Breathing through: A modern society Problem

People say we only live once; but the predicament is in knowing if we had even began living at all.

After scouring my soul for inspiration the past weeks, I happen to stumble upon one of the oldest yet most up-to-date thoughts every human being had come across: LIVING.

Often, I hear, from popular songs to celebrity slogans and ridiculously put-together hash tags, people say “living the life”. Over time society has built this archetypal version of what YOLO looks like.

Majority of us buy into a cult-like belief that life meant having everything. And what is everything? It meant a sensible fashion outlook, the right connections, exclusive party invites, getting drunk on a scheduled basis (sometimes more), a bank account that looks like phone numbers (God, I must have read this a gazillion times), and all the other stuff that we can cram down in there.

Yet I look around, I read the news, I hear it from some of my social connections, the people who seem to “have it all”, never get into the happy category. Amidst the YOLO culture, there is always the accompanying FOMO. People who have a lot want more for fear of missing out.

Missing out on what, you say?

That’s precisely the point. We buy anything and everything, go out to do a lot and do more, meet more people towards an end which is ironically no less alien to us to this day than the day we started seeking to fulfill it.

At this stage of my life where I’m mentally chronicling my last moments in my twenties, I had to wonder if I was truly living. I guess you might say that this was the komorebi in my writer’s block phase for the past months.

(Oh, and komorebi is the Japanese term for “light filtering through the trees”. One of my favourite words of late. Such a hopeless romantic.)

I begin to wonder, in the midst of my goal towards sharing my experience regarding living, loving, and everything in between, have I truly grasped what constitutes life?

I’ll be honest. It’s quite refreshing and delightful and yet scary and lonely all at once when we think about living.

I wasn’t born into the life I mentioned above. In fact, against the stereotypical notion of most of the people who know me, I’ve always lived a pretty normal and conventional life. A family of four. An old Spanish-themed house in the province. Noisy neighbours. Getting scolded for bringing home strays. That sort of typical.

Lately though, I had a string of continuous appreciation for the mundane. Contrary to my ever-adventurous spirit, I began to see the beauty of stupid family inside jokes, sharing food that I hate once in a while, endless face-palm and eye rolls with my childhood friends, and so much more.

So I think, despite what society shows us on the daily, about how beauty and wealth, and shallow social connections equates to living, I am not prepared to exchange what I have right now.

For me, THIS is living.

To wake up each morning and be able to put our hands together to pray with ease and freedom — regardless of what we faith we profess. To have a voice, independently and relentlessly sharing in the concerns of what makes a society healthy and safe. To be able to aspire for greater things for ourselves yet have a deep sense of appreciation for the meals we share at the moment and the people we get to share it with.

To live is to know of the frailties of human life, the hazards, the ugliness and the injustice, while at the same time having the courage to hope for something a little better for all of us, maybe tomorrow, or the day after that, or a couple of years after.

Living is when we cease to desire to pile on stuff after stuff after stuff, because we know it will never be enough, but we don’t have to have it all. It’s when we stop longing for things and start longing for human company and belongingness. And I mean real company — not just the occasional and casual encounters we escape to, as substitutes for stuff.

To live is to truly wish for goodness for one another, without hidden qualms nor reservations about it. To serve without unjust motives and to give without waiting for anything in return.

To live is knowing that there will always be someone out there who are better than us, while acknowledging the reality that life isn’t a competition anyway. It’s a team race; a group effort.

To live is to lose a lot of things and people along the way, as we realise that hardships and change are inevitable. And in losing we live, when we continue to persevere, look for the spark in a dim situation, and carry on without our familiar safety nets. To live is to let go of the old and walk towards what every new day offers us.

I guess what I am trying to say, at the end of this is that, we begin to live when we start to see what truly matters: peace not popularity; time not treasures; and people not possessions.

“Often, [dying] people are very focused on their family and on things that are important to them to do before they die,” said Dr. Nina O’Connor, director of palliative care at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Don’t wait to get to the final cord of life to realise that you have not began to live just yet.

The pages come alive with the soul of one who refuses to be smothered by normalcy.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store