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Excerpt 09 : The Art of Losing


Read the whole essay here. - by Ruth Ozeki in Shambala Sun Magazine :

So what is the difference between losing and letting go? What makes losing feel like such a disaster? On an obvious level, it’s about control. When I let go, I’m in control; when I lose, I’m not. Letting go is a willful act; losing, a violation of my will.
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I think there’s a powerful link between creativity and death. We make things because we lose things: memories, people we love, and ultimately our very selves. Our acts of creation are ways of grappling with death: we imagine it, struggle to make sense of it, forestall or defeat it. 
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To care for a parent with Alzheimer’s is to practice losing every day. I wrote a lot during that time, which was part of my practice. These are some entries from my blog :    

May 25, 2004 
A lot has happened. My mother turned ninety last month and we had a little birthday party for her. 
“How old am I?” she asked me. 
“You’re ninety, Mom.” 
Her eyes widened.
“I am! That’s unbelievable! How can I be ninety? I don’t feel ninety.” 
“How old do you feel?” 
“Forty.” 
She was perfectly serious. 
I laughed.
“You can’t be forty. Even I’m older than forty.” 
“You are?” she exclaimed. “That’s terrible!” 
“Gee, thanks.” 
She shook her head.
“You know, I must be getting old. I just can’t remember anything anymore.” 
She looked up at me and blinked. 
“How old am I?” 
Later on, I asked her, “How does it feel?” 
“What?” 
“When you can’t remember things. Does it frighten you? Do you feel sad?”
“Well, not really. I have this condition, you see. It’s called os... oste... ” 
“You mean Alzheimer’s?” I said, helping her out.
She looked astonished. “Yes! How on earth did you know?” 
“Just a guess...” 
“I can never remember the name,” she explained.
 “Of course not.”
 “It affects my memory...”
 “...and that’s why you can’t remember.” 
She frowned and shook her head.
 “Remember what?” 
“There’s not a single thing I can do about it,” she told me, when I reminded her.
“If there was something I could do and I wasn’t doing it, then I could feel sad or depressed. But as it is...” She shrugged. 
“So you’re OK with it?” 
She looked at me, patiently. 
“I don’t have much choice,” she explained, “So I may as well be happy.”
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Book : Random babbles on books


My brother bought me some books from his book voucher coupon. I listed 3, thinking he will choose one, but he bought all 3 of those books. We met after I finished work at KL Sentral and he showed me those freshly baked good stuffs in his bag. I read the first book right away on my way back home while he nodded off next to me. *should consider giving him extra duit raya*

On the list was :
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - 2013
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - 2013
The Shining by Stephen King - 1977


I am very particular about buying books from writers that I've never tried from. Sticking to authors that I love is pretty easy, because I come to know all the crooks and nooks of their styles and way of telling stories. While reading from a totally new author in my list will usually end up either : 1. I fall in love head over heels with them or 2. I can't even finish up their book and the money spent on the book will be wasted.

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I learned about Donna Tartt since I saw her book : The Little Friend several years ago. The words in the book were printed really small and the book was over 500 pages. I never bought it. Small text, thick and pricy. Can't take the risk. But I've being eyeing that book since forever. So 11 years after The Little Friend was published, The Goldfinch came out. Fresh, highly recommended by readers and just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I just had to read her books. So this is what I'm currently reading. 900+ pages of her fiction in small text.

And while I was on my way to my little adventure with Donna Tartt's latest story, I received the book I ordered last month from bookdepository : Amityville Horror by Jay Anson - 1977, a book based on a real case. So knowing I'll take some time reading The Goldfinch, I decided to start reading the book right away. It didn't even take 2 days to finish it off. Ha. But, I'm not going to give any remarks towards the story.


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While Ruth Ozeki's book actually came in randomly in the list. I loved Murakami so much that I just had to try other Japanese author and probably other Asian Literature to explore writing styles and stories more. One great thing about having a universal language *currently - English* is the unity of every single book/people in this world and the ability + chance to still recognize the difference and uniqueness of every living thing. 
Excerpt from the book :


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Last one in my list, The Shining by Stephen King. I can only try horror stories in Ramadhan, thinking all bad spirits are locked up - so I can read it without feeling totally horrified. *that explained The Shining and Amityville Horror* This is very childish, I know :D Too bad I only managed to finish reading Amityville Horror.

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Excerpt 08 : Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse


Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind things, they were in them, in all of them.
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- and all were not worth a passing glance, everything lied, stank of lies; they were all illusions of sense, happiness and beauty. All were doomed to decay. The world tasted bitter. Life was pain.
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Govinda knew that he would not become an ordinary Brahmin, a lazy superficial official, an avaricious dealer in magic sayings, a conceited worthless orator, a wicked sly priest, or just a good stupid sheep amongst a large herd. 

Doodle : Game mode


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I've been playing TripleTown on my iPhone for more than 2 years =.=' For all game developers out there, maybe you need to study TripleTown - because I've been spending a lot of time with their bears and building little towns and floating castles. I never liked other iPhone games in the market.

And because I've been playing too much of that,
I decided to replay all 3 Locoroco versions again! :F
We'll see how long I'll take to complete that.

Doodle : Current favorite


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These two songs touched my heart deeply 

Book : Relish by Lucy Knisley


I visited the new huge MPH at NU Central and found Relish by Lucy Knisley. I just need to have it.
Two years ago, I posted about French Milk, a travelogue by Lucy on her visit to France and I also bought 60 pages of her e-travelogue to Tanzania last year - mostly about the place and food :


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It's basically about food. The author/artist loves food and she shares her love in a beautiful and colourful comic-like + doodles. It is a mixture of experiences, menus, how-to, tips, and thoughts. Her illustrations are much better and cleaner compared to her last book. I love how she love to list things down, because I love to list things in visual :D 


Details :-
Artist : Lucy Knisley, an American comic artist
About : Life experience & food
Pages : 173
Printed : First Second Books on a thick paper *better than most comics I own! 
Links : WebsiteTumblr

You can buy it from bookdepository for around RM 53 with free delivery and it might take 3+ weeks to arrive or you can also find it at MPH NuCentral for RM 59 - like I did ! *can try to find it at Kinokuniya, KLCC too. 

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Miss Lucy Knisley

Little Things 129 : Al-Muqtadiru


Things happening in Gaza, Typhoon Rammasun in Manila and now the latest news with MH17 being shot down in Ukraine. I am deeply depressed by the world, that I spent hours sweating and having panic attack when I should be off sleeping just because my mind can't seem to explain awful things that keep on happening. And I've been lead to this page :

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Al-Muqtadiru

According to Asmaul husna : Dengan Namamu Aku Hidup by Dato' Nik Abdul Aziz (page 249) :

Yang Maha Berkuasa Menentukan dan Menunjukkan Kuasa.
Allah SWT yang merancang dan menetapkan segala sesuatu yang berlaku di alam ini. Apa jua kejadian telah ditentukan dan dirancang oleh Allah SWT dalam keadaan yang sempurna dan rapi. Tiada sesuatupun yang dijadikan oleh Allah SWT yang sia-sia, malah semua yang berlaku ada hikmah disebaliknya. 

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According to The Sufi Book of Life by Neil Douglas-Klotz (page 192 & 193) :

Embodying Power in Action.
Sometimes life calls us to act forcefully with compassion, knowing that the effort may not be understood. Perhaps life is calling you to remember that in the middle acting, the energy of your action is Allah expressing the One Self through you. As we saw in the pathway of Al-Majid, when we find ourselves in situations involving healing or another outward, obvious use of power, others can project the archetype of hero or heroine onto us. If we accept this, it is a big step towards forgetfulness. In this sense, Muqtadir reminds us that Allah is the only hero. It is also reminds us that all beings already embody sacred power - nothings needs to be added from the 'outside'.

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Behold your sensitive souls, because things happen with reasons.
Cry with me upon sadness and pain, and find peace in your heart.
And don't lose faith because He knows best for us all.

Doodle : Random conversation in the lift


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Nothing beats random awkward conversation in the lift 
about guilty pleasure of smelling books.


Little Things 128 : Al-Mumit *updated*

Al-Mumit

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According to The Sufi Book of Life by Neil Douglas-Klotz (page 166) :

Transition.
When you are guided to this pathway, take the opportunity to remember that all formed, embodied existence - thoughts, feelings, identities, and bodies - comes to an end, and open a door to another world. 

In Sufi terms, the experiences we have of dying within everyday life are called fana, passing away from one image, concept, or configuration of our self to another. When we go through these transitions consciously, the self that resurrects itself reflects more of the whole, more of its purpose in life, and more of the Beloved than the one that passed away. Hence the Sufi adage, often attributed to Imam Ali, "Die before you die".

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According to Asmaul husna : Dengan Namamu Aku Hidup by Dato' Nik Abdul Aziz (page 223) :

Yang Maha Mematikan.
Iktibar dariNya : Manusia mempunyai kewajipan mematikan, iaitu membunuh segala runtunan hawa nafsu yang sering mengajak manusia melakukan perkara-perkara yang bercanggah dengan kehendak Allah SWT.

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As I go through both of these books to make comparisons, I opened this particular pages on the meaning of Al-Mumit. I asked myself, what kind of transitions do I really need to make? Which part of the whole idea of being me is awfully wrong that it bringing me to places that I don't want to be? I probably have known which from which because some of it are sticking out like a huge thorn on my decaying soul.  

The Neil's version is more diverse where it talks about dying in metaphorical way or known as transition to a better self, while the Nik Aziz's version is more focused on the avoiding/controlling carnality (hawa nafsu).

Everything concludes to the same thing,
that I need to change certain unhealthy things in my life and be better.
Or die, die everyday and be born new.

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Additional note :
I found this on the night I spent 3 hours trying to sleep, and my heart said something is unusually odd. I woke up and tried to ease my mind with words from all useful kitabs next to my bed. Some words in this text are classic; thou - you, wilt - will, wouldst - would, behold - see/observe.

According to Selected Poems of Rumi, version from Professor R.A.Nicholson, 1945 (page 58):

Die before death.
The Prophet said, "O seeker of the mysteries, wouldst thou see a dead man living,
Walking on earth, like living men; yet his spirit dwells in Heaven,
Because it has been translated before death and will not be translated when he dies -
A mystery beyond understanding, understood only by dying -
If anyone wish to see a dead man walking thus visibly on the earth,
Let him behold Abu Bakar, the devout, who in virtue of being a true witness of God became the Prince of the resurrected."
Muhammed is the twice-born in this word: he died to all temporal losing and finding: he was a hundred resurrections here and now. Often they would ask him, "How long is the way to the Resurrection?" and he would answer with mute eloquence, "Does anyone ask that of me who am the Resurrection?"

Become the Resurrection and so behold it: becoming is the necessary condition for beholding the reality of anything. Whether it be light or darkness, until thou become it thou wilt never know it completely.

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Book : Time Traveler's Wife

4 years since I first read Time Traveler's Wife. I remember lending my book to my friend and never got it back. I bought my second copy at one of the Big Bad Wolf's event and kept it for years, knowing one day I'll reread the book.

Early this week, after finished reading my latest Murakami's compilation of short stories and vowed to slow down in my book-buying activity, I picked up the now yellowed Time Traveler's Wife from my dusty shelves. 

I took almost 5 days to finish it. I purposely left the saddest part to be read at home in my room while I was alone so that I can cry without making people around me uncomfortable. The book still makes me cry T^T 

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I love how the writer (Audrey Niffenegger) wrote in 2 versions, from both the main characters : Claire & Henry. 
I love how Audrey managed to capture their feelings and thoughts in written words. In this case, it is not easy to write as a person who waits and as a person who leaves. It is like talking both from the victim and murderer's point of view - a style Jodi Picoult uses a lot in almost all of her books. This usually makes reader feels more connected and near with the characters, it's like we can imagine walking in their shoes.
I love how she wrote it beautifully like those words were crafted to create a complete artwork. She played around with words and emotions. I read so many books, I can say that this is not a chick-lit or even romance, it is just a beautifully written story.


And I love how it makes me cry. Every book that makes me cry deserves to be mentioned. I always wonder about to what extend can written words stretch its power. If any books managed to make me feel sad or happy or angry or motivated, then the writer succeeded in creating an epic story.

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Book : Siddartha

"When someone is seeking,” said Siddartha, “It happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, o worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”
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A couple of months before, I borrowed a book from my boss called Siddharta. It is a 1922 fiction on spiritual journey of a man called Siddharta. At first I thought the book was a semi-autobioghraphy of Buddha - because Buddha's real name was Siddharta Gautama Buddha (*if I'm not mistaken), but it wasn't. I remember my boss said to me, "Don't worry, it's not a religious book, it won't turn you into a Buddhist" :D

In Sanskrit, Siddharta means "Siddha" - achieve + "Artha" - what was searched for, so by far, the main character's name meant the 'man that achieve what he was searched for'. There are many opinions regarding why the writer chose the name Siddharta for the main character's name - none really explain the exact reason why, they just gave vague ideas. It is confusing, really - because there was a part in the story when the character met Buddha in his self-discovery journey. How can Siddharta met the real Siddharta?

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Among around 20 books I read since January, this book deserve to be mentioned. Not because of its splotchy brownish paper that looks so old it that reminds me of my dad's book or because of some German dude wrote a fiction that went around the topic of 'soul searching' in Buddha's timeline - with the name of 'Siddharta'. When I read a book, I picture the writer - so in case I imagine the German trying to think like a wandering beggar to earn spiritual enlightenment - which for me is interestingly odd. 

The book was written in a simple way, direct and easy to understand. I love the book, too bad it was only borrowed from my boss and I had to return it back. Definitely going to find the book for my keeping.
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"It taught him how to listen -- how to listen with a quiet heart and a waiting soul, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinion.” 
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Short summary : It's about a religious young man trying to find the meaning of life, existence and God. He was surrounded by all the religious men since he was small and even good at all the lessons taught by all the teachers, but he felt something is not fully explained, so he set on a soul-searching journey. On his way, he met Buddha - but he refused to be taught by another teacher. He met Kamala, the woman that taught about life and love, he lost his faith and drowned in desires (lust, money, food). When he noticed how lost he was at that point in his life, he set on another journey to enlightenment. 

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“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
Daww, I just love the book.
It talks to my soul about how to look through different perception.
Fin.

Notebook : Moleskine 2


Summary :
Paper - Weekly page.
Colour - Mine in Magenta.
Size - A5, 13 x 21 cm.
Useful for - Weekly organizer, thoughts, to-do list.
Use it with - Artline or ballpen.
Page - 18 months pages + back pocket + address book
I like it for its - 18 months long, & the aesthetic value.


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Details :
I've been using it for more than a year, mine would end this Dec 2014. Who ever thought that using 18 months long organizer is better than 12? Moleskine. 

For me, I think the length of this planner is just right. By one year, it looked more than half full, I used almost every single page of this planner. I am an organized person in my works*; I have a full-time job, several freelance jobs, and my small business. So I need to take notes for the weekly activities and update my schedule from time to time. *but my room doesn't reflect me as an organized person at all - I have this terrifying thoughts that if I'm too organized, my OCD will control my life. I read too many real-life OCD experience.

It is quite heavy for my sling bag, because I usually bring 1-2 novels when I go out. So I leave this planner most of the time. I update it weekly or twice a week. Every important things will be written in the planner, so if there are any spies out there that want to go through my life and know important appointments like in those movies you watch, they might find something useful in my planner. Maybe I am planning on capturing the world or I am one of those biggest underrated black-listed dealers, who would ever thought something like that, huh.

One thing I don't really like is the long-sized box for each day because 2 pages are used for 1 week, so I need to write in 3-4 words for one line. I love to write super-lenghty lines of words, and this just gives me limitation before I could even start writing. So I just write everything in short-form and bullet-points. Oh, and I don't like the price too. 

+I don't really understand why they included the address book. No one in our generation really use one anymore, because we can simply use Facebook and they will keep the data. What a waste. 

I love the back-pocket. Every Moleskine comes with back-pocket. So I can put my instax selfies or nice dried leaves that I found in the park or a picture of Hemsworth brothers from a magazine or love letters and postcards. 

Will I be using any other Moleskine's planner after this? Maybe. 
Or maybe I'll try daily planner in petite size.

Notebook : Moleskine 1



Summary :
Type - Set of 3 plain cahier journals.
Paper - Squared/checked
Colour - Kraft brown.
Size - Pocket size.
Useful for - Doodles, writings, short note-takings, questions and thoughts.
Use it with - Artline pen.
Price - Around RM10 for each little notebook.
I like it for its - Paper quality, small-size.

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Details :
I bought these little over-priced notebooks several times over the years now. It is really small, pocket-sized means you can put it in your back pocket, which I really feel convenient. I can put it in my bag and not feel like it takes too much space. 

I use one for my doodles, I use one for my poems and writings, I use one for note-taking. I like the empty brown-colored paper as the book's cover even though I know it will be a little dirty when it is overused. So what I usually do is wrap it with clear-plastic sticker for extra protection after I doodled something on the cover. 

The paper quality is great to be used with small-sized artlines. My personal favorite is Unipin 0.3 and Pilot Drawing Pen 0.5, that I can simply use for doodles and will try my best not to spoil any of the pages - knowing it is very expensive, somehow it motivates me to not make any mistake at all. It doesn't smear. I don't really like to use pencil in these books, because I don't get the satisfying pencil-effect as I get when I use our local Go Palm notebooks.



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I'm not sure whether any of the information is useful, but as an avid notebook user, I really think learning about paper-texture really helped me make everything from doodles and writings to scribbles seem more eye-pleasing, after all I really like to go through all my notebooks over and over again. 
     

Little Thing 127 : Big

In explaining and reminding myself about why I should not be too overwhelmed by all the pain, torture and wars in this world :
That’s all a shadow is—and though you might be prejudiced against the dark, you ought to remember that that’s where stars live, and the moon and raccoons and owls and fireflies and mushrooms and cats and enchantments and a rather lot of good, necessary things. Thieving, too, and conspiracies, sneaking, secrets, and desire so strong you might faint dead away with the punch of it. But your light side isn’t a perfectly pretty picture, either, I promise you. You couldn’t dream without the dark. You couldn’t rest. You couldn’t even meet a lover on a balcony by moonlight. And what would the world be worth without that? You need your dark side, because without it, you’re half gone. — Catherynne M. Valente
We can question, we can have doubts, but we need to keep holding on to our faith. 
Or maybe this is what applicable to me for the time-being.