I slipped my newly acquired apartment keys in my doorknob and carried my suitcase inside — well, at least one of them. I plopped my overflowing handbag on the my new IKEA-tagged futon and sat there just absorbing everything that I could. It was my first time ever to live totally on my own. No family members. No roommates. No one at all. Just me and myself all by my lonesome. I looked out the window to oversee the festive Chinatown — in streams of reds and golds — as it celebrated the entry of the Year of the Dog.
That was exactly a year ago. In a couple of weeks, according to the lunar calendar, it will be the turn of the Year of the Pig to take its place in this cycle.
It has been a year and yet I still sit on the same futon — a little worn now, but more comfortable as it probably has taken my couch potato shape — and still looking out to the same view and seeing the same festivities. Surely they've changed the theme this year but unfortunately, it all looks the same to me. I hear the same hustle and bustle from people doing their holiday shopping, I smell faint traces of smoke from random fireworks, and I feel familiar pangs of jealousy… wishing that I were with my family like everyone else. Even though we don't celebrate the Lunar New Year, I reckon it'd be fun to do something of the sort. Binging on a delicious steam boat meals, collecting a million tangerines and trying to eat them before it becomes stale, conning red packets out of each other, and watching elaborate fireworks funded by the ever so wealthy Singaporean government. Given that we're not even Chinese, it would be weird to do that with my family. But the good kind of weird.
So… between the Dog and the Pig, it's been a good year. In many respects, it was the same as any other year — worked too much, earned too little, spent too much, saved too little, ate too much, and well, didn't lose any weight at all. However, I've progressed to be someone one year older, one year wiser, and one year more experienced. Just like in kindergarten class, the basics were reiterated to me over and over the past year. It had dawned on me once again that:
1) You can never trust anyone. Dropping your guards down 100% can be the silliest decision you've ever made.
2) Travelling is the best way to get educated. Totally worth being broke over.
3) Some people just never change, but it doesn't mean you have to give up on them.
4) There is neither a beginning nor an ending to learning. And you just surprise yourself sometimes as to what you're capable of doing.
5) All you need to be happy are good friends and enough money (note: enough does not translate to a lot).
6) Having the time to read becomes more and more of a luxury as you get older. And watching movies become more and more attractive.
7) It's perfectly okay to do nothing on weekends.
8) Swearing in your own native language is still the best method to capture your frustrations.
9) If you're going to get fat, might as well enjoy the process and eat whatever it is that you fancy.
10) There is absolutely no need to rush anything.
Three hundred and sixty-five days. That's quite a lot of days to go through every year. The funny thing is, we never feel the whole 365 days because we're all too busy looking forward. On a daily basis, we look forward to lunch times, to tea breaks, to leaving work and going home. On a weekly basis, we look forward to Wednesday (where primetime TV is usually the best), to Friday, to the weekend, to Saturday. And on a monthly basis, we look forward to the next public holiday. Well then, no wonder we never notice 365 days passing by. We're too busy looking forward that we rarely get to pay attention to the present… and yet we complain we never have enough time.
We do. We are given more than enough time. It's just that… can we actually stand still just for a few seconds and try to take in what's around us without thinking about what we are going to the afterwards?
Another set of 365 days are handed over to us. The question is, what can you do differently this year that you haven't done previously? When was the last time that you did something for the first time?
Make the Pig proud. Oink!