When I was asked to envision “Wawasan 2020” in my primary school years, I conjured up an image of Malaysia being a kickass city full of flying vehicles and robotic friends. And that I would be so old I didn’t even want to think about it.

That impending year has frightfully come, for the 10-year-old me. But not so scary after all, for this 2019 me.

There’s no taxi hovering in the sky yet other than a few personal drones flown illegally for insta popular shots, and I still don’t have any soul mates not even robotic ones, but I can’t be more positive about this fateful year to come.

I don’t know, 2020 just has a nice ring to it. Two rings, if you stare at it properly. Actually, 5 rings, as that’s what’s gonna be bombarding our eyes with Tokyo Olympics happening.

In 2019, I have had experienced a lot of mental changes.

For starter, it took me a long time, probably this whole life, to realize what it meant for me to “relax”.

I had been so mentally exhausted for unknown reasons and people kept telling me that I needed to take a break and relax.

But… take a break from what? And what’s relaxing, to me?

You know how some people’s idea of de-stressing is to take a long week off, head to a beach and do absolutely nothing except posting an IG photo captioned “Sometimes all you need to do, is nothing. #beachlife #vacation”?

I probably said something along the same line before just to sound like I know what’s going on in trend.

And the more I tried to “relax” the way most people perceive how putting one’s feet up is like, the more it was doing my head in.

It had come to a point I actually considered quitting all of my online presence. This thought had popped up in my head many times before, which is why it may not even sound like it’s your first time reading this. I have wanted to quit blogging, social media-ing, and this whole… living a different life online, so so so so many times. I was rejecting me.

In the beginning of 2019, this feeling was stronger than it had ever been. But a few incidents had turned it completely upside down, inside out, and now sprinting towards the opposite direction.

And for that, there are a few souls I need to write thank you scrolls for, as notes are simply not long enough.

But as if Japan has not saved me enough times (lai liao lai liao – if you are sick of my relentless cult preaching, skip this post and scroll down to… well basically this blog has no space for you hahahah), it has done so, again.

It started out rather quietly and gently in August, when Japan called me for a trip to Kansai and Mie, but sped up furiously entered September and October, when I was beckoned to Toyama, Gifu, Nagano, and went on to Hokkaido and back down to Niigata. When November arrived, I was soaring full force to Kansai, Tohoku, back to Kanto for Hakone, Nikko, Tokyo, Niigata again and finally wrapping things up in Chiba. In some of these schedules I only had a 2-day break in a whole month spent on running errands, many consecutive nights spent in sky hotel, sleeping a maximum 5 hours a day, with day trips back to Malaysia and Singapore from Tokyo and like a million tasks to complete for post-travel production.

It sounded crazy even for me. Friends and work associates were really concerned about my physical condition with one flight coming right up after another.

You are so busy! You need to take some proper rest. Aren’t you tired? How do you do it? 

I did think about it. Am I really okay? Am I biting off more than I can chew? Am I going to collapse soon from over-traveling?

I tried finding the answer within myself, and I think I found it.

This excessive busyness, was exactly what I needed at that point of time.

Maybe one day it will be too much to bear, but right now, right this moment, It is exactly what I need to balance that empty glass that was about to tip over. It was filling that empty glass with steady weight. And now it’s firm and grounded again.

Having things to do is my “relaxation”. Knowing that I am somewhat functioning for something on this planet calms my mind. Being busy makes me feel alive. Maybe I am essentially kiasu to the genes. Maybe this is what they call it, the ikigai.

Of course, I do get tired from all the traveling. But I guess there are many different types of tiredness.

In my case, I am blissfully tired.

Confining myself in a supposed relaxing space having nothing to do make me anxious. It probably gives me more stress than having to handle 12 flights, 14 prefectures and zero off day in a month. The conventional idea of relaxing is my wasting this life away. It took me a whole life to come to realize that, not being able to relax the “normal” way, is completely okay too.

So yea, just when I was about to give up, I heard it.

It was Japan whispering to me – Don’t you dare stop.

And then she gave me a non-stop schedule so crazy I don’t even have time to think about my inability to relax. So yea, Japan saved my life (online, and maybe offline, too), again. As always.

Some may argue that it is because my job has a very unique nature that’s fundamentally different from many others – try having a 9-5 office job and say the same? My reply to that is – no one gave this job to me nor did I suddenly hit the career jackpot. Or did I?

I may as well have. Know when I did? The moment I realized that this is what I want to do and I want to give it my all and more.

2020 will be my 16th year of writing on this website and I am finally coming to terms with agreeing that this is what I do best, despite my insecurity telling me otherwise for the past 15 years.

Also, I am going to take a few new steps that’s going to fill in the calendar with even more colored blocks but it’s going to be exciting.

Of course, Japan will be the highlight of the world in 2020, and even if it’s just an itsy bitsy dust particle worth of help, I am giving it all.

So here’s to a very fulfilling 2020. Let’s go.