Aging (2018 in Review)
It's been a week since I uninstalled the IG app from my phone and still, that sense of epiphany, of I-know-what-I'm-doing-with-my-life has yet to arrive.
I knew though that it was loud and confusing out there and I am missing something; something a little quiet, detached, and yet deeply intertwined with the tangible. So here I am and only now, perhaps a little late, sitting in front of my own words, taking that one small step to uncover that 'missing something' – most likely something I used to know or have for it to really be missing.
On another note, I think if you don't catch up with yourself often enough, come New Year with its customary 'year-in-reviews' plastered all over the internet, you'll find yourself staring awkwardly in the mirror, mustering: "Who dis?" I am guilty of charge. As a result, it may be somewhat difficult to navigate but I'd like to start anyway with where and how things have changed.
After all, it has been the year of many transitions and nothing screams 'transition' louder than the aging of limbs and organs.
I woke up the other day, injured. My left hamstring somehow managed to become expertly strained and somewhat swollen overnight. The immediate thought that popped into my head was that Instagram-caption-worthy saying: "You don't know what you have until it's gone." But what? What did I lose, or am on the verge of losing? My leg? Or maybe, and even more dramatically sounding, the one thing my body is supposed to do i.e. being the vessel through which I experience and build my life.
For a while now, and I reckon those of you entering the golden age of 30 will empathise, my body was a good place to be. It used to have all these advanced futuristic features like efficient self-cleaning (detoxifying), lightning speed cell regeneration, etc... I didn't need to care for it (or I thought I didn't need to) so I forgot I ever needed it. Now, I'm slowly and steadily Benjamin Buttoning albeit into one of those mud houses from the Iron Age, dusty and susceptible to burning.
I kinda hate that it took falling sick to realise my body exists. But then again, it fell sick because I have not taken the time to really be here, physically and mentally, in my body.
But where then have I been?
The first half of the year was marked by a form of busy-ness. I was doing busy work. Brought up into adulthood by the startup culture, why wouldn't I wear it as a badge of honour. After all, being busy must mean I was doing something meaningful. I was, I believed, to some extent. That is until and perhaps coincidentally, the rosy and idealistic mission statements, cultures, and promises of revolution and innovation of the startup world are met with an onslaught of criticism. Some collapsed in on itself.
Don't get me wrong, I truly believe in finding new ways to work and do things and it is a wonderful community of bright-eyed youths, some of whom want nothing more than the betterment of the world we're living in. But have you seen the $400 juice press? As my new sense of scepticism emerged, I found myself a little lost and worse, distracted.
I recently read Frank Chimero's essay The Good Room and nodded all the way through.
The diagnosis is clear: there is so much convenience, but so little comfort. Everyone is tired. Our attention is over-extended, over-stimulated, and over-commodified, making us twitchy, unfocused, and, in a very crude sense, afraid. We’re exhausted and over-extended, because everything is vying for nearly boundless amounts of our time and attention. Late last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said their biggest competition was sleep. That’s a pretty grim statement, joke or not. Biology is always such a nuisance for business.
— Frank Chimero, The Good Room
So here is where I've been, somewhere on the internet, not finishing my thoughts.
It is much easier to social media (and of course Netflix) and live vicariously through others' filtered lives, than to fumble in the dark trying to write your own. I don't fully blame social media for my increasing anxiousness or distraction. As a believer of agency because I am privileged, deleting the last social app off of my phone seems to be a good first step in undoing the damage. Honing that much needed virtue of discipline is another.
Even carving out the time to sit down and write this fragmented piece of a year in review gave me back some confidence in finding the answer to my "missing something". It's already a little quieter, a little more comforting.
Despite the inherent time wasted on being distracted on not figuring out what's next, last year I did achieve one of my major goals. That is to invest more in meaningful relationships.
I found home in the quietest, almost uneventful embrace of my close group of brilliant friends and a loving partner. Perhaps also a deeper understanding of my mother's obsession with photo taking, interestingly through a book called This is What Inequality Looks Like by Teo You Yenn. There was a passage about the occasions when lower income families actually do get to spend time together, not working or coping with the hardship of life. It became then utmost important to record those moments in a photograph because of how rare they are. I was guilty of avoiding my mother's camera on these occasions. We are neither poor nor well off. Given the fact that my parents' lives weren't filled with those-who-don't-travel-only-read-one-page opportunities and I live this far away from home, it is certainly rare so it is certainly important for these photos to exist.
And of course, it also means more memories need to be made – ones unfiltered, private, but so fundamental to one's being (or well-being?)
The year was vaguely recollected but recollected anyway. They always say 'the first step to fixing a problem is identifying what it is'. I hope I'll find ways to be a little more present in my body, and too, in my thoughts. Maybe I'll even attempt to finish some of them in my next posts. Here's to aging, and acknowledging limitations, mistakes and the likes. May we never stop being critical of ourselves.
And re. my scepticism, that requires more thinking.
Find me at www.zoeydraws.co or check out other journal entries.