“I’m still in love but all I heard…
– Nothing, The Script
So I’ve been getting knee-deep in some of The Script’s music lately. If you are unfamiliar with this Irish rock band from Dublin, much of their music deals with sad themes like loss, heartbreak, separation, waiting (for emotional recovery, or for the significant other to return), death — you get the picture.
I don’t know if their music would be everyone’s cup of tea — though they are quite famous these days, if I’m not mistaken — but I certainly found some of their songs quite appealing. I remember in my last few months in Perth, I suddenly got hooked on Before the Worst, Six Degrees of Separation, and If You Could See Me Now. I would listen to them on repeat when I was cleaning the kitchen, when I was cooking, in my last few minutes of consciousness before I lulled to sleep, when I was packing my books — I simply couldn’t get their words out of my head.
Perhaps something about those songs spoke to me; If You Could See Me Now certainly did at some point:
“I still look for your face in the crowd,
Oh if you could see me now…”
– If You Could See Me Now, The Script
In some ways whenever I listened to this song, I used to feel a bit — or tremendously — sad that there was that one (previously) important person in my life who could not share my current life journey with me and be a part of my struggles and successes. But then we’d decided to part ways early on, so in some ways I suppose we knew that we will have no future together. This is exactly what prompted me to try harder in my subsequent life experiments — to make this separation even more painful for him, so that he could never quite anticipate the magnitude of what he was missing out on because I would always be exceeding expectations, reaching levels he never thought I could ever reach. Sometimes even I surprise myself.
Some of The Script’s songs definitely resonated with my life’s struggles at that particular moment. It used to frustrate me so much to think of how he could simply stop caring, but the most beautiful thing about Time is that it truly does heal — mainly through making us forget. Being forgetful and often scatterbrained myself certainly helped; as I got busy with life, he gradually ceased to occupy my consciousness. Even if he did, he wouldn’t make me angry anymore; in fact, I felt truly sorry for him because he had long ago forfeited his rights to be proud of me, and to claim credit for some of my successes, even if he partially deserved it. Really, I can’t express how regretful I find our current situation.
So the remarkable thing about listening to The Script earlier this afternoon was the sudden realization that their songs no longer reminded me of my loss. In fact, I was thinking about what I’d gained from this loss, which is remarkably small in comparison to what I’d subsequently gained.
Many of life’s struggles truly are blessings in disguise. They call it a ‘test’, because that is what it is: how do you devise your own way out of a difficult situation? How resourceful can you be? What connections can you use to help you achieve your goals? Who would keep on feeding you with negative vibes which won’t take you anywhere further than where you already are? These are the people you should immediately delete from your life, without any second thoughts; if they have nothing to contribute, then what is the point of keeping them? Sometimes sharing the same DNA and blood running through your veins ain’t enough reason to keep them in your life.
I was extremely fortunate that my nomadic upbringing has helped form a worldview in which boundaries do not exist to deter one from progressing, but are always meant to be overcome. In my entire life I have never thought twice about moving to another country and restart life in a new city, in a new university, in a new home: this is, for me, pretty much the natural order of things. In fact, this is pretty much the most constant thing in my life: moving. To move and to move again. Perhaps this was one thing I inherited from my father — we simply can’t sit still. We are always looking for new horizons to explore, for unexplored territories to claim as our own, to put ourselves at the frontier to challenge all sorts of boundaries: national, moral, or be it merely social conventions.
Sometimes I wonder if I constantly move to run away from the ghosts of my past. If this were indeed true — and in my heart of hearts I know it is impossible for this to be untrue, for I know myself at least this much — then I am not ashamed to admit it. In some ways I always plan my future so that it will not involve living in Malaysia for extended periods of time — with the exception of my current PhD, which will require me to return to Malaysia for fieldwork for a little over a year. Even so, extensive discussions with my supervisor have dramatically transformed my current research project so that it will now actually involve doing research in Southern Thailand as well, which though just next door from Malaysia, will still be a different experience. Fortunately I have a mother who is also extremely willing to cross borders as well, which means that if my mother were with me wherever I would be in the world, Malaysia has completely lost its appeal and there is absolutely no reason for me to return to the motherland.
And so yes, perhaps it is very cowardly of me to run, but I’ll tell you this: there is nothing much worth fighting for in the motherland. At least not for me.