Letters by Kenny Mah

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Dream hope love imagine

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January 1, 2013

Hey you,

I begin this new year with this line on my mind — “May your past be the sound / of your feet upon the ground.”

The lyric is from the song Carry On by the band Fun. I haven’t been listening to much music, not for a long time now. I’m out of date, it would appear. But that’s fine. The years have taught me that we don’t have to chase anything relentlessly, whether it’s the latest hit single or a promotion at work or someone we have fallen head over heels for.

The beautiful thing about time, the terrible thing about time, is that this all washes away.

We don’t have to struggle so hard.

There is a story behind this, of course. There always is.

A few days after Christmas. My friends and I meet up at this new restaurant in town. There are gifts being exchanged. I don’t really celebrate Christmas so I didn’t get my friends any gifts. There’s no excuse, really. They don’t seem to mind though. Maybe the joy truly is in giving. Sure doesn’t hurt to receive. I get a fitness-and-health-club voucher — part of my wellness resolution this year; also a pristine-white notebook for jotting notes for future stories; there’s a collection of true travel tales by writers of fiction; and there’s one more gift that is wrapped so beautifully that I only open it later at home.

Dinner, unfortunately, turns out to be quite a chore. The service is polite and charming, but our dishes take an eternity and half to arrive. We grow hungry. We give up. We ask for our bill, pay for what managed to reach our table, and promptly depart for a reliable burger diner nearby. As we chomp into our thick beef patties sandwiched between sigh-soft sesame buns, our eyes roll in synchronicity and relief.

We don’t really need that much to be content. Maslow got that one right.

We finally get home. I unwrap my last gift and it’s a small box of coasters from Hong Kong. These are shiny tiles with the words Dream, Hope, Love and Imagine printed on them. My friends tell me they were drawn into a small souvenir shop by a shifty stall-owner who promised them marvels and miracles. They found these coasters instead, and thought of me immediately.

These coasters are so very perfect.

Dreams. Hope. Love. Imagination. What more do we need to kickstart a brand new year with? When bad stuff happens (and it will), we can shrug, smile and carry on. There will always be a decent burger joint nearby with thick, trusty fries.

I put on that song again, absorbing the wisdom in its words: “We are shining stars / We are invincible / We are who we are.”

And so we are.

Yours always and always,

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