Life in the Meantime

Looking back, I spent the bulk of my life waiting. Waiting to be discovered. Waiting to be recognised. Waiting for love. Waiting to live. Waiting for that one moment that would change my life forever.

I suppose I spent a lot of time living life in the meantime. Always wishing to be somewhere else except where I was. It just always seemed so much nicer and brighter over yonder.

I spent my childhood lost in my Enid Blyton books. Within those pages I found a world far more exciting than my simple ordinary life growing up in a tiny, sleepy town in north Malaysia. I spent years scouring the fields and lanes in search of a Wishing Stone to whisk myself off to another world. A better world. A sparkling world where magical adventures would greet me at every corner.

Sadly, that was an expedition doomed to failure and I finally abandoned the Quest of the Wishing Stone at 21. And yes, I was still reading Enid Blyton at 21. I was a late bloomer.

Apart from wasting all those years waiting to be delivered to a land full of prancing fairy folk and free of pesky little brothers, homework, exams and dull piano lessons with a music teacher with bad breath, I spent all my attention on my toes. I was dissatisfied with my big toes. I devoted a lot of time to the study of toes and spent years hunkering at people’s feet. I was an odd child. I became an expert on toes at the age of 10. Hardly a skill that would make the headlines. Sigh.

I couldn’t wait to take a bigger bite out of life as I grew up. I wanted to travel. See the world. Have adventures. Carpe Diem. My whole being was screaming out for more! I was full of passion. Zeal. Ideals. I wanted my life to count. I wanted to be remembered. I wanted to be significant. I wanted to be someone the world would talk and write about long after I had gone.

Such are the yearnings of the young. And the old too I suspect.

I was impatient for more of life to unfold. NOW. But they seem few and far between and I was left with endless days of twiddling my thumbs. I didn’t know what to do with the meantime because I had conditioned myself to waiting instead of living.

Could it be that our search for significance in reality is just a search for our own validation and purpose? Could it be a form of escapism when we look to the future for salvation? Do we condition our happiness on victories and accomplishments which we see in some faraway time and place?

Could it be that we have somehow bought into this message that we haven’t truly arrived unless we attain some form of recognition for our efforts? Worldwide recognition no less. That somehow we have failed to fulfil our destiny or left our mark unless it culminates in thunderous applause?

I suppose that’s why reality shows are so popular today because they offer ordinary people the once in a lifetime opportunity to instant success. A shortcut to stardom. The one defining moment that changes a life forever. I shudder to think that perhaps the motivations behind my secret aspirations have been simply fame, fortune and glory?

Oh, the honour of deeds that are cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy! To be able to remain vigilant and tell the difference between lofty ideals and idle fancies. To see the sham of self and put it away that the true self may emerge.

If there’s anything to be learnt from the biggest daydreamer that ever was it would be this. Dream big. Reach for the stars. Be steadfast and true to who you are. Strive for change. But stop a moment sometimes to see if all that dreaming is propelled by a dissatisfaction and restlessness that need to be addressed first from within.

Because a lot of life is about embracing where we are right now and the people whose lives intertwine with ours at this very moment.

And so I have come a full circle. That boring little village life I so desperately wanted to escape from – well today I yearn with all my heart to give my son a chance to experience that simple life stripped of the garishness of civilisation. And those toes, well, they won’t ever get to be in any commercials but hey, I’ve grown fond of these faithful companions.

Every good thing was right under my nose. I had it all. All along. It just took me a while to realise that.

You know what? I’m done with living in the meantime.