Out of school.

People say they are out of work, out of a job, out of money.

I am now out of school.

How nice.

Sixteen years of formal education comes to an end.

How do I feel about finally being able to put an end to doing homework, trolling through research and mobilising those hand muscles to write non-stop for two hours at those mind-numbing exams?

I don’t feel particularly happy or sad.

I think the best description I can come up with for describing my current sentiment is that I feel at peace with being done with all of formal education. I am glad that I have learnt many, many, many things from those years of listening to both wise and unwise educators. I am glad that I have learnt many, many, many things from having those years of free time being a carefree student to read all the useful and useless crap that I did. I am also glad that I have learnt many, many, many things from those years of experiencing life as a student who has been lucky enough to have had several chances to participate in activities and projects that extended my education beyond textbook knowledge.

And very importantly, those years of schooling have taught me that the most important things in life cannot be learnt in school (also thanks to Murakami for that inspiring quote, who probably got it from somewhere else, someone older than we).

There is all the contention and debate out there about how the education system is placing too much emphasis on examination results and academic achievements, but the truth is parents are the ones who need to be educated rightly about how they should be educating their children. Not every child has the compatible personality and temperament to be able to adapt well and thrive in conventional school environments in order to excel in one-dimensional examinations, while having to juggle the demands of social life, peer pressure, family life and personal development.

It has been a long and difficult journey, the years of schooling that have pretty much taken up 70 percent of my lifetime. In moments when it felt like nothing but failure will ensue, different things saved me. Sometimes it was a sentence I read in a book, sometimes it was a sentence a friend said to me. Sometimes it was this one song, sometimes it was family. Sometimes it was that scene in that TV show, sometimes it was a movie. Sometimes it was a paragraph in a textbook, sometimes it was some stranger’s blog that I chanced upon.

Not every problem came from being in school, but every problem felt worse when one is stuck being in school. Yet, being in school is the one condition that can grant one freedom like no other stage in life, because of the concession and liberty protected on account of one being a minor.

We will never feel like this again, my friends. Cherish the memories while they are still fresh in your mind and note them down somewhere before you can never regain the level of remembrance as vivid as you are capable of now.

As the adage goes, out of sight, out of mind.

Out of school, out of time (to continue being a wilful, noncommittal and unaccountable young being).

It is now time to get to work.

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March mayhem.

It is now past mid-March.

Now, before we digress into the perennial riddle of the passage of time in life — the “how did we get here already?!” — I need to direct your attention to some other truly important issues.

I think many people would agree with me that one of the best ways to put age into perspective is to have a newborn enter your life. When you have a zero-year-old tiny human in your arms, it is difficult to escape this profound sense of age in life seeping into your mind.

Apart from her regular cries of genuine need (only newborns have the right to be authentically innocently demanding) that now dictate the airwaves in my house, things at home remain quite peaceful. In fact, everything seems even more peaceful than before, because, apparently, being in the presence of a newborn, who has pretty much no perceivable ability to judge us, makes people go into their most well-behaved mode, what with speaking in mild, gentle tones and trying their best to say silly things to stimulate the baby to react with some form of facial expressions that the adults can then interpret on non-baby terms. Such simple-minded folks we are!

But, honestly, compared to all the horror tales I have heard about babies who scream their heads off deep into the middle of the night, my niece is being one of the most wonderful tiny humans I have ever seen.

I know everyone adores babies for their unworldly cuteness that has yet to be tainted by the nasty dirt that permeates the current state of humanity in this terrible world that we live in today. It is important to indulge in marvelling at their pleasantly clean slate of life, because it puts our overwhelmingly disordered phases of life into perspective. Yes, we have been through terrible things, and life in general seems to feel unbearably shitty every other hour of the day, but, hey, look at how far you have come. You used to be this tiny bundle of defenceless being with blotchy skin and no teeth.

Other than the gruelling vice-like grip over my life courtesy of my final-year research project, I am hobbling through this mayhem that is March considerably fine.

I hope you, my friends, are doing considerably fine as well. Relativity is not just one of the grand theories that the genius that is Einstein came up with. It is one of the core concepts that will help you not lose sight of your perspectives as you hop and hobble through life.

Let us continue Marching on.

Take only what you need from it.

It is always not an easy thing to have to get through the birthday every year.

Because it is a reminder, very tangibly visible, of how much time has passed.

I suppose, by this point, the realisation jars pretty poignantly that regardless of how much older one gets, there is no getting over the profound sense of vacancy that accompanies the passing of each year that we remain alive and living.

This twenty-third year is going to be disparately different from the past twenty-something years, because it is not going to be just another year of going through school and soaking up more of that formal education.

It is going to be a year of terrifying possibilities and terrifying changes.

Once, we were the little young beings whose biggest troubles included fretting over which secondary school to submit ourselves to, wondering whether or not to scamper into that submissive JC or dive in for the adventure of poly, and questioning what on earth should you spend four years in large sophisticated concrete structures learning about. Now, we are moving into slightly larger older beings whose biggest worries are beginning to include the fact that we might not actually have the capacity to contain all the worries that the younger versions of ourselves had the youthful privilege of being blind to.

When you are about to take huge steps and venture forth (or be shoved) further into deeper depths of uncertainty, that is precisely when it becomes exceptionally important to make sure you know where you are coming from.

Remember yourself and remember the kind people who have given you all the kind support that you have received from them all these years, because these are the two groups of individuals without whom you will not be here. Remember to thank them and let them know that you feel grateful to have had shared moments of life with them.

It feels as if the imminent graduation from the last stage of tertiary education marks the end of the first volume in the book series of my life, the volume with a title in the likes of My Growing Years in School. 

From then on, you will be forced to ditch the label of being a kid for real.

All the past years of kidding around are seriously going down into being history.

Obviously it is nuts to think that such mortifying and horrifying changes can materialise in your busy, busy psyche overnight. It is just not possible to sleep the night before, being the dopey naive kid, and wake up the next day, morphed into this mature version of your better self.

It is going to take some time for introspection before going forward.

Figure out some of the piles of mess that litter your past. Put some in the trash for good, sort out the salvageable ones and use whatever leftover youthful energy you still have left, and try to outrun the expiration of those perishables. Gather up those fine memories of yesteryears and the spirited moments of the youthful days past into stacks of cherished reminders for yourself in the future, when you will most likely become dreadfully susceptible to deteriorating powers of recall.

Go forward with less of the debilitating debris that has accumulated over the years and with more of the affecting remembrance of the things, people and moments that have crossed your paths in passing or since time immemorial.

The past is choked with greatness and fear.

Take only what you need from it.

Kids by The Kooks (MGMT cover)

One more round before the last call.

I suppose there comes a time in life where the metaphorical last call would force us to face up to waking up our idea.

Tomorrow will be the first day of my last semester of school.

The ups and downs of school life are truly about to begin to come to an end.

Every last semester before this now seems like a giant joke that should have never even been considered with any modicum of gravity.

My god.

Dave Van Ronk, “Last Call”

And so we’ve had another night
Of poetry and poses,
And each man knows he’ll be alone
When the sacred ginmill closes.

And so we’ll drink the final glass
Each to his joy and sorrow
And hope the numbing drink will last
Till opening tomorrow.

And when we stumble back again
Like paralytic dancers
Each knows the question he must ask
And each man knows the answer.

And so we’ll drink the final drink
That cuts the brain in sections
Where answers do not signify
And there aren’t any questions.

I broke my heart the other day.
It will mend again tomorrow.
If I’d been drunk when I was born
I’d be ignorant of sorrow.

And so we’ll drink the final toast
That never can be spoken:
Here’s to the heart that is wise enough
To know when it’s better off broken.

Let us be opened up for possible defeat and let ourselves learn how to get back up again and to eventually gain enough wisdom to continue fighting better and living wiser.

Drawn-out December.

After my last exam on the fifth day of December, I had a few days of comatose catch-up sleep and then began to work non-stop for the next few weeks.

I find it rewarding to keep myself occupied with working and going places and doing things. I don’t know why it worked out this way this December, but that’s how it has ended up. I must say it feels odd but nice, different and good. This is probably going to be the last semester break filled up with part-time job gigs.

Okay, this is going to be the last semester break I’m going to have.

Because after one more semester, there is no more break happening.

Because it will just be freaking graduation, and that’s all, folks.

My main priority currently is to not freak out and stay calm.

Unfortunately I can’t think of what comes next after “staying calm”, unlike those popular poster things with the smart-ass sayings of the “Keep Calm and Something Something”.

Anyhow, my point about this December is that it feels kind of drawn-out and yet also as if it whizzed past by. I suppose this is what it feels like to work every day non-stop hours on end with no end-point in sight, coupled with the feeling of one’s future immediately imminent.

I’m not making much sense right now.

Just wish everyone had a great December.

I think I did.

Let me think about it more.