As I bid goodbye to 2008...

...I can't help but feel that, even more so, life truly is a rollercoaster.

Not that I didn't know that beforehand. Of course, I suspect that a lot of you, if not all, can relate to the term above. For me personally, however, it feels that there's been little of the middle ground to negotiate. Things were either up or down, left or right, together or separated, home or away, north or south. My heart, my body, and my mind has been pulled here and there, and back again. Sometimes of my own volition; at other times, not so.

"How was your 2008, brother?" I asked Iqbal. We're standing in his driveway, at his house in Taman Tun, looking out at the fireworks display of both One Utama and The Curve (they were definitely competing with each other, with One Utama slightly edging out The Curve, I think). Not unlike mine, his has been a year of great change as well, having been offered a job Down Under, and spending the best part of the year in Australia. "It's not bad, bro," he said, flinging his arms around my shoulders. I replied in kind, for I truly consider him to be more of a brother than a friend to me. "There were a lot of things that happened," he continued, "but on the whole, I have no regrets."

I paused, letting it wash over me for a moment as the fireworks petered out. "Actually, I have quite a few," I said, without looking at him. I could feel him turning his head towards me, and I did the same. "I paid a high price to get to where I am. This is where I want to be, but I wonder whether it's all worth it." He squeezed my shoulder harder, and smiled. "I know." Then he sighed. "But it's the new year now. Leave it all behind, brother. Leave it all behind."

Before I do consign 2008 to the black box, I will share with you, then, what I have learned from the year 2008. I have learned of the importance of giving your absolute best, unconditionally, totally, and utterly, to doing whatever it is that you're doing, and to the people that we love. Our loves, really. The importance of keeping your word (or trying your best to do so) becomes even more important as I spend the majority of the year in Korea. In the first semester, I did not want to help out people as much. Simply put, I was willing to help out the people who helped me out (though having said that, there were quite a few of them who helped me through incredibly difficult times). For those who I didn't care about...well, they can get stuffed.

Or so I thought. In my line of study/work, I have learned that it is not only those who we care about can be helped, but in order to get ahead, in order to rise to the top, I just have to commit myself to totally helping and doing whatever I can for whoever I can. It is a lesson I learned from my good friend Maz Irwan, a fellow Malaysian student in the same university as me (and incidentally, one of my father's former students). I see how he constantly commits himself to helping people with their work: shooting, holding the boom mic, going all the way out of Seoul just to help out as an extra, shooting a whole music video for a Tibetan singer as a way of saying thank you, spending hours and hours doing nothing but doing the heavy lifting for his friend's productions. I helped him out for the majority of his film last semester, and not a single person who he had helped came to his aid. It was a stressful time for everyone (I almost went 48 hours on the set without sleeping during one particular stretch), and the lack of Koreans on his set helping him was notable.

"You just have to give yourself," he told me, when I asked him about it. "You have to think that, somewhere, somehow, down the line, people will come good for you in one way or another. If they don't, then they don't. But we won't know now, will we? We just have to do what we can, keep the faith, and hope that it will all work out. If it doesn't," he said, surveying his set momentarily as people were momentarily resting, "then it doesn't."

The future is to be lived, I once read in a Star Wars book, not to be prearranged. It was Luke Skywalker telling his nephew not to plan and think so much about a particular mission he had to undertake, and it was the literature that came to mind as Irwan told me of this. Hence, in the second half of the year, you may have noticed me disappearing from the Net and the phone more often than not. At times a choice of my own, but for the most part, not so.

It wasn't so much a realisation, then; I always thought that I give my best in the situations dealt with me. It's more of a reminder, a reminder that you. just. have. to. give. A reminder that it is the only thing that any of us, in any situation any where, can do. Whatever happens after that...heartbreak, disappointment, frustration, bitterness...well, it may be amplified even more so, since we give ourselves over totally, utterly, and completely. Our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls.

But so will the joy, happiness, ecstasy, and exhiliration that rewards us for our faith and our patience.


Happy New Year, everyone.