Monday, February 28, 2011

Tangled Dreams

{In which Disney's Tangled inspires me to dream — one of my favorite posts}
No work today because it's 2/28, so I got to hang out with Dawson and the newlyweds. Brandon and Phoebe wore matching shirts that said "I love my husband" and "I love my wife" in Chinese — so cute!

But yeah, craziest weekend ever!! So exhausted. But I'm sure you're all eager for the photos. Let's see... I took more than 2.7k photos over the past three days. That's not even including the 350+ I took at the company dinner on Friday. Needless to say, it will be quite a while before I finish sorting all the photos so you guys don't have to wade through thousands of terrible shots. Blog posts may be less regular (and more rushed) while I'm working on photos, so thanks in advance for your patience! 

I watched Tangled with my sister on New Year's Day. I love that movie! I adore Rapunzel and rooted for her all the way. And I cried so much. Oh, her heartbroken parents!

(Tangent: I cry frequently when watching movies and reading books. I will say "ouch!" and "ahh!" when people get hurt in action sequence. I will get annoyed and yell at characters if they're doing dumb things. 

Don't even get me started on horror movies! Hate those. During any remotely suspenseful scene in any movie, I will curl up and whimper and grab whoever's closest and try to position that unfortunate person between me and the screen. I've been told it's somewhat entertaining. 

Also, I used to try to predict what would happen but my sister hated it when I was right because she doesn't like spoilers, so I stopped doing that. Out loud, at least.

/End tangent.)

Where was I? Oh yes. Tangled. It's awesome. I love fairy tales and magic and musicals and courageous heroines and banter with cute guys and fun sidekicks and *not a spoiler* romantic happy endings (yeah, it's a Disney princess movie, what do you expect). The way Rapunzel and Flynn's relationship grew was so sweet (a lot better than the romance in The Princess and the Frog, which annoyed me to no end).

People have told me I'm sarcastic and cynical (which is true, except I prefer "realistic"), but deep down inside, I'm an idealistic romantic — even if I've trained myself not to expect those ideals in real life. I hold romances to a high standard — I hate ones that are based almost entirely on lust or involve betrayal of trust or have the lovers doing incredibly idiotic things (which is why I absolutely despise Tristan + Isolde. I think I scared my friends with how vehemently I expressed my frustration while watching that movie).

The lantern scene in Tangled mesmerized me — the duet was amazing. I also enjoyed Rapunzel's song in the beginning. But the song that made me think the most was neither of these favorites. In fact, "I've Got a Dream" is my least favorite song/sequence of the entire movie. I wanted to roll my eyes when the ruffians burst into song one by one, and that cupid guy is just gross. 

But as I listened to that song, I realized I envied those thugs. They knew what their dream was.

I've never been very good at dreaming. I don't want to be a concert pianist or be a mime or make ceramic unicorns. Of all the dreams mentioned in the song, I would pick Flynn's (which was to own an island and be surrounded by enormous piles of money). But he was told his dream stinks. I suppose I can see why — there's no heart to it. No passion.

I am not good at passion for the intangible, for the future. I can be delighted by simple things and brim with enthusiasm for a special experience, but only in the moment. Unlike my sister, I've never been good at anticipation.

When we were younger, she was the one who looked forward to parties and holidays with starry-eyed excitement. She spent all her time making plans, looking forward to how happy she would be, and sharing — ah, attempting to share — her joy with me.

I chose the more conservative route and reminded her not to get too excited. I told her it would probably be not as great as she hoped. There was plenty of time to be excited later, if the event did prove to be amazing, but why set herself up for disappointment?

She thought of me as a wet blanket and got angry at me for putting a damper on her high spirits. I thought of it as protecting her; she got disappointed too many times for me not to try and soften the blow for her. Eventually, she saw my point and learned to temper her anticipation.

Some might think I was mean to destroy her pleasure since I couldn't enjoy it myself. But I think memory grants pleasure as well, and what's a few weeks of diminished excitement in exchange for a treasured memory, if the alternative is blissful anticipation followed by disillusionment? 

Early on I've learned the value of managing expectations and of the effectiveness of apathy as a defense mechanism. The less you care, the less something can hurt you. 

It's hard to dream with that mindset (now habit). It's hard to grow passion when passion demands that I not only care, but also work hard, sacrifice, and strive for something that I may never win. 

I'm not good at any of those things. It's much easier to shrug and go with the flow and see what happens. Much easier to be lazy and only do things I can be decent at with minimal effort. I'm lucky that I manage to breeze through most things that way, but sometimes I wonder if I should try to do something more meaningful with myself.

It drives my parents crazy that I am not more driven. "Why don't you care about anything? Why can't you try harder and make something of yourself? Why don't you have any ambition? You are so smart and talented, you can do anything. You can be a doctor, if you wanted to. You have opportunities other people only dream about, and you have the intelligence it takes. You're wasting your gifts..."

I guess it's true. I can do more, but I don't. Instead,  I torture myself by expecting a lot of myself and then not working to meet those expectations. For someone deathly afraid of failure, I sure do set myself up for it a lot. 

After all, failure is more manageable when it's on my terms: setting the bar much higher than most other people, and then choosing to expend minimal effort. 

Like when I decide not study for a midterm. Get an A? Cool. Good thing I didn't waste my time on classwork. Get a B+? Whine about how I "failed" my midterm and then decide to start cramming three days earlier next time, so I can get my grade up to an A. Yeah, either way my friends hate me (I'm lucky they put up with me), but I'd rather set myself up for "failure" and be pleasantly surprised than to give something my all and be crushed when I don't get what I want. But that means I'm not willing to pay the price for success beyond my baseline of expectations, either.

I envy those people who've known ever since they were born that they wanted to be a doctor or lawyer or artist or mother. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to have a clear goal and to make all my decisions by it. To force myself to be disciplined, to risk the anguish of failure despite all my sacrifice, to leverage every talent God has given to me. To dig up that once-shiny silver coin I've buried in apathy, and actually put it to use.

The thought scares me witless. 

I can't put all my hopes in a vision and suffer to bring it to life. I can't commit to a dream and believe in it despite doubts, mine and everyone else's. I can't will myself to spend all my time and energy training and practicing so that one day I can be good enough to reach my goal. I can't. 

But I still want to know what it feels like. I want to try. As much as it will hurt, I want to give myself the chance to fail despite having given my best. The chance to accomplish something amazing beyond my basic expectations. The chance to feel like I've actually earned my success, rather than winning it due to luck and natural ability. 

Now is a good time to start, I think. I'm in Taiwan — a new environment with an opportunity to create a new lifestyle, form new habits. I can actually think and explore and experiment in my free time instead of procrastinating on classwork. Maybe it'll turn out that I am wrong, and that I am capable of pursuing a dream.

I'm determined to make the most of this time to find out. Discover what I want. Figure out who I want to be. See new things, hone new skills, meet new people. Become an amazing photographer. Write a novel, then write a better one. Practice diligence. Cultivate passion. Strive. Suffer. Persevere. 

And most of all:


with love,



  2. maybe you should be a journalist, columnist, or any other career that has to do with writing because your blog entries are pretty amazing.

  3. i'm flattered you think so! :)
    if i were to write more seriously though, i think i'd lean toward fiction since that's my preferred reading material XD

  4. linda! your blog IS interesting to read hehe :) thanks for sharing, though ill have to come back to this post and read the rest of it (as well as other posts) because im rushing to finish up physio hw >.<

    btw, i actually clicked the little "2/28" and "you can be a doctor" links that you provided ^.^

  5. thank you, frances! i'm glad you find my blog interesting :) i've been
    reading your blog too - glad to hear that things are getting better for you.
    good luck with your homework!

  6. ahahah you're not allowed to be a journalist. I'M THE JOURNALIST OF THE FAMILY (and maybe mommy occasionally). that is all.

  7. but feel free to explore fiction bahahahahaah it suits you since you're a secret hopeless romantic anyway <3

  8. LOL no worries, i'm not really planning on competing with you for that title XD

  9. i really love how you are so honest with yourself in all your blog entries and that despite the flaws you reveal about yourself, which can easily turn into negative self-talk, you manage to put a positive spin on it with a great optimistic air. im inspired to start up blogging again. keep up the good work linda!

  10. thank you, elaine! :D it feels kinda strange to be described as an optimist for once, hehe. glad you feel inspired to blog - can't wait to see your new posts! :)

  11. I just told your dad that you should become a jornalist instead of Diane.

  12. HAHAHA thank you but I think Diane is more suited to the job. :P I
    appreciate the compliment, though! Thanks Pastor Joseph! :D