Competition?

(Here’s something I wrote on the theme of ‘Competition’ a couple of years back, and I thought I’d just share it just for laughs. It went a little off topic so I find it quite funny, looking back at it today)

The truth about competition is that it is everywhere – anytime, anyone, anyhow. It exists in every aspect and part of life and it is a question of the form it takes rather than the part it plays; the significance of competition in people’s daily lives is too overwhelming to be called a part: life itself can be regarded as a competition and understood as a collective experience of competitions continuous and sequential.

Mankind has achieved countless illustrious milestones and succeeded in numerous astronomical conquests since humans first walked on Earth but one opponent Man has yet to overcome and possibly never will triumph over, is death. This insurmountable obstacle creates an inevitable competition in life that no one can ever escape from – the competition against time. Humans are born into this world with one certainty in life, and that is death; nothing else in between is as definite as the end itself. This presents the general understanding and consensus that everyone has a limited time on Earth and what is made of life is what happens in between the twin poles of start and end. This sets Man in competition against the clock and though each person moves at a different pace from the next, everyone is aware that there are only so many years in life that each person can possess before Death comes to claim all that life has given and withheld. This is the truth underpinning life which drives progress – people want to move faster, know better and live longer such that everything invented ranging from the television to the steam engine to the airplane is done with the purpose to allow mankind to maximize the human experience and lengthen the duration of competition against the running down of time before age catches up and the battle is eternally lost.

As the clock ticks away, the next competition which comes alongside the ever present race against time is the competition against the self. As much as Man would covet escaping the hands of Death, Man seeks in equal magnitude to outdo and better himself. Everywhere in society the sight of people sloughing away trying to achieve more and climb higher in a never ending conquest to do better and be better reveals an underlying desire innate to humans to outperform themselves. This inborn urge to do well in tasks and affairs undertaken and to soar above challenges are but manifestations of the true inner want to rise beyond circumstances with the eventual aim to prove better than oneself. It is ingrained in the psyche of humans and lurking somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind that the ultimate rival and only opponent necessary to triumph over is the self and all other victories scored in everyday life are but points accumulated in the grand contest within.

While the competitions against time and self are both simultaneously in progress, many other competitions occur in people’s daily lives and tend to serve duo purposes of enforcing and distracting them from the two main ongoing encounters. Competitions can take the form of sports, where individuals or teams go up against each other in a certain sport such as in track & field, tennis or football; it can also take the shape of music and singing competitions, the outline of competing sale revenues in an insurance office or the shadow of examinations typical in school halls. Competition is undeniably a human construct with the specific purpose of satisfying the natural appetite to feel good about oneself and to better oneself. They were created to focus the mind and being for a period of time onto a purpose, that is to improve and eventually emerge victorious in the competition arena meticulously crafted. People are born with an inherent restlessness and a need for activity and purpose; competition is the exact creation to fulfill this need and bring calm and peace to the restlessness that otherwise would run rampant. The human mind has the natural tendency to question the causes and reasons for it’s own existence and this leads inevitably to frustration and unrest as the answer is metaphysical in nature and cannot be ascertained by mortal determinants. To make existence more bearable and give some meaning to life, humans create surmountable obstacles everywhere and the attempts to clear such hurdles and achievement of mini objectives are but small competitions against the self, circumstances and environment in themselves.

It is a revelation to realize the fundamental nature and beginnings of competition and how they are very much intertwined; it never fails to amaze how they arise out of each other. The lost cause against the unstoppable advancement of Death upon every human being creates the competition against time, which in it’s very nature breeds the competition against the self to better oneself and maximize the human experience; this manifests and materializes itself in the form of visible, tangible human-constructed competition such as sports and other competitive activities.

It is deeply ironic and paradoxical that the very unconquerable nature of Death in which humans have failed to overcome has been the main driving force of competition and progress. Even with the advent of technology and huge advancements in the field of genetic engineering and medicine, the two fundamental competitions that every human has against the ticking hands of the clock and with himself will stay constant in their presence, albeit conscious or subconscious to the mind. It is as such safe to propose that competition does not simply play a part in people’s daily lives; competition is the very essence life is made from and is itself one big competition; as long as humans do not triumph over death, there always will be competition in this world, either within or without.

Untitled.

I say:

To love the lie but not the liar is to
Love the poem but not the poet;

To stand behind bars camouflaged green and black is to
Believe in false notions of bravado and power;

To allow others to shape you and change you is to
Take an original and turn it into nothing more than an impression;

To play always only by the rules and restrictions is to
Live and breathe a life just so that you can suffer and die;

To pursue a degree or certificate and not an education is to
Go onto the field everyday and not touch a ball a single time;

To eat and not taste the food is to
Touch a flower and not smell them;

What I don’t say:

You surely will die,
But are you actually alive?

A Little Thought (to Norwegian Wood)

(Just a little thought after reading one of Murakami’s most famous works, Norwegian Wood; it was a great read)

You give the impression that there is in life
A void that is present in everyone that is created
By the departure of a loved one or the loss of love
That cannot be filled by normal means of escape or cure;

The extensive amount of sex (and alcohol) that Watanabe goes through
Is but meaningless and does nothing to his emotional and spiritual needs
Where it merely satisfies his physical desires for security and pleasure
Yet does not ease the agony and emptiness he experiences;

The idea of a sanatorium too appears very much appealing to the pained
But it takes a turn when it is revealed to be nothing more than a zone of escape
That merely allows one to run away to a rural recluse far away from harsh realities
Seeking solace (forever) in hills hidden away from what is painful in life;

It does too appear that there is no escape from the scars and ghosts of life
Other than by means of suicide by which Naoko and Kizuki chose:
To die rather than to live and to choose the dead over the living
Which (in reality) does ease the pains of living but causes pain to the living;

There seems to be no escape from life where one by one
The characters lose their mind and get embattled and worn down
By the battles and voices that rage within the head and distort reality
Where eventually even Watanabe appears to have lost himself (and his mind);

Can love be the divine cure for what is irreversibly painful in life,
Or is love the curse of what is inevitably joyful in life?
In one moment in time all that is perfect can be shattered
By a loss and realisation that constructs a black hole by which there is no escape;

Yes indeed it speaks to the living and mourns the dead:
Linked by love.

Choice & Chance

Cool, serene night

“Regardless what race or color you are, the blood flowing in your body is still red.”

I suppose we can’t agree more with the above sentence because that is fundamentally what makes us all human, and what makes us all the same. Equality, though it will remain more of an ideal than reality, is something very much worth striving for and towards. The world has long been working to abolish racial inequality and slavery, because such differences cause differentiation, followed after that by division and discrimination.. which are undesirable and not in line with peaceful and harmonious co-existence.

If we allocate some thought to it, no one was born having a choice as to what race, nationality or background he or she would be born in to live out. In mortal knowledge, we know that none of us on earth now had a choice before as to which country, community or family we would be conceived in to begin our life. Speaking purely of what we know, an only child couldn’t have chosen to be born into a family of many offsprings, just like how an American or Japanese didn’t choose to be American and Japanese to start. In all fairness, a white man could have been born black too.

If that is so and nobody had or has a choice as to what the first step and place in life would be, should we all not work towards the best for all humans? If you were fortunate to be born rich as maybe a German, a wealthy Spaniard or Korean, would you not do away with racial supremacy and help your fellow humans of another flesh colour? After all, if we slit open the skin of any human.. the same pain would be felt and the blood that flows out would be inevitably red.

If we can look at another person purely as another individual, looking pass his background etc, more love can be shared and spreaded in our modest world. In this way, no one will judge and be judged, and no one will discriminate or be discriminated.

This surely would prompt us to think that this idea of not having a choice of what and how to begin life applies to all living beings in this world as well. An ant might not have had the choice of being an ant or not, just like how an elephant might not have chosen to be one. In that case, should we not all practice ahimsa and show compassion and love to all beings then?

Will To Live and Power of Life

bright, hot and sunny afternoon

We all know that life is precious and we should always cherish and be grateful for life, but how much do we actually hold to that statement as we live through every day? Do we not lament more over what we don’t have, rather than be thankful for what we have? Do we not also sometimes forget the value and importance of our lives, and occasionally wish that we were better off dead when we meet a setback or failure?

It is only when we have a close encounter with death or witness how death can ruthlessly snatch life away that we realize how fortunate we are to simply be alive. It is not just us humans; all living beings cherish life and will hang on to life with every ounce of its strength when death beckons at the door. Something as tiny as an ant has a life too, and its strength and undying spirit in fighting to keep itself alive is many, uncountable times larger than its miniature body size.

When I was starting to wash a plate at the kitchen sink earlier, I allowed the rushing water to rinse through the entire plate to wash off any remaining food particle that was on it. Unbeknownst to me, there was an ant scrambling around at the base of the plate and when my eyes caught sight of it, it was flushed forcefully from the surface of the plate. It looks like the angels have come for the life of the ant through a careless action of mine. 

My eyes darted everywhere throughout the sink in search of the ant, hoping that perhaps I could prevent the ant from being washed away into the dark abyss of the sink hole, where it most definitely will meet its fatal end. I could not see it anywhere at all, and I thought for sure that it had gone to meet its maker.

Just when all hope seemed lost, I saw a slight movement at the sink hole. Yes, it was the ant. 

The ant had half of its body hanging on to the edge of the sink hole while the other half was being flung around behind it as the gushing water rushed furiously passed the frail body of the ant and threatened at every moment to wash the ant away into the abyss beneath. It totally was akin to a man hanging on at the cliff of a water fall as mad water brushed pass him and fall off the edge. The ant was hanging and clinging on to its dear life and it knew clearly well that if it were to loosen it’s grip, it most certainly will lose its life. The ant used every ounce of its strength and every muscle in its body to hold on tight as it battled against the torrential waters that might eventually prove to be the element that ends its life. 

I could see that any delay in rescue efforts would guarantee a loss of its life and I hurried to get a piece of kitchen paper while the ant continued its fight for survival. It was not a normal race; it was a race against death. 

With that piece of paper, I acted in the hope that I could reverse the mistake I had made and prevent the clutches of death from snatching the ant’s life away. 

With fortune’s favour, the ant managed to cling onto the paper as the paper absorbed the surrounding waters and it was caught by the absorbent fabric of the paper. However, it did not move as I lowered the paper onto safe grounds. Perhaps the paper had squashed it, or perhaps the water had drowned him. It appears that it had won the battle against the mad waters, but lost the battle against death. It’s supreme courage and strength to fight for its life looked sadly to be of no match for the overwhelming forces of death. 

I sighed and wished that I had been more observant.. for had it not been for my carelessness, the ant most probably would have lived to see many more sunrises. 

However, the forces of life seemed to have worked its magic.

The ant started moving after awhile and began scrambling about once again after it had regained its consciousness. What a joyous sight to behold to see a being thought to be dead, revived! I arrived at the conclusion that the ant did not move earlier as it was too drained by the battle against the furious waters that had threatened its life and it needed time to at least catch its breath. 

The ant later hurried off to reunite with its friends and it certainly seemed like it would share its near death experience with its friends and realize how fragile and precious life really is. 

If an ant is able to know the importance of life, as displayed by the immense strength and determination in fending off the powerful waters to preserve its own life, what more can be said of humans that have a much more superior intellect? We really do not need near death encounters to remind ourselves that we should cherish life and live everyday to the fullest without any regrets. We should always remember that we only have one chance to live this life and we should make the best use of it and appreciate every sunrise and sunset. After all, we really do not know how many sunrises and sunsets we can witness before our time on Earth is up.

“Every man dies, but not every man has lived.”