Treadmill Life

= n. A state of living whereby a being is in synch with self adjusted pace. Failure to observe adequate pace can cause prolong heartache from disappointment and exhaustion in trying to keep up.

‘I’m pregnant!’ My friend is overjoyed with the prospect of a parasite growing within her for the next 8 months (I’ve yet to comprehend). These 2 words nearly broke the glass and sounded the alarm within me, throwing me into days of questioning my existence and achievement as a human being.

Yes, I fear I’m running a treadmill life – trotting on the same spot when the outside world changes on me.

The alarm first sounded after graduation when I thought I was not in pace with society. Typically (as all of my friends had done), it should take 3-6 months to find a job. It took me 8 months.

Then, it was my parents who rang off the alarm. With friends around me getting married, my parents claimed that my singleness is driving them to their grave. They were going through the stages of grief of a cancer patient: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. My single hood is the growing cancer to them. By this stage, they were bargaining with their life for some action. I loathe the next 2 stages.

Society, parents and friends project their perception of life paces. Any departure from the steps they are familiar with brings questions. One should try to marry before a certain age and start a family. One should also be a manager by then or have a clear career progression. To my dear friends, I seem to run in the same spot with no progress.

Matching the pace of desire was an obsession for years. I strived to be within expectation. I was running on the treadmill with the speed meter set by others. No wonder; I was twisting my ankles, unable to anchor a rhythm. I was dancing a rumba to a cha cha.

When we forget about the outside rumble and focus on the beat within, everyone has a rhythm. In my own jazz, I’ve built muscles of confidence I exercise to assert my being. I don’t worry that people will think of me as ‘just a suit’ if I talk about my work with passion. I should not worry if I’d die alone in my apartment and be eaten by a cat (there’s no way I’d keep a cat!). Love can find me anytime but I’m not looking (desperately). All in good time, there can only be 1 on the treadmill. My life, my pace? 

To think that I can change the pace of life will be delusive. As much as my life depends on the nature that surrounds me, it also depends on people in the world. But I learn there is a small notch I can control and when I don’t fight the pace, I can actually enjoy it. It is a humbling experience to learn that you are not the all powerful force that can control every aspect of life. To be subjected to what life dishes out would be cowardly. To embrace it, requires courage to face life up-front and decide that no matter what happens, I have power over my reaction.

Actually, I have a choice over my exercise too. Frankly, treadmill’s not really my thing, I’d much rather dance through life…

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