The Vampires Come at Four in the Morning

As I age, I find myself thinking more about mortality, life, and how I spend my time. Not sure why, but it might be a consequence of growing old. After all, I’m reaching forty soon, the right age to depart this world. Before any ailments and debilitating illnesses have a chance to set in these old bones.

Gone are the days of sleeping through weekends. I’m usually up before lunchtime, sometimes even early morning. I force myself out of bed to get shit done.

Now that forty is not so far away, I find myself reconsidering that deadline. Especially since I’m now in the best shape of my life, thanks to gymming thrice a week. Although each session only lasts about an hour, I find the time constraint helpful in keeping me focused and not wasting it.

Yet, efficiency eludes me at times. I still find myself daydreaming and procrastinating when I should be working instead. I also spend late nights working, mostly to catch up on work that I didn’t do during the day but also because I enjoy working at night. It’s quieter and nobody bothers me.

When I want to eat at a restaurant but there’s a queue that’s too long? I skip it and go eat elsewhere instead. I often find that most restaurants aren’t worth the wait. There’s always an alternative place around the corner with no queue.

I don’t mind eating meals alone these days either. I don’t have to wait for people to finish, plus I get to read and eat at the same time without being a jerk.

“Time is a man-made construct.” The units we use to measure it are all man-made. We defined the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, and so on to represent one of the fundamental aspects of the universe. Time goes on regardless of what we do, we’re just passengers along for the ride.

For simplicity’s sake, we won’t take into account how long a person has been alive or how long they have left. Regardless of wealth, status, or background, everyone is given the same twenty-four hours a day. Time is the great equalizer. How everyone spends their time? That is the difference maker.

Whether we want to use our time to achieve our goals, help others, or waste away – it’s all up to us. There are no rules for what we should do with our time. However, it is the major limiting factor to what an individual can accomplish.

Entrepreneurs have great ideas they want to execute. But usually, they don’t have the time to do everything by themselves. Technically, they could learn all the required skills to be a one-man show, but it would take an unreasonable amount of time to see meaningful results.

Since they have the money to spare, they hire other people who already have those skills to help them with their goals. These employees can spend their time doing things they already know. Collectively, they make up a company and together, they work to carry out the founder’s vision.

Just like our passions and interests, it is up to us to allocate time to pursue them. There’s no such thing as not enough time. If can feel that way, but in the end it’s a choice. Like, I look at all these talented kids on YouTube making music and other content I wish I could produce and feel jealous.

But then I tell myself I shouldn’t. I have the same amount of time as that kid, maybe even more. If I wanted to be as good as them, I would need to put the hours into practicing the right techniques and so on. To think otherwise would be to complain for the sake of complaining.

Since I don’t do that, I obviously don’t feel like it’s important enough for me to make the necessary sacrifices. And that’s what life is all about – choices. The sacrifices we make. Like tasks we have to accomplish at work, we decide what to prioritize.

Which ones do we want to accomplish sooner? What can we cut to make the task easier? What’s non-scope?

If we really want something, we’d be willing to give up a lot of things for it. That’s just how humans function. If we’re desperate enough, nothing’s going to stop us. But most of the time, we’re comfortable enough to not want to make a change or put in any effort. So we end up stuck and not progressing.

Of course, there’s no reason to rush anything – unless you set yourself a deadline you wish to stick to. We can still accomplish our dreams of getting better at things with incremental steps. Break down those large monumental dreams into smaller chunks. When your goals become bite-sized, they’re easier to complete.

Be patient and take your time but be consistent. Thirty minutes a week improving a skill is better than spending zero minutes. Over time, the thirty minutes add up to hours. The next thing you know, you’ve spent more hours improving yourself than whining about it.

Ultimately, life is defined by our choices and sacrifices, shaping our experiences and achievements through how we use our time. You don’t have to succeed immediately, but you need to start somewhere and keep going. A little bit each time will eventually get to where you want to be.

Spooky Bad Vibes

I was reminded it was the month of the hungry ghost yesterday as I was walking home and saw people lighting joss sticks on fire by the side of the road. Maybe I did something terrible – like step in ghost poop and walked all over a ghost altar (I did neither of those things) but I’ve been having a terrible month so far.

You know one of those months where life keeps throwing punches when you’re already down? August has felt like that to me. However, I’m also aware of cognitive biases like negativity bias and recency bias. My month couldn’t have been all that bad right?

Since I have nothing better to do (that’s a lie) and I really wanted to write a blog post before the month ended, I sat down and drew up a table of good and bad things that happened to me this month, similar to what I did in January.

August 2023

Bad ThingsGood ThingsNeutral Things
Fell sick before my Bangkok tripHad a 5-day vacation in Bangkok
Which resulted in me not being able to equalize airplane ear when I landed. Even after returning to KL, airplane ear persisted (I still have it)
Got really high in BangkokGot really high in Bangkok
After returning to KL, visited an ENT specialist who couldn’t solve the problem and gave me medication insteadNot sure if I’m getting used to having muffled hearing or I’m getting better
The visit was expensive and my medical claim got rejected – because I didn’t have a referral letter to visit the doctor (the app refused to work when I was trying to secure an appointment)Colleague is trying to help me sort it out
Received a hospital call, asking me if I was someone’s emergency contact, which got me worried about my familyMy family turned out to be okay, not sure how the hospital ended up with my number
My credit card got charged thrice when I tried to pay for my season parking (it failed twice and worked the third time but the charges went through)My bank agreed to investigate the issue
My car’s serpentine belt literally disappeared (must’ve broken and fallen off – or eaten by rats or stolen by ghosts)Got home safely in a tow truck, belt didn’t cost that much to fix
Due to a colleague who left, I’ve been assigned a lot of new tasks at work that I have no experience withIt’s a chance for me to shine
I haven’t been able to write words for new music I’ve writtenI’ve been able to create new music
I can only do three pull upsI’ve been gymming consistently since February and I’m the lowest weight I’ve been in a long time
I’m vaping moreI smoke a lot less
I haven’t had time to gameI’ve been upskilling via online courses
My umbrella brokeI was close to home, so it wasn’t a big deal
Was rudely awakened by a spam call the other dayAs a result of the call, I woke up on time for work
I discovered Spanish Love Songs and Hot Mulligan still slaps
I finally cleaned up my room
Dr. Pepper is now available in Malaysia, in 7-Eleven nonetheless!
Moved to a swanky new office

So, am I being haunted? Nah. While there are way more negative entries than positive ones (it’s easier to remember those), it’s not so bad in retrospect. Nobody has a perfect month unless they’re dead. But then, they’re dead so it doesn’t matter. I can always look forward to the next one.

If you think you’re having a horrible month, try making a table. It could help you appreciate the good that’s going on in your life. If there’s nothing good about your life, you can cry into a pillow.

For those who need to hear something motivating, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

It’s Called What’s It Called

The other day, someone asked me, “Are you happy with life?”
Without thinking much about it, I said, “Yes”.
He continued, “What makes you happy?”

I was stumped. I didn’t know how to respond. It’s something I never thought about. I just assumed that being happy was good enough. I didn’t need a reason why.

You see, I’m easily content – at least with most things in life. I’m not the pickiest eater. I don’t have the strongest preference for particular cuisines over others. It all depends on my mood.

If I’m hungry, I’ll go to a restaurant that doesn’t have a queue. If I’m not that hungry, maybe I’ll explore and try something that I haven’t had in a while. Other times, I simply return to my comfort food, chicken rice.

When it comes to ambitions in life, I don’t dream of being rich and successful. As long as I don’t have to worry about food on the table or having a place to call home for me and my family, that’s good enough.

If I have enough disposable income to fund my hobbies, great! There’s not much else to ask for.

Perhaps I’m speaking from a position of privilege and what I’m easily content with, is something other people can only dream about. But there are also people who have what I have and yet they want so much more to be happy.

Long story short, I guess I can say I’m happy because I’m living the life that I’ve always wanted. Could I be happier? Of course. But so can everybody.

I was too lazy to ramble on about my thoughts, so I simply replied, “Because I’m not sad,” which was also true.
He didn’t let up. “What makes you sad?” he continued.

Again, I was baffled.

I could have given a vapid reply like people and pets I care about passing away and breaking up – but those things make everybody sad. It doesn’t make me special.

I’ve been thinking about it over the past few days and I couldn’t think of anything. Maybe the saddest thing that could ever happen to me right now would be Hot Mulligan breaking up. I would be devastated.

But then again, did I need a special reason to feel sad? I’m just a regular human being, like everybody else. I’m not more important than anybody, in fact, I’m probably less important than a lot of people in this world.

He wasn’t asking me for a unique reason to be sad, yet I was searching for one. Why did I put myself through so much pressure? I have no idea.

In the end, it didn’t matter, as other people arrived and our conversation was drowned out. I took my drink elsewhere and participated in shallow chit-chat with other folks. Perhaps in the future, I’ll be able to answer with certainty.

Are you happy with life?