The Direction of My Life

Growing up was something that had eluded me for many years. When one is suddenly taken off the loop of interaction with society, one tends to regress. I stopped growing up right after I became paralysed. I was mothered over, pampered and got things done my way, almost always. The world moved forward unceasingly while I stagnated in all aspects of my life.

My parents saw to it that I was never in want. Material wise, I never was, but I yearned for more. I hankered to grow like other teenagers – go to college, date girls, be gainfully employed, get married, have kids. I had dreams. Unfortunately the paralysis had become a life sentence. I could not live those dreams anymore. I was trapped in a body that I no longer had control of. I looked out to the world and wished I was free again.

Months turned into years. I saw those dreams fade away one by one as my condition did not improve. I gradually retreated into a world that neither had marker stones nor landmarks that I could find my way around with. I drifted aimlessly in an ocean of despondence, my bearings determined by the capricious currents and wayward winds. My existence then had become meaningless. I had ceased to seek.

Someone once said that for a man to be happy, he needs three things: something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. I had only one of those. I thought I had found love. One out of three is not that bad considering the condition I was in. I was to discover later that love too was a cruel joke. How could women find my emaciated body appealing? Love was not forever after all and promises were meant to be broken.

I meandered on aimlessly looking for a cause to call my own. Mum gave me all the support she could muster. She knew I was searching for a basis to make my own being purposeful. Parents can only give us so much. There are things that we have to strike out by ourselves to discover. I gathered some courage and took small timid steps. She followed from a distance, making sure that she was there for me should I falter in my quest.

Then I met Wuan. She was not only a confidante but a soul mate in every sense. We knew exactly what each other was thinking without words being spoken. Have I finally found my purpose in life? Wuan’s coming into my life has certainly filled many gaps in the tapestry of my destiny. However there are still many fissures that I need to plug that she could not help me with. It is something I have to do by myself.

And then Mum fell ill. For the first time in my life, I had to take responsibility, not only for myself but for Mum. I grew up a lot those few months. I realised how much she had sacrificed for me through the things that I had to do for her. I really grew up. I was an eighteen year old boy imprisoned in a thirty seven year old man’s body. The teenager in me suddenly grew up a decade or two.

All too soon, I became an adult orphan. Once again, I had to pick up more shattered pieces of my life. The passing on of the surviving parent quickly broke down the belief that death is a distant event for me. The buffer to my subsistence was no longer there. I was abruptly thrust into the realisation that my mortality is a certainty and close by. My clock began to tick away the seconds.

Suddenly there was much to do and little time to accomplish them. I did not even know where to begin. I got lost in the midst of all those ideas that were constantly swirling inside my head. Then reality struck. I was in no position to map out the remaining of my life with so much. My health is such that today knows not what tomorrow brings. The best way for me to live is to live each day to the fullest, one day at a time.

Most important of all, I had fulfilled the uppermost in my list of priorities. I am walking the faith that was explicitly revealed to me at Mum’s deathbed. I was reborn a believer in the salvation of Jesus the moment she breathed her last. She died so that I could live the faith she was inducted into as an infant. She died so that I could grow up and take charge of my own life.

The cause to validate my being alive still eludes me although I now have devoted my life to serving God and the community that I live in generally. I am still searching for that clear path that will lead me to live a fulfilling life. This growing up process is slowly but surely turning me from self-centric to Christ-centric and community-centric which I am happy to say has filled me with much contentment.

The adult-teenager in me is slowing emerging from the cocoon as an adult. Adulthood comes with a different set of responsibilities. I am learning to be a responsible adult. There is still a lot of catching up to do. The direction of my life is still vague. I have a faint inkling of the exact course I want to take. Hopefully the fuzz will clear up and hopefully I will have time to realise them all before my time is up.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

18 thoughts on “The Direction of My Life”

  1. This is truly a well expressed piece of ur heart. Reading it makes me wanna cry. I see U online now but U must be busy elsewhere cos I cannot get any response 2 my msgs. Anyway take care……..

  2. Pauline,
    I was around but I did not get your message. If ever you need to cry, you can have one or both of my shoulders to cry on.

  3. Sweetspirit,
    Will do. And I bet you did not call yourself Sweetspirit for nothing. That is because you are equally sweet, if not more, right?

  4. “Someone who is brave is willing to do things which are dangerous, and does not show fear in difficult or dangerous situations.”

    That’s how Mr. Collins define bravery. And you are certainly one of the bravest person I know.

    And don’t you forget that.

  5. Nice, piece, Peter.

    My thoughts: who in their right mind (male & female) would not fall for someone whose spirit and soul are a perfect match to theirs, emaciated body or not?

    My point – looks and physical stuff ultimately don’t matter.

  6. Mdmafia,
    I have been getting too comfortable in this cocoon I am in. I need to crawl out a little to take a peek to see how the real world operates. Nothing ventured nothing gained, right? Let’s hope my courage will last the entire journey. I will never forget what you quoted. Thank you for sharing those encouraging words.

    Unfortunately it matters to a lot of people how their future spouse’s physical condition is. They prefer form over substance. That is their choice. I have no quarrel with it. Either you can accept it or either u cannot.

    Fortunately for me, my disabilites have never been an issue to Wuan. She took it upon herself to learn all she could to help me with my daily routines. I am truly blessed to have met her.

  7. something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to.

    Peter, about what you wrote above, can I say something? You are doing something great now! You are ministering to so many people with your writings. You have Wuan. You have something to look forward to – the day we are going to be united with our loved ones and with Christ.
    Smile and cheers! If I don’t meet you this Saturday at sunset mass, I will be doing lector duty on Sept 12. Smile more or else I wouldn’t dare to go up and say hi to you!

  8. Lillian,
    If you cannot recognise me, that will be because I will be smiling from ear to ear. Yes, I will be the guy with the silly wide grin.

  9. hey my man,;)

    nice picture you’ve got there.

    anyway, i personally cannot say that i do fully comprehend the pain and hardships you had to go through for many years (for i’ve never experienced anything like that). and upon reading your entry, i thought of what a challenge it must have been for you to transparent your inner thoughts into words. i’ve got to say, it’s not often that one comes across a person who is downright honest and not afraid to show one’s frail side. i for one, have difficulty in being as expressive as yourself.

    sometimes, i prefer to be alone. away from friends and loved ones. i can’t bear to feel attached because i hate to depend on others. i strive to be self-sufficient and independent so people don’t have to be responsible for me.

    not to sound morbid, but i do look forward to my demise, just as i look forward to my life. death to me is another chapter in life, just as birth is..and because of that, it’s not something that i fear of. but it’s something i fear that would happen to others around me. ironic, isn’t it?

    though i’ve laid out my life’s plans, i don’t know how the journey would be like (or would there be any snafus along the way), but i’m living a day at a time, and hopefully, all would be fine in the end..:)

    okay, got carried away with myself: the bottomline is, don’t worry (too much) about the future and the past- but live the present, for one day when you take a pause and look back, you can proudly say, “hey…what did you know, i ACTUALLY DID all of these…i did the impossibles.” (which i think you already have).

    keep it up pete.;)

  10. Dave,
    It is in sharing part of myself that I learn more about myself. This blog and all of you who had allowed me to express and share with you my pain, fears and insecurities have lightened the burden I am carrying in my heart.

    You are mistaken when you said you think I have done the impossible. No, the impossible is to walk again. That is impossible at this moment. What I have achieved so far are the “possibles” made onerous only by my paralysis.

    All said, I am grateful that I have friends I have yet to meet who often left kind words here and who are always there to cheer me on. Words put correctly can give so much impetus to a ladened heart. Thank you all. Thank you Dave.

  11. My heart was aching! I read this piece and my heart ached. It ached from sadness, joy, hope, compassion, admiration and bitterness. I wasn’t aware a heart could have so many feelings running around it simultaneously! I am so impressed by your strength, love, faith and positive outlook on life. If only we can be a quarter of what you have, the human race would be much healthier!

  12. excellent shot, man!
    though, i have no time to read your post. just passing by, i haven’t got the time for blog surfing these days 😉

  13. Dee,
    We all have goodness within us. If only we take the time to discover ourselves more, the world surely will be a beautiful place.

    I like that shot too. Thanks.

  14. What a beautiful post… The shot captures the essence of your article – sunrays peeking out of the clouds signifying the hope that you have now in you despite the trials that you face and thos that you have triumphed over.

    I’m very touched.

  15. Ariel,
    I never gave the meaning of that image much thought when I first put it up. I just felt that it matched my mood and the piece I was about to post that time. You are right. It could have caught my subsconscious attention because of its ethereal connotation. The silver lining, the rays appearing from behind the clouds, the blue sky – they all represent hope. Thank you for pointing that out.

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