Recently I visited a community I used to frequent but haven’t dropped by for a while. It was meant to be a short visit but I ended up meeting and conversing with some people that I was held back for several hours. It was nice catching up with these people and see how they’ve been doing in the interim years. Well, about that last part ….
Nothing much has changed actually. People are pretty much the same. They’ve been doing the same things, having pretty much the same routines as far as I’m aware of …. Kids have grown up to become teenagers, teenagers have been married and have got kids of their own, some adults have retired …. But apart from this natural passage of time, the rest of the community seems pretty much the way I remember it from a couple of years ago.
I remember chatting with an acquaintance of mine, a Japanese professor who’ve left Japan to study in Europe for a good number of years. When he came back to live in Japan again, he felt sickened by the uniformity of Japanese lifestyle, the way people have been living the way they had always been living … there’s barely any change and everyone seemed to be stuck in the past.
That mental impression is somehow what I experienced for the very first time. I felt dizzy. It was like a time travel for me, meeting these people who’ve been (or at least they seem to be) very content with the way things are. I wondered, “Don’t you want to leave and at least get a glimpse of the world?”, “Have you actually seen the world and deliberately decided that this is the best, it’s where you want to be and stay for the rest of your lives?”, “The world has been changing a lot! Why are you still doing the thing in the same way you’ve been doing it?”
Well I guess from some people’s perspectives, it’s not the world that’s been changing a lot – as far as they’re concerned, it was me who’ve changed a lot.
For the very first time in my life, I had this distinct sense of time rupture. We’re standing on different planes now and they’re moving in different direction with different speed. Some aspects of these people’s lives are no longer recognisable or agreeable to me. Some are straightforward shocking, while some other are reminiscent of my own past …. They caused mixed feelings – and undeniably strange ones for me.
Looking back, I’m reminded of a dictum a friend told me: “We’ve passed our kindergarten years here. It’s time to move on to our elementary and onward ….”
It’s sad finding some people get stuck in the past. But then again, it’s my very subjective view. Certainly these people have their own reasons for their apparent being stuck … they may even feel sorry for me for being uprooted, for having to sojourn through a lonely path, or who knows for what other reasons incomprehensible to me.
As with jealousy, I guess feeling sorry is oftentimes plainly unnecessary – although it helps to stop and reflect on the journey I’ve been through all these years.