What You Leave Behind..

Andy Warhol

We all want to do something significant. We want to leave a part of us behind for everyone else to remember us by. We buy all these things and then we write a will about who’ll get what. That’s the part of us we leave behind for them and they’ll leave behind to their kids and for generations this will be passed around and you will be known as the person to whom it belonged. You will be remembered through that object.

I was at an Andy Warhol exhibit in Singapore a few years ago. I loved the art, the creativity, the small facts I got to learn about him. Spread across many different walls were quotes. His quotes. As a writer, I love reading quotes and thinking about what it might have meant to that person when they said it but when I read this particular quote, I didn’t care. I didn’t care what it meant to him or what he was thinking when he said it because this quote was all about me. It spoke to me in a way that I can’t explain. It was every thought I had ever had about death – My death. Andy Warhol had read my mind before I even existed.

Death is one of the most commonly occuring thought processes in my mind. Last night, right before I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about the number of people that would be affected should I die that very second. My close family is a given and I can’t stop them from feeling miserable about it but the outsiders. The friends I’ve made and the people I affect. The ones that choose to love me and the ones I presume our affectionate towards me, though I may be wrong. How many of them will actually have a day when they pick up their phones just to realize I’m not alive for them to call? How many will miss me? This was the best thought I have had in a very long time.

I hate to admit this to anyone because it always rubs off the wrong way – I’m a control freak. If something is a certain way, it has to be that way. If you make a plan to meet me, you better show up. Do not call me in the very last minute and say “I can’t make it.” I’ll understand. But I will also be so so annoyed because that just completely wrecked my day. A few years ago my brother and I were supposed to go birthday shopping. He ditched me last minute. Even today, I always call him ten minutes before I leave to ensure he’s going to make it. And it’s difficult to find a friend that is not annoyed by this. Someone who understands and accepts this part of you.

They say a friend is the only person who doesn’t judge you for your choices and sticks with you no matter what and I got to realize exactly who they were in my life last night and I felt bad. Because when I die, I affect some of the kindest people I’ve known. Is that really what I want?

This is why I think suicide is selfish. It’s not cowardly. It’s not stupid. It’s selfish. When a person decides to take his own life, he is only thinking about himself. He is only thinking about ending his misery. He doesn’t stop to think just how many people around him, how many loved ones will suffer for the rest of their lives because he chose not to care about anyone but himself. They will live forever wondering why they didn’t see. Why they didn’t help. Don’t you think Robin Williams’ daughter wonders that? His friends? His family? His colleagues?

A long time ago, I had this plan – When I’m old and done with all my responsibilities, I want to throw a party. A big one to invite everyone that’s ever known me. And if any of them ever wanted to write a euology, they can write one and read it to me at that party because seriously, what’s the point of saying nice things to me once I’m dead? So I just want them to read it. And I’ll say goodbye and I’ll take a little bit of the money I’ve earned in my life, pack my bags, erase or throw away any object that could remind the people that love me that I’m no longer there and just leave. They won’t know where I am. They won’t know if I’m alive or dead. I’d have vanished. Like Andy Warhol said he’d like to do.

Because we can’t live in fear. We can’t keep away from the ones we love, the ones who love us just because we’re afraid of the scar we’ll leave behind. We can’t not make memories in fear of those incredible moments turning into nightmares someday. But there is something we can do :

We can stop spending our times accumulating materialistic things and instead just care and be compassionate. We can learn to be kind and show others what living can truly mean. We can save something that five generations wouldn’t just pass around but would talk about. Would want to live upto.

Because the things you leave may rot and fade but the memories and life lessons – they’re here to stay.

The People Around You

When we’re walking on the streets, wrapped up in our thoughts, we forget that there’s a world that’s buzzing with life around us.. Have you ever stopped and looked at someone and wondered? Have you ever looked at a teenager and wondered what kind of home they go back to? Have you ever stopped and stared at a person in a suit and wondered what kind of pathetic boss they work for? Have you ever smiled at a kid that is enjoying whatever little time he/she has left as an innocent before the big bad world corrupts their brain? Do you ever take a moment of your journey to look at someone’s life other than yours? I did once and it changed every journey I ever took from that day on..

It was a regular day back from university to my apartment and I was so wrapped up with music and social networking that I almost didn’t notice.. You know how we have friends? We laugh, we fight, we giggle, we tease and we make the lamest jokes in the world? I saw a gang of seven people, in an MRT, do that.. through sign language. I might not have understood everything they signed, but I understood that laughter, I understood what it meant when one of those guys shook his head and closed his eyes while laughing uncontrollably.. I looked around me and saw every person around them stare at them in awe and they didn’t even know about it.. I will never forget the tiny tear a woman wiped from her eyes as she looked at these people who have so much more to whine about than you and I do, but yet they were so happy, so filled with joy..

Somehow, since then, I always look around, I always notice.. Those old aunties who laughed so much they had tears coming from their eyes, that cute couple that would not stop staring into each other’s eyes so so lovingly that it started to annoy the shit out of me, that little kid that dangled her legs because her feet wouldn’t touch the ground, that random kid who smiled at me for no reason when standing in line at Starbucks, that girl at the market that always gives me and my mum some extra vegetables out of kindness, that mother who was texting her husband about their divorce while still cooing at her daughter in the pink tutu, the mentally ill homeless guy that wandered near my old house and always had a smile to give, that old woman selling bananas who probably went back to a small house with barely any food to eat and yet asks you how you’re doing..

Take a moment, look around you.. Look at every life around you.. At all the happiness around you.. At all the people that are probably in way more shit than you’re in right now.. And give them a smile, just because.

For all you know, that’s probably the best thing that happened to them all day..