Once in a Lifetime: 12-12-12

I’ve always liked the number 12. It’s of personal significance to me: my birthday date, and the floor of the apartment I lived in for most of my life, for example. And I’ve always thought there was a certain aesthetic quality to the number, like a pleasing balance of sorts. (Oh, this might explain it: Google says it’s a great number in Chinese numerology because 1 is a yang number and 2 is yin, haha.) It also has a lot of real world + religious applications: 12 days of Christmas, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus. So yeah, when I was in primary school, and everyone had to fill in all the other girls’ get-to-know-you books, the ones that asked your favorite everything, I wrote, “My name is Rachel. My favorite color is red. And I like 12.” I’m pretty sure that for my dream number of kids I once wrote “12” too. (MAN I miss filling in those books! If only my finals were that easy.)

So anyway, while I was making a fuss about the date early this morning (or late last night) because I missed 12:12 AM on 12/12/12, Alan was like:

What’s the big deal? 12/12/12 is a once-in-a-lifetime date… JUST LIKE ANY OTHER.

Meh, I suppose he has a point but that’s just boring. It did get me thinking — which is good, ‘cos I haven’t been doing much precisely because of my finals — about what “once in a lifetime” really means. And how many special moments I have cultivated for myself this year. And whether ‘once in a lifetime’ is really such a good thing, after all.

Growing up (and I know I will sound sappy + cynical all at once) in a Christian family I thought marriage was once-in-a-lifetime, that divorce was super taboo and all. Yeah I still want to live happily with my first and only husband forever (or as long as forever would allow), but looking at my friends’ parents’ lives… I am very glad and blessed that those closest and dearest to me all have strong marital relationships. But sometimes I feel broken marriages are the cancer you don’t want to get but have a high chance of getting anyway.

Which leads me to another point: that death is probably the only constant once-in-a-lifetime moment you’ll have. You can only say goodbye to somebody once. That’s if you even get the chance to say it at all…

And even if we don’t think of such morbid (but realistic) things — though God knows how much I’ve been thinking about how the world will/may end come Dec 21 — what are the memories we’re collecting, the ones we can signpost in our lives and say, our lives changed because of this?

I don’t think I can fill up 12 things, and maybe our lives would just go haywire if something Truly Momentous came that often… But here’s a list of big things that I think have shaped up my 2012, if not how I will lead the rest of my life (whether it’s 9 days more or hopefully, something a little longer).

1. Having the Talk with A on Jan 1, 2012 

We were in Costa Rica, in some seedy club with everyone else (I think we were trying to find the gay club Avispa or something), and we’d been talking about God and Us and the Future and all that. So yes, I ushered my New Year in tears. Every so often we get one of these religion-centered conversations… And I think in a way since then I’ve set myself free from a lot of burdens and dogma. Of course everything is easy to rationalize after a while. But I think it’s helped make me a little more clear on where I stand.

And just to gaowei all you people reading this… MADE ME REALIZE HOW MUCH I LUBB HIM bwahahaha okay damn gao.

2. Performing for the Last Time 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I think I may have gone on stage for the last time in Feb with Pan-Asian’s show. I don’t know how much I’ll be dancing, or if I’ll even be doing so, in the show next year. My role for the Club Singapore musical will be off-stage + behind-the-scenes.  And it’s a little sobering, given how much of my life has revolved around the performing arts, no matter how mediocre I’ve been. Things change once you enter the real world, no? No more giant performances, hell weeks, sleepless nights over choreography or lines… I can’t believe that my stupid Adele-umbrella dance was the first and last time I choreographed an official dance. It was absolutely shitty, but hey, in hindsight, I’m glad I did it. (Not glad I did the dance per se la cos I think it’s an utter monstrosity of a piece but… Bucket list, right?) It’s the last time I’ll take a bow, stage lights ablazing, face heavy with make-up, heart pounding from adrenalin and exercise. Ahhh exercise… I haven’t been doing that in a while.

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Oh hey! One photo in which my umbrella did not get inverted!

3. Missing Out on Heyday

Not so much life-changing as it is a regret. While everyone was out prancing about in their styrofoam hats and making the symbolic walk as juniors-turned-seniors, I camped in Alan’s room to wail and finish my long-form journalism piece.

4. Wrote a Story I Was Really Proud Of (and also close to my heart lol)

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5. Went to London and Fell in Glorious, Rose-Tinted Love 

… With the idea and sheer possibility of living life away from the home I’ve always known. Previously I had only seen my life in blocks: finish JC. Graduate from college. Then in junior year, working till I’m 28/9 in one company. Then I went to London, and the complete lack of the unknown beyond that horizon was so infinitely scary and tantalizing at the same time!

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Those are the *big* things… I think all the things that have happened this semester still need a while to sink in, but off the top of my head I know that living in a room with someone other than my sister for the first time is one. I am not sure how much these will hold when next year swings around, what more in 5, 10 years.

I don’t know how many big moments we should have… And I think it’ll be easier to collate as one thinks about her life in the Grand Scheme of Things. If I take the entire breadth of my 22 years what would the life-changing moments be? A lot of them would be largely academic (even though I snort at the idea of me being associated with scholastic achievements) because in Singapore, they do shape your life.

But then would that be life-changing? Or just going with the flow, because that’s what every other peer more or less has? The moment you get into a certain school, a certain class, certain things are expected of you. I was re-reading this gem from Brain Pickings (Maria Popova is a Penn graduate… who hated the school lol) about how to do what you love. And I think for Singaporeans, or Ivy Leaguers, or anybody who feels they have to answer to the Man, whoever he may be, this is a good reminder of what not to do, what not to be motivated by:

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

Well, that’s what Billy Graham says anyway.

I’ve been talking to an older friend of mine, who in turn tells me stories about friends who have up and left for Other Places, like Tel Aviv, New York, Taiwan… I’ve read about this inspirational couple who has sold their house and live life mortage-free AROUND THE WORLD. Of course I’m sure that being Young and Naive I’m attracted to the exoticism of living a Life Abroad. But it’s not just that I think. It’s the idea of realizing that I can be somebody other than what I was prescribed to be.

Okay end of long introspective post… I’ll probably regret spending so long writing this instead of my Religion & US Public Policy paper 😛

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