Why Oh Why?

Why force something
You know won’t work
Even if you give your best
Or maybe even your all?

Why try at it when
You know it is tough
With hardly a chance of success
Even with the best of luck?

Why is it that
Sensibility doesn’t take charge
To lead you to make decisions
That will bring you high and far?

Why do you keep asking why
When the way ahead is so clear cut?

Why do we want things
That make us unhappy
That make us struggle
With no promise that is on par?

We creatures of contradiction
Why oh why?

Autumn Leaves (As If Not In Singapore)

One will never know how hard it is to sweep leaves away
Until one has done it before:

They spread as you gather them
They head north as you try to get them South
They are everywhere when you want them at one place
They seem to almost have a life of their own;

Under the sweltering heat you sweep them
As beads of perspiration form like a necklace around your neck
And when you think all is still in a heap under the sun
A gust of wind blows and they take flight as you look on and sigh;

You look at the dead leaves fall on the ground
A reminder of what once was the crowning beauty of a majestic tree
Reduced to nothing but a pile of lifelessness to be swept away
To make space for the cycle of life that goes on regardless;

Oh how hard it is to sweep away the leaves of yesterday!

Somehow the above lines, after being written, feels a little like a metaphor for memories and things of the past (yesterday), that has to go in order to make space for what is to come. This is the cycle of life, that what has come must go, and what has gone will have to come round again. Sounds slightly nostalgia, but this continuity is itself the essence of life.

Competitiveness

I don’t mean Usain Bolt, or Michael Phelps, or even Djokovic; I mean the everyday guy who plays to win all the time. 

To speak of champions like Schumacher, Sampras or Earl Anthony and discuss their competitiveness is to say a modern Ferrari is quite fast; these people epitomise what it means to have the passion for their sport, and the desire to win. What is more interesting for today would instead be to talk about the competitiveness of the daily Joe and how he seems to want to win in everything.. even casual mealtime table soccer. 

There is a naturally high streak of competitiveness in some people, and their eyes burn with the desire to win in almost everything they do. They seek to do better than everyone else in academics, in appearing smarter during conversations, in running a quarter mile, in a friendly game of football.. in everything really. 

It can cause people to want to play for / against them because it adds an edge to the team or the overall game, or it can cause people to respond otherwise in that it causes the game to be too serious, and takes the fun away due to the tension caused. I’m sure there’s someone in your head right now. How do you feel about thy person?

You can’t blame him really; it’s something in born in him that he can’t really control. It’s like a chemical in him that gets activated when a situation calls for competition. It’s quite like adrenaline: it pumps naturally and when he’s in the zone, his eyes are fixated only on winning. He doesn’t play; he plays to win. And that’s just how he is naturally. 

However, (there always is a however) that person’s competitiveness, or rather over-competitiveness can be a hindrance to himself because it would mean defeat comes at a much larger impact to him. He would likely not be one to take defeat lightly upon himself, and it is likely to affect him more than others. This could be a good thing if it drives him to push himself to better his abilities, but if it seeks to demotivate or derail him.. then it really isn’t ideal. Depending on who he is, it could have an equally astonishing positive or negative impact.

Besides this, it would also make him much more individualistic. His fixation on victory would result in very much a singlemindedness in him, and he will push himself in a way that he would be nearer to winning than losing. This drive is often running only in himself, and thus would very much single him out in casual or friendly settings. But of course if you have a whole group of people like that put together.. You get Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona or Manchester United. 

So you can’t stop the competitive guy from being competitive because he is just being himself, something that is naturally in him. You could remind him to kick back and chill once in awhile, but overall you need to accept him for who he is. He is very much a game spoiler if taken wrongly but chances are.. He’s the game changer if you know how to exploit this zeal in him.

Are you someone like that?

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.

Existence

(A moment of peace and quiet amidst sentry duty. Two line spacings don’t work on my mobile WordPress, so three dashes shall have to determine paragraphings and breaks.)

There are infinite number of lives all around us:

The ants hurrying about beneath our feet,

The grass that continuously grow unbeknownst to us,

The birds that chirp and the bees that buzz by;

To the ants the task of carrying it’s food around

Is everything in life that matters to them

While for the bees the job of collecting nectar

Is all that is important for them in their existence;

We watch the ants and the bees at work:

We think what they go about everyday is so minute

That their lives of carrying food and making honey

Is nothing too much to be concerned about;

Yet to them:

All that was ever worth worrying about in life

Is whether food can get safely to their nest

And if they can stay alive doing what they do;

What do you think the Universe thinks

When It sees us fretting over our next promotion

Or our academic exams and all the little things

That seem all so important to us?

If the Universe can show compassion to us,

What more to say of us to those we see as less than us?