Tom’s Midnight Garden

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I’ve finished reading Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce this afternoon. It’s a story about a boy named Tom who is sent to live with his aunt and uncle during the summer. At night Tom goes into a garden that isn’t there during the day time and plays with a girl named Hatty. In the beginning I was interested in the concept of “time” in this book. But as I read the last sentences of the book a thought came to my head: Friendship is such a beautiful thing. And I think for me the story of Tom and his midnight garden represents that thought.

The Time Keeper

“It’s never too late or too soon. It is when it is supposed to be.”

I finished reading The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom in one day. I bought it yesterday in a second hand shop. I didn’t even know when I was gonna read it because I had several unfinished books already. But this morning I read the first few pages of this book during breakfast, and I decided to spend the morning reading it. I told myself that it was Saturday after all. I did some work in the afternoon. And when I got tired of the work I continued reading until I finished it.

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It’s a book about time. And it tells the stories of the guy who later becomes Father Time, a high school girl named Sarah, and a business man named Victor. I like how the stories are structured in this book. They are divided into short sections. And we see bits and pieces of their stories before they all come together in the end. But at the end when Father Time takes Sarah and Victor to see the future it reminds of so much of A Christmas Carol. And to me it isn’t as interesting as the rest of the book. The ending is also a bit too picture perfect for my liking. But over all I love the book. It’s nice and simple and it got me thinking a lot (and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it after I read it as well).

These questions are still ringing in my head: “‘You marked the minutes,’ the old man said. ‘But did you used them wisely? To be still? To cherish? To be grateful? To lift and to be lifted?'”

A Doll’s House

I’ve read this play by Henrik Ibsen many times before. I read it again yesterday because it’s an assignment for my students this week. I started it on the train to work yesterday morning. Read the middle of it at a cafe during lunch. And finished it on the train home in the evening.

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As I was reading it, I felt like I was really in the world of the play. It was such a strange feeling. And it doesn’t happen very often. I felt that I was right there in the house with them. It was winter. It was cold outside. And it was back in the old days.

The end of the play really got me this time. I don’t think I’d felt so much before. Yesterday I was so disgusted by Helmer. And I was so happy that Nora made up her mind to leave him. He really deserved it.

I underlined so many passages from the play as I read. Here’s one of my favorites:

Nora: What do you consider my most sacred duties?
Helmer: Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?
Nora: I have other duties just as sacred.
Helmer: That you have not. What duties could those be?
Nora: Duties to myself.
Helmer: Before all else you are a wife and a mother.
Nora: But I don’t believe that any longer. I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being just as you are – or, at all events, that I must try and become one.

Victimology

I bought this collection of plays by Verena Tay when I went to Singapore earlier this year. Someone recommended it to me. I read all three plays while I was on the way to see my dentist last Saturday (I took the train).

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My favorite play is the first one called “The Art of Making Curry.” It’s about this girl who kills her mother and aunt and makes curry out them because they were oppressing her and making her life miserable.

In this play the mother and the aunt are the victims who get killed by the girl. The girl is also the victim who has been treated badly by her mother and her aunt. And the mother and the aunt are also the victims of their past or their society or their family or whatever it is that makes them that way. Everyone is the victim here. And it really makes me think about the world that we live in.

Bakuman

This is the first time I’m writing about a manga series on my blog.

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It’s a manga about two friends who want to become a successful manga artists. I’d wanted to buy this manga many times but hesitated. I wasn’t sure if it was gonna by any good or not. But a couple weeks ago I went to the weekend market with my friend and found the first 11 volumes of this manga for only 200 baht (that’s pretty cheap). So I bought them. And it turned out the be the best buy ever!

First of all, the manga is super fun and exciting. I’d never thought I would like it this much. Second of all, it’s inspiring. Ever since I started reading this manga I’ve made time for me to write regularly. I set a goal for myself, and now I’m determined to achieve that goal.

The kids in the manga were not the genius type. They work hard to get what they want. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they fail. But they always keep trying. And I should be like that. I used to think that I would write only when I wanted to. So sometimes I would write something and then stopped for months. But this manga inspires me to write. This manga shows me that if I really want to get what I want I have to work for it.

So now I’m writing. And I’m feeling good about it.

The Miracle of Mindfulness

I read The Miracle of Mindfulness for the first time about fourteen years ago. I was born and raised in Thailand, a so-called Buddhist country. But when I was young I couldn’t understand Buddhism at all, and I saw no point in being a Buddhist. I went to the US in 1999, and a friend of mine introduced a book called Being Peace written by a Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh to me. At first I was skeptical. But as I was reading it I thought everything he wrote made sense. He explained Buddhism in simple language, and for the first time in my life I thought I understood what Buddhism was all about. I started reading more books by Thich Nhat Hanh, including The Miracle of Mindfulness. I also started practicing mindfulness in my daily life. But maybe because I was young or because of other reasons, I couldn’t go through with it and I stopped the mindfulness practice.

The Miracle of Being Awake or later known as The Miracle of Mindfulness

The Miracle of Being Awake or later known as The Miracle of Mindfulness.

Recently, I’d noticed that I wasn’t happy with my life. And I thought I had every reason to be happy. I mean I had problems in life like everybody else, but I didn’t think I should be this unhappy. So I went on a search to find happiness. I tried to find things to do that made me happy. I kept a journal in which I wrote down what made me happy. But I still wasn’t happy. All I could find was a distraction. I was happy when I was doing all those things. But when I came back to myself I was still unhappy like before. And I was so tired of this feeling.

A few days ago I was reading an article written by a psychologist who also practices Buddhism. He said that if you searched for happiness you would never find it. And from what I’d experienced I agreed with him. All of a sudden I thought about Thich Nhat Hanh and the books I read many years ago. The Miracle of Mindfulness came to mind. The next day I went to a bookstore and bought the Thai translation of the book. I’m half way through it now.

I think this time the book has more impact on me than the first time I read it. Maybe it’s because I’m older now. I think I can grasp it better. I started my mindfulness practice right away, beginning from doing simple things in my daily life mindfully, like doing the dishing, eating, cleaning, etc. I have also been doing sitting meditation, following the technique in the book. I think this is what I really need in life right now. And I think it’s time for me to stop chasing after happiness. What I need instead is to be present in the here and now.

“If you cannot find joy and peace in these very moments of sitting, then the future itself will only flow by as a river flows by, you will not be able to hold it back, you will be incapable of living the future when it has become the present. Joy and peace are the joy and peace possible in this very hour of sitting. If you cannot find it here, you won’t find it anywhere. Don’t chase after your thoughts as a shadow follows its object. Don’t run after your thoughts. Find joy and peace in this very moment.”

I also got myself a little notebook to write about my mindfulness practice. It’s a little book that I can keep with me at all time and doesn’t take up too much space.

My little mindfulness journal.

My little mindfulness journal.

I’m still a beginner on this path, but I’m working on it.

The God of Small Things

I’ve just finished reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. As soon as I put the book down I said to myself that I needed a drink. Unfortunately, I don’t drink, but I had to get myself out of this I-don’t-know-what-it-was feeling now, so I poured myself a glass of soda and started writing this blog post.

It wasn’t the sadness that I felt. It was something much more terrible than that. It was this sense of the fragility of life, of helplessness, of hopelessness, of…oh, I don’t know what it was.

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I think I almost bought it once a long time ago, but I decided not to after I looked through a few pages of it. I just thought it wouldn’t suit my taste. But a couple weeks ago I read some quotes by Arundhati Roy on the internet, and I thought that she wrote so beautifully. So I bought this book and started reading it right away.

I enjoyed Roy’s use of language. I also enjoyed how the story shifted back and forth in time. But as I was reading (and even after I finished reading it), I wanted to know more about the grown up twins. As their past unfolded I felt more and more curious about their present.

My favorite part is the one about the kathakali dancers at the temple (I’m a theatre person after all). Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“It doesn’t matter that the story had begun, because kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.”

I love this quote because most of the stories I love are like that.

The Secret History of the World

It took me forever to finish reading this book.  But I finally finished reading it tonight!  I bought this book on a whim when I was at the airport in Singapore a couple months ago.  But I told myself that I would definitely read it, that it wouldn’t be one of the books that sits on the shelf forever.

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I enjoy reading about beliefs and ideas, especially those that some people might find strange or out of this world.  I also love reading mythologies, ancient histories, and stories about spirits or spiritual encounters.  So I find this book quite interesting.  It doesn’t mean I believe in everything that was written in this book though.  I just find some of the ideas beautiful and inspiring.  

As a playwright who writes in a non-realistic style, I have to admit that this book has given me a lot of interesting ideas and materials for my plays (though I don’t know yet how I will use them). I underlined so many passages in the book that sometimes I felt like I was reading a text book for a class (in a good way).

One of my favorite sentences is “Great writers are the architects of our consciousness.”  Well, you know, I just adore writers.

Light on Life

This is the book I’ve been reading in the morning when I’m having my morning coffee and breakfast.  I’ve started making it a habit to read in the morning, usually a few pages at a time.  And the books I’ve picked have been spiritual or inspirational.  I want to set a good start of the day, and reading a few pages of insight in the morning has helped me a lot.  

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I actually bought Light on Life as a birthday present for myself in December last year.  I started reading the first chapter, but I put it down until recently.  BKS Iyengar, the author of this book, passed away on the 20th of August.  And that was when I picked up this book and started reading it again.  And I’ve been reading it since, a few pages at a time.  

As the title says, this book for me has shed light on life and on my yoga practice.  I haven’t finished reading it yet.  But it has inspired me to live everyday consciously to the fullest.  

After Dark

“Time moves in its special way in the middle of the night.”

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I love this book. It makes me want to go to a cafe and stay there all night.

I picked this book to read because I wanted to read something by Murakami. And the name After Dark drew me to this book. After looking through it, I decided to give this book a try. After all, it opens with a girl reading in a diner.

As I read this book, I didn’t want it to end. As a morning person, this book made me fall in love with the night and its mystery. All the characters kept me interested. The girl who reads in the diner, the jazz musician, the Chinese prostitute, the love hotel employees, the Chinese gangster, and the perverted office worker. The only part that I didn’t especially care for was the part about the sleeping girl and the man with no face. It was too out of it for me. I was more interested in the stories of the people in the city and how they are connected.

And I love the relationship that’s going on between the girl and the musician. Maybe I just love this kind of simple love (?) story. I like how these two characters connect in a subtle way. And I also like how the story of these two ends. It’s not too much and not too little for my taste. I don’t need anything more. And I don’t think it gives me less that what I want.