Thursday, April 11, 2013

Optimist @ Pragmatist

Several months ago, I paid a visit to my late mother’s sister who was in her 80s. I was concerned that she would not recognize me after being told that she had dementia. To my relief, when she saw me, she immediately called out my pet name and talk in her  usual manner. I understand that Alzheimer patients remember about things in the past but not recent events. Seemingly everyone I know has come into contact with or know someone who suffers from Alzheimer so much so that I have become particularly conscious of my own absent mindedness when I misplace or cannot recall things. I have to prevent myself from becoming a paranoia as I feel worrying affects one’s mental fitness and instead of making progress one may regress unknowingly. Growing old is not easy and definitely not  a curious case of Benjamin Button.

Woody Allen has been famously quoted to say, In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people's home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!  That is wishful thinking indeed. 

I had a fabulous time counting down 2012 and welcoming 2013. The month of January was highlighted by catching some of the great display of tennis matches at the Australian Open on television. The said month was also marked by the departure of a family member who lived till the ripe old age of 92 and followed by funeral rites and rituals. I was glad to go on a vacation during the Lunar New Year season. When Chinese New Year came and gone in February, I tried not to feel panicky because I still had not done much writing although I could say I had my office work to attend to and a routine to get back to. While January had not been uneventful, February  had been fun and leisure most of the time, as the last hour of February slipped by, I felt I was not exactly having a phenomenal start for 2013 because I had not got on track with  my work and made progress  in what I really liked  to do in the new year. My wish list remains a wish list.

Then came March when I found the hot and muggy weather almost unbearable, I was  still far from settling into a writing routine. The odd thing about air-conditioning is that it does not work well when you need it most . When you are all bothered with the heat, you are just bothered with the heat until you consciously snap yourself out of it and ask, “ Is it really the heat that is bothering you or you are just making excuses because you know you cannot focus?  After all if  the weather gets too cold , your brains freeze and the brains cannot work  either.”

The April month will not go uneventful. Following the dissolution of the  parliament last week, the town will soon be plastered with ugly election posters, politicians will be blaring out promises in their speeches so loudly and fervently that you sincerely hope they will keep . Surely they must know that actions speak louder than words.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend and her partner returned to Penang for a visit. They decided to quit what they were doing abroad as they were not happy doing what they were doing.  They had not quite figured out what they would like to do next. Then on a short notice, his plans had to be put on hold as his mother had been admitted to the hospital and he had to fly home. I tend to believe that often when things happen, they  somehow lead us to the next thing that probably will have some connection with where you are meant to be. However   our optimism cannot be at its optimum when we are clueless as to what will happen next.

The point is, as our resolve begins to crumble and patience is weighing thin, when we no longer believe that life is infinite possibilities, we should perhaps just live in the moment and take one step at a time. In the novel “Dance Dance Dance” written about a protagonist who was trapped in the advanced capitalist mayhem, Haruki Murakami wrote : “Dance, the Sheep Man said. Dance in tip-top form. Dance so it keeps spinning.” Haruki wrote : “ My awareness of things around me had sharpened. I was moving forward intently, one step at a time. I had a focus, a goal. Which somehow, quite naturally, lightened my step, almost gave me soft-shoe footwork. This was a good sign. Dance. Keep in step, light but steady. Freshen up, maintain where this was leading me to next. Had to make sure I stayed in this world.

A pragmatic mind can be peppered with some optimism so that the reality is far from bleak. Since I cannot fast forward and see what is in store , while nobody is going to slip a million ringgit into my account and I will not have an uncle who has left me a vineyard in France , I might like to hold on to my dreams for they are necessary indulgence.

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