The Romance of Detachment

“Who journeys with you? Like, who checks up on you nowadays?” A asked.

I mentioned two names. I felt a stab of loneliness and resentment, thinking about the names that I did not mention. But another thought swiftly countered such neediness: just as well, since I might potentially be leaving all this behind if I pursue Option 1A to its end. 

This phase of my life is marked by a particular subtlety: if, and only if (because that is how insidious this is), I take a step back to think about the people whom I love, I realise that I am slowly and subconsciously distancing myself from them. Perhaps this is a survival instinct. If the three ingredients of making close friends are indeed (1) proximity, (2) repeated, unplanned interactions, and (3) a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, the distance from home would inevitably untangle these knots.

The metaphor is a prelude to the literal. 

So when I found myself angry with a close friend recently,1 disagreeing fundamentally with another,2 and FOMO-ing about others,3 the possibility of living my life far away became such an easy justification to be uncaring about it all.

But in another worldview, detachment is not just an excuse for feeling less, but a raison d’être for feeling more. A yoga teacher (stick with me – she actually does make sense) describes a hypothetical organised trip, during which we meet someone who is really attractive and interesting, but we know that we will not see him or her after the holiday. So we accept the situation, make the most of the few days that we can spend together, and open ourselves fully to the experience.

Now generalise the someone to all our loved ones, and memento mori. Voilà, we have a philosophy: we live and love, not in spite of our impermanence, but because of it. We live and love like fire, brightly and briefly.

Our firm had a photoshoot today, as part of a branding exercise. My impending departure precluded me from being a part of it. L told me not to be sad. I replied him, “I have convinced myself not to be.”

And I have. More than anything, I am excited for July to pass. I am excited for the freedom to live and love in the transient months preceding a whole new life in pursuit of Option 1A.4

July is packed with deadlines: summary judgment and SFC appeal fixed together before a HC judge, trial against a Big Four firm, ongoing discoveries, AEICs for a big client, AEICs for a stingy client, etc.

This is a macrocosm of the 3AM night before my call break. This is, as JS and I have agreed to call it, the storm before the calm. But seeing the dawn on the horizon, I guess I can be detached about the night, (try to) enjoy this last torrent of work, and live brightly in this brief month.5


1. I am still coming to terms with this.

2. To some extent, we have sorted this out.

3. A perpetual struggle.

4. And I am excited for Melbourne, Japan, and most (uncertain) of all, Iceland. But F scolds me whenever I revel in my departure, so I must not be too loud about it.

5. But I’ll be helping out for a late October trial, so it ain’t really the end until it’s the end. 


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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale.