The five of us, once Sec 1 classmates, sat in a circle playing Rhino Hero, Sushi Go, and Jamaica. The games were entertaining enough for us to momentarily forget that we are hitting quarter life crisis this year.
The gathering was held at Shan’s house as usual. Ok, I just made it sound like we have usual and frequent gatherings. Actually we don’t, and the previous time we met as a group was probably in 2015 (we skipped a year!), but as far as I remember, our group gatherings are always held at Shan’s place.
Financially, Shan has been through ups and downs more than any one of us, but her rented apartment offers this precious thing that none of our houses can offer: Complete privacy.
It was in this privacy that Shan shared with us her life experiences over the two years or even more. We gaped in amazement at how much she has gone through.
As out-of-the-world interesting as her stories are, I do not think that I should share them in detail. I tried to imagine myself in her shoes and asked myself what I would have done if I were to face the same situations? The honest answer is: I don’t know.
I probably don’t know how to deal with an emptying bank account or the very fact that I am broke without desperately pleading for help (which is something that Shan obviously did not do).
I probably don’t know how to get over the breakup from a seven-year romantic attachment that went sour, and start seeing new people with an open mind.
I probably don’t know how to live with excruciating and immobilising pains from my knee surgery and back injury and give myself time to slowly heal.
I probably don’t know how to adopt the little kitten that appeared at my doorstep and make taking care of it part of my daily routine, when I cannot even bring myself to work on some days.
It is also scary to realise that just one of the above listed challenges can make me feel that life is not worth living, because it is too tiring, too bitter, too flawed.
I wanted to ask Shan what made her go on and on despite all the hardship, but I didn’t think I would get a super inspiring answer from her, the kind that motivational speakers would give to make you feel good.
I picture that Shan would just tell me matter-of-factly: “Just live lor? Dying is an option, but I choose to live.”
And then she would cheerfully switch the topic to something lighter and less depressing.
Even without asking her, I could think of the things that allow her to survive. Shan is amazingly strong, smart (though she denies it), and possesses niche skills and knowledge that are very much sought after. But of course, if you ask her, she would just tell you: “Oh, I don’t need a lot of money to live.”
Shan is also young, like all of us in that room. Being young gives you more room to explore and more right to fumble. Being young gives you more time and energy to recover from shit. Sometimes it seems like being young by itself is a good enough reason to live for.
But most of us, even if we agree with the above, will lead cautious and pedantic lifestyles so that we do not screw up, and so that the people around us will not think that we are screwing up. Our values ultimately determine the choices we make.
I believe that Shan does not really care about what others think of her in this regard. I think she is someone who can confidently live for herself and by herself.
I, on the other hand, am not so confident about that, but I don’t exactly have a “higher calling” to life either. To me, the meaning of life is still very much enclosed in the little little things that I enjoy (such as dates with Teddy), and the joyous feeling that there are more of them to look forward to.
At the end of the day, I still do not have a very philosophical answer to the question of what is the meaning of life, and I do not think that being alive requires a reason or justification. Personally, I live in moments and live for moments with the people and things that I love, that’s all.