My Projection of You Is A Reflection Of Me – I

“Where did you charge your phone?” – M

“There on the left.” – W

“Left where?” – M

“Near the custom. You will see it.” – W

We’ve been waiting for hours to board. All flights are delayed indefinitely. Our plane has been diverted to Sandakan to wait out the storm and crowds from later flights kept pouring in by the hour. There weren’t enough seats for everyone. Many sat in groups on the floor, many more remained standing, while others crowded into stores to kill time. With hardly any space to move, the rising level of noise and crying babies, everyone was getting restless.


Everyone, it seems, except me. I was quietly feeling good about myself. After making it to the top of Mount Kinabalu and back, I can do anything! I can totally handle this! For the first time, I am not annoyed at Air Asia or aggravated by the long wait. I am enjoying listening to other climbers swapping stories of their hike. I was even grateful that the delay had caused me to stray into a store and find a gem of a book by Paulo Coelho, ‘Like the Flowing River’, which I was now reading. I felt calm like a river!

By this time, my phone had died and I’d like to charge it. But I didn’t want to vacate my precious seat for nothing. So I’m staring at my cousin scrolling through her phone, fully charged. She had found the charge point. I wanted to know its exact location, but that was all the help I got.

“There on the left.”

“Near the custom. You will see it.”

What does she mean by ‘there on the left’? How am I supposed to see that hole in the wall in this crowd? Suddenly, many hours of perfect Zen gave way to instant irritation to the highest degree! It’s like Life wanted to show me, “So you think you’re so tough? Here, take this!” It was a test.

At that exact moment, these were my unspoken thoughts on rapid-fire, ‘Why can’t she talk properly? Why can’t she answer precisely? She gives poor direction! What’s wrong with her? She’s so damn lazy!’

My cousin continued scrolling through her phone in perfect calm, oblivious to my offended ego, which demanded an answer that instant.

But she did answer.

That was her answer. Why was I feeling so much anger, over such a small matter? When I asked that, I got myself an answer, in rapid-fire no less.

I realized I’m the one who is just sitting there, too afraid to move and find the charge point for myself, from fear of my own poor sense of direction!

Another cousin of mine had ventured out earlier to find a charge point. While she was charging her phone, W had gone off to find her, and in the process, discovered the charge point for herself. Nobody told them where it was. They found it on their own. Why couldn’t I do the same?

Who’s the lazy one now? Ooops! 

There’s no harm in asking for directions. But sometimes directions are just that. It directs you. It points you “THIS WAY” but the rest of the details is your adventure and up to you to discover for yourself.

I was too lazy to get off my seat and projected my laziness and poor directions on W. In truth, I feared my own tendencies of getting lost!

The first time I heard about the concept of Projection was from my friend Guillaume, in Berlin. As we were taking a walk, he shared, “We see the bad in others that we don’t want to see in ourselves… we project it out.”

At first, that radical idea struck me as bizarre! I’ve written about it here: Owning my Shadow / Taming my Dragon. After the initial shock, the truth of it began to reveal itself to me–and it’s still revealing itself till this day.

“Projection is a fascinating phenomenon they failed to teach most of us about in school. It is an involuntary transfer of our own unconscious behavior unto others, so it appears to us that these qualities actually exist in the other people.

When we have anxiety about our emotions or unacceptable parts of our personalities, we attribute these qualities—as a defence mechanism—to external objects and other people. When we have little tolerance for others, for example, we are likely to attribute the sense of our own inferiority to them.

Of course, there’s always a “hook” that invites our projection. Some imperfect quality in other people activates some aspect of ourselves that wants our attention. So whatever we don’t own about ourselves we project onto other people.

We see only that which we are.” – Debbie Ford, ‘The dark side of the light chasers’.

At the clear realization that I was projecting my own personal traits on my cousin, the hot flash of irritation vanished! I felt a little embarrassed for me of course. These kinds of awareness aren’t easy on the ego. But there was no more reason for anger, so I felt free and light as a feather!

I decided to leave my phone uncharged and happily continued reading instead. Perhaps I passed the test. Perhaps I really can endure anything after the climb up Kinabalu. BUT. My lesson for the day is far from over.

The hilarity of what ensues later must be shared in ‘My Projection Of You Is A Reflection Of Me – Part II. I’ll leave that post for another day.

For now, that’s all the humble pie story I’m sharing. Has anyone had a similar experience? What are your thoughts on Projection? Got anything to share? I’d like to hear it! Leave comments below! LET’S GROW… 😉




“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

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The Sign

“When you reach the top, take a picture with the sign if you wish, but remember there are others waiting to do the same. Don’t stay up there for too long. Come back down and make room for others…” – Warrin, the stern Sweeper guide who makes sure nobody in our group gets left behind, as we make our way up Mount Kinabalu, one of the tallest mountains in South East Asia.

Earlier this year, a young German lady fell to her death from up here, during what was supposed to be a happy moment, having reached the peak and the sign.

Apparently, she was trying to capture the sunrise, but stepped beyond the fencing perimeter to do so, and slipped when the rocks gave way beneath her feet.

May her soul rest in peace… And may this be a reminder and a lesson to us all: A sign is just a sign. 

Why do we risk it all, for a fleeting moment with Signs?

The sign of the sunrise from the top of Mount Kinabalu must’ve mattered to her a lot… For us, perhaps the sign of a sunrise on our personal mountain matters a lot. And it should matter. We get to sit back and take in that breathtaking view after working our ass off to get up there.

We deserve that much for all the hours of hard work and commitment.

But let’s remember, symbols of success and accomplishments are just that. Signs and symbols. It is not the be all and end all. Enjoy the moment. Celebrate. Let the sweet sign of your labour be etched in your memory.

Then let it go.

Let your heart be free of attachments. You are more than a sign and a symbol. As the guide says, come back down and make room for others.

The best sign we can hope to attain is hidden and invisible. It is already within, waiting to be found, again and again and again. It is already yours. It is already saying what you wished the signs would say.




Our awareness of this, would give us the courage not to cling to external signs or to put our lives on the line, in the hope to capture such signs.

It’ll allow more room for others to make their way up, too, and to share in our joy and mountain top experiences.

Happiness is, after all, multiplied when shared.

As for me, this moment up here is a sweet Sign of Courage and Persistence, in the midst of Fear. The sense of achievement is beyond satisfying… it’s an absolute surprise.

It’s also why I find the irony in the name especially meaningful. At the highest point of Mount Kinabalu, we find ourselves at “Low’s Peak”.

We know one, by knowing the other. The highs and lows, coexist together.

Let this be a sign.

Mount Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu. 150614.




“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

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10 Steps… 50 Steps… 100 Steps… You’ll Get There.

“A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu.

On the 14th of June, my cousins and I set off to climb Mount Kinabalu.

We chose the 9km Mesilau route to Laban Rata. It was the longer route, and therefore the “harder” way up. But the meandering around waterfalls and swaying bridges, the rocky step-up challenges and snaky pathways through the jungle, or the sudden change in scenery from tree covered treks into a wide, open expanse above a cliff, surrounded by 360 view of misty mountains, wind-blasting in your face–was so worth it.

But at many points along the way, that 9km felt like it was dragging on forever without an end in sight. I kept thinking this will be the first and last time I’ll ever do this, and couldn’t wait to get this trail over and done with! It was a huge, huge, relief when 7 hours later, we caught the first sight of the resthouse in Laban Rata. We started half past 9 in the morning. By now, it was 4 something in the pm and we’re finally here!

From this point onwards it’s approximately 2.5km to the top of the mountain, which, ironically, is called “Low’s Peak”. We’ll begin our final ascend at 2am. Meanwhile, we were starving and counted the seconds till “dinner” was served at 4:30pm! After filling up, we trooped into our dorms, which was another 100 metres hike up from Laban Rata. Got ourselves cleaned up as best as we could–couldn’t shower as the water was ice cold! It’s been a long day, and by the time we got our stuffs ready for tomorrow and settled in for the night, we had 3 hours left for sleep.

The dorms had no heating. It was freezing cold and the wind was screaming its way up the hill in high pitch! As I was shivering beneath the blankets (3 blankets in fact!), I thought about our journey up till this point. It had begun long before we even set foot here. We’ve been training hard for this. Some, for months. Me? Just 3 weeks. But it’s 3 times a week, with a trainer, who pushed me harder and harder with every passing week. It wasn’t easy for me, and it was definitely time consuming.

But I liked how a friend saw these preparations as part of the climb. He said, “You’re already halfway there.”

However, it’s a different story once you’re on location, looking up at one of the tallest mountains in South East Asia. Us first timers were freaking out. “What in the world did we sign up for!? Can we really do this?”

“I’m already up there!” one of my cousin said.

In Khin Hong’s mind, there was no question IF this is what he wanted or IF he could do this. He’s already there in mind and in spirit! That’s another giant leap forward. All that’s left to do is the will to follow through. Either that, or he was just psyching himself up despite being scared like the rest of us! It’s probably a little bit of both? But, in the midst of uncertainty, his willingness to go forth anyway, is inspiring.

2am came soon enough. By then, we already had breakfast, had our headlamps on and were huddled outside for briefing. It was still dark out. Just thinking about the part where the guide says “300 metres of non-stop rope climbing, no stopping in between,” got me nervous. So nervous, we had barely started when I was breathing like we’re running out of air!

Fear was getting a hold on me. The guide, looking me steadily in the eye, asked me if I wanted to turn back. “If you want to turn back, you can,” he said, studying my face. I felt jolted awake. That’s when I realized that despite the Fear, turning back wasn’t an option for me. I was afraid, yes. But more than being scared, I wanted to keep going. I wanted to finish this. So I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I wanted to go up!

Am so grateful for the inspiring company, guides and hikers I met on the way up.  When the climb felt the hardest, Subra, who’s already been up here 7 times, kept encouraging me. “Just 10 steps. Take 10 steps, then we’ll stop to rest.” Bit by bit, every ‘just 10 steps’, brought us higher.

My cousin Jan struggled the most near the summit. It seemed so near yet so far! But she counted 50 steps. Every 50 steps pushed her forward. 

With his left Achilles tendon injured, my brother was limping. As you can imagine, it was difficult for him. He kept going by counting 100 steps. 

Breaking down the journey to 10 steps, 50 steps, 100 steps at a time, made it doable when reaching to the top seemed almost impossible.

Step by step… you’ll get there. 

Top of Mount Kinabalu. 150614.

Top of Mount Kinabalu. 150614.

Top of Mount Kinabalu. 150614.

Top of Mount Kinabalu. 150614.





“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

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