“Of all the human values, it is the value of gratitude that I value the highest.”
Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to be a chronicler of life. As a young teenager, I made intermittent attempts to write a diary; those fitting attempts were unsuccessful because of my feeble ability to write. Keen observations were badly transformed into words, and thoughts were mostly unformed. The words did not come out right, and the act of writing was awkward and clumsy. But they did not diminish the first awakening of the desire to write and chronicle my life and observations. A good seed once planted will find its path of growth and seek light.
I began keeping a journal in earnest only when I was a sophomore at the University of Utah, USA. How I landed in Utah, an unusual place for a Malaysian or Singaporean student to go even today, is an interesting story and a favourable twist of fate by itself. Many of these entries are suggestions and suggestive of answers to the vicissitudes and challenges of life as they have presented to me as a participant, actor, spectator, observer and recorder of life, starting from when I was a child.
From the first entry that dated back to 1981 through to-date, there are thousands of entries, spanning more than 15 notebooks. Some are light-hearted and ironic; others are serious and even penetrative and peppered with unexpected insights, observations and some humour. Some are questions whose answers remain unknown; others, the answers are contained in the questions and some pointed to the answers directly, metaphorically or in broad frameworks. Some of the entries were informed by life’s variety of experiences, a balanced spirituality and keen observations and insightful perception of what makes the world tick. In my journal, I do not hesitate to venture out. I set no limitations. Sometimes, the answer or the suggestion to the answer of a question has been found in an area only tangentially related.
From an original 162 topics, I have selected 15 and from each topic, I have selected a further 15 entries. Life, in all its richness, complexities and diversities, of course, cannot be covered in 15 topics. The 15 topics and the individual entries selected are, to me, the more relevant and quotidian existential aspects of life.
All lives great and small have a universal qua