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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Love Is Seeing Through The Eyes Of Appreciation: You Are On A Working Holiday, Right Here, Right Now

It was a hot Saturday afternoon last week.

We’d just finished lunch and debriefing after our volunteer work with GLOW GIRLS, an NGO programme designed to instil Strength, Self-Worth and Purpose into the lives of teenage girls from underprivileged communities. We hope these values will help them navigate better in life.

It’s been a long day. And as we walked from the restaurant to the open air car park, there were the usual complaints about the melting heat. But as a breeze blew our way, I felt this weather was perfect for the beach.

It’s also perfect for tourists who actually love soaking up the sun here.

So I said to Shirleen who was giving me a ride to the train station, “If you think about it, people from overseas come over here for a holiday…

…So actually, we’re all on a working holiday right here, right now. If we’re not so desensitized to our surroundings and take things for granted, we can actually feel like a tourist in our own country…”

“I’ve never thought of that before,” Shirleen says. “It’s a nice thought!”

“You don’t need a vacation if there’s nothing to run away from,” – Jason Mraz.

If we begin to realise that our desire to get away, may have nothing to do with the lack in our current environment, but more to do with our inner discontentment. And if we learn to see through the Eyes Of Appreciation…

…We’ll see differently.

We’ll see beauty, wonder and phenomenal reasons to be happy and grateful. For all we have, for where we call home–right here, right now:




Michelle Tan is the Founder of The Love Culture ‎~ Inspiring A Loving Way Of Living.

Her mission is to make space for Faith, Hope & LOVE through her writings, clothing line ROX/STA & music.