Hands sometimes emerge from nowhere and stop you from falling further

This is a hand drawn sketch that was mailed to me a few months back, all the way from Finland, by  a one Miss Madeleine Midtskogseter. Inscribed on the back are the words, “At last I see you. The boundless ocean of you.”

On a separate note to me, she conveyed that my book Fuel had inspired her to produce this piece. My mind could not compute this, that I was holding in my hands, a person’s raw emotion.

This welcome surprise came at a time when I felt I was going nowhere with the book’s promotions. But something else she said in her note made me feel differently about my nowhereness. “I understand your discouragement about the tough book market. You probably already know that nothing is impossible and that you will receive everything you desire, but let me tell you again; you have already succeeded. Hearts have been, and continue to be touched by you.”

 

Highlight Reel

Taunja, a friend of mine on Facebook, posted this really great quote on her wall today.

highlightreel

This is a great, great quote. But you know what I realised? If you’ve found your life’s real passion and engage in it everyday, your behind-the-scenes will totally kick the ass of everyone else’s highlight reel. Here, I’ll give you an example (I don’t currently live this life, but am working up to it).

“I spent the first half of my day writing at a quaint neighborhood cafe in the the suburbs. Every so often, I peered up to watch the world go by. In the early afternoon, I picked my son up from school and we talked a bit about how his day went. He told me about this new kid at school who dressed funny, and how he went up to talk to him because no one else would. After Oliver completed his homework, we decided we would make pizza and we got into a food fight. It took over an hour for us to clean up the mess, but it was well worth the 5 minutes of laughter.”

Others may tell me tales of their visits to castles in the sky, but it wouldn’t come close to my experience of heaven on earth.

There’s no dream too big and no dreamer too small

ant

What is sad about this picture is that if you look at the reflection in the droplet, the world is upside down, and it looks as if the ant is trying, with its own might, to set it the right side up. No matter how hard it tries, it will never succeed. And no matter how monumental a task, no matter how futile it may seem, it will not stop trying. And neither should we.

The solution here, if we wanted to help this ant out, is not for us to help it roll the droplet, but for us to flip our world around.

* Image shared by Sherry Boyd through We Are Here To Inspire

You can stand under my umbrella

mothertheresa
These days, because I’m juggling a full time job, fatherhood and my book’s promotion, I barely have any free time at my disposal. At present, things aren’t going so hot for me on the financial front, and it will be a matter of time before my bank account loses its final comma. But Christmas is around the corner, so there should be an increase in sales for FUEL. That should help plug the hole.

Yesterday, I peered out the drenched window of my car and saw a family of four squished on a single motorcycle, each soaked to the bone. The children, Oreo-ed between their parents, were no older than 6. Like the outside of my car window, my eyes started to bead and stream.

I looked at my own life, and realized how privileged I was. Felt guilty actually, that I had more to give, but was choosing to keep it all to myself. I was saving up for a rainy day.

I looked out the window again.

“I doubt it’ll get any more rainy than this,” I said to myself.

Today, I’ve made up my mind to donate all of my book’s profits for the month of November and December to charity. Depending on where one purchases it, I make anywhere from 49 cents to $2.66 from the sale of a copy of FUEL. From that, a portion already goes to a kids’ charity I volunteer at in Malaysia. The balance will now go to the Mother Theresa Children’s Foundation.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Be that miracle for someone else. I hope you will join me in this effort.

Ways you can help:
1. Purchase FUEL online. All profits for Nov and Dec will be donated. www.amazon.com/Fuel-Jeremy-Chin/dp/145388615X
2. Help me spread the word. https://www.facebook.com/events/250175248373823

Wear sunscreen

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In other words, when you’ve burned all the charcoal, burn the bag that housed it.

I saw this graphic on someone’s Facebook wall the other day and decided to paste it on my own. On several fronts, the words really hit home.

Filtered to the core, you will find that this is the very principle upon which FUEL was built… a test of one’s ability to persevere on heart alone, after all your energy reserves have been depleted. “Is there more to burn?”

These fiery words, when superimposed on my own life, penetrate more deeply, maybe because not a day passes that my needle doesn’t dip below the E. It would be nice to only have to set yourself on fire in that one dénouement moment that requires a Fourth of July finish, but sadly, this “Hot Guy” stunt has become a routine thing for me. Each day is a struggle, to find new ground to stand on, and failing that, new vines to cling on to.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it is that hope is a renewable energy.

There’s no knowing how many miles you have to run when chasing a dream

walkingvomit

My fingers were cemented together by the dried vomit. I turned on the tap, dipped into it, and wriggled my hand back to life. The food pieces eddied into the drain hole. This is the third time I’ve thrown up this week, this time on my lap, while driving. From fatigue I think. In this attempt to balance a full time job and promoting FUEL worldwide, I average about 4 hours of sleep these days. Honestly, I have no idea where the finish line is. I only know how far I’ve come…

A couple, married for 72 years, die holding hands

Those who know me well know that my favourite poem is Pablo Neruda’s Love Sonnet XVII.

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

 

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

Yesterday, as I worked past the point of tiredness, I came upon a story of a man and a woman who had been married for 72 years, and it reminded me of this Love Sonnet.  I’d like to share that story with you.

couple

Without the other, neither wanted to live, according the children of an elderly couple that died last week.

 

Gordon Yeager, 94, and his wife Norma, 90, were married for 72 years, reports LifeSiteNews. However, their life together ended Wednesday after they were both injured in a car crash. They arrived at a local hospital so badly hurt that officials saw hey could not recover, according to ABC news.

 

They were placed together in a bed, where they lay holding hands. Even then, says their son, Dennis Yeager, the couple’s concern was only for each other.

 

“She was saying her chest hurt and what’s wrong with Dad? Even laying there like that, she was worried about Dad,” he said. “And his back was hurting and he was asking about Mom.”

 

Gordon died at 3:38. But people in the room at the time say they were confused when Gordon stopped breathing, but his heart monitor continued to pick up a heartbeat. That was when they realized that the monitor was detecting Norma’s heartbeat, through their clasped hands.

 

“And we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom’s heart is beating through him,’” Dennis Yeager said.

 

Norma died an hour later.

 

“Dad used to say that a woman is always worth waiting for,” Dennis Yeager said. “Dad waited an hour for her and held the door for her.”

Source: Beliefnet News

I was close to tears reading that story. The last few lines of Neruda’s Love Sonnet superimposed itself on the image of this dear couple, their hands locked as one. A line from another of Neruda’s sonnet’s entered my mind. It was a phrase I had used in Fuel, “By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two, together in their sleep will defeat the darkness.

Unsure of who the special people in your life are? Ask yourself this question, “Who would I l like to spend my final moments with?” Jot their names down in your mind, and never again put anyone or anything ahead of them, not a screaming client or a nincompoop boss or the year’s most anticipated football game. I’m still young, and have not journeyed to the very end to know if I’m meting out good advice, but deep down, I know you will not regret doing this.

Yichalal

yichalal

On days like today I feel like I’m up against the whole world. Instead of conveying my inner landscape with words like I usually do, I hammer-and-nailed-up a graphic representation of my world for you, of what the weight of my destiny feels like.

I think this piece works well on a couple of levels: one, the chess board shares the same colour scheme as my book and, two, half my childhood was spent crouched over a chess board. Them good old days. Every once in a while there were heroic moments, times when I was able to turn dire games around, and lead a depleted army to victory.

Yichalal, the amharic word you’ll find in Fuel, means ‘anything is possible’. Rather frightfully, the context within which this word is uttered, offers a rather accurate measure of one’s sanity, or lack of.

The image above, as I originally intended it to be, was to speak for itself, be a stand alone; at worst, accompanied by no more than a string or two of words. I tell ya, no shutting this author up… ah, the fish that just refuses to drown.

What dreams may come

I received a rather strange Facebook message from someone I just met on Facebook. I got really freaked out at first, and then flattered afterwards.

His email was actually a response to one I had sent him earlier. You see, whenever someone becomes a FUEL Facebook fan, I usually drop them a note to thank them. And if their FB profile image doesn’t look too stalker-like, I might tell them about myself and this journey I’m on.

This was the message I got back from Roby Ribaud:
Hi Jeremy, thanks for your message!!! This night i have a dream( not M.L King) but i see you in my dream!!!! One of my friend come in my house for a meeting and you was with him!!!!!!!!:-)) i never see you in this last day in Fb!!!! Ok it happened but this morning a find your message….right now some info on me. I have 2 babies and a wife , i was a big atlete in 400 mt one of best in europe , i was in the Olimpic Games of Los Angeles 1984 after i run to the top level for 15 years. Now i work strong ,i have 3 company and is a very hard moment you know about the crisis but this is our war!!!!! My hobby is read and when I saw your profile i was interest for your book and i wrote on my wall in Office your philosophy about dream and dreamer….i will buy your book now and i try to di this in internet also i want talk with my friend : he work in book company and i talk about you and your book.. That’ s it !!! I hope i can do some of good for our friendship!!! Thanks and god bless you! Roberto Ribaud

So alone I often feel. That I am but one against the world. The only one mounting the charge. And then a light flickers to life on the other side of the planet. And I am reminded that indeed I have sleeper cells all over the world, some more discreet than others, each fighting to help me keep this dream alive. Blip, blip… blip blip.

Another one of my dreams

Since watching Elizabeth Gilbert on TedX, I’ve had this secret wish to one day be invited to speak as well.

There is this guy I’ve been following for some time now through cyberspace, a chap by the name of Avram Gonzales. I think what drew me to him was how aligned his approach to life is to mine… although, he is way more radical, and has found more success living out his dreams. Me… I’m still clawing my way. Anyhow, Avram beat me to TedX… but I’m hot on his tracks… ok, ok, not that hot, may be luke warm on his tracks… oh alright, the trail has gone cold, but I promise you I’ll find my way.

Here’s a link to his video on his upcoming talk:

http://www.avramgonzales.com/tedx-crestmoor-park-2011/

So what have I been up to of late

brewing
A friend of mine said this to me the other day, “You are the most busy non-working guy I know.

I chuckled at the truth in his statement. I typically start my day around 9:30, 10, and normally call it a night at 2am.

I think I worked 50% less when I was working.

One Month Consultancy
For a month I was a consultant at a home grown interactive agency called Integricity. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as much a shock to the system as I had anticipated. In fact I was reminded of how much I loved doing what I was doing before. That when I left that life behind, it wasn’t because I was completely unhappy. I was merely answering that silent knowing that there was something greater I first had to accomplish, something outside the realm of advertising.

New Facebook Page
I’ve been asked a few times why I abandoned my old Facebook fan page for a new one. Believe me, it was a hard decision to make, and costs me the fans that were already following that page.

The problem with the old page was that it was set up some time ago as a community page, which naturally defaulted visitors to ‘The Wall’ (long distance runners cringe at the word). What I wanted was for people to land on a specially prepared page with information on the book.

Facebook users who set up their pages today can change their categorisations, but not those who had set up their page a long time back. To not be dinosaured into Facebook’s old system, I took that leap. And from that we’ve now got www.facebook.com/fueldabook

If you haven’t, please visit the page and be a fan of it. And as you read its contents, pretend that it is Obi Wan Kenobi speaking to you, and do all that it tells you.

(FYI to you developers out there. If you delete your page and try to get the same name back, you’ll never ever ever get it back, ever. To prevent name sitting, FB doesn’t allow it, and that name will be kept in a vault to which only Elvis has the combination.)

Job Hunting
Yup, been looking for a job for a few months now. Have not been getting too many calls though. With jobs being so specialised these days, I think most companies don’t know where to place my bi-polar potpourri  of skills.

StART Society
I’ve cut down on my classes at StART to limit the number of kids who will be affected should I return to full time employment. I miss them O So Dearly.

Recently, StART organised a very interesting event called the XTraMile Run. A runner, Alex Au Yong, volunteered to run 100K to raise RM100K for us. My role was to provide LIVE updates of the event. Never before had I tweeted and Facebooked as much.

55 FB Updates, 98 Tweets, 66 pics and 3 YouTube videos from a moving vehicle.

Over the 17 hours the run lasted, I think it works out to be one piece of communication every 4 minutes. Not too bad coming from a motion sick guy who gets nauseous from a half hour train ride, from one who threw up watching the shaky camera action in Bourne Supremacy.

The event was a great success and we exceeded the amount we aimed to raise.

New Book Website
The official site for when I first launched Fuel was justjezza.com, my blog site. The problem with that was no one could tell from the URL that it was a website for a book called Fuel. With www.fueldabook.com now set up, I’m now able to slap the book’s logo on anything and just include the URL, and people would know what it relates to and be able to find out more.

Fuel Running
The process of writing, publishing and promoting the book landed me neck deep in the world of running. Throughout the journey, almost every day of it actually, new word plays on the subject would appear in my head. Often I’d say to myself, “Hey, this would be great on a shirt.”

I finally got on my ass (I did it all sitting down), and jumpstarted my ideas to life.

I launched the Fuel Running line with 6 Collections. I’ve got dozens of other ideas locked away in this brain of mine, and each is calling out, “Pick me, pick me.”  My goal is to add a new collection each week… till the voices stop.

Go check out the site: www.fuelrunning.com, or be a Facebook fan, www.facebook.com/fuelrunning

What’s on the Horizon?
I really need a job. The hole in my wallet makes the one in the Ozone look like the eye of a needle. Here’s my resume: www.justjezza.com/misc/resumeJeremyChin.pdf

Feel free to pass it to anyone you think might be interested.

On the book front, I’ve yet to get my books out to the newspapers in the UK and Australia, oh, and to Running Magazines. The Star, the nation’s leading paper, promised me a review last Sunday. I nervously flipped through the papers three days back but… nothing. Copies have also shrapnelled across the United States to the 40 largest newspapers. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed on that front. If you happen to have ties with the media anywhere in the world, I hope you’ll help me get my book in.

King for a day

If you are looking for lessons on how to make a person feel special, look no further than the English Society at Sekolah Menengah BU1. This bunch. They are a precious lot.

I arrived to an entourage waiting to escort me in, each holding handmade welcome signs. One of the girls, after she learned who I was, flew like the wind to the canteen and excitedly announced to the rest, “Jeremy Chin is here. Jeremy Chin is here.”

bu1

I received countless offers from one student to carry my bag and my books, but I told him I was fine. I learned soon after that I had to ascend this stairway to heaven to get to the room I was to speak at. Hahaha!

From the school entrance, all the way to the classroom, I was photographed by this girl who, for the longest time, walked backwards. Natural born Paparazzi I tell ya. But you know what? I felt like a celebrity walking down the red carpet.

bu2

After I caught my breath, I started my one hour talk on my journey as a first time self published author. The room was full, with 35 or so in attendance. A mike was set up for me, but it did not work too well, so we did away with it. To be heard, I had to draw on the Southern Baptist Preacher in me. Midway through my sermon, a student brought me a glass of water. He returned 30 seconds later to ask if I’d prefer it in a bottle. It was the sweetest thing ever. We concluded with some Q&A and a book signing session.

bu3

To thank me for coming, I was presented with two gifts. The first was a laminated ‘thank you note’, the most colourful and vibrant I’ve seen in my life. It was beautifully hand drawn and carried the signatures of all the students on it. The second item would be to some an aphrodisiac—a box of chocolates (my wife’s favourite kind… she says thank you).

bu4

On  my way out, I passed several students who were at my session. They had my book in hand and had already started reading it. I was accompanied all the way to the school’s front gate, and was thanked for the umpteenth time for taking the time to share my experiences with everyone. The smile on my face paled to the one I wore inside.

It is one thing to be a King and be treated like one. And a whole other thing to not be one, but be treated as if you were.

Oxygen

As much of a curse this book has thus far been for me, it brings me great happiness to know that it has made a positive impact on the lives of others. Every once in a while, since the book’s release, I get random strangers picking me off the ground, dusting the dirt off my shoulders, and saying to me, “I’ll walk with you.” Some fall to the wayside after a while. And some have cuffed their hands to mine and pledged, “To the end, friend.”

Of late I’ve been corresponding with a Fuel fan who is in the midst of waging a fierce battle against cancer. Still, he managed to squeeze out a review of my book. In the face of failure, self belief can erode, be depleted. For a long time I had been running on empty, only to be replenished by these words from him:

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 4:47pm

I told myself a few weeks back that I would write a little something for this book I read recently. Well, being the procrastinator that I can be, I finally got down to doing it today.

briansnotes

Fuel by Jeremy Chin. Photo taken from the book’s Facebook fan page

Fuel seems a simple enough title for a debut effort by Jeremy Chin. May seem mundane, boring even but when I started reading it on a cold Saturday night, I only stopped as it was 3am as I had some urgent matters to attend to in the morning.

Needless to say, with all my sorties out of the way, I devoured the remaining pages hungrily as I wanted to know what happened to the protagonist, Timothy Malcolm Smith. As I turned the last page, I was left with a maelstrom of emotions within me. For those of you who know me personally, you’d know why when you read the book.

The story revolves around the life of Timothy Malcolm Smith (Timmy) who had the life long dream of running the New York marathon and winning it, on his debut. The mechanics and science of marathon running which was intertwined with the plot was ample evidence that Jeremy did his research for the book well.

Interspersed in the book are some interesting nuggets on some words we may not be familiar with. Amongst other, Ankhura (which means “East meets West” in Sanskrit) and Yichalal (which means “nothing is impossible” in Amharic).

Without giving out too much lest be accused of spoiling your reading experience, Timmy found a new dream in his life. With this new development, Timmy is torn as chasing his long held dream may mean letting go of his new dream.

I don’t normally clip a pen to the book I’m reading, more so a fiction piece. But within the first half hour, I had to start over again as I underlined excerpts of the book which was just simply beautiful writing. What caught my attention from the start is the fact that Jeremy was able to put into words how most of us would feel when we’re in love but are unable to elucidate.

The book struck many a chord with me as the pages flew by. A thought occurred to me as I was halfway through the book. I came to the conclusion that what I was holding was more than just a book for the author. It was a labour of love. It was a window into his heart. I kept telling myself that it was an impossibility to write such words if you didn’t mean it. And to top it all, I felt my eyes go moist as I journeyed with Timmy on his epic run towards the finish line at the New York marathon.

The book continues to resonate in my consciousness despite it being almost a month since I finished it. And I have a copy of it in my laptop bag just because at times reading some of the highlighted words reminded me of how our dreams makes this temporary and fragile life of ours worth living.

More importantly, the book reminds me that every moment, each day and every person in our life is a gift. And when we choose to embrace that gift, everything else pales in comparison as our life is already perfect.

To conclude, allow me to share what parts of an email from Jeremy in response to mine which I sent having finished the book;

I think I have cried on over fifty occasions, writing this book, quite often in public places, at the cafes I used to write. I too had once lost someone very dear to me, and it was from that experience that this line in Fuel was born, “I would not trade this pain. Not trade it for a second of the time I got to spend with her.”

 

These memories… precious little gems they are. And they are the greatest proof that there is no force greater than that which exists between two people who are in love. This thing… it is a thing worth pursuing with all your heart.

Tell me, how could you not be tempted in the slightest to read this book?

I searched high and low for the book after I was told of it. I got my copy at Kinokuniya KLCC. I have since bought a few extra copies at MPH as gifts to those who needed a little fuel to keep them going. So, if you can’t find it at your local bookstore, let me know. I’ll send you one.

If you like it, then buy one copy of your own to give away. This book is definitely recommended for all the closeted softies and hopeless romantics. And for those who’ve lost your hope on that silly little thing called love, this may just be the antidote to find your lost mojo for it.

You can find a few chapters of the book at Jeremy’s website www.justjezza.com. Go ahead & click on that link, I know I’ve piqued your interest somewhat.

—-
Also, here’s a list of reasons why we should be supporting an upcoming author like Jeremy rather than propping up the bloated bank account of a former Prime Minister. Hilarious in it’s logic I tell you. Doesn’t make it less true though…. :p

http://www.justjezza.com/blog/2011/03/13/10-reasons-why-you-should-buy-my-book-instead-of-mahathirs/

Book reading event at MPH for the hearing impaired

None of the media cared to carry this Press Release of my book event at the MPH in MidValley. So I thought I’d just release it here, as a mark of it having taken place.

mphBookReading1

PETALING JAYA.  A book reading session specially targeted at the hearing-impaired was held at the MPH bookstore in MidValley last Saturday. The event was conducted by Jeremy Chin, the self-published author of the fiction novel, Fuel. Sign language interpreters were present to gesture out the important message this new, exciting author had to convey.

Chin made it very clear to the audience the expectations he had for his book, which was for it to be an International Best Seller.

“When you take on a dream this big, it is crucial that you know why you are pursuing it. And those reasons have to be good reasons, reasons you will hold close to your heart till the day you die. Fuel’s success would buy me a golden ticket to continue doing that which I have come to love, which is to write, to share with the world the best that I am capable of. Believing in what you do. That is the most important ingredient towards becoming a great writer.”

mphBookReading2

On his journey as a self-published author, Chin inspired the audience by conveying to them how his was an endeavour driven by passion, and he went into intimate detail about his craft and all that went into the effort. Towards the end, he spoke of the importance of getting readers emotionally invested in the book’s characters, and how a writer who achieves that, becomes a puppet master in control of the reader’s strings.

Chin ended on a grim note though, as he ventured into the topic of promoting his book to the masses, of how glowing reviews of the book had thus far had little impact on book sales.

“Friends, my journey as a writer, as enjoyable as it was, has become extremely difficult now that I’ve gotten to the stage of promoting it. I sit here today, battered and bruised, a tired warrior in need of a helping hand. I’ve walked alone for a year and a half, and it is my sincere hope that each of you here would join me for the next leg of my journey. Read my book, and if you think I am someone who deserves to arrive at his dream, please, please, please shout it out to the world.”

“I don’t know any sign language, but I’ll create my own, to convey what it means to me to have you here today.”

He pointed at each member of the audience, and brought his hands close to his heart.

mphBookReading3

Familiar in an anonoymous world

anonymity

My drink costs a buck twenty, but I only had a buck. The stall owner says to me in the fashion of one speaking to a regular, “Baki bayar besok.” (Just pay me the balance tomorrow).

It suddenly hits me, that I’d lost my anonymity. And I start to wonder how much of me and my daily ritual is logged by the people who run the stall.

Bald guy. Chinese. Dull green Che Guevara satchel. Eats his pre-packed nasi lemak with a spoon, no fork required. Religiously scribbles into his white notebook. He finds his drink too sweet, and drinks only the parts diluted by the ice. As such he consumes his beverage with a straw from top to bottom. He is cordoned off in his own world, white earphones dangling from his ears. Sometimes I wonder if they record… the sad eyes and droopy shoulders. The tarnished hope. The tottering sureness.

At times I worry. How much luminance remains, if any is left.

Nervously I dust the ash off the embers, and take a peek. A faint throbbing halo. Faint, but there nonetheless.