It’s been 100 days into 2012 – the year of the predicted doom; the year when the world ends. To me, it had been interesting and rather adventurous, to both the body and the mind.
On New Year’s Eve I spent 8 hours chanting and volunteering at a Buddhist event. It all began at 10pm with some volunteering work, group chanting and meditation from 12am, with a short dhamma talk, followed by a mini procession around the hall. It was quite a meaningful procession because there were quite a number of devotees, and I was there with some friends, saw some other friends whom I didn’t know were going to attend the event, and a friend whom travelled all the way from overseas to join us in this event. As we walked, I can feel the soft breeze and the blessings that came with it – firecrackers and fireworks from the neighbourhood didn’t bother me as I walk with peacefulness in my heart and mind.
New Year’s Day was a little bit blurry because I got home at 6.30, and slept till 12pm. When I woke up, I asked myself, “Why am I feeling like I feel every New Year’s Day? Blur… groggy…”. I re-examined my feelings and I did find a difference – I felt happy – it was a free and light kind of happy feeling. Not like I was on drugs (not that I would know what that feels like). It was more like my heart is open and free. A layer has been taken away, and a door opened.
It was also in the early hours of New Year’s Day when I signed up to be a facilitator for a Sunday School program that would change my (Sunday) life.
Seven days into the new year, I found myself standing at the edge of a narrow plank, barely wide enough for my two feet, 8 meters above the dark waters of Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world and at 900 meters above sea level. As I looked straight ahead, I see the beautiful surrounding hills, birds flying low on the surface of the lake, and beautiful array of orangey and pink colours in the sky as the sun sets. As I stood there with clammy hands, I can hear my friends who were cheering me on.
But, I didn’t jump. I couldn’t. My heart was beating so fast with fear and it was asking me to listen to it. It was so fearful that it wanted to stop. It couldn’t go on like that. It wanted to stop. I could feel it. It slowed down and almost stopped, but I told my body to continue to breathe and look at the beautiful scenery it front of me. It is just a jump – something I’ve never done before. My friends have done it. I can do it. I was having a conversation with my physical heart. It was pounding hard, but slowing down; it was the only sound I could hear. I shifted closer to the edge. My heart really wanted to stop. It wanted to run away. It felt really weak. I can feel that it was really going to stop. It wanted to shut down so much, and getting so faint that I can’t hear it anymore.
That’s when I took the step off the plank. I didn’t jump. I didn’t push myself. I picked up my right leg, took a silent step into the air, and let gravity pull me down. Splash!! With that, I dropped into the lake, bum first, as I could feel the slap and pain on my bum as I hit the water. I had wanted to scream or to shout, but I didn’t. Perhaps if I had my eyes closed, I would have screamed, but I didn’t. The last thing I saw before I hit the water was the beautiful sunset, and how silent it all was.
I’m glad that my heart didn’t give up on me, and I definitely wouldn’t want to put it in that position again – I don’t think I’ll ever do another plank jump. But, who knows? Maybe I’ve conquered or cured that fear factor in me.
Two weeks into the new year, I was frantically preparing lesson plans for my first teaching practicum to a group of foreign students. Having observed 10 hours’ worth of teaching by their teachers, I know that there is a certain standard that I have to live up to, and not ruin their lives. Well, both the students’ and the teachers’ lives. Ha ha. I’m happy to say that I did my teacher proud, and I was happy with my teaching, albeit with room for improvement. Positive feedback from the students really gave my ego a boost – it was really encouraging because at that time, I was aspiring to be a teacher.
Three weeks into the new year…well, more like 23 days, we have the Chinese New Year celebration! Another opportunity to reflect upon the past year, and make resolutions for the new year. Too many lion dances this year that it became amazing, and a game of count the number of lion dance you’ve seen this year. I lost count and couldn’t be bothered with counting after about ten.
A new New Year resolution that I’ve added into my list was running. I signed up for a half-marathon, which I was determined to do – still am, but I will not push my limits too far.
I’ve also finished up an assignment that was more than 70 pages long. I’ve spent about 5 weeks on it, 2 weeks of not looking at it, and 1 week staring at it – so, that was about two month’ worth of effort. I’ve handed it all in – awaiting my graduation ceremony, which I’d hope to be within 100 days of 2012, but seems like it’s not happening.
On 1st of April, I attempted bouldering, traversing, and top-roping, all within an hour. I still have a fear of heights, so I was kind of nervous, and I did fall while traversing because my palms just get so sweaty and my hands were giving up on me because I had to use strength – lots of strength! The scariest part for me was looking down and preparing to come down. No, actually, the scariest part was the belay – I couldn’t bring my body to push off the wall, hang in the air, and gently push my body down to the ground. I held onto the wall, screamed and yelled, not wanting to get down. In the end, it had all been fun, and I’ve signed up for another round, only this time, I’ve dragged a few friends along, yeah!
86 days into 2012, I’ve signed up to be a member in a Toastmasters Club, and I did my first ‘Icebreaker’ speech on exactly the 100th day. I told myself that I want to get started speaking in public, or I’ll never do it, but, little did I know that I would be nervous, forgetting my lines, and have sweaty palms and dry lips standing before an audience!
Now… I’ll have to finish up with writing, in my prescription glasses – they’re new, about 3-week’s old, and 7-8 years to go before I’d need a new pair for short-sightedness; pack my bag and catch a flight to Kuala Terengganu tomorrow.
1/3 of the year gone! I hope that the rest of the 2/3 of the year would be fun, adventurous, and kind.