The Things That Matter…
Friday Reflections #10
When I close my eyes and let my mind travel back in time, the time they mostly end up in is my childhood.
I see the green of the paddy fields of my hometown, lush and tall as I walk through them. I see a scarecrow in the middle of the field too, and I run faster back into the arms of my mother, afraid of it coming to life & running behind me. I hear her laughter, clear as I ever have, as she chides me and tells me to walk ahead, that it’s only a doll made of hay. Suddenly, the fields are not scary any more.
I see the room I shared with my sister before we grew up. I see the two of us fighting over who gets to play the cassettes, which song to listen to, and that I should only sing along to the male singer, not the female one. I see us in the garden, watering the plants, and making the soil level with a spade. We don’t have cameras, but we admire the hibiscus, the rose and the avocado fruits. I see her get a cut on her finger, and start to cry as the blood comes out. I wipe it off, give the finger a kiss, and she stops crying. The pain is not felt any more. Her smile is watery, but it is still there. It becomes brighter as we head off to the nearby shop to buy ice candy to slowly lick and savor each drop of cold, sweet goodness that slides down our throat.
I feel the rain that falls steadily as my sister and I cycle back from school. The people on the streets run helter-skelter to find any shelter they can, like the rain will hurt them if they get wet for a few seconds longer. We go no faster than we usually do, enjoying the rain as we splash through puddles, talking nineteen to the dozen about the day we had. If the sun comes out, we stop to look for a rainbow. The first to spot one gets an extra chocolate. We see the raindrops on the leaves and on our hair. The cold is not felt any more.
When I open my eyes again, I feel the changes, though the memories stay.
There is nature around, the greenery of plants in gardens, in parks and falling from potted plants onto the walls of houses. There are scarecrows around, but the paddy fields are far away. The world is different now. My sister’s world is different from mine. We still fight, but over the phone, for there’s no time to meet. The worries we have are no longer limited to cuts from thorns or the homework not done. And it takes much more than a kiss to make the pain go away. The rain hasn’t changed, but we have. The pluviophiles take cover from the rain, lest we fall ill and miss a day of work. Once it stops, and the sun comes out, it’s a race to reach home before the next spell begins. The rainbow is forgotten.
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” – Haruki Murakami.
Life seems to have become a race to see who reaches the destination faster, and who can climb the ladder faster and reach the top. The faster you climb, the more you earn, the more the future can hold. No one looks behind or below to see the world that once was. The only option is to look ahead and step forward. The next step might be on the fingers of someone who has helped us and held us up till now, but we’d not hesitate to do that. We forget that those people still matter, and there is beauty in the world around us.
I’ve found that to think of life as a rat race is something that does not work for me. I do not want to think only of money as the ultimate goal. The past that does not matter anymore, I can let go of. But I want to take in each moment of the present on the way to the future, to whatever destination the road ahead has for me. The path ahead might be empty, but what surrounds it is life. Nature, people, love, memories, laughter, tears… what it holds is a piece of me I didn’t know I had. Each step of the journey ahead, I want to hold on to it, observe it, feel it, and enjoy it. I want to remember the smallest things that matter. My life is a journey not a race, and whatever I do, I want to make sure that it’s worth it.
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason, 14th July 2016)