After the sky fell overnight, I got up for a “it’s better for you” jog. There’s something about the comfort of that semi-hard cushion beneath my feet as my squeaky trainers begin their quiet trod. The sky remained grey as I made my rounds.
Into my sixth round, I saw a lady stopping, stooping and picking up.. A twig? Perhaps she didn’t want fellow joggers to inadvertently twist their legs should they slip on stray twigs.
But closer I got, and closer I got, only to realise she was stopping to pick up earthworms that were too slow to avoid the heavy feet that came on top of them.
Once I realised her efforts, I began to notice the ground better, taking my own care to at least avoid the earthworms that remain alive. It just takes one person to take action, for you to realise you can take action too, doesn’t it?
While I can’t bring myself to touch earthworms with flimsy leaves, I did rescue a snail on my walk home. I do better with shells between bodies. As do most of us, maybe.
Those mildly balmy afternoons after school’s out for the day, where you’d swing the heavy-as-heck backpack onto the not-quite new bus seat, and chatter non-stop even though you just finished a tutorial with your classmates. Those were days of patience, of stories to share, of heads looking out of windows, not into that pixelated window we are now too familiar with.
When was your last bus ride? Did you get jostled, because you didn’t move in? Or because you did, and people back there didn’t see the need to be as courteous as you?
I look at the days that easily pass us by and I wonder why we don’t make even better memories from the limited time we are given.
I am a hoarder. A compulsive hoarder, to be honest. What do I hoard? The letters of yesteryears, the writing that I never dared show, even the photograph albums of my life.
Having some time on my hands today, I sieved through the stack of boxes in my room, intending to clear them since I’ve never looked at the contents for the past two years. I was about to throw an entire stack of greeting cards away then something called out to me, some familiar handwriting.
I opened up a card, and the next, and the next few – I never realised how much we shared over the years. The insecurities of (my) adolescence, the shy smiles that hopefully, you knew I liked you that much, and simply guidance in Life. You thanked me for always being in touch, and to keep at it, through emails, through cards, just so we could find out how each other was doing. I think we stopped because Life happened. There’s a blank now, and there are blanks when I think of every friend who made an impact in my life.
My priorities are re-organising themselves, my life is back to finding its balance, and I want to get to know you all over again. I hope it’s not too late for that ‘minute or two’ of catching up, please?
Sometimes I find myself so terribly interested in how your day went, who you met, why you felt the way you do, and I realise I could be in friend love with you. Yes, there is such a feeling – as brought up by Nana, illustrated by Yumi Sakugawa and kindly reproduced here. It’s not about having the best looks, or being the most popular at the table. It’s about how you attract me into your mind because I see so much potential there.
Sometimes I find myself at the end of everyone’s disbelieving looks when I say I’m not interested in talking; I want to listen. Perhaps it’s because I have yet to find that equilibrium where I am all right with silence, perhaps it shows how unsure I am about myself and who I’m with. But believe me, I want to listen to what you have to say.
Sometimes I wish you could just be here when I need to have someone cheer me on, pile up the bravado and plunge into what Life is all about.
To be a better person, listen. With your ears, your eyes, and if you can spare it, your heart. There’s a lot of excuses we can put forth to justify why we don’t have the time to stop, pause and breathe. But it only leads on to the loss of time, the regrets that pile up even as we say over, and over again “next time, I’ll do better”.
This is my country today. We’re still, incredibly, feeling our way through this adolescence and maybe something even more incredible – growing stronger inspite of being so lost. I see the elderly who didn’t have what we have today, I see their lost gazes, I see the crinkles at the corners of their eyes, their time-worn frowns. What’re their stories? Do we have time to listen to them before it really is too late?