Fulfilling Your Wildest Dreams: Amin Alifin

Just moments earlier, like an out-of-date stone-age man who finally realized someone invented the fire, I found out that an ex-schoolmate and CCA mate won the Singapore Dance Delight Vol. 4 [months earlier], did exceptionally well at O School’s Wonderment production ’13, and is on his way to Japan [as of now] to represent Singapore in Japan Dance Delight Vol. 20 (also the origin of Dance Delight series; one of dance’s world most competitive competitions with winners – and even participants – owning lifetime bragging rights).

Photo grabbed from https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/1170682_10151617626808471_279482223_n.jpg

 
If you’re in tuned with the dance scene in Singapore, you should have already heard of Amin Alifin. We haven’t bump into each other for a while now ever since last year’s Army Openhouse. We first signed up for Stage Arts, a two-part CCA specializing in dance and drama under Nanyang Polytechnic. Having received [just a bit of] training in O School (Haha yes, I ever took up dancing before ages ago), I passed the auditions with relative ease while some faced slight difficulties with the Jazz routine and Across-the-floor. In our batch, the few men who passed the auditions and stayed with the group were namely; Amin, Nicholas and myself.

We trained under the tutelage of one of the best Jazz teachers we were privileged to have; Peter Teo. Dance practices were tough; we clock a minimum two dance practices a week, each taking up four hours [and more actually]. Two was spent on body conditioning (stretching – flexibility is very important for Jazz dancers), one hour on across-the-floor where we practice our techniques across the dance studio and the last hour on the routine for the night. I remember going home after every practice dead-beat and waking up the next day with much difficulty. Amin and Nicholas, both having little-to-none background in dance trained and worked harder than anyone I know. One of the hallmarks of Jazz (similar to Ballet) dancing is the pirouettes (or turns). While many faded into the background, Amin and Nicholas continued to work on their pirouettes and techniques. Before I know it, Amin and Nicholas mastered one complete pirouette, then two, then three, then four, while I struggled with just two. Under Peter’s recommendation, they were put into Jitterbug’s audition (for some dance apprenticeship thingy) and they got in. (Last I heard, they were in the range of ten or so)

While I wavered and eventually left the group and dance altogether to focus on other things, Amin and Nicholas trained doubly hard in their craft. Stage Arts wasn’t even the IT (popular) CCA, having lived under the shadows of its sister group, Foreign Bodies but it doesn’t matter. Moving on to a more competitive, tougher and professional level [in the Jitterbugs program], their passion and enthusiasm for dance never wavered, only increase tenfold. The number of pirouettes they can do in one single move is astounding and their flexibility shocking [within such a short time span]. That was the last I know and today, Amin is one of Singapore’s best up-and-coming dancer. I’m pretty sure this journey was not just filled with sweat [a whole lot of it, take my word], blood and tears, it must had been filled with doubts, criticisms and all, perhaps by the people closest to him.  On the larger scheme of things, dance; like arts is after all rarely seen as a job that can bring in the dough [in Singapore].

I like what American author, Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

One quote we always recite in Church, “If you can see it, you can have it.” And Amin did just that. Awarded with the coveted Singapore Dance Delight winner’s trophy, performed the centerpiece item for O School’s Wonderment and flying off to Japan to represent Singapore; the journey’s tough, but the pain is worth it.

See, it doesn’t matter what others say or think. If you have a dream, you got to keep running for it. There will be the up slopes [don’t stop running] and the down slopes [enjoy the moment]. It’s gonna be tough, you may run out of breath and it may take every ounce of fiber in you to keep putting your feet forward one after another, but don’t stop. Keep going. Run with the wind. Before you know it, you’re that much closer and would have inspired a whole movement behind your back.

To end, American author, Marianne Williamson said:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

“I’m so proud of you bro! It’s my honor to have known you! Do us proud in Japan!”

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TGIF: Letters To:

TGIF

In the previous entry, you see ‘Letters From:‘; letters addressed to me by friends and loved ones. However, a person who receives and does not give [back] is like a dead sea – so rich in minerals, yet no life can exist there – with only inputs without outputs. It takes two hands to clap, and it takes both on either side to maintain a relationship. Letters are one of the most practical ways to do so. Two-penny letters (Hanson, Kinfolk Volume Three, p102-103) work very well as opposed to the notion that one should only write ‘proper’, lengthy letters. A simple “Hey, love your dress!” or “Meet for coffee soon, old sport.” can be so heartfelt in letting the addressee know that you are thinking of them.

I have written and sent out much letters, post cards, post-its, handmade and DIY cards to friends and loved ones through the years but two-penny letters is a quick solution with the same intent and outcome [though results vary depending on effort spent la]. One doesn’t have to fret over filling in the lines of the letter with ‘substantial’ content too. Simplicity is the way of life. There’s also lesser pressure and expectation added to the addressee; they are not forced to write something back.

We’ve all received that out-of-the-blue note from a friend; the joy and comfort that these little check-ins bring us is incredible considering the simplicity and scale of the act. It doesn’t take much time or effort to jot down a thinking-of-you note to a friend that will change their day.
Killeen Hanson (Kinfolk Volume Three)

A follow-up to Kinfolk‘s HOW TO BE NEIGHBORLY: CHECKING IN article, here‘s how you can ‘check in’ in someone else’s lives without being too over the top. And it is inexpensive too. Scattered all around hot-spots in Singapore are the Zo card racks constantly topped up and replenished with new Zo [post] cards on a regular basis. Pick up a few with interesting themes, colors, concepts, photography, etc. Bring them home, use a trusty pen to write on the blank areas of the card, give them by hand or by post whichever is preferred. For my foreign friends, you can collect all those free post cards from your country’s attractions and hot-spots (museums, tourist centers, etc), they are good for writing too.

Knowledge is power, now that you know how and what to do, send out your two-penny letters [or Zo cards]!

P.S. I would love to see your two-penny letters. Please feel free to tag me on your blogs or social media platforms, or drop me a hyperlink to your new media platforms under the comments section of this entry.

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Letters From:

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I was clearing my room during the long weekends the other day and coincidentally came across a treasure trove of stuff all hidden within the confines of my little room. Amongst those treasures were letters I have collected and kept for the past eight years. Through the years, I’ve received a number of letters from friends and loved ones.

While there are many ways to express love and gratitude, it is my belief that giving letters is one of the most sincere ways to do so. Letters [may] require spending; one needs to buy a nicely designed card, letter, postcard [and possibly a nice envelope to go along with it. Senders who designed their own cards may incur overheads such as acquiring markers and card design materials from DYI art marts. Letters require effort; senders may design the cards themselves or, sender needs to pick a card or letter style that he or she believes suits the receiver of the letter, next the sender has to write [or type] the words out to fill the intentional void of the letter. Letters require thoughtfulness; you don’t scribble any-old-how on the letter face just to fill the pages. The writer often puts himself in the person’s predicament [or victorious moment] and pens something related to that and ending off with his blessings or encouragement. Letters definitely require time; the sender has to sacrifice previous time off other priorities of his life to fill in the words.

The benefits of receiving a physical letter far outweigh many other form of blessings. A letter is eternal; sure the letter might degenerate a little, the words may fade a little, but keep it stored in a cool, moist-free place and this letter can last decades. A letter is ‘evergreen’. There’s a saying by Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel” and letters fulfill that role just right. Even if you have moved on with life, rereading those letters again invoke a sense of warmth and closeness the reader shared with the sender. When opened, the ‘encapsulated’ heartfelt words, encouragement and blessing rises up into the air like perfume, bringing fragrance and joy to one’s soul.

I thank God that I am important enough for some to have invested time, effort and money on letters addressed to me. Letters given to me when I transferred away from my first and second cell group, letters given to me when I finally graduated from my second attempt at O levels, letters given to me when I was baptized, letters given to me during my birthdays, letters given to me by dear friends, letters given to me by my bible study students, letters given to me during festive seasons and such. I ride on the encouragement from those letters.

Though those times are now past and gone, I will never forget how important those words were to me. To those who were involved in any of these letters, thank you. Your kind words have an eternal alleviating effect on me. Even as I read them now, they never fail to put a smile on my face. I thank God for all of your letters and friendship.

See if you can spot your own letters!

P.S. I don’t normally reveal contents of letters online for obvious reasons but not doing so this time will do injustice to those who had been such a blessing to me.

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Letter from my first cell group members. I hope that I have grown since then.

 

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Thank you G for being so teachable. May you shine brighter and make a bigger impact than me in the KOG.

 

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Thanks A, I really treasured those times spent with W385.. Thank you for being a mentor to me in so many ways.

 

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Thank you V for being there with me in spirit during this important day.

 

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Thank you E for being such a blessing to me.

 

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S, I appreciate your friendship. Keep in touch.

 

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Y, glad to have played a part in your life. You have gone so far, getting a job and academic certificate, and even graduating from SOT! I am so proud of you.

Standing With A Friend

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PHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay

When we have our backs against the wall, it’s good to know that we have each other. Shoulder to shoulder, side by side, arm in arm, cheek to jowl. I got your back, my friend.

“If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.” – S. E. Hinton

This weekend’s bulletin is my favorite thus far. Thank you CHC Design and Foto team for all the amazing visuals all these months. You know who you are. 🙂

Introducing Kinfolk

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I was just browsing Kinokuniya few weeks back when I chanced upon this relatively new magazine; Kinfolk that hails from the States. i like the slogan of the magazine – A Guide For Small Gatherings. But what really caught my attention at the start was the images featured in the magazine. There’s something therapeutic about syncing two things; ice cream my true love and flowers into one picturesque treat. It’s an eye feast for me. But that’s not all. The writings on the mag is so intimate and full-of-heart. It seems as though they are writing to old friends, and I sure feel like an old friend reading the letters from the good people at Kinfolk. Kinfolk is a quarterly mag that caters to the young artists and food enthusiasts. Each (144 paged) magazine is packed with ‘lyrical essays, recipes, interviews, personal stories and practical tips with a keen attention to design and details’ and more. Some articles make you wanna get up and do something, some reminds you of things past, some make you crave for a particular food(and teaches you how to make it), it’s magic. And our folks at Kinfolk make it their mission to fill in the gap at newsstands, so you can be assured that every issue is quality and bang for your buck.

Learn something new, do something different. Their writings is like poetry to me, I love every image and articles they have to feature. It’s actually quite hard to entice me with magazines because I have a very and I mean very, exclusive taste bud, only a select few have captured my attention thus far. Yet, I devoured Kinfolk in less than a week..! The price is pretty steep at SGD $30.98 (Kinokuniya), a total one up from the already expensive magazines I follow but hey, you got to pay for good content right? And what makes it even better is the contents are ‘evergreen’ (means you will still enjoy it five years later) and makes for good conversation and activities starter. Congrats Kinfolk, you got yourself a new follower. Oh I will quit talking and let the images do the talking. By the way, their next issue will be released June 4!

Other magazines I follow: Frankie (Australia)(SGD $15.90) // Oh Comely (UK)(SGD $17.90)

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The folks at Kinfolk separated the magazine into three parts in whole; Entertaining For One, Entertaining For Two, Entertaining For Few. Each part is unique on its own and yet combined together makes this a totally apt magazine. Enhance the experience by attempting the activities with a partner or few.

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Love the bird’s eye view of farmlands! So much symmetry. Thank you Kinfolk!

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Learn how to make yourself a good cuppa, folks.

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Interview with like-minded individuals, all extremely talented. It’s good to know one is not alone on this sojourning.

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Ice cream is both a time of day and a dessert.
Like tea, it is both a snack between meals and something to finish off dinner.

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Floral scoops! Two loves put together! I’m in love.

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Really oddball articles but I love it!

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Beautiful photography, enough said.

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Being neighborly. I was inspired and got to work after reading this!

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As the saying goes, “Man don’t need a lot of revelation, man just need a lot of reminders. I’m inspired and reminded to do something different.

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Familiar Stranger (Part 2)

Hongik SubwayPHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay – Entrance of Hongik University Subway, Seoul, South Korea

 

Continuing from where I left off earlier, I recently remembered two kids I used to play with at a time when I attend a child care centre after school. It was during my primary school years. Strange enough, I still remember their names. The two girls (who are also sisters) were Shauna and Samantha.

They joined the centre slightly later than me, both wore spectacles, both had short hair. They have a dad whose head is fully laden with white hair. Shauna was probably around my age and a thinker too, while Samantha was younger but had one of the brightest smiles i can register from when my memory could record. We would play with the other kids, do a little sport, have our meals together, fall asleep together sometimes (don’t entertain silly thoughts please).

Their dad would fetch them from the centre every evening. I remembered asking them questions as to why their dad had white hair so early in his days. (Actually I think its also because their dad is not as young as typical dads la) They replied innocently that he might be quite stressed at work, and that he is a police superintendent or something like that.

Childhood days were the best days to make friends. We could be friends just at the snap of the finger. I wonder how are they now? How is their dad? How do they look like? Does Shauna have a boyfriend now? Does Samantha still have that sunshine smile?

Maybe I bumped into them before but just don’t notice nor recognize them anymore and they of me. Maybe we had a ‘向左走·向右走’ moment. We all had friends from when we were in pre-school and primary school, co-curricular activities, school camp days. We probably laughed together, cried together, possibly fought and/or quarreled with each other before. But we were too young to remember it all. Perhaps we walked past such a friend on the streets just yesterday, but we no longer remember. Perhaps you can call that, familiar stranger.

I hope to meet them again one day though, even though we probably have zero conversation topic.

 

P.S. I have no idea why I still remember much details of this past.