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  • jeffreywenhao

Is it my life or yours?

Updated: Aug 26, 2020


I remember that face.

2 to my left on the train. One I had seen more than once.

Where had I seen her? I am frustrated by the ambush of a familiarity I cannot recall. I pulled off my earphones and mentally ran through all the places I'd visited at least twice in recent memory.

She was a waitress at a food stall. I can't remember where now but I remembered her because, despite being similar in age to the rest of the aunties at the stall, she was the only efficient one. Super efficient. I remembered because in all that she did, her face remained completely expressionless - what seemed like an equal blend of stoicism and resignation, of someone who had to do something she wasn't thrilled to be doing, but did it well, having accepted it was something she had to do, and thought nothing further of it. I remember thinking as I paid, that even though I was paying for her endeavor and service, she was collecting money that wasn't hers. The train pulls up. My stop. She pulls off her earphones, and in the same efficient, indifferent way she weaves through the crowd, expressionless of course. Life is funny isn't it.

Our daily lives might feel like a series of triumphs and challenges, of drama, of milestones, of significance. But not really is it? A good number of us leads fairly similar lives - we have a job and we spend a fair bit of time doing it and become quite good at it; and when it ends we go back to whatever family and recreation we might have. Even as strangers I can feel we had similar life patterns. More importantly, the world doesn't lose anything if neither of us existed, thought this way. But strangely enough, in another way, even a stranger, a person I have barely met and interacted with, even a person like that can have quite some significance in one's life. Even if lives are fairly similar, it is the stranger's life that enables a better reflection of my own.

One day, we will reach an inflexion point when there are more yesterdays than tomorrows. Every day we live is technically also another day we die. It's so easy to succumb to the everyday grind. Even if it feels terrible, we are familiar with the drag, we plow through it. The days feels very long, but somehow the months and years fly by. I'm not afraid of death. But I'm afraid of regret. How many memories and experiences can I collect which I would think, you know what, that was a life well led. Will these be more than the regrets for all the things I didn't do? The clock is ticking.

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