Here’s my biggest accomplishment for 2016; I learned how to replace my toilet seats.
Yes I did other things too. I learned how to do a yoga headstand unassisted, I climbed bloody Mount Rinjani (photograph), I lost all my ‘baby’ fat (my Mom lied, I was not cute at all and looked like blubber. But thanks Mom), I got a work promotion, I learned to make curry and I now know five extra Mandarin phrases (which includes “I’m tired”, and that is seriously important). But for more reasons than one, learning how to change toilet seats tops the list.
I learned how to change toilet seats because a guy taught me. And so of course it was no longer about just learning how to change toilet seats, and my 2016 becomes admittedly, undoubtedly and thematically about another person. And before you deduce this as a pining write up about what used to be, I will tell you why it is not and why this is important.
It is no secret that whether we like it or not, our lives are highly impacted by the people we meet along the way. I had always been a believer that you meet specific people at a specific time of your life to teach you specific lessons, and this one was no exception. And because most of my year had revolved around another singular person, I can’t possibly dissociate my personal development of 2016 from this story.
It was somewhat a chance meeting and the minute it happened I knew it was going to only get bigger. Each of us would probably have had that experience at least once in a lifetime, meeting someone that was rather unconventional than the usual but the gut feeling stayed and comfort kicks in anyway. It was the timing, too – I had just came out of a long exhausting dwindling road of a complicated relationship, and 2015 was mostly focused on my Dad being sick. In many ways I was bruised and battered, and in came a new being who turned my life around.
Through this relationship I had learned the big milestones. I had been so used to taking care of myself, and the aforementioned past relationship had given me severe trust and reliance issues. I slowly again learned that it was okay to let someone else take care of your sometimes, that it was not shameful to expose your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and to let others into your life even if you don’t think it is all that pretty to share. Most importantly, it is the self-elevation you get from the other person that must be truly valued. I did so many things I thought I was not able to do from sheer encouragement alone – from changing toilet seats to climbing Mount Rinjani and so many other things in between.
As I sat by myself in this last leg of 2016 with the empty slots that used to be his space, I measured the things I have learned this year and realised that I have all but forgotten to be grateful. People come and people leave, but while they were there I must have gratitude. A man can be sincere and kind and expect no return, and although I had trouble believing this before, I do now. I remember a distinct moment when I was watching him cook me a meal in the kitchen and I was wondering if that would last, if he would stay and if I was doomed. Alas, here we are.
2016 has been gracious. It was both happy and sad, but as always I learned most about myself in the presence of others. I achieved a lot of physical milestones but more importantly were the spiritual ones – I was brought to life again in many ways and believed a lot more. Knowing another soul will teach you more than any book will ever do, and this person who came from a different culture and background had opened my eyes to so much more, whether it was intentional or not. It is easy to be comfortable in life as you know it, but to step into something new, something different than what you had ever known will always be one of life’s greatest adventures.
So perhaps it is rather shameful to say that a year was mostly about a man. Perhaps. But perhaps the real shame lies in not recognising this gift, the lessons a person brings when they come along into our lives, adding values to change the way we see this life and the world even for just a little. And that for me is the biggest lesson 2016 has taught me.