0036 – back on track + compassion & thoughtfulness

Yes I know, I fell off the bandwagon for a while, and I got a little worked up trying to think about how I was going to fix it before finally I decided- screw it, let’s just start simple again, from scratch. There’s no point spending too much time keeping track of the big things- what matters is the little things, keeping up day to day.

Sleeping habits haven’t been great, but I have been keeping myself fit- I hit the gym a few days ago and it was great, and I feel like I’m strong and clear. I did two articles for Poached last night, so I no longer have that nagging sense of backlog.

Wow, I hate that nagging sense of backlog. It brings me back to unpleasant memories of school days, where you have a whole bunch of homework that you haven’t done, and you don’t do the new homework that you get, either, and it just becomes this whirlpool of quicksand. A total mess. And I claim to be good at crisis management. What a crock of shit, Visa. Learn and do better.

I’ve always wanted to get tattoos, but I’ve also always been delaying it because I want to be absolutely sure of what I wanted. For a period of time I was thinking of getting “think” and “transcend” on my wrists because I liked the alliteration and I thought it was a nice reminder, but I also thought I might be able to do better. (Also, ‘think’ is a bit of a redundant directive for me because I think all the time.)

As I was writing my Poached article and thinking about a whole bunch of other stuff that’s been on my mind (perhaps for years), it sort of came together- I may have expressed this before, but I’m not sure if I’ve been so explicit about it- or if I have, well, here’s some repetition for emphasis’ sake:

the two things I want above all, for myself and for my loved ones and for my nation and for the world, are thoughtfulness and compassion. I think they overlap significantly- and they also overlap with kindness and love. Of the four terms, thoughtfulness and compassion are the ones that resonate the most with me- it’s hard to say or use “love” as a directive because it’s such a loaded and complex term- it has so much baggage, there are so many interpretations. If I tattooed “love” on my wrist (heh, to write love on my arms), I can see myself taking it for granted. It’s just not the best word to use. What do you mean, love? Go and love, be loving, love yourself, love others. It seems a bit pompous and new-agey, even if it’s completely valid.

Kindness is great but I personally find it seeming and sounding a little too… soft? I know, kindness doesn’t have to be soft at all. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to be harsh, to be firm. Kindness and love are both valuable and important ideas to keep on the mind’s backburner at all times, and we should regularly take them out and play with them and make better sense of them.

But I return to thoughtfulness and compassion. I like thoughtfulness because there’s that idea of thinking, which I have such a strong personal affinity with that I find it redundant to say. “THINK”. That directive is embedded in me, I simply can’t help but think about things. But being thoughtful, that’s something I can work on. I’m not always thoughtful all the time, and I would like to be. I’m not always compassionate all the time, but I would like to be.

I had this discussion with a couple of friends over breakfast- this idea of how principles are greater than men, they become guiding beacons that keep us focused on the goal(s) at the horizon. Men err and falter, principles can’t, not really. We use principles as guiding paths. Principles are ideals, almost mathematical in their elegance, despite being very complex and varying from point to point.

Consider principles like “freedom”, and think about how you have to sacrifice some freedoms to attain greater freedom- there’s no such thing as absolute or pure freedom, but meditating on that principle allows us to make better decisions for ourselves, I think.

Ultimately that’s what life’s about, isn’t it, as a sentient being? We can’t choose the first set of cards we are dealt, but we can choose how we play the hand. So the question of life is- how do you play the hand? How do you figure out how to play the hand? What’s the best possible way to play a hand, and how much time should you spend thinking about how to play, instead of actually playing? You should play, take some notes, learn, play better… all of life is a lesson in love, in kindness- and I suppose thoughtfulness is the way through which we reach love and kindness.

It’s so hard to talk about this in words, discussing these concepts and ideas as though they are static. These are things that we have to communicate with our bones. But that’s my vision for myself which I would like to be held accountable to- thoughtfulness and compassion. When I die I’d like to be remembered as a thoughtful and compassionate man. I do many things that are incongruent with these ideals- I say and do thoughtless things, sometimes I shame and harm other people, because I might have thought it fun in the short run, or I might have been anxious or weak or- well- human.

I suppose it’s just one of those mini-epiphanies that’s hard to communicate to others but something swelled up in my mind when I was thinking about these things. Thoughtfulness is something relatively tangible and worth fighting for. The more thoughtful people we have, the more thoughtful actions we have, the more everybody benefits, we have a more beautiful, loving world.

So thoughtfulness would be the banner that I rally under. Thoughtfulness almost naturally leads to compassion, I think, and compassion is the source of love and kindness. So we should be compassionate, we become it by being thoughtful, and thoughtfulness is a choice.
Shikidrabababa.

 

0035 – HDB

He sits in an empty house with the woman of his dreams nestled in his lap like a kitten, only bigger, more beautiful and more alive. He feels her soft breathing on his thigh, and in her face he sees vulnerabilities and strengths and hopes and fears- and he just hopes that he will be able to be the man that she deserves.

The floor and the walls are bare. They sit on a second hand sofa- minimalist, L-shaped, the cushion covers have been sent for dry cleaning. The inner casings are fragile, and the cotton is exposed in some places. A plastic bottle (H20 blackcurrant) is sawed open with a pair of scissors, serving as a de facto ashtray for the cigarettes they would smoke. So many cigarettes. The house is on the 10th floor, the wind is wonderfully brisk and you don’t need fans in a house like that.

The bookshelf is slowly populated. Plastic bags are on the floor, loosely filled with yesterday’s clothes and tomorrow’s hopes. Music plays from a pair of cheap speakers, plugged into the corner electrical socket. McDelivery breakfast. The fridge gets delivered, the electrical mains get replaced. The neighbours- a malay family with a matriarch and lots of kids- are friendly and kind.

The floor is cold. They have nothing, nothing, nothing but smiles and comfort and the realization that yes, now we can be together alone, here we are safe, here we are free. In these walls we are free from parents asking questions and siblings causing a mess and from questions.

They tear up an old towel to wipe their feet. The windows are cleaned with gusto. There is no heating, no hot water, showers will have to be improvised with taps and pipes. They will have to do. It is a blessing. The cold is a pleasant shock.

The fridge is not turned on. Electricity is expensive, and they have nothing that needs refrigeration  anyway.

The books pile up, beautifully. Only the favourites and the best get to make the long trip over, and they are arranged lovingly, by colour because it pleases her (and admittedly, him, too.)

It is freezing at night. Who knew Singapore could be so cold? There is no furniture to trap heat. They hold each other to keep warm. First they sleep on the floor, and then they get a $25 mattress from the neighbourhood provision store.

The first acquisitions are delightfully mundane. A bucket and a mop, to clean the floor with. Window cleaner. They ask their neighbours for newspapers, and are earnestly gifted a large bundle.

You can see the military airbase from the kitchen. The sun sets on it every day.

They explore their surroundings. Everything they could possibly need is either downstairs, or within walking distance. There’s really good prata nearby- and prata is rarely good enough to be worth mentioning, but this one is. The neighbourhood feels slower and more peaceful. There are few cats. The MRT still uses the old gantries (but the new ones have arrived, packed and wrapped.)

Soon there will be bills and tenants and the inevitable creeping of clutter.

They sit in an empty house, but they have each other and their dreams and that is enough. Maybe this is growing up, they think, when the cold bites at your toes but you smile because this time you are free, this time you are alive, and if only we could share it with the world, or if only we could bottle it up and take a good deep whiff every single day because surely this won’t last forever.

They play slow songs. They sit in near silence. It rains every day. It rains long and hard, almost as if to wash away the world outside the walls, outside of the space that they have claimed for themselves, theirs and theirs alone.

There will be struggles, there will be pain and there will be questions. Questions of careers, of meaning, questions asking- what do we do next, where do we go from here? There are mundane questions- we will need furniture, we will need a proper shower instead of using what must be an awfully old rubber pipe.

How do we ensure our own survival? How do we plan to put food on the table, to keep this roof over our heads? Can we create a safe and meaningful space for friends and loved ones, a space that is a haven, away from this crazy chaotic world we live in? Who will we have to become, what will we gain, what will we lose?

They say when you find the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you can’t wait for the rest of your life to begin. Well, the rest of our lives are here, every second, every moment.

They may be alone and the walls may be bare but they have each other, and in that, despite the pains and struggles, perhaps they are richer and more fortunate than most others, and perhaps for that they should be thankful, they should be grateful, and in the eloquence of silence, their thoughts begin to blend, everything and nothing become one and the same, and a wave of contentment washes over them.

Life is short and harsh but if you have someone to spend it with, someone who you are willing to argue with, suffer with, to annoy, and to bear it with, what more do you ever really need?

Dreams, dreams, dreams. They will be more than they imagine, and perhaps less, too. She sings and he writes and the world passes them by, and perhaps this time it’s totally okay. What is the world, anyway, but for what we perceive of it, and while there’s a world out there waiting to be explored, there’s also a world right here to be built together, a world of our own.

What more do you ever really need? Comfort and solace and quiet bliss.

 

0034 – waking early

Somebody said to me yesterday, “You’ve got so much potential, isn’t it a waste if you don’t go to University?” What should I say to that? I don’t want to go to University, I don’t qualify for great courses, and thank you for thinking I’ve got great potential- I don’t think that’s something worth talking about- but I’ll just take that elsewhere, then. Why not? What’s wrong with that? Meh.

Anyway. I went to bed earlier than usual last night- I had intended to go to bed at about 10pm but I think I actually went to bed at about 10:40pm, which is not too bad (Sometimes I intend to go to bed at midnight, and end up going to bed at about 6am, which is terrible). And I think I’ve discovered the best case for sleeping early- it seems to me that when you sleep early, you need less sleep. When I sleep at 11pm, I wake up at about 7am. Which is about 8 hours of sleep. When I sleep at 3 or 4 am though, I tend to wake up at anywhere between 2 to 4 pm- which is 10 to 12 hours of sleep. Somehow sleeping early allows me to feel more rested AND save about 3-4 hours a day. That’s almost magical if you think about it. Compound that with the fact that early mornings are just beautiful times to be up at- the weather is pleasant, the world comes to greet you, all is beautiful and well. I need to practice going to sleep early and waking up early enough for this to enter my thick skull until I feel it in my bones, rather than just intellectually.

Sleep early, folks.

A part of the reason I think I was even ABLE to go to bed early- apart from having meant to for quite a few days now- is that I had hit the gym hard the day before. My whole body is sore- specifically my traps and hamstrings- and there’s something about having a body experiencing intense muscle soreness that allows you to in-your-bones feel that you really ought to go to bed and get some recovery time in. I thought I knew this already but it makes it clearer- hard exercise makes it easier to reset sleep cycles.

I haven’t been doing my word vomits lately and I’m really sorry about that- but at the same time I should realize that I shouldn’t let it get me down, that falls-off-the-wagon are normal and I should just get right back on this bitch. I started out thinking I was going to recompensate for it by doing 3, 4 maybe even 5 vomits a day- but now that doesn’t seem very doable, or even if it were doable, it’s way too intimidating and it ceases to sound fun- it starts to sound like work. What I should do instead, when I fall off the wagon, is to just get right back on, without any consideration about additional recompensation. Just get the habit rolling again. You can do more when you’re ready, you can strike more when the iron is a little hotter. For now, just get back on track. That’s all that matters.

There has been a lot going on in my life lately that I wish I could talk about more freely, but I can’t because it involves other people’s lives and I can’t afford to play around with that. Which is a shame, because I think it might be the source of my most honest, sincere and powerful writing yet.

But then I flip it on its head- why don’t I just write about it anyway, for myself? And then I realize that I have gotten so used to the idea of writing for an audience of some sort- even in the early days of my blog- that I have forgotten what it is like to write entirely for myself. I hardly ever do that- I only ever seem to do that with pen and paper, when I am alone. I used to do it during my Signals course and I thought that was a pleasant headspace to be in. So I should probably do that.

I have my ambitions and I have articles to write for Poached and I haven’t really been answering questions on Quora, either. At the same time I really need to put my resume together and get a job. I think my absolute first priority is to go through my entire blog- I’ve already started, and I’m going to go all the way through. It’s really kind of hard to explain WHY I’m doing this but it’s just something I have to do. In my personal life I also have got to sort out all my books and posessions. I did a massive warddrobe declutter, and it’s amusing and scary how you can lose so much and still feel like it’s not as lean as it ought to be. How you can throw so much out of your spaces and still realize that there’s clutter left underneath the clutter. I think we should all live minimalist lives. Oh god I have so much clutter everywhere.

But again, baby steps in all things. You can’t survive multiple major operations, but you’re more likely to get fit through healthy diet and exercise, through a slowly built habit, progressively. I ran out of cigarettes yesterday, and I’m going to put off buying a new pack for as long as I can.

I also need a job. I’m going to be trying for SIA Cabin Crew- the interview is on Jan 26th. I really hope I pass the test and get selected, because it would be all kinds of awesome for me. I would be able to read and write like crazy, and see the world, and meet friends living overseas, and it would just be superfantastic. I hope really really hard that it works out. I’m going to do my research about how it works and make sure I’m the most well-informed sonofabitch who shows up there.

 

0033 – blah update

It’s 1pm. Yesterday, I began to feel sleepy at about 940pm. I thought I’d be in bed at 10pm. Ended up talking to people until past midnight… and then lingered on until 3am. Went to bed at 3am. isn’t that scary ridiculous? I spent a full FIVE hours longer than I had originally intended to. But I thought it was partially-kinda-worth-it because I made a new friend who’s pretty interesting and great to talk to. Invest in relationships, no? But also invest in sleep, idiot.

I’ve been doing some big things that I really, really would love to talk about and write about but I can’t really, and it kills me a little bit inside because it’s so real that I’m certain the writing would be beautiful- on the virtue of the validity of the feelings I feel, (… validity? there’s a better word. visceral quality of the feelings) that I feel- but oh well. Everybody’s life has unique circumstances, I should be thankful and grateful for certain things that I got that other people don’t. Maybe I should write for myself. I haven’t written completely for myself in quite a while, and in a sense I seldom really bother with that unless I’m writing on pen and paper, either into a journal or on random scraps of paper when I’m feeling particularly frustrated with life.

Anyway things on my mind- I’ve been wanting to re-do my entire blog. Well I’ve been saying that I’ve been wanting to do that for a long, long time but it’s such a “large” undertaking that I don’t know where to begin and I have all these grand visions and ideas and in the end I end up doing nothing. So I decided I’m going to start with what I feel like doing for fun, which is- I feel like adding TL;DR summaries to every single post, and curate them in a sort of table of contents kinda way. That way I will revisit each and every single blog post in existence, and figure out what’s good and what’s not so good. I’d like to summarize all of the thoughts and perspectives that I’ve explored over the years into a few neat lines- I sort of have a little bit of fetish for doing that, summarizing and resummarizing things… I know that’s how you learn, even though I never really did it completely well in school, I’ve found myself doodling it about things I care about… complex systems and all that jazz.

I’ve been reading quite a bit- not as much as I want to, but more than I’ve been reading in a while- I completed Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile, and while that fella meanders and pontificates a lot, his ideas are interesting, powerful, valid and thought-provoking. It’s a challenging read not because he uses big words or complex ideas, but because his simple questions and ideas require you to reconfigure existing paradigms in your head.

What’s the opposite of fragile? We usually think resilient or robust, but that’s like saying the opposite of 10 is 0- when it’s really -10. Fragile things are damaged by volatility. Robust things are not. Certain things are anti-fragile, which means they are IMPROVED by volatility. Such things do exist- immediate thoughts include muscle strength, the human brain, ecosystems, gene pools, scientific discoveries and art…

I wish I could summarize it better, a bad summary is always a sign that you didn’t entirely understand what you just read- you have to be able to communicate it to others, and really while I feel like I witnessed his epiphanies I don’t quite live and breathe them. I will re-read and get back to you, maybe express smaller ideas at a time.

I’ve also been reading Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truths and Robert Greene’s Mastery- the latter for stories about hard working successful people that I can learn from, and the former just to get some insights into the grand old dame that has built our nation.

I am frustrated with my environment. I don’t have an entirely comfortable workspace- I share one with my mum, and my house is just a noisy and difficult place to do work in. I hate my room and my bed- I keep getting bed bugs every so often even though I kill them all and I threw out my last bed and those bastards are really just spirit-draining and soul-crushing because they don’t let you sleep, and they give you terrible quality of sleep, and even when they’re not around they colonize your mind and they come back again and again and you just can’t rest. I can’t wait to get out of here, seriously.

Err what else is on my mind. I haven’t been purposely exercising but I’ve been doing some cleaning and moving and chores and my body is sore in that awesoem beautiful way you get when you hit the gym… and Taleb mentioned this too- why bother going to the gym, you know, when you can take the stairs more often, take longer walks, lift heavy things when given the opportunity? I thought about this when I was helping my dad out at work too, throwing garbage- it felt like a good workout, a very “real world” workout… I’m actually thinking it makes more sense to work part time with a mover’s, for instance, than to go to the gym- you get paid money for it and you do work that actually contributes to something. But I suppose that’s just one perspective and mayebe there are movers who hit the gym too because of reasons I cannot completely intuit.

This word vomit has been a tiny bit tedious to write. I can feel my mind being a little slow and cluttered. That’s okay. I’m going to shower in a while and then I will do something else. I need to send a letter to an accountant for a parent. This city is bound to do us in, is a nice lyric from a song by The Break And Repair Method- drummer from Matchbox 20. I’m done.

 

0032 – “Safety” + Modifying Behaviour + Desire Paths

Should I go for another one, right now, hot off the heels of having just finished one vomit right before? Can I do 2000 words at one go? Of course I fucking can, I’ve definitely done it before when I argue with people on Facebook. (Lol, Facebook arguments.) But those are about a subject, those are just raw emotions- that’s it, emotions are what you need to carry something. You can’t move forward if you don’t feel. You gotta feel something and then feel that feeling (lol, what?) and then the words will flow and you don’t even need to think about it.

Anyway I wanted to explore that idea of safety- what is up with that, anyway? Safety. It’s not something I think about. I’m 22 years old. Why is safety an issue or priority? I’m broke, so I’m not financially very safe. I’m a smoker, so health obviously isn’t my number one priority… although I do try to exercise and drink water and sleep well. I don’t want to get flabby and skinny and strength-less. I think it’s important for a young man to be strong, and even more so for an older man to be strong, and I think that’s partially why I’m going for the run right after I finish this- because I think it’s important to have some degree of power. Now, I’m going to run and I know halfway through my run I’m going to get tired and I’m probably going to stop and walk for a while- but I’m going to try, anyway, aren’t I?

The point of all this mess is that it’s startlingly clear to me that even after all the time and energy I’ve spent philosophizing, I still have a lot of mess to clear up. I spent my time on the periphery, flagging this and colouring that and arranging this and that- but never actually get to the heart of the matter. I’m reminded of the way I used to play SimCity as a child- I used to arrange everything nicely in a superficial way, but the city would inevitably die, because it wasn’t built for life.

Build things for life! Heh. Sounds like I’m trying to create soundbites where there might not be any. Fuck me there was a thought in my head that I had to put out which isn’t coming right now. Pause.

I lost it, but I think it was something about prioritization and getting to the heart of things- the heart of things seem to always evoke a certain pain and discomfort, you’re going to have to make difficult decisions and you’re going to have to confront weakness- I’m reminded of Louis CK talking about how he observed George Carlin throwing out all of his old material, and how that forces you to dig deep, and eventually you get to a stage that is so sincere and real that people simply have to listen and pay attention and clap and give you some sort of adulation for it because nobody else does that- few people do- to dig that deep. For a moment while I was thinking about standup comedy and extrapolating that to writing, it occurred to me that the same thing should happen with writing- we should discard the often-travelled road and move on to the uncharted, the unknown.

(Suddenly I’m thinking about desire paths… you know those paths that end up forming because people walk off the pavement onto the grass, until eventually there’s a new path altogether? think about desire paths in our brains… and how all art ought to be built, to some degree, on desired paths.)

Fuck me, what am I saying? Now I’m really kind of upset at having lost a thought… it was clear and lucid, I swear. But I’m also kind of amused that I’m 640 words into the searching of a thought that will probably come naturally to me while I’m running later. Such is the nature of thought. We can’t force these things we have to allow them to come at us from the side. Urhhhh.

I guess it was something about intensity- something about having to throw yourself into something deeper than you normally allow yourself, and there you will face a whole new battle, a different kind of insight. AH I think I got it- I wanted to talk about poker. I was playing poker with my friends and I was practically watching myself make strange calls and raises- I have this oddball habit that destroys me, where I’m short stacked and I get frustrated and I start raising like crazy in the hope that other people will be intimidated and just back off from the pot- and people are almost always able to identify my bullshit, and they almost always actually have a better hand (for some reason I only ever do this when I have a shit hand, and I’ve run out of patience and I’m like MEH FUCK IT) and this is the single, largest source of my poker failures. If I could eliminate these 5% of hands that I play, I would probably see a huge jump in poker profits- because I almost always lose money in the same kind of hand, same kind of situation- I just can’t stop myself.

So the question that bears asking is- how do you stop yourself from something that YOU KNOW is destructive? I’m reminded of how, in those moments, I’m practically a spectator. And I feel a sense of empathy for anybody who’s ever lost control of themselves, in anger or frustration or maybe even lust (this is some dangerous fucking ground here, because you don’t want to be caught sympathizing with abusers or rapists)…

and I think there has to be a solution, because yesterday or the day before I said something stupid to a friend and another friend got angry and upset and started attacking me personally- and I apologized without retaliating, and he withdrew and apologized as well later on- and I know for a fact, given our past history, that if I had taken it personally (and I was kind of taking it personally- but I went up and had a shower and a smoke and I controlled myself SOMEHOW- I really don’t know how I did this) he would have flared at me, and it would have been justified, and we would have had a really ugly argument. Instead, I managed to cut my losses, he apologized too for over reacting and we had a nice moment.

There are some strong parallels between this, my poker losses, and my bad habits like sleeping late- in all elements it feels like I’m not entirely in control, and yet, somehow, I am… it’s convoluted business. The question is- how do I learn from how I stopped myself from something, and how do I translate that across domains- how do I use that insight (which I am not yet fully aware of) and exploit it to modify my behaviour in a way that I deem best for myself?

I will first have to explore the nature of the insight itself- how did I stop? Why did I stop? My feeble explanation is- it’s something that I’ve thought about many times, and I agreed entirely that I was in the wrong, and I was tired of all the times where we got embroiled in nasty stuff afterwards- so it was a mix of awareness and life experience I guess… so maybe there is no magic bullet solution- I just need to keep thinking about it, and play more hands and reflect about it, keep writing about sleeping late, and sleep earlier and write about that too, and maybe hope that the desire path will form inside my head without me forcing it. Because that’s what a desire path is about, isn’t it? It’s out of our control. And when we understand that, we can sort of control it… without controlling it. Hmm.

Heh, 1330 words. And I thought I had nothing. Almost tempted to start again. But past experience at 3-in-a-row-vomits tells me i should just go for the damn run now. Diminishing marginal returns and all. (That said, I never actually attempted 3 in a row the way I just did- I would get distracted on Facebook etc in between, each time.)

FUCK it’s run time! Bye

 

0031 – limiting thoughts + fuck safety

I went up to shower and I was so overwhelmed with thoughts I’m not sure if I can capture all of them:

limiting thought, why am I doing this

having had so many conversations with a person that they inhabit a part of your mind and you can actually intuit what they would say in a given setting

limits, never an hour more

fuck I can’t remember the rest so I’m going to elaborate on the first two.

I was having a limiting thought earlier while I was in the shower, I was thinking- well I did one word vomit

oh wait here’s the third one- I forgot to save the earlier word vomit I did onto my blog, but luckily the program I use (called Write or Die) saves your work into a .txt file once you click the “Done” button- but I was thinking, meh, it doesn’t even really matter if I lose an occasional vomit here or there, what matters is that I done it. That was a nice realization to have.

Limiting thought: I was thinking, “eh, why are you doing this, you can’t really do this… you’ve only done 30 so far, you’re aiming for 1,000, that’s 1,000,000 words, that’s crazy, what’s the point, it’s kind of silly isn’t it, how are you so sure that it’s actually going to amount to anything, you can’t be sure of things like that”

Yes I actually had those thoughts and I recognize them very well because they occur in other spheres of my life, too- why bother studying, what if you don’t do well? Why bother working out, you’ve always been a skinny bitch and you’re always going to be a skinny bitch, aren’t you- and this is when and why I procrastinate out of fear, or maybe even out of a lack of faith, or even out of RATIONAL REASONING- which is fucked up! It’s completely rational to believe that you’ll never amount to anything in life, because so far you haven’t, and for the most part, nobody does, so you’re safer where you are if you don’t try.

Fuck that, what’s the point of being safe? Is safety a priority for me? When it comes to physical health, yes it makes sense to take precautions, to wear a helmet when you get on a bike, to avoid doing things that might jeopardize your health. (But still, I smoke, so that’s not fucking logical or consistent… but I suppose it is because the effects aren’t immediately obvious, or the pleasure overrides it- so we’re fucking broken, really, we’re fucking weak. Oh well. We have to accept that, we can’t resent ourselves for it.)

Anyway- why bother with psychological safety and comfort? Why is it a priority to NOT face our real potential, our real potential greatness? SO FUCKING WHAT if we fail? Fail then fail lah! We are not our failures. Failure is something that happens en route to success, and we are not our failures (neither are we our successes).

So fuck it, even if this doesn’t amount to anything EVER, I’m still going to hit 1,000 word vomits. Hell, I probably hit it a long time ago, several times over, I just never really quantified it. I notice my friend numbers her blog entries and she recently hit #1200. Sure, she doesn’t go for raw quantity each time, but still- things add up, and sooner or later I’m going to hit 1,000.

I was imagining the voice of another friend who would say- all of this is so fucking pointless, why do you even bother rationalizing anything to yourself, why do you bother with all this pointless reasoning- if it matters just fucking do it, otherwise it doesn’t fucking matter so just get on with your life instead of all this needless pontification. And to that I say- you’re absolutely right bro. But you also say that we should do what we want to do and right now this is where I am and this is where I want to be and this is what I want to be doing so fuck yeah. Doing.

It’s 6:22am and the sun will be up soon and waking up early after going to bed early is pretty much the best decision ever, because all these beautiful thoughts and ideas just naturally come to mind when you’re up ahead of the world. I was in the shower and I literally thought, quite naturally, “Hmm, I should go for a run.” So here I am in my running gear, sitting here, and once I’m done I’m going to put on my socks and shoes and head out for a run. There was no rationalization or bargaining involved, I just felt like I ought to do it. And that’s the magic of getting up early, I think- we have time and space to “just” feel what we want, the world is quiet so we hear our own minds, but the fantastic thing is- the day hasn’t started yet, so we have the time to actually do things- instead of waiting until the world sleeps, coming up with fantastic ideas and then going to bed feeling edgy and restless because we have all this mental energy but no real physical energy to execute on these ideas. And holy shit I’m at 900 words and it’s been less than 10 minutes. Wow.

I definitely have millions of words in me, so there is no question. The limiting thought is just my saboteur inside my head who’s afraid of greatness, afraid of trying, afraid of anything different. Sure, I may never be great. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. What matters is that I try, and that I’m alive, and this moment- this moment- this moment it exists and it existed and I will chase it and I will breathe it and I will REALize it and it will be all I ever wanted. All I ever wanted was a taste of magic and magic is everywhere if we just Dare.

 

0030 – early morning + urban legends

Went to bed early last night and it may have been one of those little “best decisions ever”. I’m up at 420am, now it’s 440am and the moon is staring at me so beautifully (and I love to think about how all the great people in the past- Lincoln, Washington, Alexander the Great, even the first few proto-humans would have all stared at the same moon in wonder, and I’m looking at that same moon today, and in a way we are all connected by that shared bond) and I’m thinking I gotta get to writing, man!

 

And so I’m writing again and I know that I haven’t written for a couple of days or so but I’ve been sick and I’ve been tired and I’m sorry but I’m back. Not going to make excuses, just going to keep trucking. Sometimes you fall off the wagon. At least I feel good to be back, and that’s all that counts.

 

It’s funny, I told myself that I would get started the moment I get on the computer, but I saw that my Google Chrome browser was left on since the night before, and I had left my Facebook on, and then I saw that I had recieved PMs and Notifications- and I couldn’t help but click on them, and I spent a few minutes going through them, and luckily I was able to get off of it without opening any new tabs or starting any new “information streams”- but already I can feel my mind a little bit less incisive, a little more lethargic and my ideas come to me a little bit slower as I type this now.

 

I remember reading something Scott Adams wrote about how interruptions are the death of creativity- or something to that effect. When you have a state of flow you want to nourish it as much as possible, that much is precious.

 

I don’t know why I was thinking about this but I was- I’m absolutely fascinated by urban legends and stickiness and what we tend to remember. Like, I remember hearing this story about a guy and his girlfriend, and his girlfriend bumped her head against a glass window/wall at Burger King, and she complained of headaches for a while after and ultimately passed away. Who is this guy, who is his girlfriend? I have no idea, but I met a friend for kopi a couple of days ago and she told me that she had heard the exam same story. Why is this story so sticky? Is it real? Did it get exaggerated as it passed on? I think then of a picture I’ve seen on both Tumblr and Facebook with two kids- one black and one white- reaching out to each other. (Both of them are on the “backpacks” of their parents, and both parents are facing opposite aisles in a supermarket- so the kids are facing each other). A few weeks or months later I saw the same image being shared on Facebook with an anti-racism quote slapped under it- something like “no child is born a racist”, and maybe it would have had a misattribution to a great source of wisdom and insight, like “-Albert Einstein”.

 

You know what I’m talking about? Even if these things are fake, you have got to admit that they tell us something about the human psyche. Observing this, I think of it as a kind of society-wide art form, whether we realize it or not. (Maybe not exactly art because it isn’t meaningfully created meaning, but there IS meaning in there if we’re looking for it- then and again there is meaning in everything, so if you learn to put on the right lenses, everything is art).

 

What other sticky things do you know? Here are some stories I’ve heard that I’m sure aren’t very original- kids getting poisoned by candy from strangers on Halloween. Kids kicking a “ball’ around a field only to discover that it’s a skull that got unearthed from an old/unmarked grave, maybe from the war. There’s always some spooky looking tree somewhere that somebody supposedly hanged themselves on. A human fetus in a science lab is almost always supposed to have some backstory involving either a teacher or a student, or most scandalously, both. (What’s your favourite popular story?)

 

It’s interesting how sometimes good intentions get twisted with bad ones- we see people posting fake stories and fake images of real heroes or sufferers- apparently one of the images and stories circulating about Newtown was completely fake (but got shared anyway because it was a touching story of a heroic young female teacher), and there were pictures of Jyoti before we even knew her identity, so obviously someone just thought that they’d take some unknown picture of some pretty unknown Indian girl and use it in a before/after with a picture of some unknown indian girl in the ICU. What do you think about that? Is that messed up? Did the original poster just want credit? But they don’t even get much credit… they send something out into the air and it just catches and goes viral. There IS a certain pleasure in that, even if nobody ever knows who did it.

 

What does that say about our humanity, that anonymous internet content aggregator sites exist? No, that’s not a rhetorical question to say “Humans are fucked up!”- I don’t believe in such simplistic nonsense. No, real question, what does it say about us? I think people are people and we will always be more or less a certain way fundamentally, but the better we understand ourselves the better we can manage ourselves. I’m sure we can use these ideas and perspectives to better ourselves and the world- we just haven’t quite learnt to purposefully exploit ourselves yet.

 

I’m sure the time will come where we learn to create positive things that capture the global human imagination. In fact I bet there are millions of people working on it right now, and I feel blessed to even have the opportunity to even try to contribute a little drop toward that, because many don’t.

 

0029 – 3rd in a row

Well this is a little sobering- it’s 3:36am- the time that I said I would be done with all 4 word vomits, and I’m just beginning my third one. I guess this is what happens when we forget to factor in the downtime in between things. I finished each word vomit and then spent a few minutes online talking to people and listening to music and reading letters of note (I read one from Ronald Reagan to his son, who was about to get married, and it’s a rather beautiful letter!) I also got reminded of a powerful letter from a mother to a daughter, days or weeks before her execution for political purposes. It’s heart wrenching but it’s also beautiful (and then it’s doubly heart-wrenching to think about all the parents who never share such a moment with their children, whether in person or in writing, and how that girl, while unfortunate to lose her mother, is luckier than a lot of little girls out there… that’s some SERIOUS heartwrenching stuff for me, just thinking about all the stuff that we don’t even know. Ouch, man.)

Okay I just did that weird thing I sometimes do where I pause a word vomit halfway and end up getting distracted by the internet- now it’s 4:23 am. What the actual fuck. Time fucking flies. I have no ability to keep track of time, I need it tracked for me. I should have an app or something. Alarms. All that stuff. That doesn’t matter now though, my current priority is to write and keep writing.

Anyway somehow or rather I ended up watching this video on YouTube of this African guy doing a review of that advertisement with this Singaporean uncle complaining about sexual harrassment from hot young girls. It’s fantastic. I find myself thinking, wow, I wish I had an African friend. Again, we’re going back to how much of life on Earth we’re missing out just by spending all our time in Singapore. I want a genuine African friend, and a Mexican friend, and a French friend and a Spanish friend and a Serbian friend and like a Texan who plays country guitar and there’s just so much of the world I haven’t friggin’ seen, man, and I’m 22, and I’d better get bloody started, I think. Before I start setting roots or something. Too much of the world to see.

I just read something by Scott Adams (the guy who writes Dilbert, who also writes fun lateral-thinking-evocative pieces that, to some people seem like gibberish, but he strikes me as my kind of genius- the kind that’s not interested in doing what everybody else is doing, so he sees himself as a sort of imagination-provoker, someone who asks seemingly nonsensical questions and presents unlikely, absurd situations… I love them, but I’ve found that not everybody does- some people come away going “Well, that wasn’t very sensible”, or “what was the point of that”, or “that obviously wouldn’t work”. I think that’s missing the point, and I find it hard to enjoy the company of anybody who can’t indulge in some judgement-suspended exploration of the adjacent-possible- what might not be possible right now because of this reason or that, but perhaps might be possible in the future, or in some variation that we might not have considered, or perhaps it might not be possible at all, but in the process of exploring the idea, or train of thought, we may find something interesting or useful that we would never have encountered otherwise.

We can’t move forward in a logical step-by-step manner- the best progress always happens through unexpected collisions and leaps, and it’s only on hindsight that we pretend that everything was neat and tidy. What a load of tosh. Who predicted Facebook? Well- biology watcher Lewis Thomas kind of did, from a biological perspective- he described how minds would inevitably coalesce together, in a way… but I’m talking about the literal product, and how it as become such a large part of our lives. I did not expect MySpace to be so utterly SLAIN by Facebook. When I first signed up for it, it seemed somewhat quaint, but I certainly didn’t care for it too much- I was invested in MySpace (being a musician/artist wannabe- i spent so many hours there every day at school, it wasn’t funny). I never expected Diary-X to go down. These are just little things, but think about how penicillin was invented, or how X or Y or Z really… everything amazing happens with a touch of randomness and serendipity inside, and we really lack that, I think, when we have such structured paths.

It’s 5 am now and it’s clear to me that I’m not going to be able to do ANOTHER word vomit- well technically, I could, but I think that would be strategically unwise, I should stop at 3 and go to bed, and do another 3 tomorrow, and I would have covered the missing 2 on friday (assuming this fills up saturday, and I will write for Sunday once I’m going to bed)

I read something on Scott’s blog where he wrote about how being interrupted is creative death or something like that- when you are in a state of flow, and you are writing or creating or whatever it is you’re doing, you want to be obstructed as little as possible- you want as much to flow from your mind through your body through your fingers into your instrument or your pen or your keyboard into the text and you see the words or colours or sounds emerging almost naturally between your mind and your instrument

i was thinking about how we walk and talk and interact and utilize our fingers as if they were a part of our body- I mean, they are, but how would these be any different from say, how a car or plane or motorcycle feels? I realized, at some point, that when high level guitarists or pilots say “my instrument is a part of me, a part of my body”, it’s not just a figure of speech- after a while your brain literally learns to work with the inputs and outputs of the signals in a way that is fluid and natural and subconscious

and it LITERALLY becomes a part of you- your brain can’t possibly tell the difference between the guitar or the plane and your actual feet, for instance, and many of us (who play the guitar) are better at playing the guitar than wiggling our toes

 

0028 – the 25%

Afraid isn’t who we are, failure isn’t who we are- fear is a feeling, failure is an event- fear and failure happen to us, they are not what we are. We are artists, but we are not our art. We are ourselves. We say we have cancer, we have a broken arm- not we _are_ cancer, or we _are_ a broken arm, no. We have to divorce ourselves from these happenings. People don’t hate us because they hate our work, that’s artistic suicide- it’s not useful to put ourselves on the line- we are artists, not the art. The only way to be vulnerable and go to the edge is to realize that it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be afraid.

The above is what I’ve been getting from Seth Godin’s latest blog post- and if you read my blog religiously, please, you also have to read Seth Godin, because he is fantastic-amazing, he’s a philosopher disguised as a marketer and he’s one of the 1%.

I had this conversation with two friends, and I might as well share it here as well. We all know about the geniuses and the superstars that make up the top 1% or 0.1% of the world. Objectively we can say these guys and girls are badasses, however they got to where they are. Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, people who are the movers and shakers of the world, who lead us into the unknown, break new ground. Zuckerberg, Godin, everybody doing fantastic things, taking risks on behalf of the rest of humanity, advancements in science and technology and art and music and understanding. Hans Zimmer, Christopher Nolan, whatever- they matter and we know it.

At the opposite end, we also know that the vast majority of people in existence exist merely to fill out the numbers. They go through the motions. At the bottom 10% or so we have the selfish, ignorant and unfortunate people who are destructive to themselves and those around them- people in prisons, people who lie, cheat, steal and do other terrible things that are a cancer of humanity- guys like the rapists of New Delhi. I don’t want to go too far into the philsophical discussion of who or what is the problem- it’s a complex issue, we’ll leave that discussion for another day. All I need you to acknowledge with me is that some people are making progress in the world, for the world, and others are holding us back. Let’s refrain from judging and try to love unconditionally- everybody is human, everybody is deserving of love (even if they don’t “deserve” it), everybody is vast and complex and nobody really has the right to judge. Avoiding any elitist nonsense or other such bullshit, let’s just agree that there’s some positive behaviour and some negative behaviour and some very neutral, bland behaviour that, depending on your world view, either is inconsequential, or perpetuates a status quo that is outdated, obsolete and oppresses people… blah blah, none of that matters.

Here’s what I need you to acknowledge next- if you are reading this, you are probably neither in the top 1% or 5% of amazing human beings doing amazing things for the world. (If you are, I’m sorry for judging you- but I seriously think you have better things to do than to read a blog like mine. Maybe you’re reading this just for entertainment… whatever.) You’re probably not in the bottom 20% or 50%, either- because those people- bless them, they’re human beings too- wouldn’t be interested in reading something that doesn’t haev any clear or immediate value to them. Let’s bring it all the way up to 70%. Let’s say 5% of people have got their shit together and are making a wonderful positive difference to humanity- they’re operating at peak capacity. I know, some people might say guys like Obama are doing harm, not good, because they are perpetuating political whatever… blah. Fuck that shit I’m not interested in discussing that right now. Whatever your views are on Obama, or Lee Kuan Yew, I think we can agree that they are (or were) both capable of excellence, and are (or were) living at the top of their game, living in fullness, and deserve to be in a top 5% or 1% bracket, if there was one.

Let’s say 5% of people are amazing-fantastic, writing symphonies and healing broken hearts. Let’s say 10% or 20% people do lots of damage, and let’s say 50% of people are just getting by… just getting by, inconsequential, really, just making up the numbers. I don’t know. Simple people. Nothing wrong with them, there’s nothing wrong with living or leading a simple life. But I don’t really relate to that, and I’m betting you don’t either.)

So say 75% of people, we don’t relate to. 5% at the top, 70% below. What about the 25% of us? I think anybody still reading this belongs in that. (Again, just a rule of thumb). What about us? What are we up to, what are we doing? We’re not quite dumbfuck pigeons twiddling around, but we’re not exactly eagles either, soaring in the skies- we’re somewhere in the middle, between the gutter and the stars, just sort of getting by, too. We’re aware of our situations but we’re not really sure of what to do about it. I’m wondering- what would happen if we all gathered together? Because I’m guessing we’re randomly distributed beyond the top 5% mark- some of us might think we’re scrapping the bottom of the barrel- but we’re intelligent, discerning folk and I feel like if we could all be gathered in a single spot, we could make magic happen. If we could leverage our yet-ungathered collective might, as consumers and creators, and at the very least, throw our weight behind the wonderful work that the top 5% are doing. If we create enough of a positive effect, I’m confident that the next 50% will follow suit, and ultimately the last 20% will have to catch up, too.

Need to refine this idea. Do you know if anybody has already come up with it, or discussed it? It can’t be original. But I’m basically curious about what might happen if we rally together the people who are intelligent underachievers, and motivate them with a vision or visions that they can get behind. I know I am not alone, but how many of us are out there? I know some of you think I’m full of shit (sorry about that), but some of you think I’m somehow “above” or “beyond” you, and THAT’S bullshit too- if you’re reading this, I’m certain that you are every bit as capable as me, if not more, and if we get together we can make something magical happen.

Just a thought.

 

0027 – missed a day

Well it’s day 5/6 of 2013. I didn’t do any word vomits for day 4 and day 5, and I feel quite shitty about that- technically, I’ve been meaning to do 300 in 365 days, so I have about 5 “rest days” per month that I can use, but it really feels shitty/silly to be using one (or two) so early in the year. The habit needs to be built, and so I need to keep at it. I’m not sure whether I should do 3 or 4 tonight- it’s 230am, and if I do 4 at one go, that’s writing until 330am… is that a good idea? I should sleep as early as possible. But I feel like I have to get this out of the way. Let’s not think so much and get to writing.

2013 has been just beautiful for me so far. A friend of mine just asked a girl out after months of deliberation, and she said yes. That was wonderful to witness. Simple joys. I’m really happy for you, bro. Live in the moment, like we talked about. It doesn’t matter how it turns out in the end- what matters is that you took the leap, and the positive response was the icing on the cake, the feather in the cap.

At the same time, I’ve been really upset about all the defamation suits going around in SG politics- Lee Hsien Loong sending a letter of demand to Alex Au, Tan Chuan-Jin sending one to Vincent Wijeysingha… I understand, it can be frustrating and worrisome to read accusations and allegations, but really, in this day and age, are such harsh tactics really necessary? After all that talk about “gracious society” and all that? Couldn’t ya’ll have, I don’t know, asked to meet in person and talk it out, and come to a gentleman’s solution? Am I being too wishful here? I wish we could be nicer to one another.

I met a few older friends for supper a couple of days ago and it was very sobering to witness how these people- who were, and continue to be incredible passionate, motivated and driven about their craft and work- have lost faith in the concept of Singapore- one said that the Singapore that he grew up in and loves now exists only in his memories, and in conversations with friends, and that the Singapore of today isn’t the Singapore of before. I accept that. It’s valid.

I’ve been thinking- and it’s been hitting me especially hard, lately, now that I’ve gotten so many emails and responses from outside of Singapore: Singapore is only 5,000,000 out of 7,000,000,000. That’s 5 out of 7,000, that’s less than 1 in a 1,000, that’s… uh my maths is bad… that’s about 0.07%. Think about it, if you spend all your life in Singapore, worrying about Singaporean politics, you’re really worrying about 0.07% of the known human population. I have spent a good 5 years of my life or so thinking about Singapore’s future and education policies and social climate and things like that (and things like Singapore’s music scene, which I am passionate about, but reflects an even smaller percentage…) and I know, life shouldn’t be a number’s game, but really, does it make sense to be so worked up about something so small? Could I be better using my time and energy focusing on bigger issues, could I be making a bigger and more meaningful difference in the world? I’ve always had ambitions of expanding in terms of scale of influence- I want to leave behind some sort of art that impacts all of humanity, hopefully- and I know, some people will say that’s way out of my league- but how do you get there if you don’t dream about it? You don’t get to be President of the USA by accident, for example- thousands of guys dream about it, hundreds of them fight tooth and nail for it, and everybody who ends up in such positions set out to be there, had a vision to be there before they were ever even close to it. So I make no apologies for thinking and dreaming big.

Education needs to be revamped and updated. I’ve been reading Nassim Taleb’s Anti-Fragile and it’s been resonating with me powerfully- I accept and understand criticisms of his ego and arrogance and stuff like that, but his actual points make a lot of sense, and it’s completely true and valid that a lot of the world could and should be fixed with some proper wisdom- that’s sorely lacking. Our financial systems, our education systems, really, all our human systems (including Singapore’s political systems…) how do I do something meaningful, real, powerful, valid? And having dreamt all those big dreams, how do I put food on the table, how do I put a roof over my head, how do I make my family happy and proud? There’s a lot to think about, and more importantly, there’s a lot to do, and I think doing is more important than thinking (for a person who spends more time thinking than doing), and so I should be doing more doing. I will get all of these vomits out and then I will write the emails that I know I’ve been putting off for some time.

I’ve been meaning to scour through my old blog posts and do some housekeeping and I’ve been putting it off partially because I think it’s redundant, silly and unnecessary, and partially because it just seems like way too much work. Why don’t I do a little at a time? I really just need to keep track of my days. It’s frustrating to run into this impasse of sorts where you know what you need to do but you’re struggling to do it- but maybe I’m doing it right now, maybe as long as I keep writing while staying offline, all is good. This is This is the first word vomit and I’m completing it almost 4 minutes ahead of time. Next one.