Somewhere between the ages of 4-7, I was playing connect-the-dots without a ruler and with bright colored markers. I didn't connect them in numerical order as I should have because what did I really know about numbers? It's not like I grew up a typical Asian and already learned that ahead of pre-K...oh wait. Well, what was meant to look like a cow jumping over the moon turned into ET on a psychedelic trip in another dimension. Lines were drawn off the pages, on to tables and even the walls. I connected them the way I felt like doing so, and didn't let numbers tell me what to do!
I also loved the idea of stars and space. When a pack of glow-in-the-dark stars were gifted to me, I scattered them across my room, on my ceiling, all corners of the walls and directly overhead so that every night I'd stare at them until I'd fall asleep. I was mentally connecting those stars, too.
Then, there were those "beauty" marks appearing all over my body and on my face that wouldn't wash away with soap. At one point, I imagined what design I could create if I connected them. No, I didn't draw on myself, but I almost did...with a pen. I was 20. Just kidding, these are all anecdotes of toddler Chang.
As I got older, the concept of connecting the dots became a lot more figurative than literal-- as all things in life do. The memories of my past have become nothing but a dream. But, I look back and I reflect often. Every stage in my life, every painful memory, every year that goes by, I wonder why something or someone resonates. And it is only by looking back at certain moments, whether joyous or tearful, that I've learned from my mistakes and realized how far I've come, and how to prepare for the future.
The catch is...what exactly am I preparing for when I don't even know what the future holds? How do you prepare for something that is unknown? There really is no preventative measure to take. As I stand on my current dot, I guess let's call it dot 25--a dot for each year-- I realize that I really can't connect to 26. I can imagine myself using that bright marker and drawing lines out of order, but it isn't really in my control. I do just have to believe that some way, somehow it'll all connect until eventually the future is right now all over again at dot 30 and dot 40, or dot 80 if I ever make it there.
I live a little terrified every day, but it's just a matter of how much terror I reveal. Some days are more exciting than others. Some days are a little more quiet than others. All I can do is live it one day at a time. But, at dot 25, I no longer have glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to my ceiling and walls. I just look up to the sky and search for the brightest in this light polluted city I live in.