“Spend more time with your family”

Visited Jolynn at her dad’s wake last night. He passed on a few nights ago, which was rather unexpected for the family.

Both Cass and I didn’t quite know what to say when we were with her, and so she went on with what seemed like a well-rehearsed narration of what happened and how her dad was like. Well-rehearsed maybe because she realised that many people didn’t know what to say, so she decided to help her guests with the conversation. Saw her rush all over the place hosting her guests in that 1 hour we were there.

She also shared with us that being at the wake helped them in a way that it occupies their thoughts. Being at home would just remind them of him. After the wake, they would take time to grieve properly.

Our hearts ached as we listened to the things she shared. I had to hold back my tears when she shared about how her dad’s like with the family.

Last night reminded me of my uncle’s wake somewhat. That was when I learnt that people’s presence meant something to the family members. That was also when I realised the importance of hearing the family members tell their stories about the deceased.

Prayed for her before we left. As we were about to leave, she said this with a very affirming touch, “Spend more time with your loved ones.” That was from the bottom of her heart, and I guess, it left an impact.

“Spend more time with your family”

Tomorrow

As the Chinese saying goes, “明日复明日,明日何其多?我生待明日,万事成蹉跎。”

Lately I find myself tending to put decisions to commit on hold, till… I don’t know, I am more able to cope? I get more free? I will study the Bible when I become more free or less tired, I will arrange to meet up with so-and-so next time, I will practise my guitar when I have more time, I will go shop for what I need soon…

I came to a realisation these two days that I’m kinda living in a illusion that everything that’s happening now is just temporal. I feel as though I’m on a short-term internship or that things are just a little off now and would resume after some time.

But hey, things are probably going to stay as they are in the near future. Rather than returning to my previous state of equilibrium, I probably have to arrive at a new state of equilibrium now that I’m in a new stage of life (i.e. the working life) and a new ministry (with hardly anyone I’m close to). Alright, I just realised how this is looking like living an almost brand new life, and it kinda feels uneasy hurhur. How this new state of equilibrium is going to look like is probably related to the decisions I make now. If I continue to put decisions on hold, my new state of equilibrium might just become a living example of ‘All work but no play makes Jack a dull boy’.

I need to realise that I’m not returning anywhere – there is nowhere for me return to. I am establishing a new equilibrium, a new routine, a new course even. The question that I need to consider is this: So when are all these ‘next time’ and ‘soon’? If I don’t start now, I might never begin.

That being said, I should perhaps start charting out plans and routines for myself. First things to be in there: Studying the Bible, exercise, practising the guitar. Simple yet necessary. Come on, let’s get this started!

Tomorrow

Farewell

Been walking around this patch for the past 9 years of my life. Was just telling my friend how I stumbled into this place, came in as a volunteer for 7 years, then an intern, back to being a volunteer, now a facilitator and a student researcher. There was once H saw me around some months after my internship and he asked what I was doing there, because he could no longer keep track of my role in the organisation.

Reason? I love the people here. It’s true, and I love them more than I love the animals here. Other than in church, I’ve hardly come across a bunch of people so different (in a good way) that makes me feel like I’m part of the family.

Come this June, though, it might be my time to leave. Secured an employment elsewhere and I don’t know how things can work out if I want to hold on to my part-time job here. Not to mention that I might not even be allowed to hold on to it unless my new employer grants permission. The only other way I can think of to continue being a part of this place is to sign on and volunteer my time as a docent. Place – not space – has a meaning attached to it in our hearts.

Never thought, intended, planned for things to turn out this way, like staying here for almost a decade and still wanting to be here. That’s why nowadays I can identify with those who talk about how we sometimes stumble into things that shapes our lives.

I believe though, while it may seem like I’ve stumbled upon this place, it is You, God, who brought me here.

Farewell

Old friends

Just read an old friend’s Facebook post. Great to see how God has been faithful in growing him to be a fervent man of God. Can’t really describe this feeling, but it’s… interesting (?) to see how this playful little boy I used to know has now become one who’s maturing in his thoughts, cherishing the things of God with all seriousness. Totally unashamed of Christ, and letting his world know about His God! It’s pretty amazing!

Was then reminded of another mutual friend, whom I haven’t had a proper conversation with in the past 7 years. Or at least “proper” in the sense of finding out about her life. Went to her FB profile to see if there’s any updates on what she’s been up to, but when I got there, what I saw only told me one thing – she’s still very much the same person who doesn’t utilise social media functions. Haha that means, I didn’t find much; it looks pretty much the same as what I saw months ago.

The last photo of her that was uploaded dated 2013. I guess she can’t possibly be looking very much different now, but that still makes me feel like I’m beginning to not know how this friend looks like anymore. And definitely, I’ve probably lost track of how she is, what she’s doing, who she is.

My thoughts concerning this friendship has been evolving over the years, though rather slowly. In these 2 years, the question I have for myself is this, why am I so insistent on restoring this friendship? I know it’s close to impossible to restore it to where it was. And so what if we do meet up? What are we to talk about? I mean it’s been so many years and our paths never crossed. Though I actually do think it will be interesting if we do, and see how much each other has changed. But really, what am I really trying to get out of this insistence?

Each time this is brought back to mind though, I will dream of that one day that we meet again. Well. I hope so. If God wills, we shall meet again.

Interestingly, I bumped into another old friend yesterday morning. I was on my way to school and was just walking down the train to see if there’s any vacant seat. I found one and sat down. But just as I did, I guessed my mind processed a familiar image and my head just turned to look at this guy beside me, very intently, and suddenly I just went “Oi!”. That didn’t seem like I was in total control, and yeah it did feel somewhat like a stimuli-response-kind-of-reflex-reaction, which after that my brain processed the information (just like what happens in a reflex action), and I half-regretted not having executed a more decent “hi”.

That did start us off on a conversation though. He stopped his game and we spent the next 20 mins catching up on each other’s lives as we travelled to our destination. I guess he’s one of those friends I was rather comfortable interacting with, which perhaps explains why that “oi” came out so naturally. I’m also glad that we didn’t have to restart our conversation with formalities like with some other long-time-no-see-friends. We still text each other every now and then, so maybe that helped. Picked up our conversation where we left off. Only difference is that because we were so used to chatting and talking nonsense online (text, video, call), the first and only time we met up in a non-group setting was totally awkward cos we had nothing sensible to talk about. But yesterday, our second time meeting in a non-group setting, there was much less awkwardness and a much more sensible conversation.

Glad to see him where he is, pursuing his passion. Should have expected to hear that he’s doing this, just as how he’s been pursuing this track ever since I got to know him. One impression he’s always left me with is his loyalty. To people and to his passion. A person like this is a rare find these days.

Feeling like an old person now reminiscing about good old friends. But yeah, some things feel a little different as time goes by and this difference is rather interesting.

Old friends

#YOLO

“You only live once” is what our generation would say, giving them every reason to do what they want to – You only live once; do what you want. Freedom. No regrets.

Personally, though, I never liked this slogan. It feels like a dangerous concept to subscribe to. What it sounds like to me is this – do what you want, do what your friends tell you to, take drugs, get into fights, go for one night stands, drink as if there is no tomorrow, live on the edge. All kinds of things to try out before you die. And that’s right, walking on the edge – chances of us falling off the edge, then, is pretty high.

Well, for a life of no regrets, what does that matter? And anyway, we all have to face death somewhere down the road. But really, will it really be a life of no regrets, or a life entrapped in a path of ‘no return’? It’s quite a fine line between these two I suppose, but it’s one that we really need to think through properly and figure out before we run all about shouting yolo yolo yolo.

What it feels like to me is that people feel lost. There is this question of, “What do I do with this life? Why do I live?” It seems like we are living for school, for work, for retirement. Boring. Strongly agree! And so we want to break out of this mundanity. We are in search of a purpose to this life. It seems non-existent, and so we spice it up and make it exciting. A moment of excitement, for a lifetime of entrapment.

To be honest, I am not sure how YOLO came about. But it does sound pretty cool, having the potential to encourage people to live their lives to the full, to inspire them to live boldly. Nothing wrong with that, and I am supportive of that. I am not advocating for a life trapped within fears and insecurities, hiding away from this and that. What I am saying though, is that while it can mean a life lived to the fullest in a responsible way, it can also mean a life lived carelessly. You endanger your own life and you endanger others’. You hurt the people who loves you most and those whom you love. What kind of life is this really? Non-inspiring, non-applaudable.

What made me start writing on this all of a sudden (after years of deciding that this concept has given people lame excuses to live recklessly) are the verses in Hebrews 2:14-15 that caught my attention suddenly. In particular, Hebrews 2:15 where it says, “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery“. YOLO suddenly came to my mind when I read that. Sounds pretty muc like it – “do everything I want to try out before I die”. Living with the idea of dying at the back of our minds everyday. Can be good and can be bad as well. Good in a way that we seize every moment that we are living, bad in a way that if we subscribe to using YOLO to back us up for anything and everything, we live our lives irresponsibly as though this is the end and our lives doesn’t matter beyond ourselves and beyond death. It feels more like most of us are living our life in that latter manner out of a fear of death, especially dying without feeling like you have done anything. But at the end of this lifetime when we look back, would we count all we have accomplished (or “accomplished”) as having done anything; would this life count at all?

Well, I went to look up on how the phrase came about after typing that paragraph above on how I actually have no idea where it originated. I stumbled upon this website (http://philosiblog.com/2011/09/26/you-only-live-once-but-if-you-do-it-right-once-is-enough/) that gives some suggestions on how people can live their lives in a meaningful way. I scanned through, and what caught my eyes was this statement, “this is a valid quote absent the innuendo. We do only live once, as far as our present consciousness knows.” Again, I am not sure what he really meant by our present consciousness. But philosophically speaking, it is true that the limitation of our minds has so far only allowed us to comprehend that the time ahead till we breathe our last is the only time we have to live. This is true across all religions or non-religions – regardless of whether you believe in Heaven or hell or reincarnation or the end. That’s as far as our senses can tell us, beyond that takes faith to believe if there is a continuity or an end. If it’s the end, then that’s good because at least even if it has been a regretful life, that is a full stop to it. But what if Heaven and/or hell or reincarnation exists, and this life after death has to do with how you live your life before you breathe your last?

For myself, a Christian, I believe in the existence of life after death. I have to be accountable for the way that I live, in other words, I have to be answerable for my thoughts and actions when asked. I am not taught to live in fear however; in fact, I am taught to live fearlessly. Interestingly, there are sources that say that the Bible has repeated “Do not fear” 365 times, and some people have linked it to how it is one for each day of the year. Every single day, to live my life fearlessly. With a purpose. Live a life that is worth living. Live a life that impacts lives, because that is the only legacy that will go beyond my lifetime, beyond fame and glory, beyond riches. I don’t have to run around accomplishing 1001 things to make my life count. My life purpose has been found in the One who died on my behalf, to free me from my sins, to give me eternal life beyond this physical body, to give me freedom to live without fears and entrapment. And I want to live my life well for Him, Jesus Christ, who has a purpose for each of our lives.

 

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who hadg the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14-15, New Living Translation)

#YOLO

日月蹉跎

上周的星期六, 我搭着德士飞奔到了外婆家。一踏入那扇门就忙着跟长辈们打招呼。因为有些迟了, 外婆就一直催我, 要我赶快地去拿饭菜吃。我便往屋里直冲, 想找个角落把书包放下。

但, 走着, 叫着, 走着, 我突然察觉到时间好似在我不知觉的当而快了脚步。几个月前的黑发已变白发, 几个月前还嫩着的脸颊已多了些皱纹, 几个月前那健壮的身体也好似肥胖了许多。大家都好像老了许多, 许多。

虽然周遭吵闹得没有多想的空间, 但 “岁月不留人” 这句话时不时, 不由自主地, 往往返返地, 在我脑海里徘徊。有时后, 我还会不自主地在他人不留意时, 观察着他们的一举一动。好像真的都不一样了。

回到家后的那几天, 当天所见的还是继续的在脑子里徘徊着。心中似乎有一丝丝难以描绘的感觉。至今, 我还是没能着模出这感受。

或许。。。是有些害怕吧? 今日 21 岁 的我, 能蹦能跳, 逍遥自在地想去哪儿就去哪儿, 所在的青春也给我那勇于犯错与学习的 “小小借口”。老了, 我还能跑吗? 我还能有犯错的空间吗?

我还能有我今天所有的一切一切吗? 那包括, 我周遭的人。不知怎么的, 那整个礼拜, 我与朋友之间的对话都围绕着这话题。星期三, Anne 和我异口同声地说道在多 30 年, 我们的妈妈若不在人世了, 我们不知怎么办才好。即便是想罢了, 也会害怕。

星期五, 我与 Cloupe 会面, Celine 说了一句话, “Guys, we are growing up.” 好难形容那种感觉喔。我们第一次见面时是在我们 15 岁的时候。当中有一起瘋过, 也有抱着彼此哭过, 一起经历了不少。怎知, 一转眼, 大家都 21 岁了。有的已到了谈成家, 有的已到了论立业。

时间就这么飞逝而去。不久, 我也得面对现实。得长大了。苍白的头发代表了智慧, 但与此同时也述说着所经历过的涛涛波折, 喜与悲。

再不知觉的话, 时间与青春便会在我不经意时离开。珍惜今日的每一分每一秒, 每一人, 事, 与物。

日月蹉跎