At home in yourself


Sunday, I only spoke once to a human being - “thanks, no need plastic bag.” I may also have said “keep going” aloud to a plant fighting a mild infestation of mealy bugs. For an introvert, Sunday was paradise.

Years ago I had this conversation with James about what he would do when alone - the most natural and enjoyable thing that came to mind. I rejected his immediate answer “sleep”, and he, after some thinking, replied “running”. It was an equally honest answer. When he could not solve a problem or crack a brief, when he wanted time alone, when he needed to feel better about himself, even when we were overseas on holiday - he went running. As he got older, he ran shorter distances and less, and perhaps that reflected all the stresses building up in his life.

My answer then was “drawing”. It still is. Reading, writing or watching a film are second nature to me, but there is something different about drawing… Maybe because there is a visceral quality about the act of drawing - the smell of ink, the touch of the paper, the weight of a pen or brush on the surface, the movement of the arm or body as you consider a line. Lockdown led me to take out my Chinese ink brushes again. There is greater unpredictability and surprise in the relationship between brush, ink, water and rice paper - and in that, a degree of control and play. Drawing with Chinese ink, even when making a still life, often feels like seeking an abstraction. Sunday I was trying to teach myself how to draw chrysanthemums, but this particular drawing can also be codenamed #introvertparadise.

So what is the one thing you instinctively turn to when you are alone? Don’t say the mobile phone lah! And since some of you are seldom alone (you poor parents who don’t even get alone-time in the loo), perhaps another way of asking the question is this: what is the activity that makes you feel most at home in your body or in yourself?


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