Reflections for VCF FOC 2016: Light Source

Now playing: As The Deer – Robin Mark

I’ve had a good nap after coming back from the camp today, and thought of writing a few messages to my group as well as other individuals from other groups. I did write notes, I did go up during the Open Mic session to talk a bit, but I felt that what I said during the Open Mic wasn’t well prepared and came off as being somewhat awkward (and poorly thought out.) What follows is thus a more…composed piece that I hope will find you well.

But first, a short bit about the Now Playing song: I’ve heard this song in the past, but never knew what it was called. Then when they sang it on the second or third day, I was like “ohhhhhhhhh…”. This is quite a nice song, and I will definitely, definitely do a cover of it someday. Perhaps in a couple of weeks maybe?

Alright. I’ll begin with what I had shared with a few people but not extensively with the rest of the group, followed by what I had planned to actually say during the Open Mic session and round up with some shoutouts to other group members~


[This first section’s written without a target audience in mind, although some of my group members know parts here and there. This should provide a fuller story and explain some things that went unanswered.]

I suppose the best place to start would be when I was messaging y’all in Whatsapp (those in my group) for what you were looking for when you first came to this camp. Aside from the usual identification data like name, year and faculty of study, it didn’t make sense to ask you to include something interesting about yourself in a running Whatsapp list. Something like that would be unnecessarily long and would discourage detailed posting, pointlessly reducing everyone’s personality quirk or interesting hobby to a few lines. God forbid an entire introduction list of ‘I like pizza’ or ‘I don’t eat eggs’, it’ll look like a dietary list of sorts.

So instead, I asked what y’all were looking for when you came to this camp. And many mentioned the following: God, friends, fun, things like that. As I had mentioned I’d be filling in my part a bit later, I was like ‘wah, everyone’s coming to this camp looking for God.’

And as I explained to a couple of peeps earlier when sharing after breakfast, I could’ve jumped on the bandwagon of sorts and included ‘God’ in my list. But that wouldn’t be right, for I had written in my diary/journal that I couldn’t say that in good conscience. In other words, I wasn’t looking for a direct impact which I had assumed many of those seeking God to be looking for.

Rather, I wrote down three things I was looking for that, if I had found them in the camp, I could say without a doubt that I had found God. Or had experienced God, I’m not splitting hairs on this. And these were the three things that I wrote:

Peace

Peace. Peace. Peace.

I shared with most of y’all how…last year at this time, at the same camp with a different group, I was physically there but mentally elsewhere. And the trainwreck of emotions from June to the camp in July, all the way to when shit hit the fan in September…it was a rough ride.

I thought I had hit ground zero in September, that things couldn’t get any worse.

Boy, was I wrong.

Things spiraled downhill after that, all the way to December and finally ended in January, when I tried to reconcile with the person involved, but…they couldn’t see a time in the future when things would be alright again. When relations would be repaired, and communication restored.

Although it officially ended in January, the reverberations were still felt by me for several months after. I made two collections of drum covers that detailed musically how things went from neutral to up, super up, then down, down, down to rock bottom, and it went through rock bottom to the core of the earth. Or something like that anyway, but less dramatic. The High School Musical Collection can be thought of as being a shortened version of the same event as well.

I guess maybe when you’re hurt, you become a lot more creative. I don’t write songs nor paint or draw, but I probably recorded more in those collections than I did compared to the past. More genres, more songs that I had never tried before, more steel in my playing.

I think that can be seen in the covers. More steel, more grit. I gave myself a blister that bled in the recording of the Memories Collection because I gripped the sticks and played with such intensity, but I played through the pain anyway. Because once you’ve felt emotional pain, you close up everything to stop feeling. Because you can’t feel anything, even if you hurt yourself, it doesn’t matter, because you’re finally able to feel something other than emotional pain. Even if it is physical pain.

Sometime later, I wrote a short story from the Raildex series, inspired by a picture. It’s not a very good story (I’m not good at writing narratives haha), but I wrote it to cope with the feeling of loss. For that date which I wrote it was a significant date in the other person’s life, and I was still reeling from the effects of the past. It’s hard to describe how I felt when writing the post, but it’s something like the following in Episode 2 of Oregairu (from 11:35 onwards):

Hayato: I like the way things are now. I’m fond of Tobe, Hina, and all the time our gang’s spent together.

Hayato: So-

Hachiman: If this is all it takes to shatter your bonds, then they were never truly deep.

Hayato: Maybe.

Hayato: But…

Hayato: What’s lost can never be returned.

After that, I didn’t write much about the incident publicly, nor did I think much of it during the school term. It was only after the second school term had ended that I could spend more time going through it, and as some of you knew, I got to the point where I could forgive the other person.

For reconciliation requires two parties, but forgiveness only requires one. And I had tried to reconcile in January before ending things, but as the reply was non-committal, reconciliation wasn’t possible. And it was another person that taught me how apathy and indifference, devoid of hate, anger or malice though they may be, does not constitute forgiveness.

The journey towards forgiving her was arduous and agonizing, but it was made and completed in June with the considerable help and advice of Godly and kind friends whom I made along the way. And so, I entered the camp on Monday with mixed feelings, for though I knew that I had forgiven her, I knew too that being in the same place would trigger the same memories of the train wreck that also gutted me.

And so, I sought peace. Peace… for the past, to put past ghosts to rest, to still past echoes and extinguish lingering, long, creeping shadows.

I found it, in the 3rd day’s evening service. For I had not cried in more than a year even as the train derailed in slow, excruciating motion. Tears are hard to come by when you’re busy with school, or even when one’s ruminating on the past. There were nights I woke up or slept with moistened eyes, but it was only that.

And yet, in sharing with someone about how things went, it would not be an understatement to say that tears flowed freely. Well, through several rounds of tissues anyway. For though it was difficult to forgive the other person, it was even more difficult to forgive myself for what happened.

And yet, one does not ask for a hug. But I got it anyway. Which is interesting, because one of the other short stories I was planning to write was about this picture:

This picture (from the Raildex series) means a lot to me, for I identify strongly with the guy in white hair (Accelerator), and had thought that my defenses would crumble if a small sized girl gave me a hug. A childish fantasy, to be sure.

But I got one anyway, last night. It was not by a pint-sized girl, but by an older peer. One who knew little, but understood much.

The title of the artwork is ‘もういいよ’, which roughly translates into ‘That’s enough…’. For the little girl pictured (Last Order) cares strongly for the guy she’s hugging despite him having a horrendous past, and the teared eyes are indicative of just how deep this sentiment goes.

And for the white haired guy, he’s usually portrayed as a proud, unsentimental, somewhat deranged destroyer. To term him as a ‘monster’ would be appropriate. But in this pose, with the bowed head and covered eyes, it’s a pose of weakness. Submission, even. It wouldn’t be hard for him to waste the girl hugging him without lifting a finger (such is his super power in the series), but he doesn’t do it.

Because I think he knew that she was giving him something he wanted. Perhaps healing?

And for the girl, it seems like she’s telling him to stop hurting himself. Hence, the title ‘That’s enough…’ can be interpreted as a shortened version of her telling him that he’s hurt himself enough.

Why did I say that the person knew little but understood much? Because despite knowing little of my past, the same words came out from him: that of it being enough, and for one to forgive oneself for the wrongs of the past (as one has already been forgiven), and to move on.

I’m not exactly what one would call dashing or handsome, and crying doesn’t make me look better either. But when one goes through such a cathartic experience, one doesn’t care much about how one looks. Which is something special, since I was around people I had not known prior to the camp. It was not within a circle of close friends, but relative strangers and acquaintances, that my walls finally broke down, and came out in a torrent of tears.

I left the third night knowing that I had found the first thing which I was looking for: that of peace, for the past.

Growth

As someone that hadn’t been in a leadership role prior to this camp, I was like a fish out of water. And so I thought that the camp would be a good experience for me to grow more as a person, whether it’s in learning how to manage juniors or deal with administrative matters.

I, however, did not anticipate practically all of those in my group having gone through significant growth in their own ways. And it was from them that I learned much over these four days, growing to be humbled by their conviction, hopes, faith and knowledge. I am sure that there were better qualified leaders that could have led the group well and contributed much more, but I benefited much from both the learned juniors under my charge and the seniors who gave me good food for thought.

Growth, for the present, which brings me to the third point:

Resolve

The world’s gonna get faster, life is going to get harder. More schoolwork, more time spent on many other things. And yet, having seen how much others have grown, how much I’ve grown since this time last year and how much more I still can go…it strengthens one’s resolve.

To take small steps that eventually lead up to something bigger. To say, “Hey, I don’t know where this will go, but I’m just gonna pray, trust, and see what comes out of it.” And at this current stage, the same quote which I referenced in my SMUN 2016 post seems apt:

Pages 153 and 154 from Volume 5 of the Raildex Light Novel series:

“But that’s still no reason not to save this brat, right? Does it mean that we can trample on what this brat has just because we’re scum!?”

With his vision bloodied, Accelerator shouted.

He knew that it was hypocritical of himself, and how thick-skinned it was. Every word he had said could be used right back at him.

But he still shouted.

Did it mean that those without the right to save shouldn’t save others?

Should the hand of a girl that was extended out be scoffed away?

What did the girl do?

What did she do to be rejected just like that?

“Damn it, isn’t… that simple?”

He seemingly muttered that to himself.

Last Order had to be saved. Unlike Accelerator and Amai, she still had a chance to be saved.

It didn’t matter who saved her.

That wasn’t the problem. Someone had to give a helping hand to her, no matter who it was, or she would really die. It was just that simple.

Accelerator could roughly understand it. He could roughly understand the Level 0’s feelings when he had gone in to stop that experiment. No reason, no aim, he just stepped up to save the injured Sisters. On first glance, that person seemed to be a natural hero, one who lived in a world different from him, but this wasn’t the case.

There was no such thing as a lead character in this world, there weren’t those heroes who were conveniently available for use.Nobody could get help by shutting their mouths, and they may not get help even if they asked for it.

But if one didn’t want to lose something important, not because of such a laughable reason like “nobody helped even after we waited for so long”, that person had to be the hero.

No matter how forced that was, how overconfident and how shameless he was…

He had to use his own hands to protect the things most precious to him.

The world was merciless; there weren’t naturally born heroes.

So the bystanders had to step up.

They had to put up a performance worthy of a hero.

A certain character in the Raildex series (Kanzaki) has the following “Magic Name”: Salvare000 – Be the salvation of those who cannot be saved.

A seemingly contradictory or purposeless, and an almost unattainable goal at that. But one that resonated with me, more so after this camp. One that I’m sure can be achieved, through small steps, not by one’s power, but by, if you will, a higher power.

And so endeth the first section.


[The second section is written to my group, but those that are left wondering what exactly I was trying to say in my garbled speech during the Open Mic earlier today might be interested to read it as well~]

I want to thank my group (GROUP 7!), who had the awesome HTHT session last night that lasted till 4am. Y’all are awesome for staying up so late to talk, to connect, and to learn, from one another. And y’all have definitely left me with many fond memories of this camp.

On many occasions during the duration of the camp, I was away from y’all. Tending to my other duties or trying to check what the next event was, it’s not something I expected an OGL to be doing. I thought they were people that stayed frequently with their groups, rousing them to play game after game, and keeping their spirits up.

But y’all are a different breed. One more reserved (except when it came to theological discussions, boy, did they fly!), and one more studious, knowledgeable and committed than your group leader was. One that put up with his rather awkward attempts at leading Bible Study sessions and went along with unexpected changes in the plans when they came up.

And so, it’s a humbling experience to have been your OGL. Regardless of whether you guys and girls join VCF or other campus ministries, I’m sure that God will send in Godly people in your life to lead and guide you, so that you can mentor others that you come across who could benefit from your breadth of knowledge and depth of experience.

More important than the teaching of ‘what’ though, is the ‘why’ behind one spending time with others. And that’s where y’all will remember the themes and questions discussed during the camp: Whether it’s spending time having lunch and asking them how they’re doing or through acts of service, it all boils down to love for others. A genuine type that focuses not on their faith or lack thereof, but who they are as a person aside from their religious identity.

I may or may not see some of you in the future, depending on events and whether y’all join a particular day’s CG. But y’know that joke about me being able to rest now that the group’s safe or something like that? It’s not been in my hands since the first day. Never been, never was.

The camp will end, and life will go on. And as life goes on, so too will the minute changes in one’s life that eventually grow to bear much fruit: I feel like a garderner considering how many seeds seem to have been sown. Not as the farmer that planted them, but as an ordinary individual who, for the short window of four days, had the privilege to learn, watch and perhaps water these fledgling spirits.

So go forth, and continue growing, learning, ministering, teaching, caring, serving, but most importantly, loving. As we all have the same goal, so say we all: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Grades and relationships for now, houses, cars and earning power for later, but yet, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?

There is more to life than just this. But of course, y’all know that already. And so, I will enjoy my rest for now and look forward to meeting y’all again in the future if our paths cross again.


[The third section consists of shoutouts to those that I wanted to write more to, or forgot to write in the original card.]

To Ivy/Ivan and D’wayne/Duane: Thanks for being there, and for the tissues. Also, that photo’s greatly treasured.

To ‘Delle: To meet someone as musically talented and humble as you is a rare occasion, but by golly… you are both. I knew only that you were special the first time I saw you run for the position of…something that escapes me now, but I’m sure the strength of your conviction beneath your gentle demeanor made many feel it was the right choice to vote for you. And as you are indeed currently in that position, it’s a clear confirmation that you’re different from the rest.

Working with you and the team was a great pleasure, and it’s also been my privilege to play my first cajon in a live setting with such a great team. Your quiet, unwavering voice as well as the harmonizing with J’Depp went really, really well, I kinda wish they had recorded the set, but ah well. I’ll see you around in school probably~

To Douglas: I certainly enjoyed the conversation we had on Fac Night, which made up for a somewhat insipid day earlier for me. I think you’ll go far in whatever you do, but your curious nature and relentless thinking will definitely put you in good stead if you do end up in the same course of study as me 🙂

To Natasha: As mentioned, it was a joy to meet you, and I wish we had the opportunity to converse more. Do let’s meet for lunch sometime in school!

To Andrew: Fancy running into another drummer randomly xD but yea, you’re also another that I should’ve had more time to talk with about drumming but it didn’t materialize. I’m glad to have met you and maybe I’ll see you at future FoCs on the cajon again ^^

To those in the BGR workshop: Let’s forget the last question…or at least, don’t remember who asked it…!

To my OG: Let’s also forget what was talked about over lunch when the other group left~ Yay!


[Concluding thoughts]

Coming in at about 3.5k words, this is not that long as some of my other posts (especially my essays and articles), but it’s certainly pretty long for a ‘Thought’ post. Nevertheless, I felt it was time spent as a form of closure for the camp’s ending, and to continue on with what’s coming up next.

And now, I’ll lay down my pen.

On a certain late night after an eventful week,

Incrementum003 – For are we not in our brokenness made whole?

Aka

Roe.

WhatsApp-Image-20160707.jpeg

Y’all take care now, y’hear me?

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