your love.

You have given me 20 years of happiness, love and joy which I treasure whole-heartedly. And in return, I hope to have done the same for you. You taught me to love selflessly and I hope I've grown confident enough to let you spread your wings and fly to whatever that gives you joy and happiness. I realize my own weakness and know that there is more to life than what I can ever offer you. My only hope is that I have made you equally happy, as a wife to you and mother to our daughters.

We have always been best of friends and enjoy each other's company. We can always talk about anything and everything under the sun. And despite the difference in our preferences and interests, we have never allowed anything or anyone to come between us. No matter how far we ventured out into the world, we always made sure we came home to each other.

I don't know what lies ahead of us. However, I am confident that we will make sure we will continue to have what we have, regardless. Life and circumstances may change us but I truly believe we will always be us. The us we know.

Thank you for being there for me when even I couldn't stand to be there for myself. Thank you for believing in me when I couldn't even see right. Thank you for loyally being in my corner and covering my back even when everyone else had walked out the door. Thank you for holding me each time I got frail and weak from all those attacks I suffered. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be the best wife I could be to you. Thank you for defending me when I was facing my adversaries. Thank you for being such a gentle and giving lover. Thank you for your loyalty and honesty. You are definitely Allah's blessing upon me and I am eternally grateful for this gift every day.

I love you, Yang. I love you in ways I can't explain. I love you for reasons beyond description of words. I know for sure that I will continue to love you for always. Only Allah can repay you for everything you have done for me. I pray that He will. I know that He will.

Loving you consistently,

Your wife - Ana

“Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the Art of Marriage, the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon; it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel.

It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding rooms for things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.”

— Paul Newman’s letter to his wife on their wedding

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Value of Trust.

Recently, someone whom I have known for more than 2 decades had hidden something from me and in that process, he lied. Almost immediately, I just could not look into his eyes anymore, for fear of seeing more untruths. I made a mistake. A very grave one. I thought that just because I have known him for so long, that he would not lie to me.

Obviously, this incident had rendered my spirit destroyed. I was upset because not only that he had lied, but also that I can't believe him anymore. In general, I am a trustworthy person. However, I don't trust others easily. A person who succeeds in earning my trust undergoes several tests without them knowing it. In my own personal past, trust only ends with betrayal. A lie is a breach of trust.

I had been feeling very impoverished as far as having trustworthy friends are concerned after the passing of my soul brother, Mad. When he died, I felt I had one less person in whom I can trust my life with. He never lied. He never kept secrets from me. He was always forthright in all communications with me. He was as honest as Honest Abe. So, its only imaginable how inconsolable I was after the latest betrayal.

I admit that I am naive and that is my shortcoming. I believe that honesty is a two way street. You give it, you will receive it in return. Why am I so naive? How stupid of me! I prayed to Allah for someone I can trust and not be afraid of betrayal anymore. And He answered by me receiving a text message from a very old friend that I had been in constant contact over the 33 years span of our friendship. We met up tonight and after dinner, we had a very long chat over coffee and smokes.

We exchanged stories and updates. We laughed at old and new jokes. He told me how he has always kept a tab on my well being through internet social platforms. When the things I write about were depressing, he would worry and pray to make sure I will be okay. And when my writings get hopeful, he would let out a sigh of relief and be happy that I am fine.

But throughout tonight, what was most evident was how rich I felt in his presence. To have someone I trust to talk to. Although we may have known each other since we were 12 years old, I never really had the chance to sit and chat the way we did tonight. What a wonderful revelation to discover that we have so much in common and plenty to talk about. I didn't feel the need to explain myself to him. He was there throughout the traumatic years of my childhood. I asked him if he had bothered to search for me during our times apart. His reply was No. He said, "Why do I need to search for you when I know where you are, who you are and what you are? Anything that's written about you are lies if they are not similar to what I know of you. And I know you very well." We grew up together, didn't we? Thirty three years of friendship is a huge fraction of our age of 45.

I know I could trust him to tell me what I needed to hear. He would tell me things as they are. He told me he knows I struggle with letting things go. He also told me that I must not let this cruel world hurt me continuously. If someone doesn't understand me, he said to say, "I don't give a fuck!" In fact, he recommended I maintain that attitude with any ugly event or people that happens in my life from now on. I will embrace this attitude because I need to love and protect myself from hurt and pain inflicted on me by others.

At the end of the evening, as he drove me home, he told me how glad he was that we had that chance to chat and catch up. Due to our circumstances and work routines, our paths hardly ever crosses. But distance does not matter. Mad taught me that. Every so often, Mad used to call me from Penang just to tell me how grateful he was for our long time friendship. "We've been friends for so long, Ana..." Those were his words that keeps echoing in my head long after he has gone. Precious words that rang true tonight.

Gary, thank you so much for being there for me when I needed someone to trust. You made me feel so rich by your loving friendship and loyalty. I trust you. I trust you because you never had a bad thought or negative opinion of me. Thank you for showing me how much you care. Thank you for the affirmations that I never expected to receive tonight. Thank you for being proud of me. Thank you for having confidence in my capabilities. Thank you for listening. And best of all, thank you for your honesty. I know for sure you've always been honest with me because you know how much that means to me. I'm just grateful I don't have to explain anything to you and you would understand already.

Jazakallahu khair.

"No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence." - T.S. Eliot