Archive for the ‘Life Musings’ Category

Farewell to the first decade [of my life]

December 28, 2009

It is not usually a good sign for a blogger when crafting posts become tedious – like a warrior sick of war or an artist when the creativity has all dried up.

-Also, it probably suggests something when you write a sentence, stare at it, go off, come back, get bored, give up, and come back the next morning and write another line.

Seeing as it is sort-of Christmastime (what is the time between Christmas and New Year anyway? The Inter-holiday pre-annual rest week?) and sort-of New Year, it is only fitting to review the year and look ahead.

Well, the holidays  have been busier than usual – thus, more fun and, hence, shorter. I would not say I’ve wasted them, but now they draw to a close and everyone else is tittering on about the work that needs to be done and it both Worries and Grates On Me.

That aside, how about the rest of 2009? At every turn people write about the End of the First Decade and the Straits Times (and Time magazine, and other print publications in fact) has been going on about how Terrible it has been. Turns out, the Internet tends to take a more optimistic view of these past ten years. Anyhow, ten years is a pretty long view when it is 59% of your life, so back to just 2009. 2009 marks the eleventh year of formal education, or, the second last of the twelve I have been taught to expect. More pertinently, the last one where slacking off does not make one a social pariah.

And…. the more I think about this as I type the content-free filler of the above paragraph, the more jaded I feel. I ask myself, “what have you done?” and am hard-pressed to answer. I might say I’ve been living (uncapitalised first letter) – just about. To subsist, to let things happen and to experience what comes, instead of seeking experiences – that a way to describe my 2009.

But, pardoning the terrible, yet apt, school-based metaphor, it might also have been a thoroughly worked over set of lecture notes, rich with bold, highlighted, keywords. Read them once, perfunctorily, and the words wash right over, like the waves of life’s happenings, just white noise without purpose. Look again, with greater care, and the important things, the highlights, the apexes and the nadirs, become obvious. And although they say it is not the peaks, the highlights, but the long valley paths and the everyday happenstances of life that define a man, it is the peaks that we remember. And really, what am I doing here if not Remembering?

So, I would not say 2009 was a good year – it was eventful. Mostly, defined by the events of J1 year.

Looking ahead at 2010, I have little to say just yet. Although, by the looks of all the people moaning about work to do, it does not look pleasant.  (“Buck up, it’s not difficult, it’s challenging and rewarding“)

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December 18, 2009

My gosh, haven’t blogged in ages.

Well, holidays are now officially in full swing, what with all the holiday Training, Meeting People, and Going Out and spending bleeding money on Things like Food.

Oh, right, and the Seeing Pictures of People going to Interesting Places on Facebook. And, of course, camp, from which I myself have recently returned.

In short, many things have been happening that take away the little time left in the final month of the last year of the new millennium’s first decade. Chronological circumlocutions aside, plenty of interesting (to me) things that are run-of-the-mill.

Perhaps, it’s rather obvious that I’m trying to avoid starting on the almost obligatory post-camp blogpost. The post-camp and “away for ages; now I’m back” post.

Camp was… eye-opening and powerful. I don’ think I can go into the details in text, but suffice to say, God showed me that He is powerful, empowers his people to do Things for Him, and He asked me why I’m not doing so much more yet. Kinda like a kick in the seat of the pants. Anyway, if you’re interested, just ask me; I’ll be candid, I promise.

And so, as we gaze Christmas in the distance, but fast-approaching, along with new year and a new school term, it’s time to get off the ass and get working. Hopefully, heh.

Storytellers and Talespinners

October 16, 2009

Actually a continuation from the previous post, because I haven’t figured out how to tweak WordPress till it yields a LJ-esque cut tag.

So, shall we carry on from the mentioned loss of said flying plastic disc and assuming the rest of the previous post was cut for personal ramblings.

Mmmhmmm, losing it was unhappiness-inducing, which started me wondering how a good-ish mood could be so comprehensively ruined so quickly. And then this train of thought veered onto a hitherto undiscovered set of tracks, regarding the external, observable human condition.

How readily do people show emotion, and to what extent, especially as they experience more extreme feelings? How visible was my irritation? What would it be like to observe people with complete detachment; in other words, how do ghosts feel?

Hands up, those of you who enjoy people-watching.

Everyone has their tics. Little physical twitches perhaps. But people-watching involves trying really rather hard to infer what exactly goes on behind the opaque doors of the watched one’s eyes from mere physical movements. It’s akin to plumbing the depths of a coal mine with a torch and a ball of string.

It is frustrating yet strangely satisfying. My guess is that we never really know the truth; it is far too difficult for one to even have the remotest chance of being right. What happens, is that we fill in the gaps with our hidden dreams and memories, reconstructing a melange of experience, fantasy, and stereotypes.

And thus the conclusion goes: to truly observe with detachment is to be so boring as to be impossible. When we watch people, we look for vessels through which to tell our own stories and watch our dreams.

All this from the unhappy thoughts of losing a small, not inexpensive, but ultimately minor thing. Not a trivial loss certainly, but it sparked something off. Perhaps, it began me people-watching myself.

Catharsis

October 9, 2009

Ask not why it rains; the weather, it weeps for me
…oh such conceit.

Such vainglory, that the heavens would pour out and the floodgates open, that the sky’s fury would come for one man’s tears.

So, take it not as the weather matching my mood, but my mood matching the weather.
…and now it”s no longer gloomy, grey, or wet. Just dark. How fitting.

but now it’s far too wallowing and self-pitying to believe I actually wrote the above a few hours ago. These are the kinds of things one does when stream-of-consciousness-ing over the course of a few hours. With YouTube-ing in between.

Current mood:Meh
Well, let’s get into the post-promos spirit. Seeing as how studying seemed so futile and wholly un-life-satisfying, surely I’d have plenty to try and fill life with, especially now that promos are over. I’m being incoherent again, so forgive me, as I stream-of-consciousness again. That said, it seems like I really haven’t been doing anything worth my while lately, and before, after, and now, especially after, promos, the feeling of great waste and fruitlessness is exacerbated.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” –C.S. Lewis

If I’ve been letting a hunger for another world within me grow, and I haven’t nourished myself with every word that comes from the mouth of God, then there’s only one thing left to do.

Sheepherding Sheep

August 27, 2009

School: don’t we all love it?

It us interesting, the same way an insane asylum might be considered a curiousity.

Where else do intelligent, composed, confident people lose their heads and behave like the proverbial sheep (or, in rare cases, Headless Chicken)?

After all, it is a place of independent learning, where minds mature and learn to carve out their unique places in the world.

It’s also a place where people know exactly where they stand. When everyone knows everybody, the unknown stay unknown and the known stay known; it is rather difficult to Climb The Social Ladder without anyone new to Upset The Status Quo.

.
.
.

There is this theroy that there are only 500 real people in this world, and the rest are background; that’s why they keep bumping into each other. And of course, there is an infinity of 500 person groups which overlap rather a bit.

Well, shrink it down and watch it work in school. There are these conglomerations of real people, and they know their place relative to the background, like well trained actors. And within each group we all know exactly what to do if we want to remain real and not fade into unreality: what everyone else does.

Baaaaaaaaa.

And it is an interesting phenomenon. And it probably doesn’t change, the older you get. Curious, isn’t it, how an individual’s uniqueness doesn’t stand alone, nor does it stand in spite of groupthink, but exists as the sum of his groupthink(s)?

Tomorrow can worry

August 4, 2009

The most striking thing isn’t that I’m still looking for my  GC-containing pencilcase; it’s how unworried I am.

What could it really mean? That I’ve become disillusioned with the supposed objective of school via doing tutorials to prepare for examinations? Or how I’ve transcended the shackles of material possessions and have begun to seek more meaningful pursuits? Maybe, I’ve brushed aside the veil of ignorance, revealing the futility behind the mad scrambling in school, and this is a form of quiet protest.

How often do you get the feeling that you should care about something, but couldn’t even bring yourself to bother abour trying to be concerned? It’s the niggling feeling that tickles somewhere in the head, that, in some way, you’re being disobedient, rebellious, and downright bad for not caring when you should.

I guess, everytime we come to that crossroads, we have to decide. If we’ll choose to evaluate importance by the world’s standards, or if we’ll dare to take the road less travelled, and let it make all the difference.

(I’m such a romantic. More likely, it’ll give you the feeling that you’re making steps towards being your own person, living your own life, slowly drifting towards the less well-worn path. But, it’s still enough)

So, will you let people worry about what they will, while your live and worry for exactly what you’re going to do?

Of Moneyplants and Progress

August 1, 2009

In reply to the linked post, we now discuss what to do with life.

First, apologies for being unable to maintain the tapestry of your essay in my mind’s eye in its entirety.

You do, however, write much more clearly when momentarily unshackled from the stresses and pressures of deadlines and unfortunate practical realities. Or so it seems.

Now, I’ll begin.

I agree that the ingrained aphorism, “time is money”, chains us to an unending cycle of work and productivity; work and productivity that we have become accustomed to, to the complete exclusion of any possible external reality. Much like the unpredictable-by-definition “Black Swan” events you mentioned in our conversations. We find ourselves blinkered and confined if we cling to the philosophy of saving time, so much so that we don’t expect nor welcome the unexpected, let alone stop to smell the roses.

So, I’d summarise the first half of your essay as an exhortation to stop rushing, to stop living by the clock, and to start truly living; to live as if each day were brand new and bound with surprises, as if every day were an opportunity to love someone else, to do something new, to seek out fresh experiences. To realise that there is always more to life, no matter how full the plate in front of you may seem, and to keep searching, outside the boundaries of experience for more bountiful life to be had. Correct me if I’m wrong.

But then, you mentioned purpose. Unfortunately, your analogy suggests that a life lived purposeless (like your moneyplant) can equal or best a life lived with singular, possibly misguided purpose (the stick). The quote you mentioned, on the other hand, begs to differ. I suggest that the key would be neither to live without purpose and grow haphazardly, enjoying the myriad possibilities life offers, nor is it to cling to a singular purpose unquestioningly, which you appear to imply great revulsion for. In my, humble, opinion, the key is to find a purpose, but never forgetting that there are always other things outside, things to enjoy and to savour, and to always “stop to smell the roses”.

Regarding your meandering discussion of progress, I’m afraid there exist far too many views regarding the subject. In any limited field, with sufficient history for comparison, definite progress can be observed. For example, an increase in computing power over the last four decades surely constitutes progress.

The problem arises when one considers epochal changes. Can one say for certain that the rise of electricity over steam is progress? In terms of energy efficiency, undoubtedly. Yet, from other frames of reference, perhaps not. It appears, then, that the problem is that the multitude of reference frames leaves us pondering if any particular development constitutes progress. The lines become more blurred when one considers issues such as moral progress, and the possibility that progress in one area could be regress in another.

The solution to the conundrum may be similar to your proposal. Perhaps, the term progress itself is meaningless; there is only the here and now, and history. There are differences between the two, but one can never say for sure if progress has occurred. All that can be done would be to simply accept the current state of existence.

What then does this mean for individuals? If progress is a meaningless illusion, why do we strive? Why do we race against the clock and hurry to meet deadlines? Could it be only for the oh-so-crass reasons of comfort and pleasure that we toil?

If we reject hedonism as the sole reason for work, what else is left to us? People slog at jobs to earn a comfortable lifestyle, and as a society we seek “progress” that makes life easier. Deadlines on the calender are merely schedules for pleasure attainment; so, if we reject that and refuse to be “shackled by time”, what purpose can we possibly we have?

Either we have no purpose, and do as we please, like the free moneyplant, or we live outside of time-orchestrated pleasure/comfort-deadlines, and govern ourselves with principles. These principles differ little from the purpose in life I’ve mentioned I suppose. One might say, that these principles, or the purpose we find, would be alternative “stick for the moneyplant”. They are what one clings to, when one relinquishes the grasp on the “bad stick” (i.e. the misguided purpose).

In conclusion, we appear to find ourselves living in a pleasure-loving commune toiling in constant drudgery. We would love to look around us and identify the “sheeple”, the ones who see nothing else but the misguided purpose of the rat race and comfort-seeking, the only “stick” they see, which they cling to desperately.

And we would love to be the enlightened few, the ones who see beyond the chains of such single-minded purpose, to see the other possibilities, to see the other life-guiding purposes and “sticks”. We would like to break free from the shackles the commune’s hedonism, to seek true purpose, true principled meaning, to fully taste the opportunities of life until we find the right one. All because we intuitively deny the communal lifestyle, and believe there has to be much, much, more.

And I say, yes. Look around instead of upwards, and see the countless multitude of possibility, and be free. Grow right and true, and no longer twine and extend, like a depende

Happy Fourth of July.

July 4, 2009

We stand on the cusp of a new day, a special day. As tomorrow dawns, so begins a day of remembrance. A date that serves as a memorial, lest we forget.

Tomorrow, on the 4th of July, Rwanda will celebrate Liberation Day. It will be 15 years since the events of 1994 erupted into racial violence. 15 years ago, more than a million individuals were murdered in the course of a hundred days. In the span of three months, as neighbour turned on neighbour, a million unique people ceased to be. And the world watched, rapt with horror.

As international leaders found themselves unable to act, racial hate fanned into the flames of genocide. As men debated the sovereignty of nations, other men became murderers. Some enjoyed it, many others were subsumed by the bloodlust of their so-called brethren. Men became killers or risked their own death, in a society burning down to reveal the primal behind the façade.

As we remember the genocide, let us question ourselves. How could any hate be so great as to blind a man to himself? How could a matter of race, a matter of ethnicity, a matter of wealth or power be enough to drive a nation to destruction? How could enough men hate enough to tear a nation asunder?

And as we consider the weakness of irrational mankind, of how great his folly is, let us also remember a little more. Back to 1945, and to Dachau. Today, there stands at the camp a simple engraving; Never Again.

And we ask of ourselves, why. If we said Never Again, then why? Has our memory failed us, or our resolve? As the world watched the camps, liberated one at a time, through newsreels and reporters, it recoiled in horror and shock. Did we make ourselves hypocrites in 1994?

And yet, everything goes on, as it must. Each new day brings with it fresh headlines; of suffering and of devastation, of joy and of hope. The world keeps turning, it’s just up to us to write the story. The story of humanity is a long and chequered tapestry; we can choose to let this latest thread be of justice and goodness, of charity and goodwill. We can be the ones to bring the headlines of hope, to see a future worth making a cause of.

It’s the choice and prerogative of every one of us six billion people on our lonely planet to make the very best of it, to put on all the virtue we could hope for. Like the Bard put it,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;

Just over six billion parts, waiting to be played, each in their unique circumstances. Some with more responsibility, some with less, all with their varied roles. The actors are about and the production is afoot; will it be comedy, tragedy, or something else completely?

Happy Independence Day.

Election Fever

March 29, 2009

I’m disappointed by the shameless prostitution and whoring I see around me. More than a few “council election advertising space (jokingly?) for sale”s; countless “vote for us”s to be seen in every direction, and facebook “vote for me okay kthxbai”s.

I’d understand a facebook group if it was actually used for anything other than profligate self-promotion; for purposes of advancing a campaign by promoting a cause or initiative, I’d understand. Pity then that a survey of the facebook groups reveals a, likely lonely, possibly solitary, group of potential councilors who promise to actually try and do something concrete (which, to the best of my knowledge, is a requirement). Kudos to them. As for those with pages essentially saying:

we have [stock positive qualities], we’re going to do [whatever it is councilors are supposed to do], we’ll [do our best], so [vote for us]

or worse,

[groan-inducing pun or supposedly catchy slogan], [you know who we are] [so vote for us!]

well, no scorn or disdain from this corner; merely honest opinion: it is difficult to masquerade emptiness as a meaningful cause and campaign. I don’t respect any of you any less; I am convinced that you are very nice, perfectly okay, and highly capable people. I can’t claim to fully understand the difficulties of running for council, but I’d dare say it is tough, and you are most deserving of admiration. So, forgive me for directing my ire at you poor fellows who stand as figureheads of a voting process that, perhaps, pretends that it doesn’t, but knows full well that it depends far too much on who you know, and how well you’re known, rather than meaning or truly demonstrated drive.

It does sadden me to see it again; the campaigning and the cries for attention, the pretense and, finally, the voting. The scent in the air is an all too familiar one. It dates to secondary school, when cruder jokes, worse puns, and more laughably and clearly unfulfillable promises abounded; when elections were won on hilariously bad taglines, and when we all knew in our heart of hearts how it really worked.

But then again, it might just be me. Just me who sees posts won on popularity and remembered-because-they-were-so-bad lines, and dies a little inside. I know, you know, those running, those voting, they know, how this will really be won. There will be toil, there will be tears, and there will be sweat. But, let us not be deceived. Rather, I urge you,  go, vote for your friends; keep your promises, maintain your honour, stand by your companions, and, whatever comes, know where you stood in their time of need, but, still, remember just how much the result matters, and not one jot more.

And if you start to feel that selfsame scorn brew, or the familiar disdain rising again, or even feel your nose turning up at the sight of more desperate cries for votes, don’t. Maintain the respect for those who run, and hold your sorrow for a flawed system. I shall endeavor to.

Forgive the ravings of a bitter, bitter fellow, and instead give thanks for a screening process that we may have some belief in. A procress that weeds out the truly incapable, and let us exercise recklessness with impunity, knowing that, whatever the result, the student council will have some modicum of competency. Hope the powers that be erred not in their choices.

Another edit, another disclaimer:
I’m sure that there are people you know very well, your longtime friends that you are certain are fully capable and deserving. Vote for them, and urge them on. Help them in every way you can. Personally, I have the highest hopes for capable, deserving, and well-suited people in student council. I have my vote, it goes to those whom I know full well should be councilors, to those worthy, and to those friends whom I love to support them in their endeavour.

February 6, 2009

O’ Tiero 2009: Unity

When we look back
Wasn’t it just yesterday
I couldn’t find the words to say
To fill the empty silence
To break the awkward moments
A little smile and laughter shared
A friendship sparked because you cared
This path we tread wont be smooth
But together, we will pull though

Prechorus:
Walking hand in hand, heart to heart,
Joining voices to sing and dance
When I start this song, you’ll sing along,
And we can just go on and on and on

Chorus:
When we look back, will we remember
Each moment of this year?
The days that mark out time in here
Threaten to disappear
All that we have’s the present
To cherish while we can
Seizing every chance we’re blessed with
And leave with no regrets

Took a firm step in this place
Wishes, hopes, we’re in a daze
The cold walls are taunting
Just where’s the warmth within?

Whenever you call my name
Across the corridor
The madness of chasing dreams
Doesn’t matter anymore

Prechorus

Chorus

Bridge:
rough winds only bring us higher
tough fights only make us stronger
yet knowing we’ve got one another
we’ll stick together more than ever
yeah…. yeah….

Chorus x2

All the friends we’ve made we won’t forget
We’ll leave with no regrets
These two years no regrets
These two years no regrets

It’s lovely isn’t it? It’d be wonderful to leave (and live) with no regrets; to know there’s a voice out there that can chase away the madness of the soul; to know that, “As Rafflesians, you’ll never have to face it alone.”

A friendship sparked because you cared
What fire starts without a spark; what spark flames without fuel?

Really, is orientation any more than a flint to which tinder and wood must be provided? Apologies to those left on a high; is it really possible to build heart-to heart relationships in 70-odd hours? Are you going to mourn a death in the family with someone you’ve shared a few jokes with? Can you share your hopes and dreams and expect loving support from someone you’ve participated in activities with? Can failures and successes, ambitions and dark secrets, heart and soul, be poured out to someone with whom you’ve only chatted about the same boat you’re in? (edit: am I always this bitter?_)

Of course, that’s not to say there’s anything the matter with enjoying orientation. With knowing new people or with having fun with them. But it’s certainly only just started, and it’s surely too early to have built very much of very great importance. I hope.

So, tell me, how are friends made in a matter of days and hours? How are people, when put, not drawn, together, able to hit it off just like (fingersnap) that?

mood: frustrated, undirectedly envious, somewhat depressed