With a sudden curtailment of the freedoms a lifestyle in a western city offers, it removes all of the glorious distractions that makes such a place attractive to live. Suddenly in a densely populated city where people are living upwards, you find it suddenly feels very claustrophobic. This has been ever more highlighted in the recent week where restrictions have loosened and allowed sunbathing in parks. Right near where we live on days with beautiful sunshine, it somewhat resembles a field at a music festival.
So in this busy, crammed city where your normal routine is completely dashed and time for your thoughts is exponentially increased, it leads one to question “what restrictions would need to be relaxed in order to make things more bearable?”. For some people it’s simply seeing friends, for others it’s pubs, and others it’s travel abroad. The more I thought about it, the less I am sure about how to answer that question. Suddenly without the distractions I’m yet again faced with the question of what life it is I want to live. What makes my life worth living?
It’s hugely interesting to see on the news how countries are starting to put measures in place to allow businesses to open and international travel to take place again. In the face of a likely second wave or possibly even a third, it feels like they’re saying they’ve had enough and life cannot continue the way it was.
This pandemic as with every other trial in life will pass, eventually, how we choose to handle it is entirely up to us. If I could possibly leave this period with more idea and motivation towards a life I want to lead, that would be a great result of a very weird period in this life.
That is the phrase I have tattooed on my leg in Hebrew. “Gam zeh ya’avor”.
I got this because a friend had said it to me during the really dark period of my life a couple of years ago. It was such a short phrase said almost as a throw-away attempt to comfort me (nothing brought me much comfort in those days). It stuck and it seared itself into my memory becoming some sort of mantra.
This too shall pass.
This time shall pass. This awful feeling will pass. This horrific time will pass. This journey will pass. This amazing time in South East Asia will pass. It will all pass, good and bad, all of it.
There are so many things to take away from that phrase. It did bring me comfort. In the days where I was hurting so much I wanted the world to burn with me, it comforted me to know that at some point it probably will. In the days after where I went travelling to heal, it reminded me to savour every beautiful, precious moment out there, because it too, undoubtedly will pass.
And now, in my more settled state in London, I find myself still lost, having been lost since I got back. I know what direction I want to go but I’m scared. It will require sacrifice of time, effort and hope. The last one being something I know how scarce and valuable it is. So I don’t dare dream, I don’t dare strive. I try and build towards my dream within the tiny sandbox that I have penned myself in. It’s impossible to build a real castle inside a sandbox.
Today was the first time in a long time where a conversation with the right person ignited my enthusiasm, my passion if you will. It was there all along, it’s never changed or waivered. I just needed the right person to help me unearth it. I don’t belong in a sandbox. And it is scary to try and invest in this. There’s no guarantee it will be a good investment. But time will pass, it doesn’t hang around. You don’t have eternity so get moving now. You’re never going to be as young as you are now so what are you waiting for?
I have to start this post off by admitting that I am, for the most part, a bit of a weird individual. I don’t really believe in normal – I think everyone is on a spectrum but just hide things – but I do have a lot of idiosyncrasies and behaviours which are odd. This I am aware of.
In the past, I’ve always had to restrain or tone down parts of myself in relationships. My oddities made my partners uncomfortable or confounded by my behaviour. It is not until this relationship that I truly feel accepted as who I am.
This man, the more I am weird, the more he laughs and expresses joy at seeing it. Going so far to even say he likes my weirdness. Having had the fixed idea that I will always have to hide myself in some ways in relationships, it feels so liberating to be truly be accepted for who I am, unapologetically.
Feels bizarre to hit a new decade. The realisation hit me only two days before the new year began. This year I will be three decades old, which is quite an overwhelming thought for some. It’s interesting speaking to friends in similar situations and seeing the breadth of reactions. One friend admitted they had gone to therapy because of anxieties about turning 30. They weren’t where they thought they’d be in terms of career or relationship/family. I guess that’s why it’s important to manage expectations and see the importance for setting goals (to encourage motivation and ambition) but accept that things may not quite go to plan.
For the most part, I have always had fairly little long term expectations of where I would be. At my roots, I am a dreamer so I have a thousand things I want to be, but the realist in me knows that I cannot be all of those things at once so I compromise by having an attitude of trying to be the dandelion puff that rides on the wind. Except, perhaps with a tad more self-determination.
A decade is a long time. 2010s saw me grow into an adult and learn some hard lessons. I wonder where 2020s will take me.
Just said goodbye this evening to my parents before they fly back to HK tomorrow. They’ve been living there for almost a decade, and yet I still haven’t quite got used to saying goodbye to them. Weirdly it’s just got worse as time goes on. I struggle to not well up when saying goodbye. It’s always awkward, and looking at my dad always sets me off – he’s the one who’s also welling up. Then comes the awkward shoulder grip and pat that’s loaded with emotions as we force smiles that are a mix of happy of having spent time together but sadness to be separating again.
They brought us over here in ’96 to help enrich our lives and give us a unique opportunity that many kids in HK would never get – for that I will always be grateful. But it has caused a difficult conundrum when they moved back to HK and we stayed here. Trying to navigate familial bonds when your parents are a 12 hour flight away and 7/8 hours ahead (depending on time of year) is difficult at best, painful when you or they are going through harder times where other families may band together, we don’t have that luxury. I hate that word is even somewhat applicable.
It certainly forced me to become self-reliant in a sink or swim fashion and that is something that I identify as a fundamental part of my personality. But still I want to acknowledge the pain that come along with this process.
In a bittersweet way, the distance does make the time that we spend even more precious. But until next time, I will go back to being the island that I am.
I remember when I was a young teenager, when coming across someone who was in their mid/late twenties and thinking “Wow, that’s so old! I’ll never get there”. It just seemed like such a distant concept that my mind couldn’t quite comprehend how I would get there.
Today, as a 28 year old, I look back and recognise that version of myself. I am no longer that person, but that person is part of me. The person I am today encompasses every single day and every single version of myself I have been but I am more than them. And the person I am today, will be less than the person tomorrow, next week and in a year’s time.
There is no wasted time, for all that you’ve learnt, thought and gained comes from the people you have been whether that’s been the life you wanted by design or lived but desperately wanted to get out of. Those circumstances have left you with the motivations and viewpoints you have now so as with so many things in life, acceptance is the key to be able to make peace with who you have been and are. This will enable you to harness all the powers you have in your fingertips. The person you are today is magnificent and I look forward to seeing who you are tomorrow.
I have tried and struggled to put into words the multiple times that I have attempted to process this relationship. It’s a very new and slightly puzzling experience to try and express how I feel but never feeling like I’m doing it justice.
Throughout my life thus far, I have been learning – always learning – particularly about things I may not want in a relationship. I had resigned myself to the fact that to be in a relationship I will end up having to compromise a fair amount because where am I going to find someone particular in the same ways as me? I still pinch myself from time to time to make sure I haven’t just made him up in my mind.
It’s a weird feeling to have, he makes me so happy but the kind of happy where it’s not overly animated. In a way that you are content with life. I know this is something special.
What is the root reason that we as a species seek romantic relationships? If familial bonds and friendships are close enough, why is it we still sought out that additional dynamic?
Maybe part of it is the level of acceptance that we seek from these relationships that we cannot gain from others. We bare our souls to reveal our weaknesses and vulnerability in the process. It’s a terrifying process with no real guarantee that you will be truly accepted, but if you hold back then you limit the gains. It’s hard to let go like that when you’ve been hurt, and we as a species can be awful to one another.
I’ve met someone who I’m still learning as a person, but we have been uncensored in the way we have shared ourselves with each other. It feels amazing to not have to restrain myself in any way and be able to speak about all thoughts. It feels even more amazing for him to say what he thinks, express what he likes and for me to naturally be able to accept it. He is an incredible human being. I didn’t really think this level of not having to compromise and admiration in a relationship could exist. Long may it continue.
Having never wanted to move here in the first place, never wanted to stay, never wanted to come back after travelling, I mean every word when I say I do not want to stay in London. I will truly be heartbroken if in ten years or maybe even five years time I am still here. But no matter how much I mean that, I also know there will always be somewhere in my heart for this city. Like a long term relationship, it has shaped and moulded my life in my years as a newly fledged adult. That will forever remain part of my identity. Like everything else that has influenced me in my life, I would not be the person I am without having been here. With nearly 7 years since I moved here, that’s a significant proportion of my life.
I write this as I sit on the bus home just going past Tower of London and going onto Tower Bridge. It is these moments when there is that moment of stillness as the almost empty bus sits in momentary traffic just in front of Tower of London that I think “I’m pretty lucky to be here”. This city swallows and spits out people everyday, and I am here, still standing. It’s a reaffirming message – you’re alright, you’ll be fine.
News of the presumed death of Hansjorg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelley are making their rounds within the climbing and mountaineering community.
I don’t really know what to say.
It’s hard to grasp when the people you admire, who are three of your community’s and mankind’s best, are taken away by the very venture they excel at.
It’s humbling in a way. No matter how good you are at your trade, if nature decides it, then an avalanche will lay waste to you. It doesn’t give a fuck about how expert you are. And yet we play at nature’s feet. Because we’re compelled to, because we’re not living if we don’t. Like an analogy I read once, I believe from Alex Honnold – Alone on the Wall, as a climber to not live the life you are drawn to, is like to have a sports car and only drive it to the end of the road at speed limit and back.
I had the fortune of being at an event a couple of years ago where Hansjorg Auer premiered his film “No Turning Back” and had a Q&A session with the host. He had such a raw energy about him, it’s hard to connect that with the fact that he, along with brilliant David Lama and Jess Roskelley, are gone. The energy dissipated. What hits home even harder is that David Lama is the same age as me. All of them brilliant and in their prime, just gone.
Death eventually comes for all of us. Events like this serves as a heavy reminder and give us pause to reflect, contemplate and mourn. But it should never deter us from our dreams for adventure. To show respect to the dead, to ourselves, we need to carry on with their memories and continue living the life we must. The life that we couldn’t be living without.
Rest in peace guys, you may be gone but you won’t be forgotten.