Week 37: The grass is greener on the other side
In the initial days after moving to Singapore, I found myself highly aware of remarks about how other countries are “better” — they have better policies, better lifestyles… and I was puzzled by the irony of it. All I’ve wanted for a while, while I was in Melbourne, was to come here. And now that I’m here, people tell me it’s better where I came from?
We’ve probably all heard of (and believed in) the phrase — “the grass is greener on the other side”. As time passed I’ve come to realise that this phenomenon also applies in a less literal sense. The “other side” could also be a a future we are anticipating, or a past we wish to relive.
“I don’t like being told what to do. Bet life would be better after I’ve been promoted.”
“Things are so dull now, I lived more passionately when I was younger.”
Things are somehow always better in a different place — in the past, in the future; anywhere but here, and now. And because it is better there and then, not here nor now, we start wondering why — “Why can’t it be like that here?” or “Why can’t I be over there?”
And therein lies the beginning of our misery.
Perhaps, as human beings, we’ve been wired to want what we don’t have. After all, if we were so contented with the present, then we’d strive for nothing, and hence, achieve no advancement as a collective species.
But maybe, sometimes, we are allowed to release ourselves from all these wanting (in the Buddhist teaching, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering). Maybe, even with all that wanting, we are allowed to stop and appreciate what we ultimately, truly have — this moment.
The moment I am typing these letters.
The moment you are reading these words.
The moments now gone, never to return.
One of my favourite quotes from an animation is this one by Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda —
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
and I think, sometimes, animations can do great jobs at teaching us some life lessons too.
I packed up 8 years of my life in Melbourne in December 2021 to move to Singapore to be closer to home and also to explore the world outside of what I already knew. This is a year-long series of reflections on #myvoyagehome. Thank you for being a part of my journey.