We’ve never met, but your art changed me forever.

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Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

When I was trying to get back into the habit of drawing, I went searching on Instagram for inspiration. I eventually landed on the page of an illustrator whose art made me pause in my scrolling. It was colorful, whimsical, nostalgic, like old-school manga with a hint of irreverent playfulness.

I suppose we learn art through imitation, so I tried to get a more realistic grasp of human anatomy — and cats — by copying her figures. After a few rounds of this, of me looking carefully at each stroke and willing it to sink in as I drew it on my page, I realized that for all that her art was teaching me how to draw, I never actually thought about thanking her.


The concept of eternal recurrence is both fascinating and haunting

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What if you had to live your life all over again, from the first day to the last — with no changes at all, the same choices made and every detail already fixed?

This isn’t like Groundhog Day, where you keep repeating one day until — cue cheerful music — you figure out what you were doing wrong and the loop breaks. Then you somehow make a drastic change, your entire perspective on life shifted even as the outside world barely moves forward in time. That’s how it works in feel-good movies. …


The unconventional way to journal

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Photo by Dương Nhân from Pexels

Journaling is one of the most recommended habits for writers. It’s already a stereotype for writers to carry around a notebook wherever they go. Supposedly, this becomes a catch-all for long handwritten entries about their day, curiosities that they could incorporate into their next story, even fragments of poetry.

I’ve always had a spare notebook to write on, but despite knowing that journaling is good for me, I’ve never been able to do it consistently. Maybe it was because I liked to go in-depth with my entries, and I flaked at scheduling at least 30 minutes every day for it. …


Own your curiosity and go with the flow

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Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

When I was a student, I didn’t know what I really wanted to major in. The question of “Who do you want to be?” constantly gnawed away at me because giving an answer to that felt… almost confining.

Even though I loved writing, having to choose only one thing to be — to specialize in — went against all the ways my curiosity could be easily sidetracked. I wanted to be a writer, yes.

But I was also interested in psychology, and philosophy, and foreign languages, and playing the piano, and UX design, and trading, and… I could go on and on, but it wasn’t a surprise that I found myself changing my mind on my future career on a whirlwind basis. …


Life behind these four walls as a pandemic rages outside

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(Photo by Andhara Cheryl on Unsplash)

In March this year, I vacated my apartment and went back to live with my family in the countryside because of an impending announcement about a coronavirus lockdown — the first of many in our country. Six months later, I’m still here, and while every year of my life has had its own character, these past months stand out as surreal.

Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day — each day following a monotonous routine of me getting up from bed, making my way to my laptop eventually, and later on crawling back to sleep.

In between, it’s extremely formulaic: answering emails, my grandparents eating lunch at 12 sharp like clockwork, some hostile exchanges between my mom and grandparents, messages sent to my friends and boyfriend. …


He broke his own world record at 96 — and at 98, he was still playing.

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When I think of myself at 95 years old, my mind blanks out. I can’t because… maybe I’ll be dead by then. Or — if by some health miracle I survive — I hope that I’ll at least be functional, still capable of recognizing people, not too beat up yet to feel no difference between living and existing.

Given that 95 seems to be such a barely reachable age, I was surprised to learn about Mark Sertich:

  • He was 95 when he made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest hockey player.
  • As if that wasn’t already remarkable enough, he broke his own record the next year as a 96-year-old playing at a senior world hockey tournament. …


But true dreams don’t die. They only fade

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Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

At some point, you will want to give up on your dream.

You will be plagued by a paralyzing wave of self-doubt, wondering if it was even worthwhile to put energy into this in the first place, to hope that it would even come true. Your dream might feel like a burden already or a dogged reminder of your failures. …


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Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna from Pexels

Self-trust often feels like a gamble because we’re consistently told to do the opposite. It’s drilled into our brains that the answers to our most pressing questions and everyday decisions lie outside ourselves, and there’s even the risk of backlash when we go against expectations or advice in favor of our own inner sense of what’s right for us.

After all, we’re consistently taught to pay more attention to external influences:

  • School consists heavily of following instructions and meeting standards set by an impersonal system
  • Friends and family give us well-meaning advice, backed up by their own experience and based on what worked for them. …


When the places we dwell in are no longer normal

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Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

For many remote workers, the transition to working under the coronavirus lockdown might appear seamless — after all, days when we mostly stay inside our home aren’t as strange, with workstations maybe only several steps away from our bed. In fact, most companies have been forced to adopt the remote work approach for the sake of social distancing, and it’s almost unreal how the usual morning rush has been disrupted, leading to quiet streets and nearly deserted offices.

Although I’ve been a freelancer for a while, there was one change that surprisingly threw off my routine: the lack of coffee shops. While I’d expected to be anxious from the increased isolation, the pandemic itself, and work projects possibly not pushing through, it never occurred to me that being unable to stay in coffee shops would actually affect my productivity. After all, coffee shops seemed like a mere background detail in my life, non-essential and even frivolous. …


They’re not as replaceable.

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(Photo by Ena Marinkovic from Pexels)

My family had somehow decided that it was a good time to have the termites removed from our house and to replace rotting wood with sturdy, never-been-gnawed panels that weren’t at risk of collapsing on us. Because the termites had apparently reached all over, rooms were emptied, stray clutter was packed into temporary boxes, and bookshelves were emptied. Our house had become a labyrinth where you had to navigate through mysterious piles while making sure you don’t slip from the compulsively washed floor.

There is a tall bookshelf at the center of our house, extending from floor to ceiling and bursting with books — too many books for its size, three layers of paperbacks squeezed into the space when there should only have been two. The bookshelf had been attacked by termites, so we were tasked with setting aside the books pile by pile until it was empty. …

About

Ima Ocon

Writer & storyteller. Fascinated with psychology and philosophy, currently learning Mandarin, gets drunk on tea.

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