Talk about ironies. I was reading the part “making any day the best day” of Shunmyo Masuno’s “Simple Living” when the music switched to play my “Songs 2016” folder. My Songs xxx folders are a collection of songs that define a particular year (I started doing this that same year, 2016, collecting and saving songs I like listening to for that particular period) and boy, was it the perfect time capsule, bringing me back to three years ago. I say ironic because in that part of the book, Shunmyo Masuno writes: “The you of a moment ago is the past you. Focus on the here and now rather than on the past.”
Three years ago, I was still based in a foreign country working on a job I’ve been at for 12 years. Later that same year, after much dilly-dallying and gathering enough guts, I would quit and return to my motherland, looking for a job as well as trying to find myself.
On the fangirl front, I was listening to a lot of music from various artists (and that Songs 2016 folder is in fact proof of my wide batting range–Imagine Dragons, Begin, Judy and Mary, Kiritani Kenta, Lee Moon Sae, Nicky Byrne’s Eurovision entry, a Bollywood song from the movie “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” among others).
I was a shipper as well as a fan of a Korean band. That ship has sailed, while the future of that band is now in limbo. I’m also already an ex-fan.
I was a fan of Arashi. Now they’re spending the next one and a half years thanking their fans as they prepare to go on an indefinite hiatus in 2021. I still am a fan.
What I’m trying to drive at is that–so many things could happen in three years, heck, even in a snap of a finger. Within that span of time, I returned to the city I had just left months ago, but to take on another job, going back to reporting. I would quit after six months and go back, once more, to my motherland–hopefully for good, this time–narrowly saving myself from a spiral dive into depression. (The period from late 2016 to middle 2017 was a series of back and forth, literally.) I had a patient mentor in my new company and slowly found my way back into myself, and rekindled love and pride in my profession.
I practically restarted my life and embarked on a journey into minimalism, which continues to be a learning process and a daily commitment. I started balcony gardening, the non-existence of a green thumb notwithstanding. I started looking at my current job as a civic duty. I made up for lost time with family and friends, re-assimilated into my culture, met new friends.
I gained back myself and so many other things, but I also lost some–willingly or unwillingly. Friends, material things, a ship, a piece of fangirl happiness, a favorite tote bag I might have absentmindedly put in the trash. I killed some plants too. You can’t win all, though if there’s one thing I wish I lost, that would be extra weight–if only I could just throw it away like that CD or two, or tear in heartbreak and frustration like a poster; or give away like clothes I no longer wear or books I was done with. I do miss some of those things I lost or let go of, but it also doesn’t mean I would want to have them back in my life.
I once wrote that in choosing our battles, we have to ask ourselves if the things we are fighting for would still be important to us in a year or so. Or if we have to let them go because they’re not worth fighting or standing up for anymore, or as KonMari said, they no longer spark joy.
I do feel that the past three years was an overhaul, of many endings and beginnings. There were times, while standing on Point A, I had no idea how to get to Point B. But we do find ways, and would even end up in Point C or Point D, which we didn’t see from our original place (Point A). But truly, there’s no way we can predict the future. Who knew I could turn back on a job that has nurtured me for more than a decade? Who knew I could give up material things? Who knew I could grow a plant? Who knew a member of my favorite band would turn out to be a disappointment, or did I just ignore the red flags? Who knew Arashi would decide to go on hiatus? I don’t, no one, really could know what’s ahead.
That’s how unpredictable life is. We just have to learn to roll with the punches, and some time onwards, look back and marvel at how far we have come (or, how we’re still stuck in the same place and that sucks). And all because we listened to a folder of songs defining a year in our past.
Shunmyo Masuno is right, after all. “The you of a moment ago is the past you.”
This morning I felt melancholic. Now, as I finish writing this, I am so ecstatic (because I finally advanced in the game I’ve been stuck at for a week and I’ve started to wonder if I could even overcome this level). Life goes on.
A signal changing from red to green
I’m in the middle of a journey that I can’t turn back from
I want to go forward believing in tomorrow
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