Fate — it’s beyond our control

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It was late last night, and I lost sleep again, for I have taken a couple of hours of nap in the afternoon. Tossing on the bed, my thoughts began to toss at the same time.

I took out my phone and started listening to on line story telling but that didn’t help much. Instead, it triggered my desire to write something for myself.

In the on line story telling portal, there are a lot of essays written about love, life, relationships, for example: “You can never please everybody”; “We have become the closest strangers in our life”; “My best gift to you is my companionship” etc.

All these essays have triggered my own thoughts and stirred ripples in my heart, and I heaved a sigh, thinking of how lousy I am as a person in socialising.

Then I thought to myself, just let it be. Let fate decides.

Yes, let fate decides.

In actual fact, I’ve always let fate decides on who I will meet in my life journey, but I’ve not learned how to let go gracefully and acknowledge that it’s also fate’s decision for me to part with some people.

I’ve never truly pursue anything in life intentionally, including love, friendship, career and luxurious stuffs in life.

I’ve grown up as a normal person, flowing with the river, such as study to get a certificate, work to sustain a living. Dreams are deemed as something beyond my reach. Even when I had the aspiration of being a writer was only a glimpse in my heart when I was young. The only thing that I hold dearly in my heart is my feelings and emotions.

For years, my relationship (relationship refers to all types, not limited to just man-woman relationship) with others has always been short lived. In fact, I would say that it is the same for most people in this world. And as Buddha has said: To come together is fated, but to part is destined.

Let me share a short “love” story of mine when I was 17 years old.

Her name was Jaslyn.

She wasn’t my classmate, neither was she my friend.

She was just someone whom my classmate has befriended in one of the tea dances.

One day, I was out with my classmates and they have invited Jaslyn and her friends. And so we met. We were introduced and all that came into my mind was just that she looked pleasant and nice, but knowing my own ugliness, I’ve never truly hoped that I would get into a boy-girl relationship.

The first meet up didn’t really leave a deep impression, except that she has suddenly walked into my life, though I treated it as a “hi” and “bye” type of relationship.

Weeks later, our class organised a barbecue session and I was definitely involved. Addy told me that he has also invited Jaslyn and her friends. I shrugged my shoulder and acknowledged. It has really nothing to do with me, for I wasn’t close to these girls at all. When the girls didn’t appear in the evening, it wasn’t a surprise to me too.

As the rest of the boys and girls (we were 17 years old then) were chatting and joking and playing near the barbecue pit, I took out a poncho and came to the beach. I laid down on the beach gazing at the stars. I just loved to lie down on the beach and stare blankly into the dark sky when I was in my teenage days. I have already developed the habit of letting my thoughts fly into the vast darkness. I can’t recall what was I thinking then, except that I was always comforted by the miserable number of stars that I could found in the sky.

We have already made plans to stay overnight at the beach and hence there was no rush to pack up and go. I guessed it was close to 11pm when I heard Addy talking to someone from afar: “Hey! Why are you so late? And what about the rest?”

I sat up slightly and turned my head, only to see Addy talking to a petite lady, who seemed to be Jaslyn in the dark. I didn’t bother and continued staring blankly into the sky.

Then I heard someone “sneaking” towards me, as if the sound of the footsteps would interrupt my thoughts. I turned my head and realised Jaslyn was walking towards me.

“Hi……”I greeted her out of courtesy.

“Hi! Why are you alone here and not with them?”

“Umm…… Nothing really. Sometimes I just love to be alone, smoking alone, and enjoy the quiet atmosphere alone.”

“Oh……May I sit down?”

“Of course! This is not my place. Haha!” And I shifted and made space for her to sit down.

What happened next was that we just chatted throughout the night, while the rest of my classmates spent most of their time beside the barbecue pit.

Daybreak came and as the sky was lit up by the morning rays, we helped the others to pack up and I exchanged my phone number with Jaslyn before we headed home.

As I looked at her petite figure slowly disappear from my eyes that morning, I felt a little bit of happiness glowed in my heart, something that I couldn’t explain.

After that incident, we met again in a few other occasions, mostly in groups. And she would always get close to me, talk to me and even laid down on the pavement with me on Marina Bay to watch the stars. We became closer than I expected or hoped. It was only during a single date a couple of weeks later when we went for a movie, that her hand slipped into mine and I held closely, feeling happy and blessed. And we took a stroll in Marina Bay after the move. I had the first taste of being in love on that day.

But it wasn’t what I thought it was. She became cold towards me out of sudden and I was lost. I didn’t know what was going on in her mind and heart.

Weeks later, she wrote me a letter and apologised. She told me that she has done me wrong and has always treated me as her ex-boyfriend, as we had some similarities. My tears rolled as I felt a pinch in the heart when I read the letter.

Since then, she has walked out of my life and we only saw each other once in the street, leaving a vague memories in both of our hearts.

I wasn’t fated to be with her. It was as short as just 3 months. And I would always comfort myself by saying that at least I’ve had a place in her heart for a period of time, even though I was just a mistaken substitute.

There is something that brings people together, including things, that nobody is this world can really explain or understand. In Chinese, we call it 缘分, and the best word I can find in English is “Fate” (The Chinese dictionary define it as “predestined affinity”). It doesn’t really matter whether we have pursued for it or we just let nature take its course, as long as we meet each other, it is a kind of fate. We are fated to meet. But if fate does not allow, then no matter how hard we try or hope, it will never happen.

If fate decides that a person shall walk into our life, we can do nothing but to accept it.

When we were young, we have always let others walk into our life as classmates or friends, without asking for it. Somehow, they just appear out of nowhere.

As we step into the workforce, we realise that the same thing has happened again. Our colleagues come and go, and we get to know people that we have never dreamt of. We don’t decide who will be our neighbour in the work place or who will be in the same project as we do; We can’t decide who will be our bosses; We can’t dictate who will be our subordinates. None of the above is directly influenced by us, except that we have chosen that job.

I have alway been an emotional person and it became apparent when I walked into my teenage days. And naturally music and songs became something that could touch my heart and let me feelings flow. I used to walk around with my walkman on and listened to my favourite songs. Hence I knew quite a fair bit of songs in my heart.

I can still remember that I used to go to Marina Bay with my neighbourhood friends to play and sometimes we would sit by the bay and started to sing out loud, ignoring all the people walking by.

There was once I came to Marina Bay alone, and started to sing to myself (to be exact, loud enough for others to hear from a few steps away). There was a group of girls who seemed to be younger than me not far away and I guessed they have noticed a lonely young man (or boy? LOL!) singing to himself under the dark sky. Out of curiosity, they gathered around me and asked if I had just broken off with my girlfriend.

I smiled to them and told them it’s not that case and we started to chat a little bit. They made a request for me to sing for them, and I agreed. As I sang, they listened, without praises, without mocking, but just attentively. I let my feelings flowed and sang a few songs for them, before I said goodbye to them.

It was really a special encounter to me, as we have never asked about each others’ names or even talked about our personal stuffs. We just met, chat a little bit and then I sang for them.

When fate brought them to me, I accepted it gracefully. When fate left us, I faced it with happiness.

But I know I was able to accept their departure because I have not built up any feelings for them. To me, it was just a beautiful moment which will trigger a smile in my heart whenever I think of this incident.

There are so many people who will walk into our life as we walk our journey and these people contribute to the beautiful and colourful world that we live in. Putting aside human beings, even pets will sometimes walk into our life and leave us with some memories.

I remembered we had a dog in our house before and she became my pet and companion. She wasn’t a lively dog, in fact, very lethargic. I have never seen her running in our house at all, except when she was urgent and desperately needed to pee or shit. I can still recall how she would rushed out from the house and ran down to the grass patch to release whenever I came back from school.

But after a period of time, we decided not to keep her as there was no one to really take care of her when nobody was at home. So we sent her to the temple when my grandma was staying and she began to have her own company, the other dogs and lived there happily ever after.

There was once a pigeon came into our lives too. She seemed to be a lost soul and has walked into my life one day, and stayed in my house for a period time. I would bathe her, bring her down to dry her wings and she would fly around and then ended up in our kitchen (we were staying on level 2 then).

But as I woke up and stood at the entrance of the kitchen one day, I saw her standing on the window grills and looked at me. Then she flew off and never did come back. I believe she couldn’t bear to leave too, but somehow she has to. That was the last time I saw the pigeon.

My feelings for both the dog and the pigeon developed when fate brought us together, and these feelings faded as they left my world. Perhaps, time can really heal all wounds and make us forget things that hurt us in the heart, leaving just a little bit of sweet memories.

My true first love was a young lady introduced by my friends. And most of my friends was surprised that such an ugly man like me would find such a beautiful and gentle lady. We were in love for about 4 years, before we parted when I came back from the army overseas training in one of the years. That was the first time I truly experienced the heartache of parting, and my world seemed to have turned upside down.

The amazing thing that I realised in this relationship is that ever since we parted, we have not met or ran into each other along the streets, even though we were just staying in the block next to each other. I have always wondered is this really our fate?

Life went on, and I had a few other relationships that didn’t last very long, till the time I met up with my wife and build my own family.

What happened next was something that I didn’t really predict or planned. I began to be careful with making new friends and those around me left me gradually. I thought it was my choice to focus on my family that resulted in this situation but gradually I realised, it’s not only my choice, but also the situation, the surroundings and many other reasons that caused this to happen. To be exact, the fate that has brought us together has thinned along the way, as we had to take care of our own family and careers, friendship became the third priority in our life.

Our relationships became so weak, just like the flying kite, and may snap anytime and it will be gone.

In conclusion, our relationship with others are the results of fate and as long as fate allows, even if we are oceans apart, we will meet one day. During one of my darkest hours in life, I have walked into the Chinese world of writings and made a few Chinese friends in the internet. We chatted and talked about essay writing. Imagine 2 persons talking to each other over the internet and yet do not know how each other look like, but we can share our opinions on essay writings and we call each other friends. Other than fate itself, I can’t explain how this could have happened.

in the real world, I kept myself in my own world and treated most people as passers by in my life. The only people who have really walked into my life in the past 10 years are TC, AN, EW and KK. And yet, they are slowly walking out of my life too.

Putting aside friendship and love, for whoever we meet in our life is the result of fate. Else I cannot explain how would two person become related to each other (somehow) at a certain place, at a certain time.

There are people whom we dislike very much, but he (or she) will just appear in your daily life and we have no choice but to continue to work with him (or her). There are people we love very much, but our distance seem to be so far and there’s really nothing we can do to improve it.

As our fate to be together gets deeper, we became colleagues, then friends, then perhaps confidantes, or even lovers and finally family members. And being fated to be together doesn’t represent our wishes, while not fated to be together doesn’t mean we do not love anymore, for there are people whom we wish to be with are forced to leave us for reasons that are beyond one’s control.

I have a lady friend who once told me about her marriage life. She has been married for 2 years, yet she isn’t happy at all. Instead, she regretted at times. She has held on to the marriage for the sake of their children, as she hopes to give her children a complete family. In reality, she is not able to accept the bad habits and irresponsible behaviour of her husband. They would argue over small little things and she feels miserable. She told me that there were times she hoped that her husband will not come home that night, so that she could happily spend time with her child alone in the house.

I have another internet friend who just got divorced recently, after years of struggles. She has been bullied and “tortured” by her husband for years but again, she has held on for the sake of their child. Now that their child has grown up, she has finally woke up and made the decision to abandon this marriage. She told me that if she had known that her decision to stay has also affected her child, she would have made the choice long ago. And now she’s a happy woman.

Are these considered complete families? Will they truly bring happiness to their children? I guess viewpoints will differ a lot. But what I feel is that it is again the result of fate. Fate has brought them together and as long as they are fated to be together, no matter how unhappy or how torturous life was for them, they would not take the path of divorce. But once fate is gone, my internet friend made up her mind and chose her own destiny.

There is a story in the Buddhist teaching that goes this way:

A man came to know of her ex-girlfriend getting married, but he was not the bridegroom. He felt puzzled and asked Buddha why did things happen like this when he has loved her so much.

Buddha waved his hand and showed him a scene. In the scene, the woman was lying dead on the beach naked. Then a man walked past and saw the naked body. Out of kindness, he found a piece of cloth and covered the lady with it and continued his journey. Then came another man who saw the naked body too. Out of kindness and compassion, the man dug and buried the woman.

Buddha told the man: “In the last life, when you walked past the woman, you have helped to cover her body out of kindness. And she has come back to return your kindness by becoming your girlfriend. But she has a greater debt that she needs to repay, and that is the man who has buried her in her last life. That man is today her husband.”

In reality, we are all bounded by fate, be it just a normal passer-by, or friends, or lovers or family members, it’s fate that bring us together. If we are fated to be together, it’s a debt that we need to repay in this life. But if we are not fated to be together, no matter how hard we try, we will still belong as a “hi” and “bye” kind of relationship, or worse, will never get to see each other again.

I have ever told EW this before: let me love you as a friend while we are still friends. It’s a love for a sister or a friend, something very dear in my heart, for I know that once fate decides to let us part, we will become strangers and I can no longer love her anymore.

And true enough, today we are strangers. And it hurts me to know that I have lost someone that I truly call as a friend.

Henceforth, no matter is it love, friendship or kinship, what we truly need is fate. And we need to learn how to let go gracefully when fate decides that we will have to part.

If you are reading this blog now, have you ever thought of how I have come into your life for this very moment? Perhaps we are already friends, perhaps you have accidentally clicked on something and chance upon this essay.

We are fated to meet in this essay and the moment you finished reading, our fate may decide that we will continue to be strangers. You are just a reader who has read my blog before.

I have always believed that there is something in this universe that controls everything in this world. And mankind has felt helpless towards this invisible hand, as we can’t see it, we can’t touch it. The only thing we can do is to face it and accept it.

Enlightenment does not come easily, some may take a lifetime to understand the truth of life, while some may suddenly wake up and realised that life is just being able to accept the facts of life.

Are we fated to be with each other, it’s really beyond our control.

Have you ever thought of how you are connected to all the things around you? Did you have control over it?

I know, viewpoints will always differ, for many will say, our life is in our hands.

03.07.2016

Francis Lim

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