The lyrics of “Little Wonders” have been ringing out in the hallways of my mind a lot lately, so that as I go about my daily life, the sights and sounds of the moment filling the passageways of my consciousness, Rob Thomas’ lyrics resound in my subconscious, becoming the background music that colors my world.
I swear, that song has become the soundtrack to my life.
Our lives are made, in these small hours, these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate Time falls away, but these small hours, these small hours, still remain.
I know what “small hours” means to the dictionary, and hence to rest of the world, but I also know what “small hours” means to me, uniquely.
To me it means those moments that seem insignificant, the moments between Earlier and Later that really do not mean much, whose sole purpose seem to be to fill the voids between more meaningful tasks. Moments like waiting for the subway home.
It is also synonymous to “this very moment”. Our lives are made in small moments, moments just like this one.
These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate
I was telling my friend over lunch at the university cafeteria yesterday, just how happy I’ve been for the past few months. My mind has not yet completely wrap around and digest the fact that all these things are coming true for me.
How did someone like the 17-year-old me, reserved, awkward, dependent, timid and cowardly, not particularly smart, confused about my identity, and a constant daydreamer, how did someone like that end up here, where I am today?
The 22-year-old me is still not particularly smart, still reserved and awkward, but not dependent. No longer cowardly and scared of trying. And most of all, I’ve discovered my voice, I know who I am now. I found my identity.
And the most amazing, AMAZING part of all this is, the objects of my daydream from many years ago, dreams that were once unrealistic and unrealizable are suddenly coming to pass, seemingly materializing out of thin air.
Life’s twists and turns have brought me here. Physically, in France. Metaphorically, pursuing the two things that I love the most — sociology and traveling — in countries that at one time seemed exotic and unaccessible to me.
A long time ago, or so it feels, I knew something wasn’t right with the world. There is something incredibly wrong with the way it works, but the 15-year-old me didn’t have the words to describe what exactly is wrong, or what I thought should be done, or even, just how I felt about it. The 16-year-old me brooded over it for so long one school break that I fell into a state of gloom and melancholy.
And then something wonderful happened to me. I discovered sociology. It gave me the voice, the words, the knowledge, and most important of all, the confidence to talk about the wrongs in the world that the 15-year-old me couldn’t figure out. (Now I can’t stop talking about it, to the annoyance of some, I’m sure LOL.)
I remember when I first chose to apply to only liberal arts colleges in the US, my parents weren’t happy. Frankly, if you asked me how and why I decided on LACs in the first place, I couldn’t answer you, because I don’t know. I once knew what attracted me to LACs, but I have forgotten them. It just felt right, in an incredible, indescribable sort of way. I’ve said it many times, but I can’t help saying again — it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.
It helped me discover sociology. It helped me discover me.
And the winding roads of life has taken me from my small classroom in Grinnell, and brought me to a large lecture hall in University of Nantes.
I am in France! I am in France! Long time ago, my dream was to go to Paris. It was one of those things I would say, but never thought it would happen. Now, I’ve been to Paris twice, and the other day, as I parted ways with my friends after classes, I said I was going “home”. Home! I just called a french house, lived in by a french family, in France!!, “home”!
And this is what I mean when I say, Rob Thomas’ lyrics from “Little Wonders” have been playing in my mind a lot lately.
The small, uneventful hours that make up the life I’m living now. Waiting for the tram to go to school. Buying tickets for a meal at the university restaurant. Grumbling about homework and classes — in french. As the song plays in my head, I’m reminded that these seemingly mundane moments are what make up this life that, only a few years go, I could only dream of.
Bon Nouvel An Chinois!
It feels sort of pleasantly odd, to have heard and read of “Nouvel An Chinois” so often the past week that the french counterpart to “Chinese New Year” now sounds very familiar to me.
This CNY is the first time since I left home what feels like eons ago that I haven’t been homesick much.
It’s not like this year’s CNY was any bigger a celebration than the past few years. But it was 10 times more interesting than the past couple years added together.
What did I do on Chinese New Year eve?
My friend and I were invited by a bunch of french people our age over to their place for CNY celebration. Reason: They learn mandarin, and CNY was an excuse to have fun.
So we tapao-ed food from a Vietnamese restaurant, went to one of the girl’s apartment, cooked rice, and had dinner on the sofas in the tiny living room, all 12 of us. Then we talked, and we played a much more interesting variant of charades.
That was another Little Wonders moment for me, right there. I know it sounds super childish, but I always wanted to have french friends. I thought french people were super cool. And, ushering in the Chinese New Year in a tiny apartment with 10 french people who knew close to nothing about CNY, that was a little bizarre, but it was a moment that made me go, “Whoa! Who woulda thought? Not the 17-year-old me!”
It’s sort of amazing how life’s winding roads have brought me to all these places, and to the person that I am today.
There is absolutely nothing in my life that is worth complaining about. I couldn’t be happier.
And all this is happening SOLELY because my parents allowed it to. So really, the BEST thing to come from all of this?
Knowing that my parents love me this much to make all of this possible for me.
If my heart could fly from happiness, it would be doing exactly that right now.