navigating through life

To those who travels, we are very used to navigating ourselves through a map, thanks to the advancement of technology and Google Map! We power up the app, turn on our GPS location setting, and slowly navigate through to reach our destination. The journey may be long and arduous but we often have milestones along the way to assure us that we are heading the right direction.

Someone had drew that map for you and told you that this is the road map that you should follow to reach your destination. You took it in without any doubts as everyone else is using the same map as reference. You study the map conscientiously and grew familiar with each of the milestone in that map. You work hard and try to hit all of them, thinking that the more you hit, the closer you are to your destination. Now imagine with me…. On the road map you had always thought yourself to be on, you could not locate yourself – you are not on the map!

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The picture above is an example of what I get when I searched for ‘human life-stage’ on Google. It represents the model of a ‘successful life’ as defined by our society. You grow up, study hard, graduate with a degree, get a well paying job, buy a car, get married, buy a house and start a family of your own, retire, grow old, deteriorate in health and eventually die peacefully. Many of us are born into this road map. We were told and presented with this road map growing up and often benchmark ourselves using these key milestones or events in life.

More and more increasingly in the last few years, I find myself lost in this road map. While trying very hard to live each day, I wasn’t sure where life was heading for me with reference to the path laid out by this ‘successful life’ road map. Unlike most of my friends, I did not progressed onto some of the milestones or events as depicted in the ‘successful life’ model.  My life took a different turn and my life path is just different from most of the people around me. I could not locate myself on this road map. It is a feeling of lagging behind mixed with the feeling of misfit and you feel yourself floating around unsure of what is left to this ‘unconventional’ life. According to the road map above, at my current age, I should have been married with maybe a few children, own a vehicle and a house big enough for a family of 5. I should be enjoying motherhood and building a family, and to make it more Christian, building Godly family and actively serving and rising through the ranks of leadership within the local church. None of that is happening for me. Here I find myself alone at a complete different path, unmarried, not serving in the local church and struggling daily living with a chronic condition. Where do I place myself on the road map? There is no place for me there.

One day, I suddenly thought to myself. “This is ridiculous. No way have I not grown in this lifetime.” If you are talking about changes and life experiences, I think I have accumulated enough to make this life rich. However, if I benchmark myself against the ‘successful life’ road map, I am a misfit. This cannot be! The moment of epiphany came when I realized that I have been bench-marking my life on a wrong road map. This road map that everyone is using is not what I am suppose to reference as a successful life. It explains why I can’t place myself anywhere there. I have to find the real road map in which I am suppose to use. But first, I need to do some homework. I need to remember where I’d come from, where I am now and where I am supposed to head from here. I do not yet have the answer or even a glimpses of how the real road map is supposed to look like, but what is clear to me is that the ‘successful life’ road map that the society celebrates is not the road map of Life. On the contrary, the celebrated milestones on the road map distracts us from finding the real road map of Life. I am made for something more.

May I find clarity…

 

 

Experiments

Back from my 2-week vacation and what a trip it has been 🙂 Apprehensive as I set off, having reservations on whether I’ll be able to cope with the physical demands involved especially when the destination is famous for its preposterous amount of steep steps with a landscape that looks like this 😉

Oia, Santorini Island, Greece
Oia, Santorini Island, Greece

Apprehensive as I was on the physical aspect, I embarked on this trip filled with a sense of confidence and purpose. Not even sure if confidence is the right word, but I know that this will be the last trip before I return to focus my mind to go through all necessary medical procedures and treatments. I know well that this trip will be a stretch to my physical body but when I survive it, I would have arrived at a mental state where I am ready to face what is required. I was ready to pay the price for this trip.

We can never fully prepare for something until we are there to experience it for ourselves. On the first day when we arrived at Oia, Santorini, we were greeted with mean steps leading to our accommodation. If you look at the above photo, just beside the white balcony closest to us at the bottom right corner is the location of our accommodation. close to the top right hand corner of the photo is a brown coloured mini market situated at the top level of the village, the level where most activities in the village take place. The top level and everywhere you see in this photo is only accessible by foot / or hired donkeys. We were dropped by car somewhere in the mid-level at the other side of the village, lugged our luggage all the way to the top level, checked-in at the office and were led to our accommodation. Traumatized we were as we lagged behind our porter (thank God for porters) who took both our luggage, 15kg and 18kg respectively on his shoulder, breezing through the steps at the speed of wind. We struggled to keep up even though our hands were empty… yikes.. what a way to be greeted on the first day.

Horror thoughts went through my mind as I struggled through the steps. Staying at a room so far down means we have to climb up the exact same steps each time we go out and down as we return. We have 3 nights and 4 days in Santorini – it was disturbing, and worried I had become. Did I ever mention that I have difficulties even with the well designed and evenly constructed stairs back home? The entire Oia village is constructed on uneven grounds and is connected by steps of different size, height and depth. No two steps are the same. I could only trust, hope and brace myself for what I would have to face. I whispered many many prayers.

One thing I had learnt through experience this time is that we can only progress when we dare step out of our comfort zone. Never, and I say never in my day-to-day routine will I even come close to any situations where I’ll be required to climb such stairs or be subjected to activities requiring such physical demands. My current adjusted lifestyle is safe and controlled, allowing for some experimental risk but only within boundaries that are regulated by each ‘experimental outcome’. In Santorini, I rose up to the challenge, with the help of painkillers of course. I was on daily dose of 7.5mg Meloxicam. After a few times up and down those stairs, they become less intimidating as the mind and body (maybe) start to adjust to them. The walking and climbing was so intense that though I couldn’t feel any physical pain (thanks to the painkiller), I was told that I had started to walk funny. The sensation of pain kicked in on the 3rd day despite the painkiller. What could I do? It is only the beginning of my 14-day trip across Greece and Santorini is my first stop. There is no return to this…

The physical demand persisted as one would expect during a trip like this. From Santorini, we proceeded to Mykonos, Delos, Delphi, Arachova, Kalambaka, Meteora and Athens. There were lots of walking, hiking, climbing and more climbing. My day starts and ends with functional stretches and constant applications of what I’d learnt from my therapists on posture and movement through the day. I was focused and determined to make it.  It was all worth it though. At the end of each boundary pushing ‘experiment’, I was rewarded with interesting finds and breathtaking sceneries that remind me that the world is much bigger than my own.

Monasteries of Meteora
Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

I survived, or dare I say I overcame myself repeatedly during this trip. I made all the climbs and hit all the places we’d planned to visit. I’d learnt and experienced much this trip and I think I came back with slightly stronger leg mucles and a slightly more flexible hip movement. The boundary was expanded during the trip and I hope it will be the trend setter!

At the back of my mind though, how do I apply that into my current lifestyle without the painkiller? More experiments beckon 🙂

“If you want to walk on water, you gotta get out of the boat!”

small = cute? what about big?

Why are things only cute when they are small or little?

This has always puzzled me. Why are all things cute only when they are small? I googled ‘cute chubby baby’ and ‘obesed adult’ for the fist two pictures respectively, I am sure you can sense the vibes attached to the 2 different search phrase. The same characteristic that makes the 2 person has a completely opposite effect. A boy may have his t-shirt tucked into his pants which sits way above his waistline and be commented as ‘so cute’. On the contrary, if an adult dresses himself in the same way, he will be termed weird and given strange stares.  That’s unfair isn’t it? 🙂