Saturday, May 11, 2019

HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH


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I turn 29 tonight. In some ways, I am older and in other ways, I feel younger than the number. I am glad to turn 29 and I am grateful for the privilege of being me and having my life. The privilege of caring just little enough about embarrassing myself that I come across as weirdly funny, of genetically-inherited looks that allow me to go through strange life experiences (for example, I sent someone decently-clothed selfies I would have posted on Instagram anyway, and he wired me $100 when assured it was exclusive to him: my best friend says this is a #lifeachievementunlocked -- this was by far the easiest 100 bucks I've ever made), of using my brain and always being curious and inquisitive, of having gone through mental health rough patches to empathize with others and to equip me with the desire to lift up other people from their struggles, of having worked and navigated my way through my depression to feel proud of myself, of not having grown up rich, so that I developed a personality instead of becoming a random sorority sister with no clue of the world. Happy birthday, Sarah Mei Lyana. There is no one in the world quite like you. #29 #birthday #privilege #selflove #bde
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I had an early birthday dinner with my family last night. We had lots of fun, and delicious food at Badoque. My mother got me the wireless earphones that I used to have but eventually lost, so now they are replaced. This morning, I watched San Junipero with Lucas, and we both cried, not for the first time for either of us. San Junipero is the episode of Black Mirror that's about giving old people the chance to relive their younger days, by uploading their avatars/memories/a mix of the two, onto a cloud where they can live out a second experience. I think Lucas and I relate to the episode quite a bit in our own ways. I feel like I've missed out on a lot of things thanks to my religious upbringing, and perhaps Lucas feels a little bit of the same, added on to his romantic history. We then watched Taylor Swift's Reputation tour on Netflix. Lucas is my dream non-binary partner. He got me books, one of which is The Handmaid's Tale, a story with strong feminist underlying values. He's read the book and strongly recommended it. I was introduced to his housemate today, the one with the wall of post-its. Her name is Reetz. She found out it was my birthday and that I like ice-cream, so she popped out and surprised me with a tub of ice-cream. Lucas and I went to have oysters, and then I sent him off at the airport. He's gone off to Malaysia for close to two weeks, for therapy, as it's much more affordable there and he would be able to receive more sessions than he would here. Lucas is my boyfriend now, but because we've progressed so fast, we jokingly said we are in a lesbian relationship (IDK if that's the stereotype) and he's my lesbian boyfriend. We watched a few music videos at his apartment, and he told me about his friends. His friends are all somewhat the same type as he is, they all seem so fluid and non-binary. They have hairstyles you wouldn't necessarily see on their gender, and clothes and expressions and photos, and I feel a little bit scared that I won't fit in. Apart from my mindset, I'm quite the mainstream person. I'm afraid I won't be cool enough. I only have one tattoo and four piercings. Will I make the cut!!!! Anyway, my mother sent me a birthday wish via text today and she didn't mention God or anything supernatural, which I regard as a high improvement. I was telling Lucas that even though his own mother might be religious, the era of Catholic guilt is a little outdated. The people I know in the US or otherwise who grew up in Catholic or Christian families, may not have their parents' approval, but their peers of the same age, their cousins and friends, no longer really believe in such things, so that guilt doesn't follow them. In contrast, I am a very uncommon non-Muslim Malay, and the Muslim guilt is real. My friends who were born Muslim, will never think I am doing right by myself, by letting go of the faith. This is despite me telling them that one, the idea that a God, any god that presides over the Christian or Muslim or any faith, saying only the subscribers to one denomination will be accepted into "heaven" is toxic, and it's akin to a parent pitting their children against each other. That's not what a being of a higher nature should or would do. Second, whether it's Islam or Christianity, I know that there is a clause that says backsliders and disbelievers are the worst of sinners, and they deserve the worst level of hell or whatever. This is precisely why there are so many people who still practise, because people work through fear. Thirdly, even in this age of information, where Google can be used to fact-check everything that you read, a vast majority choose to believe the first thing or the thing they read most often, instead of verifying the credibility of its sources. Imagine being back in the early days, when some man decided to write a fantasy about another man who parted the sea, someone who turned water into wine, a man who was willing to sacrifice his son thanks to the voices of a god. Back then, they didn't know planes would ever exist, they didn't know water evaporates to create clouds to eventually become rain again, they didn't know that the stars you saw in the sky could eventually be reached and marked and mapped with technology. The world has moved on, and religious believers need to do so, as well. You might feel fear at knowing the foundation upon which you've centered your lives is false, and you might feel better thinking this salvation that awaits you is real, but the danger is that in living in the future that may or may not exist, you have lost sight and grasp of reality, and that is never going to help society. You need to know what is real, to be of any real use to society. All this to say, it was a great birthday. I love Lucas very much.

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