back to the school of life

Confucius once said, ‘By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.’ I’ve been an imitator (and still am to some degree), and experiences I have, by the barrels. Perhaps it’s time to take the noblest route. Here are my lessons learned in the past one week. Ouch.

1. I love bright red lipstick. It makes me look wide awake and happy. This is important because of point number 2.

2. It’s possible for the human body to experience an extreme range of emotions, within 6 hours. I can’t recall the last time I had to switch emotions and mindsets so quickly, depending on the room I needed to walk in to, and the people I had to face. It feels like I’ve been running to stand still.

3. A night’s sleep isn’t good enough to rest you when the day was emotional. I sleep as much as I can, and wake up feeling as tired as when I collapsed into bed.

4. Life can be complex. And you can still be happy. Seriously. You know the feeling of relief, pain and sheer tiredness you get when you leave the dentist after a root canal? It’s less a pop and more the deflated sizzle of victory. Yet you smile, albeit crookedly, while you bleed.

5. Dressing up is fun when it’s camouflage. We women dress for many reasons; to impress or attract, to make a statement or to hide how we feel. When I feel really down, my clothing gets more outrageous and colourful. And the past one week has seen me in a bright yellow and white dress, hot pink pants, rainbow-hued floral scarves…

6. Camouflage doesn’t work on me. Especially with the people I know. I walked into the boardroom a few days ago and the first thing my boss said was, ‘Hey! You must be feeling down! You’re dressed really brightly today.’ Yes. I am a book. Go read me.

7. Quiet talks are still my favourite mode of communication. I can be social when necessary but give me a choice and I prefer heart-to-heart talks. Like the conversation I had with a running partner, another I had in a car, and interestingly… the ‘talks’ I had with the boss.

8. I love change. I hate change. Wanting it is different from actually stepping in to it.

9. Playing inane games on the iPhone can be good. I’ve stopped lying to myself that I am merely ‘maintaining’ the fashion boutique for someone else who used my iPhone. I am doing it for myself. There’s something so ridiculous powerful about purchasing clothing, expanding my store and visiting my neighbours that I am now hooked. Simply because it’s the one thing I can control in my roller-coaster life.

10. I couldn’t have chosen a worse time to run a marathon. 42km awaits me in December and I can now run for only an hour. That’s 1/6 the duration of what I’ll have to face. The sobbing faces of people sitting by the road in immense pain because they decided to run a marathon without actually training effectively for it? That might just be me. Hand me the muscle rub.

And yet all these things I’ve learned cannot prepare me for the ultimate test – my future. But hey, at least I’m shouldering on, with a bright red smile and yellow dress on. Maybe I’ll wear orange on my long run tomorrow…

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