I’d been thinking about what to do for my project for many weeks now, but it was only recently that I was able to come up with a more concrete idea based on the things I’ve explored related to love. The professor had explained to me that I needed to be more specific about my final statement about love, because the idea I’d pitched was too broad and vague. And when I was asked to articulate about my idea/statement, I realized that I still had difficulty explaining it, because my statement lacked details. And so, everyday for many weeks, I would think of my statement and tried to narrow it down to a more specific topic.
Since our professor wanted us to stick to our original idea, I tried to explore more about the concept of a journey—its nature, and the things usually related/involved with it. Again, I tried to organize my ideas using a mindmap (a tool which I never realized could be so useful), which I drew by hand on a sketchpad. I’ve attached a photo of the mindmap so you can see what I came up with so far (click on the image to see the original size). A few weeks after I drew this mindmap, I realized that I wanted to focus on the nature of a journey, because I think love is just like a journey that we undertake throughout our lifetime.
Considering that each person’s understanding and meaning of love is unique, and that love is very much unpredictable, I began thinking of how a journey could be represented/applicable in real-life situations. And then I remembered the Monopoly board game (which I was fond of playing when I was younger), whose gameplay is indeed unpredictable because of the rolling of dice. The dice signify the concept of “chance” or “fate,” which then contributes to a varying or uncertain journey around the game board.
The title of “Collect 200” was then developed as a diminutive of the name of the starting box in Monopoly–which is “Collect $200 Salary As You Pass Go.” I’d chosen this part of the game board as a title because it represents the starting and ending point of a journey, in addition to being a place that provides free money. For anyone who has experience playing the game, “Collect 200” is a phrase often said by players throughout a game session, because players are eager to collect money. In a sense, reaching or passing through “Collect 200” is each player’s goal—something that keeps them going. But getting to that box is not easy, especially when all the properties on the board have been bought by players, and you are required to pay rent when you land on a property you don’t own. Suddenly, the free money is no longer just that, it becomes a form of “reward” for completing the circuit and surviving the game.
Indeed, there are many aspects of the board game that can describe love even further, but I’ve only summarized the most important ones in the short draft of the narrative I’ve written during the weekend. Hopefully I can develop more ideas as I go along, but for now I just wanted to introduce what I’ve worked out so far.
For the past week, I’ve heard of many stories of how people remembered my grandmother. And it got me thinking about why and how that happens, but the only thing I could think of was that people remember different things about a single person, object, or place because of how they interacted with them. With my grandmother’s case, people had only positive things to say about her, and I learned so many things about her that I never knew before.
As I was growing up, my dad and one of my aunts (姑姑) would occasionally tell me stories of the hardships they went through when they were younger, as well as stories of how their mother struggled to support all her children. My siblings and I were not particularly close with our grandmother, so we seldom had the opportunity to talk about her history (and my being an introvert didn’t help). Little did we know that our grandmother could not read nor write, as she didn’t have the opportunity to go to school and study. But she did odd jobs to make ends meet, in order to send her children to school. She was very frugal, preferring to walk long distances just to save a few cents (which, back then, was quite valuable already). And then when her husband, our father’s father, fell ill due to cancer, she took good care of him. Our grandmother proved her commitment and love for her family for so many years, we just didn’t realize it.
Her most important legacy, I believe, is her faith. Many (if not all) who spoke and shared their memories of our grandmother during the wake mentioned our grandmother’s consistence and persistence in serving others. She had a really good heart; she loved to serve others in whatever capacity she can. And one of the things we’ll miss most would be her cooking. For years, she had served members of the church with her cooking, when she got involved in preparing food for the canteen in the old campus of my primary and secondary school. Our grandmother occasionally contributed food for the lunch meetings of the women’s fellowship of the church. In addition, she was known to be a steadfast prayer warrior for the church, that despite her old age and physical ailments, she would remember to pray for the church, her family, and for the unbelievers.
Our grandmother also lived very simply. Everyone in our nuclear and extended family knew of her penchant to wear her favorite old, rose-colored and loose-fitting dress, even during family celebrations. Even when people gave her new clothes and accessories, she would refuse to use them unless all her children will ask her to dress up for formal occasions. When my cousin or my aunt would send their family driver to bring our grandmother to church or to their house, our grandmother would refuse and insist on walking despite the hot and sunny weather outside. She also preferred staying home to rest, to listen to the radio, to read the Bible, and to cook for the family. When she does go out, it was to attend church service or women’s fellowship, go to the wet market, or to visit old acquaintances.
There are still a lot more things I can tell (mostly based on what people shared during the wake) about my grandmother, but what I wish to emphasize is that love can mean differently to different persons. There are so many factors that influences how people define love, as well as how they show it, but for my grandmother, she chose to exhibit her love through caring for others (sometimes even more than herself). Her countless acts of kindness to everyone and her service for the Lord would be remembered for years to come, and that’s why I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful kin. The Lord certainly looked after my grandmother and our family for so long, even up to my grandmother’s last moments.
The end of life doesn’t necessarily mean the end of love. Seeing life slip away from someone makes you realize that all your past conversations, activities—memories, really–have suddenly become so precious. Despite not having spent so much time with the person for long periods each time, you will always remember those short moments you’ve spent in their company. The scolding, the advising, the dry humor, the plain silence….everything you’ve grown up to, have unconsciously earned its place in your heart. You can’t imagine what life would be without them, even though you’ve known for a long time that no one lives forever–that it’s just a matter of time before they go away for good.
The end of life means a new beginning for the person who has gone. While death generally means loss and mourning, it could also mean freedom and second life—freedom from the limitations of a weak body, and another life that will never end. The knowledge that the person would be happier and more at peace in the next life brings comfort to those they leave behind.
It’s times like these that makes a person realize one’s mortality and the value of the life they’ve lived. All of a sudden you think back on your memories, your dreams, your present situation, your plans for the future, your intended legacy. When you’ve discovered what you want in life, you become more focused on living life to the fullest. And living amongst the family whom you love and loves you back is the most rewarding experience. Now life cannot be measured by how many days, months, or years you’ve lived, but rather by how you choose to spend it. Because the most important legacy we can leave behind for people we love is the memories we make with them.
I love watching films, especially ones about romance, comedy, and self-discovery. I’ve compiled the best lines/quotes from the films that I really like, primarily because I wanted to know what love meant to people (at least in the fictional world). We may not realize it, but we sometimes tend to use films as a reference or basis for what love might be, could be. Even when writers and filmmakers delivered stories that are too-good-to-be-true, we still hope that love can happen to us in a similar manner. Movies, then, have established the “ideal” love stories; perhaps that’s why we have the phrase “like the movies.” I also included some inspiring quotes related to passion for a profession or dreams, because sometimes it’s that passion that makes them want to keep on going with life.
“Jaime saved my life. She taught me everything–about life, hope and the long journey ahead. I’ll always miss her. But our love is like the wind; I can’t see it, but I can feel it.” – Landon Carter (A Walk to Remember, 2002)
“What really happened may not have a happy ending. But love just doesn’t happen to girls like me–girls who built their hopes on an intricate web of daydreams. The truth is, is that everyone has issues, and maybe building up a fake, perfect man in my mind was my biggest issue of all. I’ve been walking around with the ghost of my ‘magic man.’ He’s been haunting me, keeping me from recognizing a world of opportunities that were right in front of me. But there’s no such thing as perfection. …Love is for people who are realistic, and smart enough to open their hearts and minds, and to realize that a real relationship is the ultimate fantasy. I haven’t found that relationship yet, but I’ve shaken off the shadow of my ‘magic man’ and I’m finding myself.” -Lane Daniels (Beauty and the Briefcase, 2010)
“The streets are supposed to be about different people coming together. We call this a battle, but what are we fighting for? We’re all here because we have this thing we do–we dance, right? Being a part of the streets means much more than turf or power, it was about bringing something new to the floor. And it shouldn’t matter what we wear, what school, or what neighborhood we’re from, because the best part about the streets is that it’s not about what you’ve got—it’s what you make of what you’ve got.” -Andie West (Step Up 2: The Streets, 2008)
“You never asked me why I love to dance. Do you want to know why? I dance because dance can change things. One move, can set a whole generation for you, like Elvis. One move can make you believe like you’re something more. And some moves, can give a skinny, curly-haired kid that just wants to dance some hope.” -Robert Alexander the Third a.k.a Moose (Step Up 3D, 2010)
“Passion makes people go on to do exceptional things.” -Guy interviewing Casey Carlyle (Ice Princess, 2005)
“I know I upset you when I said being with you was a risk, but the truth is, nothing is really worthwhile in life unless you do take a risk. That’s why I took the risk with continuing the wedding with Kirsten. I thought it would provide me with a cover I need to find a loophole in the law. But unfortunately, we failed. So if this means I have to give up the throne, then so be it.” -Prince Edvard (The Prince and Me 2: The Royal Wedding, 2006)
Music has been part of my life ever since I was young. No, I’m not a talented musician, songwriter, or vocalist, if that’s what you’re thinking. But I did grow up in a family who is fond of music. My dad and his siblings, being second-generation Christians, are familiar with church hymns and Christmas songs. As for my generation, I do have some siblings and cousins who were in the music ministry of the church, so I grew up knowing mostly contemporary Christian music (CCM).
Now that I think about it, not every song I’ve heard (whether secular or Christian music) has appealed to me. There are simply some songs that really speak to me and touch my heart, while some are not so good. The songs I like are usually those that I can easily relate to because of my past experiences, my faith in God, or it’s simply the good lyrics and tunes.
For today, I’d like to share several of my favorite songs. Some are about faith, life, a parent’s love, romantic love.
I’ve never really liked science (mostly biological sciences) or mathematics when I was young. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ve been more into reading fiction than anything else. I disliked reading school-related textbooks, probably just like every other “average” kid in the world. It was also the time that I wanted to learn more about different languages like Spanish and Japanese (which I still haven’t done). Having read fiction books for years, I knew I was much better in English grammar, spelling, and vocabulary than my other classmates. But for science and math, I did not really mind if I didn’t excel in them.
When I stepped into my third year in high school, we had a really funny and kindhearted Geometry teacher. His way of teaching was very different from others–he taught in a lively manner, and he was always smiling despite the students providing the wrong answer. Instead of frowning, he would say some witty comment and encourage another student to try figuring out the problem. I believe many of the students liked him, even if they did not completely understand the lessons.
Geometry was the subject in which I did not have to worry about solving problems numerically. Instead, we were taught about proofing–we had to prove that one triangle was equal to another based on theorems and corollaries. I had no idea why or how, just that I began to like (and appreciate) math just because I suddenly “understood” the logic of proofing. I was actually excited to learn more about math; and when a classmate would ask how I got the answer, I was happy to explain the process to them. And sure enough, my efforts paid off and began to excel in that class.
Fourth-year Physics and Trigonometry ended being not so bad, either. The teachers were less dynamic than the Geometry teacher, but they were nice. Yes, we were back to numerical calculations, but the science and math subjects were not as intimidating as before. Our Geometry teacher showed us that math can be interesting–that we could learn how to like math despite its complexity. He also displayed a very inspiring love for teaching and for God. Having studied in a Christian school, he was probably the first non-Bible teacher who would encourage us to have faith in God. And, the last I heard of him, he had attended a Biblical seminary in order to serve in the ministry.
When I attended university for my undergraduate, despite my initial fears of failing in my math classes (mainly because I did not do well during my primary and the first two years of secondary education), I actually didn’t have much difficulty. Yes, the Plane Geometry was confusing at first, but the other math-related subjects I took for the next four years were not as bad as I thought. Some of them (like Engineering Statics) were pretty easy because I’ve learnt them during my high school Physics class.
Embracing the Sciences
When asked why I chose to study Architecture for my undergraduate, my immediate response would be “Because I want to be an architect.” And the second reason was (which I thought made good sense to me at that time) “I can’t imagine myself studying any Pre-Medicine course. I prefer math than science.” And this was true for many years. Or at least until I was in fourth year of my undergraduate studies.
During that four year, we were required to enroll for a General Psychology class, which I expected not to like. My older sister had studied Psychology for her undergraduate, and I knew she had taken many biological science subjects. I remember her reading many textbooks and class notes, studying for exams, and even taking the cadaver of a cat home to dissect it late at night (I accompanied her in the garage while she dissected the cat). And I didn’t understand why she had to study all those Anatomy, Zoology, Biology classes. Psychology was a mystery to me—I didn’t know what its purpose was until I had to take that Psych class in college.
What I didn’t expect was that my complete aversion (and avoidance) of sciences lessened as I learned more about the history and branches of Psychology. I read our considerably-thin Psych textbook, and ended up doing additional independent research (a.k.a. surfing the Net/Google) about how Psychology could be related to Architecture. Sure enough, there was a branch of Psychology that did apply Psychology concepts to Architecture—Environmental Psychology. Since then, I have occasionally watched TV documentaries (mostly BBC) and audio lectures (from Yale’s OpenCourseWare) to learn more about the field. I grew more and more fascinated about Psych, and a little bit of Neuroscience. It is actually interesting how they are all interrelated—I hope to someday learn more about how people’s behavior can affect architectural design and vice-versa.
Putting Them All Together
Truly, I am grateful for that Geometry teacher and Psych instructor for inspiring me to do better; to not fear failure just because I had one or two mistakes on my exam; to believe in my own skills and abilities; and, most of all, to not fear change. The change I refer to is the change in my interests, preferences, and dreams
One would think that it’s important to stay dedicated or committed to a decision, but I think at this point in my life, I think change is good. I’ve been too used to staying in one place and doing the same things like other people. But taking risks (like my decision to apply for graduate studies in Taiwan) is an adventure by itself—I wouldn’t be able to know my limits if I didn’t attempt to push myself towards anything. Experiencing more things provided me with new ideas (whether school-related or just random stuff), and those experiences definitely enhanced my perception of the world around me.