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The Hum


I can’t even begin to tell you how many flights I have taken over the past few years and never have I felt what I am feeling right now as I’m flying to Doha from Kuala Lumpur. Over the past few years, over many flights — short and long — my ears have grown accustomed to the humming sound of the plane. Today, for some reason, is different.

I feel so… peaceful. Even with the soft whispering sound of the air stewardess, even with the occasional sound of a baby crying somewhere in the front row of the plane, I still feel so at peace with myself.

The serenity is so overwhelming at the moment that I feel like crying. Normally, I would have had an idea — a thought for a piece of writing — when I’m flying and I would procrastinate. Watching movies, listening to music while reading. Anything but writing because I feel unmotivated. But this peace, it’s so strong I actually stop what I’m watching and despite the fatigue I’m experiencing, here I am, typing away.

Maybe it’s all the voices I have had to listen to this past month. After my mother passed, a lot of people, relatives, friends of my mother, came to me with advice and suggestions, which I highly appreciate because I could use some help navigating the rough waters. I had just lost my anchor, feeling a little lost and every little help was welcomed.

But in the process of listening to so many external voices with many differing opinions, I had somehow lost contact with my own voice. My own voice was drowned. I was already confused before I started listening to so many people. I got even more confused after.

After my mom passed, everyone suddenly has an opinion on what I should do and how I should lead my life. One person told me something and then the next told me something different. Sometimes, I feel like these people are taking my life so lightly. They just say their piece. Telling me what to do without really thinking that it’s my life they’re talking about so lightly.

I don’t mind input from others. I could really use it and a lot of them have really helped me. But it’s really upsetting when some people who barely know me started coming to me, telling me how I should live my life.

Sometimes, we say something without truly realizing the effect and the repercussions of what we say. It had been difficult enough dealing with grief and on top of that, I have to deal with anxiety and guilt too. I can’t even begin to tell you how many nights I have spent awake because of all the thoughts swimming in my head.

I take full responsibility for my feelings. After all, no one can make me feel what I don’t want to feel. But it would be really helpful if we all can think for a moment before we open our mouths. God knows I probably have said stupid things that caused someone unpleasant feelings in the past. I sincerely apologized for those things.

But sometimes, the best thing you can offer someone who is mourning is not a piece of advice but rather silence. Complete absence of noise. What I’m learning and implementing in my own life right now is to shut my mouth unless my opinion is requested.

This world can be difficult to navigate at times. Imagine being lost in the sea, in the middle of the storm and having 10, 20 people shouting different instructions at you. Would you feel calm, knowing exactly what to do or would you feel more confused?

Sometimes, the only voice you have to listen to is your own voice. Sometimes, you already know the answers. You only need a bit of quiet space to be able to hear it.

Provide that space for others. If someone asks you for directions and you happen to know the way, go ahead. Guide him/her. But if you see someone is overwhelmed by a situation, take his/her hand, lead him/her to somewhere quiet, sit with him/her, smile and just keep that person company. In silence.

Sometimes, a smile and silence are all someone needs to tell him/her that everything is going to be okay. That everything is going to be fine again eventually.

To all of you who have provided me with that space I needed but didn’t know at the time, for all the smiles and the hours of silence, you know who you are and I sincerely thank you.

And so up in the sky, cruising high above the ground, I found my peace in the hum of the airplane engines.