Words of Wisdom 

For today, I’ve decided to share a simpele line that my Company Sergeant Major dropped me as a parting shot as I step into the last few days of active national service. He said it in mandarin, and in perhaps fewer words, but the meaning has been largely retained even as I translate and make the line somewhat more fluent. I think it is a wise piece of advice, and possibly wiser than he himself could have imagined it to be. Make of it what you will. Here it goes:


“The best thing to say sometimes, is to not say what you know or what is immediately in your mind; it could very well turn out to be your greatest asset to let not the other know what you have in mind.”

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On Intensity & Emotions

Sometimes (mostly out of the blue)  you get this heavy bout of emotions hitting you simultaneously in the head and heart and you can hardly find a reason for it; all you can do in such instances is to close your eyes, take a deep breath and try to wash the feeling away.

It isn’t always a negative experience though. Sometimes it could just be a wave of weariness hitting you, or just a short shot of leftover emotions that have not completely passed from the previous encounter. It only becomes problematic when it changes your overall mood, or results in a prolonged dip in emotions. 

People who are depressed experience this very often, and it causes their base happiness level to be lower, and usually disrupts and shortens any spell of happiness or positive emotions that they experience. It lurks in the background and threatens to override any form of positivity present. 

Sounds pretty dreadful indeed. There are however counter measures to take if you happen to be someone who experiences this (often or otherwise) injection of negativity. I shall leave you to think of what these methods are for the time being and to devise and share some ideas for the benefit of yourself as well as others. 

To be continued! 

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.

“As If It Were Your First…”

Now that my BMT stint on the perpetually sunny island of Tekong is over, I finally have time to read through my Diary of Tekong Happenings and look back at all the things which made up the good, the bad, and the ugly. Slight lamentations started this military journey on Pulau Tekong, but smiles and heartfelt joy were the parting shots to this little adventure with Scorpion company (yes, it is the company with girls if that is what you are wondering haha).

Many laughable and memorable moments occurred over nine weeks on the island and it would probably take as many weeks if I were to go through them all with you today, and thus I have decided to zoom in on one worthy quote which I think can be applied to life in many different scenarios and circumstances. It was a line thrown at us by our Company Sergeant Major (CSM) – Master Sergeant (MSG) Denash, an Indian gentleman with the true grit of a soldier and the gentle heart of a guiding figure.

It was the day of our first Live Firing session with our rifles, a maiden experience at the Pulau Tekong 100m Live Firing Range where the rifles we mess around with on a daily basis were transformed into the lethal weapons designed to inflict maximum damage and casualty for the purposes of war. We were about to fire live rounds, and with it certainly carried a distinct element of danger and tension. To put it simply, you definitely would not want to accidentally shoot yourself in the foot or fire at your buddy next to you.

When we arrived at the live range, MSG Denash said this:

“I want you to treat every range as if it were your first.

It certainly sounded like a simple safety command which an experienced sergeant would attempt to warn us to abide by but more than that, this line can be transformed into something useful for all of us to use in our daily lives. You see, if we modify the line to allow “range” to be substitutable with any other experience or activity, it would open up a mindset where we face everything we take up with enthusiasm, passion and seriousness.

For example, if we swap “range” with “tennis match”, it woud be “to treat every tennis match as if it were your first”; if you follow my tread of thought, it would mean that you play every tennis match with the same joy, enthusiasm, seriousness and passion which you had for your first ever game of tennis! Just imagine how wonderful things would be and how great the results could be if we had such a mindset where we wake up each day with the same gratitude, curiosity, innocence and joy which we had when we first came into this world. It definitely would make us happier and more driven individuals, and the list of benefits continue.

There definitely were moments far more significant and quotes far more useful to military life which occurred over the course of nine weeks, but for now I think the quote above would be the one I will share today. I think it is important that we treat every day as a new day and every experience as a new experience so that we do not lose our positive energies to the mundanity of repetition and routine. It is not wrong to say that every experience is what we make of it, and the best should be made of every experience by treating it as if it were the first.