A Year of Reclaiming: 2019

I named 2018 as a year of loss.

Fittingly, then, 2019 became my year of reclaiming - reclaiming what I had lost in 2018.

Of course, I could not reclaim everything I had lost in 2018. I can't do necromancy and bring the dead back to life.

However, I fortunately reclaimed some of the things I lost in 2018.

When you are falling towards rock bottom in the pits of the earth, I guess you can choose to remain there for as long as you need. Sometimes, darkness is an old and comforting friend, even if he scares you.


Your other option is to climb your way up. I was fortunate that in 2019, help extended in different ways to help me at least reach ground level again.

As of now, I am constantly reminded that the pit could draw me back in again in the blink of an eye. Empires take centuries to build, and a moment to crumble.

Still, I appreciate being able to lie on the ground for a breather for now. Forget about climbing mountains. I just want to stay where I am for a bit and feel the ground below my feet, not just an endless loop of falling even further.


Out of all the things I have reclaimed in 2019, here are three things that I am most thankful for reclaiming:

1. Reclaiming a Mild Zest for Life

I am not the most fervent of people, even before my year of loss. My interest in real life was minimal at best. No rah-rah cheerleader espousing the goodness of life here.

After 2018, though, I was surprised to find out that I did have at least a mild zest for life.

If I preferred the "tea and books" life compared to the "nightclub and rave" life, at the very least I had a preference for what I wanted to do in life.

I also loved going to different countries and organising my trips to make the most out of every day, had a zealous passion for only eating good food, and reading/ gaming/ learning voraciously.

Yet I lost even this small zest for life in my year of loss - I just willed myself to go through the motions day by day. Things that once interested me no longer did, and could no longer hold my interest.

I only felt two main emotions that would not budge - anger and sadness.

So I feel fortunate to say that in 2019, I have reclaimed and felt much more positive emotions than I did in 2018.

I love to travel again. My insistence on planning every holiday came back again. I researched good places to eat and read many food articles again.

I drool at the memory of this dish that I tried so hard to find in Hong Kong because it was Michelin-starred roast goose and I REALLY HAD TO HAVE IT.

In short, I felt like living life again.

In 2019, I have been to Hanoi, Vietnam in April...

Tokyo, Japan in June...

Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China in August...

and Bangkok, Thailand in December.

(Behold, too, the lengthening of my hair throughout 2019)

While two of these trips were work trips and not technically HOLIDAYS, at the very least I feel like I've regained an interest in going to and seeing places around the world again.

Most of these were or felt like weekend holidays, with me running around to different museums, temples, and nature spots on Saturdays and Sundays.

In 2020, I hope to take a super long trip (at least 10 days!) somewhere, and take in the sights and sounds without being bothered by anything else.

I did these type of trips since I started working, but stopped since my year of loss - mostly because I lost interest in them, and because other responsibilities piled up so much that I could not take them.

I feel it all the more keenly now how precious and treasured those trips in my past were, whether it was a solo trip or with friends.

I want to write of travel tales like I did before again, like how I took a bullet train by myself and travelled from Kobe to Hiroshima for a day trip. I feel like I haven't done anything that adventurous for a while now.



All in all, I've started to take interest in the world again, and since I AM living in this world, I guess this is a good thing. I am already looking forward to my next trip in 2020.

2. Reclaiming a Sense of Purpose

Death, I think, is the ultimate experience which makes you realise that any sense of purpose you have is false.

We are all going to die. Our lives is miniscule in the grand scheme of things, barely a dot in the Universe. Maybe a dot of a dot of a dot.

Still, even if it is false in the grand scheme of things (nothing you do matters), you do still need a sense of purpose to make it through the maze of life.


While it was not as though I gave up and just stayed in bed without moving in my year of loss, I did feel most of what I did and what happened to me was meaningless, pointless, and stupid.

People got mad at me, and I got mad at people, for the most ridiculous of things.

All I wanted to scream at them was:


The truth is, it doesn't.

Most things still doesn't, but at the very least I have regained a sense of purpose.

Things that really bothered me still bother me, but with a sense of purpose, I can brush them off and focus on where I need to be.

Eyes on the prize, as the saying goes. It's hard to have a sense of purpose when you weren't interested (see item number 1 on this list) or sure that there was a prize you wanted in the first place.

While I don't do the whole "New Year, New Me" thing, I do have a bunch of goals I intend to achieve in 2020 to keep me going - and to keep away the noise that doesn't matter.

Long may I have my sense of purpose.

3. Reclaiming a Feeling of Stability

 If you believe in horoscopes, I'm born under a sign that is said to prioritise stability. I don't like changes to the status quo, unless they are positive changes.

I am totally ready to receive and accept a million dollars in my life.


Now, guess what loss is not.

It ripped the ground from beneath my feet, and everything I was sure of, I suddenly wasn't.

I approached 2019 tentatively, wondering if the ground will fall beneath my feet again. Yet life is not meant to be lived so cautiously, so I also threw caution to the wind at times to try new things out.

Some worked out. Some did not (RIP, my short-lived pole fitness classes).

Still, throughout the year, no matter what happened, I had a sense of stability that I was going to get through everything okay.

Apart from being able to travel, quite a few good things happened this year - like meeting people I got along with well, getting a promotion at work, and people acknowledging my writing skills enough to pay me a good rate for them (VERY IMPORTANT).

With all these things influencing each other, 2019 has been a year where I have felt the most sane and stable I have had in a while.

The ground did not crack and rumble this year. For this, I am grateful.


A zest for life. A sense of purpose. The feeling of stability.

These seem like no-brainers to enjoy life (at least, from a Taurean point of view), yet I had lost them.

No, to say I have lost them would not be true. They were ripped from me, stolen from my grasp, and I watched them leave me while I was paralysed, unable to do anything.

It may not be the biggest achievement, but it means a lot to me that I have managed to retrieved them this year. I intend to hold on to them for as long as I can.

I have no grand plans to take the world by storm in 2020. I only hope that 2020 will also be kind to me, or at least, let me do my own thing without tripping me up.

I do, however, have a grand plan of writing more (I seem to say this every year...) here. Here's to hoping THIS will last. Someone e-mail me and hold me accountable please if this space is blank for two weeks...


As always, thank you for reading, and may you have a happy new year.