I haven’t been blogging as much as I hope to. I tell myself it’s because I have been busy, but that’s as bad a lie as when I told myself that Nutella is made of nuts so it’s basically protein. Being busy has never stopped me from blogging, and I’ll do it over the toilet seat if I have to. So no, it’s not because I have been busy.
I don’t want to say I have a ‘writer’s block’ either, because I can still write my column for NST and I can still write other projects without trouble. But blogging is different from these things because it’s a place that I treat as an indulgence, for me to organize my thoughts over things I am currently experiencing or things that are presently happening around me.
Doing this for as long as I have also means I know very well what causes my ‘blocks’ or ‘hurdles’ – I usually experience trouble blogging when my mind is too anxious and chaotic.
Which is absolutely true, in this case.
A man once told me that I was the bravest girl he knew. I felt so proud of myself when he said this. As a self-professed ‘independent’ girl, being validated for my courage to do things felt like such a milestone. But afterwards, I wondered if it is also the same thing that fuelled me to do a lot of stupid things in my life.
There are two things that really scare me in this lifetime.
The first is time.
The second is regrets.
Time is frightening because I think it steals from us. Before we know it the moment has passed, a chance has gone and an opportunity has disappeared. In a blink of an eye everything can change, and the next thing we know is what we used to have is not there anymore. And unfortunately a lot of us, perhaps myself included, never truly realise that we have something until times fleets by and takes it away from us.
Which brings me to my second fear, regrets. I spend a lot of time reading about or talking to other people because I love stories, and from these stories I often deduce a lot of regrets coming from them not doing something. I suppose it is true that in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. In some ways I am afraid that I am on the verge of being exactly that.
That I had a dream but never did enough to pursue it.
That I had a chance that could change my life but I was never brave enough to go for it.
That I had an opportunity to make a difference but I never stepped forward.
That I could tell someone how I truly feel but never did, and end up spending a lot of the rest of my time wondering ‘what if’.
These are the concerns that often drive me to do stupid things. They make me seem weird at times, unfathomable by (some of) my friends. They make me make strange decisions my parents don’t agree on. The make me appear like I wear my heart on my sleeve. Recently it happened again, and as I did this thing I cringed over the fact that I was risking myself being embarrassing and weird, but that fear of waking up one day regretting that I never did it drove me to be brave and do it anyway. I’m still cringing over that possible silliness, but I hope someday when I’m older I won’t be sitting on the patio smoking a cigar wondering ‘what if’ (I’m not sure why but I always picture myself smoking a cigar at 70).
I went through this thing I did over and over again in my mind, and this is the cause for my chaotic mind that did not allow enough calmness to even string a few words together on a blog post. In the spirit of chasing time before it passes us, I decided to send you the parcel on a grey Wednesday morning. In the spirit of avoiding regrets, I told you everything I wanted and needed to say.
Maybe it’s stupid, and maybe it’s pointless.
But in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.
Recently a friend told me that she was experiencing some ‘unseen disturbances’ at her house (translation: hantu). They were creepy, detailed stories of moving objects and voices and traces. I wasn’t sure if I really actually believe in ghosts, but let me tell you, being awake in bed in the dark at 1 am will pretty much make you believe a lot of things. I began to imagine the unthinkable – something crawling from under the bed or a child standing at the corner of the room. Any sound made me jump and I was afraid to come out of my blanket (although the logic is weird. I’m pretty sure ghosts can travel through blankets).
And then one day, I had lunch with some girlfriends and one of them revealed that she had somehow, at the spin of fate, ended up in the same office with her longtime ex. Not only were they in the same office, but they were also seated just mere desks away from each other. They had not broken up in good terms a few years ago and had not spoken to each other since, and now there they were, awkwardly sitting across each other and pretending as though they never knew of each other’s existence.
That’s also a story of a ghost, albeit a different kind.
We believe that this world is big until we end up bumping into a ‘ghost’ from the past, and then we realise that the world isn’t really that big at all. I once saw an ex I wished to never see again at the train station, and I literally ran away. Unfortunately for that friend of mine, she would probably have no choice but to spend the next few months involuntarily seeing a past she would like to forget.
Some ghosts are no longer welcomed. They represent a chapter of our life stories where we were a completely different person back then, and now the circumstances are different and things will never be the same again. These are the ghosts we run away from, the ones that make us cringe upon encounters and if you’re like me, you’d be pushing your way into a crowded train and hide yourself behind the largest person you could find on that coach, pretending to be nonchalant despite your sweaty armpits.
But some ghosts also came back to resolve an unfinished business. After all, not every ending would end with closure. Some ghosts come by for validation that your decisions in the past really were the best ones for you. Some ghosts come by so that you can accept them in a different light, as a friend, as a wonderful memory, or as someone you grew up with. And some ghosts come by for second chances, now at a better time, a better place, and a better outlook.
These are the types of ghosts we should never run away from, for they would teach us so much more than they ever could when they first came into our lives.