All posts filed under: Personal

Personal stories that have elements of nature, culture, and self.

Cheung Chau Beach

On Place and Loss: Flyway’s Shells

Regular visitors of Ekostories may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much over the past few months. It’s not that I’ve run out of things to write about or stories to explore. Actually it’s been the opposite! Over the last little while, I’ve been channeling my energies towards other creative ventures, but they still revolve around the same themes I’ve explored on Ekostories for years – the power of stories; the intersection between science and art; notions of nature; the influence of culture; journeys of identity. Many of those endeavours are starting to come into fruition, so starting today and over upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be unveiling them here, along with new and original essays on beloved tales. First off: I’m excited to announce that Flyway, a fantastic Iowa State University-based journal focused on writing and environment, has published one of my creative shorts, Shells. If you’re looking for poetry, fiction, nonfiction and visual art that “explores the many complicated facets of the word environment – at once rural, urban, and suburban – and its social …

Princess Mononoke Forest Island

The Nature of Hayao Miyazaki

I had wanted to write a piece on Hayao Miyazaki last year after the release of his semi-autobiographical film The Wind Rises, but I was preoccupied at the time and it slipped my mind. When I finally got around to it, the moment had passed. So much had already been written about the announcement of his retirement from films. I recalled feeling sad with a tinge of soft shock, similar to the many fans around the world who knew the day was inevitable but also believed that it would never come. My feelings were complex at the time, and I thought it best to let the matter rest, trusting things would come around when I would be better able to articulate the influence he has had on my life. Recently, I stumbled across an article in The Japan Times that sparked my interest in revisiting Miyazaki’s work. In the aptly named piece titled “A Deeper Look at Miyazaki’s Nature“, freelance writer Ian Martin provides a brief but rich synopsis on Princess Mononoke, 15 years since its …

Earthbound Banner

What Earthbound Means to Me

Update: I would like to dedicate this past entry to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who suddenly passed away in July 2015 at the age of 55. The game discussed below would not have existed without his herculean programming efforts. The videogame industry has lost one of its greatest and kindest visionaries. In memoriam. Before delving into the next Ekostory, I want to take a brief side trip. I want to share a work is a major touchstone to my childhood. It’s one I regularly revisit over the years, and one that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. It’s a video game called Earthbound. “What is the video game, Earthbound? Even today, it’s so hard to answer that question. It was like a group of children taking dolls from a toy chest. Old dishes no longer used in the kitchen. Nuts and bolts found inside a toolbox. Little flowers and leaves from the backyard. And they were all laid down on the carpet with everybody singing made-up songs. Ready to talk all day about that world they just …

Indian Rhino Bardia National Park

Nepal Revisited: Adventures in Royal Bardia Park

Recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to Beatler.com, a local blog that covers food, entertainment, travel, lifestyle and technology. Drawn to one writer’s reflections on his trip to Belize, a place that I explored almost a decade ago, I felt inspired to revisit old journeys by working on a travel piece, this time around my adventures at Royal National Bardia Park in Nepal. Returning to Nepal in mind and spirit was interesting. When I wrote the Reflection of Nepal series right after my trip, I had felt compelled to get everything down, cramming together flavours, ideas, and lessons learned lest the vivid intensity of experience fade forever from memory. But now a year and a half removed, I found myself revisiting past events with no great hurry, having the time to mull over my notes and the patience to let scenes breathe and develop naturally. The entire four-part series, complete with the customary themes of nature and culture befitting an Ekostory, has recently been posted online. You can read them here: Part 1: Bardia …

Funky Asian acorns Lithocarpus

Funky Asian Acorns: Schema’s Seeds and Leaves

Recent shifts in thinking and a trip back to Hong Kong caused me to reflect upon the past and my roots as a 1.5 generation Chinese-Canadian. Drawing upon life and circumstance for inspiration, I spent my time away from blogging to work on a piece of bicultural creative non-fiction. I am delighted to announce that the finished work has been accepted by a sustainability-themed issue of Schema Magazine, an online publication “for the interculturally-minded”. Seeds and Leaves began as a seed (ha!) sparked by a call for essays that featured a plant or tree as the main character; it has since grown to become an account of a botanical illustration class I took last fall. I hope you enjoy this short tale about a brief encounter of two immigrants, one human, one not, and I welcome your thoughts on this personal Ekostory that attempts to weave together ideas of nature, culture, and identity. Read the story here

Golden eyed Toad like Chrysoberyl gems

On Praise and Toads Revisited

I wrote a bit last year about my problems with handling praise. While that is still a work in progress, I’m thrilled to announce that one of my essays, Inspirations from a Toad, has won the 2013 Web of Life Foundation competition out of nearly 500 entries. WOLF runs the annual contest  seeking works with fresh thinking on political, social, and environmental issues.  2013’s theme was “an aspirational future”. The piece, part narrative and part personal meditation, combines ideas from Some Thoughts on the Common Toad, George Orwell’s essay I wrote about last year on Ekostories, with my experiences volunteering with The Lower Mainland Green Team, a local grassroots environmental group that boasts more than 1,800 members doing great stewardship work at parks and urban farms. I would especially like to thank my writing colleagues for their careful readings, thoughtful suggestions, and swift kicks to get me to put my work out there – You know who you are. Deep gratitude, as always, and thanks for the support. Read the essay here

My Favourite Superhuman Protagonists

“But this is a period in which everyone wants to read about ‘heroes’ who are consummately normal people. If they’re not, the readers don’t believe in them. I don’t like this. That’s how things are these days, but frankly speaking, I dislike it. Making heroes who are just like you or everyone else around you. I wanted to create a character who was not like that.” – Hayao Miyazaki, Interview I remember laughing aloud while reading this particular tidbit; the blunt candor of a master not afraid to speak his mind is always refreshing. Have we really grown to appreciate average joes over saints? I can see how ordinary characters can be more relatable and how great heroes and heroines can be reduced to bland and remote archetypes. But I see that as an issue of characterization, not of character. Most of my favourite protagonists start and finish their journeys as extraordinary people, yet they are no less flawed, complex, or fascinating than any “consummate normal”. In this entry, I’d like to take a look at …