It’s been a week since the last time I published anything; for this past week I’ve been reading more than writing and trying to make sense of some thoughts that have lingered on my mind for more than a while. And finally today, I check in from a Starbucks Coffee outlet closest to home– you know in the past year, I’ve barely stepped into this place more than twice though it’s definitely the most convenient Starbucks outlet to my home, there’s no competition; it’s a strange aversion that has made me choose to travel far, to go the distance, just for a cup of Starbucks Coffee that really tastes similar, if not identical, to the coffee this outlet serves. I think this is because of something that I shall call the Close to Home Complex. It seems that whenever I want to enjoy myself or find some kind of getaway, or go on an adventure, an escape, I yearn for it to be as far from home as possible. It’s an illusion that I try to create for myself: that I’m out of my comfort zone, away from my security net and my humble abode is miles away from wherever I head to, as if it’s only then that I can truly takeaway new and refreshing experiences.
But recently, I see that sometimes the best lessons and sometimes the most valuable ones can be learned close to home.
I was thinking about the ups and downs that my family has faced together this year, the pleasant surprises or the not so pleasant– they had a way of revealing the crack lines in my family’s relationship I once imagined to be perfect. I preferred to believe that my family was void of all the realistic portrayals of marriage and family: those with betrayal, unhappiness, arguments, fights and suspicions; to believe that we were special, or different. And while my stand on that still holds, this year I think I’ve slowly come to terms with accepting the imperfections in our relationship and I’m learning to love us the way we are. I think the family I thought we were was more of a dream that I hoped we were; but witnessing what I have in the past year and especially in the holidays where we’ve spent so much more time together, I now see that the kindest of people and people who love each other greatly, can still hurt one another, deeply. I guess I only learn this more clearly now because it’s been months since my sister left– with her departure, and the lack of a security net that once allowed me to remain oblivious to happenings around the house. It’s also only at this point that I realise the kind of protection she has so silently provided me. (Thanks sis)
Seeing that these valuable lessons have been taken away from the people closest to me, it appears that I could possibly start learning from myself more often. Amongst the articles I have been browsing day and night recently, I have chanced upon a series of Mommy Bloggers (yes, it’s actually a profession you know), each talking about their experiences raising children and the lessons they have learned from their children. These reminded me of the lessons I’ve learned from my students and juniors– they always had a way of making me reflect on my childhood and what I was like when I was younger, or the things I have been through. The two articles that remained etched in my memory are these posts on PSLE:
The lesson that PSLE, our first standardized test teaches us, for example, is the very nature of the assessment defines little of us: it forgoes the other things we are made of like personality and preferences, the kind of choices we make and the person we want to be. I occasionally question if I consciously act upon this lesson I have acknowledged for a long time now. You know the same way mothers learn from their children’s experiences, we can learn from what we were like as children. It’s strange to say it like this, but it seems we continuously learn and relearn the same lessons, though in different forms. But weirdly though, we take a while to make sense of the lessons that our past can teach us and even longer to actually act on these new lessons learned when it is only with these reflections that we continually lead lives we prefer to be living and keep being better versions of ourselves. It’s like reading a story about someone else’s life allows you to see valuable lessons clearly but less so than when you try to learn from the story of a life you supposedly know best, your own.
So with the ‘me’ time I have enjoyed this week and reading I’ve done, one of my first lessons: to learn from myself and those closest to me.