I haven’t been writing lately. Writing was a way for me to let go; to ink away piece by piece the memories that I cling on to, until there is nothing left to weigh me down. And in this space I call my own, I have always been writing about myself and little about anyone else. As much as solitude comforts me, my life does not consist of my own self; it is intertwined and shaped by the people I meet during this journey.
All of us have a story left untold; the tale of what led us to be who we are today. I always try to find that story within the people I meet; I want to hear about their lives, to learn about how their pasts and circumstances shape their present personalities and thoughts. Because how can we truly really understand the present if we don’t explore the past?
I turn 25 today.
As I open my eyes and heart to new experiences, I meet people from different walks of life, but it is when I look closer to home that I realise that these seemingly ordinary people inspire me in so many ways. After all, it is far better to learn from and be inspired by the person we want to move towards to rather than the person we want to move away from.
My brother is definitely my greatest role model. It is from the way he portrays himself, the way he treats our parents and his friends, and the way he takes care of me since young. I hardly see my brother interact outside our home but there was a day in 2004 when he came to my class to make a club announcement. I could not remember what the announcement was, but it was in that brief moment I realised how much more I could learn from him. I watch in awe as his thoughts and actions mature over the years, and as he gradually exudes a confident aura that draws people in.
Both my parents teach me a lot, not by the things they say, but rather, by their actions. I watch as they treat my grandparents with respect and their siblings with care. I smile as I feel their love for one another which only continues to strengthen in time. I learn as they bite their tongues in heated arguments and in those moments, how they learn to compromise and forgive. And although I sometimes rebel (their choice of words), I am very grateful as I embrace their unconditional love and sacrifice for my brother and me.
With her 81 years (and counting) worth of experience, my grandmother survived the horrors that our generation only read about in history books; from World War II to the Japanese occupation to May 13 incident. While at times she may not be the easiest person to deal with, she shows love in unspoken ways especially making sure we are filled as round as a balloon whenever we are at her place. I don’t know how she does it, but I salute her for raising her children (my mother and relatives) right. And so often, I enjoy seeing the twinkle in her eyes as we spend quality time with her.
I am always reminded of my late aunt whose resilience came from overcoming so many adversities, of which most are too private to ink. And yet, in the midst of enduring these hardships, she taught us about unconditional love. It was in her passing that I learn about the depth of sadness and the brutality of loss. As time passes, although none of us mention that there was someone missing from family photos, we sometimes still look for traces of her – in dreams, creaked gates and moths that stay.
One and a half year younger than I am, my cousin, who sometimes I call my sister. She loves life and is not afraid to show it with her infectious smile and her glowing enthusiasm of living life to its fullest. Her bubbly personality is what draws me to gradually open up to others and embrace the world for what it is. In more ways than one, we are so similar yet so different; and beneath the outgoing exterior holds an inner core that reflects my own.
Apart from my family and relatives, there are two friends that inspire me, who I met at seemingly odd separate events. Both fearless and larger than life, I admire their ability to open up so easily, to share countless moments of their life stories even before hitting the big 3. They show me that life can sometimes beat you down but it is how you recover that matter; stronger and wiser. They constantly encourage me to be brave, because, and I quote, “what is the worse that could really happen?” Well.
While there are so many others that inspire me, even momentarily, with every person we meet, there is something that they can teach us; like the determination of scholars, the unwavering faith of the religious, strength from the brokenhearted, calm nature of yogis, perseverance despite continuous failures and the ability to let people in.
I turn 25 today.
And I am glad and truly blessed that, in this quarter century (yes, I’ve been waiting that long to use this phrase), I meet some amazing people who make a difference in my life and inspire me to be better – to be a better version of myself.
Because at the end, the things we remember will not be the time we went volunteering in the Olympics, or the academic/ work achievements or the time we travelled the world. When our time is up, maybe what we will remember is more mundane, the sunset in our home town, the hands that held ours, the laughters during gathering, or simply those little everyday moments spent with the people we love most.
And I hope, in the same way that people leave footprints in my life, I leave a mark in the world – one person at a time.