These days I find myself believing more and more in what my grandma preaches – it will all work out in the end.
Do you ever find yourself worrying about things that are not in your control? As a mildly anxious person ( this is where my inner self gives a huge big snort), I find myself worrying about work, about life, about my sister, about my job. The list goes on.
I even worry about worrying.
Iis your life where you want it to be? Are you exactly where you want to be?
My grandma is one of the strongest person I know and we just celebrated her 84th birthday on Valentines Day. She was born in the year of the Snake just like myself. She has 9 children, 7 of which are sons and everyone grew up well. I remember when I was young, I took the school bus home every afternoon and I will reach home at about 130pm. This is way before kids in Singapore had rigorous and strict timetables to follow and adhere to.
Yes, I could come home straight after school everyday with the school bus that also fetched the boys from the school opposite mine. They often pulled my ponytail and threw my books on the floor. I would be immensely grateful when the bus turns into my grandma’s lane and I would fly down the steps of the schoolbus in a fury. Back then, in my grandma’s house, the gate and fence was made of wire and it would bend at odd places, making it a struggle sometimes to open. And I remembered there would be many red ants walking all over the fence. You had to strategise, blow them out of the way quickly and put your little right hand into the hole in the fence and open the gate. My grandma has a huge property and on super rainy days, the lawn, garden and backyard would be flooded. I would then stand on a chair and look at what floated past. Centipedes, earthworms, the same red ants (yeah!), leaves, twigs, bugs and even slippers. These days, either we have less rain or something happened to the ground level outside my grandma’s. It seldom floods anymore.
Whenever I returned from school, she would frequently be in the kitchen cooking the last dish for me. I would run to the huge brown dining table outside the kitchen and peer at the rest of the dishes on the table. It would often be porridge, steamed egg, steamed fish, steamed vegetables and the last dish would often consist of meat. She cooks very well and her dishes, though steamed, are full of deep flavours that complement each other. We will not talk much (she doesn’t ask me about school often) but eat our lunch in silence. She would, like any great grandma, push more food onto your tiny bowl of porridge and when you are not even done with your 1st bowl, will quickly scoop more of the warm, homely porridge for you to continue. I think the reason why she doesn’t ask about school was because she had already exhausted herself with the 9 children that she had.
I will then go bathe and do my homework. Yes, unlike my sister, I am one of those who completes her homework immediately after school. That did not guarantee good results all the time though. After that my grandma and I would take an hour nap together in the same room. Like clockwork, she would always get up before me while I napped. Come to think of it, I don’t know what she did in the late afternoon. I suppose it was to prepare dinner for my uncles then.
She is not one to mince words either and that has always been a struggle in this family. She will say it even if you don’t like to hear it because that is who she is. She will tell you if the man you are with is a keeper and she will also tell you that as a woman, you need to upkeep yourself not for your husband, but for your own well-being. She will call you to buy Haagen Daaz ice cream and only the vanilla one. No other flavours, thank you very much.
As we get older and have more worries, she would always have the same mantra – it will all work out in the end.
The chinese have this phrase – when the boat reaches the beginning of the bridge, it will naturally straighten out for the boat to go over. And that is what she always says.
As I get older, I think of this phrase more and more. You know sometimes when you have a problem at work and you worry intensely about it for days, only for it to ‘disappear’ on its own or for it to ‘take care of itself’? And I beat myself up for wasting time and worrying about something that was gonna work out eventually. If I don’t worry, I worry that somehow the universe knows that I didn’t take the effort to WORRY about it and the problem will come back and bite me in the ass. How strange right?
When we travel, my friends are surprised that I even google restaurants to eat and download their menus as well. They are surprised I look at other train times (besides the one that I will be on) to weigh our options if we miss the one that we booked. They think I am super anal when I preview the facilities of the hotel that I will be staying in, even though I will not use the swimming pool in winter. I think you are either an anxious person or you are not. Just like you are either the type who did your homework immediately after school or if you rush through it before school the next day.
I take pride in the fact that I researched places well and I leave almost nothing to chance. But living this way, you miss out on the spontaneity of life. Some of the best food that we have eaten on our numerous travels, some of the fun drives that we have been on, some of the best sights that we have seen are unplanned and totally fabulous.
Frequently when we travel, I find myself looking and relooking at the plans for the next few days on the plane, checking if I brought all the hotel confirmation emails, train passes, opening hours of places of interest and so on. After the trip, I will often tell myself that in the end, everything worked out well. If only I had spent more time relaxing and going with the flow, which is obviously not a strong point of mine.
These days, I often think of what my grandma would say and sit back further in my seat, have another glass of wine at dinner, breathe in another deep breath of the fresh mountain air and truly taste the fresh flavours of the sakura ebi angel hair pasta in front of me. I will not waste another moment worrying about things that are beyond my control at work or in life.
I think this is a journey, and not easily done. But who better to listen to, than a 84 year old woman?