I had always been trying to run away from my country. I had found it limiting and suffocating. I thought that if I ever had the chance, I would plant my roots anywhere but here.
What I didn’t expect was, like people, countries evolve too.
What I didn’t know too, was as I evolved, I would be capable of looking at something with vastly different lenses.
I was so afraid to be rooted when I first left SF I told people I’ll be returning to Asia, and I would visit Singapore every month or so. It’ll be the best of both worlds, I’ll be still free and travelling, and I could still spend more time with my family and friends, compared to once or twice a year when I was living eight thousand miles away.
But freedom is complex. I can be geographically free, but as a nomad I’m always having to make cognitive decisions — where to go, where to stay, what to eat, how do I get there. I was not only a geographical nomad, in a lot of ways I was an emotional nomad, I never really allowed myself to form grounding relationships.
It was tiring being a geographical and emotional nomad. I realized being free in a certain way compromises on freedom in other ways. And perhaps like seasons, I don’t have to limit myself to a certain way of living. I can be grounded now, and perhaps I can return to my nomadic ways after.
Being free is very important to me. But what does freedom mean at this point to me? I want to feel free to create. To feel free to create, I have to nurture a baseline of health, I need to free up my cognitive energy from making mundane decisions in order to spend it on what matters most – my work. It wasn’t nomadic freedom I wanted now, much to my own surprise, no matter how tempting it seems, no matter how much I wanted it before.
I can’t truly be free when I’m always in chronic pain, or in cognitive limbo. I had to be really honest with myself. Am I so invested in my “freedom” that I am unable to see that I need certain factors in my life to be stable in order to facilitate the best conditions for healing? I need to have a loose routine, to be able to have an exercise regimen, to be near to treatment options, to have access to a clean, nourishing, healthy diet. I also want to be around people who understands what it means to grow up and be Singaporean, to consciously choose to live in Singapore even if we could have left, to be co-invested in the future of this country.
I have just been so busy running away, that I have never tried to romance my own country, to know her in her own entirety — both her pockets of darkness and light. I have admittedly never ventured out of 50% (generous estimate) of the country, never took walks around her natural reserves, never been to any of her museums since I became an adult (I know, I know, stop judging ;p). I never really knew what went on in her arts and literary scene, never bothered to find out (because like many people I assumed the worst). I have never truly explored my own little country.
I ran away from a place I didn’t truly know, and that’s not the only entity I’ve been running away from that blinded me so much with resentment that I was unable to see that love exists too, even in darkness.
A tree’s branches spread out wider when her roots grow deeper, and I want to experience how it is like to consciously choose to be grounded, out of my own free will, without any real forcing circumstances, without having anything to run away from.
I signed a one year lease today. It was the first place I saw, and I was surprised by my own willingness to commit so soon, so quickly. It is a five minute walk away from my parents’ and I’m looking forward to a staple of home-cooked food everyday.