There is truth, it is our nature and obligation to seek it. but it lies just beyond the veil of perception
RETURN THE GAYZE: a breakup letter to stanford university

returnthegayze:

you are eighteen — give or take a few

shots of espresso and one night stands —

and you are sandwiched in the backseat

of the car with the six suitcases you somehow convinced your mother

to let you pack for college — let’s call it,

being upfront to your roommate that you are

coming…

(Source: returnthegayze)

3,554 notes

Decadence and decay

Oh how wondrous hunger is. That blurred boundary between painful physical craving and sweet, beautiful mental satisfaction derived from the revelation that yes I as a human being indeed have control over my most primal instinct to devour every piece of calorie I set my eyes on. I am the Leviathan in my life and reign with nil superior authority save my own conscience. Exerting hegemonic rights over consciousness and body I succumb to no external temptation which I know wreaks nothing but momentary pleasure and reverberations of regret and havoc that ring infinitely into the future. I will prolong this hunger for as long as needed; hunger for food, hunger for procrastination, hunger for delaying the most pivotal tasks that provide meaning to each day, accumulating in a successful existence. A hunger to relapse into conditions requiring the most minimal amount of effort to produce the maximum amount of…what? Satisfaction? What is an absence of diligence? Surely it is not pleasure…

Problems endemic to exclusively the human population for we are the only ones endowed with the most terrible liberty of choice. 

Discipline. My tolerance for this chilling void of pleasure and idleness will commensurate to the fruits sowed by discipline. Sweet, decadent fruits. I will not be a vagabond meandering through life. Finals? You will come crawling to me by the time I’m done. 

image

Waffle, I will obliterate you. 

1 note

I am a useless human being.

I am not a useless human being. 

I am a useless human being.

My whole life I believed I would lead an existence of meaning and purpose. I thought I could achieve grand lofty goals, leave my mark on the world. Now I’m not so sure. As an idealistic young student in middle school, in high school, my sole purpose was to get good grades, lead my peers through extracurriculars, score 2300+ on the SATs. I didn’t have to actually worry about how I was going to change the world, I just thought I could. How easy to believe I could achieve great things when all I had on my agenda was to get accepted by a prestigious college. The rest, I thought, would come easily.

Secondary school was indeed stressful, the hours and hours spent studying and competing and worrying over every 0.01 of our GPAs. The early morning exams, the immense pressure of maintaining a top 3 ranking and not letting down your family and friends. However, it was a tried and true method of getting into college, the paths were blazed through by generations of students before me. We were held by the hand, given instructions, molded into who we are by our parents, our culture, our peers, our teachers. Instead of worrying about which direction to take and what to do with our lives, we were given a purpose - all we had to do was pursue it.

But now that I’ve achieved that goal, what now? I’m in college and life is my canvas, the world and its resources my paint and brush. This should be something liberating, so beautiful..to have the opportunity to craft a life in any shape any color any size I so desire. How many people in the world have the chance - the resources, the health, the support from a network of loved ones - to do this? 

But the sheer amount of possibilities frighten me. The myriad paths out there have the potential to lead me to the most disparate destinations, if I pick the wrong one things could go terribly astray. With that in mind, how the hell am I supposed to pick the right direction? I’ve been on earth for barely two decades, conscious for an incredibly short fifteen years, and mature for about…five. With this utterly nonexistent experience and wisdom, how do I begin my life without making mistakes? But then again as the banality goes, mistakes are the milestones on our path towards enlightenment.

But having one life, one chance at this world scares me so much because we can’t afford to make mistakes. How do I choose the right path that would lead me to a career where I can exhaust my full potential, face challenges that suck the last breath out of me then endow the energy for me to conquer new peaks? What if I make the wrong choice and realize it when I’m nearing middle age when it’s too late? Is it ever too late? How could I ever make the immense decision to dedicate my life to any one purpose?! I have hour long arguments with my best friend, raging at each other’s throats over our fundamentally different life values. But how do I even know what I’m fervently defending is the correct path? Do I just want to be right? Do I even have any values? 

What if I get sucked into the corporate rat-race, unknowingly forced into being a slave of this consumeristic society, a never ending cycle of trivial pursuits where characters and personalities dissolve into entities composed of brands and wealth, of useless competitions to impress others, tricking them into thinking how glamorous your life is when all you feel is an acute emptiness? Where is the meaning? 

What if I already am? Seduced by materialism, when I have absolutely no right to? My family may be able to internalize ridiculous spending on my part, but that doesn’t lend any legitimacy to it. But is it wrong? Perhaps as young people, we have insecurities and want to let the world know we are here, we are a new generation charging in, the world is for us to exploit. Uh no. So how does one balance living it up and reining it in? How does one quantify just what we deserve?

And if not this lifestyle, what does it take to be different?

These are problems everyone has to face. So it it illogical that I’m so damn stressed? Are these just ramblings of a young privileged human who can’t handle the responsibility that comes with independence? Suit up, Fiona. Get your shit together. 

Or maybe the vagueness of it all is what’s so exciting. Maybe I need to stop asking so many damn questions and just…breathe. 

3 notes

Impossibility?

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.” 

-Bob Marley

i feel a numb pensiveness. a mix of wistful doubt and sadness seizing me as I finish absorbing Bob Marley’s beautiful yet falsely hopeful words. we wait our whole lives for this one extraordinary meeting, grinding through each day, flustered and mislead by trivial challenges, spurred and blinded by lofty goals for the future, haunted by veiled memories of happiness slowly fading into the translucent sepia past. and through this mess suddenly by some twist of fate and warping of the impossible, a chance is thrown upon you, a face in the crowd transformed into all the hopes you’ve ever dared to dream, a soul that somehow dispels the hurt and disappointment you’ve ever experienced into the hinderlands of your mind. you are amazed, breath-taken. but after this accidental and painfully brief meeting, you are pulled thousands of miles away; contorted through distance and space and time…despite being at opposite ends, that person is still capable of making you smile, laugh, of bringing light to a dark day, of giving you strength to go on, of giving you the knowledge you aren’t alone in this chaos. but through the reverie you think of marley’s words and slowly, inevitably, a worry stealthily creeps into your mind, and illogical musings of the what-ifs and why-nots wreak havoc on an already unstable consciousness. confusion over something that’s not definitive, but what is definition but a label? you ponder the necessity of labeling, do you need it if trust is inherent in the undefined relationship- but you don’t even know if there is…how can there be if everything is precariously balancing on a mere week of memories, capable of collapsing any moment, capable of tearing you apart. so you think about the risks and whether it’s worth it. wait you say, of course it’s worth it- you must hold on. but even if you are committing yourself to something you know is so, so difficult, something that has a high high possibility of hurting you later on? and you say, what if there is actually nothing there…is everything just a damn illusion? or do you believe what was said to you: let’s make the impossible possible?  

3 notes

Fire destroys and creates. Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

Fire destroys and creates. Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

(Source: aliao32amg)

2 notes

On Okinawa, World War II, & the supernatural

I just came back from Okinawa. Like always, I love traveling to Japan. Every trip is like returning home, home to a country with a culture I fervently admire and wish with all my Asian might Taiwan could emulate. An analysis of their discipline, passion for success, and penchant for courtesy would take years of study and a whole other philosofee Tumblr post. 

This trip prompted the same respect within me, especially since Okinawa is only an hour’s plane ride from Formosa. Because if Oki is also a microscopic island located in a marine tropical climate, why do they have such goddamn spotless bathrooms, such beautiful…scootlerless, smogless, signless streets? What would Taiwan be like today if Japan hadn’t surrendered us to ROC forces in 1945? Would we still be an economic powerhouse with the most liberties any citizen of a democracy could ever dream of? Or would we be slaving away as secondary citizens on an island whose successes exclusively went to the betterment of the great nation Nihon? 

But enough questions, our Okinawa agenda consisted of a seemingly perfect balance between fully exploiting the materialistic offerings of the American-Japanese hybrid (an American territory and naval base until 1972) culture and visiting historical and cultural sites. Despite the pleasure I take in shopping, when in places of significant heritage, I care more about the history than dwelling at agnès b. or Ferragamo. When I saw the agenda, however, I wanted to spoon the eyes out of the tour company imbeciles - 15 minutes at the site of the last battle of Okinawa during World War II and 3 bloody hours at the outlets. Really? What did they take us for, ignorant degenerates with no interest in the battlefields where Japan defended Okinawa to the last soldier in the Pacific War? 

Most of us have watched the movie Letters from Iwo Jima. A few of us have been haunted by the candid depiction of the atrocities committed by the belligerents of World War II. But compared to the Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, the Battle of Iwo Jima was a quick stroll in the park. 

The Battle of Okinawa, referred to as the typhoon of steel, had the most casualties of all the battles in the Pacific Ocean Theater of WWII. The fighting was ferocious, the number and intensity of the kamikaze attacks unprecedented. A quarter of the civilian population died. The sheer amount of Allied ships, Allied soldiers, and Japanese defenders put into the battle caused one of the greatest tragedies in the Pacific War. We were to visit the Peace Memorial Park built on top of one of the last and most bloody battlefields of the 82-day campaign. As I agitatedly voiced my sentiments, the tour-guide explained to us why we were only spending 15 min there.

Because of the great slaughter of the last battle, including the deaths of thousands of civilians, tourists and locals alike are wary of visiting the area. The bloodstained conflict wrought extreme sorrow and agony that to this day have unseen but powerful reverberations throughout the land. The people fear the uncanny, the supernatural. Hauntings. Being possessed. Bitter, grief-stricken spirits that refuse to rest. 

The tour-guide told us that in the past strange things have happened to tourists and locals who visited the memorial park. Entire buses consisting of otherwise normal and sane people breaking down crying or taken over by convulsions. She didn’t go into too much detail but simply warned us that yes, we will stop by, but it was our choice whether we wanted to get off the bus or not. In the past, usually nobody got off. That’s why only 15 minutes was allotted to this destination. And this is where I get to the main point of this post -

We got to the park. My dad and I were the only two who got off. I was unafraid and curious, a brave - if you will - curiosity stemming from a good reason. The reason being whether my disbelief in the afterlife (read my previous posts) would be demolished should anything otherworldly happened to me. There was a dichotomy between the supposedly true stories I hear of spirits and hauntings and my firm skepticism of anything uncanny or supernatural. At the edge of the park, my dad turned back, using the heat as an excuse. I remembered what he said on the bus - “a few souls cannot protect itself against the anger and woe of 200,000 souls.” 

I peered ahead at the beautiful park, illuminated generously by the brilliant sun. My feet took me across the green grass towards the tombstones and monuments erected for the fallen. It was so, so difficult to imagine that such immense suffering and anguish could have taken place in this peaceful complex six decades ago. I looked around, I was completely and utterly alone. Suddenly, the feeling of tranquility began to be overtaken by a subtle fear pricking my senses. What if something did happen to me and I was all alone? But then again, if I didn’t believe in anything of that sort, why was I afraid? Thus, my curiosity also accompanied the absurd fear. With every step I took across the battlefield, I was testing to see if my disbelief in supernatural occurrences would be proven wrong. I wanted to find out if the peculiar things that overcome people when they come here originated from within. Was it the placebo effect at work?

About halfway across the field, I began to feel a queasy feeling in my stomach and a slight weakening of the knees. My head felt light. These were odd symptoms but nothing that couldn’t have been caused by wild thoughts of the mind. Slightly dizzy, I slowly walked back to the bus, my disbelief slightly reaffirmed.

While nothing may have happened to me, I still don’t understand why there are so many stories out there. My disbelief in the afterlife is utterly logical, so why can’t logic describe these phenomena? Or do people just enjoy letting their imaginations run wild and causing unnecessary fear? But then again, there are far too many accounts of supernatural happenings to let people’s mischievous tendencies take the blame. Is belief in the soul and heaven the same as believing ghosts and spirits exist? 

My last question is - should I even be venturing into this area, letting my curiosity and imagination take the better of me? Because if anything happens one day, if anything tries to shatter my doubt of the soul the spirit whatnot, I may just be sorry I wanted to know so much. But, what is there to fear - it is simply the unknown that humans fear, isn’t it?

Despite all the above, battlefields aren’t just places of tragedy and death. They stand as testimony to the valiance and courage that are called for in desperate circumstances. Incredible examples of human love and compassion must have been demonstrated in the historic battle. Thus, I went to the memorial park to pay my respects to the soldiers and civilians, partially in fear, but mostly in reverence

With that said, I heard the song “Call Me Maybe” more than a dozen times during my time at Okinawa. Maybe what I really should fear is cheap talent and frivolous entertainment sweeping the globe instead of crucial knowledge of history and humanity’s trials and tribulations. What is this world coming to?

Agree, object, thoughts? Message me at facebook.com/fee.liao

On relations between humans

Or rather, “What the hell did I ever do to you?!”

Rodney King once said, “can we all get along?” 

What an idealist Mr. King is. The simple answer is no. What’s not so simple is just why certain people can’t get along with others. People have enemies. I know some people dislike me and I accept that. But sometimes I just can’t figure out why or whether I should change or not. 

This may not be a particularly insightful post about anything deep or other-worldly but I think making sense of our relationships and how to reconcile our inner and outer worlds makes for an interesting if inconclusive topic. 

I just returned from a trip down south to the warm beaches of Formosa. The trip itself was  excellent, complete with all the spontaneity, exotic food, and back-breaking water sports a good tropical vacation entails. The only thing that seemed out of place was that God thought it would be funny for me to share a bed with someone who severely disliked me - for reasons I could not quite fathom. For fear of waking up to suffocating in boiling liquid sulfur with fresh open wounds, I went on an internal and very tortuous witch-hunt of negative qualities I possess. Flaws that could make someone dislike me to the point of barely acknowledging my existence. 

It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of negative qualities, but it turned out to be unfortunately long (laugh too much? overly friendly? too tall? too judgmental? too extroverted? too asian? too white? too rowdy? eyes too small? domineering? FISH-KILLING?) Perhaps I’m an over-sized ugly fish murderer.

But I realized that the only reason I was digging painfully into the nebulous hinterlands of my psyche for flaws was that I wanted to change for the better, so that those who spend extensive amounts of time with me needn’t suffer any longer. I couldn’t care less if my dearest Kenting bedmate asphyxiates from fionnoyances. I wasn’t about to change for her. However, what would make for a more peaceful world is some sort of goddamn etiquette. If you dislike me, still show some basic courtesy. Stop acting like some angsty teenager. The world doesn’t goddamn owe you anything. I don’t owe you anything and I’m not about to approach you for some sort of reconciliation. If I was imbecilic enough to ask you why you disliked me, I would’ve done so a decade ago. 

But the real question remains, should I change if someone I didn’t give a hoot about expressed displeasure at my existence? How could I find out what was wrong with me if I didn’t want to mend relations with someone who I have zero interest in mending relations with? This also lends a curious light to the discrepancy between how you view yourself and how others view you. You may think you provide sorely needed humor, enthusiasm, wisdom to whatever situation, whatever friendship, but others may just dismiss you as some overzealous slick in dire need of several slashes. 

Or perhaps the whole issues boils down to one reason…jealousy? 

"Mom, why does she hate me?"

"She’s jealous, dear"

Yeah, she’s probably jealous of my bloody tendency to trip over my own dogs. But how often is jealousy the underlying reason for hate and conflicts? And how often is it mistaken for a legitimate reason? Lastly, what purpose could jealousy possibly serve in the evolutionary trajectory of Homo Sapiens? To strive to attain attributes conducive to power and dominance, attributes to make survival more viable. Purposes archaic in this time and day.  

But I digress. But really, I wrote this post just so I could figure out whether it’s necessary and conducive to character-building to spend time worrying over the disapproval of someone I’m utterly indifferent about. Still don’t have an answer. 

*Edit: I found an answer while discussing this topic with my best friend Emily. If there are legitimately wrong things about us, those who love and appreciate our good attributes will tell us. We don’t need the opinion or advice of those who don’t like us or care. 

2 notes

A subtle, astonishing paradox

Just thought of something so incredibly paradoxical as I was replying to a friend’s message. In a response to my view of the afterlife (see past few posts), he asked me how can I be sure that biology provides a complete picture of our reality. Yes I agreed, I rationalized my theory based partially on science, partially on logic. So how can simple logic derived from our simple brain lead to a comprehensive theory? Whoever says our reality is logical? 

How can we make sense of something as impeccably exquisite - something so damn complex - as our mind using something as primitive as our mind, limited by our sensory perceptions?

In sum: our mind is at once primitive yet beyond our understanding. What the -

 Simultaneous dawn and dusk 

0 notes

How do I want to die?

Like the sunset

Like the calm warmth after a thunderstorm

Like the end of a good book

Like the silence after a symphony

Not as a cubicle drone, but as an eagle towards the sky

Like the flickering embers of a campfire

Like coming back home after a war

Like the winter fading into spring.

Like the dawn giving way to day.

Like the crescendo of a standing ovation

Next to my soul mate

In the arms of my children

Headfirst and eager for another adventure.

Bloated after a preposterously delicious meal

Under the night sky with the stars as my witness
atop a dinosaur.

:: death analogies created by Fiona and Ken. Apologies for the morbid posts lately. 

How do you want to die? 

4 notes

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."
- Albert Einstein 

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

- Albert Einstein 

0 notes