Paradox of life.

As kids, we were much sold into the notion that life would go the way we planned as long as we aced in our academics. We fantasized about the future as kids and teenagers, believing the myth that life after high school would follow a specific trajectory. From movies to TV shows to pop culture, some of us were convinced of a picture-perfect life. After high school comes college, then we are off leaving our nest finding a dream job and making a living for ourselves, perhaps falling in love with a soulmate, starting a family, and eventually retiring in a comfortable manner. It made sense then from all the hortative speeches from the adults.

Except nothing in life goes as planned. There isn’t one universal prescription of life. The most unexpected twists and turns are the elements that shape the futures of our lives.

Yet, it is in this paradox that we find the beauty of life.

Embracing this unorthodox beauty of a paradox allowed me to grow and come to terms with unanticipated situations that occur on a daily basis. Life has been the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn in my college years, and even more since I graduated and found a job as a writer. Life truly never goes as planned, especially not in the long run. Plans I have made today for myself two or five years now, likely won’t take shape in the exact way I imagined them to be. Things happen and these things change the trajectory of the future. 

If I convinced myself into thinking nothing could go wrong, I would be stuck in mediocrity. The mere notion of constant change has to reflect in me, my actions and my outlooks, otherwise life would be pointless. If life changes, then so do I.

When life deals me with a blow, I have two choices in hand:

I can either grow from it or cower in the shadows and become a shadow of a person myself. 

There’s no matter time in this life now to stand up to the adversity life deals, bettering myself for the future. The lessons learned today affect the person I become tomorrow. I always try to be a better version of myself and take everything life deals in strides. If not today, then tomorrow. No one is perfect and I have to acknowledge my constant growth to see how life has shaped me and whether or not I like the person looking back at me in the mirror.

This is the beautiful enigma of life? I guess so.

The stranger who paid for my coffee.

It was late in the night, the pages of “A Matter Of Form” by Horace L. Gold have long been read. I just wanted to be in a place other than my home for a breath of fresh air. The next best place that came to my mind was a stall just a stone’s throw away from where I live. It wasn’t a fancy place; only that of a modest one that the locals found comfort in.

The place was crowded and it had life. Behind my face mask, I saw the stall owners chatting with the servers, friends catching up, and families having a late dinner. It was busy for sure but I didn’t want to leave empty-handed. I looked around; my eyes drawn to a spot. Yes, right there. It was right in front of me. One table with a spot for me even though it was already occupied by a man. There’s got to be a way for me to get coffee, I thought to myself. As if this stranger heard my thoughts, he pulls down his mask and smiles at me.

“Would you like to have a seat and join me?”

Now you might say it was naïve of me to just sit with another man waiting for his order. I didn’t think so. I really wanted my coffee. He looked a few years older than me. I could be wrong. Didn’t stop us from exchanging our names anyway. My order has been made. We sat in our seats for a few seconds in silence. Then he asked, “Back from work?”

“No, I came from home. I live around here.” I answered. “I just wanted to drink some coffee outside. What about you? Where did you come from?”

He gave me another smile before he answered my question.

“I came back from a funeral.”

I was in thought for a few seconds and then I shared my condolences.

I was unsure if I wanted to ask for the details. Our coffee arrived and he gestured me to drink. For the next few minutes, we were just sipping our coffee, occasionally I would take a few biscuits and munch on them. He would later offer me a cigarette to which I politely declined. He didn’t bother lighting up his cigarette afterwards. He told me he had lost a family member due to cancer. He probably was questioning why he still had the box of cigarettes with him though. He explained to me it even though he expected her death, he still wasn’t ready for it. It pained him a lot. You could see in his eyes he was trying to accept that fact. 

He told me he hadn’t been in the best mood to talk to anyone. Said he didn’t want to see a familiar face telling him they were sorry for his loss. He just wanted to stay lost in his thoughts but the fact I looked around persistently for a empty spot, he gave in. I think he was just lonely and needed someone to talk to too. The conversation was all about his late aunt whom he grew up closely with. He went on about his agony, fearing of the thoughts which would keep him awake at night. Even as he held his cup, he seemed lost.

“There are some new feelings I’d have to get used to. It won’t let me sleep for a while, that’s why I have to talk to a stranger. I don’t want sadness to be on my mind all the time.” He said after taking a sip of coffee and putting it on the table.

I’m not quite sure what this stranger was thinking of me at that time. As he went on with his lament, he asked what did I do for a living. I told him I was a writer and I had a blog. He looked at me with a fond expression and told me that sometimes he pens down his emotions as words to get the unbearable feelings of his chest. I wanted to tell him to continue writing as long as it helped him to cope. But he looked close to tears and I guess I didn’t have it in me to break him in public.

I think he knew what I was thinking. He switched the topic and we ended having the usual conversations. You know, the ones like Covid-19, Elon Musk, and the Malaysian Education System. Sometimes, he would speak faster than usual when he got excited. His sentences without a full-stop. But he would catch himself back and ask of my opinion. Funny how his words flowed, I honestly thought he could have been a writer himself. He could but he didn’t.

“When you realize the only thing permanent in life is death, gaining popularity on social media becomes a joke.” He finally laughed.

From that statement alone, I was more convinced that he should have been a writer. The words weighed on me for a while. The nature of life and death was still a gray area for me. I admitted to him that while I was slowly adapting to the changes of metamorphosis into young adulthood, life still can hit me with conflicting emotions and dreaded mundanities. 

“Sometimes you just want to move past all the misery, but it gets lost in translation.” I sighed. “Your judgment is clouded and everything becomes pointless. Is death really the only thing that stays?”

I don’t think either of us had an answer for that. I noticed he was smiling more though. Perhaps the accepting that death was the only permanent thing in life was the actual reason that compelled him to approach a random young person. We all return to dust eventually so why not give that seat to a stranger? Yes, he seemed to be sure of that himself. If he wasn’t, his voice wouldn’t have been so rough when he mentions ‘death’ specifically. Not good… he might just cry. How would I know, you’d ask? You see, I wasn’t just listening to his voice. I listened to his eyes because they spoke so much truth. The eyes will tell the truth whatever society permits.

But I also wanted to remind him that something else was permanent.

“Change is constant.” 

“You’re not wrong.” he replied. “Maybe I should be happier for a change.”

I’m not sure what he really thought about what I said. I guess what deeply affects the hearer is beyond himself. Heck, time flew. You could give us all the time in the world, it still wouldn’t be enough for us to wrap up the conversation. After some 20 more minutes, he had stood up and let me know he was going home. I nodded. My cup of coffee; half-full. It was cold but for this occasion, I didn’t seem to mind. I considered my meeting with this man a sincere one where the hearts and minds connected. I didn’t know until I got up to leave, that he had paid for my cup of coffee. I wished he had let me know so I could thank him. I’ll probably never see him again. Then again, I don’t know, but I do believe he’s going places in life.

Rekindling an old passion.

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

It is almost surreal that I am writing about rekindling an old passion. While I love arts and had always leaned towards the creative aspect of life, I loved Science and Math. Unfortunately, I was quite the daydreamer and slacker during my high-school years. It wasn’t until I started living alone and working as a writer that I was able to rekindle my old passions.. Games. Science. Art. Reading. For this blog post, I will talk about Physics, specifically.

Having grown up beside my father, that man has always been a man of few words. To my father, his life was dedicated to Physics, followed by test tubes, pipettes, and atoms. Essentially, I was inquisitive even though I never quite understood what Physics truly was then. But not knowing what it was never stopped me from questioning life and how light can be a particle, wave, and sometimes, even both simultaneously.

My questions gradually became more complex when I entered university. I started to learn more about quantum physics on my own. My father’s cupboard stacked with a plethora of Sci-fi books helped deepen that curiosity further, and books from Isaac Asimov just shaped me to be, dare I say it, the most organized, detail-oriented person I know—at least, I feel that way.

I love order and things to be approached methodically. However, I noticed that even when I planned things perfectly, the most unexpected things would come up and I would find myself scrambling to pick up the pieces. It makes me ponder, maybe, humans never had control from the start. 

Anyway, I suppose I could say I love Physics as it explains the World in its entirety. It holds countless beautiful and elegant theories, intriguing concepts and problems.. I could go on. I am no Physics expert, nor would I consider myself to be a bright individual. I can only say that as someone who has studied a good deal of Physics on my own since I started working, I simply love Physics more than I did before is through all the textbooks, sci-fi books, problem-solving, calculations.. and the sense of wonderment from finding an answer to a question. It’s fulfilling.

I struggled with Physics back in high-school because I was far too young, far too clueless then not to appreciate its technical and mathematical side of it. Was I fascinated by the theories? Enamored. It’s wild to think how years can fly so fast and you can grow to love something that you used to be terrified of. Believe me, if you haven’t done pages of equations just to find a little mistake in your first line, you really haven’t done Physics. Absolutely frustrating but, the output is immensely rewarding; that feeling you get when you solve a hard problem or understand a difficult topic is blissful. Practice physics enough and it is possible (not a certainty) that you will derive great pleasure from it. 

When such pleasure is from logic, what’s not to love?

What the world’s made of.

Good morning, it’s me again. I surprised myself in being able to maintain my own schedule for personal interests amidst working from home and managing my freelance work. I haven’t fully thought about what to write this morning but since I’ve been caught up with a lot of Isaac Asimov’s books, I might as well just talk about the World.

My mind wanders on its own and asks if the World we live in, is it simply logical or illogical?

The World itself looks bleak to me. Even before I answer that question, what exactly does ‘This World’ or ‘Our World’ mean? Is this an ontological question or a humanistic one? Perhaps it is safe for me to assume that such words indicate the “World of Humanity”.

The difficulty otherwise would be that logic and illogic cannot be ascribed to the world or the physical environment as a whole now, I suppose. To me, treating logic as a noun, it simply refers to an abstract quality which humans can identify as a property of thinking, and ‘logical’ is an adjective humans employ in order to attach that quality to other ideas, of which we have few examples except our own.

I simply cannot ascribe logic to a river or a mountain or even an interstellar medium. But I like to think I can ascribe it to the idea of a water cycle, a belief in plate tectonics, or a quantum field theory. That being said, majority would consider that our World is full of logical and illogical ideas, judged against a criteria of logic which we construct.

Now if this is a humanistic inquiry, then of course, human beings, as far as I know, we have never – and will never – be seen to behave or act logically when judged against any abstract logical criteria we devise, not unless that logic can be composed of an integrated and comprehensive psychological and sociological theory of humanity.. whereupon the question becomes a tautology (which logic usually is). It’s wild, isn’t it?

I am skeptical by nature, but who’s to say I am not hopeful? To me, the World is by definition, logical. If you are thinking otherwise, say let us assume the World is the latter, that it is illogical – now that would mean that the statement “The World is illogical” would be a true statement. Now if that statement is the true statement, that also means it is not a false statement too. To put things into clearer perspective, I am stating that the World is not both logical and illogical at the same time. It simply cannot be. If that is true, then the World is obeying the law of non-contradiction, a logical law. That means, no matter what the answer to the question if the World is a logical or illogical one, you must conclude that the universe is logical.

If someone says the World is illogical, does it not speak of contradiction? If you say so, you are making a logical argument that it is true, and that the World is illogical – it defeats itself.