The next time I love, it will be slow and careful. Not a chest full of drumming heartbeats, not a mouthful of promises. I will tread slowly, making sure that whatever it is, it will be strong enough to take the weight of the burdens, the needs, the dreams that we both have. The next time I love, it will be full and complete, and there will be no games of wanting and chasing then losing. I will learn to sit, to rest and to breathe.
In days leading up to my birth date, I feel the absence of my mother widening into a gaping hole. The festering wound that is usually well concealed (thus easily dismissed) now excretes a pungent smell, demanding at least some attention.
I think about my mother when I see news about Princess Diana even though the two bear no similarities other than the fact that they both share the same first name and same death year. I used to find solidarity in Prince Harry and Prince William because while people sympathised with them for having to grow up without a mother, I had to do the same too, and in some sense, it felt like those people sympathised with me too. I have my mother immortalised and congealed with the memory of Princess Diana because it makes her less absent and forgotten- I like to think that when people talk about Princess Diana, they are somehow, in some way, talking about my mother too.
I think about my mother and how she would be my queen (and I, her princess) if she were alive. I think about the many milestones she has missed, how many more she will miss. I think about how I especially thank her on my birthday but how I wish for less years on this earth if it means that I could have had more years with her.
I didn’t think that I would make friends who surpass the level of acquaintanceship in university, those who would make saying goodbye to hard. After the first two semesters in university, I think I made a total of 6 acquaintances, none of whom I keep in contact with at all.
Here I am, 6 semesters done and almost dusted and I have recently had tears-inducing experiences when saying goodbye to friends. These experiences I never thought I would have in university.
I had known that yes, it would hurt when I have to say goodbye to learning Philosophy and the mind-boggling questions, paradoxes and circularity it raises, the different perspectives it has led me to see, different beliefs it has influenced in me; all these that I so love. It is with a heavy heart (albeit admittedly with a slight contrasting sense of relief) that I say goodbye to the hard-to-trudge-through readings by amazingly intelligent people, the tedious process of writing essays- refining them, altering them and then refining them again.
All those feelings, I have anticipated since I uncovered a love for Philosophy but I never thought that I would forge friendships in university that I would want to hold onto. That there would be people whom I want to keep close even after graduation because they have taught me so much and we have grown immensely together.
Some have taught me that sometimes you can have differing opinions but it does not matter much- that we can agree to disagree (it is with strong reluctance that I typed that phrase because it has been used too often, almost a cliché now, but it captures the idea well). Others have taught me that sometimes a mere presence or an effortless act to show that someone cares can mean so much (think just tiny actions of giving Haribo gummy bears or Rittersport chocolates). Several have taught me how to be so selfless with one’s knowledge (and notes) and this is doubly admiring considering we are in a place where you compete with each other for better grades. Yet another has inspired me by showing how a person can take on so much just to pursue her dreams with such resilience. Each of them has taught me and surprised me so much, supporting me in ways they possibly are not even aware of and I am so thankful; they have all taught me that people truly can be such gems.
I was told that it is with bittersweet feeling that they are seeing me go- bitter because they do not want me to go but sweet because they know that I am on my way to fulfilling my dreams.
It is also with bittersweet feeling that I am saying goodbye, even if it is just goodbye to sharing this phase of life together. Bitter because there will be so many less memories carved together, sweet because we have had our time together and I know that this goodbye is not the end of the friendships.
I have come to terms with the idea that we need at least a bit of determinism in life as a coping mechanism. The notion of determinism is that there is already a path for one to take or for things to turn out, and it is in some sense pre-destination. In its extreme sense, determinism would imply that there is no point in putting effort in anything or doing anything because whatever will happen, will happen and things are out of control.
What I’m advocating for, however, is not such an extreme view of determinism; that mixed with this determinism is a little of the very cliché idea that “you are the master of your own fate”. I would like to believe that there are things that we can do to change what we have or will have, that if we put in the effort, what was initially slightly out of our reach is now within reach. Determinism, however, is pertinent because I’ve realised that there can be so many instances where one tries and tries and gives the utmost best but things just do not turn out the way one would like for them to. In this sense, a belief in determinism, at least mildly, is a form of coping mechanism when times as such come. When there is a huge disparity in the way things turn out and the way one worked for them to turn out, it feels like determinism is a valid person to shoulder this blame.
Es ist die zweite Tag und ich bin gut. Es ist ruhig und angenehmen und mein Leben ist hier als leiser. Ich werde dieses Gefühl festhalten weil ich mich sehr zufrieden fühle. Die Welt ist sehr groß und es gibt so vielen mehr Orte auszugehen und vielen Menschen zu treffen.
Ringo’s Foyer, Malacca, Malaysia (February 2017)
In his Meditations, Descartes says that once very clearly and distinctly perceived ideas and thoughts can be made to be untrue and unreliable over the course of time. He says in his memory interpretation that we can only be sure of the truth or falsity of the perceptions that we have presently. We cannot prove how true or false previous perceptions (from our memory) were, even if these perceptions were what we had absolutely believed in in the past. A very watered down and simplified summary of this thought is that memory is not reliable and we can only trust perceptions that we have currently not any that has its base in memory.
I think I agree that ideas or feelings that we once knew so strongly and indubitably can be doubted after a period of time because really, what makes us think that we had indeed correctly perceived such ideas or feelings? There could have been some overlooking or ignorance of things in some areas and this would shake the credibility of the ideas and feelings. I think with the passage of time comes dust that has the ability to accumulate and cover things, even in our brains metaphorically. This dust can pile upon ideas and feelings that go untouched and blanket over them so that they are inconspicuous and don’t stick out as much as others that are attended to regularly. I think this accumulation of dust makes the ideas and feelings appear to be sometimes foreign and unfamiliar and even if one uncovers what lies beneath the dust, there is a doubt that what we uncover may not be truly what it was because it is no longer familiar.
The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
And that trying to dominate events
goes against the currents of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t need others’ approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.
- Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30