A Rebirth Story

“I want to be reborn,” she said decisively.

So she plucked the moon and marinated it in poison;

she ground oleander and water hemlock,

and drank the decoction from her porcelain tea cup.

She gathered the stars—near and far, and far and near—

into her bosom, burning her skin

until she was stripped to the bone.

Then she swallowed the sun

and let it burn her further,

until all her wishes, her desires, her hatred,

and her attachments that had been deeply engraved in her bones

became nothing but whispers and ash,

carried by the wind

and scattered into nothingness…

“I want to be born again…”

Then she woke, and became a butterfly.

A note on the roles we play.

Let me borrow from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and quote Jacques’ famous phrase in Act-II, Scene-VII:

“All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players.”

The past two years has allowed me to rekindle my love and passion for reading. I’d say I’ve devoured more novels, including graphic novels, in the past two years than I ever did eight years prior. This is largely because of some commitments and baggage I decided to let go of since two years ago, which freed up a lot of my time.

As with all novels, they all had a number of characters that play specific roles to drive the story to its predetermined ending. Among the contents that I’ve been reading are translated Chinese novels, where I encountered the term “cannon fodder”. The term by definition is associated with soldiers or combatants that are expendable. The term isn’t entirely new, but when used in a story where there aren’t any soldiers fighting a war was something new to me.

It somehow resonated with me, and made me realize that we are all cannon fodder in someone else’s story. All the world’s a stage and we’re all acting a specific role. But unlike the usual play or film or novel, we’re in a story within a story within another story that’s inside another story and it goes on infinitely.

The director, author, screenwriter, production staff, editor are all one entity, a higher being somewhere in the universe. Who’s probably watching the entire story unfold through an infinite number of stages and screens – omnipresent. Just imagine…we think that we’re acting out of our own free will but perhaps we’re all just following a script written and interwoven with so many others, entering and exiting the frame on cue.

Each of us acts as the lead, we are the protagonist, the title role in our own story and at the same time we are a piece, a bit, a walk-on, a side character, a cameo in someone else’s. Sometimes, we’re also given a role for one of the more commonly known archetypes – the nemesis, the BFF/sidekick, the mentor, the love interest, the other party, and the fool, just to name a few. We’ve all acted as cannon fodders, villager a, villager b to z, extra 1 to n. We’re all so versatile and we weren’t even aware of it.

I guess we can all take pride in the fact that we are all natural born actors. We drive our own stories and we also drive other people’s stories especially those closest to us. We exit the stage or leave the film set when we’ve acted out all our scenes and read all our lines. The curtain call is special though – it’s a single person curtain call. And depending on the number of times we played a side character, as well as the number of side characters who appeared in our story, the closing credits could go on for a while.

Thoughts after a virtual team building session…

After attending a Team Developmental workshop conducted over Zoom, where one of the activities asked participants to share how they were feeling at that moment, I noticed that a lot of people were more honest and open. Well in my opinion at least, majority of the people in attendance were willing to bare their feelings and share them out in the open in the cover of anonymity via the mentimeter survey platform.

Looking at the words which appeared as the presentation refreshed itself, 80% were associated with darker and heavy emotions. This is in contrast with results from past activities conducted by the Firm, pre-pandemic, where everyone was present in a single location and not connected virtually. In past activities, colleagues would usually dole out more positive words to describe their emotions instead of actually sharing that they feel anxious, depressed and lost.

To be honest, the change in the tone of these colleagues of mine brought a rather refreshing feeling. For once I actually felt that they were more human. Their aloofness pre-pandemic was suddenly absent and I wonder whether it was because we were all just virtually present and not physically present in one confined space. It made me think whether people’s tendency to judge and accept judgement is diminished by virtual connectedness.

In all my interactions with people from the Firm, this was the first time I felt that people were authentic and sincere. Weird right? But that was how i felt earlier and several questions started to surface. Are we more authentic in a virtual space than when we are in a common space where we are physically present during interactions? Is this how people have come to cope with the current world situation where physical distance is increased and physical interactions have been restricted?

I can’t really answer and I’m not even sure if all of these observations and thoughts are remotely accurate. But after mulling it for a while, I can only say that perhaps due to restricted interaction, people’s desire to connect, to vent, to not feel alone, to be seen for who they really are and to find solace in their moments of disorientation while coping and navigating through the new normal because of the pandemic, a lot of people are overcoming their hesitation to baring their feelings. These feelings overflow and spill. Maybe this is also human instinct at self preservation, a way to adapt so as not to drown in all the negative feelings and emotions that have suddenly bubbled up due to the quarantine and social distancing.

I guess this is a good thing…

Pensive Saturday

so the day ended
without word…
nor whisper from the wind…
another typical Saturday –
quiet and reflective…
me – alone in my head,
swimming in my thoughts…
filtering words…
decoding body language
from images and
old conversations
still lingering…
so i start discarding
painful memories…
shredding unnecessary
emotions that weigh me down…
capped the night
with a bottle
of ice cold Coors light…
i think it was
a rather productive day…