Waxing Nostalgic About Literature

libraryDo people still have such a thing called “Literature” in school? Do students still have to struggle through the alien world of Old English; plod through super lengthy short stories; try to stay awake the first few pages of a novel that your own mother recommended (gasp!) , only to find yourself unable to put it down — sniffing and smiling in the odd places — as you browse the last few pages?

Here are some excerpts from a few of my favourite books and short stories (title links are clickable):

Flowers for Algernon

I  have often reread my progress reports and seen the illiteracy, the childish naivete, the mind of low intelligence peering from a dark room, through the keyhole, at the dazzling light outside. I  see that even in my dullness I  knew that I  was inferior, and that other people had something I lacked – something denied me. In my mental blindness, I  thought that it was somehow connected with the ability to read and write, and I  was sure that if  I could get those skills I  would automatically have intelligence too.

Even a  feeble-minded man wants to be like other men. A child may not know how to feed itself, or what to eat, yet it knows of hunger.

This then is what I was like, I never knew. Even with my gift of intellec­tual awareness, I never really knew.

Animal Farm

For  once  Benjamin  consented  to  break  his  rule,  and  he  read  out  to  her what  was  written  on  the  wall.   There  was  nothing  there  now  except  a  single Commandment.  It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question …”

“Yes … !”

“Of Life, the Universe and Everything …” said Deep Thought.

“Yes … !”

“Is … ” said Deep Thought, and paused.

“Yes … !”

“Is … “

“Yes … !!! … ?”

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm. …

“Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”

Lamb to the Slaughter

“Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.”

“Probably right under our very noses. What do you think, Jack?”

And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.

Gift of the Magi

Of all who give gifts, these two were the most wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise. Everywhere they are the wise ones. They are the magi.

 What about you? What OLD books/short stories have had an impact on your life?

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Rain on a Friday afternoon almost always guarantees traffic jams of massive proportions. Cars crawl excruciatingly through highways like turtles stuck in peanut butter. On the positive side, such moments allow my mind to wander and have the chance to think and reflect on. Thus, today’s reflection on man’s eternal pursuit of happiness was brought to you by last Friday afternoon’s gridlock.

It occurred to me that frustration arises when one of these happens:
1) We know exactly what it is that we want but it’s waaaay out of our reach;
2) We can get the thing that we want but it’s not what we need; or
3) The thing that we want is also the thing that satisfies our need BUT it’s not within reach.

Basically, in diagram form, it’s like 3 separate circles — what I want, what I need, and what I can have.

happiness

When two circles overlap each other, some degree of satisfaction takes place, i.e. when the thing that I want fulfills a need; when I get to have the thing that I want; or when I get the thing that I need. However, happiness can only be achieved if all three circles overlap, i.e. the thing that we want the most also fulfills a need within us and it’s within our reach.

Our needs come about due to our specific individual situations and we have no control over them.

The things that we get are dictated by a Divine Power. We can work relentlessly towards the achievement of certain things but ultimately, despite all efforts, only God decides if we get it or not. But at the same time, no one knows what our fate is exactly; all we can do is do our very best and allow God to do the rest, as our teachers used to teach us in kindergarten. (Funny how, the more things change, they more they stay the same.)

Therefore, it is quite apparent that, of these three circles, the only thing that we have some degree of control over is our wants, which has a lot to do with our attitude. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done…but it CAN be done. For instance, I want to have the latest smartphone. But I don’t really need it because mostly I just WhatsApp and take pics to upload to Instagram and Facebook. I don’t need all those fancy game controls and magic pen stick and whatnot. And maybe, even if I do need such a phone, I can’t have it either due to financial reasons. So the only thing that I can do is to divert that overwhelming desire that I have for that particular smartphone then I won’t be as miserable.

Of course, it gets more complicated when we don’t know what we want or when we confuse our needs with our wants (and vice versa).

But even if all three circles overlap, whatever happiness we achieve will never last for long. As humans, we will always be lusting for the next new thingamajig, the next big adventure, the next awesome achievement. As a learned scholar once explained, our desire for happiness and perfection is merely a reflection of our desire for Paradise. So no matter what we achieve on this earth and no matter how much we get on this earth, we will never be able to satisfy that longing deep within us because this world is only a temporary resting place, and is merely a tool — an implement to be used but not to be enjoyed, as one would use a brush or a shovel (credits: NAK) — which we utilise to work for what comes after this fleeting life.

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Malaysia Women Marathon 2016

Guest post by The Weekend Runner. Original article from Nashata.com’s blog. I originally meant to run my first full marathon during the Malaysian Women Marathon 2016 but owing to other commitments, I had to miss the opportunity to run with these awesome ladies. So yeah…I was there in spirit with y’all, Nashata ladies!!!

Did you know that until 1967, no women participated in a full marathon event? Katherine Switzer broke that record and signed up as a gender-neutral “K. Switzer” in Boston Marathon. When reporters realised she was a lady, she made headlines. She continued fighting to empower women in sports, and the rest is history. Imagine what would have happened if Katherine Switzer decided not to run! I am so glad that female-friendly races are becoming more common these days. Fast forward to 2016, inspired by Katherine Switzer’s legacy, I was honoured to run under Team Nashata in the full marathon category for Malaysia Women Marathon.

IMG_3061-MWM2016An opportunity to run with the ladies of Nashata? Why yes of course!

When the gun goes off at exactly 4.00am, it’s show time. Game face on, it is time for a second shot at completing a full marathon. This time, the challenge lies not in the distance, but in the cut off time. I have never completed a full marathon in 6 hours and 30 minutes. My personal best at 42km was during Pink Ultra when I clocked in just slightly under 7 hours. So shaving off 30 minutes will be a struggle.

IMG_3067-MWM2016Excited for pacer duties, boys?

Everything was fine and I was ahead of schedule up to the 30km check point. The last 10km was the hardest part, especially the highway route. The rolling hills along the LKSA highway, the heat, the emptiness…you can run for miles without bumping into anybody. The highway route felt like forever to complete. At this point, it was a battle between the mind and the body. Many people started walking, and I felt like I should start walking too. I was glad that I had my pacer with me. We didn’t talk much, but at least he was there to keep me company. He pushed me to continuously run, no matter how slow I went, which I tried to abide to (in protest!). In the end I ended up with the walk-run-walk-run cycle just like everyone else, and my pace fell dramatically towards the end. Not to mention the confusing signage and unclear direction from the marshall at the 38km, causing most participants to lose precious time hesitating which direction they should go.

Hunger was slowly settling in too. But I was surprised that the only food provided along the way was only bananas, apples, and pears. I was accustomed to seeing at least some biscuits, chips, ice-cream, or at least Coca-cola in most long distance events, so the lack of sweet and salty snacks spread was pretty surprising. Luckily, I had my energy gel with me, and my pacer bought along some protein drink mix.

IMG_3064-MWM2016The last few hundred metres push. Believe me, I wasn’t smiling if it wasn’t for the camera.

IMG_3068-MWM2016Spotted any of these cheer squad along the way? Boys, your macho level and manliness just went up a notch in those tutu skirts and pompoms!

I managed to conclude my 2nd attempt at a full marathon in 6 hours and 33 minutes, exceeding the cut off time by 3 minutes. Now I wished that I listened to my pacer because he was right when he said “Hey no pain, no gain, girl!”. I have to train harder for my next full marathon in a few months time, because it is not fun being among the last ones to arrive!

IMG_3069-MWM2016Full marathon and half marathon finishers

 

Until next week,
The Weekend Runner

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Last Call For WOW Run 2015!

 

WOWrun_logo

Have you registered yet for WOW Run 2015 that’s going to take place on 25th October 2015? Registration closes on the 30th of September!

What is WOW Run, you might ask? WOW stands for ‘Women Of Wellness’, an organisation that aims to help individuals achieve fitness, wellness in both body and spirit with the theme of modesty and spirit of sisterhood. The inaugural WOW Run was held in Singapore by Muzdalifah Anuar in 2014 with 1,000 women participating in a 5 km fun run.

This year, WOW Run is even bigger, with five other countries joining in on the fun, i.e. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and the United States of America! On 25th October 2015, runners from these six countries will run 5 km together.

The theme for this year’s run is #embracewomanhood, with the aim of spreading the love for active lifestyle with other women across the globe, as sisters in spirit, and not as separate nations.

In Malaysia, the run will be officiated by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, a well known advocate for women’s rights in Malaysia.

To add more energy into WOW RUN, Aida Mohd, a Zumba instructor will lead the runners through a 30-minutes workout.

While cooling down after a good workout, participants can listen to an inspiring panel of women who will talk about leadership in their respective fields. Alecia Heng, the President of Gorgeous Geeks, is putting together the said panel, which will include Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, Nadiah Tan Abdullah, and Karen Loh.

flyer
Nashata was one of the inaugural sponsors for WOW RUN 2014 in Singapore and this year’s runners will get again the modest running attire designed by Nashata. To my knowledge, this is the only run in Malaysia that offers a long-sleeved running top. WOW Run also offers a short-sleeved t-shirt for runners who prefer a conventional shirt.

These are the WOW Run top options:

wowrunToptions

Here’s a shot of the long-sleeved top with the finisher’s medal:

Nashata_top_medal

An up-close peek at the finisher’s medal (ain’t it gorgeous?!):

finisher medal

All these exciting activities will be happening at Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) in Cyberjaya.

WOW Run 2015 is organised and co-sponsored by Nashata, and is supported by Gorgeous Geeks, Malaysia Women Marathon, and Women’s Aid Organisation, and sponsored by Good Virtues Co, Biogrow Oat BG22, Tamek Premium Juices, Cyberview, as well as MDeC.

GorgeousGeeks mwm_logo WAO

 

GoodVirtues  TAMEK_logo

 

Biogrow_R Oat BG22 Logo MDEC_LOGO

For more information and to register, visit http://bitly.com/WOWRUN2015MY. Hurry! Registration closes on the 30th September 2015.

 

Categories: Running | 4 Comments

For Nadine

Dearest Nadine,

Today, as you fly off to start a new life at Chicago University, I’d like to send you off with three pieces of advice, even if you didn’t ask me for any.

The first one is from my own experience: if it’s not illegal or immoral, give it a try at least once. Most of your regrets in life will be from things you did not do rather than those things that you did do.

lone_flowerThe second advice is from a wise old man named Hussein Yee. When I was in high school, I heard him speak at a seminar in Mindanao. I was so impressed that I wrote him a letter…and I was ecstatic to receive a reply. I remember asking him for advice on how to deal with all the negativity around me, as well as peer pressure. I’ll never forget his reply: Be like the fish in the sea; even if it is surrounded by salty water and it imbibes salty water, its flesh never turns salty.

Finally, keep everything in balance. The Almighty has rights over you; your body has rights over you; your family has rights over you. Give your best in everything you do but don’t forget to find joy and pleasure in the little things.

Much love,
Auntie Mimi

Categories: Thoughts | 3 Comments