When I think about how my life has progressed from exactly one year ago today, I am immediately in awe of how a year can change so much and put you in an entirely different lithosphere. On this very date last year, or to be exact, on the 12th October 2016, I found myself in the middle of a Malaysian jungle doing one of the things I love most – geology outdoors under the sunshine surrounded by beautiful, virgin greens. When I was a child I would watch National Geographic and daydream about becoming a research scientist (or a bug scientist, to be exact. What a nerd.) exploring the wild. Now, in a way, I was doing exactly that.
But the thing that you couldn’t see through all my exciting pictures in four-wheel drives and adventurous mud-scraped knees was that about a few days before that, on the 3rd October 2016, somebody that was extremely dear to me, and I, had decided to part ways. And so it was a strange paradox, as I found myself standing in a elephant's footprint in the middle of nowhere with the sounds of the wild wailing through the forest, literally living a childhood fantasy, while also experiencing what was easily my saddest point that year.
Today, on the 12th October 2017.
I had finally had some time to process the whirlwind of the past month. Last week, today, one of the most important events in my life (only second after discovering the banana-peanut butter combo) happened. I had a book published. I had always loved writing. I wrote when I was a child because it allowed me to live a bigger life in my own mind. I was just a normal kampung girl from the North, but when I wrote I was the girl who joined the circus or did magic or travelled while eating cheese (cheese seems to be a lifelong obsession as you can see). I wrote as an adult because it helped me cope with my anxiety – when I struggled with some things in life or felt overwhelmed by my own mind, writing is one of the only few things that can calm me down.
Today I saw my book on a bookshelf near Aziz Ansari's book (that hilarious guy from Parks and Recreation).
Again, it was a strange paradox. Aside from the fact that the past month had been supremely stressful both personally and professionally, I was also experiencing one of my most intense bout of anxiety. You see, the book I wrote wasn’t just a book for me. It was two years of literary therapy, and like any therapy it was also excruciating as it is a relief. The idea of sharing a story I am so emotionally attached to, free for anyone to consume and judge, was terrifying. I had trouble sleeping just thinking about if it was all a big mistake or the work was even good enough, or if it was going to be misinterpreted into something it's not, etc etc.
But when we launched the book I was surrounded by family and friends, those who had seen me through awful moments and good ones such as this. It reminded me how lucky I am to have them. I have had them all my life but sometimes, when things get hard, I forget how lucky I am to have an amazing support system.
The book launch wasn’t amazing to me because I published a book. The book launch was amazing to me because it woke me up to realise that all my life, I had never been alone and I was always loved and supported.
Notice that there is a pattern to both of the stories from today, and that story from exactly a year ago.
Sometimes, when life throws its occasional curve ball and cause us hardships, it is easy to be consumed by it. It’s human nature after all. Sadness or negativity is always a lot more intense and stubborn compared to happiness. But if you scrutinise your situation of upset closely, you will realise that there is always, always, always something to still be grateful for. There is rarely a time when there is absolutely nothing to be thankful of.
It’s one of those things that make life such an amazing experience. In every kind of hardship there is always some kind of ease attached if you find it. I think it is deliberately designed that way so that we will always have a choice on how we view things, whether to be absorbed by the challenges or to find something positive in all of them.
Life. It’s a rather well thought out little mystery, isn’t it?
PS: And not to forget some avid readers I met at the launch. So nice to meet interesting people!
A deer's footprint inside an elephant's footprint, probably during their joint feeding frenzy. Picture taken this time last year.