Since the time I could barely write, my mum has always lectured me on the importance of having good friends. At the age of 6, my idea of a good friend was just someone who I enjoyed playing with but thankfully, I've done quite a bit of growing up since then. It now takes more than a good laugh for me to consider someone a good friend.
A good friend is like a mirror; they mirror the truth. The truth doesn't always have to be harsh; we often discredit our best qualities and who better to remind us of our strengths than a sincere companion? I truly believe that during tough times, a few words of encouragement can make all the difference.
There'll be many times in your life when you're required to pause and reflect on your progress. Trust me, it isn't always that easy. Sometimes you just don't know but someone who genuinely cares about your progress will take the initiative to push you in the right direction or give you a good reality check.
I spent one whole morning at Taiping Lake Gardens with my best friend right before the horrible haze that made everyone's lives miserable. There's always an overcast when you're in Taiping; the wettest town in Peninsular Malaysia. I would never have thought that grey skies and lush greenery would set the perfect atmosphere to declutter my brain.
Once you're there, it's hard to believe that the whole park was once a mining ground. Its transformation is pretty remarkable; from an abandoned tin mine to a picturesque lake garden. You see, great changes can happen but it takes a LOT of time. In the case of Taiping Lake Gardens, it took 9 years of development before the park officially opened and another 122 years to date, for it to look the way it does now.
The waters of the lake is a rather beautiful contradiction; it's dark and murky, yet it still manages to reflect the grandeur of the misty hills surrounding it. I've come across many people who have and are still going through dark times and yet they still exude so much beauty. Not just in a physical sense; they're beautiful in their demeanour. There's something truly special about people who refuse to be as cruel as the world they're in.
You know the saying 'Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.' I'm starting to believe that more and more now. We all go through unavoidable rough patches in our lives but our story doesn't have to be tragic. If you're determined, you can turn any situation as a stepping stone or a turning point to greater things.