Contrary to the connectedness I experience on a daily basis in Singapore, the elusive elsewhere remains an unknown – no more than a blank canvas filled with sketches of speculation. Sunny beaches and coffee houses interspersed along the streets and the rustic architecture of my university are all just probabilities, at best. There are fractions of my thoughts everyday stolen momentarily by the imaginative right hemisphere of my brain – painting different possibilities for the blank canvas of the elusive elsewhere where I will spend most of the next 4 years. 4 years feels like a long time.
I have acquainted myself with this feeling we call ‘uncertainty’ over time; the origins of possibly crippling fear and then shame for experiencing fear rather than excitement. (Expectations have it that starting afresh in a new place is exciting for one “adventurous enough”) In times where stakes feel incredibly high and control has hit an all-time low, I remind myself to breathe. Deep breaths.
Note to self: While our environment and circumstances change, we can choose the people that we are. With that, I find bearing in taking ownership over oneself and decide the practices and principles from the now that I hope to continue cultivating in the time to come:
1 | The choice for seeking stillness is grounded in the joys of taking deep breaths and practicing the mantra stop doing and just be. In stillness, with appreciation for the miracle of every breath taken, I hope for alignment in my self-awareness (emotional, mostly) and to exercise careful choices. This is about tuning out from distractions, tuning into self and pursuing clarity.
2 | Courage is contagious: the bravery to invest wholeheartedly in something that one believes in, spreads. The question transforms from What if I fail, embarrass myself or do terribly to What is worth daring even if I fail, embarrass myself or do terribly. I hope for the sort of courage that picks us up whenever we fall down; that empowers one to choose to enter arenas of our passion every time.
3 | In a time where we are so often operating from a place of scarcity, I wish to cultivate self-compassion. The ability to forgive ourselves and embrace the person we are is what I believe to be the birthplace of unconditional service, love and connection. With this basis established, I would expect no absence of mistakes, never perfection; and hope to respond each time I stumble, with it’s okay and you’re enough.
In my latest read, The Desire for Elsewhere by Agnes Chew, she writes that one of the hardest things in life is the act of saying goodbye. If only it were as simple as saying: goodbye for now, and see you again. Would it still be the same you I see the next time we meet? Or the same me, for that matter? For to part with a person or place often also means having to say goodbye to a particular state of being or phase in your life. Nowadays, I have become adept at planting myself in relaxing coffee places and immersing in some form of text – online storytelling courses, physical self-help books or pen-and-paper writing. Trying whatever means imaginable to slow this countdown. I experience moderate success. Noticing the wind in my hair and the warm yellow light overhead, mindfully as possible, the passing minutes feel like the flow of water through my fingers, from a running tap; impossible to grasp.
This piece is about the only choice that remains: to fully engage in every moment.