A Year of the Self

by perpetualflaneur


Today, I write with a new perspective, a fresh take on life, as my recent experience has taught me. The timing has never been perfect. The events that transpired provide a perfect closure to this year and offer a beginning for the next. But before losing myself in the thought of my past and the idea of having a future, let me express how I am grateful for this present, my present.

What am I vaguely describing and alluding to? Have I been touched by the Universe so deeply that I have recently reevaluated how I would like to choose to live my life? Well, there comes a time in one’s life, out of the many if I may say, when we encounter instances that may not change one drastically but at least it serves as a single spark that can rouse a sleeping atom. Unfortunately, my brief encounter had to take place on a plane in a 13-hour flight. I was for a good 15 minutes deprived of life as I know it.

At first, it was like any other flight I’ve had. I went through the usual route, with the check-ins and inspections, my pre-flight meal of French Fries and Hot Fudge Sundae, and long and funny goodbyes with my siblings. I was ready to go, as eager as the first time I found out that I’ll be traveling. I went in and found our seats. We’ve placed our carry-ons in the luggage bin, and I’ve taken out two of my in-flight reads. In short, I was ready to go. Little did I know that with all the preparations I’ve done, I was definitely not prepared for what will ensue six hours into my flight.

I tried sleeping during the flight. After dinner was served, I took off my shoes and wore those socks they provided (together with a small one-time use toothbrush and toothpaste). I was feeling A-okay. Actually, I was in tip-top shape! Or so I thought! So after a few attempts of finding that perfect position to rest, I probably slept intermittently for about an hour. Suddenly, I just woke up feeling dizzy, with darkened vision, and shortness of breath, and then, I passed out. Ah, the horror of passing out while up in the air!

Just before I passed out, in between full and semi-consciousness, I kept on telling myself that I can’t pass out, that this shouldn’t be happening, that of all the times I was actually on land why should it happen now? For some reason, I really thought that it was the last straw for me, the last time I’ll have thoughts in my head, that I’ll feel, that I’ll live. With the help of a doctor (who was also a passenger! how lucky was I!), members of the crew, my parents, two small oxygen tanks, and some medical concoctions, I regained my strength, vision, and full consciousness!

So, there goes that snippet of what transpired, and this is why I am writing about this. During those 15 minutes of uncertainty, I must admit I was scared. I was scared because I still have so much I want to accomplish in my life, that I still have so many things to share with my loved ones, that I still have yet to tell them the things I want to say, that I still want to explore the world that I live in. In short, I was scared because I still want to live and do the things living beings in my capacity do.

It was not a near-death experience, no. That is too grand a story to tell. It was, as I like to put it, my very own year-end experience, one that puts my life this year in perspective. Perhaps, it was the Universe’s way of communicating with me directly. As I always do, I humbly accept this year’s lessons with an open heart and mind, most of which I’ll keep to myself.

Throughout the course of this piece, I had wanted it to be short and simple. To reflect the things I have learned based on my experiences, highlighting this very recent mishap. But in the end, I have found another realization. That yes, this year is the year I have spent with every aspect of myself, be it intellectually, culturally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. That yes, during those 15 minutes, I realized that I love myself dearly (narcissism aside!) and that I believe in my capacity to do more, to live more. All the while, I had been thinking of how I am with others that I have forgotten how to be.

If there is anything I’d like to share it’s this: if I could give each year a theme, I’d brand this one with the “Year of the Self.” Not that I was a loner or selfish throughout the year, I am neither, but altogether with everything that had happened and I’ve done, I was left to my own devices. I have learned so much about myself, of how I truly am, and continuously so, more this year than my years in college. There really is a time for everything, and I am humbled by this year in all aspects of my life. I learned to be with myself more, and I still am knowingly doing so. I learned to accept my shortcomings and my strengths. I laughed. I cried. I danced. I sang. I wrote. I read. I drove. I walked. I ran. I breathed in and out. In sum, this year, I’ve been with what I’d like to call myself, and I am thankful for that opportunity.

As the holidays are upon us and as we start a new year, what I would like you to take from this rather long prose is that maybe it’s time for you to have your own year. A year that does not exclude others, but a year that is aware of the self, of how you truly are. Consider my passing on a spark to you, hoping to ignite something within, as a year-end gift!