I have this strange feeling again and again from the interactions I had with people. It was definitely not satisfaction (since I practically didn’t do and thus “achieve” anything). Neither was it simply joy, for it felt very long-lasting and it kept me thinking. When I’m joyful I don’t think that much.
I felt that feeling swelling up in my chest while I was driving my bike back home from my class reunion. I felt it when I saw my old friends whom I haven’t meet for years, when I asked them how they were doing and when they happily shared with me all the good news. I was so happy as if these also happened to me.
I felt it when I was sitting in the a room with a bunch of mischievous and dedicated teammates plowing through the preparation stuff for a project. Someone said a joke; everybody laughed, and I thought I could hear the joyfulness concretizing and permeating throughout the room. At that moment time just seemed to freeze.
I felt it when I was telling my story in front of a group of new friends who were listening intently, or when I was holding someone’s hand to tell the person words from my heart. I remembered my mouth was doing the talking, my hands waving around and my voice trembling , but this whole “me” was just not there.
I felt connected. I felt like both losing myself AND expanding myself into others. I felt merged into something larger.
It’s quite similar to how I felt when I was reading Harry Potter, especially The Deathly Hallows, where all the mysteries unfolded and things started to make sense. Even for the lamest scene in my opinion where Ron quickly kissed Hermione after their escape. If I were Ron I would do that too. Darn, for a moment I thought I really was Ron. I forgot about myself being a real Muggle reading fiction.
I’m not the only one who shares this feeling. My host parent and I were both very glad to see each other again in Singapore last week. I was excited to share what I was up to, and I asked her about her children and how they were doing. During our conversation, she said “You know, sometimes I feel like I’m living vicariously other lives through you and my children” which resonated with me so much that I replied “I still don’t quite believe in destiny, but as I grow up and meet more people, I’m becoming more convinced that we are somehow all connected in one way or another. The fact that we are here in this coffee shop talking to each other is just amazing!”
Perhaps I’m getting better at making connections with people. For the past few years, I’ve grown to like people a lot more, from old friends to new friends to strangers. Perhaps empathy comes with better understanding. I want to keep my heart wide open, to share and listen to their stories and feelings so that they could walk into my life and I walk into theirs. Isn’t it awesome to have my heartbeats (or brain waves?) resonated with yours so that our collective energy for life is amplified, because after all our existences are so deeply intertwined?
Of course there are potential threats to this new perspective. The first one is what a fortune teller says from looking at my face (indirectly through a friend): I’m too trusting and hence must be alert of being taken advantage of.
The second one is whether I’m prepared to feel people’s pain if I’m willing to be connected with others’ lives. How can I make sure to stay firm in the face of all these sufferings so that I could offer some help?
All these are for a twenty year old kid to figure out.
I accidentally bumped at a friend’s favorite quote from a booklet “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living” by Jonathan Safran Foer. Although the context wasn’t exactly the same, I thought this quote was relevant to my last point, about whether a sense of connectedness makes us more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of other lives. Despite all these worries, thinking about all the people I’ve met in my first quarter life just got me so hyped up to continue meeting more people and getting involved in more communities 😀