Friday, December 7, 2012


Last night I watched ‘A Day in a Life’, a movie sponsored by YouTube where people around the world sent video clips of themselves or of some subject on a particular July day in 2010. It was an intriguing movie, where the director strung together all those different clips sent by diverse people all over the world to create a stirring narrative; a reality show about life on Earth. Peppered with modern music, clever editing and inspiring stories, one cannot help but be moved by the spectacle of life. After watching the movie including the bonus scenes, I felt nostalgic and went to my YouTube account to look at the videos I created myself, a sort of video album, watching the clips of my life in Singapore, the lunch and picnics with friends and my recent travels in North America. I watched the clips in my tablet, flicking from one video clip to another like looking at pictures in a photo album, realizing that this is the modern way of remembering one’s memories, all electronic with one’s past stored in the cloud; somewhere in the ether of the Internet.

After watching my memories play out in the screen, I reviewed my stories from the 2 creative writing class I took in the Spring and Summer, re-reading my assignments especially the story I wrote about my grandmother. There is some talent I believe, but raw and in need of structure and editing, an assessment that one can only make after some time, when the emotion of writing these pieces have gone so that one can return and criticize with a more balanced attitude. I realize that one works with his memories, the images that play out in his mind, the creative spark that seeks expression in writing. Sometimes I fear that not writing a novel soon will let me forget all those experiences that I had in the past, the fodder of novels that one creates out of his own life happenings. But I realize that my pictures and video memories preserved in YouTube will help me together with my journal writings. I guess it’s the first draft of one’s future books where one can return to his past and creatively fashion a story.

It is strange that this feeling has come upon me now. Living in a house has given me a feeling of permanency, of roots that one can build on. I had never had this feeling before, where the mind can stop and look around; perhaps it’s playing golf every weekend that my mind relaxes. Admittedly there is no stimulation or temptation present in large cities like Singapore or Manila or Bangkok or Tokyo, that one has a routine (or boring) life: exercise at the gym after work, watch movies or television at home, surfing the Internet and reading a book plus playing golf on weekends. There is space in one’s life that one can achieve more. But one goes into a rut by filling space, like buying stuff that one does not need due to the abundance of money or credit. Similarly one buys stuff to fill up one’s home or packs senseless activity to fill one’s time. Hence, one does not work on the true goal.

For instance, I have a goal to write a book but I never get to write except in journals or in creative writing classes.  But I know it’s a start especially if one realizes the gap: the gap between having a goal against the activities that one does (or does not do) to achieve it. It becomes a design problem where one determines alternatives and how to reduce the gap.

This is the premise of a design class I am attending online in To re-frame the problem is intriguing: it’s not a problem of procrastination or focus but one that needs a design solution. Hence, why don’t I write? Because I watch movies, play golf and read too many books or magazines. My spare time is filled with activities that I don’t have time to write. How do I solve this gap? Perhaps by having a regular writing time, or use technology like recording devices and speech to text software in order to speed up the writing of a draft. Perhaps it’s a lack of skill that one needs to learn more by attending writing classes or reading ‘how to books’ (which I do already). Therefore the problem is solvable: to use new technology, set a regular work ethic and learn new skills – one needs to design a solution to the problem. The other way is to cut down on one’s task and free up more time: less golf, less reading, less watching movies and less internet surfing. Perhaps it is a mix of both options that will bring the answer.

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