Life, parenthood, People, sketchbook, travels

Holiday envy

On holidays, while traveling, as soon as we reach a place where we can sit still for a few minutes I take out my sketchbook and start drawing.

Here we are in Palolem last year. For the last few years every holiday has begun with a drawing of the brown boy feeding Orin.

Soo: Ah-ha! Our holiday will beat everyone else’s holiday! Hahaha!

The brown boy: Ulp. Why?

Soo: Because I’m drawing! Everyone just takes pictures {smug}

The brown boy: Umm. Ok. (So competitive!)

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Life, Reflection, sketchbook

Learning to practise Maitri

As I realised that day, I felt in dire need of growing some kindness. Maybe it was due to the daily bustle of everyday life, or continuously missing the opportunities to practise, my kindness diminished and receded until some strangers’ kindness took me by such surprise!

As always I turned to Pema in my search for growing kind:

She talks about Maitri, the Budhist concept of loving-kindness. It starts with being honest, loving and compassionate towards oneself. It’s unconditional, she says.

Aspire to be happy. Find the tenderness of feeling love, or the vulnerability of feeling lonely inside yourself.

She encourages us to become aware of when we’re closing down and erecting barriers, and to always have a clear aspiration for happiness:

“May I and others enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”

Maitri essentially starts with locating in yourself an honest feeling of goodwill, and then encouraging it to expand…

The anteater as always, being helpful: “Without someone to irritate you, you’ll never get a chance to practise.”

Anyway…I’m still on that quest. Drawing about being kind doesn’t really make it happen – I have to actually find the opportunities to practise it in my life.

Related: A divine collision (2011) and My year of spirituality (2015)

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Life

The surprising kindness of strangers

At some point a year or so ago, I learnt that the quality of kindness, like the quality of mercy is not strained…

You may not know this, but I’m a pessimist and a misanthrope…

A few days ago at the gym I was on the treadmill, and my jacket fell off and got tangled at my feet. Luckily as I was making the treadmill stop, a fellow gymmer picked it up for me.

And then I went shopping for art materials…

And a stranger in passing gave me a discount coupon: “Here you take this 20% off coupon, I’m not going to use it.”

All this happened within a few hours of each other. Enough to shake my foundation of pessimism and misanthropy. So worrying. How strange are these people? Totally confused now.

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Books, sketchbook

Reading Sharp

Last year I read Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion and it was immensely inspiring. The women in the book whose lives and work are chronicled are Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Zora Neale Hurston, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Renata Adler and Janet Malcolm. In fact after this book, I went on to read another book by Janet Malcolm which made me read another book and another, and so on.

Anyway in a nutshell what really inspired me was the incredible resilience all these women had, in the face of terrible partners, abandonment, difficult motherhood, creative and psychological rejection, financial troubles — apart from the usual baggage women subject themselves to — but they still kept at it! Some with a smile and poise, and some with just dogged determination. Great motivation for our ordinary, easy lives.

“I wanted to be cute. That’s the terrible thing. I should have had more sense.”

Dorothy Parker

” The critic shouldn’t need to tear a work apart to demonstrate that he knows how it was put together. The important thing is to convey what is new and beautiful in the work, not how it was made.”

Pauline Kael
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drawing, Life

Just keep going

It’s common knowledge that to produce something truly creative, one must spend long stretches of time spent alone. Superficial layers of consciousness needs to be sifted through to uncover the truly good stuff. Sometimes there’s the relentless tussle to go on polishing the craft to satisfaction.

But I – with my day job – do not have the luxury of those long stretches of time to be spent on drawing and making stories. Sometimes a rare early morning before anyone is wake or a Sunday afternoon when the rest of the family take a nap are the times when I squeeze in time to draw!

Imagine my frustration then when Orin’s gang comes ringing the doorbell a thousand times to check if he can come to play…

Soo drawing in a sketchbook and handwritten text says Just keep going even if the doorbell interrupts a dozen times
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