equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
05 Jul 13

a quiet moment

I took a break from gui­tar. Not a con­scious deci­sion, just days that were busy enough that I didn’t think of pick­ing her up, which means I don’t even know how long I’d stopped. All I know is that it was long, cause I feel the strings vibrat­ing through every piece of wood that touches my body now, one of those sen­sa­tions you stop notic­ing after enough time.

I haven’t had much to say either. Nothing seems impor­tant. At the same time, I’m try­ing to move away from this social media over­load, where so many peo­ple speak only cause the power to do makes them believe they should. It’s mak­ing the gaps between my entries longer and longer, and I won­der if I’ll even­tu­ally stop writ­ing altogether.

getting dressed

 

All I have are mem­o­ries of lives I lived so long ago that I feel like I’m watch­ing them in 8mm. The friends and the lovers, the love and the hate, the cycles and the pat­terns. I’m only now sort­ing out the mean­ing of each one, maybe cause I’ve finally grown enough to under­stand myself and my rela­tion­ship with the world at large. It’s com­fort­ing to see how far I’ve come when com­par­ing the per­son I am now to each per­son I used to be.

But such progress came at the cost of my inno­cence; we aren’t always ready to learn the harder lessons, and sur­viv­ing some­times means we change in ways that pre­vent us from becom­ing the peo­ple we’re meant to be. I’m try­ing to take back that inno­cence now, cause I know my hap­pi­ness is at stake.

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15 Aug 11

cause you're bored and you can doesn't mean you should

I always won­der if I’ll ever reach such a com­plete peace that I’d stop writ­ing com­pletely. One of the rea­sons I started this blog was to have a place where I could get things down and sort my thoughts out on a page, but I don’t need to do much of either nowadays.

I know so many peo­ple who’ve con­tin­ued writ­ing, even after find­ing that kind of hap­pi­ness in their lives. Unfortunately, hap­pi­ness has robbed them of lit­er­ary inspi­ra­tion, and now they have noth­ing inter­est­ing to say. It wouldn’t be so bad if they stopped writ­ing, but they post for the sake of post­ing instead of hav­ing some­thing to say or express or vent, and it reeks of des­per­a­tion and insecurity.

I used to worry that hap­pi­ness would make me a bor­ing per­son too, but now I wouldn’t mind as long as I real­ized it and gave up this blog. It’s so embar­rass­ing to write out of a belief that it’ll make you inter­est­ing. Or even worse, to be obliv­i­ous to the fact you’re writ­ing about the most inane things.

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05 Aug 11

homeostasis

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Everything is bal­anc­ing itself out. I’ve stopped try­ing to pre­dict or con­trol my cycles of intro­ver­sion and extro­ver­sion, pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­cras­ti­na­tion. As Oscar Wilde once said: “The only way to get rid of temp­ta­tion is to yield to it”. By doing what I want when I feel like it, every need is met in turn.

Life doesn’t get more com­fort­able than this. It’s been a great summer.

baby eating on high chair

Now on mashed solids. Ruby at 11 months.

I’m glad I got here by myself, with­out the help of a friend, or lover, or wind­fall. It was some­thing I had to do on my own, so I’ll always know I’m strong enough to pick myself up and con­tinue growing.

The only thing that’s really miss­ing now is another cat (or two), but I already blew my kitty bud­get on Leonard’s vet bills. I’m not at the right place for a new adop­tion any­way, and I’ve decided to wait until my major projects are fin­ished (hope­fully some time around the end of the year) before I take on another life.

father and baby

It’s offi­cial; Kyden has the soft­est, pinchi­est cheeks ever at eight months.

I’ve been back from my trip for about a month and a half, but it feels more like a year. I’m so dif­fer­ent now from the per­son I was before I left. I was dying then, but I’m liv­ing now.

The only way I can tell how quickly time is truly pass­ing is in the faces of my friends’ babies. Each time I see them they’re mak­ing new sounds, say­ing new words, more con­scious and coher­ent. I used to envy the care­free inno­cence they have when run­ning about naked, the single-mindedness they pos­sess when engrossed with a new toy, but now I feel like one of them.

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20 Jan 11

Protected: contentment or complacency

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15 Oct 10

Protected: Random Acts of Kindness (or How To Feel Really Good)

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02 Aug 10

punch-drunk

My lack of writ­ing about her lately hasn’t been an avoid­ance of the sub­ject, or an attempt to feign some kind of detach­ment. It’s because my thoughts about her never fully form any­more. Or they come in lit­tle bits and pieces, lin­ger­ing mem­o­ries in an off-guard moment.

The care­ful steps I took to avoid the loose tile on the path to her house, so as not to wake any­one when leav­ing let­ters in her mail­box. Her sac­cha­rine voice when she’d ask what I was think­ing, and the first time I couldn’t lie (I’m think­ing about how in love with you I am). A tear we shared, as it rolled from my eye to hers. I’ll even catch that uncon­trolled gig­gle of hers in the melody of a song that drifts in the air. So many details found in the sub­lim­ity of our time together that I told myself never to forget.

Maybe that’s why it’s still hard not to think about her. Nothing was ever ordi­nary when she was involved. I don’t talk to my friends about it any­more; there’s noth­ing left to say. Only mem­o­ries that fol­low me like a shadow. I won­der if they avoid bring­ing up the sub­ject with me anyway.

Sometimes, I still second-guess myself. Could I have saved us in some way? Would things be any dif­fer­ent if I had let her heal, or shared more of myself, or given her more time, or been a stronger per­son? If only vul­ner­a­bil­ity or infat­u­a­tion or hope­less roman­ti­cism was con­sid­ered charm­ing. If only love or desire was enough to win some­one over.

Maybe I’m just cling­ing to the fact that I believe she truly loved me back. It was one of the only things in this world I knew was real, and it made my heart swell every time she was next to me. The world made sense, if only for a moment now lost to the past. Or maybe I’m scared I’ll never feel this way about some­one again because she was every­thing I ever wanted, even flawed in all the right ways.

I’ve been ruined, and I don’t mind. Not any­more, at least.

I’d rather be alone than with any­one else. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m stub­bornly try­ing to hon­our what we had, or a sub­con­scious part of me is wait­ing for her to come back because my heart can’t give up on some­one who made me feel so much. After all, she became my life, and to give up on her would be to give up on myself.

I know I’m not the only one who’s ever gone through this. Fate has proven fore­sight to be in vain for many a mice and men. Some peo­ple lose their spouses — the per­son they expect to be with for the rest of their lives — and pick them­selves up. There’s no rea­son I can’t do the same.

But I’ve already picked myself up, and I’m happy. It doesn’t mat­ter that she’s not with me now, or that I haven’t stopped lov­ing her, or that she prob­a­bly doesn’t even think of me any­more. The expe­ri­ences have left me sat­is­fied and ful­filled. Our rela­tion­ship may have lasted only a few sea­sons, but in that time I loved and was loved enough to be con­tent with what I had for the rest of my life.

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31 Jul 10

you got to hold on

I have all this stuff I mean to write but when it comes to typ­ing it out, it seems point­less. I don’t mind feel­ing this way any­more. I’d much rather come off as witty or inter­est­ing, but I can set­tle for honest.

My pol­icy nowa­days is to act the way I feel. Instead of try­ing to cater to other peo­ple or fit into social norms, I do what I want. It takes some trust in myself to believe that I’m gen­er­ally a good per­son, but every­thing seems to be work­ing in my favour.

bird

With another wed­ding booked next year, I was able to jus­tify a new lens. The final one in my lens path: Canon’s 70–200mm f/2.8 IS II USM. It lets me take pic­tures like this.

I have some­thing major going on each month until December, at which point I’ll prob­a­bly her­ma­tize for three weeks until another round of hol­i­day craziness.

I used to have Hold On by Tom Waits play­ing here.

The sum­mer has been warm and fuzzy, and it’s filled me with con­tent­ment. I don’t care about the future any­more. I’m liv­ing in this moment, and thank­ful it’s a nice one.

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13 May 10

29 6/12: The Arrival

I haven’t had much to say lately. Suffering has always been a pre­req­ui­site for my cre­ativ­ity, as I only need to write when unful­filled or unhappy, and lately I haven’t felt either.

The real­iza­tion that I was happy only came when some­one asked how I was doing; I responded with my usual, generic, “I’m doing well, thanks”, and for the first time in as long as I could remem­ber, I didn’t feel like I was lying.

Self portrait at 29 6/12

 

Not that the desire to write has left me com­pletely. I still want to, though only because it’s an enjoy­able exer­cise in itself, not because I need to get some­thing off my chest. The world finally makes sense, and I won­der if it’s nec­es­sary to have this blog a place to sort out my thoughts anymore.

I’m sat­is­fied with the per­son I’ve become. I’ve stopped try­ing to change, or con­stantly fig­ur­ing out how to improve. I like me.

The seren­ity is get­ting bet­ter still, almost to the point where it’s an uncon­scious state-of-mind. Things don’t bother me the way they used to. I can dream with­out desire, I can live with­out bias, I can give with­out expect­ing, I can think with­out worry, and I can enjoy with­out guilt.

I turn 30 in half a year, and I finally feel like I’m where I should be.

The Turning 30 Series

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24 Dec 09

Lye and Vinegar

(Just like old times, eh?)

Tyler licks his lips until they’re gleam­ing wet. He takes Jack’s hands and KISSES the back of it.

I fig­ured it out.

I had too much want.

The saliva shines in the shape of the kiss. Tyler pours a bit of the flaked lye onto Jack’s hand.

I started out self­lessly — doing with­out expect­ing, giv­ing not to receive, work­ing not for reward1 — because all I wanted was to live in the moment, to expe­ri­ence as much as I could while it lasted. Eventually, that turned into a desire, a belief that I couldn’t live with­out what (or whom) I wanted.

One could call it love.

The old me would have blamed myself for falling into that trap, but I’ve since rec­og­nized that I’m human. That I’m prone to falling, espe­cially when I’m so amorously intoxicated.

Jack’s whole body JERKS. Tyler holds tight to Jack’s hand and arm. Tears well in Jack’s eyes; his face tightens.

Now that I’m able to stand back and rec­og­nize my long­ing, and I can also see how much that long­ing that was start­ing to tear me down.

It’s like in Fight Club, when Tyler Durden is about to pour lye on Jack’s hand. Jack already knows he’s going to die; it’s an unde­ni­able real­ity we all come to real­ize as we grow out of child­hood, yet are rarely forced to deal with (or even embrace). For Jack, that real­ity doesn’t truly sink in until he’s faced with the chem­i­cal burn on his body.

Jack, snap­ping back, tries to jerk his hand away. Tyler keeps hold of it and their arms KNOCK UTENSILS off the table.

I was told it was over before it started, but that real­ity didn’t sink in until recently. It’s taken this long because I dared to dream of some­thing greater, and a large part of me didn’t want to give up the won­der­ful mem­o­ries. Unfortunately, those mem­o­ries are mixed and insep­a­ra­ble from every­thing else that’s been hold­ing me back. The fact that I think too much doesn’t help either.

At some point, I real­ized that I sim­ply had to let go. Truly let go.

Tyler finally says to Jack:

Listen, you can run water over your hand and make it worse or, look at me, or you can use vine­gar and neu­tral­ize the burn. First you have to give up, first you have to know — not fear — know — that some­day you’re gonna die.

I used to think I had lost some­thing spe­cial, but now I have no desires and noth­ing left to lose. It’s like I’m start­ing back where I was two years ago, which really wasn’t a bad place to be. The world is finally lucid and clear.

Now I know, and it feels like happiness.

Congratulations. You’re a step closer to hit­ting bottom.

  1. Readers of the Tao Te Ching will rec­og­nize this lan­guage. There’s so much of this Taoist idea of para­dox and con­tra­dic­tion in Fight Club. []
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14 Sep 08

Good Times For A Change

Before you start read­ing, play this song. It’s a Deftones cover of The Smiths’ song Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. There have been a few other artists who have done cov­ers too, includ­ing Muse, but only Chino has the kind of raw emo­tion in his voice that matches Morrisey.

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This song was writ­ten for right now.

Orchid bouquet

I’ve moved mainly to video. Getting a lit­tle tired of the still pho­to­graph medium. I had my first com­mis­sion this week­end at the NAC, record­ing a jazz trio con­cert in exchange for a few tick­ets for my friends.

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been obsessed with colour tones and vignetting lately. Making my pho­tos look like old mem­o­ries. Maybe this is a way for me to go back; revert­ing to past expe­ri­ences, draw­ing inward as an intro­vert, regress­ing to a dif­fer­ent time, when all I had was inno­cence but that was enough.

Me in a tie

I’ve been strangely serene. Sleeping well. When things get com­pli­cated I’ve been less stoic, and more light-hearted.

Dolly eating chicken

Maybe it’s the house being clean. Maybe I’m sat­is­fied with the the new dec­o­ra­tions. Maybe it was the last week­end, get­ting caught up on errands and tasks, finally feel­ing like my head is above water.

Maybe it’s the weather. The rain. The wind. The warmth of the sun. The tem­per­a­ture drop. The way I can leave my win­dow open at night.

Civic logo in rain

Maybe it’s feel­ing socially ful­filled. Seeing friends, laugh­ing hard, trips out of town, trips on my own.

Star fingers

Maybe it’s the nights spent hold­ing her, caress­ing every inch of her skin. Maybe it’s the way she held me too.

Chopped vegetables

Maybe it’s the accep­tance. A way I’ve let go where I’ve found myself finally free, and liv­ing. Something I always think I’ve been able to do, only to real­ize a day later that I didn’t before, but I have now, hon­estly.

School bus

Maybe it’s all the movies I’ve been watch­ing in the time between, see­ing myself in every char­ac­ter, every sit­u­a­tion. Going back to high school, being back at university.

Potting plant

I’m not sure what it is, but I know this feel­ing won’t last for­ever. It never has. It’s the flux between storm and seren­ity that moves me.

Been writ­ing this entry over the last week.

In a cou­ple days, this blog turns six.

Maybe I just had a few good weeks.

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17 Jun 08

Lysergic Bliss

u.make.me.happy

There’s a ten­der­ness that reaches deep within me, and bur­geons forth to paint the world an intox­i­cat­ing spectrum.

It’s a world where every song is a jour­ney, every chord is more dul­cet than the last, and I don’t want to, I need to dance.

It’s not a sim­ple feel­ing. There’s so much to con­sider — new real­iza­tions, unfa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, ques­tions of fate, unre­solved pro­pri­eties, inevitable change — that it’s all a mix of emo­tions unlike any­thing I’ve ever expe­ri­enced. But who says that life has to be sim­ple? All I know for sure is that I love her, even if she doesn’t love me the same way.

And for now, I’ll wear this smile like my heart on my sleeve.

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15 Jun 08

A Bittersweet Indulgence

Our bod­ies burn like flames in an oven, so we kick off the cov­ers. I slip my arm around her waist and press her body close to mine. She holds my hand to her chest, fin­gers wrapped around fin­gers, legs wrapped around legs.

The morn­ing light comes in blue and soft and sub­tle through the win­dow, and the stars begin to fade.

I want to hold her like this under a tree in the sum­mer and pass the time in her com­pany, alive to every moment we’re together. I want to hold her like this when the cars and streets are buried under snow out­side, so we may truly know what it is to be warm and com­fort­able. I want to run my fin­ger along the soft­ness of her face, so I may learn every land­mark and fea­ture, and never for­get. I want to read to her my favourite books on lazy Sunday after­noons, so I can take her to where they’ve taken me. I want to feel her breath against my skin, the breath that gives her life, and me joy. I want to wake up to find she’s not away in another bed, but next to me, lost in slum­ber, for there can be no other such sim­ple happiness.

This is where I’m per­fectly con­tent, lost in a moment when time has stopped and noth­ing else matters.

But I know it won’t last for­ever. She’ll soon be gone. I won’t be the one to do these things with her, the one to love her the way she was meant to be loved, the one to love her as deeply as she deserves. There’s no use in think­ing about it now.

I’ve fallen for this muse in my arms, totale­ment, ten­drement, trag­ique­ment.

The one who inspires me to cre­ate won­der­ful things, to make beauty as I see it in her, so that oth­ers may share in this feel­ing. If I had a mil­lion words to describe her grace, it still wouldn’t be enough.

I could be sad, but I’d rather be happy instead.

So as the sun begins to rise, I indulge myself a lit­tle longer, and hold her closer before drift­ing off to sleep.

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02 Jun 08

A Reason For All

The crooked become straight
The empty become full
The worn become new
Have lit­tle and gain much
Have much and be con­fused
So the Sage embraces the One and becomes a model for the world

Verse 22, Tao Te Ching

Yesterday, I woke up from a nap at four in the after­noon. Usually, when I wake up from a long nap, I feel groggy and uneasy, but this time I was bright and rested.

When I went out­side, the rain had stopped. It washed the bird poop off my wind­shield, it filled the air with the lin­ger­ing scent of clean­li­ness. In my car, Becky started singing in the stereo.

I had You Broke My Heart by Lavender Diamond play­ing here

And every time she hit me with the words “cav­alry of light” in her waver­ing vibrato, I had to sing at the top of my lungs along with her, my voice crack­ing, my dig­nity left behind me.

I can’t even remem­ber the last time I’ve been so happy.

This morn­ing, I was run­ning late for work. But by the time I got to the car, the sun had been out long enough to warm the breeze. I could roll the win­dows down and let the air in. The traf­fic made me even more late, but it let me take my time too. It gave me the chance to enjoy Lenny croon­ing to me about how true love leaves no traces.

It’s like I’m wait­ing for some­thing to go wrong, because I’m not used to things going this well. But nothing’s going wrong. Things are be work­ing out. Everything has a rea­son, no mat­ter how small or trivial.

Taoist the­ory says that sur­ren­der brings per­fec­tion. Don’t force any­thing. Allow things to hap­pen, and they’ll nat­u­rally bal­ance out. Perhaps I’m finally believ­ing this, instead of sim­ply under­stand­ing it.

When things are going badly, you’re not really behind.

You’re just wait­ing for the good that wouldn’t be pos­si­ble otherwise.

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23 Nov 07

Winter Window

Thumbnail: A winter scene out my window

Turning over and over in the sky, length after length of white­ness unwound over the earth and shrouded it. The bliz­zard was alone in the world; it had no rival.

When he climbed down from the win­dow sill Yura’s first impulse was to dress, run out­side, and start doing something.

—Doctor Zhivago

When one looks out­side their win­dow and sees this, this blan­ket of purity, what else can one feel but seren­ity, con­tent­ment, and hope?

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18 Nov 07

She Doesn't Know How Beautiful

The art of longing’s over, and it’s never com­ing back.

—Leonard Cohen, Death of a Ladies’ Man

They ask me why I’m cry­ing. I tell them the song is too good, not to cry.

They ask me why there’s a bounce in my step. I tell them I’m in love, and I don’t care.

They ask me if she’s taken. I tell them she is.

They ask me if she knows. I tell them it doesn’t mat­ter as long as I feel this way, and I’m never let­ting go.

They ask me, “Why her?”.

I tell them she makes me happy with­out try­ing.

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