Poetry is…

Poetry is a walk through the woods,
An exploration of wilderness.
It is the language of the imagination and the passions –
In which man explores his own amazement.
The crystal clear flow rushes swiftly along the lake
As the rhythmical form of words flow through my mind.
Gazing at the versatile and symbolic tree,
I feel a spontaneous outflow of powerful feelings and emotions.
Birds chirp and twitter just as emotion has found its thought and As the thought has found the words.
The vivid image in front of my eyes shines and glows,
As a concentrated blend of sound and imagery is made.
I yelled at the top of my lungs,
Asking my own shadow to dance.
The shadow dances, resembling poetry in beauty,
As well as,
The evocation of feeling.

Poetry is...

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The Nature Lesson

I recently read a poem written by Marjorie Baldwin. This poem talks about a teacher, giving a lesson to the class on the primrose – a small plant with flowers that are pale yellow in colour. All students were pulling the petals of the flower off to look inside, except the author. He realized that if he did the same as everybody else, the primrose will not be a primrose anymore. It will only be bits and pieces. He found out that it doesn’t matter anymore what’s going on inside the flower if we cannot keep it alive. So the author will look over his neighbour’s flower, while leaving his primrose whole. He tries not to pull the flower into pieces, unless the teacher comes and tells him to do so. Time goes by and nobody really notices.

primrose

In the last line of the poem, it says “In the flower left breathing on my desk”. Personification is used. It makes the text feel more alive and vibrant, making it more interesting and engaging to the reader. It furthermore enhances the theme, and shows the vivid image of the primrose.

Imagery is used too in the poem. There are quite a lot of description to how the primrose looks like. We can take a look at line 4 in stanza 1. It provided a lot of details to the flower, such as “five petals”, “heart-shaped”, “pale green calyx”, “hairy stem”, “a little knob – that is the pistil”, “the bunch of stamens”. The use of imagery evokes the visual response from the reader. By using a few descriptive words, the reader now has a better characterization of the primrose.

nature conservation

The poem tells us solely that we should not harm plants and flowers. But I don’t think the idea that the author is trying to give is limited to just plants and flowers. It’s about the big thing – nature conservation. People nowadays care little about the nature. They don’t understand the importance of it. To preserve nature means to maintain, to protect the nature. Humans depend on nature for survival. It is our home. If we don’t protect it, it will be a catastrophe beyond human imagination. Horrible problems will rise, like global warming. People will not be able to enjoy the benefits, the beauty, the wonder that nature brings to the hearts of people.

Earned

Yes, without doubt, life is hard. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to be successful in life. It’s not easy to get straight A’s at school. It’s not easy to be the wealthiest man in the nation.

Yes, it’s hard. But it’s not impossible.

What successful people do is they work hard. They put in more effort than other people. They strive for greatness. When Michael Jordan first entered the NBA, his jump shot wasn’t good enough. He spent his off season taking hundreds of jumpers a day until it was perfect. As he puts, “Nothing of value comes without being earned.”

MJ quotes

Being persistent is another factor. Why are some people not successful? Because when they decide to do something, and they get tired, they quit. Students say they are not good at math. They’re right! Cause they have never studied. “When they say they want to get better grades, the problem is they don’t want it bad. They just kind of want it. They don’t want success as much as they want to party. They don’t want success as much as they want to be cool.” (from “How bad do you want it”)

When you feel like quitting, remind yourself why you started. Your goal. Your dream. Your vision. Don’t quit when you’re tired! Don’t quit when you feel pain. Pain is temporary! It may last a minute, an hour, a day or even a year, but eventually it will subside.

Don’t worry if you’re not getting to where you want to be. Work on your dream, one inch at a time. Don’t worry if people laugh at you and say you suck. Forget about the criticisms and hate. Cause some time later, things ain’t gonna go this way. There will be a lot of doubters in life. No matter how many times people criticize you, the best revenge is to prove them wrong.

Ask yourself, if other people can do it, why not me? Why can’t I be the best player in the NBA? Why can’t I be the best singer in my country? Why can’t I be the best?

You got a dream, go get it, period.

Note: I was inspired to write this after watching a few motivational videos. There might be some similar wordings or phrases. No copyright infringement intended.

References (They are great videos and I highly recommend them):

Mateusz M. “Why Do We Fall – Motivational Video.” Feb 21, 2013. Video. Mar 18, 2014.

Mateusz M. “Unstoppable – Motivational Video.” May 17, 2013. Video. Mar 18, 2014.

Fear is the root of the problem

Procrastination, in my opinion, is not about being lazy or sluggish. In fact, when we procrastinate we often work intensely for long stretches just before our deadlines. Working long and hard is the opposite of lazy, so that can’t be the reason we do it.

Some say they like the “rush” of leaving things till the very end and meeting a deadline. But they usually say this when they aren’t working under that deadline. They always make such statements long after cramming when they have failed to remember or even realize the negative results and problems of procrastinating.

Not to mention, leaving things to the end dramatically increases the chances something will go wrong – like getting sick or a technical computer problem – and not being able to pull off the desired grade. So, procrastination can be hard on us and actually increase our chances of failing, but we do it anyway.

Still some people claim they “do better” when they procrastinate and “work best” under high stress or pressure. Virtually everyone who offers this answer procrastinates as a habit and will not finish an important academic task until right before their deadline.

Hence, in reality, they can’t make a comparison about the circumstances under which they work best. If you always procrastinate, and never really approach your tasks systematically and in order and in an organized manner, then you can’t precisely say that you know you “do better” under pressure.

Procrastination is not a matter, purely, of having poor time management skills, either, but rather can be traced to underlying and more complex psychological reasons. This point is further proven by Professor Joseph R. Ferrari from DePaul University.

He stated that procrastinators can be classified into decision-avoiders and task-avoiders. People who delay making decisions are usually dependent on other people and rely on others to make their minds up for them. They usually blame other people when something goes wrong.

Those who delay taking action, on the contrary, make decisions, but never follow up on it. I think their reasons for delaying and avoiding the tasks ahead are rooted in fear and anxiety—about doing badly, of having no control of our outcomes, of looking dumb. After all, we often avoid doing work to avoid our abilities being judged, don’t we?

Note: The above article is an analysis of the topic and my own opinions. Any similar wordings or ideas are entirely coincidental.

The Chess Game of Life

I have always played chess with my uncle back when I was small. I remember each move took my uncle quite a while. He carefully planned each action, pondering every possible counters, maneuvers, attacks, and then triple-checked to see if he forgot any possible or desirable move. That is why it’s so difficult to win him.

He thinks like he plays: precise, observant, deliberate and careful. It has taken me a while to understand him and his playing style. In fact, it’s taken me a while to understand myself and my own moves. Not everything in life can be seen as easily as in chess. Not all moves are as foreseeable; not all decisions are as defined.

Sometimes we make bad decisions; bad choices, in life. The challenges we are facing, and the decisions we have to make in life, are extremely tough. Bullying, academic stress, communication with parents, dating drama, peer pressure, addictions … The list is endless. I would say, without doubt, that this is the toughest time for us than any other time in history.

As the old saying goes, “Experience is a harder teacher because she gives the tests first, the lesson afterward.” There are always a lot of ups and downs in life. They are important to keep us going, because a straight line even in an ECG, means we are not alive.

blog2

As I look back on the chess games I’ve played with my uncle, I wonder if he knows how much he has really taught me. The patience is learnt; my learning is improved; my concentration and memory is developed; the mental clarity for solving problems and formulating tactics is developed; that relentless attitude pays off in the end.

Cracking the life-long mystery

I am pretty sure many people, like me, are puzzled and interested in knowing something about this mysterious topic – dreaming. We often wake up with fragments of a dream fresh in our mind and wonder why we dreamt about that.

There is still so much we don’t yet know about the function of sleeping. Despite much scientific progress, the “why” of sleep remains a a sixty-four-thousand-dollar question we have yet to figure out. Dreaming is an ancient and fundamental aspect of sleep. Researches on animal sleep suggests that we, humans, are not the only species to dream.

According to Hobson and McCarly’s activation-synthesis hypothesis (1977), dreams are the “result of the forebrain responding to random activity initiated at the brainstem … This random activity, or noise … passes through similar sensory-relay stations as information from the environment, and is interpreted in a way that leads to the phenomenology of dreaming.”

I think this explains why dreaming appeals to a majority of peoples’ dream experiences, being somewhat erratic and haphazard. This theory points out that the bizarre nature of dreams is associated to some parts of the brain trying to piece together a story out of what is essentially random information.

Interestingly, there are what’s called dream dictionaries available to interpret and discover the meanings of your dreams. Take falling as an example. You might be falling from a skyscraper, a cliff or a helicopter or from a higher ground. This suggests loss of control or insecurity. According to DreamMoods, you might be feeling overwhelmed, perhaps in school, at work, in your daily life or in your personal relationship. You might have lost your foothold and cannot keep up with the high demands of your life.

Decoding the science behind the mechanisms of dreaming may lead to important understanding into its purpose, and to the purpose of sleep itself, whether dreaming plays a role in the consolidation of memory that occurs during sleep and whether dreams are related to the learning boost that sleep appears to provide.

Dreams are interesting, or I would say rather intriguing experiences to ponder.

Note: This is more of a fact-oriented article instead of my usual opinion-based writings. The above article would not be accomplished without the numerous books, scientific research documents and online information on this topic. Credits to Mr Beaton, my English teacher, for the inspiration and the interesting facts he told us in class on this topic.

References:

Kahn, D., Pace-Schott, E. and Hobson, A. (2002). Emotion and cognition: Feeling and character identification in dreaming. Consciousness and Cognition, 11: 34-50.

Winson, J. (1993). The biology and function of rapid eye movement sleep. Current Opinions in Neurobiology, 3: 243-8.

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vols. IV and V. London: Hogarth Press.

It’s Free Yet Priceless

Recently, I listened to a Cantonese song called 陀飛輪. It is about a guy who realizes the value of time. Over the past 18 years, he could not even afford a watch, but he had the time to have fun and enjoy himself. Turning 27, he figured out that there’s not much time left to continue to be lazy.

During this fall, he looked around and found out that he had nearly everything he wanted – expensive wines, sports cars, cameras and even golden watches – making everyone jealous. However, he doesn’t think he’s rich.

He realizes that we don’t need high salaries, high career positions or high-class products to gain people’s respect. At the time when he understands this lesson of time, even if he can go back in time, the day is already dark. Time has already elapsed.

He wonders how many heartbeats he have left. The clock is ticking. At this defining moment, he finally understood what life is all about, that we should treasure the time we have and stop being materialistic.

As the old saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It’s true. I think people are being more materialistic nowadays. We place too much value on owning things and showing them off to others in order to make an impression, from the newest smart phone to clothing of a famous brand, even though researchers have proved that objects don’t make us happy.

We do live in a wasteful society. We waste time on social media. We waste time designated for rest by staying up late. We waste time worrying about things we have no control over. We waste time by operating in fields that we were not meant to operate in. We waste time by procrastinating. We waste time by not being forward thinkers. We waste time by making long-lasting decisions based on temporary feelings.

“It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch is basically the idea,” says Professor Dunn, summing up research by two fellow psychologists, Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich. He discovered that the only thing to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles.

So why not treasure our time and make wise decisions? Whatever it is that you’ve been putting off and waiting to do, do it now! As Michael Altshuler put it, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Take control of your life and enjoy it to the fullest.

All rights reserved. pearlsofislam.tumblr.com
All rights reserved. pearlsofislam.tumblr.com

Time is free yet it is priceless.
We can’t own it yet we can use it.
We can’t keep it yet we can spend it.
Once we’ve lost it, we can never get it back.

Basketball and my destiny

Finally the day had arrived. Another Saturday. I went to Bonsor for basketball along with some friends. I practised my shots, trying to increase the accuracy and releasing speed. Some people came over and asked if we would like to play a friendly match.

I, myself, am not the best player. I remember I started playing basketball because of a friend in grade 8. He was an incredible player. I used to play very badly, missing easy lay-ups and jumpers. I didn’t have the confidence to shoot.

Every time I got the ball, I would pass it to one of my teammates for sure. That friend of mine always plays with me and he’s always on my team. As you would expect, I got blamed, criticized and yelled at for everything – bad passes, slow reactions, etc.

I got a pass from the point guard. Seeing that the defender wasn’t guarding me tightly, I got hold of the ball, and took the shot. I made it! I cannot describe the happiness and triumph inside me.

I’ve always been an admirer of Kobe’s fadeaway jumpshot. I could never figure out how he does it. How he can pull up for a fadeaway jumpshot with the clock ticking and half a second left. I knew Kobe is a hard worker. His determination, his perseverance, and his confidence are all that I envy.

My friend drove to the basket, leaving me wide open. He then passed the ball to me and I took the shot. The ball bounced and hit the rim. The ball spun around the rim maddeningly, and finally, it fell to the floor. I was disappointed.

I remember reading an article about why not making mistakes is the biggest mistake ever. After all, mistakes not only help us let go of fears, but also teach us valuable lessons. As Al Franken said, “Mistakes are a part of being human…lessons that can only be learnt the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.”

Kobe’s story of success as well as Franken’s quote gave me a lot of insights. I started to recall what I did in the last couple of weeks – nearly zero things related to school work. I always regard myself as a procrastinator, but things are getting more and more serious. Determined, I believe that I am the creator of my own destiny and that I should start using my time wisely. “Time flies,” as they say, “in the blink of an eye.”