the imperfect bucket list

"Vroom! swoosh!" Did you hear it? I did, and I hope you did too.

In 2018, I traveled to Kuala Lumpur to continue my study. It was also the year that Malaysia's contract with Formula One ended. I had always dreamt of visiting the Sepang International Circuit to witness the grandeur of Formula One, to hear the thunderous roar of the engines and the cheering of the crowds. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to cross this item off my bucket list.

In 2022, the Beijing Winter Olympics took place, and in 2021, I was accepted as a volunteer for the event. However, I was unable to enter the country due to unforeseen circumstances. The Olympics, a sporting event that belongs to all humanity, was another item on my bucket list. I had always dreamed of being part of this historic moment, but once again, I was unable to fulfill this dream.

Reflecting on the past, my aunt and I would spend hours sitting in front of the television watching the seemingly mundane car race, witnessing over fifty laps. With every DRS and overtaking maneuver, we would cheer exuberantly, while lamenting every accident and mishap. I had always dreamt of experiencing the atmosphere live and decided to add it to my bucket list: to attend a Formula One race together. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2019. One night, as I sat down with a heavy heart, I erased the word "together" from my list, tears streaming down my face. The quiet of the night and the sudden darkness enveloped me, and my notebook became damp with the tears I couldn't hold back.

In 2022, I found myself in the same country where I had ticked off an item on my bucket list. Six years had passed, and I was finally able to pick up my pen once again and cross off another item from my list. As I watched the race cars zooming by, my heart filled with excitement and my hands trembled with anticipation. It was as if I were a joyful little pup, wagging my tail uncontrollably. However, as I recalled the word "together" that I had previously crossed off, I was momentarily stunned. The deafening roar of the engines, the thunderous applause of the audience and the commentators' voices all faded away in an instant, leaving me alone with my innermost thoughts of regret. "Did you hear that? I did. I hope you did too."

Regret is perhaps something that many people would prefer not to bring up. However, regret often reoccurs in our lives and persists with us. Each and every one of us must carry some form of regret while walking along the road of life, so as to avoid more regretful occurrences. In reality, life is like painting a unique and personal picture, with each experience leaving its mark on the canvas. Every stroke, good or bad, serves as proof of our best efforts and is a testament to our growth. Regret is like an inadvertent mistake or omission while drawing, and even if we try to erase it, the traces of that mistake will linger on the canvas. There is only one canvas for our lives, and we cannot simply start over with a new one. Instead, we must continue to add each thought and idea onto this canvas, no matter how many scars it may have. However, these scars do not necessarily mean that the final picture will be an unappealing and broken piece. By using our skills to paint over the scars, we can proudly display our own unique and colorful creation. Reflecting on the imperfection of perfection may also be a source of pride.

Rather than treating regrets as indelible scars or unwanted wounds to be avoided, I prefer to treat them as imperfect lines or circles. Must lines always be straight? Must circles always be perfect? There is beauty in the twists and turns of lines and the imperfections of circles. Of course, everyone has their own definition of beauty, and I respect those who see beauty in straight lines and perfect circles. However, twists and turns, and flawed circles are inevitable in life. Instead of hating ourselves and detesting life because of regrets, it's better to try to accept them and move forward with them. Perhaps one day, when you feel lost or lose direction at a certain intersection, regrets can guide you to take fewer detours and have fewer regrets. Regrets constantly remind us of the brevity of time, the preciousness of fate, and the beauty of imperfection in life. A straight line represents the end of life, whereas a life with ups and downs is what makes life interesting. It's the twisted lines and flawed circles that make the picture of life more vivid and reflect the beauty of imperfection.

Regardless, we all need to follow the winding lines and complete the journey of life, create the circle of life using the flawed circles, complete the picture of life on the paper filled with marks, and continue the journey of life with past regrets.

As we grow older and gain more life experience, many of us have gone through a transformation from desiring perfection to simply striving to do our best, and finally to hoping that things will turn out okay, as long as they are not too disastrous. After countless disappointments, we gradually lose our self-confidence and our enthusiasm for life, becoming bound by the idea that "being realistic will alleviate suffering." After being ravaged by countless disappointments, we gradually lose our expectations for ourselves and our hopes for the future, becoming hostage to the idea that "without hope, there is no disappointment." We begin to run counter to reality, which should not be our enemy, and to let go of hopes that should not be distant, with each party unwilling to hold onto the other.

What is reality, exactly? Many people around us often tell us to be realistic, to stop daydreaming and to be content with doing well with what is at hand. Some even say, "What? You still have dreams? You'll soon learn how naive and ignorant you are when you face the dangers of society." It is true that society is dangerous, reality is cruel, and life is often at odds with you. However, why should we blindly conform to reality? Why can't we change reality as much as we can? Reality is also created by people. Of course, we may be a dispensable part of society, and we may not be able to change the world or reality on our own. But we can do everything we can to improve the lives of those around us, and for ourselves, and to create a reality that aligns with our hearts.

In fact, not every action we take is forced by reality, and there is always a bit of space that belongs to us. We still have a certain degree of agency. If reality continues to suppress you and disappoint you, you do not have to dwell too much on the past and the disappointment of unfulfilled desires. Let go, accept the imperfections that reality brings, look forward, and give your all to a better tomorrow. Letting go does not mean forgetting or running away; all the regrets, pains, and scars brought about by reality will remain with us throughout our lives. The more we try to forget, the more deeply ingrained they become, and the more we try to avoid them, the deeper the wounds they will leave. Letting go means releasing the resentment and disappointment in our hearts, facing them, accepting them, and turning them into mentors for our lives. Let them remind us every moment to be better to the people and things around us, and to be better to ourselves.

If we have a choice, why should we choose to kneel?

On April 8th, 2022, beside the bustling racetrack, the pen, long-lost yet now found, and a notebook, seemingly familiar but somewhat unfamiliar, unexpectedly crossed paths again. The trembling hands that held the pen and the heart filled with both regret and contentment, silently conveyed the deep emotions that existed between them. May the next journey be continued in your company - that "together" which was once crossed out but now, hopefully, will be rekindled.