One year ago around this time, I was planning to stop by Singapore for a couple of weeks before embarking on my one-year nomadic sabbatical around Asia. That had always been the original plan when I made the decision to leave SF, because it felt like I couldn’t endure settling down in one place – especially the country I had spent so much of my life resenting.
I am not sure why, but I started browsing rental ads just for fun. I could view without committing to a lease. Sometimes I think my subconscious has a way of making life-altering decisions seem innocuous. As fate would have it, there was an empty room available in a new development just a minute’s walk away from my parents’ place.
It was the first and only place I viewed, before I felt the nudge to sign the one-year lease on the spot. Breaking the lease and forfeiting the deposit would still be cheaper than paying for Airbnb, I had mentally calculated.
Just like that, it took merely a moment to change my plans, altering my entire life’s trajectory. I started growing roots, finally appreciating the luxury of eating my mom’s home-cooked meals, deepening my connections to the local communities here in ways I could never have imagined, and I fell in love.
The most productive changes in my life were not planned. I keep forgetting this, always trying to make the best laid plans – only to end up being too invested in the planning, the disciplined buildup, and the imagined outcomes; to see that it was time to let go. We often make plans in a linear trajectory with current variables, without accounting for unpredictable new variables, non-linearity, and the possibility that we could outgrow the plans we had made when we were narrower, foolisher.
Yesterday, we celebrated the 6th-month mark of being a couple. Perhaps to some others it may seem over-zealous to celebrate a monthly anniversary (yes we really make it a thing), but in truth, I wish to remember that every single day with someone I love is precious. The older I get, the more aware I become of how rare it is to look into someone eyes and feel like eternity is contained in a single second.
I thought about the snap decision I made a year ago: to stay. I wondered how my life would have been different if I ignored my instincts and chose the decision that had felt familiar, because being nomadic and rootless had served my entire existence till then. I think about everything that had happened, every person I had come to know and love in the past year because I chose to stay. I contemplate the enormity of this as I looked at her, the safety I had felt since she came into my life, what it means for me to have someone truly on my side after having being so used to coping with the world alone. I could have missed out on such a profound chunk of my life, if not for that single moment.
I had to be willing to let go of my plans, and arguably, the old self I had constructed. After all, this self had protected me for so long before I grew to be capable of interacting with the world on my own terms.
I am trying to learn how to live without trying to make plans for the future. It took me a long time to learn that possibilities lie in the space that is unknown, a clear path limits us to where we can go.