the life of a jellybean

I belong to the group of people who will spend $48 on a tub of jellybeans so that I can have a greater absolute number of caramel popcorn, marshmallow, and butterscotch jellybeans, and grudgingly eat the rest only when I am desperate for sweets. I wish I could customize my own tub of flavours that I enjoy and ignore the rest. Which is kind of like life, I wish I could pick and choose which experiences I want in this buffet spread called ‘trials, tribulations, and your favourite things to do before you die’.

Mortality has been on my mind for a few years now. Ever since I turned 17, I have been aware that my time on earth is steadily dwindling down to the last few years. That means a lot less time for bullshit like crappy people who pretend to be friends when it suits them, and less time for escapist methods like alcohol and smoking- I don’t want to spend years in a funk, only to realise that it was for nothing. Wasted time in a very short life.

It also means a lot more time to invest in things that I do want to achieve. I really want to experience forest bathing- the Japanese term for going to the forest and relaxing, and see the sunlight creep between the leaves of the trees. To breathe in the first air when the sun rises and know that it is the start of a new day. To lie on the grass tickling my ears, with the cows and horses just on the other side of the hill, and appreciate nature. Know that as a human I cannot change the world around me.

The idea of dying painlessly is attractive to some- those who are suffering right now and can see no way out of their pain. It is an end to everything that they know. And they prefer that route.

But to me, a relatively healthy person who can’t travel out of the country but can travel in her mind, dying painlessly is not attractive. It means an end to all my experiences. I won’t be able to know what it feels like to breathe, to climb mountains, and to roll down a grassy patch like a honey bear. Or what raindrops against the windowpane sounds like. It means leaving behind all the bad memories, but also the good ones.

I know that life is an awareness of having to struggle. Mundane things like job interviews, having to express myself in front of people who make me feel very small and unprotected, moments of joy when I see babies toddling about in their nappies. It is being in the moment, even if I cannot predict the future. It is eating the wrong sort of jellybeans.

A lot of self-help books are catered to increasing productivity, losing weight, increasing social status, things which will make us happier. But do these self-help books really work, if we don’t have that acorn-like seed of need within us to make those methods work? Because the goal of the self-help books is to increase happiness.

But that end goal of happiness is not process-oriented, it seems like a “okay you do all these things, you will be a lot happier this time next year.” Better off, maybe. I am not so sure about happier. The flavour of life to me in the past few years is ‘meaningful’ and ‘interesting’, not always happy. In fact, rarely happy.

But as cliché as it sounds, I would go back and do it all over again. Because I know of no better way to create meaning, except by staying in the process and not letting distractions get to me. Because I like the process of making new friends, doing new projects and making mistakes. It reminds me to breathe and not panic even when there is a hurricane smashing against the windowpanes.

That said, I still get angry when people jump ahead in dressing rooms.