Decluttering and rediscovering old notes

Discard everything that does not spark joy”, says Marie Kondo the Japanese organizing consultant and author who promotes decluttering to – what I believe – keep our sanity.

I read about Kondo’s art of decluttering in January 6, which was a perfect time to start 2015 afresh. I particularly like the inspiration behind her tidying obsession. It started after her years of work at the Shinto Shrine which taught her that a place without unnecessary things provides clarity in the mind.

The weekend after I read her article, I started cleaning up my room. I didn’t realize how much I have accumulated until I threw three trash bags! I threw even items that I hold with sentimental value but which I think I would not carry when I move out of Thailand. I also found many items that I bought but didn’t use even once. And indeed it felt great, really great afterwards. It was a therapeutic process, a sort of environment and mind detox.

But now that I am definitely moving out of Thailand and will have to carry only 30 kilos of stuff with me, I appreciated even more the lifestyle of living with less stuff. This reminds me of the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed which says, “I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprisingly of all, that I can carry it.

I shipped my most important stuff home, especially my books which occupied half of the package. What remained are stuff I need to bring to Australia, some to be given and some more to be thrown. As I rummaged through, I found my favorite organizer, a gift from my cousin Carmela in 2009. I also found my old notebooks. I realized I spent so much time scribbling on my first 3 years in Thailand. Reading what I wrote made me smile. Sometimes I even forgot why I wrote them. Some reminded me of special moments.

The remaining 3 years brisked before my eyes and I don’t have notes to remind me of them. I cursed myself for not documenting random thoughts or memorable moments. I now vow to write everyday even just snippets.

It’s funny to read my new year’s resolution 6 years ago. All of them I failed to do. And all of them still hold true at present. I will try to fulfill them this time around even though it’s already mid-year. I also found Bible verses I wrote on 2 January:

Laziness plunges a man into deep sleep, and the sluggard must go hungry.” Proverbs 19:15

Four things are among the smallest on the earth, and yet are exceedingly wise.
Ants, a species not strong yet they stove up their food in the summer;
Rock-budgers, a species not mighty, yet they make their homes in the crags;
Locusts, they have no king, yet they migrate all in array;
Lizards, you can catch them with your hands, yet they find their way into king’s palaces.” Proverbs 30:24-28


In the day when our life comes to the point of change

This week has been extremely draining. The worse is it’s not because I am busy with work but because I am in the middle of a huge change. I have exactly 2 weeks left in the office and in Bangkok. After which I will spend 2 weeks on vacation back home in the Philippines before flying to Australia to start graduate school.

Today I could not work. I am sick, actually. My brain cannot – do not want to — function. I am in a mixed emotion between separation anxiety and metathesiophobia which is ironic because people know me as a risk-taker and one who dreads routine.

A friend posted a video of my favorite Thai song on Facebook (the only Thai song I know, actually). I have been listening to this song for more than 2 years. I listen to it before I sleep. I listen to it in the taxi on my way to the airport, on the plane, and in my hotel room. I listen to it in my daily train ride if I am not reading a book. I listen to it at ungodly hours and unearthly places. It’s one of the only 12 songs I downloaded in my iPhone.

I first heard of it at the farewell dinner of one of the most important and instrumental persons in my life. How time flies. Now that person is back in Thailand and I am the one leaving. We will have dinner on Friday, probably our last. Whether our paths will cross again in the future, only God knows.

Did I say I have been listening to this song for more than 2 years? Then I must add that in those times I did not bother searching for its English translation. I have no idea why. But today, I did. Listen to the song below with both Thai and English subtitle.

And indeed, songs become more powerful when they speak to us and hit us to the core. This song did just that.


Books: Why I prefer paperback

Our generation has become rapidly digitalized. Nowadays many people read e-books, the digitization of the written word which began as early as 1971 through Project Gutenberg which was meant to archive cultural works. However, its popularity was not evident until 1993 when Peter James made his novel, Host, available on digital copy. So it took a novel for people to start embracing the concept of reading an e-book, huh.

Several of my friends have encouraged me to buy kindle. My answer was always a quick NO. Reading a book for me is “sacred” from smelling it to leafing through the pages and seeing progress in each chapter. It’s also my way of disconnecting from the internet. Reading e-books feels like I am still not fully disconnected from the digital world.

Through 6 years of living in Bangkok, I’ve hoarded a massive collection. I’m not into shopping so my place doesn’t have much stuff except books. I’ve grown attached to each one of them that against my friend’s suggestion to sell them, I decided to ship them all home.

Books Bangkok

Reading e-books has its advantages but since I haven’t read one, I am not the right person to comment. I do know that you can carry hundreds and thousands of books in just about 7-13 ounce, 4×7 inch e-readers.

While reading e-books has its advantages, studies show that reading paperbacks is better. The Guardian reports that based on a new Europe-wide research, readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper. The research found that, “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does”.

TIME also highlighted the benefits of reading a “real” book stating it increases intelligence, boosts brain power, improves empathy, helps fight Alzheimer’s disease, helps you sleep among others.

I spent hundreds of dollars shipping all my books home but it’s all worth it. Those books will not only remind me of the wonderful time we shared in Bangkok, they are also treasures I can share with my future family (if I ever get married).