THERE’S NO LOOKING BACK

Remember that things have to happen in order for something else to occur.

Warning: this entry contains sensitive issue that may or may not be of interest to you, may or may not be in line with your values or beliefs. All views are accepted, judgements are welcome.

What goes around comes around. It’s a part of learning about saying “meh” and shrugging it off, about acceptance, about moving on. There’s always a reason behind everything that happens to you. All the adversities or fortunate encounters, they’re the many ways God presents Himself upon you. Now it’s up to you how you’d act or react. Remember that things have to happen in order for something else to occur. Keep your ears and eyes open. Your mind. Your heart. And one thing for sure, have faith. “For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

I particularly love this one from prophet Jeremiah:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My time is in His hands. That one I believe for sure. He knows what is best. He knows when is best. I can only do my best, and my best I shall do.

Cheers.

THANK YOU, MR. UBER DRIVER

I held my cup of long black in front of me, its warmth added a sense of comfort. “I need to go home”, I said; the words came out of my lips undeliberately, lightly, naturally.

“You should be proud of yourself.”

I stared blankly at the passing traffic, observing nothing to be exact.

“Not everyone has the guts to go all the way back home after spending a long nine years in another country. You’re really brave. I wish I could be like you”, he said while passing me some tissue.

“I’m sorry, I’m just getting a bit emotional”, I smiled at my Uber driver, wiping my tears.

He chuckled, said it was all A-OK.

Dramatic? Yes. But that was literally what happened on my very last day in Melbourne.*

A lot of people asked me how I felt weeks coming to my one-way flight. Honestly, I felt excited and relieved. It’s been too long since I had that nudging voice inside my head. I wasn’t sure if going home was what I wanted – or, more importantly, needed. The epiphany finally came after four years of indecisiveness. It was a cold morning in June last year and I was having an impromptu breakfast with my closest friend in one of the inner suburbs of Melbourne. We were talking about what possibility lies ahead for us, what we craved for, what were missing in our lives and what we wanted to do for our future.

I held my cup of long black in front of me, its warmth added a sense of comfort. “I need to go home“, I said; the words came out of my lips undeliberately, lightly, naturally. My dear friend (bless her) was shocked to hear that apparently, her jaw dropped and eyes widened (yes you know who you are, my dear). Even I, myself, was surprised. This person, this woman, who used to despise her home country so much for all the obvious reasons, wanted to go home. We started laughing; she joked about recording our conversation for a future reminder just in case I changed my mind (yet again). My friend smiled understandingly. I guess deep down we were both relieved about the fact that I finally decided to go back for good. If the words were uttered ever so naturally, that could only mean one thing, eh? ;)

And one thing it meant. That I finally came to terms with my life. I’ve finally found my purpose. It felt so liberating, re-assuring. Contentment, that elusive word that I’ve been searching for these past five or so years, finally fits in the sentence. I am now ready to do what I was borne to do. Some of the seniors that I talked to said that I have a heavy task ahead of me. My plough needs to be as sharp and sturdy as it could be, my being as strong as it could be, my faith as solid as it could be. And one important thing, I must share my burden, “because you won’t be able to do everything by yourself”, they’d said.

I have faith in kindness. I believe that everyone is born with goodness in them and we have all the freedom to choose which seeds we sow to eventually reap in the future.

“So why didn’t you go and do it?”, I asked my Uber driver, after he told me how he wanted to go back home and do something about India, for India.

“I can’t. My wife doesn’t want to. We just finished building our home and bought a Pizza Hut franchise in Footscray recently. A lot are happening at the moment”, he answered. I could see him smiling through the rearview mirror.

I guess each and everyone has their own paths and purposes in life. How they cross or intertwine with ours is a mystery unbeknownst throughout the universe. You just have to try to look closer to get a sense of it, by genuinely caring more about others, about your surroundings. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, simple gestures like words of encouragement will do, like what my Uber driver did that evening.

The comfortable Ford Fortuner made its turn and arrived in front of the black-fenced property.

“I wish you all the best. You’ll be fine and you’ll do great”, he offered his hand.

“Thanks”, I said shaking his hand, “I’ll visit your Pizza Hut joint next time I come down to Melbourne”.

*P.S. Dramatic is my middle name.

GROWING UP MEANS KNOWING BETTER

Thing is, the past would not let you go, no matter how much you try to run away from it.

Or so you hoped.

New years always give me that jittery feeling, apart from (my own) birthdays. You can see where I’m going to with this, right? I don’t have to elabo- I do? OK.

Well, imagine sitting with your peers/friends/parents on a casual end of year dinner party, you know, all good and fun. And out of the blue, one party pooper (you know you have one even within your inner cliques. FYI, I’m looking at myself here), pops that dreadful question: “So what’s your plan for the new year?”

While the question itself is harmless, I’m somewhat tempted to think that what the inquirer means to say is this: “What are you going to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? I mean look at yourself and where you are now. Are you sure you’re happy? Are you sure you’re where you’re supposed to be? Have you reached your potential and be the better version than your best self? Can’t you be more like _____ and start to get your sh*t together? Hello, responsibilities?”

Or well, maybe that’s just me when I’m asking myself the same question. Cue negative self-talk all the way. This year’s transition feels a little different, though. I’m somewhat calmer when I’m answering each and every one of those questions, compared to the previous years. I guess as you get older, you tend to enjoy the process of growing up a little bit more and get better at singling out the positives of each passing year.

The biggest takeaway for me this year is this: I don’t want to spend too much trying to make it to a future that still hasn’t happened or avoid the past that would not let me go. Thing is, the past would not let you go, no matter how much you try to run away from it. It sits in the corner of your room silently and at times (more often than not, at the very worst timing) comes over to you, demanding your full attention, wanting to have a (quick) chat, just ‘cos. And it’s up to you whether you’d say yes to its invitation or decline and politely say, “Hi again! We did have a good time, thanks for that. But at the moment I have something important that I have to do, which is being at the present, preparing for my future. So if it’s OK with you, I’ll check in with you in a bit? Just for some lessons and inspirations. KTHXBYE.”

A good while ago, my past came knocking on my door. I welcomed her in and we had a good chat. I looked back at a lot of things that happened in the preceding twelve months and I felt warmth in my chest. I smiled instantly. It has been a whirlwind of a year that started off with a great deal of ambition and aspirations, ended on a mellower tone with an assurance that I actually do have my sh*t together. This assurance didn’t come easily, mind you. It was difficult, took a lot of courage (that came from lots of support from my main support system. After a while you know what/who they are.), came gradually (it took its time), and only arrived when you successfully reached one crucial point in your life: self-acceptance.

All in all, 2015 has been a good year of contemplation and learning. Here’s a (short) list of things that I learned in the past year. I was THIS CLOSE to adding more to it, but thought I shouldn’t go too far as to bore you all with my rambles. So here we go:

  1. An ending was an ending. Letting go is not as hard as it sounds; it all comes down to willpower.
  2. Perfectionism crushes you into ruins. That place doesn’t exist, so you should stop trying to get there. Perfection is fiction.
  3. Know your currency. Don’t discount your achievements. But know that hard work only is not enough.
  4. Make peace with your past.
  5. It’s okay to be silent. It’s not okay to be silent.
  6. You can’t please everyone and you don’t have to please everyone.
  7. Lift up your head. Put it up right and walk on. Forward. Always forward.
  8. You’re always where you need to be. You have to be where you are to get to where you need to go.
  9. Humility can take you to places you never know existed, whether physically or spiritually.
  10. Life is not all pastel coloured. Waves come and go. You just need to learn to surf through it better. And trust me, you get better at it.
  11. Do work that you’re proud of. Don’t stop searching until you find one.
  12. Values. Stick to it, or forever chained by your own guilt. And trust me when I say forgiving yourself is not easy.
  13. It’s OK to be scared, but it’s not OK to not face your fear.
  14. People will never forget how you make them feel.
  15. Acknowledge your loneliness.
  16. But know that you’re not alone. Never. I promise you this.
  17. Happiness is in receiving, but contentment is in giving.
  18. It’s not always your fault. And if it is, apologize.
  19. The world can wait. Sometimes people with the greatest potentials take longer to realize their paths in life, and it’s not always a bad thing. It’s OK to be late, as long as you turn up prepared.
  20. Being a better person doesn’t come from how many achievements you have hanging on your wall or remember on top of your head, but from the love you have for others and what service you are to them.

My wish for myself this year is this:

To be (even) happier about growing up, and more importantly to be content – about who I was, who I am and who I will become. To create beautiful things in life, both physically and spiritually, even if nobody cares. To do work with purpose. To dance in the rain, whatever philosophical meaning lies behind it. To take action. To work not only harder, but also smarter, and lastly, to enjoy the ride.

I wish you all beautiful souls a belated happy new year. Let’s take the first action*!

 

 

*If you haven’t started it already ;)

ONE CAFFEINE SHOT LATER

“What’s your fondest childhood memory?”

Right then and there, I could see a surprised look on your face, as if I were the first person to ever have asked you such question.

“I’ll let you have a think about it, and in the mean time I’ll scour through these papers”, I said getting back to the weekend newspaper, smiling, feeling proud (perhaps?) of myself, knowing that I’ve asked the right question, ball’s in my court now.

I’ve honestly forgotten what your answer was that morning. Maybe it was something about your parents? Or how you had to take all sorts of extracurricular work after school? Or how you and your parents always go to a holiday house in the outskirt of town, and tend to the garden, ’cause that was your Dad’s favourite thing to do. I don’t know.

It’s funny how some memories seep through or slip through your mind just like that. No matter how hard you try to retrieve it back, you just can’t. Your brain just won’t cooperate. It’s like trying to look for a folder in your computer drive, which you know you’ve (accidentally/subconsciously/consciously) deleted for good. Done and dusted. Recycle bin emptied.

Some other memories, though, stick for longer. Like how you took my hand in yours for the first time when, funnily enough, we were about to walk in different directions. And we decided not to let go of each others’ hands from then on. Or so I thought. Or how you like to loop your feet around mine in bed, early in the morning when you were deep asleep.

Those memories, fondest memories; what relevance do they have now? Some (my best of friends) say that I should bury them deep at the back of my head and forget them altogether. I chose to believe that, however counterintuitively, remembering those memories actually help me to get better and get ahead. For who wouldn’t find joy in reminiscing happy memories? I may be wrong altogether. My friends would have been right. I may have chosen not to listen to them just because I found comfort in knowing that those sweet memories were once real. Pathetic.

I’m forever indebted to this experience, nevertheless. Knowing where you went wrong, and more importantly, getting to know yourself better are the biggest lessons in life that will help you grow. It was a steep learning curve, but it was worth it.

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“We finally met. My name’s _____. Nice to meet you.”

We shook hands a little bit awkwardly as I jumped into the car. I fastened my seatbelt and sat behind the driver’s seat, trying to steal a glimpse of your face through the rearview mirror.

“All set?” you said.

“Yes!” screamed everyone in the car.

Off we go to the north eastern part of the town, scurrying our way through to catch the last view of the Christmas lights show before they wrapped up for the year. The traffic was quite bad, everyone didn’t want to miss the annual light show, so it seemed And everyone had exactly the same idea as us, which is going on the very last day of the show! I don’t blame them. The lights were quite spectacular this year. A lot more houses chipped in to the festivities hence we could see a lot more hanging Santa’s on the roofs and more buskers singing Christmas carols on the neighbourhood’s sidewalks.

“I went to your concert. You played really well”, you said.

I could only reply to it with a little “Thanks” and sheepish smile.

The street grew busier as the night loomed in. We stumbled upon some interesting sights during our walks; Homer Simpson dancing on the porch of a house, a real life family having dinner in their front yard as passersby peek through the shrubberies trying to see the scene, crowds singing to a Christmas tune played by a busker trumpeter. As soon as we finished walking down and up the whole lit up street, we decided to take leave as it got quite late. But I left my heart right there, in the outskirt of the buzzing Melbourne town, where carols is playing on the backdrop and the street lit up with incandescent blinking lights.