Maybe we should start saying the things we really mean. – Marianna Paige

Maybe we should start saying the things we really mean. - Marianna Paige

When it’s in my hands I can feel her life force curl around my fingers. 24 handbound pages of her notes. There is a lot that is special about this.

I don’t buy many things for myself anymore. I think its because most of what I desire these days cannot be bought. And then I ran into this on Etsy. And I said, hmmmmm, ya I think I deserve a Christmas present from ME. I often run into the work of other authors that I wish I could be more of. But I’ve long learned not to chase these things. Originality cannot be imitated, only appreciated. I shall be me, she shall be she, and the world shall be more colorful for it.

I’d like two lattes please

Starbucks coffee takeaway cups

I was glowing ‘happy’ all day, and I thought I’d share with you this secret of how I made it happen.

It started with me running late for an event, and I felt a little flustered, flustered that my life had turned into a series of being late for events. But still, I badly needed my coffee.

Rather than walk around the mall till I ran into a Starbucks, I decided to stop at the information counter to ask for directions. I was attended to by a very friendly young lady, and she pointed me to a Starbucks outside the mall, which conveniently was where I was headed. As I turned to leave, she smilingly joked, “Satu kopi yah”, one coffee please. I grinned at her and said “ya”. 5 minutes later I brought her a latte with a stir stick and two packs of brown sugar.

First she looked surprised, then elated, then in disbelief. The transition of features was worth a million bucks, and from her face I knew this… that every person she would deal with that day would receive a piece of her happiness from the morning.

“I’m really late for something. I’ve gotta run. Enjoy your coffee and have a wonderful day!” And I left, like Batman.

12 bucks… to carve a lifelong happy memory for a person.

I’m always of the view that Starbucks charges too damn much for their coffee, but not on this day.

One of you


I hit a parked car in a very questionable neighbourhood. So I got out and bought a mango.

The rule of thumb when you hit anything in a poor area like this is to not stop. Just head to the nearest police station. I decided not to do that.

You see… no one stops to buy a mango here. Not unless you’re one of em. And if you’re not one of em, they’ll hunt you down if you hit anything of theirs with your car.

After I paid for my mango, I asked the owner whose car that was, and I explained that I had hit it. It was his.

“Tu tak pe,” he replied with a reassuring smile. No worries.

This is where I run each morning, and I’ve learned some things about the people here. I’ve learned that smiles don’t always get reciprocated, but may keep you alive. And because the lives of the people here are physically demanding, I’ve learned that running is viewed as a waste of energy, and those who run  have usually done something wrong and are making a getaway.

Of all the lessons I’ve picked up about this place, the most important could perhaps be this, that friends buy friend’s mangoes.

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

The Lore of Running: Don’t Drink (Alcohol) and Run

white line on red.
Stephen Legz Camburn, an avid runner, posted something on Facebook today that got me chuckling. I tell ya, the best friends are those who deposit laughter into your life. This was his post:
In the USA the police make you walk along the white line to see if you are sober: Well as I touched both curbs its definitely an epic fail….

Stephen and I are friends on Facebook, and I’ve never met him in person. But deep inside, I just have this feeling that here is a man who’d go the distance for his best friends. Mostly to amuse myself, I wrote this short paragraph in response to his post.

He told em he’d not only walk the line, he’d run it. I tell ya, once Camburn gets them ol legz movin’, there’s usually no catchin’ him… only this time, he wuz runnin’ round in circles. They gave him a minute before they intercepted his pattern, and wrestled him to da ground. This wasn’t his first run in with the law, but it was the first time he was running with em.

The brand called “YOU”

2011-11-09_192402

A year back, I read an article that stressed the importance of an author being as marketable as his book.

“What a pot of crap?” was my first reaction. “How about Stephen King? He did well for himself?”

And then I thought about the job they had done on Meyer, Rowling and Gilbert. Slowly, it sank in, fell on me like a heavy veil, that King was a rare exception of the past, as was Neil Young.

Voice in my head: “If ya wannit bad enough, ya gotta get out there and sell the living fuck out of it. And fuckin’ smile will ya. Ya gotta be a sterling brand ambassador for yer book y’know. And cut out them swear words while yer at it.”

Jay-Z said it best, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

The goal I’ve set for myself is to just get it done… to do this thing, and escape with my integrity intact. Some days I compare myself to the long legged lasses who parade around the boxing ring holding a number; except I’ll be holding my book instead of a square card, and my legs are not that long. I don’t like it, but sometimes, ya just gotta do yer rounds.

A pit of nervousness sits in my stomach right before this next interview about my book. I slow my breathing, ration my heartbeats.

“Let’s do this.”

Wear sunscreen

384777_10150447270480743_669245742_10941680_692366047_n

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.