I have never been to Shanghai for vacation. Since the first time I visited until the most recent trip that I returned from last Friday, it has always been for work. In all, I have been there four times, coincidentally the first three times all happening in March and the last trip in November. I’m thankful that I did not have to deal with the extreme weather conditions that could happen to Shanghai, whether it is the harsh winter or the biting summer days. Even as I just heard a news report about some pollution that affected Shanghai yesterday or today, as much as I worry for the people whom I know living there, I am glad that I am now back home in Singapore. Sure, most big Chinese cities are always having a problem of pollution, and even as I was there for the 2 weeks I could already tell that the skyline was never really crystal clear, but yet I was blessed with fairly great weather for the fortnight I was there, only having a day of cold, rainy weather with strong winds that could easily wreck an umbrella.
At this time of the year, the sun sets pretty early. I got in on a Monday late afternoon, and as the taxi took me along the expressway towards the bustling city, the fading lights of the sun that was creeping slowly beyond the horizon cast an ephemeral beauty that somehow evokes a feeling of poignant solitude.
Some cab rides that I have took over the last two years, shuttling between airports and hotels, have been hour-long journeys or more, some of which I have enjoyed to a certain extent despite the suffocating smell of stale tobacco that reeks in the interior of the car. These scenes that flash past as the vehicle cruises along the freeways always make for such a great moment of reflection and deliberation about anything or everything. It doesn’t even need any prompting of any sort because thoughts just conjure themselves up in my mind that is never wont to rest. I think I will miss this part as well, a part of travelling that I am unwilling to bid adieu to. But as with all things in life, there always comes a point when we have to say farewell and let go. It is only when we learn to let go of things that we can start to embrace new things and experiences and grow.
I tried to take the time to enjoy my two weeks, even as I was struggling to put in effort to revise for my exam in the nights after returning from the office. It was never a problem to rouse myself early each morning to hit the gym before heading for a good hearty breakfast just before going to the office, but to really focus on revision in the nights proved a challenge, in the ambient lighting of the hotel room, coupled with the general fatigue of the day brought on by work or just being awake for long hours, I could not manage beyond an hour of studying.
The weekend was great, and I had some time to really have a good chat with my cousin, someone I recalled being a baby just recently but who has now grown into a fine, young man, and time just went by so quickly that I wished I could stretch it out more. Still, I’m thankful that we met up and caught up. It always feel so good to talk to someone for real after engaging in mindless banter with people whom we can’t really speak freely with.
Two weeks, or 12 days just went by. It’s now December, the final month of the year, yet it is also the time for new beginnings. This beautiful sight of the sun that is starting to brighten up the world, emblazoning the once pitch black sky with a spectrum of rainbow colours from violet all the way to red, greeted me as I tried to stay warm in the frosty temperatures of the wintry morning onwards to the airport.
It is always intriguing what brings people together in this world, but it is also interesting how they eventually can grow apart. I suppose in a similar way, whether it is with people or with things in our lives, we always must know when we should let go and do so with grace. Hanging on to something that is no longer there is meaningless because it just breeds more unhappiness with the forced attempts to make things work.
Let’s head towards a happier future, towards a more positive life and towards a better self.