In the general scheme of global disasters , Malaysia had more than its fair share in 2014. But then again there is nothing fair about disasters and tragedies, man-made or natural.

Two homegrown airlines lost three aircrafts and many lives when one disappeared, another got shot down and a third crashed into the sea, all in the space of one year. If we adopt Bhutan’s concept of measuring progress by the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of its citizens with its Gross National Happiness Index (google it!), ours would have registered an all time deficit for 2014.

Gross national sadness aside, I am happy we have a new year to begin again. We get to shut down, reboot and keep our fingers crossed that the glitches will somehow right themselves. For those who have personally suffered the pain of bereavement, the loss of health, material possessions, security, sanity and spiritual crisis or deep searing betrayal and disappointments, a new year suitably brings with it renewed hope.

Yet it is in suffering that we feel most at one with each other. It is in suffering that we go beyond ourselves either to console or to accept consolation. And it is in going beyond ourselves that we are at our personal and communal best. The paradox of life, the more we lose ourselves the more we gain.

But then again isn’t it too easy to spout pious platitudes from the comfort zone? I can tell you one thing, I am no longer totally comfortable with air travel. No longer do I ignore the bored looking air stewardess as she tugs the tab to inflate her orange safety jacket and pretends to blow the whistle. I cast nervous glances around me as I buckle the seat belt , a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, “This could be it, my last view of humanity”. What are my last concerns before the plane takes off? That at least my children are now technically adults and can take care of themselves, that I am at peace with myself, that my relationships with others are not fractured but whole.

Then there is another sentiment, a plea to the highest heavens as the aircraft ascends and the ears pop, that I will land safely and live long enough to see my children’s children. That I will be given many new days, months and years to practise wise living. Then as the imagination starts to take flight I see myself growing old and grey with my husband, both of us tottering geriatric steps towards the sunset.

The irrepressible human spirit will always soar higher than any calamity or setback. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, the emptiness left by life’s losses will quickly be filled. How and by what is a choice each of us has to make. Have a meaningful 2015, may you gain wisdom , understanding and goodwill towards all.

Stella Chin is a lawyer and a happy wife and mother of 3 children who enjoys writing, while dancing keeps her on her toes.

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