Our current self is an amalgamation of past ideas, rituals, foods, and landscapes, of past relationships and experiences. And while the future may be abstract and uncertain, the past is concrete and specific in defining us. To grow up in one of the most corrupted and dictatorial regimes more than instilled a few tinges of embarassment everytime I was asked where my origins, as if my parents and the people around me were guilty of failing to rise and seek a fairer future. I blamed the Buddhist culture for fostering a passive and pacifist environment, and I readily embraced the aggressive, meritocratic American attitude.
College (a rich, private one that I was very lucky and grateful to attend) afforded me a few glimpses into the pitfalls of rampant consumerism, but it only represented a semi-supervised controlled environment for immature teenagers like myself to suspend reality for four more years. Only upon settling in New York, the epitome of the polar opposite of my childhood upbringing in Burma did it dawn of my folly ways. To feel sharp ennui and dissatisfaction in both ideologies after experiencing the two extremes, I yearned and gravitated towards the center. I was searching for myself, and I wanted to find my character and virtue. Unsurprisingly, the past one and a half years have yielded only a few truths in my ongoing metamorphosis of thought and worldview.
"Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it." This quote - so oft derided, but yet it is the past that unconsciously imbues the incremental strength and wisdom in all of us. And I have been no exception - the initial 22 years of my existence toiling to brush away the inevitable past. But as I holed up to shield from the wintery sub-zero winds, I was lonely. I was subsisting on peanut butter, falafel and pizza, instead of fried rice with boiled peas and coconut curry noodles. I missed the genuine smiles and warmth, and sick of the conniving politics of capitalism. I was exhausted from the indentured servitude, to sacrifice five days for two precious days, and to have it on repeat ad infinium. Was sprinting on the hedonic treadmill for our next suffocating high truly worth it? Then aren't we just journeying on our own personal Cretan labyrinth of wage and debt slavery, only to face the minotaur, of death in the end?
And now as I approach my quarter century, unshackled from the scrutinizing glare of teenage socialization and free to choose my own niche of interests and ideas, I learned a couple unshakable tenets to my core personality. I am slowly embracing that past.
I love simplicity and efficiency. The two go hand in hand. With a mind prone to logical overanalysis, I'm constantly trying to break life down to its routine constituent parts. In turn, I've adopted a simple diet, and a simple perspective on my health and well-being. Friendship and love are no different. After all, the best things in life don't and shouldn't cost a thing. I aim to minimize the drama and stress, and will avoid and eliminate high-maintenance people and activities.
Simplicity doesn't mean unsophistication.
"... your body goes through puberty in its teens, and the mind goes through puberty in your twenties" - Zach Braff, on Garden State