This week’s writing challenge requires me to write over the span of 5 days while adhering to the following prompts:
- Day One: start your post
- Day Two: add a quote from a conversation you had with someone today
- Day Three: add something related to what your childhood self wanted to be when you grew up, or a dream you have for your future.
- Day Four: add a reference to something currently in your refrigerator.
- Day Five: add something inspired by a song you heard today.
I have been thinking about death lately. No, I’m not suicidal (nor depressed). It all started with an episode of True Blood, and exacerbated by the recent flight tragedies. I even wrote a fictitious piece that sort of reflects my notions of death.
I have used the word ‘death’ way too many times this week, and it is beginning to leave a sour taste in my mouth. So instead, I’m going to talk about ‘living’ – or rather, the lack thereof.
One of my author profiles reads, “A Singaporean undergrad man-child who needs to start living.” Clearly, I have acknowledged my dissatisfaction with the way I am going about life – not in the ‘my life is going down the shitter’ kind of way, though. While I cannot consider myself to be truly happy, I am not terribly affected by it either. Perhaps ‘indifferent’ might be an apt descriptor.
After some deliberation, I accepted the thought that indifference is quite alright. Perhaps I might have held onto a rather naive outlook on happiness – hoping for constant high-points and fretting over the mundane. Perhaps striking a balance between the highs and lows could translate to happiness. I suppose you can never feel the highs if it weren’t for the lows. Besides, if ‘living’ meant excitement, excitement, and more excitement, I’d probably be completely exhausted.
This brings me to a conversation with my friend, Jojo, over text messages (clearly real conversations are irrelevant in this day and age). I was being facetious when I texted, “I am very sad.”
To which he replied, “You need to hang out with more people – like from your age group.”
Translation: You need to get a life. Go party like the rest of the twenty-somethings.
It’s true; my life is boring. The last time I ‘partied’ was a year ago. Somehow I managed to set my life on a loop between working, exercising and the occasional meeting of friends for meals. Even then, I do not have much friends to speak of – I can count them with my 2 hands. That’s not to say that I am such a horrible person to get to know either! I have made plenty of acquaintances, but I’m very discerning when it comes to people I bother to keep up with on a regular basis (aka close friends).
While I seemingly like the idea of a larger circle of friends to turn up the excitement in my life, I simultaneously dread it. There are days when happiness is succumbing to my need for solitude. I draw my curtains, switch off the lights, wrap myself in my quilt, and press play on my television shows. Some times, I even do this for days. I once watched 5 seasons of House M.D. over three days – and I regretted nothing.
The childhood me would probably cringe at what I have become. When I was younger, a day cooped up at home was never a good one. In fact, I can’t seem to recall ever having to take a time-out from all the excitement in life. I used to spend hours cycling with my cousin. Or I would spend my afternoons, after school, at my neighbour’s place challenging him to a game of Pokemon. Other days, a bunch of us from my estate would come together to play a game of badminton or soccer.
However, as I grew up, my priorities started to change. By the time I was in my early teens, I spent most of my time at home – because, you know, computers. Nevertheless, I was very social – gaming online with friends or communicating through IM. Somehow, along the way, I chose myself over others; the moon over the sun; introversion over extraversion.
Speaking of priorities, I have also noticed how my life-goals have morphed over the years. When I was child, it was all about the appearance. I wanted to be a policeman, primarily because of the uniform. Damn, wouldn’t I look cool in that? (But if anyone asked, I obviously wanted to catch the bad guys). And in my teenage years, it was all about the materialism. I wanted to be Surgeon (I haven’t realise how shitty I was at Science). No, No, I wanted to be an Investment Banker. Sorry, I meant ‘Lawyer’. Alright, screw it – I just wanted to be filthy rich.
Eventually, I realised that basing my aspirations on validation or materialism will never be the key to true happiness. Perhaps the only way to go about living was through internal contentment. I told myself that I would rather live comfortably (doing what I loved to do) than to live lavishly (spending two-thirds of my time hating what I do). I guess I shan’t pontificate further on future-happiness – I should be focusing on the present.
As of now, a sliver of life has been found in a bar of ‘Kinder Bueno’ chocolate I discovered in my fridge. What used to be an act that brought along an immense feeling of guilt and self-loathing, now evokes a fleeting sense of self-satisfaction. My regained ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of chocolate (and other aphrodisiacs) is an intimation of inner peace. I have started to accept and love myself like never before. I am no longer defined by the number on my weighing scale. I just have to remind myself of ‘balance’ – between leisure and exercise.
‘Balance’ has appeared for the second time in this post. Perhaps the real key to happiness is just leading a balanced life. But therein lies the question, “How?”
If I knew the answer to this question, I wouldn’t have spent 5 days on this rather disoriented and extended monologue on life. While I still have a lot of figuring out to do, Mumford & Sons managed to clue me in on where I could start.
In ‘Awake My Soul’, they eloquently sing:
In these bodies we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love; you invest your life.
This shall act as my guiding principle in life from here on out.