Sunday, November 7, 2010

Live for the now

Picked up a copy of the New Straits Times last night at the mamak as I was waiting for my dinner to be ready. I hadn't brought my phone so couldn't play sudoku to amuse myself as I normally do... and the TV was showing football, pah.

It's been awhile since I last read the physical version of the paper. All doom and gloom -- floods, bus accidents, plane crashes, volcano eruptions -- makes me wonder how anyone would ever dare to go out of the house after reading it. There was an article about an inter-state express bus crash that claimed a life. I was reminded of all the times I'd taken the Sri Maju bus back home (a 4-hour journey), or from home back to KL. Makes me feel lucky to be alive.

And then there's the news about the volcano erupting in Java, Indonesia. I've always wondered about people who live in areas where there are active volcanoes, earthquake fault lines, or in paths of hurricanes -- why do they do that? When they know there's a chance of this... this thing they can't control doing irreparable damage, upending their lives? I remember feeling flabbergasted after reading in National Geographic that people in New Orleans were going right back and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Me, I would have tried to start over somewhere new, I think. Why stay when there's the chance that it might happen again?

It seems to me that most things are random. I'm a Christian so I believe that there is a plan, but still, since I don't know the plan everything appears random. Between the things that are random and the things that are somewhat predictable (like the fact that if you live on a fault line you're probably going to experience an earthquake sooner or later), I'd like to eliminate the predictable ones. The random ones we all have to live with; you just have to be careful and prepare the best you can.

So sometimes I think about the fact that I might die tomorrow, get hit by a bus on the way to work or something. I mean, you never know, right? I think about the fact that this might be the last time I'm seeing my brother because something could happen to him as he makes his way home to Seremban. It brings home to me the idea that life is short and unpredictable, and we ought to make the most of it because we simply do not know how long we have. We don't know how much time we'll be granted with those we love, and we don't know how much time we'll have on this earth.

The person who died in the bus crash I mentioned above was a 25-year-old man, engaged to be married. The wedding was to have taken place next year. I can't even imagine what it is like to have someone ripped away from you like that, when you have been making plans together. All of a sudden the life you envisioned will never be, and you have to readjust all your hopes and expectations for the future. Sometimes I look at long-time couples and think they are a little complacent, although of course it's not my place to judge. But they hold off on making a firmer commitment to each other (read: marriage) because they want to establish their careers first, they want to buy a house, they want to save up for the perfect wedding... they think they have a lot of time, but how do they know? We simply don't know.

Oh, I'm not advocating that we should rush into anything. But you know, when you are pretty sure that you've found the one for you... what are you waiting for? In any case, since life is unpredictable, the most important thing is to cherish those you love. Too many people have regrets after losing a loved one, or when they themselves are lying on their deathbed. Say the things that need to be said. Do the things that need to be done. I've started telling my parents that I love them -- we Asians are notorious for being lousy at verbal expressions of love, especially my parents' generation and the generation before them. But, I want them to know, even if I'm often not the perfect daughter and I make decisions that are incomprehensible to them, that I do love them.


UnderLord said...

And us plurkers are missing you too! Have a great Christmas if we don't hear from you before then. :-)

Flo Flo said...

u know, that's the reason i stopped reading news altogether. it's too painful and too bleak to bear. missing u heaps