“I’ve been to Tokyo, the United States and Europe. Now, I’ll ask my children to go to the moon.”
I chuckled to myself.
Something about the moon has always intrigued me. I am constantly looking up for the moon in the night sky. Perhaps this stemmed from growing up on space movies and imagining myself onboard the USS Enterprise on interstellar adventures exploring the vast unknown.
So, there I was seated in Kayo San’s dimly lit tree house café in Okinawa, with the rain pattering against the window — I began to think about what my own journey to the moon might be like.
Listening to stories about his success abroad and experiences back home, I realised that he too was unsure of what he wanted to do at my age. All he knew was that he did not want to stay and slave on his parents’ farm in Okinawa. And so he mustered as much brain juice his 18-year-old brain could offer to come up with a foolproof plan. He applied for the only three courses that universities in Okinawa did not offer, left to get a medical technology degree and was finally free.
Yet over the years, realities of life and circumstances called him back to the island time and time again. Later, he begrudgingly settled down in the exact same place he so badly wanted to escape. And it was here he rediscovered his childhood hideout spot among the trees that sparked something within him. At age 62 , Kayo San found his calling, building tree houses.
Kayo San’s story reminded me of a mini epiphany I had during a DYL workshop I attended last year — perhaps, it is possible to not know where I am headed yet lead a life full of meaning and purpose. Ever since I was little, I was conditioned to think that having a concrete plan and knowing exactly what you want out of life meant that you had it all figured out, that you were going to make it. It was the only way that I could be successful. I soon became increasingly uncomfortable with this concept of not knowing what is next. And for the first time in my life, after graduating from junior college, the possibilities were endless. There were no milestones that were set ahead for me, no more major national exams to ace and no rigid school system dictating what could be.
Hence, I began my post A-Levels journey to seek for this mysterious “clarity” that was supposed to set me up for life. I was determined to try as many different things as possible, from internships to travel experiences to simple things such as putting myself out there, in hopes that I would be able to find that one thing that I would feel this burning passion for. Yet, it did not come.
Frustrated and slightly dejected, I shared my thoughts with the other participants in the workshop and they did say that my plan could work, but therein lay a deeper problem — uncertainty was always going to be a part of life. I had to find a way to live, no, thrive in this space of uncertainty rather than always be on the hunt for ways to mitigate it. It occurred to me that just like in my daydreams of a life on a massive starship, maybe life lies in exploring strange new places, to seek out new people and new possibilities and to boldly go forth.
Just like Kayo San, life could be approached in a different way; we don’t really need to fixate plans for the future and simply just go with life’s flow. Oddly enough, I found myself slowly coming to terms with this idea and listening to people like Kayo San doing the same made the journey ahead seem less daunting and lonely.
I dare say that the some people are lucky; they are born into this world with a clear and direct way to the moon. They know exactly where they want to land and how to get there. While others, like Kayo San, pave their own way, stumbling along the way, exposed to the turbulent conditions yet eventually still finding their way to the moon.
I too am beginning to broaden my understanding of what I previously thought was possible, that perhaps by dropping what I thought was the “right” or “safe” thing to do, I would arrive at the moon on my own terms. I want to explore all that space and time has to offer even if it means facing the occasional blackhole or fighting an intelligent AI plotting to kill all sentient beings. I think I would still enjoy every second of it.
Good luck and Godspeed, I guess?
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A planned exploration, six months later, 3778 kilometres away from Singapore into Okinawa further reinforced the qualities and attitude Peiying was to bring forth with her in her journey of exploration. This time, too, with a sense of appreciation. The Do Your Life career workshop gave her a launchpad to reframe what fear of the unknown could look like. The Bold experience at Okinawa enabled her to prototype it further. If you’d like to experience either one of these, be bold today and drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org .We’ll be journey with you to #BeBoldBeYou