I miss home terribly these 2 weeks.
Last week, my country was mourning because we had lost our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He was a great leader who loved Singapore with all his heart and gave us what we have today. Despite his hard-handed ways which many (including myself) did not take to many times, he was nonetheless, a brilliant politician, shrewd, sharp, determined and fearless. Last Sunday, Singapore sent him off after a 7-day long wake in a state funeral. Many people gathered the streets to catch a final glimpse of his coffin, undeterred by the torrential rains storming throughout the island.
I wished I could be home, to pay my last respects like how my family and friends did. To be with my country at this important moment, to be united with my people and share the grief together.
However, I was not, and could only update myself sporadically over the internet with latest newsfeed. I could only Skype and Whatsapp my family and friends to learn of their well-beings. The most I could do was to stay up at unearthly hours, watch the state processions live online and feel thankful for modern connectivity that gave me the opportunity to do so.
Often, I get remarks from friends saying, “wow, looks like you are having a blast!” or “looks like you are having a lot of fun!” or “I wish I could lead your life and be lucky like you!”. I deeply appreciate them reaching out, grateful that they care enough to share their sentiments with me. It’s a blessing to receive love and I am thankful.
However, I realised many people have this perception that living a dream means having rosy Sundays with rainbows and unicorns every day. Truth be told, it is on the contrary, not the case.
For example, I would really love to be back home in Singapore last week. However, I chose to be here, because it didn’t make sense to fly 30 hours home, another 30 hours back, and incur a hefty bill along with it.
I made the choice to leave home and I know that life doesn’t stop just because I am here; the wheel keeps turning. I made a choice and I accept the consequences that come along with it.
With every dream, the notion of choices and consequences still stands firm.
When I was globetrotting as a flight attendant, I lost my grandfather when I was doing a layover in Hong Kong. I came home to Singapore on 1st January 2005 and headed straight to his wake.
When I was in Melbourne in 2006, my parents got into a car accident and my mother was due for an operation as I reported for my flight back to Singapore. I flew home suppressing tears in my eyes and had to mask my anxiety behind a portrait of smiles. Every job has its challenges. It was really tough to remain cheerful and open in my interactions with my passengers. But I did my best anyway, because they deserved a pleasant time on-board and a comforting journey home.
And now when I am 16,136km away from home, my country mourned but here I am, in a foreign land, without another Singaporean in sight.
Living our dreams, although exciting, is never a stroll in the park. It comes with prices, as with every other thing in life.
A lot of people tell me that I can do what I want to do because I am blessed with minimal burdens and responsibilities. I have able-bodied parents, am single, and do not have a house and car to pay for. That I am lucky to be born free.
Yes they are right, but what they don’t see are the choices I have made before to land myself to where I am today. Also, I believe that as long as our survivals are not threatened, every one of us is as free as the next.
Just because I am here doesn’t mean I don’t have family duties to account for. Being here doesn’t mean that I don’t care about my family and friends back home.
Day in and out, I check in on my parents, making sure their well-beings are taken care of, and they are healthy and happy. I nag at my father to ensure he is taking his daily medications faithfully (sorry papa). I gave the rights of my bank account to my mother, making sure there is enough money in it so that the bills at home are still accounted for. I ensured they have gotten adequate insurance to give us a peace of mind. Prior to my departure, I discussed my decision with my brother, ensuring he felt comfortable that the responsibility of our parents is now with him before making this move a reality.
Day in and out, I think of my beloved grandmother, the inspiring woman who brought me up and taught me so much about life. She taught me to love fearlessly and to embrace what we feel is the correct thing to do. She taught me to be generous in love and laughter, sharing what we have with others in need and to live a life filled with compassion. She is 91 this year, the same age as Mr Lee. I miss her every single day.
At some point in time, I sold my possessions. I decided that I don’t need that car or a condominium to be happier. Although I long for a family of my own, I desire only to be in marriage to a fearless, dedicated and loving gentleman.
Two close friends of mine are getting married this year and I really wished I could be there to celebrate their union. They plan for an intimate and small gathering of family and friends, and having an invitation from them means a lot to both them and me. But I worked out my finances and made the painful decision not to attend the wedding.
I let social expectations slide off me every day. It is tough to resist judgements, but I keep doing it anyway.
The key difference between making these choices and others is that I made them with my heart. Because I made these choices with my heart, I accept the consequences that come along wholeheartedly. And it gives me the strength to keep going, especially on days when I feel homesick or morose.
My ex-boss and mentor, Irene, had always told me that there is no perfect choice. With every choice, we open new doors, and these doors lead to different paths and consequences. We have to accept the consequences of the choices we have made. And we keep adjusting and keep making new choices everyday. But we have to keep our eyes glued to the vision that we want, because that will lead us closer to attaining the dream.
Someone asked me the other day if I feel scared being in the unknown, having nothing planned next. Do I fear being irrelevant when I come home. Do I fear being unemployable after being out of the workforce for a while. And of course, the answers are yes, yes and yes.
But they don’t stop me from doing what my heart tells me to. I think I have begun accepting that fear is just another emotion, and if I learn to live with it, I can keep going on.
So yes, not every day is a Sunday, but it is just another day. We keep going. We keep believing. And we keep living 🙂