Life for Beginners

Stories by Kenny Mah   |   Live Everything


Be kinder to…yourself

We are reminded constantly not to judge others, to have empathy and a kind heart. This is good advice. Sometimes we apply it, sometimes we don’t.

But rarely do we employ this counsel on ourselves. We judge ourselves harshly, crueler perhaps than our verdicts on friends and strangers alike. The money that we have, our jobs, our weight and waistlines. Our love life or lack thereof. We are not kind to ourselves.

Today I invite myself to see how far I’ve come and how well I’m done. I’ve done alright. Having a roof over my head, food on my table, and the ability to run, laugh, and cry. Why, these are all blessings!

I shall be kinder to myself. How about you?

Don’t wait for the end of the tunnel

I sit down. I’ve ordered us our coffees. You wanted the affogato and I decided I wanted one too. You smile at me shyly. It’s been too long since we’ve talked or shared a drink together. How unusual that we wanted the same thing; usually you’d go for something white, for the latte art, perhaps, while I prefer it black and unsweetened.

But we both do like our coffees.

We talk and the months — the years, really — slip away easily. I curse a lot more when I’m with you; you laugh a lot more too, I think. We recall our former colleagues and clients with fondness and fatigue. Old loves and pursuits with regret and relief. Ah, but that’s all in the past now.

Except I can see it isn’t, not for you.

I want to tell you we have to leave our history behind us; our mistakes are not in our present. I want to tell you to start afresh, to build on the air in your lungs now and the strength that still resides inside you. Forget the tears and sweat and blood of yesterday. Let go of the fatigue and the regret.

Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. We have no guarantee of reaching it. We only have right now, my friend.

We finish our coffees. My cursing and ribald jokes come to an end too. But your sweet smile and joyful laughter? Let those ring on always, my dear.


“Breath in.”

I am breathing in. Fresh air fills my lungs. My chest expands, lifts up. My eyes close gently. I am hope, expectancy, a full day about to begin. Magic, miracles, and remarkable feats await me. Anything is possible. Everything is possible.


“Breath out.”

I am breathing out. The worries of the world leave my body. My shoulders relax, fatigued no more. My eyes open slowly. The promise is the understanding that this is good enough and has always been. I am mindful of this moment, this now. Anything would be okay. Everything will be alright.


“Running up that hill”

Life feels like a struggle on some days. Okay, make that on many days. More often than not.

There are bills to pay and waistlines that stray. Parents are getting older and so am I. (I feel it; jetlag affects me now when it never used to.) Every plate that is placed before me is scrutinized: Am I spending too much on this? Are the ingredients carcinogenic or from factory farming? Will it make my waistline stray even further? Late nights: are you kidding me?

It’s an uphill climb.

One would expect me to crawl on my knees, cursing every step, surely? Or quitting altogether?

No way in hell. I’m running up that hill.

You tell me bills will get paid, one way or another. We have jobs and we can make more money. You don’t try telling me my waist isn’t expanding; you just hug me, wrapping your arms around my offending waist, now something worth adoring. Your parents have passed on; you tell me to visit mine more often. You say we will grow old together; jetlag is a shared experience like a home-cooked meal and beautiful sunsets around the world. You say everything tastes better when I smile. The only thing getting wider is my smile. We will enjoy going early to bed because that means we will rise early too and greet another spectacular morning.

It’s an uphill climb and we are running up that hill together. When I run out of breath or when your muscles ache, we’ll simply stop and enjoy the view. It’s not the hill that matters; it’s who we’re doing the climb with.

It’s you and me, dear.

Nothing is better than this

Nothing is better than this:
just waiting at the departure
gate, an hour, no, two
before it’s time to board.
The anticipation is
thrilling, mere hours
till I get to see you.
So it takes more than half
a day and it’s a continent
away. But once we
share the same space,
baby oh baby,
then it’s all worth it.
(See you soon!)

© 2001–2014 Life for Beginners. All rights reserved. Design by Anders Norén.

“Words are beautiful.”