It is 3.53 am, and my thoughts are scrambled, due to a confluence of badly-timed coffee and a half-baked cold. But here goes anyway-

The way I see it, there are two ways of looking at life. The first is that you think that a higher power has already mapped life out for you. The second is that you think life is about choice, and that you get to draw your own map. I know some people believe it is a mixture of both, but I’ve never managed to find a way of merging both that is acceptable to me. The idea of God helping those who help themselves insinuates a lot of negative things about the way “God” works. Don’t be offended. If you are offended I’m totally going to play the whole “Agnosticism is a religion too just like how asexuality is a legit sexual orientation” card.

In recent years I’ve come to believe more in the latter. Being positive is a choice. Rising above your circumstances is a choice, and there isn’t really such thing as being trapped by your circumstances unless what you want to do is illegal or morally deviant (wow one subjective thing after another). Being a good person should come from your own heart, based on your own reasoning, not an inherent fear of angering Somebody or of going to hell. Etc, etc. Essentially ideas founded on the existence of a higher power e.g. organised religion do not appeal me but I can understand why it’s still necessary to keep some form of society-wide structure.

But now I’ve just come home from prowling the streets of KL in cars to distribute bags of food to the homeless…and it pretty much put my life in perspective. I realise that rising above your circumstances is so much easier bragged about when you are lucky enough to exist within a sheltered little pocket of society where the most dire thing that you will ever have to deal with is applying for a job (or in the unique case of Malaysians, scholarships) or applying for a different job. Whoa. Big deal. Or in the near future, buying a condominium or something. Damn. Tough potatoes.

The worst thing I have personally ever had to deal with was (initially) failing to a scholarship to go to the UK, and I felt like my life was rock-bottom then. I don’t think I deserve to feel any pride in having ‘overcome my circumstances and eventually gone to the UK and lived my dream’ and all that. I guess this is why I partly feel really frustrated, because all the stories I’ve spun about my ‘greatest achievement’ or ‘biggest setback’ in all the times I’ve brainstormed for an internship application or interview, I’ve always felt like a complete fake. Hello, life was never really difficult for me. Yet here I am, undeservingly sailing through the throes of adulthood with a stable salary and a relatively comfortable apartment, leaky ceiling or not.

But these people living on the streets, for whatever reason (besides drugs, I can’t say I sympathise with addicts just yet) – imagine the kind of stories they would have to tell. SO much more poignant, so much more reflective of actual suffering and pain, or struggling through failure and adversity. And suddenly I am reminded of JK Rowling’s speech at a Harvard commencement ceremony some time back. Now that is an interesting story. And yet, I, with hardly an interesting story to tell, sit here at my fancy laptop indulging in the fancy habit of blogging hugging my fancy pillow, whining about the  luxury of experiencing the problems of rich people – oh, the walk to the LRT in sweltering heat – such a misery! Surely I deserve better than this?! Oh, the treadmill in the gym of my condo is broken. However will I fit into my new size 6 camel midi skirt?

It all just seems a tad unfair to me. I can’t make sense out of all this. It’s frustrating. Ugh.

What really got to me today was the twenty or so homeless people that made home on the steps leading up to Maybank Tower – hardcore poverty and the manifestation of growing economic prosperity, all within a single frame of vision. What an irony. Just like the other day in the LRT- another incongruous scene so strongly symbolic of income disparity. And this is what I fear  –  that one day work will eventually suck all the compassion and ideals and general concern for other people out of me, and then I will morph into that Maybank building; successful, aloof, oblivious, loftily gazing past and completely missing the hardship and inequity right under my nose.