I spoke about Miri again tonight.
Where do I even begin? My Summer Break Series tag collection would probably provide some insights, but I’ll attest that it doesn’t do the entire experience justice – not because my sentiments when I wrote them were untrue, not at all, rather very simply, it’s true that wisdom comes with age, and hindsight through reflection. Two months shy of an entire year since I first relocated there for a couple of months, those momentous two months were soul-defining and conscience-filled like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in my life thus far. Twenty-two and still, I don’t know any better.
Even now, as I mull over all that had taken place and how I left as a different person, I continue to be astounded that there is still so much of the world and most importantly, my world to be seen, learn, felt and experienced. It’s not about treading the miles – it’s not about how far one has ventured in one’s life, it’s not about how many cities one has visited, how many continents one has mapped in a lifetime –
It’s what one does, where one is.
It’s what you do with what you have, where you are. It’s in how you treat others around you and your surroundings; it’s in the everyday things you observe, it’s in the smallest of gestures, it’s in understanding another person’s plight, it’s in trying to imagine being in another person’s shoes… It’s in everything of the world around you – your world – and what you do with what your conscience tells, nudges, cajoles and probes at you, every second of every day. Are you paying attention?
These things… They don’t need to happen on some supposed other side of the world, supposed grass is greener, supposed developed nation or even slums. It’s really your existing presence.
I say this often because I fully realize how extremely fortunate I am, coming where I am from, to have the opportunities that I do. Studying abroad is overrated, perhaps that is true, but the stripped down truth for so many Malaysians – and I don’t know if they realize this or not, those scholars like me who’s obtained the chance to realize our dreams and receive overseas education – is that this is still far and few, when compared to other equally bright young Malaysians who’d die for these same opportunities but did not obtain them. To every single one of us, it’s an opportunity and thus, a privilege.
I speak about it too often I think, but I want to always remember, lest I forget. I want to always remember, because then I’ll remember exactly what I must do and why I must honor these blessings that have come my way. Those two months spent in a small town away from my comfort zones, away from the urban settings and resources I’d grown so dependent upon without thought – seeing, rubbing shoulders, communicating and living with people from way more humbled backgrounds… My heart’s mind doesn’t know how to undo observations and for once, I’m glad.
Miri’s taught me so many things, too many, as a person. Tonight I remember it once more, infinitely grateful and struck by the realization that of course, as it’s always been from the very beginning… How I keep receiving from it, while never giving back enough. You’re such a small town with big spunk, that you are.
I’ll return once this detour of 2 years is completed, I promise.