One thing that I never really liked to do is to be at a standstill. For me, life should be always on the move, and in some way or another, productive. Be it in experiencing things, meeting people, and doing the things you like. I’ve managed to do that for my life, but sometimes, it comes to a standstill. This summer was one of those ‘standstills’. That once you stop moving, life and reality catches up with you, and you crash and burn.
Prior to summer, I was seeking all sorts of things to do to fill up my time, and yes, I managed to fill it. Volunteer, catch up on hobbies, reconnect with friends, hang around family… All those things are well and good, and then during the moments where I had to stop and rest, I crashed. Tired and left with nothing but my thoughts and reflections over the months.
This summer break has really been a break where my life is suddenly a standstill, and I’m caught in the middle of it, waiting to find a direction for my incoming adventures, for the next set of modules to take in the coming semester. To reflect upon life and also realise that you need to get over some things on your own. The time with the quiet, and nothing but the dull lull of wind, or the distant traffic, made me revisit things that I didn’t want to remember, or to think about things that I don’t want to think about. For instance, the future and also, the past.
This break taught me that no matter what your past, it doesn’t define who you are. It will always remain a part of you, but it is a new chapter, and the unwritten story ahead shouldn’t be clouded by what you have already experienced. In the days where I’m wrestling with my thoughts, I question God and all the unsaid anger comes spilling off. In the days where I’m fumbling over the future, I’m wondering what is next, and the uncertainty makes me restless. I need to know all the variables and the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of things… But maybe we don’t need to know the variables to be assured that our life is in control. Maybe that’s what it’s about. Discovering and knowing, even when it seems out of control.
After juggling with such things, I guess I have come to come conclusions. That life is not always going to be the way you want it, and you are not always going to have the variables under your control, or find the answers that you are looking for. But that it is not necessarily bad, because you learn so much more than if your life went smoothly. As said, ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’. Experiences make you more resilient, stronger, and more humble, and likewise, the ability to see the good in everything. And I realise how important it is to let go of the past, and to also not let the looming future intimidate you. Rather, it’s a new journey of discovery and experience.
These things allowed me to recognise that I have become jaded in terms of life experiences, the very thing I never wanted to become. While I know that I can’t go back to the person I once was, with said idealism and dreams, I guess I can be a hopeful person. A hopeful person with God’s sovereignty in mind. A person who is confident enough to know that God isn’t a person who will intentionally hurt His children. That everything that He is bringing me through is to shape me to become the person that He wants me to be.
Being in Singapore for extended periods of time during this Summer has also showed me that I should treasure where I am right now, no matter where I will be. Because the grass is always greener on the other side, and sometimes, that feeling of wanderlust and ‘being stuck in the same place’ all stems from wanting what other people have. This mentality not only stems in travel, but the very basic things. Having the life that other people have. It’s always about the other, not anyone else. I think the only way that we can be satisfied in this life, would be to be content with what we have.
Volunteering also showed me the need to be content. That there are so many people out there with more broken lives, and face so many things that I am not acquainted with. People who struggle to make ends meet, people with little to get by, and all the more, after seeing them, that you should be grateful with what you already have.
It’s easier said than done to be thankful. Granted, it’s not easy for me too. But I’d like to realise that the place that I am right now is the very place where God wants me to be. That God will bring me to wherever, and by rooting me here, to think about Him and have the time and capacity to question it, makes me realise the need to be content, and to not want for things.
Also, as much as I would like to be in control and in the knowledge of everything around me, I know I can’t. And there will always be situations that will go out of control, or maybe I end up in a place that I don’t intend to be. Ultimately, it’s going to be an adventure, I just have to be willing to admit that I’m not the author of this story. I have to trust that one that God is writing for me will be well and good, And while I do not know every plot twist and underlying meanings of everything, I just need to learn to submit to it. There is a certain assurance of having someone divine and all-powerful and all-knowing write the story of your life. Since He knows all my variables, and all the possibilities of everything, surely, God knows what He is doing. And how much I can or cannot take.
There is a scene that I really like in LOTR, where Frodo and Gandalf have a conversation in the deep dark caves of Moria. Frodo is tired and exasperated, and he laments to Gandalf that he wished that his life did not turn out this way. That he would not have left his home, and ended up grappling with a tough journey and an evil ring.
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.
In my future, the one that I am so doubtful of, I should be hopeful again. And to know that it’s okay to be lost. That’s one of the reasons why my blog is called ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost‘. Some people are wandering, in fact most people are. And in that process of grappling with unknowns and things that we are uncertain or even afraid of, we find maturity, understanding, faith, love, and ourselves…
This standstill will not last forever, but I’m glad that it helped me rethink of some things in my life. To acknowledge the things that happened, are to come, and just to treat everyday as a brand new adventure and start again. That I’m going to enjoy this life that I have right now. To treasure every moment and say that I am glad. To move onward, and to decide on what to do with the time that is given to me.