auguries of innocence


Writing is not easy; especially the sort of writing that magically loops up unrelated words into eloquent phrases to conjure up images in the brains of readers. I’d like to think I have a sophisticated lexicon. Yet, when it comes to powerful expressions, I am usually at loss for the proper vocabulary. With the presupposed inability to write in the way I would like to, I gave up and stopped writing, and let my passion dwindled off to the extent that I forgot what it was like to be passionate.

I would like to use descriptions beyond “nice” or “cool”, so I dig into my memory of SAT flash cards I once memorized. The only word I really remember is “acquiesce”, which was usually on top of the pile, and not much use for me right now. Therefore, writing anything beyond a blog post becomes painful. Why did I lose all the mellifluous words I once played around with? The answer presented itself unexpectedly. I watched the movie “Midnight in Paris” on DVD some nights ago, without even knowing that such a movie had come out. A rom-com chick flick perhaps, but what made me go lovey-dovey was not the script of romance, but rather, the artists and writers that Woody Allen directed to interweave Gil’s life.

The Roaring Twenties, La Belle Epoque, Renaissance, l’Art Nouveau… as name after name of authors, painters, poets, singers, artists popped up continuously, something in my heart reignited. I got excited for no apparent reason and must have shocked my puppy, watching the movie with me. But I could not sit still. Part of me wanted to finish watching the movie, but the other part of me wanted to run to my computer and read again about all these authors I had known so well back when I was a teenager. I couldn’t wait to pick up pen and paper again and actually write – not type. I wanted to dig out my copy of the The Old Man and the Sea and read it in one sitting.

I don’t even know who wrote what in which era, but all these authors’ works I had read – and wanted to buy but was never allowed to by my mother – flashed before my eyes once again. DH Lawrence, TS Eliot, Pearl S Buck, Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, Robert Frost, Robert Browning, William Blake, Louisa May Alcott, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Picasso, Edith Wharton, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, WH Auden, Charlotte Bronte… oh the endless list that pumped life to my heart.

So this is passion – something that stirs an awakening to my soul, something that excites an indescribable jolt in the normal rhythm of neural firing, an irresistible urge!

Many of us ask ourselves day in day out, what are our passions?

Bogged down by responsibilities, corporate jobs, deadlines, expectations, we sacrifice that little fire we have all felt before. It could have been a hobby when we were kids like painting with our fingers, or dumping flour and water together to make a mess in hope it would turn into a cake. It could have been carpentry or flipping around with the skateboard. Or it could have been our stamp collection (I had one too by the way, and my parents decided it wasn’t useful and threw it out) or BB gun exhibits.

We dismiss these activities as useless or immaterial – after all, how would a book nerd like me who spent all my spare time reading novels ever be able to make money one day and put bread on the table? Perhaps it would be more educational to read The Financial Times or The Economist and learn about the ways of the world. I read my first Harvard Business Review at the age of 15, already feeling the heat to gear up for a corporate executive career.

And so, sadly, albeit realistically, that same little kid who excelled in cooking class in school did not become the next Michelin chef, and the little girl who was able to recite world famous poetry did not become the journalist / writer she dreamed of. She studied law instead, more instrumental to establishing a profession, and became a corporate executive. I had forgotten. Till now.

It is never too late to pursue what you love to do, one way or another – we just need to decide go for it.

Somehow, the universe congregates its forces and reminds you to not forsake your inner zeal. Mine came with suffering from major depression, and giving up my life a few times. A necessary evil. After all, Sylvia Plath wrote her best works during her periods of despair too. Indeed, I almost feel as if I write more fluidly when in a rage of desperation and hopelessness so maybe in a weird sort of way, depression is my drug.

Anyways, I’m just glad I rediscovered my passion, and I’m working on it when I have some strength in my bones, and my mind. I don’t know how to teach you to find your passions. Maybe other people can do a better job at coaching you. But I do hope you find yours, somehow.

More importantly, once you find your passion (again), pursue it.

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an houur.

— William Blake


37 Responses

  1. Shanti says:

    I. Love. This.

  2. Beautiful! I’m scrambling to find the rest of the poem now!

    You are right, a passion is a terrible thing to waste, thank you for reinforcing this beautiful truth. 🙂


    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Vlad – did you find the rest of the poem? 🙂
      Thanks for always coming by, and you are inspiration for me to do what I’m passionate about. Stick with your epiphany and good luck with it!

  3. Ken Wert says:

    Hi Noch! You write so beautifully! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on passion. You’re right, passion is never too late to capture, to hold on to, to experience. Think about the alternative: a life of passionlessness. To be able to get up exciting for the opportunity to take the next step toward something you love to do — that is the height of living a joyful life. Practical is, well, practical. Not much to get excited about there.

    Awesome and eloquent post, Noch!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Ken – Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post. Yes, I’m rediscovering my passion and how I lost it along the way. It was indeed dull and dry in the last few years when I had no passion, and hence I think, part of the reason I got sick and sunk into depression. It’s picking up as I search for what I love to do. I look forward to next steps. Difficult. But hey, part of the fun! Hope to see you here again!

  4. […] of therapy for my diagnosed major depression. I had hoped to self-introspect along the way, and I had always liked writing, so what better way than to ramble on? Better still if someone can reap some encouragement from my […]

  5. Poemen says:


    Thanks for writting about passion. You have reminded me that I was once a passionate boy who played the piano and ended up breaking his finger nails. That I once became so passionate about medicine during my 6th form, couldn’t understand a word from the medical textbook, and instead of giving up, I ran all the way down to the bookshop and bought a medical dictionary in order to get to read the text.

    I ended up spending a whole morning just to read through 3 pages, but I felt that I was electrified; like a fire, burning right inside my heart. I still remember, in that morning, I would jump up and stand on my chair once I got through a page, then walk around the room, trying to figure out what I read. My heart was pumping so vigurously that I felt that surge of excitment flooding into my head, and subsequently subside into almost some sort of euphoria.

    As we grew up, we are feeling the needs of certainly necessary evil; you ought to spend your time doing this and that, read something more useful, spend your time networking instead of practicing your Rachmaninoff…… My heart has been slowly peeled off by others expectations. I once thought that it is totally logical to have passion turned into ash as we aged. Paradoxically, it is myself who smeared my own truthful passion that render me into a “socially understandable” status of chronic fatigue and indifference, and ironically, still thinking that I am doing the right thing. For when passion is suppressed into such insignificance, what else am I left with? Merely a walking piece of flash; where all these complicated biochemical reaction takes place; a moving vehicle that struggles for money and success…… all because of how I want people look at me….

    Just as I am about to loss my passion and feeling hopelessly tired, I read your post!!! Thank you so much!!!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Poemen – I was in awe when I heard you fumble on the piano keyboard that evening, and all you did was a few bars… I had never known that you played piano. You should come play on my Petrof – it doesn’t get touched very often these days… I LOVED your piano playing. and I’m glad you found your passion again. Ah… if only I could play Rachmaninoff…
      I hope you find time amidst your busy schedules and respnsibilities to play more again. just to destress what not…
      it’s an awesome passion to have!
      Noch Noch

  6. […] Rediscovered my passion for writing […]

  7. […] But we neglect ourselves, our real selves. We forget our interests and passions. […]

  8. […] you’ll make your own decisions and you will realize that pursuing your interests and passions are more important than any grade or 8-figure income you […]

  9. Nigel Chua says:

    Hey Noch

    I actually quite like the way you write, your tone, a little melancholic, but expressed with much humanity and will still. Keep writing as your creative mind spins out its content and thoughts.

    Yes, I did consider that sometimes during the hardest and most painful throes of our existence can we share our best creative works, be it in drawings, writings, constructs…but when I thought again, perhaps there is more to human psychology when it comes to reading another person’s pain.

    I now choose to enjoy whatever I can get, though I strive to pursue growth, love, and life. Here’s to wishing you all the best, and keep writing – you’re pretty good at it. =)

    • nochnoch says:

      HI Nigel

      Thanks for coming by my blog. I just went to check out yours and love what you are doing there to help people. I’ll have to read through more carefully though when my migraine goes away 🙁

      It’s true, and its weird, I write the best when I’m in a bad bad mood. When I’m on the up, I just want to go out instead of stare at the computer and attempt to type. Creativity is all in us, we just don’t let it come out sometimes

      But I don’t quite get what you mean when you say “there is more to human psychology when it comes to reading another person’s pain”… if you have time, please elaborate. I’m quite curious

      Thanks for liking my writing. It’s a relief to hear people say that as I re-explore my writing skills and try to weave words together to make sense, words that can represent me and only me. Not Tolstoy or Shakespeare, but hey, I can be me Noch Noch!!

      Take care and hope you come back soon 🙂
      Noch Noch

  10. Nigel Chua says:

    Ah, please be just NochNoch, I think that is the best, and that is enough. Shakespeare-hating Tolstoy and arty-farty Shakespeare by themselves are enough too. 🙂

    On human psychology and pain:

    Well, depending on how we view and gauge the term ‘best’ – is it because it’s most read and commented on, or because it’s the most thought provoking or simply because it’s a captured expression during our moment of pain. When we have pain, that is usually when we stop to focus our entire life and efforts on it, and as we do so, can tap into our deepest reserves and express it out. On being more read – Sometimes my cynical brain tells me that we tell ourselves it’s our best output during our most painful period because in our pain, many people and readers tend to congregate and huddle to ‘pat us on the back and tell us it’s okay’ or ‘readers enjoy seeing others not doing as well as them’, although not too blatantly obvious. Or…Simply because of greater expression and introspection and emotions, it become a more emotional-evoking article, causing us to classify it as better writing. But ah, let’s not delve deeper into that, that’s just my thoughts on writing and humanity (how did these thoughts come up in the first place?)


    It’s first time we meet, albeit on a blog, but it’s nice to meet you and read what you write. Keep writing, and I sure hope your migraine problem settles! Be healed! 🙂

    PS: No offence meant in my retrospective thinking, Noch. If you do feel offended in an way, I apologise in advance.


    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Nigel

      hahah – ok i’ll just be Noch Noch. I like me better anyways 🙂

      That’s interesting what you said and no need to apologize. I think I can see where you come from, and indeed I sometimes wonder the same thing. I sometimes think I write the best when I’m in pain or in my worst depressive episodes, theres so much more tumultuous emotions to express. But whatever the reason may be, perhaps we don’t need to delve, as you say. We all just write for ourselves, and I think that’s when everything good in us shines

      Take care – off to read your other comments! thanks for the support!
      Noch Noch

  11. […] in my ability for anything numerical and so just shied away from it all. On the contrary, I thrived with literature, words, language, prose, poetry! I’d actively sign up for debate competitions, essay contests and […]

  12. […] things cannot be explained. Perhaps the universe was trying to send me a message, and remind me of who I am inside whilst I continue this journey of recovery and self-therapy. Perhaps it was God’s little […]

  13. […] The more I write, the more I realize, as long as we write from deep within our hearts, people will feel it and resonate somehow. With so much encouragement from the last post, and readers / followers on Twitter & emails urging me alike, I’ve managed to patch up some courage to publish a poem I scribbled down a few days ago. […]

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  20. […] omnipotent young adult. The headaches were getting frequent, and the stomachaches had not subsided. Lassitude consumed my weekends. But I was too busy to notice the signs; my mind was occupied by the move from Tokyo to Beijing […]

  21. […] why do I write? Because I love writing. […]

  22. […] indulge in transition. Maybe this is why I enjoy airports, for it brings me inspiration and my writing flows. I make up stories of where people are going. I relish the melancholy it brings as I hang in the […]

  23. […] if I want to cook, I will cook. If I want to write, I will […]

  24. […] had always wanted to write a book. But I had not even written regularly in my journal for months since I had started my corporate […]

  25. […] Had I not gotten into depression three years ago, I might have still rediscovered all this one day. But now that I have gone down this route, I can only thank the messed up period in my life for bringing me back to what I love – my writing. […]

  26. […] Had I not gotten into depression three years ago, I might have still rediscovered all this one day. But now that I have gone down this route, I can only thank the messed up period in my life for bringing me back to what I love – my writing. […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.