Sublime sunlight

At first, I had nothing to write for today. But I remembered that something significant happened yesterday morning.

I was on a bus to work when it suddenly pierced me how wonderful the sunlight at that very moment was. The light comes from a sun that continuously burns and yet the light reaches us in different degrees, each pleasing and disturbing everyone.

The soft light pleased me for it casts everything in a gossamer glow, beautifying everything. The journey to work, the crowded bus, commuters’ expressions. It’s the kind of sunlight I like best. At once a reminder of both the day and night because I still feel the coldness in my bones and in the air. I see a trace of night in the air, water vapour hanging over large patches of greenery, to be evaporated by the sunlight once it’s out.

At 8am, it’s still a kind of day/night. When the moon hangs out in the sky and the sunlight’s light.

There are so many versions of sunlight out there for each and everyone of us. For those who want to tan, for those who want light, for those who want heat, for those who want a rainbow, for those who want life. By the mere interference of a landscape, of a horizon, of the earth’s spin, of the universe’s spin, infinite possibilities exist. Simply sublime.


Out of my tap flows mountain water

Many mornings ago, I realise that there is a mountain spring flowing out of my tap.

When I turned on the tap, like I did this morning, the water was extremely cold and refreshing.

I imagine that it had sat in the tanks above our flat for a whole night, chilled by the fall in temperature. Cooled by the morning dew. And the sun had not yet touched it. I haven’t been to the Swiss Alps or the mountain springs. But I can imagine that that is how a spring should have felt. Cold and refreshing to the touch. Uplifting. Even though it flows out of a man-made device and even though the water is artificially brought to us, it still has the touch of Nature.

We live in a country called Singapore. It’s a small island when you compare it to the countries that surround us – Malaysia and Indonesia being the closest. We have been continually reminded by our government that we do not have any natural resources. No oil, huge swathes of land to grow plantations or anything else. We only have our people. This has been burnt into our national language for over 40 years.

I think the national language (I don’t know what else to call it) obfuscates what is really there in front of us. It covers up a lot of things. And alienates us from the nature of things. We do have the mountain spring in our taps.

It is true, isn’t it. Where does the water in our reservoirs come from? From the rain that falls from clouds too heavy to stay up. From clouds that wandered into our little island as they visit countries all over world. Water from the mountain springs that evaporated. From the Swiss Alps. Drops from the Himalayas. From Lake Baikal.

Every time I turn on the tap, I just have to feel the coldness of the water and I am reminded of the springs, glacier floes and mountain ranges. And I am grateful for it.

In the morning, buns and tea

What is morning? It is the beginning of the day. It also signals the ending. It can be night, day, afternoon, evening or even twilight. As long as it begins.

For me, it is when I open my eyes from the snatches of temporary death, from dreams of another life.

Morning is a time when I say thanks for being able to wake up to another day. It may be a day that I am not looking forward to, like Monday, Tuesday or Saturday, depending on what happens in those days (it’s not Monday’s fault for being Monday). I give thanks for being able to see my family again for yet one more day. For being on Earth, for having my friends, colleagues and acquaintances around — actually they are all the same because they are a part of me, but some parts are further than others, like my toes which I barely look at. Morning is gratitude.

Morning is also a time when the smell of steamed buns fills the household. There are buns with different fillings — either vegetables or red bean paste, because those two are my favourites. It is a familiar smell of old, probably of times gone by. Of buns that are hand-made and sold to blue-collared workers toiling in the hot sun, not white-collared in an air-conditioned office. Of the workers relishing the generous fillings inside. Just simple vegetables and red beans. None of those fanciful stuff like bird’s nest or foie gras.

Of roads filled not with cars but rickshaws, of towkways speaking in different dialects, ladies in cheongsams (and men too), of stray dogs wandering the streets. Also of black coffee, darker than black, that is meant to knock you awake. Good medicine is always bitter, goes an old Chinese saying.

Morning is the smell of strong tea that appears in the air when I, in my daily morning ritual, unseal the glass sarcophagus to retrieve an interred tea bag full of dead tea leaves which are marked with a No. 2 for their strength. I don’t know how far the numbers go but one day, I would like to find out from the retailer. It is a wonderful smell, the tea leaves.

Morning is also a time for meditation, for quiet sitting so that I can listen to what my mind speaks. And also, so that I can hear my mind when it is quiet — both my mind and the surroundings. Sometimes I’ll sit for five minutes, sometimes 20.

Morning is a time of love. For me to learn to love myself first so that I can start loving others, if I have yet not begun. For me to get to know myself so that I can know others. For me, so you.

Morning is a time of rituals. Of doing everything attentively and being in the present. So that I know the teapot is made by Luzerne (or something like that), that the cup is made in Japan, the tea is packed in UK, the buns were bought last night from a shop in Geylang.

That a mynah’s shadow is cast against the ground in the morning sun. Unseen but there.

That the world will end. Death will come to all. But I will be happy.

And you ask me why do I wake so early.