Half A Decade
The last time I filled up one of these was way back in 2005 -- one year after I started my life in Singapore. It was both nostalgic and exhilirating re-reading my past blog entry ont it. Even though I never felt the past six years pass by, it made me realize how much I've changed as a person since my naive little self set foot at the legendary Changi airport upon my first arrival.
I could still afford then the luxury of having no idea what would be in store for the rest of my life. I've got to say. Not too shabby.
Happy sixth anniversary to me; to my life in this little island that I've managed to adopt as my home.
What did you do in the past 5 years that you hadn't done before?
It feels like my life only started at 23. Not that my life prior to my 23rd year was exceptionally bad, but I think I only started growing up at 23 when I realized just how big the world was -- and that it doesn't have to be scary. I've done so many things for the first time in the past half-decade, but having to let go of any nearby safety nets by living in a brand new country all on my own may have topped my entire list. Do I recommend it? No. It can be insanely frightening. Was it that traumatizing? It doesn't have to be. You simply take what is offered and make the most out of it.
Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately, my two Lolas passed away within months of each other in 2008. It was an intense year, but I hope there are a lot of flowers and greenery wherever they are right now. And with my Lolos. That would make them extremely happy. Rest in peace.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, as a matter of fact. The world welcomed my three favorite nephews -- two from my sister and one from my brother. The buggers took my place as baby of the family.
Even if we did lose both my Lolas, we were still gifted with more additions to the family. Indeed a blessing.
Did you travel? Where did you go? Best holiday memory?
You bet your behind I did. I completely made up for that cultural blackhole I suffered from when I was living back in the US. I rediscovered my wanderlust and remembered just how hard it kicked. It must've acquired some newfound energy while I was dormant. Traveling seems to be one of the very few things I live for these days. Asking me to pick a favorite holiday memory would be like asking me to pick a favorite child. If only I can bundle up all the memories up and stuff it in a cannister than I can take with me everywhere I go -- I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Best thing you bought?
My crappy camera. Seriously. It was the only thing that enabled me to capture all the memories I've collected over the past few years. And it was the only instrument that ever reminded me how awesome and how beautiful the world really is. And how we take so much for granted. And how we see things differently in hindsight. I really should invest in a better one, but it won't feel the same. Perhaps there can be beauty found in raw imperfection.
Where did most of your money go?
I wish I knew. Though I know that a solid chunk went to investments on my relationships with family and friends. May it be flying off to see them, traveling the world with them, enjoying gastronomic experiences with them or simply racking up on ginormous overseas phone bills to speak with them -- it was worth every penny.
What do you wish you had done more of?
I wish I had the mind to spend more time with my Lolas before they passed on to a much better place. But dwelling on that will take me nowhere so I wish to take that lesson and apply it somewhere that I can still control. Having said that, I've learned to cherish and appreciate the people around me even more -- knowing that the day will come that being with them will simply be reduced to memories. So while I can still hold on to those as realities, then I shall.
Other than that, I wish I wrote more. Never stop writing, I keep telling myself. And I still tell myself that.
What do you wish you had done less of?
Eating those damn ice cream sandwiches that they sell for a buck in the streets. Oh sigh, but they make such great comfort food! What's a girl to do?
But no regrets. As much as we feel the powerful sting of regrets that trail behind us, I believe that they still play important parts in turning our lives for the better and making us better people.
What kept you sane?
Knowing that I have a whole posse behind me that provides me with all the support I need -- plus the fact that I know they're all one plane ride away ready to welcome me with open arms. And of course, there are also the wonderful people (whose patience and tolerance I've unwittingly put to the test) that God peppered around me here in Singapore.
And Jack Daniels. And Absolut Vodka. And Amazon.com. Oh, and those awesome Malaysian pirates that bring my favorite American TV drama series right to my doorstep. May Allah bless you and catapult you straight to eternal happiness.
What drove you mad?
People. But hey, can't live with them, can't live without them. We're screwed.
How were your birthdays?
Pretty good. I can't say they were all memorable, but I do know I had fun in each one that passed. I spent them with all the right people and there was always cake (always a good benchmark for me). I had the most beautiful purple cake for my 25th birthday but I don't remember eating it. And I had one of my most expensive meals for my 27th birthday. One thing I realized, however -- birthdays are best spent as quiet occasions with people who matter most to you. Preferrably not sober because once it sinks in that a year has passed and I still haven't done much out of my life, it can be pretty damn depressing. So, bottoms up!
What political/economic issue stirred you the most?
The Financial Crisis of 2008. Being in the heart of the financial industry didn't help matters at all. I witnessed first-hand how lives of people turned for the worst, and I saw how former high-flyers had their wings clipped by humility. It was perhaps one of the greatest events that purged the world. Lessons of prudence and moderation were hopefully learned. I would sacrifice a lot not to go through that kind of trauma again.
What made you celebrate?
The weekends. Every single one of them.
What song will remind of the past 6 years?
Crash And Burn by Savage Garden
"Cause there has always been heartache and pain, and when it's over you'll breathe again, you'll breathe again"
It was a tough lesson to learn, but it's true.
Achieving a state of pseudo-contentment and finding comfort in knowing what I don't want in life. I've spent my whole life trying to figure out what I want and truth be told, I could be 70 years old right now, and I still wouldn't have a clue. However, it took a while for me to realize that I want to be anything but ordinary. And that I don't desire the kind of life I was trained to work for along with everyone else. And realizing that it's okay not to want that, experiencing the joy of rejigging my priorities, and garnering the support of my loved ones -- just priceless.
Nursing heartaches, allowing fear to get the better of me (thus, yielding a lot to playing it safe and avoiding numerous risks), and having to sever ties with people who used to be important to me. But such is life, no? We don't get anywhere by sitting on the fence so no matter how intimidating, we have to jump off and pray hard that we land on the good side. And if we don't, then we simply deal.
What is the one thing that would have made you more satisfied?
Instinctively, I wanted to write down that it would've been better if I were financially better off. But when I chewed on it, I don't think things would've panned out the way they did if I had everything I wanted. Or at least easy access to them. I was provided with everything I needed -- I had to work for anything else I wanted beyond that. And that's what it was all about, wasn't it? A big part of the journey is finding out whom you'd become as you pine after your aspirations. And more importantly, whom you'd become when you don't get them.
A valuable life lesson you learnt?
Leben und Lieben. Live and love (despite everything that can go wrong). It's the best thing you could ever do for yourself.