Rarely am I the star of any play, my superego tells me there’s no role fitting for me. It has me believing that so I will cling on to that dazzling stage my ego has set up for me. The only stage in my mind, in the play of my own life, starring Rosslyn as the tragic victim. Just so you know, it’s not easy playing the victim. Imagine having to deny the merest bit of power, serving it up to others, neatly plated on a tray. Please enjoy (and don’t hurt me).
Years of training have helped me fulfil this role really well. If you can’t be the victor, be the victim; it’s better than being a passerby, invisible and forgotten. Tragic roles leave an impression; tugging hearts, breaking some, drawing tears. Look at the damsel in distress, the innocent orphan, the starving artist, such passionate and pitiful creatures, wretched beauties, what’s there not to love about them? They earn sympathy and pennies.
But no, I want no sympathy, that cheap substitute for love where the gaze is always downwards on me, never at the same level. I don’t wish to be a star. I don’t need to be a star. As much as tragedies are romantic, I’d rather be a drop of rain, free-falling, landing on a leaf, then sliding on to another leaf, then another, before reaching the thirsty ground and taken in heartily.
I wonder. Two words that form the bedrock of what I do as a student of philosophy, and also how it’s conditioned the way I live. In wonder, I’m able to stretch myself out towards knowing not only the infinite expanse of the world I inhabit but also the world inhabited by the loved ones I’ve lost. Indeed, the afterlife is what I wonder about the most. I’ve lost a grandmother, two mentors, and a teacher-friend who’s like my second father. I can’t help but wonder all the time if they are well, or if they are even flourishing now that they’re unencumbered by the burdens of this bodily existence. Death really has a way of forcing upon us the immediacy of life. But that’s better than forever existing, twice removed from the vitality of this life I’m living right now. As all of us here in this room have some relation to death and have come to know it intimately, I wonder if we’ll ever be free from its grasp. I doubt it. But that’s not a curse. In fact, I think it’s a blessing. Because in all our wonderment about those we’ve lost, we breathe life into their very beings as they dance through the thoughts we have of them, and the stories we tell about them in the days to come and the nights to past. I wonder. Such simplicity that holds the sheer manifold facets that life has to offer.
by Daryl Li
Will I ever get tired of this prompt? Perhaps not. I hope not. I wonder, I wonder. I love the way it rolls off my tongue, something about it pleases my heart. I wonder how I was as a kid. Did I wonder about the sky? The trees? The birds? Did I wonder where things comes from? My dad once told me I asked a lot of questions when I was little. I was glad he shared that with a smile on his face. I took it as a compliment, not a complain, and I felt heartened. My guess is he probably tried his best to answer all my queries back then.
If only adults were as accepting of this behavior. It saddens me to think that most corporate environments are less forgiving with one who asks too much. I know. I was in there once. I was afraid once of not producing answers to my questions. I was afraid to be seen as inexperienced.
Reflecting, I’m so grateful I’m here now, sharing this lovely space with two others, writing about wonder, pondering over the mystery of one another and the mystery of life. How exciting life can be when there’s so much unknown? How amazing when we can be comfortable with the unknown, rest into ourselves, and watch the world in wonder.
Wonder, it’s what keeps me going. I have once described to my spiritual teacher that my inner world is like an amusement park changing themes and rides every now and then. And I have so much fun just exploring myself each time I dive in. It’s a joy to be alive!