Saturday, June 26, 2010

Appreciating the Boring Days

The problem with being forced to serve the nation is that it is an unpopular option where one loses one's identity, freedom, and often, intelligence. The regimentation of it all equates to having every single day repeating itself with negligible variance for 22 to 24 months of one's life. Hence, it is common to feel bored and dread as one wait for time to pass, and hopefully, quickly. Isn't that part of the Singapore story? Yet, a cultural exchange with the US soldiers brought home a very sobering lesson.

We were taught personnel and vehicles check to our dismay for such an activity has been haunting us for the past year as part of my vocation. This meant that we were bored to tears and would grab anything to stab ourselves to get away from it all. Sensing our boredom, disinterest and at times disrespect, Hill (one of the instructors) decides to share an anecdote that rings true.

He told us that in his line of duty, he has checked countless of cars and personnel. It is a tiring and boring job because the level of checks there is so thorough due to a much higher possibility of an attack there than it is in Singapore. This meant that at any moment, he and his comrades may lose their lives and the thought of that spurs him to ensure that each check is as thorough as possible. As such, he enjoys the utter boredom of his work because being bored means that nothing has happened. At the end of the day, everyone returns to their loved ones safe and sound. In this light, he told us to appreciate the boring days and he hoped that everyday will be as boring as possible for us.

Touched by his "blessing", I realised that Memorial Day was a couple of weeks ago and the passing of this commemoration certainly made what he said utterly sobering. As such, let us offer a prayer to those who have served and passed on as the proverbial rose upon their graves.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Difficult Question

How are you today, my dear readers? Hands up for those who said, "I'm fine. Thank You." Sometimes, the simplest questions are the most difficult ones. Why is that so? How many of us are really interested in another's well-being when we enquire about them? On the flip side, how many of us ever gave thought to this simple question and answer our friends sincerely rather than preparing "ready-made" answers? I'm sure most of us will take the easy answer, "I'm fine." I'll admit that I'm no exception in my answers. But on hindsight, it really bothers me that I did not answer this question sincerely especially to people I love and care about.

After some reflection, I came up with three possible reasons for such an answer. Firstly, we are not close to the enquirer and the most appropriate thing to do is to give a polite answer. Secondly, even if the enquirer is someone that we are close to, we do not want to burden them with our problems. Lastly, we are neither euphoric nor melancholy and for a lack of an adjective so using the word 'fine' is the easiest way out.

For the first situation, I do not have a better alternative and would definitely like whoever who has generously taken their time to read this to comment on this post should they have one.

With regards to the second situation, while we should not expect anything of our friends, I'm sure that if I were to enquire about someone I would definitely love to catch up with that person. By extension, I will take an interest in their well-being. Hence, I feel that we should be honest when our well-being is enquired of. That said, one must still exercise some tact in unburdening ourselves as we should try not to make our friends uncomfortable in the process of doing so.

As for the last situation, I feel that since someone we care about took the effort to enquire of us, we should pay back in kind with putting some thought and depth in our replies.
The track by which my train of thoughts travels on is actually the need to recommit to our relationships and to take time and effort in investing in them for this are the things that truly matter in life.
With that said, how are you today?