One word, two letters;
the former with sharp edges, the latter,
a smooth, round body.
Paired with different punctuations,
each No its own entire world.

NO! with an exclamation—
outright rejection of what we don’t want,
the emphatic expression of our displeasure.
One of the first words uttered as a child;
short, easy, straight to the point as we push away
that disgusting broccoli or pea or medicine
our parents try to stuff into our mouths.

nowith trailing ellipses,
drags along uncertainty or worry,
a sign of holding…

NO. Period—
stands firm and steady, resting in its own ground,
gently yet powerfully asserting its disagreement
with whatever came.

And of course, there are many more.

Matched with a comma, quickly followed by a But;
a combination often heard. The No in this trio is brief,
almost inaudible, swiftly propelling its energy into the But,
negating everything with the new proposition.

There’s also the semi-colon, a favorite
in academic literature, hinting there’s more
to the argument that’s coming, as demonstrated
in the preceding example.

how amazing this one word is.
What worlds might open and close
with this singular utterance?

Check out the full newsletter issue on No.

Letter to Self

What we need, we can learn to give it to ourselves.

An inquiry this morning brought me on a journey through the lush field of envy down into the blues, emerging hot with anger before settling into my being with strength and energy pulsing through my arms.

I visited my past and lent my little one my voice to express what she could not back then. All she ever wanted was for my parents to see her.

Stop looking at others, and stop telling me how good they are. Stop. Look at me and tell me how good I am. Help me see my merits and gifts. Tell me I am good and I deserve a place in this world. Tell me, show me, I am precious, no matter how old I am, what form I take. Tell me that despite life being tough, it is worth living. Tell me the whole story, not just half. Don’t be stingy with kindness, thinking it will fuel my complacency. I lack confidence even to begin. I don’t need you to tell the world about me, I need you to tell me about me, not just my bad, but my good as well. I need to know this world is safe for me, and I don’t have to be anyone else other than me.

My Little One

I feel my repressed angst and am reminded of the many occasions I looked elsewhere wishing I did not have to be here to be me. What I craved were the words of affirmation from my parents. They tried their best, they gave me all they could on their worst days and best days. And I needed more than they could provide. So here, I do the work needed to relay to myself the messages I needed to hear.

My Dearest,

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t
but I am still here to tell you,
there’s a place for you in this world—
right here, this spot where you are sitting, in this very body.
Here is where you are, living your dreams, breathing writing.
This is all that matters, this is life.
You are precious. Irreplaceable.
There can never be another you.
I don’t want you to be anyone but yourself.
I know it’s rough outside and I know you can see it through.
I have seen your strength and resilience. And I know
what a courageous soul you are.
Go, pursue what your heart desires.
You have all it takes, and you are worth the fight.
Know that I will be here to catch you when you fall,
I will hold you tight and close until you are ready to try again.

Loving you. Always.

We are responsible for our own healing. When we heal, our healing ripples through the world.

What are the messages you wish you were told when you were young? Will you be the one to say them to yourself?

I write to inquire into my life and to share my learnings from my sojourn on Earth. These essays are my labor of love and also my livelihood. If you wish to support this labor from this labor, please consider aiding its sustenance with a donation. Your support keeps me going.

Donate via PayPal or Venmo @RosslynChay or BuyMeACoffee

Towards Greatness

Winning does not tempt that man.
His growth is: to be the deeply defeated by ever greater things.

Rainer Maria Rilke

This was a quote I included in my book The Weight of My Soul: Uncovering My Significance. I am glad after two years since discovering this quote, I still think about it when I contemplate how I live life. Moreover, I am appreciating his words ever more. Is Man masochistic to seek defeat? No, of course not. Man knows greatness does not come without a single defeat. He is probably the only creature blessed with the faculties to appreciate and know greatness. There is no getting to greatness without traversing the yellow brick road, we cannot achieve greatness through comfort.

A tougher problem offers opportunity for intellectual growth; a heavier weight, physical growth. A breakdown or disruption in life offers opportunity for growth and deepening of our soul. In every discomfort lies an opportunity for growth. It is a testament to the resilience and malleability of human beings.

To be soft and malleable is to allow for growth. We allow ourselves to take in the nutrients we need to grow while retaining the flexibility and possibility of how we grow. We were given soft animal bodies to be impressed upon, to be touched, and to feel warmth and love. When our heart and mind feel secure and safe in our body, they can rest; they can be and do what they were meant to do—to feel and think without the grip of past experiences.

A conversation, then, begins to unfold within: amongst an open loving heart, a calm discerning mind, and a soft steady belly. In this resting state, we uncover our power to be, and act, in this world. From this place, we can falter and fall, and in each fall, choose to intimately know our vulnerability, then rise again. And each time we rise, therein lies our strength shining through what was once vulnerable.

Each proverbial defeat offers us a chance to see distinctly who we took ourselves to be, and learn about who we truly are: fallible beings with infinite potentialities. From this, we get to choose again who we want to be.

Even in our finite time on Earth, we are constantly offered the chance to grow.

Towards greatness.

Star of the Play

12 minutes writing prompt: Star of the Play

Rarely am I the star of any play, my superego tells me there’s no role fitting for me. It has me believing that so I will cling on to that dazzling stage my ego has set up for me. The only stage in my mind, in the play of my own life, starring Rosslyn as the tragic victim. Just so you know, it’s not easy playing the victim. Imagine having to deny the merest bit of power, serving it up to others, neatly plated on a tray. Please enjoy (and don’t hurt me). 

Years of training have helped me fulfil this role really well. If you can’t be the victor, be the victim; it’s better than being a passerby, invisible and forgotten. Tragic roles leave an impression; tugging hearts, breaking some, drawing tears. Look at the damsel in distress, the innocent orphan, the starving artist, such passionate and pitiful creatures, wretched beauties, what’s there not to love about them? They earn sympathy and pennies.

But no, I want no sympathy, that cheap substitute for love where the gaze is always downwards on me, never at the same level. I don’t wish to be a star. I don’t need to be a star. As much as tragedies are romantic, I’d rather be a drop of rain, free-falling, landing on a leaf, then sliding on to another leaf, then another, before reaching the thirsty ground and taken in heartily.

O the desire to simply be
and received as-is

Self Delight

It is satisfying as I leafed through the pages of my journal and run my fingers over the marks I have etched onto the paper. There is a sense of pride in what I have done for myself. Regardless of quantity or quality, these pages are valuable because they contain the preciousness of my being and my life.

I recall the look of satisfaction my niece wore when she managed to slot her book back into its case after a few tries. At 20-months-old, she bore no frustration, instead, her eyes were curious as she rotated the book around various angles, and voila, she found the perfect fit and pushed it all the way in before flashing a contented smile. This precious moment was captured on camera but she was unaware of the audience. She did not look up to seek help, neither did she flash her smile for an audience or for approval. She was just pleased with herself for accomplishing the challenge before her.

Her purity shone through the video; I was both touched and puzzled by her way of being which felt foreign to me. I wondered how I was as a child, and what brought satisfaction to me. Well, when the time is ripe, I will experience it again.

In acknowledging and recognizing myself, I have marked myself significant to me.

And here I am, filled with contentment and pride and awe with what I have accomplished. A manifestation of my thoughts, a pouring forth of my being into ideas, words, and letters that now exist in a physical form. What used to be intimidating and tiring to me is no longer a hassle to avoid, but a cause worth undertaking. When I muster my courage to face my own deeds, without deflection or comparison, I am breaking out of my egoic patterns and beliefs. This is neither a small nor big feat. It is a feat I have accomplished, worthy of my acknowledgment and recognition. And in recognition, I have marked myself significant to me. I am breaking yet another pattern of reacting to a fear of insignificance.

I am pleased with what I have done because I did it. I am delighted I can write, and I appreciate my efforts in writing. I have no idea what outcome my efforts will bring, and that query can come later. There is no need for permission or approval to be satisfied and happy. Just like my sweet little niece being in touch with the joy and the value of her essence.

May we appreciate the little things we do and the inherent value we hold.