Turning a year older is usually a reminder of the brighter future ahead. It’s a reminder of the many opportunities we are still yet to achieve, how many more we can create if we wanted to. It’s a celebration of another year added to our lives, and the following years we are about to conquer.
But last week, as I blew out my birthday candle, my nose all stuffy, and my anxieties through the roof, I am reminded of my mortality. I am reminded of how much of my life is fleeting. How this life is truly ephemeral, and how much of it I’m passively wasting through endless scrolling and unnecessary hours spent trying to numb away my feelings. Every second is a chance for me to do something worthwhile. And if this was my last day, I don’t think I’m satisfied with how much I’ve lived.
It’s pretty grim, considering that birthdays are supposed to be celebratory. But honestly, I’m not in the best circumstances. At the rate that the world is going, who knows how much time we’ve all had left? 2021 is the second year I’m celebrating locked inside an apartment building, looking over windows for a semblance of ‘outdoors’, and wishing to be elsewhere. The country is on a high of its useless quarantines, and my Facebook feed has turned into a long list of cries for help, grief, and obituaries. One after another, people are passing away– young, old, people my age, people who were beginning the life that they’ve always pictured.
Over dinner a day before my birthday, Mark asked me what my wish was, and it’s pretty simple: good health for the both of us, for my loved ones, family, and friends. As if the universe was playing a sick joke, the next day, we both ended up lying in bed for hours, nursing an on/off fever, stuffy nose, and nasty cough.
As I sprawled on the floor, hugging my Kimono and fervently wishing that the bad energies would go away, I started to wonder — what if this was my last birthday? The fear of contracting COVID19 flooded my body, anxieties washing all rational thoughts and leaving me gasping for breath and just wanting to cry. I dozed off to sleep and wished for a better day.
If this was indeed my last, I thought, have I already done enough? What will my story be? Or is there even a story to begin with? Perhaps people would tell stories of how much potential I had. Or that maybe, I’m a good person, never really going out of bounds and just following the rules.
Life is complex. There’s no proper way to gauge how well you’ve lived your life. For others, maybe you’d look like you’ve done a lot. For you, perhaps, not so much. But at the end of the day, when our cold bodies fall to the grave, not a lot would matter except for how you’ve made a difference in other people’s lives. It’s the memories, the interactions, the intentions, the stories that we will leave behind. Maybe a few checks and a plot of land for your family if you’re rich. Perhaps a book. Or a treasured journal that could change the course of climate change if you’re a genius.
As I tried to dig deeper, I realized that I still want more time. I hope my time isn’t up. I want to work on things that I strongly believe in. I wish to use my tiny voice to amplify stories that are meant to be heard. I want to do more, write more, and live life like I’m running out of time. Maybe someday, my story will be worth a listen.
May we continue to have the chance to tell more stories.
*As of this writing, we are still yet to get our swab test, and we’re still hoping for the best.