Saturday, April 18, 2009

The need to be AWARE

Since the whole online community's talking about this, I might as well join the herd.


What bothers me the most is not that the new leadership seems rather...unstable, or that Singapore's civil society is shifting. What bothers me the most is that this was a a non-profit organisation.

I'm an idealist at times, and this is one of them. A charity. Granted, there'll be office politics and organisational strife anyway, but still, a freaking coup?

What ever happened to the whole idea of joining a charity because you believe in its cause?

And don't give me that bull about how they believed in its cause so much that they decided to TAKE OVER THE WHOLE THING. You know. To keep it safe.

Kinda like how Japan was keeping Singapore safe for those evil British colonist bastards, eh?

I can understand a coup in some MNO. Or a uber-large company. Or in politics. Politics is all about coups after all. And quality home video entertaining (teh scandals! teh scandals!)

But a coup in a charity organisation dedicated to advocating women's rights? Why do I get the impression that the spirit of the organisation has died?


Oh right. Thanks invisible-ninja-on-my-shoulder. Because reading the wonderfully concise reply by the organisation, it seems they couped because they were "ready for it".

Any particularly strong views? Something that they felt really needed to be changed or done? Problems with the old management? Nope. Just stuff about their qualifications, and speculation about whether the old guard had any inner motives.

Qualifications!? The most important qualification needed for a charity organisation is the heart. And if you want to qualify for the heart, show it to me through dedicated service. Work for the company for ten years, prove yourself a dedicated member and if you still believe in your cause, then by all means, you have earned the right to implement it. Because you have shown heart.

But if you somehow lost it along the way, or are too scared to let your views be known even after taking over the organisation then well, your belief probably was never really that strong in the first place, was it?


Just a last note to summarise: All in all, it is when the people running a charity organisation dedicated to helping others displaces the top management simply for their own selfish desires that I begin to get worried.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I saw an old man in the Park with a pair of shears. His worn brown cloak seemed to billow in the wind, even as he carefully and tenderly cut the stem of a beautiful, fully bloomed sunflower.


A little girl, barely three years of age ran past, giggling as a large, furry brown dog (a labrador?) chased after her. The two of them ran, round and round the park benches, until at last the young child collasped onto the grass in exhaustion, laughing with joy as her dog slobbered slimy drool all over her soft, young face.

Nearby, a family was having a picnic; father, mother and their two sons eating heartily out of a woven thatch basket. Next to them sat grandfather, watched over by a nurse, his bloodstream was fed carefully from an IV drip hanging by his side. Then the youngest son, a toddler of five, waddled over to his grandda: chubby arms outstretched with a small sandwich grasped inbetween. With a slow shake and a smile, the grandfather declined the offer, patting his grandson on the cheek.


A sudden gust nearly caught me off guard, sending rolls of old newspaper tumbling across the pavement. The old man grasped his hat, straining against the wind. Far beyond in the open fields a young boy suddenly lost control of his kite; its green and yellow striped form crashing into the trees. An old lady, bent over with a walking stick, hobbled over to the crying boy with a napkin in her hands, and kind words upon her lips.

Five kids dashing from tree to tree in a myriad pattern of their own devising, giggling, laughing and cheering as they raced. Round and round the park they went, so reckless in their play that one of them tripped, slamming face down into the soft mud of the earth. Sitting up, the young boy smiled, even as the remaining four of his friends turned around to help him up.


The wind had stopped now, as the old man resumed his collecting. A fresh pink flower fell from its branch, only to be caught gently by a pair of pale, wrinkled hands, its petals carefully gathered and pressed into a small black scrapbook hanging by the old man's side. So far he has collected nearly a hundred different petals - some similiar, some different, some belonging to different species, some from the same plant. All of them breathtakingly beautiful, in their own special way.

He sighs, brushing the cover of his scrapbook with a glitter in his eye. With loving care he places the book and its precious contents into a dirty green haversack, smiling in delight at a good day's work.

I too, close my book, pencil and pen returning to the case with a slight snap. The tiny leather-bound tome is slotted into the left pocket of my backpack, while the stationary case enters the right.

Wrapping his cloak around him, the old man leaves, exiting through the wrough-iron gates by the side. I make to do the same, as we both turn back in perfect synchrony for one final glance at the Park. Taking in all its beauty, one last time.

The old man leaves through the wrought iron gates, returning back to the smokey streets and grey-soaked landscapes of society. I watch him as he does so, unwilling to leave so soon, yet fully aware that the Park will close in time. Each step takes him further away, dimmer and dimmer, till all that could be seen was the outline of his brown tattered cloak flapping in the dust-laden breeze.

Yet I know, no matter gloom or pain, no matter or shadow or fog; for as long as he carries that scrapbook a piece of the Park shall always remain with him.

A beacon throughout the storms of life.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Death and Taxes

I suppose it was all good really, during the first sixty-eight years or so. Stable job, good pay and a comfortable working space - so what if I was bonded to the government? The economy was poor, I wasn’t ambitious and the country was safe. A golden offer it seemed, back then.

It was mostly paperwork during the early years. Got promoted to Senior File Manager where I was fifty-one, along with a few extra feet to my cubicle. Boring work, long hours, but hey, it was all for the retirement plan, yes? Save up; buy a yacht, a house by the sea...

Then came the plane crash.

It was a business flight. My first in thirty years. Go figure, huh? The government dragged what was left of my charred remains and put my brain on life support. They re-grew about half my vital organs, fixed a couple of bones and liver problems, and overall had me coming out of the Re-Vita-Tank fitter, healthier and definitely much better than I was before. I had been so amazed, so grateful to be alive again...

Until I found out that they paid for it using my retirement scheme.

Apparently there exists some sort of clause in my bond that basically amounts to a highly formalized and technical version of “till death do us part”. Except that today, what with all the breakthroughs in genetic and nanotechnology, it is they who decide when one can....pass on. And they get to use our money to do so as well. Apparently it’s considered one of the duties of a responsible employee to keep himself in good, working condition. It said so on the contract.

So I got stuck there in my cubicle for another twenty-three years, at least until I earn enough to repay the cost of my medical treatments. Somewhere around the age of a ninety, my heart gave out. So they replaced it with a metal one, along with the full set of annual screenings and charged it straight to my account.

Five years for the heart, five months each year for the screenings. I’ve been working day and night, overtime and off-time, and still my numbers are in the negatives. And the funny thing? The more I worked, the more help I actually needed. Too much stress caused high blood pressure, lack of sleep caused all sorts of mental imbalances in my brain. There came a point where the government paramedics had to tranquilize me in my cubicle just to get me down to the psychiatrist. Therapy sessions on stress and self control. All sorts of fancy drugs and tiny monitors to keep in check my mental aptitude. I woke up each day feeling absolutely great; happy and enthusiastic for work.

Good working condition, all the time.

It reached a point where I contemplated suicide. The minute the monitors picked up the sudden spike in my brain they immediately flooded my system with all manner of happy drugs. I spent the next five minutes staring at the wall, smiling. Ever since then I’ve kept careful track of my thoughts. I couldn’t lose another five minutes like that again. It lost me 0.0147% of my Medi-Monitor Fund in opportunity cost.

The last strategy I tried almost worked. By that time I had spent about one hundred and fifty (or was it sixty?) years in the Filing department. I'd had enough. Of course, I didn’t let that thought stay. I played with it, let it slip through my mind, little moments that flitted away before the monitor could pick up any major irrational spike. In those moments, over the course of the years, I put together a plan. Little things, like a laser-powered Auto-cutter, placed next to my deck for the really tough papers. Careful and discrete noting of the various schedules, and observations of the various “checks” they made on the cubicles that I ingrained into muscle memory.

Then the day came. A small window of opportunity, barely five seconds long. More than enough to lift the laser-cutter to my brain and slice through the neurons. There were still parts of the brain they couldn’t quite fix yet. If I managed to get a good clean shot through the prefrontal cortex I’ll be effectively dead. But then I had to go and do something stupid.

I hesitated. And in that brief two seconds of contemplation the monitors sounded the alarm. Neurotoxins paralyzed my limbs and motor functions, while a fine mist of sleeping gas filled my cubicle. By the time I came to, it was far too late. They demoted me, added the cost of the sleeping gas, and packed me straight back to work.

Good working condition. All. The. Time.

It’s been nearly two hundred years now. I’m still working there, still trying to pay my debts. So long as I owe them money, they’d never let me go. It’s in the contract. I heard that nowadays, if anyone tried what I did fifty years ago they’d be Deboded – their brains extracted yet kept alive to be used as temporary processing space for the organic computers. And memory is just so cheap nowadays...

I write this account mostly because it helps me keep track of things. It also helps prevent me from going insane. I’m afraid if they ever detect another hormonal imbalance in my brain they’d Debod me and stick my head in a jar. So I write, just a few words at a time. Just short enough to escape notice.

I’ve not left my cubicle in what...twenty? Thirty years? I’ve not seen the sky, or the stars, or what passes for the soil these days. Food, drink and drugs are fed directly into my bloodstream. Sleep is a memory, something frivolous that only the rich could buy. Back when times were tough, my dad used to say that he could never afford to rest. But I-

I can never afford to die.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Seeds of Thought

Where do I stand in this world?

A friend once commented that I'm easily distracted. My response was that the world had much to be distracted by. It was a retort made without thinking, yet sometimes it is the heart that answers best.

So many times we try to define where we are. Define who we are. At our age, at our currnet minds, it is a dangerous, fragile phrase. Everyone knows that these 5 years will be the ones that shape us the most. It is when we as people are most malleable, most unsure, most open to learning and teaching, and daring to tread new waters.

The world has much to be distracted by. So many influences, so many things. Perhaps it is the influence of too much literature, or stories, or just TOK, but I see meaning in almost everything. Patterns upon patterns, symbols within symbols, each repeating, folding, dancing together in the light.

So many influences, and the greatest tragedy is how we must shut ourselves to most of them. I think our greatest depression, my greatest depression at least, is the inability to reach. There is so much out there, so much beauty and power and strength, and we humans in our limited, flawed capacity cannot hope to reach it. It is the tragedy that causes us to turn into ourselves. To blame ourselves for not being as high as the stars, as perfect as the angels, as wonderous as the concepts that our minds and souls can dream and create, yet never reach.

It is the closing of the mind that pains me. That we must all do so, for sanity, for efficiency, for function. To open our minds to the universe and all its glory would leave us wallowing in our insignificance, our own weakness and fragility. We are forced, by neccessity, to pick only what is relevant.

And thus we begin to judge.

Because we are forced to judge, to contemplate the idea of importance, of priority, things are no longer pure. Life is fluid, changing, wonderfully changing, the same way a waterfall is mesmerising, the same way the falling stars and singing wind are beautiful. Moving, eternally moving and changing, always different yet somehow, remaining the same.

Siddhartha? Yea. Go ahead and feel put off by it.

All my pain, my suffering comes from the imposing of structure. We are needed to read these books, to score these marks, to reach these goals. And thus it is no longer growth, no longer flow, but a pressure, a suction - a dragging of chains bound around our souls as they struggle in other directions.

It is faster, safer, and more productive. And because of this humankind feels the eternal angst of not knowing their purpose, not knowing what they need.

I thought I broke out of the system. Of the competitive rubrics and judgments and endless targets. Now I see that all I did was impose a different set of rubrics, one based around originality, around creativity, a measurement of how immeasurable something was.


Its so funny, yet so depressing at same time.

No more goals. No more schedules. Let me try that. Let me try to feel life. Feel its wave and motion, its tides and currents, its song, its surf, and all the fish in its depth.

Somepart I suppose, would need to remain an anchor. But no more judgement. No more competition. Just growth, growth for the sake of growth, for the delight of it. For the joy of the sky, the morning sun, the new seeds, the blooming flowers that fade away yet are renewed each dawn, as their petals are mourned and remembered each dusk.

Everyone says to live life for its own sake. That's incorrect. Life for its own sake never changes, never moves. Why do we keep insisting in living our lives and pace?

Let Life live you instead.