This too is heaven
I have been playing this computer game lately called “Escape Rosecliff Island.” It’s one of those games where you are given a picture of a location and you are supposed to look for hidden objects in the picture – mostly in ridiculous, impossible-to-imagine parts in the picture. Sometimes you are asked to find some small object like a safety-pin; other times you need to find mysterious-sounding things like “an extinct animal”, so you don’t even know what you are looking out for at times! But it really is jolly fun, especially that tiny sense of achievement when you find the item you have been searching for for the past 4 minutes, peering into a computer image that looks weirder by the second. Don’t believe? Have a look!
But as I was playing through the different levels (yes, there are different levels even for this sort of games!), I discovered a deeper analogy I could draw from this simple game. Oftentimes, we scurry past places, people, objects, events and fail to pay more attention to them until we are ‘forced’ to recall a certain detail about them (what is the name of the shop that is next to the bus-stop you wait at every morning? which earrings were your sister wearing when she went out for lunch with you over the weekend?) If not, these blend into the background and become part of a ‘picture’ that we come to take for granted. This reminds me of a quote by George Elliot that I once came across: “The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”
Today during lunch at a food court, an old lady sat next to me. After about 5 minutes, she asked me in Hokkien if what I was eating was nice because it looked very spicy. Soon she started telling me about her life story and tears came to her eyes. Although I was in a hurry for my next appointment, I decided on the spot that spending some time with her meant more than being on time for my next appointment, so I chatted with her (and comforted her, hopefully) for a while. Then it struck me that simple things like these could cause a rupture in the fabric of our daily routine; but these ruptures are important because they force us to pause. Simple things like receiving well wishes SMSes before my first day of school, washing the dishes after dinner even when you have tons of work piling up, buying a latte and delivering it to a friend to cheer her up, taking time to listen to your mum repeating the same story for the 4th time. I have come to realize: This too is heaven.