Tuesday, April 23, 2013

soap bubbles

delightful you are,
like little soap bubbles that make their way up in the air.
amusing to watch,
but so transient in existence.

as present as you are for a second,
gone you are in the next,
never to be felt again.

fleeting moments, fleeting life.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Irrational

I saw a quote on Pinterest that says "Worry is a misuse of imagination". I can't agree more. I abuse my imagination like that every day, so I should know.

But worry is not the worst of the abuse. I think fear is an even more intense exercise of one's imagination in the wrong way. I'll make do with American Heritage dictionary's definition of fear: A very unpleasant or disturbing feeling caused by the presence or imminence of danger. It sounds perfectly logical to be disturbed by things that are potentially dangerous to one's life. Problem is, the things that we fear are many times not even a threat to our safety or well being. Quite randomly, I think the worst kind of fear a person can have is a fear of leaves. How is he suppose to live a life that doesn't involve screaming or breaking into cold sweats upon coming face-to-face with a large potted plant in his dentist's office?

via flickr
Fear is, in most occasions, irrational. People get scared of maggots, but maggots don't harm people. On the flip side, they're helpful little things that doctors employ to eat dead cells off the wounds and ulcers of patients. But the irrationality of this fear is common enough among us to be given a proper name: scoleciphobia - the fear of worms, although maggots are in actuality insect larvae and not true worms (a whole other kind of argument for another day).

But worms and maggots are squeamish-looking, so everyone (except the very passionate helminthologists - worm scientists) understands if you cringe at the sight of it.

In case you think having a fear of plants is absurd, like I do, a person with this phobia is officially called a botanophobe. So yes, such people exist. I shouldn't have laughed at these poor souls though, as I too have my own breed of fear, birthed out of an experience at a crocodile farm more than a decade ago.

Although I was too little to have a proper memory of my age at that time or where in Malaysia the farm was situated, I can still recall most vividly the event that would cause my fear in the years to come (or likely, forever). I even remember I was wearing a little red dress. It was vacation time, and my family was looking at some crocodiles in a concrete enclosure. Because I was once short, I stood on my toes, with body leaning against the low wall and hands gripping the top of the concrete, in order to get a better view of the huge reptiles. I was in that position for a few minutes.

Nothing much happened. If you were at the crocodile farm, you would conclude too that crocodiles on a lazy afternoon are about as animated as the rocks they sunbathe on. And for the record, I am not insulting the crocodiles. Historical monuments have always captivated large audiences, and the never have to move.

I digress.

Anyway, I eventually retired from my position of observation. I stepped away from the wall, looked down and started crying in horror when I noticed large ants scrambling about on my red dress. My mom jumped into action and swept the ants away with her bare hands before they could take my life, but since that moment, I have feared ants irrationally.

On second thought, it's not all that irrational. I have another encounter that proved ants a danger. It was an evening like any other mundane ones. I was walking when I felt something crawl on my left toe. I looked down and spotted a big ant. I screamed, of course. By the time I was done screeching and had flung the stupid little thing out of my way, it had left its indelible mark on me. I was bitten, and I had a swollen red (and very itchy) toe for two weeks to prove it.

On a different occasion, hunger pang struck me in the middle of the night. I used to adore rice crackers, and I knew where they were stored at home. While the rest of the family was getting ready for bed upstairs, I sneaked into the dark pantry, where clever me found some rice crackers in a container. As I unscrewed the lid and carried the container in my arm to the lighted kitchen, I discovered A LOT of ants all over the food, and obviously by then, on my hands and a generous few on my pajamas too. Since I wasn't supposed to be caught eating rice crackers after bedtime, I suppressed the scream. But that night, I held on more animosity against the ant species. It was like the purpose of their existence in the food container was to catch me in my little crime. Killjoys.

I stopped eating rice crackers for months after that. I don't eat many rice crackers these days either, but that's more out of a fear of becoming fat than a fear of what would creep up from among the crackers.

My fear of ants has mellowed over the years, but that does not mean I have stopped being overly cautious of them. I still scan the ground or curbs very carefully for any sort of ants before I would willingly set my butt on it. I get goosebumps when I see ants. Any piece of food that is seen to have been touched by an ant only belongs to the dustbin and should NEVER be consumed.

Because it is sometimes fun to carry a label for an ailment, I went to the library of knowledge (Google) to find out the name to my phobia. It's called myrmecophobia - the fear of ants.

So, hello, I am Amanda Soo. It's irrational, but I am myrmecophobic.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1. vivid bursts of colors

A change of room color from deep maroon to baby pink is capable of lightening up the atmosphere. Lime green makes my eldest sister cringe all the time. Every color carries its own set of mood, and sure, some are sad while others are happy, but it's almost impossible to think of any one in an exclusively negative light. The color blue evokes the blues in people? Look at the clear morning sky! Nothing speaks freedom and a hopeful day of outdoor fun more than the blueness of the sky. And if someone tells me red signifies anger, I'm going to respond that it is the color of boldness and passion too.

A burst of colors is an overflowing of feel-good emotions. Nothing brings instantaneous contentment like colors hitting your retina. They are delightful to no end, their effect on us intriguing. I would stare at a color chart for a good quarter of an hour trying to decide whether I like fuchsia or electric purple better, which, at the moment, would be the former - the shade imbued with slightly more red pigments - because it feels more luxurious and at the same time cozy.

I like that the world is not dictated by absolute blacks and whites or the in-between shades of grey, but every cute or awkward color that takes form in the color spectrum are given the free rein of this space too. And if I had to live in a world of only primary red, blue and yellow, life would feel stiff like the Lego pieces I played with as a child - bold in their colors but, really, so limited in what those three shades and the bonus green could create.

Black and white are undeniably classy, and yellow and red lively, but without the likes of turquoise, fuchsia and tangerine existing alongside them, so much depth would have been lost in the beauty of this world.

*  *  *
I posted most recently 40 little causes of contentment. Then I thought it would be a nice change of things to give a background to each of my reason, starting with reason number one. This and all subsequent posts will be labelled Heart's content.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Little causes of contentment

1.vivid bursts of colors 2.globes and maps 3.quiet moments 4.seashells in the damp sand 5.call of seagulls 6.peppermint ice cream with traces of chocolate 7.favorite songs on replay 8.writing in the journal 9.laughter 10.joyride 11.peanut butter and banana 12.paper lanterns in the night 13.stars in the sky 14.art supplies shop 15.family chatter 16.new dress 17.book shop 18.mom's cooking 19.bicycles 20.warm brownies 21.colorful bracelets 22.plants in a home 23.candid photographs 24.encouragement from another 25.walks to nowhere 26.caring voice of a friend 27.stories of kindness of strangers 28.charms 29.an engaging book 30.a DIY project done well 31.morning conversation with God 32.a stroll in the mall - visual candy 33.doodles 34.fluttery butterflies in the stomach 35.lace 36.an impressive live stage performance 37.arts and crafts magazine 38.pretty textiles 39.bright woven bags 40.ride to the airport

contentment no.4

Monday, April 1, 2013


Standing in the coach of a light rail transit (LRT), I realize, in all my days of being in there, I have trusted the vehicle to bring me to my destination without so much of a thought of the risk involved. Every time I step into the vehicle, I have placed my confidence in the ones who engineered the railway, trusted the workers who then built the rail that it would not break apart as I speed past it. I have trusted the coach to not derail, and the passengers beside me to not do something crazy or suicidal that would lead me to my end. I have even trusted the earth to not open up, and swallow us all — train, passengers and the concrete structure that keeps us suspended in midair. It strikes me then, how much trust is involved just to traverse a world.

Not a long time later, I stand in a cafeteria, and think again about the trust involved, this time in getting my meal. Every day, I have trusted the hands that cooked the food — hands that I have never even seen — that they mean me no harm. That they care about cooking a healthy meal for another. That the fork and spoon I eat with have been thoroughly cleaned for my benefit. Even taking a few steps backward, that the farmer who grew the grains on my plate has not used a questionable method of farming to produce his crops.

I admit, there are times when I think about a stranger putting poison in my chocolate brownie  not because of a personal animosity against me but humanity in general, and I only happened to be the unfortunate soul hit by chance. Moments like this don't happen all the time though, which raises the question: how have most things earned my confidence on most days, so that I can eat, take a public transport or walk on the fifth floor of a mall without becoming hysterical about the things that can possibly go wrong in the process?

(All that said, there is one thing that I will be forever wary of, and that is the elevator.)

I've always thought that trust didn't come easily to me. But when I take a closer look at my life, I learn that I have been operating my whole life based on trust. Without even meaning to, I trusted more than I have not. Turns out, to trust is easier than to distrust. Imagine, if you have to ask a hundred questions about the mechanics of the bus and credentials of the driver each time before you would board a bus, you probably can never get much done in a day before you have to repeat the tedious cycle of suspicion all over again on the next.

I beat myself up many times for not having as much trust as I thought I should have in God. Then I realize, just like everything else in life, my trust in God has been more present than absent. There are so many instances in which I have trusted Him without even consciously doing so. From trusting Him to get me through a mammoth task without needing me to fall on my knees in desperate plea, to trusting Him to keep my lungs expanding and collapsing every living minute, so that the gas that keeps me alive never stop running through me. For every event that I lack confidence in, there is trust taken for granted for ten others.

Without even realizing it, I have trusted so much all my life.