• Casper Yeow

The grief of unrealized potential

Last week, two people, who I considered close to me, on two unrelated and separate occasions, but on the same day, told me that they were disappointed in me. It stung but it led me to contemplate as to whether there was any basis for their assertions. And if I was to be honest with myself, there was!


A further few weeks back, I attended the funeral of a good friend's son. This young man's life was shaping up to be something special - a wonderful family, gifted in many ways and loved by many. And suddenly, the shape dissolved into nothing but memories. It was extremely sad. I never knew him, but with all those who came forward at the funeral to share about their experiences with him, I felt like I did. He was only thirteen. Way too young.


On both occasions, while taking different forms and incomparable in gravity, what I experienced and witnessed, in its most basic form, was grief. Grief of potential that would never be realized, in the case of my friend's son, and grief of my inability to fulfill someone's expectations of me (or the potential in me).


For those of us who have experienced the latter, we ought to consider ourselves the lucky ones. Something out there is signalling to us loud an clear that things are not in their proper place. If we are honest and self-aware enough to recognize and acknowledge this signal, whether true or not, it's a great start to making things right. We get to ponder about our screwups and what we suck at, decide how we can address them for the next time (despite of what some may think, there's always a next time), go to bed, and then wake to up with the opportunity to have another go. I think that's a pretty good deal.


Like it or not, we have people around us - loved ones, colleagues, friends, who rely on us to be at our very best, and if not, they grieve. A reminder: Time's a unreclaimable finite resource. Make haste!


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