Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Asian Plastic Surgery - A Pursuit of Perfection?

This has been sitting in my drafts for some time now. But I think I should post this because Kpop is undoubtedly taking over the world and loved by growing numbers of young teenagers who are going through their most insecure years. With surgery becoming ever so cheap and easy, it's a scary thought imagining young people running to surgeons with pictures of their idols when it's probably just a Hallyu effect they are suffering from, unknowingly. The digital era we're living in is a dangerous, addictive and deceptive one, with information of all sorts multiplying every second. Which is why blogs like mine should provide some insight, and even if one person reads and understands, I've done my job.

I went into some depth discussing things, and I can't help be against full body/full face surgery (why do you hate your appearance THAT much?) But at the end of the day, people choose plastic surgery for themselves and we don't have the right to judge THEM, even though we may agree/disagree to it ourselves. If you don't like it, don't get it done, but don't judge others who do. Peace xx

Finally I'm here with a post to talk about my personal views on plastic surgery in Asia.

Today I watched the new Japanese film 'Helter Skelter', which is about a young celeb Ririko who had full body plastic surgery, and how she dealt with her issues as the surgeries took their toll. I found that the film very graphically pointed out to the evident problem Asian societies have with beauty, but left it open for viewers to think for themselves whether plastic surgery culture should continue or not.

Personally I'm fascinated by plastic surgery for obvious reasons, but I'm very annoyed at many articles and videos online of non-Asian people or Asian people living outside of Asia talking about plastic surgery as if it's the most absurd thing in the world. They make fun of it without thinking through why people do it, why so many people do it, why society allows for it etc. 'Omg, can you believe people make their eyes bigger to look more Western?' is the type of mocking tone all these videos use, making most non-Asian people who don't understand about plastic surgery culture in Asia think young Asian people are all weird and white-wannabes. 'Motivational' videos of people continually drumming into their viewers 'it's the inside that counts' or 'why do you want to look American?' to persuade them not to consider surgery as a option are blatantly ignorant. They think that they know what beauty is, but really, how can anyone define beauty in such a homogeneous way?

Plastic surgery is so common in Asia that most people don't even think it's considered 'changing'. Let alone have time to think 'I'm beautiful on the inside' and all those irrelevant topics.

That man needs to shut his mouth.

I think there's something much deeper and concerned with human nature that drove plastic surgery culture to the scale it is today.

Desire is what every human is born with. Everyone wants what they don't have, and with the money and technology we have nowadays, what is there to stop us from getting the things we want? No one taught high school Asian girls that big eyes and small faces are beautiful. They don't care about looking American. We're talking about a society in which the rich and famous seek 'perfection' There is no room for flaws in success, which partly explains the no body hair, no bf/gf, no scandals, no talking of hardships, no social network, no talking about other celebs, no drinking/smoking in public, no overly private lifestyles these Hallyu stars are expected to give up to. It's understandable though considering how important they are to the country today.
"K-pop accounts for around 3.8 billion dollars worth of the country's economy. So whilst the girls and boys might look like they're at it like rabbits, they're very much investments, to be protected from the wrong kind of attention." - Vice
An average adolescent is surrounded by images of Asian celebrities with perfect features, and since they are so well loved, it spurs on a desire for these girls to idolise them and want to look the same. As humans, our instinct is to adapt and accept to our surroundings. Hence why controlled political systems still exist. When people don't see what is outside of the box, they will accept and will not question. No one will even think to ask why a certain celebrity got surgery, or why these features came about to be the most ideal in the first place. What people see is popularity and love that these 'beautiful people' receive, and that's what they desire.
"We'll be forgotten. We're just machines for the processing of desires. 'Pretty!' 'Wow!' 'That's what I want to be!' Desire doesn't care. It just keeps on going with another name and another face." - Kozue Yoshikawa, Helter Skelter
It doesn't matter to them whether in the future their surgeries will take their toll, and whether in the end they'll realise outward appearance is not everything they desire. Most people who have surgery know very clearly that appearance is not everything. But physical beauty is a weapon and a source of courage. Especially in Asia where it is very much a financial weapon. Hence no matter how many failed surgeries, regrets, scarring, post medication stress there are, there will always be a new generation of young people willing to try. The journey will never end because of curiosity. People see more utility in short term happiness, when they get attention and praise from others, than not having any of this at all.

So if surgeries do give people courage, and do offer positive utility subject to the individual, who are we to judge on whether people should get surgery or not? Maybe this surgery will genuinely make someone happier in life, so who are we to say that surgery is a bad thing? 

Many would say the fundamental problem is the media, what people around us tell us and what we see. But I think otherwise, because without role models, fame and power, societies wouldn't exist in the first place. No matter how civilisation evolves, every human being will always at the end day have an idea of what is ugly and what is beautiful. WE WERE BORN TO JUDGE. If you think back on your life, no one told you what is beautiful and what is not. We are influenced by so many things we experience that this judgment on beauty was already made long before you could even realise it yourself.

So who is to blame? No one.

There isn't anything to blame for. Beauty is an economic market which will never die down, because there is always a plentiful supply of young men and women who want to look above average. And naturally, with the invisible hand of capitalism, something will take advantage of this. When a market has demand, there will always be suppliers. It's just simple economics. Markets will expand technologically if demand allows it, and who would say no to becoming more beautiful overnight?

The people get surgery because desire for beauty is something that will never disappear. The plastic surgeons do their work because the economy asks for it. The society's idea for beauty is an accumulated concept that originates back to the start of civilisation. The motivation exists because of curiosity. So, who is there to blame?

Maybe it's just Asian culture.

In Asia, beauty is definitely much more important in society than in any other part of the world. You must include a picture of yourself in resumes, and employers can unfairly distribute wages based on appearance. In other words, being beautiful is essential. There are high school students in Asia who think when they finish their uni exams, they are finally allowed have a taste of the real society: drinking, getting into relationships, having plastic surgery etc, because it's normal and what everyone else is doing. When girls get surgery, it doesn't matter to them that their new face will be fake. All they care about is the new opportunities that they will have.

Even though I hate the idea of 'media influence' as a reason of why people decide to go under the knife, it's definitely a factor. I grew up in London, and not once did I think about the size of my eyes or face or anything before I discovered what Asians think about them on the internet. During secondary school here, I remember talking to my friends about double eyelids, and nobody even knows what they are. People here joke about Asians having slanty eyes, but I never heard anyone saying that slanty eyes are 'ugly'. One very interesting phenomenon that I want to mention is that in the West, when you tell your friends 'I'm ugly/fat' etc, they will say 'No way, you're pretty!', but in Asia, people will bluntly tell you 'Yes you're fat/ugly' if they think you are, because they think it's a genuine/helpful comment. 

In Asia, beauty is more of a second nature or obsession than enhancement. It's like a drug that's hard to quit. Asian makeup doesn't enhance your appearance, it's made to change it. The more you play with it the more addictive and the more you want. Until you're so obsessed that it doesn't matter if when you're old your face will become distorted. It doesn't matter if you have to take post surgery medication. It doesn't matter if most men will not date you seriously if you had surgery. What matters is that you can become more and more and more beautiful, so why should you stop?

What I'm fascinated by though is not why people pursue beauty, it's why people have the courage to let a stranger cut their faces/bodies open whilst they are unconscious, and how they can cope with living out the rest of their lives with plastic inside their bodies. Whatever the reason, it must be so crucial to the individual's life they s/he is willing to turn a blind eye.

On a casual note, I do think some Asian surgeons, particularly in South Korea, know what they're doing when they operate. Even though it's so obvious to me when someone's had surgery, you can tell there has been an attempt to make each look unique. The doctors consult their patients in great depth about their bone structures etc, and will often make suggestions on what they think suits their patients' faces/bodies. Most of the ones that come out looking unnatural are probably mindless people who pile on mix-matched ideal features from celebrities, which generally will not look good together.

After watching some youtube videos, I realised that Korean women who get surgery find it a very pleasant experience. They often go through minimal pain (or less than they can endure), and the result is most of the time desirable. Hence more and more women go. I often wonder what goes on in the minds of these plastic surgeons. Why do they find so much pleasure in changing people's bodies when it's not needed? Their patients' entire lives and futures are in their hands, do they find it satisfying that they have such immense power over someone else, or do they enjoy being trusted? Do they sincerely want to make others' lives 'better'? How can anyone be strong enough to watch themselves cut open another person's flesh and tell themselves that it's for their own good?

However even though I don't hate plastic surgery, it does make me sad when you ask a teenager living in Asia 'what is beauty to you?' they will reply with 'Big eyes, small face, high nose bridge, white skin, tall, etc'. I think that even though surgery removes your outside flaws, it will never remove your insecurities. Everyone has them and it's hard to deal with it especially when you have Asian friends who tell you you're fat/ugly on a daily basis (trust me, they don't mean to make you feel bad!), it's even more hard not to do something about it. I think it's impossible to fully accept yourself when you know you have flaws, but it's always good to think that your flaws makes who you are, and your good points may even come from your flaws. It's hard to believe, but no matter how 'ugly' you think you are, there will be people out there who will think you are beautiful in your own unique way. I once watched a Chinese TV programme where one of the presenters went to S.Korea to shoot a show, and she recalled "all the celebs I met were every pretty. But when I came out of the studio, I couldn't remember any of the faces."

There was one scene in Helter Skelter which I found especially memorable.
'Tiger Lilies' is in the film a name given to young girls who are willing to go on lengthy 'adventures' in order to become beautiful. In that scene, two older people stood in the middle of Shibuya. Looking around they said:
"There are Little Tiger Lilies everywhere. Young, glittering. But everyone knows one day it has to end." 

High school girls in Korea

Maybe she is really happier?

Surgery creates extra economic activity+jobs by hotels who offer patients private plans for them to rest and heal. Korea is also a tourist destination for plastic surgery (many Chinese and even Caucasian people travel to Korea just to get surgery).

Watch how these girls are STILL overly conscious even after surgery

Not all people in Korea like plastic surgery, and modern Korea's obsession with 'perfection'. Seoul Fashion Week recruit models who have natural faces

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Alice Sara Ott - why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover

'No one's perfect', now a phrase thrown out of my books.

After finally seeing Alice perform live at the Royal Festival Hall today after an almost 2 year wait, I believe I, in all 19 earnest years of my life, have seen perfection in the face. She absolutely STUNNED in a bright red floor length gown, a perfect bob haircut and perfect figure, with her mischievous personality on full display.

If you think this is gonna be another rant about some other amazing piano prodigy, then you're right, but this one's special, because it's Alice Sara Ott.

I discovered Alice randomly on an article I read way back, when I was a newfound fangirl of Chopin and someone had rated her as 'one of the best interpreters of Chopin alive'. What made her instantly stand out to me as was that at first glance, she seems like a naive, graceful young pianist with an extraordinary talent. Her photoshoots do no justice to her actual playing as they all portray her as this dainty creature shrouded in grace and as the Pianist magazine put it, 'an air of remarkable serenity'. Which is why I was incredibly shocked when I actually heard her playing. It also sparked my interest as to why she always plays the piano barefooted, and why as pretty much a newbie, she chose to replace Lang Lang at such short notice when she knew there would be handfuls of critics sitting in the concert hall waiting to judge her.

In real life, Alice has in fact got a sassy punch of attitude to her generally determined personality. In her interviews, it's quite obvious but it's even more obvious when she's delivering a piece of music on the piano. I think the Times critic gave a good summary:
"There's a beauty, and mischief too, in her playing, which rings out with a freedom, fluidity and lack of contrivance which is entirely refreshing."
Today at the concert, even though I had rubbish seats and could only see her back, I was still entirely taken away by her interpretations of Schumann and Schubert. In a classical sense, her playing is almost 'wild' and uncontrolled, as if she hadn't taken notice of rhythmic structures and was playing completely based on her gut instincts, but when you close your eyes Schumann was still there looking at you in the face. It's an elevating sense of freedom and liberation which is just so damn refreshing to hear in a formal concert hall. There was something very impetuous about her dynamics which I thought really worked with the pieces she picked today. Especially in Mussorgsky's Pictures at An Exhibition - I thought that piece could be written for her.

There was one thing she keeps reiterating in her interviews which gave me a deep impression. She said that music to her is a form of communication. When she was younger, she felt that no one could really understand her, and when she heard a piano concert for the first time, she felt if she mastered the art, she would be able to make people understand her better. I believe that this type of communication is what makes classical music still so well loved today. People sit down in concert halls nowadays not to only hear that famous piece of music that's been around for centuries, but to hear the musical personality of the musician that is playing the piece, and how it is communicated to them. Why does Ott's interpretation sound different to Horowitz's? Why was this phrase played at such dynamics/tempo in this rendition? People who pay to hear live music should all be (or at least I hope so) looking for answers to such questions.

I think what the musicians do to deliver a piece is just as important as how the composer wanted the piece to be delivered. It's the same for fashion. A designer wouldn't create a top so that a certain type of person could wear it. It would be more meaningful to see how people of all sorts would wear this top, how people can make this one top unique to them. With music it's often a heart wrenching decision to decide whether to play a piece how the composer wanted you to play it, or play how you feel like playing it. Being the young, stubborn pianist Alice is, she obviously chose the latter, and I give her full credit for it. Why should a person living in the 21st century play based on the instructions of a dead man? Alice has the right to perform the piece the way she likes. If something from the piece speaks out to her, she has all the right and ability to tell the audience 'listen to THIS bit'.

I often get livid about this, but honestly I think this sort of respect for musicians is just so entirely lacking in the current classical world. Music is all about technique and interpretation, but at the end of the day 'interpretation' just becomes another technique. We are all so worked up by technique that we lose sight of more important things in music. Beethoven didn't write a piece because he wanted all pianists who played it to be technically perfect. It's often more accurate to guess that inspiration for that piece came to Beethoven in the form of a memory, feeling or dream that was entirely spontaneous. With such foundations, I fail to understand why some people get so angry that a piece was delivered 'too emotionally' or 'glosses over important musical technicalities'. Take a look at this frustrating critic of Ott on The Guardian:

"No on expects a pianist in her early 20s, however prodigiously talented, to be the finished article. Yet Alice Sara Ott's recital was still a bit of a disappointment, not because of any weaknesses in the German-Japanese pianist's playing - her technique is as buoyantly brilliant as her recordings suggest - but because too often, even in a programme that had clearly been chosen to showcase the extrovert side of her pianism, it allowed her to skate over the surface of the music without hinting at what lay beneath."
If a concert is CHOSEN to showcase something you expect, and in the end you see what you expect to see, what is the point of going at all? We don't live to hear the same pieces delivered in the same ways it had been done for hundreds of years, or even what we EXPECT should be delivered. We go to concerts with a blank mind and let the musician fill it up with THEIR ideas. Hence why we go and listen to THEIR playing in the first place.

He then continues to criticise her on how her rendition of Mozart's Duport Variations K573 "hardly seem like late Mozart at all", and how her Beethoven Sonata Op 2 No 3 "didn't give the slow movement the space it needed [...] there was something perfunctory about the way everything was presented, with no sense of music threatening to redefine the boundaries of classical sonata form as Beethoven did in these early works." It's as if he came to the concert expecting her to be Mozart or Beethoven or something. How did he know Ott deliberately didn't want to play as if she's redefining boundaries of sonata form? Why should she anyway? Maybe playing 'like' Mozart was not what she wanted to convey to her audience. I don't even think it's a rebellious move from her trying to be different. I just think her being honest to herself through music.

The fact that Alice has lived through these harsh criticism and is still flourishing in her own intrepid musical style makes me support her all the more. The fact that she is still touring increasingly more continents and is welcomed by an expanding fanbase gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, other people out there also see the importance of a musician's personality rather than technique and ability to mimic the composers. Through her interviews, I could tell she's a very brave girl, knows her direction in life and is very honest to herself. All these qualities I wish I could perfect on.

Music wise I'm nowhere near as talented as her, but I do think we think in similar ways in many aspects. For example we both think that music is played and listened to best in the dark with no 'visual distractions'. We both believe that practising comes down to self motivation, and not whether your family is rich enough to buy you a Steinway or whether or not your family members are musicians. Personally for me, music is a haven where I escape to from my crazy life, and she seems to think similarly. In her interview with The Telegraph she talked about the dangers of the modern culture - women at airports with their heads buried in their BlackBerries, 'who don't breathe, who don't take time to think'. I'm pretty thankful that I realised these dangers too, especially since my future is going to be 100% in the financial sector, so that in the future I will not be making the same mistakes.

She sees music as a universal thing with no boundaries and no segregation - I remember my music illiterate mother looking at my violin music and telling me 'it doesn't matter what language you speak. This sheet music is something musicians from across the globe will understand'. On this topic Alice says:
"If you hear music in a concert hall, you can forget time, you can forget your own language, your culture, and your own skin colour... it makes no difference which country I'm in." 
This cut from the Telegraph interview also stood out to me:
"Growing up in two cultures, she also found a refuge. 'In Germany people sometimes call me "ching-chang-chong", their expression for Chinese, which I have got used to now, but which used to freak me out. They think Asian people are all the same. And in Japan people are shocked that I speak Japanese. In music it doesn't matter what nationality you have. It is more important what you want to say and who you are. With music I was welcomed everywhere. We were talking in a language above all this hate and racism."
It's quite remarkable how she uses music to distance herself from racism. I live in London and am pursuing a career in the finance, so it's pretty much on a daily basis that I get racist remarks from everyone at every place imaginable (even today when I was at M&S the man who served me said 'happy new year!' followed by some incoherent blubbering which he presumed was Chinese). As a result I feel extremely privileged to know so many music lovers at my uni who I can talk about and play music with without having to touch on our cultural differences, and so happy that I have Alice as an idol who thinks in the same way as I do about music.

About her playing barefoot, she says it's because she wants to treat each piano as a person, and it helps her to feel closer to the instrument. Which I kinda understand even as a violinist, because for example I've never played the violin with gloves on.

I sincerely wish Alice all the best in the future and I hope she shines bright in this industry, and at the end of this journey get all the happiness and freedom she deserves. I hope she never changes her impulsive, gut-instinctive way of playing because it's what makes her so perfect in her own way!

Some clips of Alice playing:



Liszt with interview:

Monday, 11 February 2013

Massive post on ELECTRONIC MUSIC

I had been planning this post a long time ago, probably sometime around last year. I told myself I needed several hours, maybe even a day to complete this post, because I want to talk sooo much about it, but everyday I listen to more and more artists and I think if I don't pen this down now (2am on a Monday D:), I'll never be able to do it.

So I'm gonna do it now.

Music wise I grew up with a classical background so it's quite normal to find me indulging in long piano pieces for hours and hours. I've always quite disliked opera and classical works for the voice, and even though I studied singing classically, I much preferred music made on instruments than through vocal chords. My obsession with electronic music actually started from my love for Nujabes (since 2007 when I heard Luv Sic by chance on some online clothing store), and Minimalism which stemmed from probably around 2 years ago (I vaguely remember penning it down on this blog).

Around a year ago when it started to hit me wow-I-actually-really-like-this-sort-of-music, I was very very skeptical and hypercritical about the artists I listened to. Because I really disliked music that's produced via machines, ie stuff that is generated through the brains of a electronic device, rather than through a human brain. At the time I was concerned with the fact that some artists I listened to might not have been as talented as the classical world virtuosos I was so used to hearing, or even talented at all. But times have changed as people around me drummed into me that hey, if music is good to the ears then chances are the people who made it are good at what they're doing, so I've basically shed all my skepticisms and am currently fully embracing every microscopic detail of the art that is electronic music.

Not too sure about the accuracy of this, but I like to group music under the genre of Electronic Music as the name describes it: when parts or all of the music is created by electronic devices.

In the beginning, Nujabes paved the way which also led me to listen to related Japanese artists such as DJ Okawari [here] and [here], and you can tell that the classical influence totally appealed to me at the time when I was making these transitions in tastes. The beats are often quite 'tame', keeping to a usual 4/4 rhythmic structure and layering progressively throughout the track. It's the type of mix where you could sit down and pick out all the samples used to layer without much difficulty. Hence very tame.

I kinda left all classical influences behind when one day I fatefully discovered Green Butter (which I must have talked about in a previous post). Their music totally relaxed me to a much deeper level than what my usual piano pieces did.

Also worth mentioning are Bugseed and Weirddough, both artists of which I think belong in roughly the same category as Green Butter. I actually discovered Weirddough only 2 months ago.



There's this other Japanese beat maker I follow called Taku, on soundcloud he releases a lot of his experimental stuff quite regularly and names them Night1, Night2, etc.
Night8 [here] is definitely my favourite.

I find with music genres everything is like bubbles. As producers get tired of the big bubbles they burst into lots of little ones, and a sequence of such bubbles determines the mad number of genres we have today. Esp in the digital era with mashup platforms easily accessible to any music lover out in the open, is there really a way to define a music genre in this century? For us listeners, journeying through these bubbles are be a very fun but addictive thing. There was long period when electro influences took me to more melodic creations, such as the works of Tokimonsta and eAeon (both Korean).

eAeon outdid himself by releasing the instrumental versions of all tracks from the A side of this album on the B side, which definitely makes me love him more by miles. I think all artists should release Less Vocal versions of their works because it allows for us to listen to all the intricate details without having the voice distracting us.

Recently I've been going down this more outlandish route and entering some bubbles which I really should not have. I can see that at the end of the day I'm going to fall into the 80s Disco bubble, and even worse, Sci-fi electronica or Dubstep (noooooooo). But I can no longer deny that I have recently retrograded back to the 80s in many aspects of my life, and so I cannot avoid falling in love with all the cheese like Synth pop or classic disco. But I try to keep it as quirky as possible.

Yukihiro Takahashi:

From this I can either go down the even quirkier route (Miharu Koshi [here] for example), or futuristic sounds with vocaloid like qualities (Capsule [here] for example). But I choose not too because tunes like these will ultimately just do my head in.

Instead I embraced a more 'stylish', contemporary sound, which is definitely and thankfully not so much classic disco, but has a mixture of both indie and electronic qualities. Synth pop is currently a massive obsession of mine with great bands like POP ETC and Two Door Cinema Club, and I don't think I've finished my business with this genre just yet.

Glen Check:

Glen Check is a band that just radiates bouts of insane talent. They are clearly very skilled instrumentalists and so the extra electronic stuff is just a divine plus. Haute Couture was an album made in the heavens.

An even more minimalistic version of Glen Check is probably Idiotape [here], which I can only listen to when my ears are asking for a wild ride. Their music is almost a bit too intense, with plethoras of samples and good beats all squeezed into 5min slots. They're still amazing though.

Here I'll let you in on a little secret. When I make remixes, I turn to microsound/glitch artists such as Alva Noto and Ryoji Ikeda for inspiration. Glitch is something that makes one slightly uncomfortable when listening to it in its bare glory, hence why one would say they're 'mindfcked', but I think with a bit of melodic fusion it really brings out a certain sample you want to highlight. For example if you are using a rap verse with some amazing rhymes, you might want to add in some glitch to make it stand out.

Alva Noto:

For some crazy glitch that will LITERALLY make your entire body vibrate,

Ryoji Ikeda (listen to this with headphones)

As I said, glitch will always leave you feeling slightly uncomfortable. Which is I guess why Alva Noto collabed with Ryuichi Sakamoto perhaps, so that the piano could try to free the mind a little.

As an often tired student who lives in an extraordinarily rainy city, I'm forever in need of dosages of upbeat, sanguine delights to brighten up my day, sometime loud and colourful enough so that I could totally immerse myself in the songs for a good half an hour. I'll end this post (now at 4am zzzzz) with these 3 tracks that I have been listening to on repeat this weekend:

The Chemical Brothers - The devil is in the details

I love this song so so so so soooooooo much. It's so cute and chirpy and overall just an amazing track.

Justice vs Simian - We are your friends

And finally, due to currently working on a cover of Cocorosie's Smokey Taboo, I have listened to vast amounts of trippy gypsy, Native American music for inspiration, and so obviously some exotic/electronic hybrid is always welcome.

Marianne Feder - Toi Mon Indien (remix version, sorry I have no idea who made the remix D:)

I hope that today I have successfully taken all your ears on a great adventure. Now you can take it from here!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Two Kinds of Happiness

Want not waste not.

These days I've been trying to live with discipline. Shifting out of lazy habits and greed for sumptuous things. I find that having material things you want doesn't make you happier in the long run. I own way too many things and as time goes by they can only pile up unloved in some corner of your room.

Taking pleasure out of a daily routine rather than feeling claustrophobic, I feel it's a good mindset to go about a busy uni life. I try to notice every little thing that makes me feel happy, eg a conversation that made me laugh, or that little peek of sunshine lighting up the London skyline on a grey day. Looking at life before my eyes through a pinhole makes me concentrate on what I need to do at present. It's a weird phenomenon but I sometimes feel exhilarated when I have to do a lot of work and a 9 hour library session awaits me. I want to wake up early and immerse myself in new knowledge and new activities. The humdrum of the cafe in the early mornings brings alive a latent source of energy that I never knew I had. I'm learning to understand that it's the outcome of studying that makes me happy, and not the pain of the process that makes me weary. Keeping busy will naturally free your mind. You grant yourself freedom, I don't think anyone can give it to you. Not yearning for freedom is the easiest way out.

Sticking to a routine religiously made me realise that the little things I do out of the blue is ever more fun and memorable. I like devoting to my routine but not being a slave to it. It's hard at times but at the end it's always worth it. Time is so precious and we only have one chance at everything, and even though sometimes I think I'm wasting my time doing a lot of things, I know that every single thing I do and learn in the past shapes my mind and actions of today and tomorrow. Everything is relative and at some point in the future, something will give and tie up these loose ends.

Desire and reward
Long term and short term joy.
Don't you give in
You're beginning.