18 September 2014
How Far We've Come
I encountered a photo of myself taken just a little over a year ago. I paused for a long while, trying to find recognition. I see this girl, fair skinned, with a shy smile, posing in an uncomfortable way she practiced to hide her flaws. She is almost unrecognizable. Aside from the fact that we share the same name, the same long wavy hair, the same constellation of moles on our faces, we are now worlds apart. I do not know her. And she won't ever know me.
Her skin, fair and flawless, are reminiscent of all the adventures she hadn’t gone on. Of all the fears she hadn’t faced. Of all the days she spent hiding, instead of being free under the sun. I can tell from her smile that she has a luggage full of fears. Of being too happy. Of being unsure. Of being noticed. Of loving. Of being loved.
I sit here with my feet up on the chair, and staring back at me are all the dark, dried scars I’ve accumulated in just the past nine months of wonderful wayfaring adventures. I look down on my arms, my chest, my legs, and they are filled with tan lines of different shades, crisscrossing each other like a road map of all the places I’ve been. All the places I’ve deliberately got lost in, willingly loved, and painfully lost along with all the people I stumbled upon in beautiful, cosmic encounters.
I close my eyes and when I take a listen, my memories are filled with the sound of waves crashing, trees rustling, and birds singing in chilly island mornings. And there’s the rhythmic sound of beer bottles clinking under the moonlight, while people with different accents banter in the background, laughing at silly mishap stories from the road. I try to look within, something I couldn’t do before, and what sprawls before me are lush paths towards bright futures where there used to be locked rooms, never to be opened.
I can take a peek into myself so much freely now, for I am cracked in all the right ways. My heart has been blissfully opened so many times for all the people who have passed through, leaving me more inspired every time. And it is chipped here and there, for I generously lodge a tiny piece of it in every place I go.
This is as it should be. A year ago, I had it whole. All of it, all to myself. But it wasn't right because like bell jar, it was delicate and hollow. It never felt right. It still is delicate now, but it is getting better. Infinitely better.
Now when I see old photos of myself, I just smile. I smile as a voice in my head would gently whisper each time:
My dear, we have come so far.