Writing is a paradox—torture and wonder take turns influencing my mood as I sit at my desk for days trying to inject meaning to my wayward thoughts. An entire day of honest work could amount to three pages of beautifully written prose or one useless paragraph that can be erased from existence with a few keystrokes. Time is inconsequential when attempting to make sense of the world using only words.

During my adolescence and teens books enabled guilt-free escapism otherwise limited by strictly monitored PG-13 television shows and dial-up modem. Images and characters materialized in my mind as words poured in, giving life to a secret realm reserved only for my private thoughts . Writing is reliving this experience backwards: an endless rearrangement of sentences to complete a puzzle.

 
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The large kitchen in my childhood home also functioned as a dining area—thanks to a wooden cupboard that played the role of divider and storage unit. The only other memory I have of that room is the cold concrete floor. My best paintings covered every inch of the cupboard’s back that I stared at during breakfast every morning. I was 20 when I encountered John Singer Sargent’s El Jaleo, and it forever changed the way I looked at art. Seven years later, Rothko brought me to tears at MOCA in Los Angeles .

Visual arts are not a luxury for the rich—they offer respite from the necessity to label everything and accomplish what words cannot. Engaging with a painting’s violent brushstrokes, quirky title, or obscure meaning is often the medicine one needs after encountering the current state of affairs. 

 
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Yoga introduced itself to the 21-year old version of myself, at that time a student living in the United States. I reluctantly entered my first class at the Wild Lotus studio, but left with a strange sense of clarity. After ten years of practice with four disciples of the Iyengar method, it is difficult to function without my bi-weekly 90-minute session. My postural practice is but a superficial expression of a centuries-old philosophy.

Yoga’s other seven steps deal with ethics, spirituality, breath, detachment, concentration, meditation, and eternal peace. To many critics, this is New Age gibberish. Patanjali called it ‘sarvabhauma’: a universal culture that does not differentiate between skin colour and afflictions of body and mind. A common cure to man’s suffering, yoga challenges traditional treatment methods offered by multi-national corporations: short-term, overpriced, and ridden with side effects. 

 
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Surfing is an absurd sport involving tight rash guards, fiberglass boards, raging seas, and herculean strength. Good days involve as many wipeouts as catching perfect waves. Leash tangles can inflict serious injury and razor-sharp reefs threaten to tear delicate flesh softened by salt water.

A half-decent pop-up on a four-foot wave, however, softens the blow of every fall and washes away the body aches. Riding it means overcoming fear, doubt, and a hundred distractions packaged by a busy mind. Some label this feeling elation or ecstasy—to me, surfing is an unburdening, a becoming. 

 
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