Sunday, December 23, 2007

Blessed Christmas!

This marks my 201 postings on my blog, amazing "achievement" since I developed a habit of writing since 2005, coming to 3 years in a few months time. Which means I must have drawn close to 200 illustrations within these few years. A time to look back and a time to look forward, yet not forgetting "Now". I had a little party with some friends recently, asking each what the year 2007 has meant to them. Yet, when it came to my turn to share, I was shocked that I was not at all prepared, was it that I was so busy with all the Christmas shopping? I pondered.

I love giving Christmas presents, I can't give a reason why, but just simply love it, especially for family members, it is not a "have to give " but a "want to give". I was indeed extremely busy, for I only really started shopping for gifts for my huge family in December. I would normally do my shopping even as early as October, November previously. Friends questioned why I needed so much time. So perhaps I would give a little account here. I endeavour to buy something or make something that hopefully will bring forth a little smile in the receiver, something that the person may not buy for herself/himself, but would love to have it, which is what I would always hope and pray to get in most of the Christmas presents I buy or make, though I can't say I got it right all the time. True, I also don't deny that there are times I give for the sake of giving, those politically correct cases, in those cases, then the gift is really gift exchange... I am sad to admit that I, too, has at time fallen into this trap. This year I have decided not to be doing so too much, and therefore, my gift giving has reduced substantially. I also don't like the fact that people has to return my gift because I gave them. I gave without expecting anything in return, though I do share the same attitude that I should return gifts if I receive any. Why can't I just receive freely? Selah.

This may explain a little of our attitude towards the best gift ever given to us, our Saviour, Jesus. I used to feel indebted, unworthy, wanted to repay the gift. Yet, there is no way we can ever repay His limitless goodness towards us, perhaps the best way is to simply receive and make Him really happy by doing so! This is the real reason for this season, our Saviour came to give His life for us more than 2000 years ago.

As for what 2007 meant to me, it is really a year of lots of ups and downs, mentally, emotionally... not easy, in fact pretty tough, lots of learning and much humbling process, I believe I have grown a little, may write about it another time if I feel right about it. Meanwhile, Blessed Christmas and our dearest Shepherd, Jesus, loves you and gave His life for you! People all over the world are celebrating this day, but let us not forget the reason for Christmas! Cheers! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I heard quite an interesting sermon yesterday that further confirmed what I discovered last week. Recently I had a brush with the police. I discovered a puddle of water (smell like urine) on my mom’s slippers just outside my house. It was not raining that day and my neighbour’s cat was walking along the corridor. It must be the cat again, I concluded. (Though I didn’t see the actual act, but this is not the first time it had occurred.) Being the very vocal me, and someone who would always seek for justice, I went knocking on my neighbour’s door, asking them to come and take a look at it, while at the same time taking photos of the cat loitering outside and the puddle, as evidences. (Pets are to be kept indoor and not outside, according to SPCA, I called up to check last year, asking what I could do to solve this issue.) The neighbour didn’t come to take a look. What surprised me much later was that the police came knocking on my door, and I felt as if I had done something really sinful by vocalizing the urine issue, and “disturbing” my neighbour, who made a report on me. Selah.

I spent almost 2 hours resolving this with the police, and when I sat down before my laptop last week, I complained it to the first available person on msn who tried to chat to me. I got a listening ear from my niece. One thing I did notice was that the more I talked about it, the more frustrated I was. (For the last 1.5 months since I started working, I was really happy and thankful to God that I had not erupted in temper at work, a breakthrough, when a few months back, I was constantly at the brink of erupting almost every single day. This event marks the first such occurrence for a pretty long time.) For half of the next day, I was still sort of sulking over the issue, felt much injustice being done. Over lunch with a colleague, I was pondering if I should complain again about it to another person, just to get some sympathy. (Though right within my heart, I heard a very clear voice saying to me to stop talking about it and let go.) Yet, I still chose to tell my colleague, but much to my disappointment, she said I should just let go. (Because if I would to complain to SPCA, the cat might be put to sleep, which was not what I wanted to do.) Sigh, this time a totally audible voice almost jumping out of my heart, from my colleague’s mouth.

I am not taking this channel to complain about the cat incident or what, but to point out a truth, a very powerful phenomenon I noticed since, that is, when you are angry or frustrated about something, the only way out for us for not pondering on it, is to stop talking about it altogether, this is the way to let go. I realized the frustration increased as I talked about it, verbalized it. This incident brought me a few months back when I felt burn-out. I actually fell into the trap of self-pity when I vocalized my stress to my friends. The more I shared with them how I felt, the more I felt I was stressed out and burn out, and the more I felt I was doing the right thing with my lousy attitude, thinking that I deserve to behave like this. How powerful it is when we vocalized something, it seems magnified several times. This can be used for both good and bad.

If you don’t believe me, try it, talk about something you felt mistreated or angry with, see if you become less angry or actually more frustrated after talking about it. Trust me, one tends to feel worse. People who are hurt tend to repeat their stories, although many a times, they said they had already let go and forgave, yet, the fact that they were narrating their misfortune again and again actually suggest otherwise, that they have not fully let go of it, to set themselves free. The way to let go is to stop talking about it! And vice versa, talk about those things that you want to magnify, for example, our beloved Shepherd, and He surely becomes bigger in your sight! Cheers!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Architecture Reawakening

I had attended one and a half day of architecture forum for the last 2 days. It is interesting to hear from different architects and what they perceive architecture as, some almost as art, a few as business, some almost humanitarian while others experimentation. A few fell into the trap of just showing the end products, while a few concentrated on their thought processes which are far more interesting. One is pessimistic about the future while another shows design as if of science fiction. I did enjoy myself in most of the lectures, except I come to one conclusion, many architects, even myself, tend to lose focus on the main reason for architecture. We spend so much time crafting our crafts, creating a work of art, indulging in the thinking process, in different methodologies, but sometimes we forget the one main agenda, “Man”.

Aren’t buildings created for humans, the most basic agenda? Even if we go to the extreme of designing a zoo or a pet house, nature tells us animals don’t need human made houses, they are more than capable to find their own shelters. Zoos, pet house, whatsoever are created for the enjoyment of “Man”. Therefore, architecture is about man, fulfilling the needs of man, more than just aesthetics, visual, though I don’t undermine the latter, yet these are by-products, in my assessment. Architecture has to revolve around the end-users, the comfort, the ability to improve the quality of human lives, and if possible touches lives, the latter being most idealistic. Whatever methodologies we employed are just means to an end, and as an architect, we should never forget the main agenda – “man”, sacrificing this aspect for aesthetic is purely pathetic and irrational. Yet when we satisfy the needs of the man, not the ego part, the likelihood of accidentally creating a piece of art that touches lives is extremely high.

I was much inspired by the presentation of the roof house in Japan. A small simple single dwelling unit, centralize around the daily living routine of a family who loves to have meals on their roof, and this thereby creating a piece of architecture that is very genuine and sincere in my recognition. To be honest, I have seen this piece of architecture before in magazine, but it never touches me until I heard the architects presenting it, seeing how the spaces are used, the engagement of the end-users with the building is what attracted me the most. Now I see this single dwelling as beautiful, a beauty that is inherent rather than visual, this is architecture with a heartbeat. I saw the same concept applied to a kindergarten by the same architects, interesting how the children love the premise, how spontaneous the children play in such an environment. I can’t say both buildings are beautiful as beautiful per se, but they sure touch me deeply, a beauty that is unseen.

Those slides I saw at the lecture that stay on my mind till now are those with people interacting with the architecture. We architects love to take photographs without human beings in them, I am guilty of this too. Yet, isn’t architecture about human beings? I repent. Architecture is more than just an artform, it is a tool of improving human lives.

Hope I didn’t bore you all with this, just a thought, to remind myself a simple truth. Just as I begin to discover in my simple Christian walk, in my many side tracks, I finally realized everything is still centralized on my dear Jesus, after running one huge circle. I would say the same for architecture, it is not just about context, methodologies, aesthetics, detailings, programme, etc, though these are important, but it is more on the “human” aspect. And as we take care of this aspect, the others are just means to an end. You can choose to differ from my thoughts, this is my blog and I have a right to say what I felt is right. Selah. My architecture reawakening.

(The above illustration is titled "Standing on His Finished Work".)