Lim: The sweet spot

Life takes on greater clarity when you are faced with your mortality.

It can be a devastating diagnosis that rudely interrupts your perfectly-planned life. Or it can just be the annoying process of ageing that makes you realize that in the not-so-distant future, you’ll be leaving so you better know what to do with the rest of your life.

For me, it was an unexpected bout with cancer. I knew that my chances of escaping cancer were probably nil due to its prevalence but I didn’t really think it could happen to me.

We all live in denial. Nine times out of 10 when we say we have both eyes open, we don’t.

When you drink yourself to oblivion, you know it will kill you one day. When you take another slice of cake, you know you’ll live to regret it. When you become attached to your couch for too long, you know the clock is ticking for comeuppance.

But you do it, anyway, because it feeds your needs and desires. Now. At this very moment.

We all live in denial. I knew I could get sick. But I thought that was a long time coming—a very long time coming. I had time. I was wrong.

I felt that God wrested all control from me at that moment.

I, who was prepared for everything. I, who climbed a mountain a hundred times in my mind before I actually did it. I, who asked for contingency plans in case of an earthquake, a typhoon or a power outage (25 years ago) when organizing an international convention.

I, who was paranoid and prepared for everything—was completely unprepared for a suspicious malignancy and eventually, a cancer diagnosis. In a flash, I realized I had been in denial for too long.

I was not in control of my life. It was quasi control all along. Someone else was steering my life and nudging me to wake up to the reality of His grace keeping me alive every single moment.

My father tells me that you can’t go into marriage with a full dosage of reality. You have to go into it, believing in the magic, not in the logic because if you follow the logic, you’ll never go through with it.

I think the sweet spot might be somewhere in between. In life, you can’t overdose on reality. You have to indulge in a bit of fantasy. You have to follow logic. But you also have to believe in magic. It’s the only way to survive and stay sane.

You make your plans and prepare to live the best life possible. But you also put your faith in God and trust in His plans when yours don’t work out.

Does believing in God make me less empowered? On the contrary, it has liberated me to focus on living this life rather than planning it. But I can’t lie and say I don’t already have plans for the next life.

A little bit of reality. A little bit of fantasy. It’s the sweet spot.

Life takes on greater clarity when you are faced with your mortality.