Rays of sunshine peek in through the windows of my bedroom and the overhead fan whirs above me. With the aftertaste of warm Milo and Oreo cookies lingering in my mouth, I have spent the past hour reading The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz while awaiting sunrise. Jetlag had me up early this morning. It is the second day back in Singapore after a 27-day adventure in America, filled with reflection and learning, I can’t help but think How incredibly lovely it is to be back home.
This time last year I basked in a new normal – no more studying day and night, no more anxiety, but instead the taste of liberty bringing pleasure. My days were freestyle, guided only by my own aspirations and appointments with loved ones. The school timetable that dictated my expense of time was replaced by a planner. I remember then, as I have now, I cleared out my cupboards and rearranged my desk. A trip to town had me return with new stationery and accessories to my humble abode. I bought new books, sold old ones; got a haircut and clipped my nails. I remember thinking to myself, What a beautiful life. As if these little routines have become my occasional practices to feel rejuvenated, the beginning of a new year and the return to Singapore has seen exactly that. I’d like to think that practicing a year of wholeheartedness and reframing with intentions rather than goals has allowed me to be more adept at experiencing the joy.
My bedtime go-to is now What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey. Categorized by themes, the first is ‘Joy’. In which, she writes, “the gift of deciding to face your mortality without turning or flinching is the gift of recognizing that because you will die, you must live now. Your journey begins with the choice to get up, step out and live fully.” Perhaps these seemingly mundane and insignificant practices mean so much to me because it represents taking ownership; being responsible for the environment and frame of mind with which I ‘live fully’.
In 2016, an incredible practice was a gratitude journal. For every day of the year, I took the last waking minutes before turning in to write at least three moments from the day for which I am thankful into my planner. Brene Brown explains that joy is an emotion associated with vulnerability because we are uncertain of whether we are deserving of joy. As a defense, we sometimes do not allow ourselves completely experience the joy – to dampen the vulnerability we necessarily dampen the joy. To kick the bad habit, this piece is truly an expansion of what goes on in my head at different points of the day as I take pictures with my mind of the fleeting moments and the gratitude journal practice I am once more practicing for the year ahead.
Moments that fill us with hope and love and faith can often be fleeting, but with every moment comes a choice. The choice is to sit it out or dance and each time, I hope you dance.