A year ago, I was chosen to participate in an important conference for a travel writer; who passed away precisely eight months before I was born. He died before finishing his magnum opus, a book about nomadic behaviors. I was one of about a thousand other people who had been selected to present to an audience of more than seven billion people who were drawn on a journey to find themselves through the streets and the ruins in all parts of the world. It was an invitation that I valued greatly, and I considered it an honour to be chosen.
That is what I imagine every day when I wake up.
As much as I am invested with the idea of the Nomads, the truth is that none of it would have touched me greatly without the existence of Charles Bruce Chatwin in my life. The belief that a person like him can just simply quit his promising job at The Sunday Times Magazine and established himself as a travel writer (although he considered himself instead a storyteller), made me wonder how far more a person can go before she could transcend her limits.
What moves her to do things beyond her physical abilities? Is it the person who she wishes to be? And this person, are they alone, or are there like-minded people who shared his or her belief?
But that is not the true question she should ask herself. What she should be asking is whether she acknowledges the fact that she will constantly have these questions burning in her mind and if can she become better by embracing the questions?
I only realized the importance of these questions when I chanced upon a short piece written by a person whom I feel is the perfect embodiment of positive energy, and who could move the world just by living in it.
His writing is simple, yet it is imbued with immense meaning.
“It is our very nature to search. We are the travellers of time and space. The journey really starts when we surrender to the nature of our being. This is the belief that I fully embrace. This is the journey of my surrender.”
It made me realize that all this while, I have always wanted the flow to go with me instead of me, going with the flow. I have never surrendered to the questions that I am and that is why, I am constantly running out of questions to answer my questions.
Therefore, with the hope of reigniting my calling, I started a journey to find my stories in others.
Growing up with a set of parents who nurture their child with flight tickets, photographs and moments rather than handbags and expensive cars; stories have always been a part of me. My mother used to say, the only way for people to grow is to be out of their comfort zone. We need to travel and explore not just the stars; but also the ruins and not to shun people, because stories can tell you so much about a person; and when you know a person, you will start to know the next person and the next, and what you know will eventually shape you.
That is the first step: know yourself.
The wonderful thing about knowing your own story is the power it exudes to help you find another story that you want to write, and to write more stories and eventually find your purpose in life.
No matter where you are from, what language you use or what situations you face, you can sail through any cities, hills, markets and constellations of others with your own stories; your own way of being.
As people tell you stories, you will find the strings that connect the music and flow of their heart. Everything that they tell you depend on the circumstances that they face; and it doesn’t matter whether they are a singer, or an actor, or a lawyer, everybody has a story to tell.
Stories come in all shapes and sizes. If you are a musician, you and your melody are a story. If you are a painter, you and your colors are a story. If you are a director, you and your company are a story. But none of the stories standalone; they all stand together with others to move from one place to another. The more stories that they be, the better they will become.
As a Special Chief of MySchool of Life and a writer with Roman Buku, I spend countless hours writing and creating programmes every day. I considered myself lucky to be a part of an organization that is always looking for better ways to create platforms for young people to practice a purposeful lifestyle. We may only be two years old this 30th June 2017; some might cast aspersions or doubt on us, but believe that we are devoted to encourage lifelong learning.
Before joining MySchool of Life, I had my fair share of fun. I was in law school, and at that time our inspirations were Harvey Specter and Mike Ross, kick-ass lawyers with hearts of gold.
I spent most of my leisure time when I was in law school attending castings, shootings and volunteering at an orphanage during the weekends. While waiting for my make-up artists to do my makeups, or teaching kids how to learn better, I realized that I have always told stories to them, perhaps in the hope that one day, they will tell me their stories too.
When I moved to the aviation industry, I worked with a great man. He was my mentor. He taught me about the inner workings of planes and he was so generous with his knowledge and time, he allowed me to observe the day-to-day business of running an aviation company, because he believed understanding comes from practical work and observations.
Because of the nomadic intuition that I have, I was always looking for the simplest way to tell people complicated stories, because to me, that is a skill a good storyteller must possess. At first, my desire was to share the stories that I had learned from my loved ones and strangers that I met during my journey. But once I learned that there are relatable moments in life and stories, I decided to write.
Of course I have also felt the delight of losing myself by helping other people find their reason for being through stories. Stories can illustrate a point, show the way, and give meaning. That is why, since the day I found my purpose in life; which is to be a storyteller; I have worked hard to write better every day.
I want to encourage you to do the same; to devote yourself to the process of being your stories and as you continue to be the storyteller that you are, remember this:
Enjoy your own stories, give it your best and never forget that no matter what you want to do in life, it only takes your own stories for you to be you.
And being you, is all that matters.
This is piece from Seni on Sunday, a weekly column where we invite guest writers to share their two sens about art. As an art advocate, we believe the public must be empowered to appreciate and express the arts. This is a safe space for sharing, in hopes that it would encourage and initiate arts discourse within contemporary Malaysia. The views and opinions expressed does not necessarily reflect Daily Seni’s stand on the matter.
This week’s guest writer is Ashikin M – a storyteller hailing from the silver state. She balances her writing passion with her job with a government agency that promotes social entrepreneurship. Her book ‘Si Romantik Yang Sudah Mati’ placed 8th in the PBAKL 2017 Bestseller List. Follow her on IG @ashmhydn.