Questioning the Quest of for life

Wrote this in a state of delirium so apologies in advance for typos.

*Image by Sandy Honig

3 days ago I had a breakdown.

One box of Kleenex later, I resembled the globular eyes of an Avatar. In a state of depletion (emotionally and physically tranquilized by pure exhaustion), I was forced to take a hard look at myself, to not just hear, but listen to the voice in my head.

Okay before I continue, let me clarify that I don’t hear voices in my head so there’s no need for Freudian scrutinies and oxycotton anti-depressins. I’m speaking of my inner voice. Singular. Not plural.

She doesn’t quite sound like me. She doesn’t laugh as much and she has a serious but calm tonality. I guess one can describe it as the voice of logic. She’s tried reaching out to me, reminding me that she’s always at the back of my mind, calling for attention, crying for contemplation.

She comes and goes. Sometimes she reads to me in different voices and characters, other times she stirs within me quietly before unleashing random rumbles, flashing through me like a distant flicker of thunder striking from the sky, before retreating back into the still darkness of my mind.

She’s been creeping up on me, especially when I’ve had one too many. In my uninhibited state, I’ve expressed the desire to defy social expectations and cultural restrictions in another land, far far away. During wine sessions with the girls, I’ve slipped in a few personal sentiments and confessions of belief (and disbelief) when topics on art & culture,  religion & politics arise.  We laugh between bottles of wine and intoxicated repartee, but I never allow my inner voice to speak any further beyond calling for the bill.

And here she is again, vociferating for change; telling me that I am more than this, that I should leave, take off and make a difference somehow, someway. That I shouldn’t make excuses for my shortcomings. She’s challenging me to face my fear of solitude. She wants me to leave everything I own and everyone I know behind to rediscover myself.

“What do you want me to do?” I ask. Leave my monthly pay cheques, my 9 to 5, sporadic shopping sprees, delicious dinners, travel resorts and material comforts for the absolute unknown, thousands of miles away to build houses and feed the poor? Leave all this for the sake of satisfying your restless need for change and inner quest for some spiritual search for “the truth”?

I’m in a mental and emotional state of impotence. It takes me ages to pick something off a menu, let alone make life-changing decisions! Perhaps, someone or something needs to shove me off the margin of mediocrity, so that I will finally plunge, dive and immerse my entire being into a more meaningful life. Question is, what is a more ‘meaningful life’? Gosh, what’s life? All this questioning is giving me mental constipation!

Honestly, I’m idealistic. I just want to do what I love, be my own person – answer to no one, live where ever I want and keep moving around the world until I am tired, withered and spent from experiencing the world – all the while, void of any responsibilities.

Perhaps this is just a phase. Perhaps a lot has happened in the past few months that has led to this somewhat sporadic and masochistic aspersions – most of which (for privacy sake) will not be divulged in this post.

So, in my timorous quest and cowardly panacea for psychological ‘normality’, I attempted to drown out my inner voice. I put up a facade and went out, bought things I didn’t need, ate when I had to, immersed myself in more work, continued to drink religiously, smoked like puffing billy, partied till I passed out, and blogged about things and stuff – thinking that it’s just a phase. No one will notice if I keep doing the things I do. It’ll go away. It always does.

Unfortunately, it didn’t this time. Aside from liquidating my finances, inflicting more damage on my deteriorating liver and adding unnecessary baggage under my eye bags, it did nothing to stymie that reiterating chant for change. My stubborn inner voice provoked, or rather, ignited a conversation with a dear friend of mine on Facebook.

Title of message thread: “Question”

ME:  Do u ever feel that there should be more to life than this? That you’re just drifting and one day will wake up, look back on your life and go…. Oh my, what have I done? I have no purpose. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t exist…. And it’s scaring the hell out of me. Feel like a bruised fruit in a bucket of freshly picked crops.

MATE: You okay? Did you want (to) talk?

Not at this moment cause I’m in between filming but time and place and I’m all ears.

Everyday of my life, believe it or not. Each person measures success differently and to the average person, of course my life seems fantastic but rarely do they realise the emotional toll it takes on my relationship with my friends and family. What is success if you don’t have a strong foundation and a great group of friends to share it with, you know? That’s my struggle, to find a balance to please everyone who has stuck by my side even when I wasn’t there for them. You’d be amazed how lousy I feel half the time, like I’m not being the best of anything to anyone. It’s only natural, I guess.

You have a purpose. Look who you have in your life. There’s at least a handful of people who need you and want you around. Your girlfriend for one, would probably be lost without you. From what I know about you, you’ve grown through a lot and when a person has, they look at life differently. You ask a lot more questions and you don’t settle for a generic response.

The worst thing anyone can tell you is “get over it.”

All I can tell you is that you have a purpose and I know, I haven’t met anyone like you before. No stroking of egos here. You’re intelligent, creative, and have a genuine passion for everything you do. Don’t ever lose that. The second you do, you’ll begin to let go of yourself and let’s face it, you’re better than that.

I don’t know how much of that actually answered what you asked me…..

If you need to talk about anything, I’m always here for you just so you know.

Chin up!

ME:  Appreciate it. No really, thanks for sharing. I guess I’m just, well….I don’t know. Its weird. Its been like this just of late. Perhaps having my long lost mother in my life again, is taking an emotional toll on me. Forcing me to look at my own life as she she shares her turmoils with me. Living away from family and seeing them once every 6 months or so, is also adding to this feeling of non-existence. My job, my work – is a joke. Everything else I do helps me stay afloat – creatively – otherwise I will wither into absolute nothing!

And yes, I do understand where you’re coming from. success – or what its perceived to be, is highly subjective and sacrifices have to be made. You do have a brilliant life and you are fucking brilliant at whatever you do – can’t keep up with you, seriously. But hey, you chin up too okay?

Guess we’ll have loads to talk about when we meet. It will be happier topics, no doubt 🙂 And yaknow what? Meeting you is such a blessing. Seriously, its been years but you’ve somehow made an impact and for that, I thank you.

MATE: Your mom’s back in your life again? Wow. How are you honestly dealing with it? Emotionally besides looking at your own life? You see, here’s the funny thing about family. When you’ve spent a set amount of time away from them, like you have, you learn how to stand on your own two feet. Of course you want them near by and you try your hardest to have a relationship but at the same time, you’re too independent. It’s always just been you and you taking care and fending for yourself. Every 6 months is a blessing, as weird as it may seem, because some people don’t even have that.

I see my parents every few months and we have nothing to say to each other. I spent 2 weeks with my Dad in HK and that was the most time I’ve been around him since I was born. I have no recollection of him being in my life growing up, only my mom. I tried to push aside my differences, our differences but in the end, it comes down to the fact that he’s made it clear that I’m not important. The only way to have a relationship with my family especially my parents is when we’re not together. When we are, all we do is argue. I went through what you did with the non-existent feeling. I still do from time to time but be thankful that you have a family that still reaches out to you and wants to spend time and see how you’re doing. Some of us have to immerse ourselves in work to feel like we belong somewhere.How come you feel like your job is a joke? Creativity is something you should never lose. It’s one of the qualities I admire most about you. 

Thanks but “f-cking brilliant” is far fetched haha. I appreciate it though. Like you, all I have is my creativity. If that’s ever stripped away from me, I wouldn’t know who I am.

Everyone comes into our lives for a reason, good or bad. I met you for a reason. Maybe for stability and to have someone pull me back down to reality from time to time. Lord knows you have a part in keeping me grounded.

Listen to a lot of music. That usually helps.

HIGH FIVE, FRIEND. Everything’s going to be okay 🙂

Such comforting words from a lovely friend.

That’s as far as the conversation went and I have not spoken about this to anyone else aside from 2 people closest to me. As the age old adage goes; Life is what you make out of it. I just don’t know what to make of it. Maybe this is what happens when everything is smooth sailing. Perhaps this is the innate restlessness of our soul telling us, okay you’ve had a good run, now it’s time to go save the whales and become a tree-hugger in the deep jungles of the Amazon.

Regardless of this ‘fear’ and frustration, I’m relieved that I have an inner voice that questions and challenges my existence, forbidding me from becoming another cracker from the cookie cutter, a run of the mill individual living out there amongst the concretion of entities just drifting through life. I want a life that nurtures my inner soul, and I’m not talking about yoga, meditation or quoting Deepak Chopra. I’m talking about being the authentic self in propria persona where I am my inner voice.

So I’m asking her: Why are you feeling this? Aren’t you happy that everything is going well? I’ve got a job, drink freely, a loving partner, creative outlets, a weathered passport and crabs every weekend! What do you want from me?  What difference do you want me to make? What are you asking of me to sacrifice? Do you really want me to give up all my comforts, my material joys and the lovely precious friends I’ve accumulated over the years to do something impact-full? OR are you feeling this way from reading Adbuster and Eckhart Tolle? Maybe you just like the idea of being part of a movement. Perhaps you’re just flirting with the possibility that your existence is part of a bigger picture, that you are the frame that might hold it together. Maybe you’re being totally unreasonable! But then, maybe you’re right…….

Whatever it is, come on then. Strike the core of my emotional chord again. Let me know this is real. I will be prepared because by then, there will be no turning back. I might even write a book about it. Like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Mine will be Shit, Drunk, Life.



  1. Alicia Chan · · Reply

    awee,,,i love this post of yours..really deep and insightful, i think it relates to all of us.. if you don’t mind, i’m going to re-post it on my fb.

    1. Wow someone relates! That’s a relief. Yes that’s fine. It’s already in a public space, I’d be a hypocrite to censor myself in other mediums.

  2. James Warbaby · · Reply

    brilliant post. More people than you would expect feels and relates. They just can’t elucidate as eloquently and write as well as you do 🙂

    1. Oh…thanks! How unexpected. Appreciate your kind words *refrains from making smiley face*
      oh darn it… 🙂

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