Reading, writing and being alone.

by wynlim

I’m seated at a cafe alone, with a kindle, in Singapore on a saturday evening. For the past few years, it would have been inconceivable for me to step out of my house with my own free will on a weekend night, alone. I am one of those who would rather be at home watching tv on a weekend than to be among the crowd. 

It is kind of amusing to see waiters giving me really strange looks when I ask for a table for one. 

I often wonder why I would not hesitate walking everywhere or sitting at cafes alone when I am travelling, but once I am in my home country I would rather stay at home.

Also, I have no idea what happened to me as I transitioned as a child to the adult I am now. When I was much younger, I used to love going out alone at every opportunity I had. I enjoyed spending hours at the second-hand bookstore, or actually just browsing stationery at Popular (a stationery chain in Singapore). I watched movies on my own and thought eating fast food by myself was the best thing in the world. I read a lot, a very good habit that was instilled upon me by my foster family. I used to visit the library with my cousins, trying to max out the borrowing limit of four/eight books every single week.

My life got taken over by academic demands when I reached mid-teens and later, job-demands. There was also romantic relationships, a social life I was trying to maintain and of course, trying to be like everyone else. And of course, there was the internet, so instead of reading books I read tons of blogs and now – thousands of status updates.

I had just gotten my kindle a month or so back. I justified the purchase by telling myself I would read a lot more with it (I didn’t really believe myself, actually). I read quite a few ebooks with the iPad but it was too precious and heavy to bring everywhere with me. I wanted something I could be rough with.

As expected, I did not really read a lot more when I first got the kindle. But it kinda grew on me slowly. I started to bring it out with me no matter where I was and I found myself holding it with one hand while waiting in queues or when am commuting in trains.

And it made me realise that I didn’t mind being alone in a crowd when I am reading. It puts me in a meditative-like state whereby I am unaware of what is going on around me. 

Reading makes me reflect a lot. I get inspired or have epiphanies – it makes me wonder why I don’t make an effort to read more each time I finish a good book. It makes me aware of a world of possibilities and through other people’s writing, I find strength and hope in their experiences. Even a good book of fiction can do wonders. I never really thought about it, but now I realised if I get really drawn into a book, it makes my mind stop micro-analysing over unnecessary things and that gives it time to actually take a break.

The positive effects of it is slowly seeping into other areas of my life. I am reminded that I want to be constantly experiencing, learning and exploring. Books remind me there’s a whole lot more to do apart from my tiny life. The combination of travel, reading and just pure observation becomes a flood of new experiences.

Writing was my first love before I discovered the Internet. I always wait for something meaningful to write about before I post a blog entry. I now wonder if I can simply just write whenever anything comes to my mind. 

Looking back at my previous blog posts and private journals, I am grateful they exist. I have documented evidence of good times, bad times and what becomes obvious it that life is a constant cycle in motion. There are always good times after bad times and vice versa.

They always say it helps to be involved in other creative endeavors apart from your core work. They feed into each other. I never felt like I had the time to spend on other activities apart from my work. 

I am starting to feel like my love for technology has made me become a little bit one-dimensional and I forget there’s a whole physical world out there for us to experience.

Just a small tidbit: I have always been really good at writing non-stop. Lol. I used to always ask for new sheets of paper when I wrote essays in school. I am amazed at how thoughts never stop flowing out of me. (that also explains why I have difficulty sleeping)

I want to write a lot more. Read a lot more. Even if nobody reads what I write. I am happy writing for myself, my future self.