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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.

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