Ceremonial Emptiness

I’m not a big fan of ceremonies. They are meant to be important, and important things make me alert and/or nervous. This might explain my tendency to play down at those “big” moments.

When I first got into university, I perceived attending graduation ceremony as a privilege, for a small portion of people. They can have the somehow luxurious time staying in one of the most expensive cities, with a clear idea of where they are heading to afterwards; their family and friends will all gather together for this grand thing happening in their beloved’s life. I’ve also enjoyed attending some of my best friends’ grad ceremonies in the past few years. I’d be lying if I had never dreamt about my own grad.

And yet, it played out so differently for me.

Prior to the ceremony, I’ve been working for exactly a month. After a few breakdowns about my own identity and future, which involved nights of ugly crying in my room sans fenêtres, I thought I’d be ready to say my final farewell with my time as a Bachelor’s student. Specifically, I thought I was set to fare thee well with a careless attitude. I asked for a day off at work and went back to campus for my convocation. It was a chaotic morning and early afternoon. I wanted to make everyone content and felt important, because they were/are a part of my uni life. I should’ve taken the easy way out – create an event on facebook, post a moment on wechat, and have whoever care about this photo booth kind of thing come. I was supposed to stay after mine for other friends’, and that was when it hit me – this ceremony, big or little, does not change anything we’ve done for it. Taking a photo with my friends on this day wouldn’t consolidate out bond, tripping on the stage wouldn’t make me a disgrace or a legend, and not saying goodbyes wouldn’t un-end the journey. What’s done is done.

I didn’t have a convocation for high school graduation, but what we did have was a celebration for stepping into adulthood. It was in December 2013, and my dad came. He was so happy for the whole thing, as it supposed to brighten up those stressful days before CEE (College Entrance Examinations). He said to me, “This would be the first time I walk you through the arch. Next time I witness something this grand would be at your college convocation. And the time after, I will walk you down the aisle.” I already knew that he wouldn’t come to my convocation this time months before the convocation. Although I told everyone it as going to be okay since I’ll have more ceremonies in the future, it was a loss to me.

I think a huge part of my emptiness comes from the idea, that there would not be one absolutely right pathway for my future. I was scared, hence all the screaming in my head. Luckily, dad knows how this works. All in all, he verbalized my emotions and feelings. He’s still the person who would “take those dreams and make them all come true”, but this time, I’m gonna do it my way, as the person he and grandma raised me to be.

We went to Victoria on Saturday; Pam and her family took Einer, Elaine and I on the trip that I’d been trying to plan out since my day one in BC. Again, funny how time goes by. Pam, Elaine and I met on the first day of our international orientation; looking back on that, it felt like centuries ago. I can’t stop thinking about how perfect the timeline lays out: met on the first day of uni -> trip on the sea on the first day after uni.

There was a period when I disliked Vancouver and BC – It didn’t fit my preference and my personality at the time. Now, it’s a whole different story. Maybe because I’d never taken my time to appreciate how much it offers. Saturday proved the old me wrong. I love BC. I love the ocean, I love the summer breeze, I love the right amount of light I can get during this season. Mostly, amongst all the elements and factors, I like the people I’m hanging out with these days. It takes, and it is gonna take, all my life to figure out what kind of person I wanna be, as well as what kind of people I wanna be around with.

A final (yet not-so final) thought here. Very loose.

In our third year, a friend of mine proposed his takes on humanity. He believes that everyone is selfish. Everyone is doing things for his or her own pleasure. A mother raises her child because she can be accepted by the society and hence feels good about herself; a person takes kind actions for his satisfaction from achieving and others’ praises.

I was going to defend myself (and my fellow human beings) at that point, but I couldn’t find an argument.

These days moonlighting as a crisis responder, I think i have my own take now.

Some people do things for selfish reasons, as all the reasons can be rationalized back to sentiments, subjectively. Who doesn’t like to feel good about themselves?

However, that will not be my motive to do the right things. Or in my specific case, do my job right. Helping people as much as I can, solely for their feeling better after encountering us as an alliance, a lifeline. If I can achieve that, I wouldn’t complain about having to stay awake till 4 am. because I’ve done it, in the right way, for others.

With that said, when I am 80 years old and look back on what I have done, I hope I’ve done my job by putting people in need before myself, having an altruistic mindset along my pathway. And maybe, have some good time trotting around the globe.

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