If there’s one thing that I learned by the time I turned 28, it’s one of these: Time waits for no one. Friends are better than lovers. We must save. Don’t waste food. Come home early. Sleep early. Be a good girl — really?
No, no, no, wait. What does it mean to be good in the first place? We laugh and we cry. We’re humans with pure emotions. We think we’re rational beings, but when our actions don’t tally up with our thoughts, so filled with pride and prejudice, they mean nothing. Whatever we say or do.
And that’s something I learned through seven years of yoga, and counting.
Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time, some twenty years ago, lived a girl, so full of imaginary powers, that when she looked at her palms one evening in her parents’ bedroom, she wondered out loud,
Papa, what am I?
Her father frowned.
What do you mean, ‘what are you’? You are Jolin. You’re a girl.
No, she thought as she looked in the full-length wardrobe mirror on her left. That’s not what I meant.
No, I mean…I know I’m a girl, but what am I?”
He furrowed his brows.
You’re human. You’re a girl–
She stared at the mirror and at her palms again. She could see lines that came from somewhere……but where, really? Transformers, she thought, thinking about the cartoon she and her younger brothers were being fed on a daily basis. She thought of Optimus Prime, his view from within……but where, really?
I mean, how come I can see me, but not me?
He then spoke in Mandarin.
我不懂你在讲什么。(I don’t understand what you’re saying.)
She creased her forehead. It was frustrating for an eight-year-old to not speak “Grown-Up”. She needed a dictionary, but did the words she’s looking for exist?
I mean…I can see myself in the mirror, but I cannot see me.
His frown deepened. He sighed, staring at the floor, pausing his steps before walking towards the bathroom.
That was when it first it hit me: my dad didn’t know everything after all. He didn’t know me after all.
And, perhaps, neither did I.
I fell into depression when I was 16. Or much earlier, depending on how you look at it. Because although I had a relatively happy childhood, I couldn’t remember much of it, except that I was mostly alone, despite my two younger siblings, and frustrated most of the time, unbeknownst to my parents. I was always daydreaming, what it would be like when I’ve grown up, for what would I be?
Would I be pretty, would I be rich? Nobody said to me:
Que sera, sera /
Whatever will be, will be /
The future’s not ours to see /
Que sera, sera /
What will be, will be.
This also happened to be the first song I sang in public, during kindergarten when I was 6, at this Uncle Toby’s competition. My dad was there, filming it. He liked that song too. Alas, he didn’t know how, after days of practising the song, it settled into the deep recesses of my mind and would become a large theme in my life, a lesson I had to keep on learning, until today, which is:
Let it be, let it be /
Let it be, let it be /
Whisper words of wisdom /
Let it be…
Age 25. December 2012. The world was supposed to end but it did not and I fell in love. Not for the first time, not for the last time. I came back from the States some months ago and I took up yoga, very seriously this time around, and was adamant about not fucking up my life anymore, so I utilised what I learned about the Law of Attraction from my guru Sue.
What I did was that I listed exactly the traits I was looking for in a guy, the ultimate boyfriend/lover checklist, then posted it on Facebook, declaring, okay, Universe, your turn now. And then–bam.
Pascal happened. We met at the jazz club No Black Tie and sparks flew and the next thing I knew was that he pursued me with all the vigour of a typical Leo, and me being me, as passionate as I was and wanted to be, I stepped on the breaks when I discovered that he wasn’t free of all emotional baggage just yet.
“But you obviously like him,” said Guru-ji, to my embarassment. “Just go for it. Don’t overthink.”
So I went, and it was all very wonderful, at first. He literally fitted my 20-item checklist to a T…and then some. Aside from what I asked for, the Universe threw curve balls at me: Pascal was at least 20 years my senior. He was passionate and artistic, yet a control freak. I could go on and on about what was wrong with the picture, but my point is this:
Be careful what you wish for. You may never know what will hit you, and when it does, you’ll realise that you’re never prepared enough.
Never. And the best you can do is to go with the flow. The flow. Not just your flow.
So, it didn’t work out. The kind of emotional and psychological abuse that eventually happened was so intense, it threw me into deep depression for a good while. But, time heals, as it always does, and I moved on. I got happier, and happier, and happier, and happier, and then–bam–a manic episode.
Manic episodes are fun while they last. It’s like getting high without the drugs. I won’t bore you with a psychology lecture about what it means to be manic, or bi-polar, but imagine that you’ve been depressed for so many years, or decades, and when you finally feel like you’re on top of the world, for good (you hope), you get sent to the hospital and get told that you’re actually ill.
What does this mean? It doesn’t make sense! Why me, why me, why me? Why the fuck must it happen now? Does this mean that I’ve never been legally sane my whole life?
You wanna know what’s the most agonising part of it all? It’s being told that there’s no answer to that.
Sorry, we don’t have any answer for your insanity.
Months crawled on like years. After 6 to 8 or 10 months of denial and serious weight gain (from the medication) and gung-ho desperation to get back in shape and figurative head-banging on the wall, just to get better, trying to get better, it dawned upon me, that real happiness isn’t a feeling. It isn’t an emotion.
It’s a sense of well-being. A constant ongoing, regardless of the storm, depending on your mindset, your worldview. It’s how you choose to wake up in the morning and sleep through the evening. It’s how you choose to respond to the compliments and criticisms and expectations and disappointments and, ultimately, change which will happen in your life. It’s a matter of waking up to decide,
I am here. Now. It may not always seem like it, but I have the power to live a good life.
Because it’s always in me.
Once upon a time, I chose to look at the stars and the moon and read a hundred and one books that tell me how to make sense of my life, to tell me how to live.
I stopped reading those books.
I now choose to live.
Happily ever after.