Fisherman

“Where are you going, honey?”
“I’m going out to the lake again”
“You’ve been at this for months now, and you haven’t caught anything yet.”
“Today is going to be different, I just know it.”
“Well alright I hope you have fun, dear.”

He walked to his car with his hands in his back pockets. He sat down and rolled down the frosted windows. Eyes closed, forcing a smile on his face he took the deepest breath he had ever taken in his life.

“Today is going to be different.”

By now he knew the drive to the lake like the back of his hand. But today he was not on autopilot while driving. He had his eyes wide open while driving, fully alert. Waving at the drivers in the cars next door, wishing them well in their day. A driver had aggressively cut in his lane without signaling. Before, he would have gotten angry and flipped the driver off. But today he tried to understand – maybe that driver has to reach the hospital.

“Today is going to be different.”

He parked by the restaurant where the concrete road and grassy entrance to the lake met. Today was the first time he actually took the time to realize the beauty of this intersection. Above the roads was a hazy yellow and gray, there was a heavy fog blurring the street lights. But where the street lights didn’t reach, the lake was lit up with the lanterns other fisherman carried with them on their boats. He put his fishing rods, bait, and timer into his boat and transported it to the lake.

Waiting on the lake surface for four hours now, nothing was biting yet. But he believed, believed that today would be the day he gets his first catch. He imagined, thought of how happy he would be to tell his wife the news that he had caught something today! He blushed at the thought of his wife congratulating him. Oh man how great he would feel. Just then it so happened that he felt a pull on one of his lines. Ecstatic. Excited. Surprised. He jumped off his seat and grabbed the fishing pole. Was it a small or big fish? The pull was quite strong. As he was reeling in and pulling the pole back again he thought of how he would have a dorky grin spread across his face, chuckling about how he had his first success. He pulled and reeled, the resistance was getting stronger. He was starting to sweat now. His hands started to get sore and then felt a sudden push forward. Pushed to the end of his boat, his stomach hit it’s wall. His pole had snapped and the fish had gotten away. Sweating, panting, he sat back down in his seat and kicked his feet up onto his backpack.

“Well”

He had been trying to catch something for seven months now. Looking out into the the rest of the lake wrapped by the heaviness of the fog, he sighed.

He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, then sighed again. He wouldn’t be going back home with fish to brag about to his wife. He wouldn’t have be smiling on the drive back home. Today was in fact just like the past 200 days where he would come back empty handed. Today was not different. He did know that he had to come back tomorrow, try something new. Maybe practice different reeling techniques. He knew that he would eventually catch something, but after the past 200 tries, today, he was tired.

With his feet still perched up on the backpack he folded his arms on top of his head and closed his eyes. Exhausted, he quietly dozed off into a deep sleep.

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Spring Break: How I’ve Been and What’s Next

Too many people at Swarthmore fall into the monotonous routine of always studying, so I’m going to make these posts every break to check in with myself and make sure I’m always spicing things up and tackling something new.

Starting from the first semester, I have been able to diet pretty well and stick to a regular exercise routine. I was able to steadily lose 20 pounds, and now I want to play with my weight. I want to challenge myself and see how well I can gain twenty pounds  before the semester because I am pretty confident with my discipline to diet and exercise. The idea of playing with my body weight seems very appealing to me because I would be able to prove to myself that I have control over my physical body. But gaining weight is fairly easy for me, it just means eating more food and working out more – I can already see my belly rounding up 🙂 Also this requires a change in lifestyle, I need to budget my money differently as I might be spending more on food, I need to eat more both in volume and protein intake. The real challenge is after my bulk, when I have to slim back down while keeping my same strength. This will also entail a lifestyle change which will be a nice change of pace.

I recently made a deal with my friends that will last for the rest of our lives: Every time one of us eats candy, all of us have to miss our next meal. Many people have said that this is outrageous, and it is pretty outrageous. But this is one way for us to cut out candy from our lives forever, and to be honest it is quite fun to uphold!

So most of the new things that I have started this semester were lifestyle changes to improve and take control over my health. Academically, I am getting used to the workload of Swarthmore and have pretty much killed procrastination from my life. One thing that I started doing less though was going to professors office hours, there isn’t really much of an excuse for this so I will set the times in my calendar to make sure I attend them.

I have also gotten more into poetry and freestyle rapping! So hitting these goals from last semester’s fall break post. I have also been writing a lot more, especially in my journal, and I’m glad that this has become part of my lifestyle. Damn this feels pretty great, visibly seeing progress and making the goals I wanted to achieve last semester into habits!

What I want now:

“If I were to describe you in word, it would be mellow.”

Shit. That was my reaction when a friend visiting said this to me. Ever since coming to Swarthmore, I do feel that I have become more mellow. More accepting of things and as my friends have commented – I always have a half smile, half stoic face. I don’t really want to be mellow though, I want to have a more exciting personality. I have also been told that I have a poker face most of the time so I want to work on being more physically expressive.

I want to try writing fiction. I think that writing styles force you think and write in different ways. With poetry, you have the idea of rhyming and a sense of obscurity in the back of your head. With fiction, I would have the freedom of telling my story through multiple characters, setting, plot twists, etc.

College is…

Chasing romanticized ideas of some things, then realizing the reality of them.

Having my eyes wide open in my seminar. Soaking everything in, learning so much that I can’t imagine to be asleep. Pages flipping so quickly as everything in my brain is clicking together when looking at past readings.

When relationships get nuanced.

Maturing my naive feelings, and the joy of chasing those matured feelings.

Sitting in the chair of the music library, completely entranced in my readings. I don’t feel my neck pain anymore, because the ideas in my head are flying everywhere and making connections with each other.

Walking frustratingly into office hours driven by questions rather than trying to impress.

Questioning… Questioning why the hell I’m here.

Questioning why I care about prestige.

Not knowing what I’m going to get myself into, then doing it anyway.

Feeling like you’ve met a spiritual sage talking to your professor.

You know that feeling when you have to write a paper that is 7 pages long, and have no idea how the hell you’re going to complete it? But there is the beautiful moment when you get so immersed in the content that you forget about small details like page length. Getting so dedicated to trying to tell the best story, forming the best arguments – then by the time you know it, you’ve exceeded the page length requirement.

Having the autonomy to do what I want, and focusing the things that I actually care about. Then riding on that positive wave of confidence where everything just seems to be getting better. Hitting new PRs (increasing my lifts) everyday in the gym, sleeping better and better, classes getting more engaging and challenging, becoming happier and happier in general.

Being unable to sleep, then playing pool, talking about life, and cooking with friends until 5 AM.

Reading about my culture and things from my childhood – but scribbled in the margins are the confusing inconsistencies stuck in my head, questioning how my values are conflicting with what I’m reading.

Being completely captivated by your math professor.

Doing random things just to spice things up.

Having people you care about that do those random things with you.

Maturing relationships with parents and friends.

Having a lot of things to do but ending up writing anyways because that’s what is more important.

Eating by myself.

Making mistakes, feeling terrible, and vowing never to do them again.

Going to New York during finals week.

Talking late into the night not just about academics but about living life.

Waking up in the morning, jumping out of the bed and skipping to the bathroom with a smile plastered on my face. What a time to be alive.

Having lots of homework to do, then dropping all of it to do something spontaneous with friends. Just to spice things up.

Having friends who are genuinely happy and passionate about life.

 

[This was extremely fun and nostalgic to write! I’m excited to write another every semester/year to see how my college experience matures]

That Kind of Man

Is this who I am?  Sometimes I catch myself acting differently around different types of people. This post is for me to look at when I’m too busy, caught up in life and need a reminder of why I’m here. This post is for me so I can hold myself to my degree of integrity. This post is for me to look at when I feel like I’m having conflicting identities.

This is for me…

I want to be the kind of man who is interesting, regardless of who I am with.

The kind of man who spends life finding value he can give to others.

The kind of man who is creative and confident in his imagination.

A man of kindness and affection.

The kind of man able to articulate his thoughts clearly through every medium: words, music, speech, art.

The kind of man who is not absent minded, intensely focused and aware of every moment.

The kind of man who builds an image of himself as someone motivated by learning difficult things.

The kind of man proud of having worked hard rather than being smart and talented.

The kind of man who not just experiences, but also puts into words and shares with other people.

The kind of man who looks for change.

The kind of man who sees the value in you before you need to say anything.

sam_shih

A best friend.

The kind of man with eyes that look into your soul and makes you want to tell stories about yourself.

The kind of man who won’t stroke your ego but will build you up.

A mentor.

The kind of man who sees the beauty of ideas before everybody else does.

The kind of man who is comfortable showing affection.

The kind of man who makes you think and feel…

The kind of man you notice when he’s in the room and the one you miss when he’s not.

Spontaneous.

The kind of man who acts out of love and passion.

The kind of man who is educated and talks about issues that matter to people.

The same person in work and play.

The person who makes you think about things you’ve never thought about before.

The kind of man who doesn’t need to tell people about starting, but shows up with progress.

The kind of man who never grows old because he is always changing things up in his life.

The kind of man who laughs at his mistakes.

The kind of man who wanders the path of questioning and failure, but never forgets to look at the beauty around him.

That

kind

of man.

work_for_a_cause

This post was inspired by a similar post Andrea made, thanks for making me think about myself in this manner.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

Pass Fail Never Ends

Back in high school, all I cared about was boosting my GPA. I never thought I could learn so much from failing.
I didn’t come to Swarthmore to continue doing the things I excelled at – then college would just be an expensive summer camp. Pass/Fail meant that I could spend time on myself, I could take that seminar on Philosophy, a topic I thought I’d never study. I could spend my time with new friends, maybe get into a relationship, exercise to maintain my health, all without these dreaded grades pressuring me, right? Most people I know failed at certain subjects in school (maybe not getting F’s, but by struggling) and now have simply decided “I’m not a ____ person” or “I just don’t get _____” e.g. “I’m not a Math person.” That absolves them from trying, which keeps them from failing, which keeps them from learning.
At a place like Swarthmore, too many people are killing themselves working to get that perfect GPA. Make sure you get a B, and do it early. Once you do you’ll stop worrying about having to get a perfect GPA because it’s no longer attainable. Only then will you be free to actually get an education. College is the time to take risky courses in topics you don’t understand, in topics you aren’t sure you like, and in topics that appear beyond your grasp.
Successful students have been taught to rely on talent, which makes them unable to fail gracefully.
But I challenge you to go out there – challenge yourself and fail.
 
Fail to make your time worth it. 

Bleeding

I’ve already become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

I’m driven by a cause, not for applause.

I’ve lived my life to express, not to impress.

I’ve put myself on a rocky path, and have become hypersensitive to action.

But along the way I think I lost my sensitivity to blood.

Every time you bleed I feel like I’m bleeding in a different color.

Sometimes I feel like I need to take a sip to bleed red.

I feel the need to listen to music to open my wounds.

But in the back of my mind I know

They might just be artificial wounds I’m cutting with this poison.

Because after these hours phase, I’m desperately trying to keep these wounds pulled open.

Before they stitch themselves back up and trap this blood inside my skin.

Sometimes it frightens me to think I need to cloak my self behind a Veil to be human.

I remember before, I wished to feel the happiness without the burn.

But this past week I wanted it to burn

So that I could bleed with you.

 

Warmth

Today’s the first day I’m back in college. I feel like throughout my life, as I’ve been growing older, most of the emotions I’ve been feeling have been difficult. Growing up is hard, as I have told many people. But being back here in my dorm, with my best friends in my room, I feel like I can take a break. Take a break not to enjoy the flowers, not to enjoy the snow falling outside, but to enjoy the warmness weighing down in my heart as I’m here with my friends. I’m present here. Four months ago, when I first met these people, we played awkward ice breaker games in a room trying to get to know each other.

After graduating high school and entering my first semester here at Swarthmore, I’ve been a pretty social person. I was extremely confident with large groups, but something that I struggled with was making close friends. I was scared at the beginning of college. I was scared that I would know many people superficially but not have any real friends. But right now, in my room, this warmness I’m feeling is extremely heavy. It’s so heavy that it is squeezing tears down my eyes because I know that I have found the people who I truly care about. I have found the people who, at any party, I am truly free and can tell them anything. I have found the people who I know also care about me.

Who would’ve thought that on the first day I’m back I would cry. Who would’ve thought that I would cry with the same person who brought me to tears at one of the first parties of the year. I remember at that party, I didn’t feel the need to go out to any fraternity house or go out to dance to loud music because being present with the people I care about was all that mattered to me.

This warmness is something that I’ve never felt before. I don’t know what it feels like to finally reconnect with a friend for over ten years, but I imagine that this is what it would feel like. I have only known these people for 4 months, but I feel like I can spend forever with them. For somebody else to call me a best friend. For somebody else to care about me is something that I could only try to repay.

This warmness that is so heavy, so heavy in my heart it is squeezing tears down my eyes because I know that I have found the people who I truly care about. This warmness that is so heavy, this warmness that I have found tonight is something that I can only try to express with words.

This warmness in my heart is so heavy, I can hold you all in my embrace forever. But right now I’m not thinking of the future. I’m just cherishing this moment we’re sharing together.