I was writing something on my chalkboard one night when Dad came in to check on me. He had come home from a night out with his friends. My Dad was Chinese-educated and didn’t know much English so he asked what I was writing.
It was a reminder to myself. To be happy.
I roughly translated it to Cantonese for my Dad.
Gei dak hoi sum lah.
In that very instance, he asked, “Why do you need to remind yourself to be happy? Of course we should be happy. You will know it when you feel it.”
I started crying. I had been weak, and fragile, ever since returning home from Melbourne. A part of me found it difficult to let go of the past, no matter how much I have to be grateful for at home. I cried regularly, and broke down from the smallest triggers: A “How are you adjusting to life back home?” from a relative, a photo of friends having fun, a memory from last year Facebook has so thoughtfully reminded me of, Snaps from my friends in Melbourne (I actually deleted Snapchat because I couldn’t bear to see them anymore).
I was letting it all out on Mum who was struggling to cope- who was hurting because of my pain.
I cried because I didn’t have many friends at home. I missed going out. I missed the river, the gardens, the easy tram ride to hike trails and beaches, and the freedom to stroll around and across suburbs. I missed my life there.
My life is all work at the moment- overwhelmed and stressed with work- no matter how exciting and well that is going.
I told my Dad, “I am happy at work but I have no friends and that’s why I cry.” Sounds a little silly, now that I’m writing it out. Maybe it is weak of me but I felt empty, like a void had been carved in my heart and I needed people to fill it. But people are not permanent, and can in no way be a reliable source of completeness.
There and then, Dad gave me the best advice.
Exactly what I needed to hear that night to truly move on and be in the present. To truly appreciate my time back home.
“Imagine you are on a bus. The bus is running and each time it stops at a station, some people get off and some people board on. These are the people in your life. There will always be people who leave you and new people who come into your life. You can’t stay stuck at a station waiting for someone who left to come back. No matter what happens, you keep going. You continue on your journey, on the road, and I promise, you will meet new, exciting people along the way.”
(I found out a day later he got the metaphor from my Mum, who got it from a movie LOL)
Still. I don’t usually talk to my Dad much but really, he gives the best advice. There is so much wisdom I never took the time or effort to notice. He gave me a quote on my birthday two or three years ago and it’s one that’s really stayed with me. It says, “Find ways to success, not excuses for failure.”
And so I will.
I drive my own bus (even though I can barely drive a car) and I will continue on this journey, ever onward.
Note: This was written in early April, two months after returning home. I recently found it nestled in my “Work In Progress” folder, and thought it was time I tidied it up a little and have it make a move over to “Complete” .