Skyscraper Moments

IDK, just some thoughts about having hope.

Posted by Jet on April 08, 2021 · 5 mins read

So, I’m back…

At this rate I’ll end up only making one blog post per year, I guess I don’t often feel like things warrant being written about. What’s actually been happening is I’m currently in the UK, far away from home, pursuing a PhD that I think is what I want to do. The reality is I’m not so sure why I’m doing and I’m not sure of what I’m going to do after a PhD - and academia isn’t one of them.

I miss home. I miss the food, shopping mall scenes, blistering heat and humid weather. I miss the friends, family, banter about the usual day-to-day life of a Malaysian. I also miss a feeling that I think a lot of Malaysians can resonate to. That feeling of being in a developing country knowing that great things are in order and have the potential to come to fruition, even if everything somehow feels like a chicken nugget in your milkshake. I call this the skyscraper moment.

I like heights. I like the wind in my hair. I like the silent peace you get the higher up you go. I like the idea that moving horizontally is easy, but moving really vertically is something not everyone gets to do. Anyone who’s known me for a long enough amount of time knows this. And by this extension, I love skyscrapers. I love getting to the top of them, like the very top. Through fire escapes, dimly lit corridors, and maybe through a few busted doors and past some security guards. Views from the top of these places cannot be captured on camera, and hence the feeling is not easily shared.

But I’ll try…

Skyscraper rooftops are nice - you can be in the middle of a bustling city with commotion around you, but while up there, everything fades away, the horizon expands, and for a moment you’re free to breathe. It puts my own problems in perspective.

From a data driven perspective, being up high is so far from the common realm of what we experience that it naturally forces our minds to think. And given that there is no immediate urgency, the thoughts that we develop are those that we shun away in the shadows, the ones that bubble up with close friends on a quiet park in the night. Except instead of talking internally about problems of the past, skyscraper moments prompt thoughts about the future, philosophy, life, and what could be.

To me, skyscraper moments are not confined to skyscrapers. They can arise during euphoric yet humbling instances. Being atop a mountain. Seeing your country’s national athlete compete. That dinner with childhood friends. And I think to most people, boarding an airplane does the same thing. I just term them skyscraper moments because being atop one has never not given me that same feeling. Skyscraper moments make you believe in yourself 120%, they make you believe that there is still potential out there to be seized, they reassure you that no, you have far and away not reached your peak.

Skyscraper moments are hopeful.

The world is so much bigger than we think it is

I know I’ll probably never be able to fathom how much of the world is out there for me to learn about and interact with, and I’m definitely never able to live through every lifestyle and experience I can whimsically make up in my mind. But it just so happens that human nature makes us imagine ourselves in places and experiences we think we like. A top 3 athlete pushing the age of 30 only quits when he’s given up on himself. He competes because he’s human, and human desire is driven by hope. Being hopeful sparks the passion of being able to push through insurmountable, even impossible, odds. And it’s for that reason we still imagine ourselves in near impossible situations, because there is hope that it may still be possible.

And I guess that’s why I’m doing a PhD. It’s all part of this near unattainable future that I have imagined up for myself, and it’s a step that’s driven by hope. That being said, I have no idea if what I attain at the end of this journey will be of any significant milestone towards a planetary contribution. But what keeps me going I suppose is hope. Just hope that I work hard enough that maybe, one day, luck will strike and I’ll land somewhere within the realm of where I want to land.

But I gotta say, I miss skyscrapers. And I haven’t been atop one in 7 months.

I miss skyscraper moments.

I miss being hopeful without needing to pep talk myself.

And while skyscraper moments are genuine, pep talks can be deceptive.