There was one bridge frequently appeared in my dream, uninvited. Whenever I tried to cross it, I always dropped off it and got myself killed. Sometimes the bridge was cut off in two, people on the other side were cheering me up, and I jumped following the run-up, and I fell and died. Sometimes I walked on the bridge and next step my foot sensed nothing but gravity, and I fell and died.
I was surprised how creative my subconscious was. There were so many ways to get myself killed with the bridge. It was like living inside the movie Final Destination, full of surprise to kill you. It was a constant nightmare.
The bridge was real, you can't Google it, but local people called it the Sky Bridge.
The Sky Bridge (天桥, pronounced as "Tian qiao" in Chinese), located in Laodaokou (老道口), Shenyang, Northeast China, was one road that we must pass everyday to work, school and basically anywhere to the city. I spent my early life there, from 2 to 9. For a kid magically everything scaled bigger than it was supposed to be, the Sky Bridge was like it really meant to connect to the sky, so giant that it was the symbol of my whole childhood.
The bridge, opened in 1912, consisted of a 5 meters wide main road and two 2 meters wide sidewalks, overall about 200 meters long. Below the bridge were a dozen railways, connecting the city to Beijing and other parts of China.
My mom used to put me onto the backseat of her bicycle and rode across the bridge to drop off me to school. "I couldn't ride my bicycle on the bridge at first, I was so scared", my mom recalled, "I could only hold the handle of the bridge, and pushed myself forward one step at a time." I forgot how tall it was, but I guess it was high enough to make an adult shake his/her legs. And apparently I was too small to fear the height, I wish I could possess that ability till today.
My mom overcame that fear soon. "Everybody was no problem, and they looked at me as if I was an alien. I knew I need to get used to it." When life pushes you to the edge, you acquire whatever ability to survive.
By the year I went to elementary school, the bridge was already too old like an ancient tree, I started to notice the twisted scars. The wood covered in the surface started to fall apart, more and more holes were revealed that you could literally see trains traveling beneath your feet - least thing you would expect from peeking through a hole. When a car drove through, the entire bridge vibrated. I can't stop thinking that why the thought never occurred to me at that time - if I fall from the bridge, I'm not just gonna die because of the height, I could also be hit by a fast running train, die twice in a single try, not as fun as "buy one get one free" Domino Pizza.
One day after school, several of my friends and I were heading my home to play console games. They were supposed to be "tough guys" in the school, at least that was how they wanted to be pictured. One or two of them already started to show some of the "bully" traits, but anyway, we were good friends. So we arrived at the bridge, only to notice there were no one following me after I took several steps on it. "Do... do you cross this bridge everyday?", one friend asked in his shaking voice, another was kneeling down and nearly bursting into tears, mumbling "I can't do this... I can't do this..."
That was a shocking moment to me. You know, I had been walking across the bridge for 4 years then, if not counting the year I was still in a baby car. No matter how old or how broken that bridge was, I was so used to it, so were my family and other local people. It was just one thing on our way to lives. To others, however, that was a utterly shattered bridge that no one would take it as bravery to walk across it.
A few years later, my family had moved to another place, I decided to revisit the Sky Bridge in a summer vacation of junior high school or high school I forgot, and guess what? I couldn't even move a single step onto the bridge, as if that one step would take my life eternally. By the time the sidewalks were shutdown completely because of the unfixable damage, and no cars were allowed on the bridge either. Trains running below filled in the sights of increased scar-holes, as if they were part of the textures of it, and yet people were still there, still walking across it, some were even selling a range of merchandise, completely at ease. In the end, I took another route like my "tough" friends did, who I mocked as "pussy" back in the day. It was that experience triggered my nightmare of falling down the bridge, and had haunted me my entire 20s.
Time passed. I had already left the city for more than 10 years, one day I went back to my hometown and wanted to give it another try, or just to confirm if my horrified experience was real or a mere fantasy. Yet I couldn't find a single piece of metal or wood, the Sky Bridge was completely gone, and people started to refer to it as the "Old Bridge".
I like to peek into people's workflow and tool kit. It can be watching how a person drips a cup of coffee, from grinding the beans to pouring into a pre-heated mug; It can be observing how a chef cooks a dish, from choosing the ingredients to presenting it on the plate; It can also be, exactly what I'm gonna write about - reading a book about how a writer thinks and writes, from mastering basic principles to adjusting the attitudes.
Ever since I turned into 30, I've noticed an emerging needs to pin down who I once was, to ponder on who I really am and where I'm heading, to seek the meanings of life from all sorts of unexpectedness. My two great companions on this quest have been reading and writing. This book is perfect: it kills two birds with one stone. (Not like I got my 2 companions killed.)
I am a writer and I'm not. I am a writer because I write stuff regularly, but before that I love to think about stuff. Whenever I'm not talking - my majority life has been like that - I'm thinking about something inside. Meaningless or not, it doesn't matter. That something keeps me alive, and only through writing I can put those thoughts in a logical order and make sense out of it.
I'm not a writer in terms of professionals who publish some books and make a living with it. But I won't stop day dreaming that one day I might reach more readers not with better stories but with stories that are written better.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book. No matter what type of writers you are, this book give you some guidance:
On writing skills (principles and methods)
On different formats of writings
I especially enjoyed the technique of using thesaurus dictionary to choose words, not just to find more precise ones but also to make it sound good. Readers not just read your words, they also hear them. I think that's one of the secret ingredients why good articles read instinctively good - it's fine tuned for our palate.
And I loved the attitudes part the most. Even though the author is targeting non-fiction writers, the fundamental about writing or perfection can be applied to any fields that requires hard work and craftsmanship.
He also showed me writing well is not about talents but constant efforts:
"What do you do on days when it isn't going well?"
The professional writer must establish a daily schedule and stick to it. Writing is a craft, not an art, and that the man who runs away from his craft because he lacks inspirations is fooling himself. He is also going broke.
"What if you're feeling depressed or unhappy? Won't that affect your writing?"
If you job is to write ever day, you have to learn to do it like any other job.
"Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is. What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field." As a person who has never lived in any English-speaking countries, learned it as 3rd language and only holds limited vocabularies in hands (can't blame anyone for this), I'm never confident enough to write with it. But language is a beautiful thing - with simple words and sentences I can still be myself and further find some missing fragments of myself within it, which can't be found in my native language.
I'm gonna continue this journey with 4 core lessons learned from the book: clarity, simplicity, brevity and humanity. Now I've doubled my dual weapons, I hope and I can go out hunt for 2 birds, or 3.
I had a bad day, I'm having bad days. I'm writing journals everyday, which is supposed to be a place for self realizations but instead nowadays I'm more like dumping my stress, depressions or even angers there.
With all that, today was different, some "magic" happened.
I picked up a book in a bookstore, I opened it, just one single phrase in the first page, and it goes:
Always look at the bright side of life - Monty Python
I don't know why it strikes me like a thunder. I'm sure I'll just skip it in any of my "ordinary" days but, it has the power to turn me to look at literally the bright side of things I've been going through. Indeed it's bright, more than bright, those are great things, it just comes equally with a price. Don't forget the vision, don't forget the bright side that brings you here in the first place, that's the message, don't know how much I appreciate it and the book.
Then, a second one kicks in later. I heard it a while ago from an evangelist at a local church, I don't believe in god but it still resonates with me.
All the things you've been going through, they're all under god's plan, you just haven't understood the reason yet.
(Originally it was in Japanese: "今までの全てはきっと神様のご計画通りで、我々はただまだそれを理解していないだけ"
Let me show you the 3rd quote now, it's very similar to the 2nd one:
Things don't happen to you, they happen for you
Yes, they happen for me, it's ultimately relying on how I interpret it, react to it, it's up to me to find the reasons, the meanings behind. Those are just events, itself can be bright or dark, light or heavy, but it's me who lead it form there, towards the goals I'm been dreaming about. I have the control, I have a choice, just like another great quote says:
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Here are the specs:
And for comparison, here are the laptop specs:
Cited from from Apple official website with latest model.
That means iPad Pro 9.7 + Smart Keyboard is 667g, about 62% of lightest MacBook Air 11 inch(1.08kg), 413g lighter.
I considered about Apple's Smart Keyboard as the first option, I also got the chance to try my friend's Smart Keyboard, but at that time I felt it's a bit heavy. Maybe because I was using a iPad mini so when upgraded to iPad Pro 9.7, the tablet itself already felt heavier. I've looked for some 3rd party cases but a lot of them weight more than the Smart Keyboard(more than 230g). There are some "light-weight" 100g-ish cases but all feel not attractive...
So I ended up going back to Smart Keyboard. If it's almost the same weight, a portable and comfortable keyboard could help me in various ways I couldn't imagine(and it did!), the overall weight of the combination is 437g + 230g = 667g, almost half of MacBook Air 13-inch.
Note that there's no official data from Apple about the Smart Keyboard, I found it on some blogs, and some says it's 225g some says 230g.
Some people strike me as mountains, always there when you look upon, no matter how the environment changes.
Some of them are my close friends. Whenever I visit their blogs I know there're new contents waiting for me. Or I login to the game I've been AFK for such a long time, they're there inviting me to the party.
Some of them are connected on Internet, they don't know me but I've been following them for years. Michael Hyatt's "This Is Your Life" podcast is the central place for my mental nutrition and self improvement, Miyagawa's rebuild.fm for trending tech news and Japanese anime/books/culture, Sensus WoW Rogue whenever I want to catch up my World of Warcraft rogue skills, and Blizzard Entertainment for high quality games all these years.
I'm not here to promote any of those things, what I want to say is, it's not hard to start anything nowadays, and if you get lucky you may even grab some spotlights on the stage, but it's always hard to keep going, even for games!
In this fast paced noisy world, those "mountains" give me a sense of order, calm me down when everything is in chaos. It shows me a way where to find the spiritual connection and emotional support, just like same old friends. No matter if you're a blogger, a youtuber, a gamer, a writer or any content provider, as long as you keep the persistency and frequency, you create a reliability.
I don't want to be a sky - too unstable and unpredictable, suddenly shout out with rain and thunderstorm. I want to be a humble stone, that shares certain similarites to a mountain. Nothing lasts forever - sun, stars, diamonds, but I hope the next time you pick up the stone of me, it's still the same old stone, and gives you a sense of calm and safety.