Except probably for introverts with a steady job and without underlying health conditions in a comfortable lock down arrangement, this has not been an easy year.
My lock down experience has been both healing and growing. Crazy homesick for Yangon, separated from loved ones and physically alone, fending for myself here in London. With a ton of walking; so the new HAIM album is literally my quarantine summer anthem this year.
All this time in hand and a dearth of distractions make for a perfect storm for self-reflection … and overthinking of my life choices dating back to my college graduation year. Down the rabbit hole of the Quarantine Subconscious, I wake up at 5am these days when I’d rather stay asleep with questions like:
Is impact investing a hoax? Is climate-financing the new green washing? Is it too late? If so, should I be caring more about money?
Should I cut some slack with boys, or am I right to protect myself? Did I fold too soon when I could have just checked? Would I care without quarantine?
Would I have been happier as a suburban mom in the American South vs. my lonely quarantine existence in London with an expired Schengen visa?
How would my life be different if I had taken the offer to work for a hospital chain or a Fintech company close to family in Myanmar?
Have I been living my best life? Have I been true to myself?
“Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.”
– Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela passed yesterday, exactly eleven years after the quiet death of Myanmar’s strongman and dictator former General Ne Win.
Memory works in curious ways. Certain dates, you remember without any concretely strong emotional ties to the event. The evening I heard the news of Ne Win, I was dining with my family at Summer Palace Restaurant at Traders, while a Myanmar actress Htet Htet Moe Oo celebrated her wedding reception downstairs in the same hotel.
Mandela will always be remembered fondly but which one of the two will be remembered more readily in eleven years from now? The good guy or the bad guy? I wonder.
I like to have background noise when I am studying. So I had CNN on for a while. I have not yet cried once ever since I arrived in Peru but when I saw all these disasters in Indonesia, Philippines, Samoa and India, I thought I was watching The Notebook, only a little more realistic.
Then, I saw a CNN program called The Stories Untold and it featured Margaret Moth. She is a badass former CNN correspondent that was diagnosed with cancer two and a half years ago. Her real name is Margaret Wilson but she did not enjoy taking after the husband’s last name and thus picked up her own last name, Moth. Young, beautiful with large eyes and dark hair, she was also an animal lover. She refused to take horse carts and instead ran alongside the horse! She is famous for being brave in taking shots at war zones and conflict areas. She was badly shot in Sarajevo but returned after more than a dozen operations. She was badass.
This documentary kind of reminds me of the Japanese journalist that was killed in Yangon, namely Kenji Nagai. He survived a bunch of international hell’s dens but died from two/three gun shots in front of the Bogyoke Market. Why is his bravery not celebrated in the same way? Why not a documentary about him? Both journalists are relentlessly courageous and toured around war zones armed only with cameras. One dies unfortunately at work and that was the end of him. The AP journalist that took a picture of Nagai’s body from a building won an international media award. On the other hand, this woman survives and becomes a celebrity. Why does this happen? I do believe in chance now.
In any case, I found her courage aspiring. She laughs and talks about her cancer. She said she would have been panicked by now if she had lived a boring life. Now that she has been to places that you can’t just go by purchasing tickets from the tour operator, now that she has experienced in what the locals have been through in an extremely real manner, she is okay with her cancer. She said: “I don’t think it matters whether you are alive or dead as long as you can say that you have gotten everything out of life.”