The past two days, I’ve been thinking very much about what is important to me in life. What is it I want my Little Foot to learn to value and treasure over other things in life.
Maybe because the story of that KiasuParents Founder (her side of the story vs the TODAY article) set me thinking…
Maybe because we have been hearing not so good news about the health of those around us….
Maybe because I have been reading/hearing discussions about the pursuit of a “better life”…
Maybe just maybe, it’s the flu that is making me just a little fuzzy-headed.
The Typical Route of an 80s Singaporean Kid
I spent my early years in a clueless paper chase. My parents set goals which consisted of “Don’t fail and I don’t want to be called to see the teacher/principal”. Basically, the line used to scare us was “If you don’t study hard and go to University, you will end up as a road sweeper”.
Hahahhaa… looking back, it’s hilarious. I mean, if I did sign up for roadsweeping now, no one would employ me you know? That job has mostly gone to strong and able-bodied foreign workers who operate machines to do the sweeping.
And so we didn’t dream, because we didn’t know how to. We just tried to avoid the scary black hole of “failing”, as prescribed by our parents.
I then spent my 20s thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, and always drew a blank.
It is in my 30s that I kind of found my footing. I wanted to find meaning in my work. It is not about having the capability to be a mover and shaker, but in my own way, what I do must contribute to the betterment of others.
At the very least, don’t cheat, lie or do something that will make me ashamed to face my Lord when the time comes. Which explains why I couldn’t reconcile with my short stint in the advertising agency and swore never to go there again.
The idealist in me.
And so, I don’t really think I’m going to get rich with this philosophy. Does it matter?
It does on some days. When I see swanky cars on the roads and wonder how it would be like to drive that (hey, our current ride is really good, but it’s Papa Long who is paying for it and we will never afford the GTR ), or see so many nice bags and shoes and want them all. in those instances, I do wonder,could I have been in a “better” situation?
Maybe yes, but maybe I would also feel empty inside every night, even if I could say, a job is a means to an end. Because, even the means to that end matters to me.
Going in Circles
I keep going in circles asking myself, what is it I treasure most?
Strip it all away, get to the very core.
I feel it so acutely, because my health fails me consistently. I need to fix it for My Family.
I want to be here to root for my child as she finds her footing in life.
I want to be here to watch my parents as they too grow older, and hold them when they fall, just as they have done for me when I was small.
I want to be here to hold wrinkly hands with my husband as we walk into the sunset.
And in the end, I want to close my eyes and say “I have done it my way”.
The World is Your Oyster
I hate this term. I hated it the day it appeared in the GP paper as an exam question and I haven’t heard it before. Obviously, I chose another question to tackle.
The world isn’t my oyster, it is everyone’s oyster, but to think the world owes me anything would be completely crazy. I’m just one of the many bodies (nobodies) walking this earth. And I want my child to understand that, and not misread this term. The world is filled with opportunities for everyone. No one is more entitled than the other.
It is up to ourselves to find meaning and what works for us. Even if you eventually derive that meaning from road-sweeping, there is nothing intrinsically wrong, because that is your meaning and it is an honest day’s work.
I want my child to face failures, to find her own self-worth, to derive what makes her happy (or at least not sad and empty inside), and to find her own psychological strength to bounce back from failures and disappointments. Because the world isn’t just your oyster.
I want to teach my child that it is okay to fall down and cry out loud, because hard work is required to fight for what we believe in, but if we give up, then we will never see fruition, so cry and then carry on the fight.
I want my child to know that it is okay to yearn for what others have that we don’t, but to walk away and say it is okay, because we already have more than others. And with that knowledge, know that even with what little we have, we can make someone else’s day, make things better for someone else.
And eventually, I want my child to understand, come what may, at the end of it all, what matters the most is usually nothing physical.
(The thrill of chasing the physical makes me happy for a moment. And then? It give me nothing more, except a full wardrobe and an empty heart. I have yet to reconcile with this fully because I still shop and buy a lot, but then we all have our Achilles’ heel).
I realise over the years that it takes time, and requires going round and round in circles, sometimes repeatedly, to realise what is truly important in our lives.
I think we need to give our children that space and time to go round and round in circles too, because, the process is important… when the time comes, may I not be the one who tries to stop Little Foot from going through the process, but to let her find herself while giving her all the support she needs to get there.
P.S. Maybe listening to Descendants of the Sun’s OST is making me feel acutely emotional too