Do you believe our lives hang on a promise? Even for those who don’t believe in promises. When we go back in time, there would be a point when we believe we would wake up the next day and life would go on. That we would grow up, that we would experience life, that there was a name for each feeling we feel and we would feel every feeling, including those unnamed. The thing is, we need to believe, in order to function. I recently met someone who told me, “Before I met my life partner, I knew I would. When I met him, I felt I knew him. He was like a promise in life.” Some of us believe in promises until we don’t. Until we are let down, disappointed, hurt. And we feel this way because we believe in promises in the first place. Otherwise we would be indifferent.

Today is my birthday. As I grow older, there is the inevitable accumulation of loss. Of time, health, friends, loved ones. Yet in some ways, things get easier. The insecurities that stabbed at me through the years have lost their edge. Not because of sudden wisdom. Just the gradual process of believing. The belief that some promises do hold true. This year, the pandemic has stirred both a sense of crisis and an urge to reinvent. A friend who worked abroad, on finishing his fourteen days quarantine on his return, felt a little “strange to return to a different Singapore.” I told him, being in Singapore through these unusual months, Singapore is different, and Singapore is the same.

When going out is restricted in ways we are still trying to come to terms with, there is now ample time to go inside. To uncover, unravel, rediscover the promises we have made to ourselves. Maybe we don’t call them promises. By whatever name, this year, I promise to continue to stay positive, to face my fears head-on, especially fears to dream again. ’You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’


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