Sometimes differences come in cracks and obvious disparities that glare at you. Other times they come in the form of chasms that are impossible to reconcile . But perhaps a saving factor about the chasms is that they sometimes have a bridge that connects the two otherwise separated sides, rendering them possible to be reconciled.
But the bridge is sometimes old and rickety, not promising to hold up any weight or steps. Any step taken on the bridge then has to be well- calculated and as I was recently told, we do not take risks that are not well calculated because that would be unwise, even silly.
It has recently been a recurring thought in my mind that apart from the obvious attractions and advantages of travelling, it also teaches- or forces- me to learn to be better at letting go of people and things. I have always suffered from the worst case of inability to let go of people, memories, and things, becoming so attached to them that when the inevitable time of separation arrives, it hurts unimaginably.
The meeting of new people, the forming of what would be precious friendships, and the making of the loveliest memories with them in new places, I now see as opportunities for me to learn to have these people and then to let them go when it is time to leave. To let go of the people and places because we will never be the same again, never experience the same memories again.
But when my last travel has ended only so recently, the indelible loss is still so raw and the absence of the people still so palpable. (But this is only to be expected because we spent a relatively significant amount of time together, right?)
It has to hurt for it to get better though, and travelling perpetuates this cycle, but only for the better. Because there has to come a time when I get more used to this process and it will start to hurt less. I will learn to no longer hold onto people and things with a palm that is so often tightly clasped, but with a more open one, with no expectations nor demands- to let them go when they have to because they will have to. And perhaps, when it all comes down to it, all that I can hold onto are the memories that we have forged together because these memories are the ones that last. And these, I think, have to be enough.
Ich vermisse schon die Heiterkeit und die Ruhe. Es tut mir weh weil ich noch nicht genug von ihm hab.
Kuta, Lombok (June 2017)
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
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.