19102018: Return, Lost & Found

It has been awhile. For many things.

  1. For this blog.
  2. And my return from a semi-sabbatical.

I’ve to admit. Last year when I created TCH — and up till a couple months ago –, I was in a spiritual-mental rut. In fact, the creation of this blog coincided with the first day of that journey into the underworld.

I hardly ever talk about what I call my ‘quarter life crisis’. Maybe because I haven’t had real opportunity to do so, or maybe I didn’t have the wisdom then to reflect on it. I think I do now.

It’s a strange feeling to come out of the other side. What is sunlight? What is the sky? But I missed the sun and the sky though, and I enjoy feeling the sun kiss my skin. Previously it had burned.

The middle of 2018 was a blessing. The semi-sabbatical began as a necessary business trip (I wanted to go to America for my first Eisner Award nomination, plus other meetups etc), and grew into a journey of reassurance.

I wrote last year in The Road Well Travelled about my realisation that the path I was walking on was already broken. That it didn’t make sense to me anymore, that it was never my own in the first place. The alternative option presented to me thus was towards the unknown. I was afraid of the consequences of committing to that option — I don’t live in a vacuum. I live in a collective of other people’s expectations. Things like financial stability and ideas of success kinda held me down. After all, the conventional path(s) of financial stability/ideas of success had predictable milestones and obvious measurements. The unknown I chose had none of those.

But I took it anyway. Not because I think those conventional paths are inherently wrong. Like I said in The Road Well Travelled, many people find themselves and their purposes on those paths. That’s totally fine. It’s just that I knew I had to get out, for the sake of my mental health. Still, it frightened me. It didn’t give me any reassurance that it was the right decision. Until the semi-sabbatical.

Things are clearer now. I’m going back on last year’s Camino with fresh eyes. It was so funny, back then, when I arrived at the city of Santiago, I thought I felt the wrong thing. People have jumped and whooped and experienced a big spiritual transformation at the end of their pilgrimages. Me? I only felt a sense of completion. The kind where you feel satisfied knowing you completed a calling. Nothing more. No celebratory whoops. No dance parties. (I had a boss-ass dinner at Casa Marcelo though, still one of my favourite moments in life) That basic feeling made me inadequate? Like I was doing the Camino wrong. Now I know better.

In New York August 2018 was the real end of my Camino.

With this baggage sloughed off, I’m glad I’ll be able to approach TCH with a newer, better mindset.

Until next time!

30052017: Loneliness

This comic is 2 years old now! I wrote it sometime between the end of college and the start of my new life in Melbourne. That was yet another period of change, not so long after the previous one (graduating high school, best friends moving their separate ways, and entering college). Each time I start a new chapter of my life I am visited by an old friend, Loneliness. It stays with me in the first few months, as I travel alone, eat alone, shop alone, all the while trying to figure out how to make friends in this confusion.

In Melbourne it’s been with me for a little over two years now, probably the longest since elementary school. I’ve known it since that long, and to be honest, I’ve come to terms with its presence and have accepted it as the most stable constant of my life. It wasn’t easy – being the loner kid with barely any stable group of friends (except books) had its bad times, and I think it had a lot to do with my social anxiety now – , but it eventually became easier to recognise its presence as not something to be necessarily repellent of, but as something that was normal, part of the human experience, and that it had its benefits.

I treasure the solitude that gives me the space to think and to know more about myself, and the lonely walks that taught me to pay attention not just on myself or on other people but of the world around me – the colour of sunlight as it hits the trees, small trinkets lost or misplaced on the floor, the beauty little appreciated in this busy and bustling world. Over the years, it taught me how to notice the small and quiet things. It showed me how to be friends with myself, and to value the experiences (the plays, the food, the museum trips, the shopping) I create, even if I can’t share them with anyone else.

I read somewhere (to be honest it was a critical review of an animated series) about loneliness being defined as a mishmash of textures. It is often dark and shadowy – perhaps with one eye -, consuming you with thoughts of others, of being a part of others. That is the main experience, and the most popular view of it in media. But then there’s the other side to it, the one more like solitude – it is in the loneliness of being with yourself. With that is the amplification of quiet of breathing and the rustling of leaves, the movement of insects and birds as they mind their own business, of watching teasers of other people’s lives. The more of these ‘small’ things you collect, the more you realise that you aren’t just alone. You’re also experiencing these alone moments with the rest of the world (not people, but the world as itself), and with yourself.

Of course I understand how hard it is – it took me nearly 15 years of sustained introspection (afforded by the loneliness) to get to this point. But my intention to offer an alternative view of loneliness, informed by my true lived experience of it, and I hope that by showing this view, it will help younger kids reach this understanding sooner than later. For the sake of their spiritual health, seeing as we’re living in an increasingly isolated society.

You can download a PDF version of loneliness here: https://reimenayee.itch.io/loneliness
Pay as you want, so it can be free, or you can give me a few bucks.

27052017: Taking Breaks in a World of Emerging Tech

I had just finished a month of back-to-back assignments, and of course, got myself a terrible tension headache. Partly from the pent-up stress, but also from looking at the screen too much. During the brain-fog when I was thinking thoughts that led me to take a (short) break, I thought about how freeing it was to have the choice to move away from technology if I get tired of it. Yet considering that our world is becoming increasingly tied to our internet and machines (Google glass, brain cyber-enhancements, app-body syncing), what will happen to this choice? If we become so cybernetically enhanced that we no longer need to take breaks, what happens? Do we still need breaks anyway? This comic is an attempt at discussing this question.

I’ll set out to say that I’m not a Luddite (it would be hypocritical if I was! Look at where we are!). I’ve only my reservations about the ethics of the acceleration of technology, especially coming from start-up culture.

18042017: The Road Well Travelled

The Road Well Travelled – a short comic about realising you’ve gone on the wrong path, and pursuing your truth.

A lot of things happened in the past few months that destabilised many of my beliefs. Particularly how I thought that if I followed a certain path, and did what my family told me would guarantee the best outcome (based on their experience), my future will be secure. But now I’ve realised that nothing is guaranteed – the world is changing, in so many ways, and no one can say for certain if the things they know now will be applicable or exist later on. So if the future of the well-travelled path is not guaranteed, then why stops me from changing direction, and to walk my own path instead?

This comic was a product of catharsis, me trying to rationalise my thoughts. I don’t know how good these words are, but it did a lot for me, and I hope it does for someone else too, in the same situation.