This trip back home to Singapore, I am struck by how much I feel like a tourist in my own country. Perhaps it is the knowledge that I am only here for a month (based on current plans).
This is the first time I have been away for this long – six months, not that long compared to plenty of other people, but I have never been away for more than three months.
I have really missed the people I have here and I have never felt it so keenly.
Because I am deliberately planning to be here for only a month, I am aggressively arranging for coffees, dinners, whatever meetings with as many people as possible. Truth be told, if I knew I was going to be here long-term, I would never have been this motivated to pack my life this tight.
Just for the past two weeks, inclusive of the few days I was down and out because of my small surgery, I have spent more quality time with a lot of people I care for probably more than the last stretch of a year I have spent in Singapore. People know I was going to be gone soon, I knew I have limited time to spend.
Every moment felt precious.
It suddenly occured to me today that I should make a deliberate effort to live a life of deliberate transience. In reality, life is by default transient but it is part of the human nature to take things for granted. That there will always be time to spend with loved ones, to accomplish goals. I am guilty of the same crime, even though I have already been very consciously living my life such that I try to live as though every day is my last. That has been effective for making some big decisions but sometimes it is really about the small ones. The small conscious decision to allocate an hour for coffee with a dear friend instead of the work which always seemed so urgent. The flip of a switch in my mind that I should make an effort to go out instead of being comfortable at home.
This time around, because of a self-imposed limit, I had to organize my schedule with a purpose, because I didn’t give myself more than a month to be lazy with my decisions. The comfort and lull of Singapore did tempt me into extending my trip, foregoing my plans and even for brief moments – *gasp* considering settling down here instead. My loved ones are here, my community is here, it is truly tempting. Even at this very moment.
But I have my ideal self to answer to. There is always the self that wants to be comfortable, pampered and stable. Yes, despite my apparent craziness, I really do have that side of me that wants to be surrounded by material luxuries, sip tea and be a bum. Or to a less extreme extent, the side of me who is tempted to be part of the drill here in Singapore.
As long as I can exhibit some sense of self-awaress and control, I refuse to give in to that self. This is heightened by those days I was down and out – being sick simply reaffirms my desire to make the best use of my time. I absolutely dislike the feeling of being alive but not feeling alive. Having to be in that drugged state which rendered me zombie-like – it sounds almost ideal, I didn’t have to work, I could do nothing, but I felt like shit.
That feeling of lifelessness – I really do not wish for myself to go through that too often. But it served as a good reminder. That when I have no such health issues, when I can breathe normally and feel normal – day to day health which plenty of people take for granted – I should really kick my own ass and start doing things that really matter to me.
For me now, being able to eat, sleep and poop normally (sorry if this is TMI) is truly a blessing. Such simple pleasures I used to take so much for granted but as I age and continue to disregard my sleep and diet, I had been suffering the repercussions of abusing my body in my earlier years.
Being sick once in a while, being in places only temporarily, never allowing myself to be comfortable, is really making life a lot more meaningful for me. I want my life to filled with stories I can constantly re-tell, I want my story pipeline to always be filled.
I planned my current trip home to be short out of practical reasons but having seen the value I have gotten this time around, I am inclined to continue this travel pattern out of the desire to have self-imposed limitations. I am not at the stage yet where I can be that aware and mindful without them.
This time around I am fortunate enough to meet up with friends I haven’t kept in touch with for ages because honestly we probably never felt the neccessity to since we are all busy with our own work and life in general. But with mutual deliberate effort, it is incredibly how energizing it can be for both parties to exchange stories, I have gotten new perspectives on old friends. They too, probably see the transformation I go through – for a social hermit visibly unhappy just a couple years ago, I have made considerable progress I guess.
I am still a work in progress obviously but what matters is my deliberate effort to upkeep that progress, despite the temptation to settle for the very alluring comfort zone.
*pardon me for the number of times I have used the word “deliberate”, I just erm, want to emphasise how deliberate I am deliberately being deliberate. 😉