“Give me 5 names of people close to you. Who are you going to delete first if you are forced to delete them from your life one by one? I bet you will be in tears”.
This was the question my Boss asked me today. I just looked at him and uttered no words. He insisted for a response. But for me, I don’t really have to answer that because in reality, we cannot choose who we are going to kick out from our life and who we want to keep. That was a rhetorical question that’s meant to make you realize who and how important are the people around you.
But people come and go as they say;
….it could be your new neighbor who just moved-in and sings so horrible with his karaoke overnight and makes you drag yourself to work the next day with your panda eyes.
…..it could be your best friend who loves you so much yet decided not to join you with your so-called ‘overseas-career-choice’ because she’s very much stable and happy with her life at your homeland.
…..a boyfriend who had to go home because of his dad’s passing and you cant even accompany and console him much because of work.
……your womanizer father whom you’ve been wanting to crash off from your life but all you can do is just to hang-on and pray he’ll be better one day (he is still your father anyway).
…..or it could be your mother who was suspected as thief by the filthy company she’s been working with for six years, she suddenly has to leave to protect herself and pray for justice to prevail (And when it finally does, it’s as if nothing terrible had happened! No life and reputation was ruined! How cruel people can be?)
Oh! Those were my life experiences by the way! But I’m pretty sure you have your own similar stories to tell. 😉
But see? We cant control who and how people are gonna come in and out of our lives. But when talking about deleting people from our lives, the first word that pops in my mind is D-E-A-T-H.
Yes, we are all going to die! You and me. Your brother, sister, mom and dad, your neighbor, your dog, your lovely plant and everyone else or everything else are gonna fade away one day! Nothing lasts forever as they say! Isn’t that a sad story? Knowing that time will just come when that fateful moment will just call us and dragging us all away from this universe?
But when are we going to die? Who knows?! But this isn’t the interesting question anyway! How are we going to die? How are your loved ones gonna die? Ah! This is something! Will it be cancer? Plane crash? Falling from a fathomless cliff? Suicide? Choking on a hazel nut? Ahh! Good question! Because I don’t know. Nobody really knows!
For me, when I am on my way to work, I usually daydream about running, crossing on the road, trying to beat the green man (because I am such a shameless late comer and I usually like to rush). Then a huge SMRT bus would hit me so badly and drag me all the way to the side, get my joints dislocated and there’d be blood everywhere. Then a total stranger would run up to help and try to save me. He would hold my hand in a final dramatic gesture as I wait for my inevitable last breath. The earth would sweep upon me and I’d be slammed into eternity on someone’s lap whom I don’t even freakin’ know!
But luckily, that hasn’t happened yet! But it’s exciting to think about death. Don’t you think so?
I remember one of my ‘Christian Living Formation’ teacher during high school once asked us,“What is life’s greatest gift?”. One of my classmates answered,“Love”. Our teacher said,“No”. Someone else said,“Our Saviour, Jesus Christ”. Teacher still said,“No”. Until she finally revealed,“Life’s greatest gift is Death”.
I was honestly puzzled on why the hell would death be a Gift? It’s even the worst and dreadful thing that everyone’s been avoiding! But yeah! Life is precious, yet temporary anyway. You never know when is the exact moment you will die. So you need to live as if you are to die tomorrow.
But when we think about our own deaths, we typically think about our final moments; the hospital beds, our crying family, the ambulances and stuff like that. We don’t think about our long string of choices and habits which lead to those final moments.
Have you ever even taken time to ask yourself that when you die, which type of person will you be? Will you be the one who looks at your life with displeasure and discontent? Or are you going to be the one who nears death with a smile because you are incredibly grateful for the life you chose to live?
Well, having the knowledge that we are going to die someday is one of the greatest gifts that we have been given. Thinking about our imminent death forces us to reflect on our life and the way that we’ve been living. By doing so, we gain clarity and become empowered to shape your life in the way we choose.
For me, I could say that my death is a work-in-progress — each breath that i take, each bite for my meal, each swallow for my favorite sweets, each late night that I spent with my computer, each green man from traffic light that I try to beat, each of my laugh and scream and cry and crashing fist and lonely sigh — they each bring me one step closer to my own dramatic denouement from this world.
Like I know people always complain about my super late sleeping time. It is so unhealthy and probably the reason why I am always late for work. But just so you know, I cant sleep if the clock dont strike at 2AM or sometimes 4AM! I dont know why but maybe my body clock is just so wild and nocturnal like that! But what am I supposed to do? Punish myself by pressing my eyes so hard ’til it comes out? Hell no! Im am struggling but instead of just staring at the wall and counting sheeps, I’d rather make use of my time and energy finding the things I love to try. And this was how modeling, blogging, dancing and painting came about. I may not be great at it but they make me discover more about what are the things I’d really like to do for the rest of my life.
And you see, I am trying out many things. Too many that I sometimes dont even know how to handle. But if TRYING is gonna kill me one day, Id be very much happy to embrace death that way!
The thing is, finding the love, passion and purpose in your life is a trial-by-fire process. You don’t simply wake up one day and become happy doing one thing forever and ever. Like death, it’s a constant work-in-progress. You must try something, pay attention to how it feels, adjust and then try again. Nobody gets it right on the first try, or the tenth or sometimes even the five-hundreth!
Doing what you love is not always loving what you do. It is always accompanied with sacrifices, struggles, failures or pain. Just like choosing a wife or husband. It’s not choosing someone who makes you happy all the time. It is choosing somebody whom you want to be with even when they’re pissing you off or vice versa. It is like you have no choice because this is simply who you guys are, dysfunctional and all. But you accept and enjoy each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s your chosen vehicle towards death and you’re happy to let it take you there no matter how bumpy the ride is gonna be.
So going back, the better question isn’t when you’re going to die. It’s what are you choosing as your vehicle to get there? If everything you do each day brings you closer to death in its own unique and subtleway, then what are you choosing kill you? When Death does come, how would you like him to take you?
All artworks done by my brother, Mark Nable
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