Tomorrow is the last day of the year and last days are usually melancholy for me – regardless if it’s the last day of work, of school, or of year. Last day signifies a time for change, and that’s always daunting. Last days also mean goodbyes – to people, to routines, to lost opportunities, wasted times.
However, I’m not going to be all negative and sorrowful this coming last day of 2017. I’m determined to be grateful for all that has been given to me in 2017 – the good, the bad and the mundane ordinariness that has helped me put things in perspective. (Luckily I’ve recorded most of my life on Facebook so I don’t forget.)
2017 has been a year of new experiences which I can broadly summarize into four categories (as was in 2016 when I started full-time work after more than a decade at home) which now as I look back, I’m filled with of awe.
Back to School – Going back to school for my Master of Arts in Creating Writing (MACW) was a surreal experience which I had, on many occasions, needed to explain to others what I do and why I am doing it, which at the same time is a good way to convince myself that it really was happening – all these textbooks needed to be read, and the damn critical essays needed to be submitted, even if I didn’t know exactly what I was criticising. Going back to school meant meeting a whole new group of people – classmates and lecturers. Who was the wise guy who claimed that making friends at my age is hard? All nonsense. I got along fabulously with the younger folks, some barely older than my sons. What was interesting was that they were so diversified – in gender, race, accent, culture and even sexual orientation. I am no longer mixing with my in-group of middle-aged women and I am enjoying the interaction.
Despite my less than stellar grades, I would like to think my writing has improved. I had the opportunities to experiment with poems, plays and screenwriting. I thought I did pretty well in all these genres. The playwriting module also nudged me into taking part in Theatreworks 24 hours playwriting competition, which I would never have done otherwise.
School, or my lecturer Darryl Whetter, in particular, gave me the platform to read my work in public. I used to hate public speaking/reading but I am now more comfortable doing it and even beginning to enjoy it, especially when I hear the applause at the end. (Imagine reading five poems at the George Town Literary Fest and getting five rounds of applause.)
Being in the MACW plonks me into the Singapore literary scene and I get to meet local authors, poets, and playwrights. I look forward to the day when I am in their league too.
Yoga – All that sitting and studying for school accentuated my stiff back and I decided I should do more yoga. And so on top of my regular yoga classes with Denjz, I enrolled in a yoga studio with unlimited classes which I had vowed to fully exploit the expensive membership fee. In the studio, I have the opportunity to be an ‘aerial artist’ by flying in a hammock. I confess I used to envy the circus acrobats as they fly with the ribbon-like satin fabric in the air, twirling with graceful flair. I am not like that and have no aim to do that. For now, it’s just fun showing off the few stunts on social media. Still, I have noticed a vast growth and improvement in the last year. I’m stronger, leaner and more flexible. I can’t wait for the day (in 2018) when I can do the split with ease and a handstand.
Yoga has also allowed me to meet friendly folks who share the same interest, and I’m glad to say, folks with the same physical inflexibility. I look forward to classes so that I can meet them. Familiar faces try to match schedules and time so that we could do yoga together. Today I received a sweet note from my yoga classmate, WT, who is trying to persuade me to go back to Denjz’s class which I’ve decided to leave in order to more fully exploit my membership at the yoga studio before it expires in five months.
It warms my heart to know I’d be missed. Now I’m wavering on my decision. See, it’s always the people who make the experience so memorable.
Family – I’ve been busy but I try not to neglect my family, especially since I went to so many wakes last year as friends and classmates start losing their loved ones, which made me all the more cherish mine. I’m relieved though that I did not have to bother much about my sons, all of whom did well in school. Second son Ivan spent six months in the Netherlands on an exchange, eldest son Andreas graduated and found a job within a month. There were some scares though, like when youngest son Aaron got appendicitis on his last day of A’levels, or when my 92-year-old Grandma fell and broke her hips. I’m happy to report both are recovering well. My in-laws are not coping as well, with depression and dementia, and that is a wake-up call to me that I need to start preparing myself well if I want to age well.
Grandma and Me
Reunions – 2017 is a year of reunions as long-lost classmates got reunited, and there was a bash at my alma mata’s 100th year anniversary. I find it amazing how I can chat like old friends during the celebrations, with schoolmates whom I had never spoken to when I was in school, just because we share a common link we now cherish. I also met many old teachers, many now frail, and hope the meeting with their old students gave them a satisfaction that they have left their legacy behind with us.
Some good gatherings happened in the last few months. I can’t imagine how we traced my sec-two classmate Jasmine who married an Indonesian and a sec-four classmate Ajara who married a Taiwanese, but we did and had a wonderful time catching up.
Sec 2 reunion
Sec 4 reunion
Outside, the rain pours, reminding me that it is indeed December. It’ll be the last day of 2017 in less than half an hour. As I write this, I am filled with a fuzzy comfort that it’s been a good year.
I’m not sure what I am going to do when I graduate in April and although I worry, I am prepared to go with the flow, as I’ve always done. (The Guided Autobiography Workshop I did in October was a good reminder on this.) I’m a planner and having nothing planned sometimes makes me anxious. But I shall live one day at a time. And tomorrow, I have a whole day of yoga planned, starting with Sunrise Yoga at the Botanical Gardens. Now, isn’t that a good way to end the year?