Friday, April 17, 2009

Fate :: Destiny :: Our choices make us who we are.. ::

When I was little, my grandmother used to cajole me out of my sulks by telling me that the weather will reflect my moods and turn grey and rainy as well. This always worked, not because I felt that I had any control over the weather, but rather, curiosity will get the better of me and I would wonder if it was true and how it can be so. We all know that rationally, this does not make sense, but somehow we don't always operate rationally, do we?

The same applies to the incident when an ex's dad took a particular liking to me because one of his HK business friends saw a picture we took at a family gathering and mentioned that from my features, I will bring luck to my in-laws', esp since they run their own business but that I would beget a lot of unwanted attention to myself from the opp gender which may thwart the relationship/marriage. Again, a non-rational basis but it made it easier for me to get along with the parents so I can hardly fault the logic yea? I read my horoscope everyday when I access my email but I do not think that I can place my destiny in the hands of destiny alone, can I? Maybe fate/destiny has plans in store for us, but I do believe in free will and that our choices make us who we are, not just destiny alone.

Someone wise once mentioned that our choices make us who we are and I totally agree with this. After my last post, I received a lot of feedback, from concerned friends, ex students, extended family members, even ex colleagues. One mentioned that sharing my problems halves the burden and all offered help in some form or another. It made me very touched to know that people whom I did not expect to are still keeping in touch in their own way. It was also a little disturbing to know that someone was waiting below my apartment that very night as well.

The past two weeks have been very eventful for me, both at work and with friends. There were times when I felt that history had caught up with me again and that we maybe can't escape our past. A highlight in the last two weeks came in form of the Edelman talk on Trust: The sixth sense. It was such a great and insightful talk that I shall dedicate a post to it once I'm done with my work stuff. Including it in this post does not do it enough justice. But it was great seeing Stephanie and Bob deliver an engaging talk to the class, which emphasised on the need to build/rebuild trust between organisations and their publics, especially with the on-going debacles by established institutions. I wish I could have caught up with them but I had student consults lined up for the day.

With the end of the semester in sight, a sense of wistfulness comes about. Retrospection makes its rounds again. I think a perk in my job is that I get to interact with 140 people up close every week; while this has made me crave for more private time, it is also something I look forward to every week, because I learn so much through these interactions.This semester has been a roller-coaster, lots of ups and downs. And it ended with a bang. Even now, some colleagues and close friends have expressed concern that something like this could have been handled in this manner. But then again, a close friend had a senior colleague threatened her face to face today, so such things do happen at work. Maybe this came as a shock to some colleagues because they had thought that it would have been handled differently. But I honestly wasn't too shocked/surprised when it happened or the way it was handled. Maybe a part of me had expected something like this to happen. Though getting emails with caps and exclamation marks wasn't what I expected, I know that handling it professionally on my part and not emotionally was the way to go. Another reason why the breakup was for the better: I could not have someone who was unable to comprehend the system I was working in, even with my best interests at heart, goad me to handle it in a drastic manner which would not have been beneficial to anyone. Not for me, not for the reputation of the module and definitely not for the students.

When the issue blew up and became out of control, I knew that I had to remain cool and professional under pressure and I was glad I had people whom I looked up to in the course of my short career thus far. G, whom I had worked with for a year, was brilliant in handling difficult situations in a firm yet cooperative manner. R as well, he was really patient in helping and more than that, he was genuinely interested in helping students. And I'm glad that I learnt from the best. There were times when I was wondering what all the ruckus was for and most importantly, whether the blasts I was getting via emails were worth it. If it was worth sticking to my point and my principles - that I had to be accountable to the students.

But our choices make us who we are, I feel. Even in the face of irrationality. Which was why during the meeting, I addressed only the issue and not the other stuff. Partly because the colleague handling the case, though she handled it with aplomb, was not in a position to address the other issues. The best decisions may well be the most difficult. I'm no longer seeking redress, but rather, I think some colleagues have witnessed how this was handled and see this incident as an example. There was a running joke about setting up a union and this helped to ease some of the discomfort some of them felt. Despite all of this, I think that most of my colleagues are fine, and some of them are really helpful and brilliant people whom I look up to and learn a lot from. And honestly, I would rather focus on producing good work and my research than engage in such politics. I believe in choosing my battles and choosing them wisely.

Some of my friends are more upset about this than myself and some have asked if I was going to do anything drastic. My simple answer: no. Because such stuff happen all the time. And as long as my conscience is clear, I handled this incident professionally and I help students get the most of their experience in the module, I have done my job and served my purpose.

Moving on to happier stuff: I spent my long Good Friday weekend with friends at big farewell parties and intimate gatherings and it was good to meet friends I've not met up for some time. I've also taken up swimming as well - having the private pool all to myself, just floating and looking at the sky, trying out new strokes and getting a good cardio workout. Which is just as well as friends have been indulging me in my food cravings. Maybe it's the stress at work... or my thesis which I've been working on in sporadic spurts, making me frustrated at times. I'm so totally gonna balloon soon. Argh. But I overdid the past weekend, with a baptism and celebratory lunches, and swimming when it's chilly have also resulted in my coming down with a cold. Making my last week with the students q bleah. I can't take my cold meds these days so I have to hydrate and get more rest. Meanwhile, my doc still can't figure out what's wrong with me, except that I have an extra sensitive respiratory system, a condition akin to asthma.

As of now, I shall focus on my grading of the presentations and settling of the grades for both the presentations and one page summaries for my 25 teams, handling the deluge of last minute emails from students and the final project grading which I shall begin next Monday. I'm glad I work with responsible fellow TAs, E last sem and C this sem, who are ready to help out whenever they can and how we all share the same vision, to help students get the most out of the module.

A movie which I missed because I was down with a cold and G said that it was depressing. And if he feels it's depressing, I'm gona take a raincheck... coz I think I need more positivity these days. A very poignant song indeed.



Gran Torino - Jamie Cullum
Realign all the stars above my head
Warning signs travel far
I drink instead on my own Oh! how I've known
the battle scars and worn out beds

gentle now a tender breeze blows
whispers through a Gran Torino
whistling another tired song

engines humm and bitter dreams grow
heart locked in a Gran Torino
it beats a lonely rhythm all night long

these streets are old they shine
with the things I've known
and breaks through the trees
their sparkling

your world is nothing more than all the tiny things you've left behind

So tenderly your story is
nothing more than what you see
or what you've done or will become
standing strong do you belong
in your skin; just wondering

gentle now a tender breeze blows
whispers through the Gran Torino
whistling another tired song
engines humm and bitter dreams grow
a heart locked in a Gran Torino
it beats a lonely rhythm all night long

may I be so bold and stay
I need someone to hold
that shudders my skin
their sparkling

your world is nothing more than all the tiny things you've left behind

so realign all the stars above my head
warning signs travel far
i drink instead on my own oh how ive known
the battle scars and worn out beds

gentle now a tender breeze blows
whispers through the Gran Torino
whistling another tired song
engines humm and better dreams grow
heart locked in a Gran Torino
it beats a lonely rhythm all night long
it beats a lonely rhythm all night long
it beats a lonely rhythm all night long