Friday, September 26, 2014

Year 28


With another year passing I once again find myself dealing with the fact that my age would soon be out of the calendar, as if it would serve as the trigger for something major, the likes of a zombie apocalypse or so, but before delving into that, perhaps a review of Year 28 would help? What the heck have I been doing before I ended up here in Seoul? Well, China.

Year 28 started in Xiamen, a few weeks after the beginning of the first semester, right after we all found out that we were going to be exiled in a place called Xiang’An, the long trip to which my Dutch friend described as similar to his excursion in Pyongyang. Thanks to a one semester scholarship, I was able to stay in China to study Mandarin for free for four months or so. Xiamen is no Shanghai or Beijing, and I would not have survived a week in there without the help of friends I made along the way, which is why despite all the shit talk I end up doing whenever Xiamen is brought up, the truth is that it would always be a memorable part of Year 28, because most of Year 28 was spent there.

It was early June when I left for good and went to Europe to attend the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. As it was my first time in Europe, I was both surprised and culture shocked by a lot of things, one of which were the astronomical prices I think I would never be accustomed to. Landing in Berlin reminded me so much of that time when I landed in Tokyo. The weather was colder than I expected it to be and the bus and subway prices got me thinking if I was being Punk'd and shit. Even so, Europe was fun all in all. I guess travel would always be 50-50 as your memories would heavily be affected by your mood during that time. As for the polyglots in Berlin, I think I was just a bit overwhelmed, because I am not used to being with a lot of multilingual people, but yeah, it was fun, even though I think it was too short for the new connections to become deep and meaningful. In terms of networking, though, it was fine.

The one month I spent in Vienna seems more like an afterthought than a complete memory. Every day was just so calculated and predictable, and I never really grabbed the chance to establish a new life in that city, despite how awesome it was, for the mere fact that I knew I was leaving in less than a month anyway. Vienna went by so fast that the next thing I knew I was already in Seoul, after a few days of transit in my parents’ house back in Malaysia, that is.

Of course, we have to share some valuable lessons learned after spending yet another year on this planet. Nothing really serious but here you go:

1. Being with a regular circle of friends is not a very bad idea. In fact, this could help you discover a lot of things about yourself, the world, and the people around you. What comes with it is a better understanding of how things work, and what makes people tick. As you go on every day observing people, you get to realize that everyone’s life is just as fucked up as the world you are living in. The difference, though, is how each individual handles the situation, and this is the part which could serve as a learning experience for you. The rich and the good-looking have their respective sets of first-world and "pogi" problems. You do not have a monopoly of the universe’s dilemmas, so calm your tits and stop being a drama queen.

2. While friends help, they would not necessarily be the cure to the shitty existence you are living right now. You see, depression is something only you can get rid of. Of course, you could always heed the advice of a psychiatrist, or drug yourself until you overdose, but at the end of the day you would realize that the initiative should come from you, because no other person knows how to push your buttons better than you ever would yourself.

3. Human beings are not born to be content. Knowing this is not the end of the story, though, because what you do about it is the actual game changer. It is easy to tell another person to appreciate what he already has, but you have to admit that it is just so difficult to deal with the fact of “not having.” With social media dominating society nowadays, everyone is just a potential attention whore waiting to implode with all the unnecessary drama. Daily life, including all things mundane which should better remain private, becomes just another dirty linen to wash in public or an irrelevant achievement to derive attention from as far as one’s online image and ego stroking activities are concerned. As such, comparison becomes part of the daily routine, measuring yourself based on another Facebook contact’s “achievements” when it should be your own progress that you should be monitoring after all. Comparing yourself to how you were a few months ago would always be more productive than competing with the next Facebook contact enjoying his 15 seconds of attention-whoring.

Year 28 has been a very lazy year. I think the most well developed relationship I’ve had in Xiamen was with my bed. We ate together, worked together, reviewed Mandarin together. And of course, we also slept together. The level of productivity was just close to zero across all aspects of my existence. Dan the Wrathful was less whiny. Alfie was more social but still somewhat withdrawn. Even ihcahieh’s language learning programs failed one way or another. It was in doing nothing where they found solace and I guess that had serious repercussions with regards to their ever evolving world view. Everything was just so bleak, and I was just so devoid of energy. Perhaps this is what I need to change for Year 29. After all, I am not getting any younger. Movement, in general, should be what I am focusing on. Or maybe the better term would be “productivity” or just being plain active instead of cheating on my bed in Xiamen with my bed here in Seoul. I guess I should be more goal-oriented, and have fun while I am at it, right. Right?

I really did not mean to write anything as a year end review, but I just felt like I should. Reading the daily journals I wrote a decade ago makes me laugh, mainly because of the rediscovery of who I was back then and how much I have changed through the years. I just feel like Year 28 did not get much attention as far as documentation is concerned, and I am afraid that it would just become a footnote or a passing thought a few decades from now when I reminisce about the days of glorious past. Besides, writing something is actually doing something. This could even serve as the first small step towards a more productive existence.

Amen.

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