Year 2000. Christmas Eve. Some time past 11pm at night.
I've just had my late fried rice dinner all by myself at this small little 煮炒 place situated under this apartment block that I like to frequent. The 煮炒 place may be small, since it's only about the size of 2 typical provision shops but their fried rice is sure as yummy heck big on taste. I may be all by my lonesome self this Christmas eve night but at least I could enjoy a plate of fried rice I really truly liked, nevermind the hour too late for having dinner that's more qualified as supper as the night approaches close to Christmas.
Walking away from the 煮炒 place heading towards home, my surrounding is dark since the rows of shops I am passing by are all closed by now. Apartment blocks here are well-lit but for some reason, this stretch is always dark this late at night. I'm the only soul traversing through this lonely and dark environment while everyone else must be in town partying it up for the Christmas countdown, skin to skin in crowded and noisy environments where too many perspiring and sticky humans are being contained together in celebratory spaces probably too small for entire crowds, like sheeps in a pen. Sounds like fun.
"It's Christmas eve," I begin to think to myself and that's when it hits me all of a sudden; An overwhelming sense of extreme loneliness comes out of nowhere and envelopes my entire being both inside and out.. I think the forceful magnitude in sweeping strength of it just caused me to stagger in my steps there for a moment. I'm getting hit full in the face and gut by an emotional tsunami and I've never felt such a powerful sense of loneliness before in my life. Never ever. I am discovering for myself first-hand how it feels like to be drowned alive by an overwhelming emotional force.
Dear God, this is really painful.
I'm having the urge to cry but I'm force-swallowing the lump in my throat and choking back the tears. My goodness, what is happening to me?
Christmas Eve 2015
Dear self from 15 years ago:
Ever since the 6th of April, year 2000, you started your journey of solitude with its accompanying loneliness, plunging head-first down a seemingly dark spiral of uncertainty that you didn't even voluntarily consent to put yourself through in the first place. This, self, will be the limbo period of your life just before its major turning point 2 years down the road from where you are now. Until then, you will have to deal with your current situation.
Even though what you are going through now isn't hopelessly bad (you are still alive, count your blessings) and you even enjoy the situation as an unexpected twist in the whole plot of things, the most difficult challenge of this time period is the loneliness you will have to occassionaly deal with. You deal with it not just inside your head but at the same time, you have to reach deep into the dark recesses of your psyche to tackle it from within too. If it comes from within, then that's where the wrestling ring actually is.
Your solitude is your double-edged sword; you enjoy it but once in awhile, its associated loneliness with a sharp point can cut you up. It's like smiling through the pain. But solitude and loneliness can't kill you, because you always enjoy the moments with yourself. You like to hear yourself think and you like having thought conversations with yourself. You love your 'lone wolf' moments but you are not invincible and you are still human. No man can remain in his cave forever without ever coming out of it for a breather and some social interaction.
Sometimes, you consciously choose to be away from friends and partyings just to be with yourself and spend personal time on your own hobbies and interests, shutting out the rest of the world and leaving your friends wondering if you've gone to become a hermit for good all of a sudden without so much as a goodbye. Of course, you prove them wrong, albeit momentarily, everytime you decide to emerge from your cave. They've been either only half-wrong or half-right or both, since in essence, you really are a part-time hermit.
Like an elusive Viet Cong choosing when to appear and fight and when to disappear seemingly into thin air suddenly, you mostly call the shots when it comes to when your friends can see you.
You are a case of extremities: you let yourself go and party HARD whenever you let yourself to but you will never allow frivolous partyings and social gatherings to dominate more time over your own personal pursuits and hobbies. So indeed, loneliness can't kill you but it still can hurt you when the solitude lasts for too overly long sometimes. Yes, you are very resilient towards it but you are still human with feelings and the need for companionship when the dust settles.
Extremities can be difficult to understand and comprehend and you are a mystery even to myself, but I will have to accept you unsolved for what you are because I am you. That makes us human, since how many people can truly proclaim with complete unwavering conviction that they truly understand themselves completely inside-out? And that's discounting the fact that all of us can change over time and become a different person - even if not completely, mostly at least in certain aspects. As such, do not think that your situation has taken hold as a permanent and unchanging one, self.
While you are on your journey to discover yourself as you really are, you need to allow room for changes. Be true to yourself but allow yourself to grow.
Are you truly absolutely alone where you are now, past self? You are not and you know it.. well, at least periodically. Mum, your buddies Joe and Jason - these 3 persons are people you better remember to cherish and appreciate without reservation. They are the ones who have been there for you whenever you needed someone. You always see them there everytime you emerge from your shell. It's true that in trying times, one discovers who exactly are one's true friends.
They still stick by you in mind and heart everytime you retreat into your cave. Sometimes, they will come knocking softly on your cave's door to make sure you are doing okay and that's something that always warms you. Everytime you emerge from your cave, you see them waiting for you out there. So no, I know that you know that you are not truly alone even though it can seem that way on the surface. You lucky man.
There is also another calm and quiet presence that has always been there for you whenever you close your eyes to focus your attention on it and when you stare up at the stars during the quiet of the night and reach out to it with your heart as you let the created remind you of their creator. It's God. You get your peace and strength whenever you ask for it, didn't you? Remember to be always grateful, for you are actually blessed. The stars in the night sky will continue to remind you.
That Christmas eve night during year 2000 was the strongest display in intensity of your loneliness. It got to the point of being mind-blowing when something you always thought you enjoyed suddenly turns around and punches you hard in the guts, wasn't it? You staggered in your steps because you didn't expect your loneliness to suddenly transform its face into a sinister monstrosity you didn't know it had on its other side.
Has it occurred to you that perhaps, loneliness itself has gotten enough of you at that point in time and needed its own respite away from you, so it had to tear you apart from the inside that night? Yes, it did hurt. A lot. So much so that I can still remember just how intense it was on Christmas eve night 15 long years later.
From where you are now 15 years ago this night, you don't know that I will turn around to look far back into the distant past at you, do you? You are not aware about this but I've got news for you, past self. If you could just hang on, you will be glad you did. I know because I am you from your future looking back at you at your moment in time.
1 year and 4 months later from that Christmas eve night at your point in time, you will come to be acquainted with your Lioness for the first time on the 6th of April, year 2002. That's right, on the exact date of the second anniversary of your drastic journey of solitude and loneliness, all thanks to mIRC Chat and you being attracted to the user ID 'Venus' while you sit in front of your computer in your peaceful quiet room of solitude. Your finger operating your computer mouse will not be able to resist and you will click on that name 'Venus'.
That, self, will be the moment in time when your entire life up to that point starts to go through a major metamorphosis, like the proverbial scorpion soaring out of its own ashes as a transformed phoenix. If that metamorphosis could be measured on the Richter Scale, it would be a major mega earthquake. How your world is gonna get rocked. HARD.
Ends up, with the passage of time from thereon, your Lioness will devote herself to you and love you. You will thank God for just how blessed you are, convinced that you are the luckiest man on earth for having her. Heck, you will even question God just what it was that you did to deserve her. She will be the best thing that happens to you and from that point on, you will have to put in some effort just trying to remember how loneliness used to feel like.
Your Lioness will be the one who ultimately defeats your loneliness and the one and only place it can retreat to where it can never get out from is in your memories of it. What used to be loneliness will then be taken over by personal space which your Lioness will know when to give you. She understands that you need your own time for your own hobbies and personal pursuits; things that are no different from breathing that keeps you alive and functioning.
Even though you can have your own personal space when you need it, you will also come to realize that if you should ever lose her, you will end up a very broken man. Even though she will be the reason why you need to expend some effort in trying to recall how loneliness used to feel like, you will never forget what happened to you on Christmas eve night during year 2000.
If you tell yourself to hang on now and make it further to year 2007, you are gonna start having the time of your life - you will have the job of your dreams, you will have the money and you will fly to places you never dreamed you would have the chance to visit. How well-travelled you will be indeed and you will absolutely love every moment of it. Hokkaido and Taipei especially will become your favourite places on earth out of all the places you will travel to. You will once again tell yourself just how truly blessed and lucky you are.
And here's something else that will make you jump for joy too.. Ready? In year 2009, you will manage to hunt down, buy and own the padauk Washburn N4, the electric guitar you've been pining for since 1993. Orgasmic, yeah? I know, you find that almost impossible to happen at where you are now in your moment in time but it will happen. You will have the good things that life has to offer.
But life is like a lift that goes up and down and it sometimes can malfunction and become stuck. Your dream job life will last for 6 years before everything starts to slowly fall apart in year 2013. You will then have to brave a few storms as well as a rather shitty job and while you ride it out and fight to keep your feet firmly on the ground, guess who will continue to stick by you and cheer you on?
This time, your companion is sure as heck not loneliness, which is already as good as long dead and you are better equipped for the fight because your situation is leaps and bounds better than your situation during year 2000. Heck, you had close to nothing back then and it was really a miracle that you made it out.
I can't tell you more beyond this point because I am writing this to you at this point in time during Christmas eve night in year 2015 and I can't glimpse into the future. But just you wait for the lift of life to start moving up again. When life falls down flat on its face, it will eventually have to get up again if you don't give up before it repeats the whole cycle. That's just how life is. You will give up for good if you forget that it's not a one direction trip. So take heart and be brave as a lion, not just for yourself but for her too.
At the same time, and just as importantly, keep your eyes on the stars during the quiet of the night and let them remind you of what they've been reminding you all along. God helps those who help themselves.
So past self from 15 Christmas eves ago, that sense of overwhelming loneliness you are now feeling as you are walking home in the quiet and dark night sure feels like being in the pits, huh? Well, don't you allow it to swallow you up whole, because you will end up surviving it all in the end.
Trust me on this, at least until Christmas eve of 2015. Beyond that, I will have to wait for my future self to look back on us to tell us about our life ahead from this point on. I know that you know that I know - That's because I was you and you will become me. We are me.