Saturday, 16 November 2019

It doesn't have to be a snowman

Why do lovers come and go? Why do empires rise and fall?

I say, humans are wired for change. We cannot stay at one place indefinitely. We cannot do the same task without feeling restless. We cannot eat the same dish every day (well, except for Mala).

It’s basic economics. It’s the basis of our market economy; of consumerism. Humans will never be satisfied because of our ever-increasing wants.

Yet, in spite of our need for change, every human being, in one way or another, seeks for some sort of permanence. Be it in religion, which tells us that there is an eternity awaiting us, in family, which we believe is built upon an unbreakable bond that will withstand the turbulences of life, or in knowledge, which is something that once acquired, (in most cases) cannot be stolen.

The inevitable conclusion, then, is that we will never be fully contented in life; and hence the phrase “the grass is greener on the other side.” Where there is any semblance of permanence, we will seek for change. Where there is change, our insecurity compels us to seek for permanence. What follows is that we would probably be happier less depressed coming to terms with this and striving for 70 per cent (just an arbitrary figure for illustration sake) of life satisfaction instead of the full hundred per cent. I’m not saying that we should lose our fighting spirit and stop living an earnest life; but perhaps, what I mean is that we should learn to manage our expectations and not beat ourselves and the people around us up too much when things don’t go according to plan.

In short, in the words of our favourite Frozen character, Princess Anna from Arendelle, who is full of optimism and zest for life, “Do you want to build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman.”

Monday, 28 October 2019

I'm in San Francisco, baby!

We strolled along Golden Gate Bridge – yes, the one that you see on postcards. The three of us girls who marched along the coast of East Coast Park six years ago for our Passing Out Parade from Basic Military Training. This time round, we walked for a total of 17 kilometres – not quite the 24 kilometre route march that we did six years ago with 15 kilograms on our backs but it sure felt almost as tiring.

We started off with a hike along Land’s End, which was absolutely awe-inspiring – just imagine the waves crashing against the shores with the Bridge standing firm against the currents in a distance, as vessels of all sizes came and go. After the hike, we took a break at one of the highly recommended Seafood restaurants along Fisherman’s Wharf and pampered ourselves with succulent scallops and fresh shellfish. The impressive display by the Blue Angels right after lunch was a bonus – a blessing (as it was not planned for) in fact. After that, we took a ferry to Sausalito, a picturesque island North of San Francisco, and decided to embark on a long, long walk back to San Francisco.

7pm. We were walking along the Bridge with our legs completely sore from the day’s hike, the wind brushing across our hair in all directions, sending shivers down our spines. The bridge didn’t seem so long from afar but now that we were walking across it, it seemed to be never-ending. I dragged my feet, one step at a time, wrapping myself tightly with my fleece jacket to keep myself warm. It was when we were about halfway through the Bridge that the sun started to set on San Francisco. I looked to the East and saw the lights come to live all along the coast. It was beautiful.

In that moment, I forgot all about the fatigue in my legs. I forgot about the piercing cold and exclaimed, ‘I’m in San Francisco, baby!’ There and then, it dawned upon me that in spite of how difficult the past year has been, and that no matter how hard life gets, it is still worth the living as there is still so much of the world that is left to see and explore.

It is in moments like these that I’m glad I’m still alive, glad that I slogged my way through the dreadful moments in life to be right where I’m supposed to be.

Till my next adventure!

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Of depression, loneliness and death

‘Funny when you're dead how people start listening.’
-       The Band Perry

She was born in 1994. The same year that I was born. I don’t know much about her, apart from the fact that she was part of a K-pop girl group that I used to follow, that she had the beauty of an angel and that she struggled with depression (like many of her fellow colleagues in the same industry) before finally giving in – no – having the courage to put an end to it.

Her name was Sulli. Sul for snow and Li for flower. I don’t know when she fell into depression but perhaps it was when she started receiving waves of criticisms for dating a significantly older man – a complete no-go in the K-pop industry, considering that dating itself was equivalent to sabotaging your own career. Or perhaps it was when people who knew her about as little as I did started leaving nasty comments on her Instagram page about how attention-seeking she was. She probably tried to take those comments with a pinch of salt initially; tried to be who they wanted her to be. But she soon realised that she was not being true to herself.

She was found dead on 14 October 2019 in her apartment. The cause of death has yet to be confirmed but everyone knows it was suicide.

Nobody speaks up about issues of depression, loneliness and death but I’m sure that in some way or another, we all can empathise with Sulli – some more than the others. We work hard to earn our keep; we eat, drink and be merry, but we are all so damn lonely on the inside. We constantly feel that no one understands us but the fact is that everyone has to carry their own bags of shit. A part of us wants to be true to ourselves, wants to do whatever the hell we want without being judged, but society is so messed up that we have to either deny that ‘too loud’, ‘too shy’, ‘too confident’, ‘too insecure’, ‘too uptight’ or ‘too free-spirited’ parts of ourselves, or live with constant judgement. But you know what?

Society is not just a noun or a matter-of-fact that has nothing to do with us. Society constitutes each and every individual one of us; and it has a heart, whether warm or cold. So why don’t, why don’t we for once stop putting up our fences and judging each other according to standards that none of us can uphold? Why don’t we stop isolating ourselves and breeding loneliness with our superficial conversations? Why don’t we stop contributing to the brutal murder of one another?

I hope that poor girl is finally out of her misery, and somehow – just somehow – know that we are all sorry.

Friday, 11 October 2019

The paradox of life

You mean the world to someone but you mean nothing to the world.
You climb the corporate ladder by drowning in a pile of work.
Your spouse is your closest ally but also your greatest enemy.
Freedom of speech is great as long as it doesn't offend him, her, and all of them.
True freedom can only be achieved when everyone puts aside a little bit of their own freedom.
The earth is dying but it will outlive every one of us.
We fight wars to keep peace.
Our stomachs are full but our hearts are empty.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Recalibrating life's purpose

It has been a year since I came back from the UK. A year since I got back to work, a year since I reunited with my family and friends, and a year since I snapped back into the brutal reality of life.

In the UK, I had the luxury of time to pause, pause and pause; to savour the moment, appreciate the little things in life and distill the lessons from every up and down. Coming back home was like hopping on a bullet train that was headed nowhere. Tasking after tasking, meeting after meeting, getaways after getaways. I didn't have the time to reflect on my mistakes - yes, periodic after-action-reviews are not genuine reflections (in my opinion). As soon as I dealt with an issue, something new that called for my attention popped up. I didn't have the energy to ask myself what I truly wanted - how could I, when all I was doing was to survive each day?

Most of us are working towards a destination that we have in mind. And this destination is likely to be what society has constructed for us as 'the ideal life'; be it getting a degree, getting married, owning a house or having kids. We work our butts off to arrive at this destination without ever thinking if that is what we, as individuals, truly want for ourselves. And we don't leave room for hiccups. This makes every wrong decision, every 'unproductive year', every careless mistake a 'setback' - it postpones the day that we arrive at our destination.

At the start of this year, I made a decision that set my our lives back for (possibly) years. Over time, I started to question if I made the right decision. I threw away something that we have building for many years now. We were so close to arriving at our destination. But. I. threw. it. away.

I have been trying many ways to rebuild, from undoing my mistakes to setting new personal goals, that I realise I have been constantly unsatisfied. No matter what I accomplished, no matter how far I escaped travelled, I still felt empty, thinking that maybe, just maybe, when I get my own house, when I become an expert in my field, when I right my wrongs, I will finally be happy. And in that process, as clich├ęd as it sounds, I forgot that life is not a destination but a journey. That life is a journey and we have got to learn how to savour every moment of it, be it good or bad. I was guilty of thinking that the perfect life is out there, waiting to be realised - but it is not; it doesn't exist. Even the smartest of beings could lose their intellect, even the happiest of marriages could be broken, and even the richest of men and women could lose their wealth. Nothing is permanent, and especially not our ever-increasing wants. What does this mean? We will never be contented if life is all about striving towards our destinations.

To experience life to the fullest is to embrace every success and failure, every heart-warming and heart-wrenching moment, the most lovable and unlovable person, and the best and worst versions of ourselves. And in the process, learn, try to be better and always be kind.

I don't know where life is going to take me since my path is now a blank sheet, but I've got to learn to recalibrate how I look at it.
© Melody Sim | All rights reserved.