updated 26 Mar 2013, 07:18
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Tue, Mar 26, 2013
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Everyday apocalypse works for me
by Clara Chow

Contrary to what the Mayans may or may not have predicted, the world did not end on Dec 21.

But that didn’t stop my friend, W, as we were frantically processing newspaper copy last Thursday, from asking: “If it’s the apocalypse tomorrow, why are we working so hard?”

I paused, in the middle of writing a long-gestating culture column about architecture and smell, to consider this whiff of disaster.

“It sounds perverse, but I’m actually having fun right now,” I replied. Composing an essay on a topic I fancy, I decided a while ago, is one of those exquisitely painful yet satisfying pleasures in life that keeps me going.

In fact, I added: “I live as though the world is ending, every day.”

I’m aware that it sounds trite, but I like to think that it’s true.

Over dinner that night, my monthly dinner club – comprising W, two other girlfriends and myself – mused over what we would do if it was really the last night on earth.

“I’d go out and spend all my money,” said XY.

While spending money constitutes a small thrill when I’m bored, it is the least of my concerns in a doomsday scenario.

Asking me to empty my bank account and go on a rich woman’s bender within 24 hours is a particular kind of hell. I’d be so stressed out over what to buy – I am invariably catatonic before buying big-ticket items. Besides, why buy something expensive when there is no future in which to leisurely enjoy it?

No. For me, spending time with the people I love when I know I’m going to be snuffed out like a candle soon is most important.

And, for the past few years, since I gave up full-time employment to be a stay-at-home, then work-from-home, mum, I’ve been living that dream daily with the Supportive Spouse and our kids.

For a while this year, I lost sight of the big picture. For months, I moped daily about aesthetics – obsessing about dark patches and spots that were appearing on my face.

Then, after a hair-dye allergy, I started to mourn the toxic chemical- laden hair I had shaven off in favour of a buzz cut, to avoid irritating my skin. Despite that, I found my hair falling out in handfuls on my pillow subsequently.

Earlier this month, on a trip to Bali, I suffered through a spa massage that was too hard. Silly massage newbie that I was, I didn’t yell stop when the masseuse started pressing hard on my spine, thinking that pain was essential to muscle-relaxing efficacy. I came home with numbness spreading through one leg, then the other, and finally to both hands.

A visit to the orthopaedic surgeon, however, reassured the hypochondriac in me that I was not going to be gradually paralysed or die. The numbness, said my doctor, would go away by itself in a few weeks.

This year, too, the deaths of two people I know – one, a colleague, and the other, the husband of a colleague, both in their 30s – shocked and saddened me.

They were young, talented people with so much more to accomplish, but not given more time.

I now know that it isn’t worth fretting about the small stuff. My world could very well end tomorrow.

Don’t do anything you don’t like, and don’t be with anyone you don’t like, goes my strangely negative, yet positive, motto these days.

As I sat with three of my best friends in Keong Saik Snacks, noshing on lobster, tuna tartare and fluffy donuts, I finished my train of thought: ““Besides, I’m here with you tonight. It’s not such a bad way to go.”

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