Homesick

A couple of weeks ago, just past midnight on July 5th, I took off out of Hong Kong, flew across the Pacific Ocean, crossed the International date line and arrived in Los Angeles at 10pm on July 4th. 

There are few approaches during my ten year career I can think as memorable as that one. It was like descending into a war zone. Thousands upon thousands of fireworks going off as far as the eye could see. A lurid display, the likes of which I’ve never seen. We descended right over the city with fireworks going off either side as we came into land. What an entrance it was!

What you Americans were celebrating, of course, was your independence. You were celebrating what that independence stands for: freedom. As I reflected on this, while forced to quarantine in an airport hotel room for the next 48 hours, I started to feel homesick. It’s a feeling I’ve been having a great deal recently. Which is strange, given Hong Kong is the place I call home. Given “home” is the one place I’ve actually been able to spend time in. So what’s going on? Why, exactly, have I been feeling homesick? 

Part of the reason is I’ve felt imprisoned at home in Hong Kong. While I get to be with my wife and kids (something I’m extremely grateful for), I’ve never felt further from the rest of my family in the UK and elsewhere. This is because Hong Kong’s strict quarantine restrictions, although successful in keeping the place safe, have made it nigh-on impossible to see them. I’m also someone who has always felt “at home” while travelling. I like to think of the world as my home. I love nothing more than exploring it. The inability to do that has, well, hit home for me.

With that aside, the main reason I’ve been feeling so homesick is because I’m heartbroken. When I think about the changes that Hong Kong has undergone politically – this past year especially – the place that I have long called home simply isn’t the same. Freedom of speech has been stifled and many are living in fear. Many have fled as a result. Many others are planning to. You can feel it too. They have taken a stick to Hong Kong. Just like beating a child, its spirit has been crushed. 

One of the main reasons I write under a pseudonym is because of what’s going on here. Whether my paranoia is justified or not I don’t know, but the fear is real. Many people have been arrested for speaking out. Colleagues of mine have been let go because of comments made on social media. One of Hong Kong’s biggest Independent papers was shut down just a few weeks ago. The nails being hammered into the coffin keep coming. Make no mistake about it, 2047 has come early. Hong Kong’s special position as a bridge between East and West – a place that once reflected the best of both – has been broken. 

Sometimes I still feel like a local Hong Konger. I’ve spent most of my life here after all. There is no place on this planet I know more intimately. A place that has given me so much. Hong Kong will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. Yet, nowadays, I feel increasingly removed from it. 

Of course I have always been, and remain, an expatriate. Never a “true-blue” local. The plus side to that is I have options. I don’t have to stay here in Hong Kong. I can leave if I want to. It’s this question in particular – whether or not I should – that has really been plaguing my mind. 

I liken it to being stuck in that hotel room on July 4th. There was nothing stopping me form walking out that door. The only reason I didn’t was because of what my head was telling me. That I could get fired or contract COVID… My head was telling me that it’s best to be safe. It’s best to stay put. My heart, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to say, “fuck this”, and walk straight out of that hotel room door and join the celebrations. 

I’m homesick because I don’t feel at home in Hong Kong anymore. My values have diverged from the place. Yet my head is telling me to stay put. Not to leave the security of my job, my pay check, etc. However my heart is longing for somewhere (and something) else. They say that home is where the heart is. I get it now. Home is where your heart feels it belongs. My sense of belonging here has been eroded. I don’t believe it will be long before I gather my belongings and head straight out the door for good.

Freedom, is calling me home.


(Thanks for reading everyone. This post got me thinking about the meaning of home. Let me ask, what does home mean to you? For someone who has always felt “at home” on the road, the pandemic has, paradoxically, left me feeling homesick. I’m curious if many of you have felt the same way? As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.)


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You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

88 Insights About Life

Almost every week for the past year I’ve put 3 or 4 random thoughts together in a post called Mindset Mondays. Below is a highlight reel.

Whether you just read the first few, pick some at random, or grab a cuppa and dig deep – I hope you find some value here.

If any of them resonate then please drop us a line in comments section below. Equally, if you have some gems of your own please share – I’d love to hear them.

Happy Monday all! X


  1. You can never be perfect. You can always be better.
  2. The moment you fix your beliefs you imprison your mind.
  3. By not addressing our own suffering we cause it in others.
  4. Focus has more to do with eliminating distraction than it does with effort.
  5. If you don’t give yourself real problems to solve your mind will make some up.
  6. A good time is worth more than any material possession.
  7. The change the world needs from you is for you to change, not for you to change the world.
  8. Forget to-do lists, make a get to-do list instead.
  9. When thinking in terms of being right, you’ve lost. When thinking in terms of trying to learn something, you’ve won.
  10. Forcing your views on others doesn’t make you right.
  11. Strength of character is the ability to remain true to yourself when things are going against you.
  12. The most important resource that gets stolen from you = attention.
  13. Success isn’t achieving something, success is enjoying achieving something.
  14. Having a routine = A commitment to improvement.
  15. Praise is the enemy of progress if handed out thoughtlessly. Praise should be a reward that’s earned through hard work.
  16. Don’t make the mistake of thinking what others want from you is what you want to give.
  17. The best thing you can do to honour life is pay attention to it.
  18. Try not to simply think outside the box, but destroy it entirely.
  19. The need to be right is the ego equivalent of being on crack. It’s both extremely addictive and extremely damaging.
  20. The great thing about momentum is that it builds naturally, like a boulder rolling down the hill. The difficult part is getting it to move in the first place.
  21. Make it your mission to be an agent of calm in the midst of chaos. When the storm settles you will be well placed to pick up the pieces and put the world back together.
  22. The beauty of a moment comes from its impermanence. The moment you cling to it, it’s destroyed.
  23. You’re either trying to be a better person or you’re not. There is no such thing as a “good person.”
  24. A deliberately easy life makes us unhappy because it makes us weaker. Conversely a deliberately difficult life makes us happy because it builds resilience. It also helps us appreciate the everyday things that most people take for granted.
  25. The arguments you have in your head are pointless if you only have them with yourself. Speak up or let go.
  26. Laughing at someone else’s expense demonstrates your own insecurities. Conversely, the ability to laugh at yourself demonstrates resilience.
  27. What matters is that we make amends for our past in the present moment for the future world.
  28. If you can improve your life knowing you already have enough, then future failures will hurt less and future successes will bring more joy.
  29. For all wannabe bloggers: Forget the numbers and speak from your heart. Forget the numbers and concentrate on making connections. Forget the numbers and enjoy the journey.
  30. If you complain you suffer twice. If you blame you deny yourself the opportunity to learn. If you give up both of those habits you’ll go far.
  31. It’s difficult to love other people if you don’t love yourself. It’s difficult to love yourself if you don’t love other people. It works both ways.
  32. Freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t, someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens you’ve lost your freedom.
  33. It’s not a matter of quality over quantity. I believe that quantity produces quality amongst a sea of mediocrity. The greatest artists produce far more average work than they do masterpieces. The point is though, they produce far more work.
  34. It’s far easier to help those who actually ask for it.
  35. When you’ve only suffered enough to know what misery is, but not enough to know what for, then you must endure a while longer. Keep searching for the meaning and you will find your salvation.
  36. There isn’t an inverse correlation between success and failure. The more you fail in life, the more you succeed. If you’re not failing it simply means you’re not trying as hard as you should. If you ask me, the only real failure in life is not trying. You need to put yourself in positions where you have to fail in order to succeed.
  37. Creativity has nothing to do with being the best but expressing your individuality. This is what makes the creative process so beautiful. It’s also what makes imitation such a terrible waste of your talents. There will always be someone who can do it better, but no-one who can do it the same.
  38. What the world needs from you and what society expects are two very different things.
  39. What if the only thing that is wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you?
  40. Sit down every night and pat yourself on the back for the things you did well, then examine the ways in which you could have done things better. Bring both your sense of accomplishment and willingness to improve into your next day.
  41. Intelligent self-interest is understanding we are all part of the same world – that to hurt another is to hurt yourself. I would go so far as to say, how you treat others is how you treat yourself. Kindness expressed outwards extends inwards as well.
  42. The greater your understanding of how small you are, the bigger the person you become.
  43. People will always believe a confident lier over those who whimper the truth.
  44. The cost of convenience is your resilience.
  45. Competition is about pushing each other to improve. It’s about personal and collective growth. When we glorify it and make it about “winning at all costs” we turn people off. This defeats the purpose. Not only are those who compete weaker because they have less competition, those who don’t compete lose the ability to better themselves altogether. Don’t compete to win, compete to grow.
  46. Never forget that someone built the road you drive on.
  47. People won’t accept rocks that are hurled at them – they’ll either duck and hide, or throw them back.
  48. Courage is acting from a place of love, doing what you know to be right, not in the absence of fear, but because of it.
  49. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger if that’s your attitude, otherwise it will make you weaker.
  50. Ignorance is bliss… but only for you, for everyone else it’s miserable.
  51. Knowledge alone isn’t enough. What you need is insight. Insight is what will set you free.
  52. If you’re not talking to yourself as you would your own family then perhaps you’re not showing yourself the compassion you should? And if you are, perhaps you’re not being as honest with yourself as you should?
  53. Attachments/Wanting = Unhappiness. Letting go/Generosity = Happiness.
  54. The time to start is now and thing to do is the one that scares you the most.
  55. Success is what we alone define.
  56. The mind is hardwired to keep you alive. It’s far more interested in your survival than achieving any sort of lasting happiness. That’s why it keeps tricking you.
  57. There is always a silver lining. You just have to look for it.
  58. Expressing gratitude is the best way to interpret reality – for the fact that we are alive is an extraordinary miracle.
  59. The problem with regret is that it takes you away from the present moment. Yet that’s exactly where all the opportunities lie to put things right.
  60. In a world where people are so afraid of what others think, honesty will take you far.
  61. We’re a society that loves to say the right thing without doing it. We need be one that does the right thing, with no need to say it.
  62. Emotion is a writer’s best friend.
  63. When you accept yourself for who you are you’re still aware that you can become something more. You still understand the benefits of becoming. The difference is you don’t attribute a threat level response to your actions.
  64. What follows a generation who got things wrong is one that understands why they must not make the same mistakes.
  65. An exercise in critical thought: Write down your opinions on a subject exactly as you think them. However outlandish, just put it down on paper and argue your side. Then go about proving it wrong in every conceivable way. Do the research, find the facts and consider the opinions that contradict your argument.
  66. Trying to create motivation is massively overrated. Trying to gain clarity is massively underrated.
  67. If you want to go up you have to overcome gravity.
  68. Original thought is often going ‘what if…’ and then thinking the exact opposite of what everybody else is.
  69. The art of conversation is about making the other person feel heard.
  70. Knowledge is power but imagination is freedom.
  71. When doing something that makes you anxious it’s important to tell yourself that you can. Not because this will ease the nerves, but because when you manage to pull off the task that you’ve been dreading, instead of feeling relief, you will gain confidence.
  72. You don’t always get to choose your problems in life, however, you always get to choose how you interpret and respond to those problems.
  73. Moving an inch forward prevents you falling a mile backward.
  74. If you miss the opportunity to appreciate the moment don’t stress, the next moment comes free of charge.
  75. You have to stop pouring water in your glass if you want to drink from it.
  76. Maybe we should imagine losing our loved ones in a car accident? Maybe we should take the time to imagine losing everything we hold dear? Maybe imagining the worst is exactly what brings what’s right in front of us, sharply into focus? Maybe meditating on our mortality – our own inevitable demise – is exactly what gives us freedom in the present? Maybe we will find more joy in everyday life by embracing these difficult emotions rather than chasing after a bigger pay check or slimmer waistline? What do you think?
  77. Learn to love yourself before you start searching for your knight in shining armour. That way you won’t need them to be your knight in shining armour. That way you’ll have realistic expectations going into your next relationship and the strength to deal with it should it fall apart.
  78. When you compare yourself to others you reject who you are.
  79. Kindness is not about avoiding conflict at all costs. Kindness is not about telling white lies so you don’t have to hurt someone else’s feeling. That’s not kindness, that’s cowardice.
  80. Contacting a friend a day keeps the demons at bay.
  81. I have two cycles for you. The first I like to call the Positive Cycle Of Hope. It looks like this: Hope inspires action that creates positive results that generates more hope (repeat). The second I like to call the Negative Cycle Of Hopelessness. It looks like this: Hope coupled with an inability (or unwillingness) to take action creates (99% of the time) negative results that generates feelings of despair and hopelessness (circle back to point 2 and repeat). The point I want to make? Hope must be tied to action otherwise it’s dangerous.
  82. Be careful what you say yes to in life. Often it’s the things we acquire for security that ends up imprisoning us.
  83. It’s funny how giving away everything for nothing in return gives you everything you want.
  84. The two most important things are your family and today. Connect the dots.
  85. If you only ever live in the moment, why would you rush it?
  86. In your attempts to avoid suffering you suffer more.
  87. Those who refuse to acknowledge their parent’s shortcomings are bound to repeat them.
  88. Both the best defence and the best weapon against the voices of hatred is to demonstrate they don’t generate any in your own heart.

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You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

First Solo

There’s a term in aviation that all pilots know well called the first solo. It’s when a new pilot completes a takeoff, short flight and safe landing, all by him or herself, for the very first time. It’s basically the aviation equivalent of losing your virginity. You kinda line the aeroplane up with the strip, take your best aim and hope the landing doesn’t hurt too much. It’s something you never ever forget (no matter how much you might want to). For a pilot it is a very special, sacred even, moment.

I’d no idea I would be doing my first solo the day that I did. My instructor hadn’t given the slightest indication that he thought I was ready. He simply briefed me to taxi back to the same spot once I was done, then told me “Godspeed old chap,” and closed the cockpit door behind him – leaving me completely befuddled as I taxied gingerly to the runway threshold. Then, without thinking about it, I set maximum thrust and took off, all by myself.

It was, without a doubt, one of single most exhilarating moments of my aviation career. One of those rare moments of pure ecstasy, like you’re on top of the world. I felt invincible. That was, at least, until I was flying back when I looked down at the runway and it dawned on me, ‘shit I’ve got to land this thing!’ My exact thought at this point was, ‘Fuck,’ repeated several times in quick succession.

Anyway ladies and gentlemen, I bring this up because, right now, I feel like this very post is my blogging first solo. And to be brutally honest with you all – I’m petrified. I have the same feeling I did when I stared down at that runway just over eleven years ago now. The same dawning realisation that I have to do this all by myself. That same sinking feeling – like I’ve missed a crucial part of my training. 

I should say this isn’t the first post I’ve done for PO. Troy and Bogdan had the foresight to test run one of my pieces a short while back – Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do. (Which, incidentally, seems particularly pertinent given I feel like crying myself to sleep every night at the moment.) It’s just that this time they’ve given me the keys and closed the cockpit door behind them.

“Godspeed old chap,” they said.

Godspeed.

Yet I’ve only been playing with my own poky…  blog for half a year now. In that time I’ve amassed a meagre total of just over 300 followers. Now here I am, writing for a blog with nearly 16,000!

Is that right? 

Yep.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

And so I apologise dear readers if all this feels a bit awkward or if my delivery isn’t the smoothest. I’m sure that with time, I’ll be able to the hit the right spot. But you’ll have to bear with me – I am working with rather limited equipment, at least (ahem), linguistically speaking.

Anyway there’s no doubt that I want to be here. That I want to engage with as many wonderful, like-minded people who share in what is such a wonderful community here on WordPress. I believe this will undoubtedly help me grow as both a person and a writer. Which is why when I saw Troy’s ad to say they were looking for writers I was chomping at the bit. And before I circle back to my story, to bring this post home, let me take this moment to say how extremely grateful I am to him and the rest of the team here at PO for welcoming me on-board! 

However unlike the average person who feel pride and confidence when they achieve something, I feel nothing but relief that I didn’t fuck it up. A bit like when a captain tells me that was a nice landing (or not) after we’ve taxied off the runway, that’s the moment I realise it’s ok to exhale. 

So after my brief moment of joy the other day when I found out the news, my mind, just like it did all those years ago when staring down at the runway, expedited itself into the warm and cosy rabbit-hole of crippling self-doubt.

‘There’s no way I’m good enough to blog on PO. Everyone is going to realise that I don’t belong here. The writers here are all established – Linguistic PHD students, English professors and the like. They also seem to use this thing called discretion. I’m just a pilot with a shockingly poor grasp of the only language I know. I mean, what the fuck should I write about anyhow? What should I make my first post about? Should I make it about me and all my problems seen as no one cares or asked? Great idea!’

Then it occurred to me, I was pointlessly overthinking about what I should write for a blog called pointless overthinking. That at least made me chuckle. Then, just like I did following my mild panic attack all those years ago, I took several big breathes and thought to myself – maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel at home here after all. That maybe, just maybe, I can pull off this landing.

Thank you so much for reading everyone. I want to ask you what scary first time experiences you’ve had? How did it go? Was it unbearably awkward? Or was it, in fact, not nearly as bad as you thought it would be? Was it maybe even, rather pleasant? How did you deal with nerves? Also if you have any other feedback or remarks please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below. Just be gentle – it’s my first time after all.

To my regular readers: This was my first ‘offcial’ post for pointless overthinking. I wanted to share it with you all here on my blog and to let you know I will be writing a weekly post for them going forward. For those who haven’t checked it out I highly recommend heading over there and taking a look (link at the bottom). It’s run by a team of wonderful writers, professionals, thinkers and the like that I am honoured to now be a part of.

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You can see more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com