The “New” me? Or the “Real” me? Bring it on!

Safe to say, surprises and unexpected conversations can happen when you least expect them to.

One minute you’re feeling lost, the next you’re filled with renewed purpose and hope!

At least that’s what I came away with today when I met an old friend by chance. It happened when I dropped off my son for his play date earlier in the morning. The location happened to be near the home of an old friend of mine, so on the spur of the moment, I decided to contact him to see if he was in and could meet up. And guess what? He was, and he could.

We spent an hour and a half catching up with what’s been going on in our lives, and talking deeply about our individual struggles. He had recently lost a loved one, and I had recently become a stay-home dad. Not too much in common at first glance, but as we talked, it became clear we had more in common than we realised.

We both are on unexpected journeys at a stage of our lives where most of our peers would be busy living it up with family and careers intact. We are both going through a period of grief, loneliness and loss, as well as a search for our next port of call job-wise and life-purpose-wise.

But most importantly we both love to write. We talked enthusiastically about a future where we could publish our own book or memoir to serve as a record of this trying stage of our life experiences.

And so, just like that, I found a fellow sojourner for what I thought was going to be a miserable and lonely journey in my writing pursuit. What a gift!

After finishing our coffees and conversation, we parted ways, promising to send each other weekly reminders of our agreement to work towards this lofty but oh so worthy goal of being published authors. Reminders both to encourage and also to prod each other on, should we start to slack!

I can think of no better reason to stay in regular touch, and no better way to find motivation and encouragement for a potentially long and arduously lonely journey.

For such a journey would require us to unpack a lot of baggage in our inner lives, and to uncover or rediscover just who we really are. Certainly this was probably the thought on his mind after listening to my sharing, and what prompted my friend to suggest that my current journey could either lead me to discover a ‘new’ me, or rediscover the ‘real’ me.

I must admit I never thought of it that way, although now it does seem to make quite a lot of sense. For I’m no longer officially a part of the standard local narrative. The one that says a typical Chinese Singaporean man pushing fifty should be holding down a stable job, providing amply for the family’s material needs and be emotionally dependable.

Instead, I’ve been forced in these past few months since staying home full-time, to process the often roller-coaster feelings of life’s meaning and purpose for me, and my wife and kids (and very soon my elderly mom with dementia, who will be moving in to live with us!). That’s a tad much for anyone to handle on any given day, let alone everyday for these past few months!

So my friend’s observation has led me to ponder: Is this finally my season to discover who I really am without the mask of the standard narrative I alluded to above? To uncover the ‘real’ me, or bring forth a ‘new’ me?

I don’t think I’m anywhere close to answering this question yet. But I’m certain now that my goal to eventually publish my own memoir, is going to seriously set me on a journey towards finding the answer. Isn’t the prospect of that in itself worthy of the attempt, even if (touch wood) I eventually fail?

I’ll definitely be reflecting on this subject a lot more in my future posts.

But for now, I must say a big thanks to my fellow sojourner, and the surprising and unexpected connection we had today. I’ve always cherished such connections and conversations over the superficial ones you so often get with most people.

Funny though isn’t it? How that which you would rather avoid keeps coming at you from every other person you come into contact with? Though thankfully now that I’m technically unemployed, and a daily “threat” to the majority’s entrenched views of what an ‘able-bodied man of sound mind and employability’ should be doing on a typical work day, my social calendar’s practically dried up, sparing me the dismal prospect of many an inane tete-a-tete! I mean, who wants to spend time speaking to someone who challenges their ways and views of what constitutes a ‘normal’ life and livelihood anyway?!!

Sad though isn’t it? How that (ie deep conversations and connections) which you cherish and long to find in someone, happens so rarely? Which I guess is probably why we cherish them to begin with. And how, a chance to embrace a different narrative for living is often rejected, because people fear the unknown?

But those questions I’ll leave for another day’s musings.

For now, here’s a toast:
To the beginning of discovering the ‘new’ and ‘real’ me! And to my dear friend for pointing it out to me on this most unexpected day.

Bring. It. On.

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