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Better late than never

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“I also wanted to prove to the world that you don’t have to put an age limit on your dreams, that the real reason most of us fear middle age is that middle age is when we give up on ourselves.”

~ Dara Torres, first American swimmer to have competed in 5 Olympic Games, the last when she was 41 and a mother

Hence the recent trend of people suddenly becoming marathoners/ biathletes/ cyclists as they approach or hit middle age. Of course, having a ready community of like-minded middle-agers helps a lot too.

Oh, if only to feel young again.

Oh, if only to feel alive again.

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 13th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Posted in i am arian,words

Still writing

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Still writing. Yes.

As a writer friend once said, practice is important. And never stop writing. Another writer’s advice was that even if it’s bad (hopefully, not forever, ha ha), just keep going because the more you write, the chances of producing something good within that heap of nonsense will also increase.

It’s like swimming. Progress in my Butterfly was slow because I simply didn’t put in the time. While I could do a decent 25 m swim, I didn’t push myself further because past the mid-point, I would start to weaken very quickly — my arms dragging the surface and my body position dropping. Basically, I just look bad.

There is only so much I can get out of instructional videos and general physical conditioning (from training the other strokes). I have to grind.

And so, thickened hide in place, I’ve hung on past 25 m, and fly-dragged myself over the second half of the pool. What’s also helped tremendously is starting out with 3 to 5 underwater butterfly kicks to cover some distance, and breathing every stroke, instead of every other, which kept me going since I didn’t feel like I was on the verge of passing out anymore. Laugh. Well, I can now swim a 50 m Butterfly — albeit not very pretty, but there’ll be time to work on that — and I completed a 200 m Individual Medley in 4:15, Christmas evening. Yay.

So, I’ll keep writing. Even if it’s been all about swimming, for now. Hehehe. And because it’s something I’m passionate about, maintaining the momentum and keeping the words flowing will not be difficult.

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

December 26th, 2013 at 2:48 am

Posted in i am dolphin,words

No regrets

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I read Phelps’ book right after Thorpe’s, and the change in pace and tone was rather striking.

I enjoyed following both swimmers’ journeys to becoming Elites, their personal challenges and their stories. But, the older and more reflective Thorpe is sometimes angsty and regretful. Afterall, the book was written years after his premature retirement, and as he was attempting a comeback — unsuccessfully.

Phelps on the otherhand, was a youthful 19 when Beneath the Surface was written, and fresh off Athens with a haul of 6 golds and 2 bronzes. And, he was still peaking. The voice in the book is that of a young man, the pace is a lot more upbeat, and certainly, the stories were more entertaining :-) I suppose it was also the fiercely competitive “I hate to lose” streak in Phelps that kept him focused and whatever personal issues he had were simply drowned out. Now this one obviously had no regrets :-)

I’ve just ordered his next book No Limits: The Will to Succeed, published post-Beijing and after his greatest feat of all.  But it’ll take about a month to be brought into Singapore.

So, from Olympians with size 18 feet and wingspans of 2.03 m, I’ve moved on to Nick Vujicic’s Life Without Limits. I remember thinking, when I first saw a photo of his smiling face a few months ago, that this didn’t look like someone who was born and grew up differently. There was this calmness in his face, and his smile radiated like an aura around him.

And I just had to read his story.

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

December 14th, 2013 at 1:43 am

Posted in i am arian,words

The simple life

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But of course :-)

Finished the book in 2 weeks — it usually takes me at least 3 to 4 months, sometimes longer. Yeah, it’s atrocious. I’m not known for my attention span. And I suppose it’s about finding a topic that really, really interests me — I remember finishing the Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey books really, really quickly. Heh. Heh. Heh.

But I’ve also changed how and when I read. Before, reading was mostly an opportunistic activity that I did during pockets of ‘free’ time (when there wasn’t something more interesting on the iPhone) — during train rides, at the hairdresser or masseur, or any situation where I anticipated a long waiting period when I wouldn’t be able to do anything else. The problem with trying to read a book this way is that continuity is erratic since these pockets of time do not come by regularly, especially when there is always something more interesting on the iPhone. An erratic reading pace is not the best way to enjoy a book, and I lose momentum and interest very quickly.

I now set aside time in the evenings and weekends at home to read. And if I do want to read during train rides, I only do so if there’s a reasonable amount of time to cover meaningful chunks.

It’s also helped that I’m making an effort to go offline from time to time, and that includes reading off the iPhone or computer, which is why I think it’s still important to buy books and to find a cozy spot to settle down and hold a book in your hands. No doubt, this limits what I can read at a particular point in time, whereas with technology, I can simply click on a few links — or as the case more often is, just ‘mindlessly’ click on what the newsfeeds throw up — and be presented with myriad options. The internet is capable of responding to my wants and whims, and with immediacy. But it can also become a distraction precisely because of the many other possibilities proferred by technology.

Interestingly, I’ve learned to appreciate reading not only for what’s inside the books, but also for the experience itself — lazing in bed, sometimes with The Dog for company, enjoying the quiet of the moment with no other distraction. It feels simple, uncluttered, and it feels good :-)

I can’t wait to lie back on my heap of pillows again and start on the next book :-)

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

December 8th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

The magic’s gone

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I used to like this wedding photographer’s work. He had such creative ideas and there was always this otherworldly and magical quality to his work.

But in the last several months, his work just seemed contrived, and painfully so. I actually thought it couldn’t be the same person. I wonder what happened.

It must be sad to lose one’s magic, but still have to continue with the nightly shows.

But the audience will still be there every night.

Because everyone wants to believe in the magic.

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

October 28th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Posted in words

Precious

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24 November 2012, Bishan-AMK Park

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I couldn’t stop looking up today.

The skies were a luscious spread of clouds – big, small, puffy, streaky – whimsical strokes and splashes across an azure canvas. (They say a photo speaks a thousand words – not today.)

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon which might have been too hot to be outdoors but for the abundant cloud cover. We don’t get many such gorgeous skies. (Or maybe memory fails me, as it often does.)

The dog and I went for a long walk, and we hung out at the park, soaking in the sun and the beautiful, beautiful skies.

I was lost in contemplation of the artistry of azures, generous greens and nostalgic gold.

For a moment, it almost felt as if I was somewhere far away – wandering in Hyde Park again as I hugged myself in the chilly air; staring out the  windows as the rental car sped through the open blue skies of Perth.

It was one of those moments you wish would last just a little longer, if not forever. But you know they never do; and that is why they are so precious and a wonder to behold – they teach us to live in the moment, in the present, and to appreciate what we have, and be grateful for every blessing, no matter how small, in whatever form they manifest in.

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

December 1st, 2012 at 12:02 am

Posted in words

Boomerang

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So intent was he on the story that he didn’t see the punchline coming – it was the joke he had shared with the group a couple of weeks ago, over the lunchtime din at their usual coffeeshop.

She was already looking at him and smirked knowingly as surprise fleeted across his face and a tentative smile slipped.

She threw her head back and laughed.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

June 12th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Creature of habit

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And of course he backs off the moment words take on a life of their own.

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* * *

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The fog takes shape, drawn to the sound of your willful words.

Closing in.

Drawn to your voice – summoned by you.

You can run but you cannot hide.

The creature has no eyes that you can see, but it can hear your every hurried step; it knows the bitter scent of your fear; anticipates your every move even before you are aware of the thought – for he was born of your desires, your anger, your courage, your fears, your joys, your anguish, your compassion, your spite, your generosity, your pettiness.

You can’t hide from yourself forever.

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* * *

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I wouldn’t be surprised, really.

It’s never worked with 2 of a kind, notwithstanding the inevitable attraction.

It just doesn’t.

Shrug.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

March 16th, 2012 at 1:16 am

Posted in words

Lost

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“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

~ Song of Aragorn, J R R Tolkien

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* * *

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Will I find what is lost – what I believe is lost to me for good?

Or have I merely stepped off the path and need only find my way back again?

I can’t – or I won’t???

Like a skill one has learned and honed, one never forgets.

The body doesn’t forget what it was like to run, to swim, to jump, to dance; to push the limits again and again, seeking and reaching a new high each time.

And the heart? The heart always remembers – it remembers what it was like to love what I was doing.

 

Written by The Intimate Stranger

March 8th, 2012 at 1:01 am

Posted in words

Waverider

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Another fell and was carried by the rush of water up slope.

He turned, looking pleased with himself, to see if he had made me laugh.

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* * *

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“Don’t lean back,” he said, just before I lost my balance….

Later, as I moved into position to stand before him again, his voice was a tad softer and almost perplexed, “Why did you lean back?”

“I don’t know….” I mumbled and shifted my weight forward this time, leaning in just a little closer as we held onto each other’s wrists.

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* * *

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The 2 hours were almost up, and it was my last ride. I had fallen relatively quickly the last 2 times.

“Look at me.”

I turned my head away from my left shoulder, puzzled. We had been told to keep our eyes up and to look to the front.

“Your shoulders turn when you are looking to the front,” he explained.

Ah.

But my eyes darted down as I felt my board turning against the flow of the rushing waters.

“Look at me! Look at me!”

My eyes flew back to his face and I let myself feel my feet shift the board parallel to the flow instead – another early exit averted.

I did not look away again – holding on to those languid wide eyes with their quiet warmth, trusting that I would not fall as my earlier panic faded into the background. He held my gaze as steadily, occasionally nodding in encouragement, even as a playfulness crept into his eyes and a knowing smile lit up his face. And I couldn’t help but smile too, bemused by this curiousness – at his little game. We beheld each other thus as I glided towards and away from him with every word he uttered, responding with every subtle shift of my body.

And then I felt the waters change beneath my feet. With a wordless gasp, I fell as its triumphant roar took over my senses again. Hands flying to my face (a reflex), my body surrendered to the coolness as it spun and swept me away.

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* * *

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Lest I forget, for the relentless waters of time are already bearing that beautiful sunny Friday afternoon away.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

February 26th, 2012 at 8:58 pm