I’ve spent the last 48 hours ruminating. It’s a strange time to be thinking because I’m in transition – at the tail end of my vacation, on the plane on the way home, catching up on my sleep, and getting back to the grind after 3 days of temporary work-amnesia. But with me, things are rarely predictable, even to me. One either just goes with it, or labours under the delusion that this thinking beast can be tamed.
I watched Lala Land on the plane on the way home yesterday, and I cried. C told me to catch it months ago when it was released and I meant to, I just never got round to it. There were several themes in the movie that resonated – the struggle between being a socially-acceptable state of “normal” and being free to be one’s true self (whatever that entails), the uncertainty that is life and which invokes every fear you have, and finally connections that turn your life upside down, but yet, like ships passing in the night, fade into oblivion. Even writing about it now gives me the sniffles.
Can anyone only ever be an island? Or can anyone ever only live to please other people? What is the answer? What is the choice? I swing between both extremes, as anyone who knows the inner workings of my mind can attest. But I bang my head on both sides of the wall, in turn. And eventually, I despair, cos I don’t wanna bang my head anymore, but I can’t, cos the middle ground makes me crazy, makes me long for either sides of the extremes, which is crazier than being on one extreme at a time. But, is it possible that one is born to live in the extreme, never to straddle the middle ground of contentment, of making do, of the balance that is called emotional maturity? If it is possible, then I think one is me. If it’s not, then I don’t know why I exist.
Fears. Regrets. Without giving too much away to people who haven’t seen Lala Land, there is a part in the movie that covers regrets. I don’t know if it happens to everyone who watches it, or anyone at all. But when I was watching it, I felt a constant tug at my heartstrings, a literal tug that was accompanied by prickling in my eyes. How can anyone be sure of anything? Whilst in Melbourne on the road trip, my bestie said that one marries when they meet The One For Life. I said there cannot be The One For Life cos it requires that one be able to know with certainty how he would feel a day, a month, a year, ten years, fifty years into the future. If that certainty was possible, wouldn’t we already know at birth (or even at conception) who we will be, what we will become, and who we should be with? If we don’t have this knowledge at the beginning of our life, how can we know when we’re 20, or 30, or whatever age we’re at when we meet The One? For me, it’s a gamble. There is The One For Now. He may well turn out be The One for Life, or maybe he’s just The One I Have to Keep Trying Hard With. Either way, you would never know until death. I envy people who marry with complete certainty that the one they’ve chosen is The One for Life. Cos I don’t have that certainty, and I have fallen in love many times. Too deeply, too much, too intensely, and sometimes even in reciprocity, and yet, I don’t remember ever knowing, or even thinking, any one of them were The One for Life. Maybe I haven’t met him yet, maybe I never will cos he doesn’t exist. Maybe the ones I envy are delusional, or they have a strength of faith that I just do not have. Maybe they’re just a lot less fearful and anxious than me.
Now connections… while watching any movie on lost loves, on realising that emotionally years after a break-up, they’re a bazillion miles apart from each other, but knowing their history and the love they once shared, I root and ache for their reunion. They have to be together! Otherwise, where’s the fairytale? What’s life without the fairytale?
I find myself sometimes paralysed by a humongous fear that maybe, just maybe, the lost loves in my own life are like the ones on the screen. Like if I wasn’t one of the two, and I was watching the story of our love as a spectator, would I be struck by the same tinge of regret and rooting?
And finally, the thing I’ve been giving much thought to the last couple of days is this. Acceptance. Acceptance of oneself leads to acceptance of others. I think that is real. Forgiveness can only be given, when forgiveness has been received in and of oneself. You stop judging others when you stop judging yourself. You can only love others when you have, first and foremost, enough love for yourself. You can only allow others the freedom to do as they will, when you accord yourself the same freedom. It sounds almost counter-intuitive, selfish even, but I think, at least for me, it’s the cornerstone of living with people, whether it be family, or colleagues, or even random strangers. More than ever, I learned this lesson while on this trip. I am very glad to realise how far I’ve come, chagrined to realise how much more I have to go, but blessed to have the clarity to see and know.
I’ve been told many times that I think too much, that I over-analyse. Sometimes it worries me when I hear that cos over implies that I’m doing it more than other people, that that’s not normal. Then my overthinking about overthinking exacerbates my anxiety. But then, on days like today, I think, Socrates was right, the unexamined life is not worth living. Without reflection of self, without clarity of thought, without wisdom of consciousness, I realise that all I am, all that I will be, is the same person I was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, that my fears will remain, and my self-destructive patterns will remain, and I’ll be the person that spends her whole life running on a treadmill, wondering why I’m so tired, but failing, till the day I die, to realise that I’m exerting effort to stay at the exact same spot for the rest of my life.