Browse the Garden

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Immortality and Meaning

Immortality and loneliness usually go hand in hand. I'm reading a manga series called Immortal Rain by Kaori Ozaki. In the story, a character named Rain cannot die, no matter what happens to him. This fact makes thousands of bounty hunters put a price on his head, and many people become envious of his condition. How Rain feels about this life style is a different story. He hates how people pass through his life and how no matter how hard he tries, he cannot stop other people from slipping away. This dilemma has been explored in many other novels, including Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. Stories that contain this internal conflict often discuss what it means to truly live. Rain feels trapped by his fate to live forever. Instead of a powerful characteristic, eternal life is a prison to him. The one thing he will never lose faith in, is people. As an archetypal wanderer, Rain is an interesting protagonist. His immortality was forced on him and he becomes a pawn in a dangerous game. It's one of those deep questions, how would a person handle living like a god? Immortality seems a scary way to live life, especially if you are the only one who lives forever. Characters that do live forever, or who have abnormally long lives, possess a strange wisdom and constant sadness. It is the opposite of an unpredictable and limited life. An immortal character will think and wander for many years, focusing on the personal issues he or she will face. Maybe this is why the Greek and Roman gods grow bored and interfere in mortals' lives. When someone has a very long life, without fear and without obstacles, they question their purpose. This is a human trait, and in a way immortals are even more human than mortal characters. The real meaning in an immortal's life is defined through the choices they make and the perspective they have during eternal life. I still don't know how Immortal Rain will end, but the main character is a rare person who does what he can with his gift and curse of immortality.
So what would the meaning of life be to someone that will live forever?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Haley, Dingo and the Thunder Monster

The thunder crashed outside as Haley, a fourteen year old black lab, lifted her head. Not too far from Haley, sat Dingo, a three year old bundle of energy.
"What's that?" Dingo asked while he perked up his ears.
"Thunder." Haley replied with a yawn. It was usually best to take a nap during a thunder storm. Dingo had a different plan. After a good scratch, he wandered around the room, sniffing and listening. Haley sighed. Where did he get that energy?
The humans were out for the day, and Haley had hoped to take a snooze before they returned.
"Aren't you coming?" Dingo asked while he stopped at the door.
"No thanks," Haley replied, "I've done that plenty of times."
Dingo titled his head.
"I never found the source of the thunder. Whatever it is, it's not in the house."
“You sure?”
Haley yawned again, while Dingo walked out the door. He searched upstairs, downstairs and even watched the door, but the thunder monster was nowhere to be found. Once the sound stopped, Dingo wagged his tail and went back to Haley.
“I scared it away!” he proclaimed with pride.
“Nice job” Haley said while she rolled over.
Dingo yawned and stretched, all energy spent.
"Now I'm kind of tired" Dingo said, while Haley closed her eyes.
Both dogs curled up for a nap while the rain pattered against the window.
Finally, after all the excitement, a nice moment of peace and quiet.

Never too late?

"NEVR2L8", the license plate read on the car in front of me. As I stared at it, I couldn't help but wonder why the owner of the car chose that phrase for their license plate. There are a lot of things people say it's never too late for. It's never too late to forgive; it's never too late to change; It's never too late to learn; and it's never too late to try. Maybe the owner of the car believed in these things and wanted to be remembered by them. Maybe the owner discovered it was never too late to live life, or find love, or follow their dreams. Regardless of the reason for their license plate, I imagine that the person driving the car experienced an epiphany of sorts that related to that phrase. It could be anything. It's also possible that phrase was chosen to make other people think. Whatever the reason for that license plate, the phrase rang through my head the whole drive home. Maybe one day, I'll experience that epiphany, or create a phrase that means something, and I'll stick that phrase in a place where I'll be able to read it everyday.

What do you believe it's never too late for?
If you made a license plate like this. What would it say?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stopping to smell the flowers

This is probably the most difficult lesson I need to learn. The truth is, I'm not comfortable when everything goes right. Once there is a problem, I automatically feel relieved and understand that I'm in the real world. There is rarely a time when I do not worry, or constantly think about things I have done or haven't done. Chores, homework, social issues, family problems and self conflicts go through my head all day everyday, so I think it's important for me to learn how to stop and smell the flowers.
I assume that once someone stops worrying or thinking for just a little while, the stress and frustration they constantly go through disappears as their mind becomes a blank slate. Meditation is useful for this purpose, along with vacations, spas and so on. But truth be told, I have never done that. I'm afraid that I have become comfortable with constant chaos or drama. This habit is a horrible one that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. I don't consider this a strength or even a weakness. I've lived with this pattern for as long as I can remember. But this habit is so unhealthy that it can corrupt the person's thinking. So how do you stop this? How do you feel content with just having fun, not worrying about anything, or thinking about whatever problem is on your mind?
There are days when I envy people who seem to just let go and have fun constantly. Then, I wonder how they do it. I'm sure everyone has worries, problems and issues. My questions is, how do you leave them at the door? How do you let loose and have fun, regardless of what is going on around you? How do you wipe the slate clean and stop to smell the flowers?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Revelations at Cataract Lake

My family and I went to Cataract Lake today and were surprised at the crowd! Normally I feel incredibly uncomfortable around too many people, but the atmosphere was nice. At first, I just listened and allowed myself to enjoy the scenery and soft chatter. As time went on, I finally decided that it is better to be a part of the social world than observe from afar. A charming family that consisted of an uncle, father and five children were fishing and having a great time. My family chose a picnic table in front of the lake, while a lady, dog and toddler sat by the shore. One of the kids got up and walked toward the lady's dog, wanting to pet it. They seemed so nice and even though the lady seemed nervous, she allowed them to pet her dog, but only for a short moment. Our dog Haley was under the table, and i knew she was great with kids so I shouted, "Hey, this dog loves kids too!" Four of the five rushed over to Haley and she enjoyed every minute of it. It was then that the uncle came over to the the table for a chat. We talked about fishing, hiking and my mom told plenty of great, mountain stories. It was a nice experience, and it made me realize something. I shouldn't be scared of socializing at all. I knew the reasons why I freaked out, but it's one of those moments you should experience, and may regret if you don't. It was amazing how kind the people were and how neighborly the situation felt. I haven't had that experience before, except during a family reunion or get together. We all had dogs. Some people liked to fish, and other people had picnics. It was a peaceful and enlightening afternoon. So, I learned many things from a trip to the lake. I learned that people love stories, whether they are telling them or listening with a grin. During that afternoon, I had plenty of time to reflect. I even started writing again!
The sun was shining, water lapped up at the rocks as children giggled and parents cast their lines. People were chatting, which created a soft mumbling sound that was almost overpowered by the rush of the waterfall. Daisies, buttercups, clover flowers, and small white buds dotted the grass while cattails swayed in the breeze. In the distance, hikers wearing all sorts of different colors were dots that moved along the trail. With many different sights and sounds, the outdoors became a tranquil place where just enough time could be spent walking around the trail and relaxing in the grass.
Sometimes a small vacation can help you learn about yourself.

What vacations have you learned from?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Last Summer

In many ways, summer can be the most difficult time for a college student. The student goes from having not enough time, to having too much time to think and dwell on things. For me, summer is fun for a little while, until I must invent projects to keep me busy. It is easy to worry. Worry about the future; worry about the past; and worry about the present. I compare my life to others' and criticize everything I do. I think more than I act. But, I imagine that the most difficult summer for a college student is the summer before they graduate. Not sure where they are going and wondering how they will get there, the student suddenly realizes that they have only seen a small part of the world. No matter what major they have chosen, these revelations are all the same for every person.
I believe the last summer is a summer for reflection. I ask myself many different questions: What have I accomplished? How will I achieve my goals? Who do I want to be?
I'm sure that these questions are normal. Even the fear of the unknown is a natural human instinct. But, this summer I have asked even more questions: Who have I become? How did I get here? What should I let go of? What should I keep?
It is ironic how simple these questions are and how complicated there answers will be. But the one question that towers above them all is this: Do I have the right perspective? Over the years I have learned small lessons on how the world works. I learned to pay my dues, appreciate what I have and earn what I want. So how do I view the world now? College is its own universe, and I will be going from an educational routine, to a new life and system in the working world.
So this summer, I will try to organize everything I know and learn its proper place. Life is about constant change, and people must remove the old to make way for the new. I will be doing this not only with my books, movies, CDs and toys, but with my memories and thoughts. Because it's my last summer, I hope this project will rejuvenate me and inspire me to hope instead of worry. Perhaps by organizing my life now, I can be a better and stronger person in the future. Maybe, the last summer is a time to discover and understand the self.

I invite my readers to share: What did you feel or how would you feel during your last summer?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Legends and Stories (A reflection on the korean drama Hong Gil Dong)

After watching so many Korean dramas by the Hong sisters, I wanted to give Hong Gil Dong a try. I heard it was very different compared to their other works, and I enjoyed watching the outcast Hong Gil Dong grow from someone who believed he could do nothing to someone who could build the world of his dreams. The most fascinating part of Hong Gil Dong's story is his struggle between doing what he believes is right, and deciding how to become a balanced role model for the people. Of course, many of his choices involve sacrifice and consequences that he becomes overwhelmed by. But he is not the only person trying to change the world. The prince, who believes that he is the legitimate heir also struggles with morality. As a person believed to be dead, he has to make sacrifices of his own, including many attempts to claim the throne through wrong methods chosen by his supporters. I won't tell you how the story ends, but I will say that the characters make the story possible. Watching this show really influenced me to research great stories and decide what type of character a hero should be, what makes a villain and how characters grow and change. Aside from being an epic tale, Hong Gil Dong explores the minds of people who try to make sense of a chaotic world. It is more than giving each character a back story. When all those stories come together, the real epic story begins. I highly recommend watching this drama and learning with the characters as they grow and change.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Story preview: The scribe of Anubis chapter 1

I wrote this a while ago for my creative writing class :) I would love constructive criticism to improve the story.

I was inspired to write this story when I saw this pen at the Denver Art Museum gift shop.

Chapter 1
I didn’t choose to work for Anubis, the previous god of the underworld. The task of guarding the names and keeping them hidden had been passed down in the Logos family for generations. I also didn’t choose for someone to break into my parents’ house and steal the Anubis Book of the Dead. I should remind you, however, that I am only fourteen and in big trouble.
My name is Seth Logos. On my fourteenth birthday, I was given an Anubis pen from my grandfather. At first glance it seemed an ordinary pen, a trinket from a museum gift shop. The problem about the gift was the fact it didn’t work.
Every time I set the pen to paper, no ink appeared on the page. I even drew in circles until my arm got tired. When I complained to my dad, he only laughed and said the pen would work “when the time was right”. Two days later, my school principle decided to arrange a field trip to the museum. The exhibit of King Tut would only be available for a limited time.
The day of the field trip, I made a last minute decision to bring the Anubis pen with me, mostly to show off. I remember the teacher, Miss Cane explaining the importance of the artifacts and to always stay in your group. I also remember the silence of the building.
We made a line to the double doors and watched the bored tour guide press a button to begin the opening film. Harrison Ford described the culture of Egypt while pronouncing each Pharaoh’s name with dignity. Then the doors opened and Miss Cane told us to get out a notebook and a pen. I grinned as Zach stared at the Anubis pen.
“Is that. . .?” he started.
“Yeah, I’ve been to this place before.” I answered.
“I thought this was the first time the exhibit has come to this museum.”
“Yeah it is. I was visiting in New York when I went there.”
Zach seemed impressed, but we had already lost our group. A few minutes later, Miss Cane found us.
“Why aren’t you in group C?”
“On our way.” I grinned while walking toward my classmates, Haley and Kiya.
Kiya was just finishing her introduction when Zach and I slipped in the group for roll call. Haley was already writing notes. I wasn’t surprised. She always seemed to know everything. Kiya didn’t mind.
“You should all follow Haley’s example and start taking notes.”
I rolled my eyes as Haley beamed. She twirled a curly black pigtail with pride. I started to write notes when I realized I was using the inkless pen. It was working, but it wasn’t writing the thoughts I wanted. I was supposed to be taking notes on Egyptian statues. Instead my pen began writing on its own:
Long ago, the god Osiris took the task of ruling the underworld from the god Anubis. Banished from this place, Anubis continued to record the history of the dead. Although the god could no longer weigh the hearts of the deceased, he hired a scribe to write the names of every Pharaoh said to be wiped from history.
“Seth.” Kiya spoke while staring at my notes, “What are you writing?”
“It’s Egyptian.” I replied in defense.
“That’s strange,” Haley said while looking over my shoulder. “How did you know about Anubis?”
“I don’t, I mean I do.”
She gave me a skeptical look. I must have resembled an idiot, standing there and staring at my pen like it was a snake. Unfortunately, my pen wasn’t finished.
The goddess of truth, Ma’at found the scribe and arranged a deal with Anubis. As long as the names remained guarded, the gods would not know about the Anubis Book of the Dead. However, the god Horus was cunning. He trapped the scribe of Anubis in a shabti as punishment for working against the gods. Anubis was furious and vowed to deliver the shabti to the guardians of his Book of the Dead. The shabti was passed to the Logos bloodline in order to protect what Anubis had hidden from the world.
My blood froze. I put the pen away and tried to focus on the object we were looking at. It was a pendant with the eye of Horus. As I read the information in tiny print, I noticed the pendant began to shake. Haley was watching too. I had never seen her look so horrified. But, before I could reveal in the glory that I wasn’t crazy, I noticed that Zach also stared at the pendant. He seemed to be in a trance.
No one else noticed. All the tourists read quickly, took a quick glance and then walked by without interest. I saw the strange blue air swirl from the pendant into Zach’s eyes. After a blink it was gone and I tapped his shoulder to make sure he was okay. Instead of nodding and saying he was fine, he glared at me and said, “Where’s the book?”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The value of stories

(clip art courtesy of

I've been reading Walt Disney's biography and I found a great quote:

"To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments." —Walt Disney

I actually got into a discussion with my friends about the importance of stories a while ago. We had just finished watching a movie, and the argument was pretty intense, but I found great value in the topic. When I watch a movie, read a book, or even play a game, the first thing I focus on is the story. The main character must have a element of humanity and take that element to grow within whatever conflict he or she faces. Stories have always been internal, social and personal lessons to me. With stories, we can learn what we want to become and how to face our fears. I imagine that's why fairy tales last so long. Each story and character symbolizes a certain element of humanity. It's that element that makes a story grow, and I think the element must come from some experience in the storyteller's life. The motivation to focus on certain topics is an infinite fascination to people. The basic stories involve love, family, trust, courage and self confidence. As I have learned from many writing and reading classes, these are human elements that tie an audience to a story. Conflict is also necessary to keep the story interesting, but it is usually the core lesson of the tale. Whatever conflict the main character must face, their resourcefulness, intelligence and their motivation will help the character conquer whatever fear they have. I could list many examples, not only of Disney movies, but of literature, TV shows, video games and books that use these human elements to tie the audience down.
The more I learned of these human elements, the more I realized that personal experience is a crucial ingredient to a writer's story. Even if an author is asked to write a character that is their opposite, that author will write what they believe to be their opposite by using their personal experience and their opinion. So what am I rambling on about? Well, you can't tell a story if you don't know what matters to you. By knowing yourself, you can understand everyone else. I feel this is the most important lesson for an author. I know that I have a lot to learn before I write more stories. If the topic is not clear to the writer, chances are the topic won't be clear to the reader. So stories are personal experiences of people that are represented through the lens of a fantasy world. That's why good stories last so long. Something about the story reflects an element of humanity, and shows the truth of the human heart.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review: Kiki's Delivery Service

I grew up with this movie, so when I found out it was based on a book, I had to read it. The book is written by Eiko Kadono and is written in a similar style as Roald Dahl's works. Although the movie is a little different, the book has its own charm. The lesson of growing up and being on your own in the world is an important ingredient in Kiki's story. As Kiki learns to create a life of her own, she learns to cope with the events around her. This is no easy task when her only talent is flying and she must win the trust of everyone in a new town, far from home. I recommend both the movie and the book to anyone who enjoys adventure, resourcefulness and the lessons of becoming independent. I give this book five out of five sarcastic black cats!

Chocolate Castle

One of my roommates at the Disney College Program introduced me to this game. It's cute and addicting so I thought I would share. You can download the free demo here ^_^

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cleaning the Slate

It's not an easy task.
First, you clear the clutter.
Then, you try to understand.
How significant is this anyway?
Does it matter?
Or should it go?
Each memory is put in a place
and given either a second chance
or a banishment.
Some call it a chore:
cleaning the slate.
Others find ways
to learn,
to understand,
and to thrive in the clutter.
It's a strange concept,
for something to be really gone.
Is it truly possible to go
back to the beginning?
Maybe in a book or movie;
a video game with many lives in tact.
But, with just one life,
cleaning the slate
takes on a new meaning.
Emotionally, it is a practice.
Physically, it is a therapy.
Mentally, it is a challenge.
It is no easy task
to clear the mind
and let everything go.
Even if it is only
for a moment.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

the lone windmill

The morning mist came in from the sea as the people walked their dogs along the beach. Every house seemed to belong on the coast. Some were pale peach, sea green and a faded blue, but towering above the trees, inns and neighborhoods, a windmill appeared like a shadow in the light fog. From the inn's balcony, it seemed to rebel the touristy atmosphere and add a comforting effect. If the fog covered the beach, houses and tress, the wind mill might have seemed to belong to a farm far from any distracting lights or noises. Early in the morning, it was a welcome symbol of tranquility in a busy town.

Cookie Blob experiment

Since I was a kid, I always wondered what would happen if the pillsbury cookie dough roll went in the oven, without being cut into thinner cookies. My friends and I decided to give it a try, and this was the result! The middle part of the cookie blob isn't all the way cooked, but the dough turns into a cookie cake with cookie dough filling. It was a fun experiment!

Materials needed:

Cookie sheet
Pillsbury cookie dough roll
(reminder: do not cut up the dough!)
Friends and sugar!

How to be like Walt

While in San Francisco, we went to the Walt Disney Family Museum. Since I went to the Disney College Program, Walt Disney has been one of my role models in the realm of achieving dreams. I decided to find a great book about him a few weeks ago, but I couldn't find books that focused specifically on his story. Most of the books focused the the effects of his films on other people, but at the museum, I found a book that included an introduction written by one of Disney's personal friends. Walt Disney's story from a farm boy fascinated with drawings to a successful entertainer is an amazing and inspirational read. I will post a full book review when I finish reading the last half of the book.


Simplicity is very important in many things. Stories usually have a simple story lines. Some of the most inspiring quotes are simple and straight forward. So, perhaps simplicity can make the perfect statement in a photo.

The Friendship Coupon

This is a coupon that never expires. It is a guarantee, one-hundred percent, that I will be there whenever you need me. Even if I don't pick up right away; even if we're in a fight; even if I grow immature or angry. I will still be your friend, and no matter where you are, I will think of you. So, on those days where work is rough, life is hard, or you just want a break from the world, even if you don't feel like talking, know that I understand and I will do my best to help you. Because you have done so much for me, and I would not be who I am without your support. So, if you need a friend and I'm far away or in my own self exile, this coupon is a simple reminder that you are not alone in the world.

I dedicate this coupon to all my friends. Without them, I don't know where I would be today, and I know for a fact, I wouldn't have had so much fun :)

Why I wrote this: When you spend some time with friends who have been far away, and almost live in a different world, you want them to be content and satisfied with the life they're living. You feel a bit strange when it's time to go, because it doesn't hit you until the moment you're back home. All the while, during the moments you spend with them, you want to make the most of it, but you also realize you aren't perfect. This feeling teaches you a lot about who you are, and what type of life you're living. These thoughts drifted in my head on the last day of my week vacation.

The Ever-changing Tide and Calming Ocean

I think that it should be required in therapy to go to the beach on a nice day, and watch the ocean. The waves lap against the shore, leaving serpentine patterns in the sand. It reminds me of a clean slate. Every time a wave rolls in, the sand changes into a different pattern. Shells and sea creatures come and go with the tide, never knowing where they will end up until they reach the shore. It's all a dance of fate, destiny and chance. The tide is not a predicable transport, and the sand is never quite the same. Sometimes it makes me wonder how it is so relaxing to watch a constant change. Most of life is terrifying because it has no set pattern. Events come and go throughout our lives, changing us for better or for worse. Knowledge of the future is impossible with only one guarantee, that it will change. So I wonder if the effect of water constantly changing causes a subconscious decision to notice the beauty in an unpredictable life. From the perspective of someone pulled by the tide, it can be a terrifying experience. But from a distance, the constant change can be a beautiful and calming thing.

The Life of a Starfish

The life of a starfish
must be very grand;
To crawl through the water
and lay in the sand.
No starfish is the same,
with colors galore.
Though some people wonder
if their life is a bore.
While wading through water
a starfish must know
how to relax in the ocean
and put on a show!

The Tale of the Castle Festis

One day, the three creators decided that a beach would not be complete without a castle. One of the creators, master of water, had never made one before. The masters of fire and earth were shocked to hear that their fellow creator was inexperienced in castle making. They set off to collect their materials to build the great castle Festis. They found a plastic fork, stick, broken pink shovel, wooden chef spoon, pink shoe, piece of wood and a Styrofoam cup. And thus, the great castle Festis was built.

San Francisco trip :)

Today I will upload a week's worth of blogging inspired by my trip to visit a friend in San Francisco! It was a lot of fun and I learned a few things about myself while I was there. I hope you enjoy my fun stories and reflections!