|wild flowers from a village in Chiangrai|
It was during the Christmas season that year I was staying at this village. While walking to school one day, I came across these and told my host I'd gather them on the way home later. She gave me a very bewildered look and asked why I would do such a thing. Flowers, she explained, die the moment you pick them. If we left them as they were, everyone could enjoy them. The conversation came back to me this week after three deaths and two funerals, if you'd like to have a read...
With the passing of a teacher & role model as well as a close friend's grandmother on the same day, I feel almost obliged to think about death. Being the cheerful enthusiast that I am, death is usually far from my mind. Yet on hindsight, I'm coming to the realization that death is never really far away. A good friend lost to cancer, a grandparent who is taken abruptly by a stroke or a schoolmate who got killed in a major traffic accident.
In this popular book, author Paulo Coelho calls death 'the Unwanted Visitor' and indeed that is an apt title for the personification of death. He comes and goes as he pleases, but he never knocks, for if he does which of us would willingly let him in?
Although I said at the start that this was a reflection on death, I find the majority of my thoughts leaning towards life. No, no, this is not the optimist in me taking over. Instead I find death hard, almost impossible to concretely think about...it is like a locked door to which I do not have the keys.
The fading acronym YOLO became synonymous with young people who did whatever wanted. After all you only lived once, so every moment ought to be spent in pleasure and pursuing your own desires since you will never get another chance.
Turning that phrase on itself - since you only have one life to live, should it not be spent meaningfully for the sake of others? You only live once and albeit for a really short time. Do you really want to spend all that time pursuing riches and luxury?
This post began with the wild flowers I wanted to uproot. In that village (similar to many others), children regardless of age only had one school, one class they could attend because there was only one teacher. When our team went to do a short English clinic, children from neighbouring villages walked three, even five hours to attend these. Are their lives any less valuable than ours?
I'm sorry this post has been so sporadic, you can tell the thought are still fresh in my mind and the jarring sense of loss still raw. One of my favourite quotes from the book I mentioned goes like this,
Ask a flower in the field: "Do you feel useful? After all you do nothing but produce the same flowers over and over." And the flower will answer: "I am beautiful, and beauty is my reason for living." Ask the river: "Do you feel useful, given that all you do is keep flowing in the same direction?" And the river will answer: "I'm not trying to be useful; I'm trying to be a river." Paulo Coelho, Manuscript found in Accra.
In this short span of life that we have been given, have we figured out how we can apply our strengths and talents to leave behind a legacy for others? Or are we wasting our todays because we're too busy looking forward to our tomorrows?