This afternoon I find myself in my favourite Starbucks along Orchard Road; I love it because through the completely transparent walls along the street, you get the a panoramic view of the quaint end of town and with half the bustle from town, there is a delicate balance between the crowd of expatriates filling the store with their thick French accents and a kind of peace that’s hard to find in this area. With the scent of my warm coffee in the air and the rain pouring incessantly outside, I enjoy the beautiful jazz playlist as I type this one. The holidays have granted me sufficient sleep and ample time, so I’ve been a little more observant and conscious of the people around me in public because I now have the energy to offer attention to the little actions of strangers around me. I have the time to be reading more books and articles, looking around and thinking about what others may be thinking, to reflect on the lessons I’ve accumulated from my experiences earlier prior to now and most of all, to sit down occasionally as I go about my day to open my laptop, and document them as I am now. And today, I’d like to tell you about the Escalator Analogy.
So, imagine that the forces of the world as the mechanics of an escalator (a humongous one that fits thousands of people on every step) and all of us, passengers taking a ride on this escalator. The escalator moves at one certain pace, it’s fixed based on its mechanics– the physics of the gears, the belt that pushes it along and the materials that have come to make up what it is. We have little control over the escalator, only the management and the engineers I suppose, may control the mechanics of this escalator. The rest of us, just passengers. While we cannot control its pace, we control what we do on it or how we approach it. At this point, I’d imagine that the same way different people respond to this pace in which the world takes us, some choose to take the right aisle and rush right ahead to be on top, while others take the left and patiently wait. There are cautious ones who grip onto the handle as the escalator moves along, as if without it, the sense of insecurity one has would come to consume him and there are those who’d push and play on the escalator, almost fearless. With this very vibrant escalator community I hope you’re imagining, I try to imagine where in the escalator I am and what I’m doing exactly. That, I’m not too sure yet, but for the holidays, it looks like I’m on the left.
To complete the analogy I’d like to have the spotlight turned unto those entering the escalator– there are some who run towards and enthusiastically come upon, those who walk with the flow from a distance and calmly enter, and then there are those, who hesitate– who are fearful.
And amongst those hesitating, is the elderly. I turn the spotlight upon them not just because of the recent close encounters and reflections with those older than me (from family to the beneficiaries in Sunlove Home), but also because I recall that someone once told me that for the elderly, one of the scariest daily experiences is taking the escalator. Because they are unfamiliar with this new technology: the way this staircase-like metallic machine moves at the pace in which it wishes and is supposedly able to support the weight of so many as it moves along. They are skeptical. Beyond that, they are terrified for the experience of taking that one step onto the escalator itself is the most heart-stopping part of this daily routine. I’ve watched as crowds shuffling toward the escalator at MRT stations mostly on their phones, or some kind of device, and others preoccupied by their thoughts as they walk robotically in an orderly fashion; but all stop momentarily because of an elderly with the above-mentioned fear, hesitating. Those who ignorantly let out disgruntled moans or respond with annoyed glances sometimes almost disgust me; and when I am among them because I’m too caught up in whatever else I may be doing, I find myself the most irritated at my distracted and ignorant self in the next second.
I imagine how frightening it would be for me in a good 60 years when the simplest of technology to the youthful masses would become a routine I would fear in my daily life, or how abandoned I may feel for the lack of compassion that I may come to face from those who take for granted a simple, almost mundane chore that I, on the other hand, see as a nerve-wrecking challenge.
It’s the beginning of the week and I’m glad to have myself slowing down every couple of days this holiday to enjoy time alone at places I’ve always wanted to spend time reading, writing or just thinking at: to name a few, last week I found myself at Group Therapy Cafe, Rochester Mall and The Metropolis Starbucks, the RGS DnT Lab and at Botanic Gardens Food for Thought. I feel like I’m crossing off a very long ‘Want To-Do List’ that has been accumulating through the adventures and exploration every holiday for the past few years– this time, with the luxury of putting part time jobs out of the way for once and focusing on the people around me.