The Pilgrimage of the Mind
Monday was a day within, and the last one of, the long weekend (which one prof told us to “enjoy”); it was also meant as the day of the Hajj.
Many commented that the weather that day was exceptionally fair, as though the rain monster had decided to take a few days off and travel elsewhere in search of more flood-worthy areas (Thailand was of course not included under this category). As I gazed outside, there seemed no reason not to agree with that observation.
Yet it seemed to be mocking (us).
It was clear to me that I was not the only one slaving away, either at the completion of a project or discourse or thesis, or at memorising or practising or preparing cheat sheets for an upcoming assessment (or two or seven). It was at that moment where a sharp sense of lucidity came over me.
Would we, in our youth, foolishly (or otherwise) use all our time on our narrow-minded pursuits, chasing what we deem to be important or pleasurable when there lies amazing venues and vistas right next to us – except that we have to look out the window and walk out the door to experience them.
However I was not one to heed my own niggling inner monologue, which was frankly much wiser that what I was trying to cram into my brain (read: Pharmacology II – Antibiotics). My little inner voice, which was to be repeatedly asphyxiated by the notes in my face, kept telling me to go out, if just to get lunch or dinner or something from the NTUC. Instead, the great superego that for some represents homophobia or anti-modernism managed to keep me in until the sun had set.
Now, this sunset was not the worst I’ve seen – alternatively, it was one of the most picturesque sunsets in weeks (the rest were flat gray, indigo, or some weird shade of shiny-brown from the storms). So I took my recently re-acquired camera, proceeded to load the SD card and the battery in, and to my horror my battery was empty.
Classic wtf moment.
Shouldn’t have happened to anyone who remotely regards a camera as a vital tool of expression (like a musical instrument).
But there I was cursing out of parents’ earshot at my idiocy, and ended up using my handphone camera on that little red-and-silver lining in an otherwise dreary (not the weather) day.
Which neatly, if not ironically, summed up the metaphor of the day.
The morning till afternoon was an exceptional blessing, on a very significant day for some, and simply a public holiday for the rest (in this country at least). Yet, in our haste, we have conveniently lost sight of the blessing for the sake of what we deem valuable and worthy of our cravings (read: CAP). In the last moments, I tried to capture what was left behind, upon which I found that I had, literally and figuratively, run out of battery.
I realised that I reiterated myself several times in this discourse, if only to bring attention to the fact that, I, if not many of us, also repeat our own mantras, which contains a checklist of what we want to achieve and our means to those ends, repeatedly, ad nauseam. We also repeatedly hear lecturers and seniors trying to drill home ludicrous ideas such as “Uni is not about exams” and “grades aren’t that important”, and take it as words from those not in our situation and are therefore misdirected.
The evaluation of the experience left me hanging between desire for duty and guilt for justifying my hate of studying, yet I found the lesson poignant, for I could not have hoped for a better illustration of “youth is wasted on the young” than Hari Raya Haji 2011.
Perhaps sometimes we need reminders as to why doing something that you are not told to or demanded of can actually still be meaningful. Before that happens, however, fair days will pass with stormy, dry, hot and mediocre ones and none will be the wiser.