April 23, 2014
This is a true story…
Not very far from where I turn the wheel of life. There is a dog who has a habit of bolting out of his compound and frightening all the villagers. When this happens, I am called by the local constabulary to hunt the animal down. Usually I find it wandering my lands. When the dog is returned to the owner. The farmer will give the poor animal a scolding and proceed to whip the shit out of it…and this seems to go on….and on and on. The pattern is always the same with very little or no variation.
When everyone in the village ask this farmer – why does your dog always run away from home and frighten everyone? The farmer will usually reply, ‘it’s a bad dog that must regularly be whipped, otherwise she will not know her place.’
On the seventh occasion when the dog ran away again and after returning it to the owner. I decided to give this farmer some friendly advice. I told him that dogs are by nature territorial creatures and since he has so many animals in his compound, such as a pet hog, a monitor lizard, geese, rabbit, monkey, cat, parrot and even a boa constrictor – if he wanted to run a private zoo. He should consider an enclosure for each animal so that every species will have their own space to call their own – that way his dog will not feel as if it’s space is violated and will not be so nervous and bolt away all the time.
He told me to mind my own business and fuck off.
One day when his dog ran away again. The foolish farmer showed up on my lands with a policeman. He pointed to a tanned alsatian and said, ‘that is my dog and this man is a thief.’ When he called the dog, she ignored him and that was when the foolish farmer raised his whip…only this time, the dog gave him 120 stitches….I just watched…what else could I do….he had after all thought it was his dog…..
‘I am a farmer. I can pick up a thing that the world considers worthless and useless and give it so much love that it flows over the brim and much more. This thing will grow like a humble seed into a big and wondrous thing and one day when I say come my love….it will simply come to me…..that is why I hope stupid people will scold and throw things which they are foolish enough to consider worthless away….as providing they continue to do this, then I can continue to do the things I do. I pity these people as they will always say, what is it about this man….but the fools of this world will never ever know the truth…as I am simply, the man who will always pick the things the world throws away and love them perfectly…yes, I have no doubt…we will win!’
April 22, 2014
It’s perfectly natural for people to cling on to what’s familiar. We wouldn’t be humans…not at all… if we don’t find tradition and the past consoling – as only by valuing these set pieces are we able to gainfully connect to those who came before us – and this sense of shared purpose and destiny cements us to those who share many of our histories, thereby giving us a sense of belonging.
No doubt these are indeed positive things. Only one needs to be mindful – take this idea too far and it can also trap us in obsolete attitudes along with promoting xenophobia and blind nationalism.
This should prompt us all to ask – is there a sweet point where nationalism and multiculturalism can co-exist peacefully?
For example. Am I xenophobic or unreasonable in my expectations, if all I want to do is sit down and watch the birds and trees quietly during the weekend in the Padang without having to put up with a bunch of Africans beating their drums and bucking to tribal music…as this is the way, Africans traditionally celebrate their national day. Am I xenophobic, if all I want to do is walk along Orchard road without being assaulted by the sinking feeling that I’ve suddenly been teleported to to either downtown Manila or Shanghai?
My point is, if most of us don’t have any problem in recognizing that a large chunk of xenophobia involves a group of people shoving their values down our throats. Then by the same token, its conceivable that by insisting time and again multiculturalism has an automatic right of place even if it means squeezing out the way of life one associates with the idea of home – then that idea has to be a form of reverse xenophobia as well.
The perverse effect of insisting that multiculturalism is here to stay even if it threatens to blot out all that’s familiar and makes Singapore what Singapore is, may well provoke many natives to be turned off by what they used to enjoy and consider as diversity – so much so that many may even be so resentful of having multiculturalism shoved their throats or labelled a xenophobic on the slightest sign – many may even feel justified to develop an aversion to anything “diverse” and foreign. And if that happens, can you really blame people for being REALLY xenophobic then?
Maybe the custodians of power should just cool it when it comes to labeling people xenophobic in the absence of strong evidence. After all, let’s not forget what were the operating conditions that brought about such a reaction (if there was really such a negative reaction, given that the ST is the world’s most unreliable purveyor of the truth) along with which outfit was responsible for creating this stress point – besides life is not so simple, where if someone just insist it’s xenophobia…the rest just follows….some people, I am reminded will much prefer to sit on a stone and wonder…xenophobia?
You’re kidding me right?
‘You have a right to your culture and heritage. But you don’t have a right to insist on it so forcefully that you make the natives so anxious and nervous by threatening their way of life.
And let me share with you one other thing…it doesn’t take a lot to give the natives high blood pressure and sleeplessness nights.
That is why, I often tell my friends who come to me for wisdom (though I remain ignorant as to why they should even do such a ridiculous thing) – if you want to celebrate Singapore day…then, do it in a low key manner. Don’t be loud, brash and full frontal about it. Be like a submarine. Don’t do stupid things like stage a reenactment of Parameswara discovering Singapore abroad in the public square – and never shove so forcefully the idea that you are so different from the natives, as they might feel threatened.
Whether they are justified to feel threatened or not is NOT the point. My goal is to share with you WHAT will happen…not what SHOULD happen! The point is simply this gentlemen!
The natives will feel threatened! If you are so reckless as to disregard their sense of space and privacy, that is really my ONLY point – because you cannot be stupid like those people who go around beating gongs and waving giant flags – you cannot, not if the goal is to prosper and win the hearts and minds. You have to be a man of all seasons and ask of yourself further – what is at the nucleus of nationalism?
Let me take you by the hand into my mind’s eye and share with you it what the serious men have shared with me – nationalism is simply a giant myth making machine…it’s not so different from that machine behind the curtain in the story, the Wizard of Oz…as the very idea of nationalism is to sell an illusion – and this it does by regularly twisting the raw material of history into what is regularly served up to the general public.
Do not confuse nationalism with history. As while history is the quest for the truth or at least corroborated facts that make up some semblance of the truth. Nationalism is none of these things, it is at best a fait accompli which requires omitting, exaggerating, embellishing and in many cases wordsmithing a version of the ‘truth’ to produce a story to satisfy a strategic need.
Nationalism to me is in every sense of the word synonymous with the idea of religion – they are both cut from the same cloth…the same reality even. So as an idea, it can never be logical, testable or even scrupulously close to the truth. Neither can one reach a happy consensus on the idea of nationalism either…as there are so many versions – so to me, it is an idea that should always be treated like expired dynamite – with utmost care.
I much prefer quiet diplomacy to beating gongs and drums, where a simple tent is set up in a plantation. Simple makan is served. No flags. No symbols. No lexicons and absolutely no speeches. It’s a low key affair with a footprint of a stealth fighter. Neither do I do stupid things like wear a loud G2000 shirt and my tightest trousers that trigger fainting spells amongst kampung lady folk – I don’t cause heart attacks or make people feel uncomfortable, that is not my goal….my goal is to win the battle of the hearts and minds with quiet diplomacy.
So for me I am always attired in a sombre bush jacket. This is uncle power in it’s highest form. As one cannot even enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as scratching your gulis in a bush jacket, it will look peculiar. And the uniform of the keeper of the wheel of life is always a welcome sight to kampung folk, it reminds them that the center has not caved in. When carried well, it even can cure everything from type 2 diabetes, lowering high blood pressure, relieving menstrual pains, stopping mass pengsan spells, curing epilepsy, consumption, cancer to scaring away malevolent spirits, chasing away sloth, depression, bent politicians, traveling confidence tricksters, bengkok pastors etc etc etc. Since time immemorial it has really always been only this way in the collective memory of those who turn the wheel of life in the kampungs – you could even be forgiven for believing, it can only be this way till the end of time….the serious men of this world taught me all these things…one day they came to me and told me, it is time to set aside my childish ways and to study the art of quiet diplomacy.
As for the rah rah brigade who are beating drums and gongs and shoving multiculturalism down the throats of natives. I don’t care very much for their ways….all they seem to do is cause the natives to get hot underneath their collar, feel very uncomfortable and resent them….and one really needs to ask of them: what is your goal lah?
As for me, I have a very clear mission and I have no illusions as to the discipline that is required to accomplish my mission. You see, I am the first of a new breed of farmers and many will follow in my footsteps. One day more and more people will come out of Singapore to be farmers. I know that is hard to fathom now, but trust me, one day growing iceberg lettuce will be cooler than investment banking and when that day comes everything will be ready for them.’
April 19, 2014
Gabriel García Márquez, novelist, journalist, friend of left-wing causes, master of magical realism, is dead. He was 87.
What was the one operating factor that caused so many kids to perish in the Korean ferry disaster? Was it dodgy steel? Might it have something to do with the weather? Or maybe it was lousy seamanship?
I have no doubt, there will be many theories, but one that may have a disproportionately role in the unusually high death count, may have something to do with the cult of venerating authority that is such an entrenched feature in Korean culture viz-a-viz the inability to question a request made by an authoritative figure.
The ferry disaster may seem to be another stand alone in the pantheon of disasters. But I distinctively recall there was a period when the Korean airline industry was riven with same corrosive culture of blindly following without questioning. Result: planes fell out of the skies like cats and dogs.
In those days, it was not unusual for younger Korean pilots to follow orders from the top blindly without ever seeing the wisdom to question them – the prevailing mantra of Korean air used to be – the captain is more senior than me. He is in charge. He has years and years of experience under his belt and he is God and if I want to aspire to be a captain one day. I would do well to else to sit quietly in one place and do nothing.
No….this ferry tragedy is not new….not at all. Nope, it’s just old dressed up as new. As when the ferry listed at the speed of a motorised wheel chair. Some bloody idiot told those brainwashed kids not to move….to stay where they are….so they just sat there obediently like sheep….and we all know, where sheep end up….don’t we….or maybe we don’t…as they’re all in the bottom of the ocean in this case.
How sad….how very sad.
‘When I was a boy and the teacher asked the whole class – what do you want to be when you grow up. Everyone stood up proudly and said, ‘a lawyer, doctor, architect etc etc.’ When it came to my turn. I would usually look down and keep quiet.
I learnt from an early age that people in authority can often be very cruel and heartless without even realising it – as there was once when I told the whole class, that I wanted to be a landowner when I grow up. The teacher made fun of me by asking, ‘how is that possible, you are so slow.’ And the whole class laughed. After that whenever this teacher saw me, he would often poke fun of me by telling the whole class, ‘the great landowner is here!’ And again everyone laughed.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day news of ambition reached the ears of my employer. He was a landowner and after school I worked as a dog handler in his lands.
One day I was told by the mandur the great planter wanted to me to report to the mansion on the hill. He wanted to see me. The night before I couldn’t sleep as I thought, he was going to sack me. I have always lived in fear of the great planter. He was always a larger than life to me.
The villagers said he once fought the communist. They raped and killed his wife and children, so he gave them death and though he was shot many times, death had no dominion over him. The Tamil rubber tappers believed, he had made an unholy pact with Durga, the goddess of death so whenever they passed his lands on a full moon, they would pluck a hair from their brow to protect themselves from restless man eating tigers. As Kali was fashioned from the brow hair of the goddess of death.
The taoist believed he was a reincarnation of Mara. They believed the communist had murdered him, but since the planter so loved the land, the spirits of the good earth had taken pity on him and turned a blind eye and so the man who was meant to be on the other side…stayed on with the living.
Then there were those who just believed the bush jacket of the planter was made out of steel mesh that could stop bullets. They called him, the six million dollar man – as the planter wore a glass eye, had a stump leg and his left hand was made out ivory.
He smoked a briar pipe. Listened to only Spanish love songs. Drove a land rover with big tires. Wore square dark glasses and sported a pencil moustache like a silent movie film star. I had only seen him a few times. And even then it was only from a distance.
When I saw the planter. He did not bring up the matter. He simply asked whether I was happy with my work as a dog handler. He then went on to explain to me – a man would do well to know his place in this world and if he didn’t know his place, then he would have to be told his place. I told the planter, I did not understand…the planter gave me an example…he told me. A teacher is supposed to impart knowledge. That is his role. But if for some reason this teacher teases me or makes fun or me, then it’s my duty as man to remind him of his role and if necessary to put him in his place. After those words he waved me off.
One day during PE when the teacher made fun of me again in front of all the students. I told him what the planter had shared with me. I told the teacher, please don’t make fun of me. As when I am asked a question what I want to be when I grow up. I can only say a landowner and that is the solemn truth. I may not know how this is possible, but as implausible as that may be, that is what I aspire to be. I went on to tell this teacher that I meant no disrespect and that he should stop what he was doing…as his role is to impart knowledge and not to be a comedian. When he heard this. His face turned beet red and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘how dare you!’ and punched me. Later on when everyone asked how I got a black eye. He would say I picked a fight with another boy and I had been insolent, so I received another round of beating from the disciplinary master. During those days that was how it was…the software to bring up kids was very rudimentary and teachers were all very powerful figuress….there was no one to complain too….and even if I told the truth….no one would ever believe me…that was how it was then.
When I shared this with the planter the following day. He told me that there are times when a man has to go against the grain just to earn his right to be his own man. He went on to share with me that it doesn’t always pay to respect one elders without always questioning and if possible interrogating their motives. As it’s not in every case that they are right or for that matter driven by altruistic motives and a wise man would do well to always remember this. Thereafter he asked me to hop into his land rover. We went for mee rebus, then the planter took me to the chap huaw tiam (village sundry shop). He bought me a hockey stick and an ultra man mask. When he handed me these things, the planter simply said, ‘we shall see whether you have what it takes to be a planter.’
Two weeks later the PE teacher ended up hospital. Apparently one night after a heavy round of drinking in the snooker parlour. According to eye witness accounts. He was set on by a short mask fiend, who beat the crap out of him with a hockey stick in pitch darkness and sped off in a waiting Land Rover. Despite an extensive search by the police. They never ever found the culprit.
Even today, I often wonder to myself – who could it have been? Really, I do wonder.’
April 18, 2014
Travelling by air, sea and even driving can all appear seemingly safe. In reality, they’re all highly dangerous. That may not seem so as technology has successfully lulled us into a false sense of security. We travel at breakneck speed through thirty seven thousand feet in a pressurised cabin – where the only thing that separates us from certain death is a thin veneer of aluminium and insulation without ever once contemplating how small and fragile we really are.
We sail through the peaks and valleys of the seven seas often oblivious to death as technology makes it possible for us to feel as if we just walking around a giant air conditioned mall…and often we drive without even realising that the only thing that separates us from the finality of death is a few feet of crumple zone – as automobile designers have successfully sold us the idea with cup holders and vanity mirrors that light up automatically, our cars are nothing more than extensions of our living room…..but make no mistake….we are in dangerous territory.
And when something goes wrong….we….as humans….never ever say to ourselves…yes, we are indeed fragile….and living is dangerous…instead, we look for someone to blame.
‘Recently I read there was a Singaporean intellectual (I had no idea there was such a thing actually). A thinker! I am not kidding. I sumpah! If I bluff you all, I undertake to run three times around the padang with my ass painted fire engine red. The sight will be a success….not so sure about the smell though – anyway this ‘intellectual’ wrote recently that if there is a war, Singaporeans will fight to the death because they all believe in this fuzzy idea of the Singaporean spirit.
Well all I can say is this chap is either babbling while puffing on his ganja pipe or maybe he has never ever in his life had to lug a 60kg backpack thru the jungle before. I doubt he even knows what it’s like to sleep in your boots after a hard day’s trek as you’re so beat that you can even sleep hanging upside down like a bat. Because that is what the jungle can do to you…..it (the jungle) can literally turn your whole life upside down and shake you so long and hard till there’s nothing left that you can really call your own….your beliefs can all crumble into a heap of dust…you can even betray yourself and everything that you stand for given enough time.
Spending time in the jungle to me is like interrogation. You only think. You even believe you can hold out – but understand this! You cannot! You think its mind over matter, but you are so wrong. I’ve seen this happen so many times, to even good men. Men who I respect and don’t even mind sharing a quart of brandy with the evening as the sun goes down in the verandah… but put them in a jungle long enough and the combination of damp, lousy food, skin rashes and what I can only describe as the scouring litany brought forth by having to function day to day in the jungle can just turn perfectly well adjusted and reasonable men into animals, that’s because the jungle is a very dangerous place and our mind’s, bodies and spirit will always be weak.
To me there is no shame in admitting this reality. Because when you accept the idea our bodies, mind and spirit is inherently fragile, that’s really when you come to terms with your real strength and weaknesses….and most importantly you discover humility and that is the skeleton key that allows you to cultivate a deep respect for jungle, mountain, sea or just a stretch of road…you give it the respect it deserves because it can kill you dead!
That’s the defining difference between the man who knows a thing from the inside out and a man who only knows how to string empty words that all add up to nothing.
I reckon, I’ve led enough expeditions to know deep down what really works and will endure from what only sounds good and doesn’t even have the stamina to last 24 hours….but I am going to keep it all to myself…because if there is ever a war, I want to kill as many as I can….I will even keep score…I want to place the cold cinder of fear into their hearts of the enemy….make him sweat blood, breathe in needles and turn his brain into jelly…above all, I want all my men to return home safely to their families….so I’ll keep it all to myself, the reason why men will fight on. There are some things I dont mind sharing, but then again, there are always other things I much prefer to keep to myself…..as these things will always be very dangerous in a seemingly safe and care free world.’
April 17, 2014
Early this morning while walking the dog. I came across a convoy of lorries carrying palm fruit. When the driver of the lead lorry saw me standing on the hill, he shuddered visibly. You see these kampung folk all think I am the devil, but all I did was to pretend that I didn’t see him, so they just drove right by.
Latter in the day one of my neighbors came over to pay me a visit. He told me that thieves had stolen all his fruit in the night and he has every reason to suspect that they used the roads on my land to transport them out…he asked me whether I saw anything suspicious.
I told this man…. four years ago when I first came here to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. The same thing had happened to me and I had gone to him to ask the same and he had told me, ‘perhaps you should sell me your land….if you keep losing fruit.’
So this time, I asked of him, ‘Perhaps you should sell me your land….if you keep losing fruit.’
Thereafter I asked a man with a shot gun to escort him out of my lands….the conversation was over.
‘I am a very strong believer in the idea that if you are good to others then they will also be good to you. Of course there will always be a few rotten apples in the barrel who will try to game your goodness, but by and large, since most people are well adjusted, reasonable and they all want to get along, so they can reliably be counted on to reciprocate in kind your goodness.
It’s really as simple as that, there is nothing complicated to this philosophy and it really just boils down to one word, good will.
Good will is a commodity that will always command a premium to me. I suspect this may have something to do with the many hardships I encountered when I first started to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. All I can say is when I first started out, most people just didn’t believe that I could last it out. It may have something to do with how kampung folk have traditionally seen city folk as soft people who can’t nearly bear hardship as well as them. Or maybe it had something to do with a powerful landowner who saw my kind as a ‘dangerous new breed of farmer’ and was hell bent on making my life a living hell. This fellow though he could drive me out and just take over my veggie patch and he did this by denying me the benefit of good will.
So I know from first hand experience how it is like to start an enterprise without good will. I know how it’s like to be hated just because one is different. I even know how it’s like to make a police report only for everyone to laugh at you, as the forces you’re going up against is so powerful. I know all these things and they tattooed in my head forever and will always shape the way I see the world.
Things are very different today…the landowner who once wanted to drive me out now lives in fear everyday that the same may happen to him. I am not saying he’s defeated, but he is certainly not as self confident as he used to be. These days I can more or less get things done without too much difficulty. Most people know what I can accept and what I will throw out -some may not still like me, but I reckon, they respect my POV and that is really good enough for me – most importantly they all know my line and they don’t cross it. They may not understand completely how it’s possible that such a turn around could have happened and kampung folk being kampung folk will always weave plenty of myths to explain the strange and mysterious…. So many continue to believe, the boy who once came here was killed on moonless night by the evil landowner and all that remains now is the devil….a man who is very different from that other man who once came here….but I am not the devil….not at all. I am just a man who knows and values the importance of good will.’
But I will be very honest with you
April 16, 2014
Meteorologist all over the world are predicting the formation of a possible El Nino phenomenon schedule to hit late this year. The way I see, it’s virtually a done deal la – while everyone seems to be looking out for more signs of confirmation that El Nino is here to stay.
I have absolutely no doubt that it’s already making it’s presence felt – the exceptional dry spell from Jan to April, the weak westerly winds coupled with low percipitation making this the worst monsoon this year all point to dramatic weather patterns that can only be brought forth by El Nino.
The impact of these unfolding events will have a profound effect on my livelihood. None the less, there is a glimmer of hope – as the onset of El Nino means the price of palm oil will have to go up significantly. But what use it this to me, if my tonnage goes down. So the challenge is to somehow beat the curve by capitalizing on this crisis to bump up my yield.
If I can find a way to increase yield in an environment of water scarcity then I would be able to beat the curve. To accomplish this, I would need to throw out everything that I have learnt about traditional farming methods. It’s no bloody good!
Today I instructed my farmhands not to use any herbicides to kill the weeds – the change in strategy is to create a means for the land to retain valuable water. As after May, I expect a prolonged drought that may possibly last till the end of this year. As for the next monsoon rains that is scheduled to fall somewhere around mid September. I have to assume that is fucked and the only thing I am likely to get when the full effects of El Nino takes hold is the perpetual sun bearing down on me.
It is what it is – and this is really as good as it gets. But I am hopeful….if I am cool headed….play my cards right….take calculated risk and with a bit of luck. I am confident that I can still manage to slip right thru the eye of the needle and make it to the land of milk and honey.
We will win!
‘This year just to get my head above the waterline has been a game of cerebral fitness and Russian roulette. So far, I’ve cut all the right moves.
I’ve read the weather righter than right. Done all the right things – its perfect.
But I am not home yet…there is still another 50% that needs to be done and this time, I can’t read the signs at all…it’s just a swirl… like a man who is struggling to understand a dead language…it’s all gibberish. At times, it’s as if I am flying blind, not really knowing whether I will reach that mythical point or smash into a chimney stack. I am not sure, not at all.
If I believe in the idea of God, then it would be easier on me….I reckon. I could get down on my knees and pray….I could leave it all to him and just unburden myself and feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders. But I’ve long since given up on the idea of a creator….so it’s just me and my two guli’s facing off against something that is so big and omnimous that it just scares me all the time.
I am scared because the risk is so big that if I get it wrong even by 10% this time round, I will be so fucked – there is absolutely no room for error…not this time and it feels as if I am putting it all on one number….one spin of the roulette wheel…..for the moment, the ivory ball bounces around, I am hopeful. I have to be…what choice do I have…to believe in the idea that I can still climb up mother natures skirt when she has her back turned and make the summit, plant my flag, take a photo and live to tell about the one that nearly got away….maybe it’s my ego. Yes maybe it is pride that makes me feel the way I do about this – or perhaps I am just uncomfortable with the whole idea that my destiny hinges on just the randomness of pot luck.
Yes…if I make it to the other side. I reckon a huge part of it has to be due to luck….no skill whatsoever… doesn’t even feature…not even a bit. Not when everything is up in the air as it is right now and I am just like a man whose sailing without charts or a compass – but the funny thing is when I make it to the other side. No one is going to believe that luck once featured in the whole equation of success. No one will believe me even if I just told them all the solemn truth, it was all due to luck….and that’s how it has always been with me….I have always been a gambler.
Only you and I will ever know the truth…as for the others, they will see what they want to see and read into things that aren’t there….it’s always been like that….my life that is.’
April 15, 2014
Agriculture with very little water….it may all seem very complicated….but it isn’t…all it really is…..is coming to terms with the idea of growing stuff under conditions of water scarcity….that is all there is to it.
The answer might just as well be found in commercial beer…Friday’s…parking lots…or affordable meals….the key word here is ‘might.’ Then again, it’s much easier for the Thai’s to manage stress, I reckon. As recreation drinking in Thailand is significantly cheaper when compared to super duper expensive Singapore, which would probably cause you cancer of the wallet.
‘Just because you don’t want to talk about a problem doesn’t mean all is well. All it really means is, you don’t want to talk about the problem. Neither does it mean the problem you don’t want to talk has magically been resolved or doesn’t exist, it just means you much prefer not to see the problems when they surface…and trust me, they will always surface in ways and means which will always show that all is not well even though you choose not to talk even so much as once about the problem.
All wise men know this, only stupid people remain ignorant of this great equalising rule.’
If you get cut off from this link. Type in ‘TPPA forum – Jane Kelsey’ in YouTube.
Well, he doesn’t mince his words. He thinks the TPP is just a cheap pirates convention for big companies to make more $ at the expense of the little guy.
If you get cut off from this link. Type in ‘Chomsky on TPP.’
April 11, 2014
If you encounter problems watching it here, try over at YouTube – under the heading: how to ruin an economy, some simple ways
April 10, 2014
by Pablo Neruda
And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.
‘It is not what a man says that truly maketh a man. As it remains the very uneventful case of what he should say, but instead chooses not to say and instead decides to keep it all to himself like some dark secret that will usually mark him out from all other men.
Try as hard as you may and you can still NEVER make this man say what he should say – do what you want to him to force him to say the things you want to hear and his monk like silence will still have the power to pierce through the wall of noise and make it’s presence felt – as when a man commits himself not to say what everyone expects him to say, then through his stoic silence he would have already said what all others expect him to say….and it will be very loud and clear…silence can truly be deafening when people expect you to say something, but instead you keep quiet.
I reckon this must be the first lesson poetry teaches every man…to be so still and quiet and to only listen to silence….this is what I have learnt from my reading of the infinite man….as he is so very still and silent, yet so strong like a mountain.’
By Darkness on Neruda’s infinite man.
April 10, 2014
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
But….I am not a very patient man. This may have something to do with getting frustrated when things don’t go my way. That’s fine, if I am just working in a factory assembling battery operated vibrating toys that keep spinsters happy at night. But take that same attitude of impatience into farming especially this year when the weather is throwing one curveball after another – I guarantee you….I will be so fucked.
This year is very different from last year. Last year I cut all the right moves 10/10 result: optimal yield. If it was the olympics of farming. I would have certainly bagged the gold in my class and region…not kidding. Didn’t even have to stretch myself, all I had to do was stick to the yellow brick road and follow the farmers almanac on when to sow, harvest etc etc.
But this year is very different…everything is up in the air.. to get the same results, I probably need to be a reincarnation of Nostradamus. Truth is I can’t read the weather at all this year….I am flying blind and it’s turning out to be a game of cerebral fitness cum sudden death with bits of chickeeeeeeen! Thrown in…one where I find myself having to frequently backtrack, devise ever inventive strategies to cheat mothernature if I want to get a good yield – you see it’s not true when people say drought = low yield. Not for oil palm at least…there is loads room for improvisation and there are ways even beat the curve and win.
I must continue to believe in this idea….hard to be confident when I consider the harsh reality most farmers this year will have to content with only half of what they harvested last year…..but I am not like them…not at all. I am the world’s greatest farmer…and as arrogant and conceited as that may sound, I must continue to believe in that idea even if it is closer to illusion than reality.
So far everything is going precisely to plan. On the 26 of March, the trees were fertilised with a cocktail of nutrients comprising of 1.3 Kg of Nitrogen & Potassium @ ratio of 12.4 – 30 – 1 kg of rock phosphate – 1 kg of Magnesium and 100 grammes of Boron. This year the growth dosage was reduced to a third of the usual rate and supplements increased – this is my own formulation, one which I adapted from my extensive research on how the Israelis have been able to thrive in agriculture to regularly yield juicy Jaffa oranges despite having to farm in the desert – there are two very specific goals here.
The additional supplements are to fortify the trees against drought related diseases and the reduced dosage of growth fertiliser to a third was catered specifically to be sympathetic to trees due to the prolonged drought from January to late March – it was designed not to shock the trees.
Trees are a bit like humans. After a prolonged period of starvation. If a person is given too much food his body will not be able to digest and it is likely to go into shock and he dies. Trees are the same…in the beginning of this year till late march there was hardly a drop of rain…so naturally they need time to get back into the active cycle and the best way to facilitate that sort of recovery is by supplying only micro and not mega dosages of fertilisers – a little goes a long way here. So far this part is 10/10. As it has rained numerous times since my last manuring session and judging by the vigor of the new shoots after these recent rounds of rains – they r all good to go.
But I am not home free yet….since I have reduced the fertilization to only a third of the normal requirement that’s not nearly enough nutrients to create optimum conditions for the trees to produce heavy fruit. They still need another round of fertilisation….the question now is how much? Should I continue with another round of micro dosage or is it better to give them the whole lot in one go?
It would all depend on the rains. We are in the monsoon now and usually this is hardly the best time to fertilise as the rains are heavy resulting in much surface run off – that means the fertiliser just gets washed away. That’s no good. But if my predictions are true, that we will get significantly less rains this year, then I may not have any choice but to take the gamble.
Everything now will pivot on the next 50%. Or shall I say, one throw of the dice.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer….if only I can believe.
‘Yesterday a group of Christians paid me a surprise visit in my plantation. They told me God told them to pray for me this year for a bountiful harvest. After serving them iced lemonade and going thru the obligatory small chat. I told them politely…please go away….I don’t need their hocus pocus….besides I never asked that carpenter to die for me….so if he wants to do so…that’s his pasal la(business) – I can’t understand, what’s it got to do with me.
No! The last thing I need now is hope for the sake of hope in the form of mumbo jumbo.
I need to bide for time…and stop myself from moving unnecessarily…like when I am hunting with the weapon of silent death…the bow… I will still myself till my heart slows down and I just blend seamlessly into the jungle…to even allow my sorroundings to embrace me till I disappear completely like a drop of red ink in a glass of water….that is how it is to be invisible. That’s what I need to do…to just remain patient. If I can just do that….opportunity will present itself…it will… and when it shows it’s hand…I will still bite my tongue…hold my breathe and remain so very still…closer….come closer….and even when it stands before me. I will still not move…till everything is just right. Then I’ll draw the bow in one smooth silent arc, take aim at a spot no larger than a coin…and just when it dips it’s head into the stream to drink…I will exhale ever so slowly, close my eyes and allow my fingers to relax on the bow string sending death hissing through flesh, bone, cartilage to find the heart.
I must be patient…’
April 9, 2014
There are many forms of pain that one may experience through the course of a lifetime. But the most acute I imagine has to be the sense of abandonment. As when one is cast into this state then one is virtually marooned in one’s own skull – it is like being the only human being on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere or finding oneself like Will Smith wandering the desolation of an empty city….this man goes to the pier everyday…he transmits a message of hope…but it is not clear whether he does it because he believes that there might be others out there or that it is simply an act that he must continue doing to remain human.
He wanders the wasteland of the city with his only companion….a dog. He’s always armed with a semi automatic and he’s always mindful of that those who lurk in the shadows are out to snuff out his fragile life…he’s outnumbered, but he has a mission….a mission of hope perhaps…but it is not clear whether he continues with the routine as it is the only link to his happy past or that by doing so, he can someone believe that he’s still alive.
I wonder what goes thru the mind of this man as he wanders through the remnants of a once populated city. All around him there are reminders of what life used to be….he sees a half broken bridge…yes, it’s Brooklyn bridge…and soon the images of his family begins to be projected in the movie theatre in his mind’s eye. He remembers the sights, smells and sounds of once being alive with the living and for that brief moment, he remembers what it was like before….then his alarm shakes him out of his reverie, either that or he just got spat out like a seed into the world that he is in now…it’s time to return back to his safe house…the sun would be set soon and the monsters will be out.
‘You don’t have to be the only man to stand in the infinity of the Russian steppes to feel abandoned. No you don’t. You could just as well feel the same in the churning sea of humanity…there you are marinating in a swirl of souls with all their fervent hopes and dreams and yet…you’re like a hermetically sealed diver’s watch…nothing can ever get in…then again nothing can get out as well.
It’s as if you’re watching the world go by thru bullet proof glass. You know the sort that’s so thick that it’s slightly greenish and even warps whatever is on the other side…this feeling of terminal loneliness clings to you like seaweed….it’s permeates your very soul like a scent and it’s always there.
From time to time, the world may jolt you out of your reverie, but most of the time, it’s just this way…the litany where the road just stretches out before you like a thin line right into the horizon….I once rode a motorcycle across Russia all by myself….I thought it would be fun to see an empire crumble and die from within…it was the year when the Berlin wall came right down and East Germans were glued to their TV screens to a very fuckable Vanna White striding up and down in sequins in that series that mesmerised the entire communist bloc… the wheel of fortune….latter on I realised it was a CIA covert plan to seed the idea of capitalism to undermine the communism.
It was a crazy period. I rode thru Russia till the tires gave right out…. continued on horseback….slept mainly in abandoned buildings and underneath bridges….by the fortieth day or was it sixtieth…I can’t remember…I must have lost count..who cares…..either that or the whole idea of just going on just became so powerful that was the only thing that really mattered then…then one day, I found myself standing before the infinity of the Russian steppes….my horse had just keeled over and died…I had traded my watch for a AK 47 earlier in Kursk….. I lived mainly by hunting small game, it was tough as the firing pin was bengkok, so sometimes it fired…at other times it was just make so much noise and scared off everything….I just had to make do without a meal. No one bothered me…no one even asked me for my papers….no one cared, the soviet union was melting away like a snow man and I saw it’s grand demise as it crumbled from within…..I had a front row seat.
Everyone just wanted to get drunk…everyone except me, who just wanted to go right on….right on into infinity, like a solitary space ship cutting through the darkness of space…that was how the Russian steppes was to me…it just went on and on like one of those those soap operas with no beginning or end – it’s just there…has always been there…for so long that the stars even grew up right before you every week on TV…there’s no end, no beginning…it just goes right on.
I knew I was too far gone the day when a couple of brigands on horseback saw me coming down the road and they just rode away as fast as they could…they probably thought I was a cannibal. I barely looked human. Had made a hat out of remnants of my underwear with bits of rabbit fur, sliced off a piece of rubber from a tire to resole my shoes and used the inner tube as a water bottle… I just walked mostly…..at times I worked enough for a horse…I remember the nights, it was cold…but it was the silence that really gnawed at me…so silent… that I would sometimes let loose a round and just hear it pierced the silence just long enough to remind me that there was something else besides the perpetual howl of the silent winds….the winds, they never stop howling in the steppes. They say it can literally drive a man stark raving mad. There are tales of men in the marauding armies of Genghis Khan who ate their own flesh on the seventieth day, the Ukrainians even have a name for this illness it’s called hysteria Siberiana…The Roma, they call it ‘chamasomis,’ I think it means the country of the end of time…as for the Cossacks, they just call it, ‘Garonne’ – hell. No their caravans don’t dare to go near the Steppes…in their map, it’s terra incognito….a place where you can go right in, but can never ever come out….not in one piece at least.
Yes there are some places on this planet that can just eat and spit your bones out…the steppes has to be one of them I reckon…the other probably the Tundra followed closely by the Khyber past… But I didn’t care very much for all that or maybe I just didn’t know better. All I wanted to do was to go right on and on till I reached the other side…and that was what I did… go right on till somewhere in my head I cross that mythical line of no return…I don’t know how long I walked, it seemed like years…then, one day I came across a flat and long stripe that scarred the eternity of the steppes….I remembered looking at this strange thing before me… as I searched my mind to remember what it was….but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t recall. I knew it had to be man made as it was straight and flat….it reminded me of the occasional straight as an arrow vapour trails of jets that pencilled across the paraffin blue skies of the steppes….. it’s unusual symmetry and form frightened me…I put my hand on it like a hot stove…cringed away with fear and for hours I just sat there wondering to myself what could it be? Where did it come from? How did it just appear right out from the grasslands. I know I’ve seen this before…I remember the texture….smell…it was like burnt liquorice. But as hard as I tried to search my mind…I just couldn’t recall. Then very slowly I summoned the courage to put one foot on it’s strange surface like a man gingerly placing one foot ever slowly on thin ice…It bore my entire weight and I took one more step and another…all the while laughing out loud like a mad man….it was a road.’
I warn you…..certain beliefs will always be dangerous. Especially the sort that can change the way you see yourself and the known world around you. As that sort of arcanum can stick in your brain like chewing gum. You can of course try to scrape it off. You may even dedicate yourself to the intensity of work or any for that matter any other diversion that demands something beyond the brain power it takes to tie your shoelaces…. but trust me, what I am about to share with you… will always linger like a faint watermark in your consciousness…yes, there will be enough of a residue to remind you the world has skipped a beat and jump only for everything to find it’s place again…and you were the only one who noticed this.
Remember always what I shared with you in the very beginning…certain beliefs will always be dangerous.
Still here? OK here goes…
I have always harboured the belief politicians and big corporations were messing with our heads - but I didn’t really have anything tangible in the way of proof – it was always just a niggling feeling like how I would see things in the corner of my eye which always seem to disappear whenever I turned to look at it squarely….but I knew, it was always there…lurking somewhere in my mind….influencing me….ever so silent…but I never doubted for one moment…mystery was furiously at work.
At times, I would hear or see something and automatically a train of thoughts would produce either happiness or sadness, ease or disgust etc. In the very beginning, I questioned the origins of these thoughts…sensations….responses….I wanted to know where they came from….did they really belong to me….or did someone just put it all there.
I started by reading. I read prolifically…All the while peering deeply into the darkened interiors of my mind and observed the manner in which, these thoughts influenced my responses, behavior and emotion.
Eventually I learnt to follow these streams of consciousness very much like one of those cloak and dagger secret agents, always mindful that they could either be friend or foe, careful never to get too attached to them or to be led astray by the many images they would conjure in the movie theatre somewhere in my head. It was as if the part which was me…the “i” - became a witness of myself in the greater universe of the “we” – soon I became the very raw material of this experiment which lasted nearly a decade. In the course of my long journey to self consciousness and spiritual and mental freedom, this documentary was perhaps one of the most important touchstones that allowed me to use it as a reference point to build further on the whole idea of personhood.
I hope this excellent documentary gives you the skeleton key to open the many closed doors in your life. I hope you will be patient and allow it bring transformation change to your life…in ways that can only describe as intensely profound. As it did for me. It’s a 20 parter, it’s long, very long. But it has to be, as it deals with a subject matter that is complex and deep.
I can only share with you how this will begin….I cannot tell you how it will end.
I am Darkness, the humble servant of the truth.
“Most people want to change world. The way we eat, replace this with that. All I my life’s work can be summed up in one phrase – I just want to understand myself better.
I reckon, if I can just do that and I come to terms with really simple things like why I get irritated, angry or just feel depressed for no apparent reason – then I believe only then is possible to change the world.
If your mind is so cluttered and messed up, then how is the good, better and the best part of you supposed to work itself out from your pathetic self into your family, friends and the broader world?
So you see to me…it clear as day. If we are really serious about this whole idea of effecting good change and not just forming empty words and stringing sentences that all sound good but amount to really nought. Then we need to first work on many of our time honoured assumptions. We need to interogate them to see whether they are consistent with who we want to be.
The sleeper must awake.”
(Thread in Ekunaba)
You just need to ask yourself one question BEFORE signing the petition to close down STOMP. Who stands to gain the most mileage from the online culture that STOMP propagates?
We all know it’s certainly not netizens….so who stands to benefit most…Cui Bono?
Let me frame the question in another way…how does one go about selling a bejewelled gold plated fire engine? How might this feat be pulled off?
Still confused? OK, how about this then….how can consent to engineered?
Still don’t get it?
‘For the MSM to continue to retain the requisite cultural authority, legitimacy and credibility to be seen as the purveyor of the truth…it will need the direct opposite in the form of an antithesis to exist…if this does not exist…then it would be manufactured to seem to exist….this is the very definition of what psychological warfare is all about…specifically ‘false flag’ covert operations i.e creation of imaginary fears to drive a need that legitimises the supply of a solution which would otherwise have been seen to be either draconian or morally reprehensible…so now, you understand why the antithesis has to be manufactured…as how could you possibly appreciate the full meaning of the color white beyond it’s dictionary meaning if the color black is merely an abstraction or if it didn’t exist – so what you have is the compelling strategic need to engineer the creation of the context to supply the comparative that in turn legitimises the NEED. As if this context did not exist how then can consent be engineered.
I mean if the Nazi’s did not burn down the Reichstag and pin the blame on the Bolsheviks and Communist, then how could they have justified wide sweeping laws to curb free speech along consolidate their hold on power to establish a one party state?
So to me it is clear as day who is really behind all this along with who stands to benefit most… the question now is how many people know about this? Well that would really depend on whether you consider this a black and white world or just a white and black world….I know all this may sound very cryptic and even slightly confusing…but work at it and very slowly, you see the dots connecting with other dots. You will…but trust me one thing is certain from all this, not everyone is going to jump up and down….life is not that simple where you jump and I just follow.’
April 8, 2014
I have very powerful enemies. Some of them are so big that they even have politicians and the cops eating right out of their hands like pigeons. I know that’s not the way things should be, but it is, what it is…..and I accept that as the rules of engagement of war.
My enemies don’t like me very much. Or maybe it’s not personal. As they see my kind as a threat to their way of life. After all, I represent a new breed of farmer who brings with him a new creed – again I understand completely their fears. They are after all valid fears as many of my methods of managing myself and others goes against the grain of the establishment. And should my kind succeed, then it’s likely more men such as myself will begin to make their presence felt in the kampungs, they will not only challenge the current power structure of the old money hegemony. But in all probability they will also have little problems with kicking down that rotten house of cards and throwing out many of their old ritualised practices of how the current elites have always perpetuated their class politics to control the plantation industry.
I understand…..believe me I do. And once again, I accept these rules of engagement.
But what these people do not seem to understand is my kind. The first generation farmer who hails from the city is here to stay and even should they put a bullet in my head….there will never be a shortage of men who are more than willing to step into my shoes and continue the war.
We will win!
‘Not very long ago. A young agronomist paid me a visit. She told me that the local Chinese chamber of commerce had shortlisted me for a zero interest grant – it is a very attractive scheme that I can benefit from. As it comes with loads of freebies. But it comes with one proviso, I need to share my know how….
So naturally I told this young lady. You are most welcome to see how I go about my business….I hid nothing from her. I opened all my doors….everything was right before her….to do as she pleases. In the fields she saw the way I worked alongside the farmhands. I told her, I am like Levin. Her eyes sparkled with understanding as she exclaimed, Tolstoy….Anna Karenina. From time to time, we would speak. I noticed she was reading the Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Neruda. She could tell, I knew his work intimately when I told her, the great poet wrote only in green ink, which was his personal symbol for desire and hope. She asked me why he the great poet who believed so much in hope never ever once used that word. I told her the story of Tentativa del hombre infinite and explained to her as in the novel El habitante y su esperanza, hope need not be expressed….not at all, it merely is….One day when the sun was like a disc of fire, she saw the farmhands chewing on sugarcane…I told her to only chew on the narrow sections…it’s sweetest there….she asked, is it true…the rumours… that I once fought in the Ascension wars in Nicaragua…I merely told her I don’t remember that man who once stood on a rock promontory with a rifle slung on his back….I only remember the aching beauty of the Cordillera de Los Morbeilles set against the crimson sunset….I told her, I counted only six…though everyone said there were eight..she undertood…as that was what Neruda’s infinite man had once exclaimed just before a duel in the Ascuncion chapel in Leon. She wondered whether it was true that the Chinaman sugarcane planter once did same for the hand of a third generation Matizto’s landowner’s daughter in Managua….I told her it was hard to tell as even the fairytale presages the period before I met my wife and settled down in Singapore.
On the fifth day when I told her how the swiftlets would fly ever so higher and in tighter circles as they instinctively knew it was time for the wind to shift the other way and they were preparing for their long marathon flight across the straits… she asked about the man who once wore flared ridding breeches, mirror polished knee high boots and always sported a shouldered holstered revolver…the Chinaman Cocoa planter…I told her, he must have been enamoured with Idi Amin, she laughed and mentioned…Uganda..I shouted ‘Uluru!’ She asked what is that, I merely mentioned that’s what the Matabili tribesmen would shout out when they spotted a tiger in the brushes….she said explain…. I looked her in the eye this time and told her… I counted only six…though everyone said there was eight….it was what Neruda’s main protoganist had mentioned just before he was betrayed in Santiago. She undertstood and looked down and shame swept across her face.
On the sixth day when I told her the Mai’a in Southern Sudan believe two cardamoms went put into hot tea could stop time dead in it’s tracks and the mythical door of secrets would swing open – it all spilled out…the beans…the girl told me slowly, she was actually sent by my enemies to find out about my plans…..there was no interest free grant…it was all an elaborate lie designed to entice me…And at the end of it all, she merely expressed in a tone of abject resignation… I counted only six….though everyone said there was eight…after she finished, she looked up me and realized then and there…. I knew it all along…it was the face of Neruda’s infinite man.
I don’t understand….I want to understand….but I really don’t. If my enemies really want to tear me into a thousand pieces and bring me down. Why even get a sheep to do a foxes job? I really don’t understand….why not just put a bullet into my head? Wouldn’t that be far more easier? I don’t understand.’
In the moment of my youth, it was not uncommon for me to tell everyone that I could talk to trees and dogs. Somewhere around the period when I reached middle school. I stopped. As I realised people began to fear and avoid me.
It all started one day when an Indian boy went missing in my neighborhood. On the third day when the entire village searched all over the place in vain for him – I pointed to an ash color pariah dog and told them – follow that dog, he knows where the boy is.
Eventually a couple of curious kids followed the dog and they found the kid in an abandoned well shaft in a disused rubber curing house deep in the plantation.
After that day all the parents in my neighbourhood told their kids to avoid me. They were all so scared and I didnt understand why or what I had done wrong.
Simce that day, I just kept it all to myself like one of those sad characters in a Hong Kong ghost movie who keeps seeing and hearing stuff that other people are oblivious too.
But the voices….they never ever stopped….
Many people believe trees are dead things. I guess they belong to the world of periphery vision. As no one I know, except maybe me really looks at them. Most folk don’t consciously think of trees as conscious beings. They don’t, its as if they all belong to the same invisible genre as fire extinguishers, elevator music, bollards and stuff that we all never ever consciously take notice of.
But if we still our minds and just look at a tree, I reckon we would hear what they are trying to say….these flowers that are blooming all over Singapore. They’re all warning us. They’re telling us that the weather this year is likely to get freakier – you see when a tree produces more flowers than it usually does, it only does so for one reason, to increase it’s probability of species survival….as it probably senses hard times are just around the corner.
From all this, I just know deep down in the marrow of my bones, less rain will fall in the next monsoon when the winds blow east to west in September. Perhaps even no rain at all…..
I best prepare for the worst….my friends the trees…they’re never ever wrong.
“When I was a kid. The headmistress told my distraught parents in a very serious tone, “your son is abnormal. We have to let him go.” It all started from one unfortunate incident. You see one day when I cycled to school – I found out to my horror that they had cut down a row of Ficus trees to make way for a new row of shop houses across the street.
There my friends, the trees laid all cut up into pieces. I cried and wailed and no one could understand why. The PE teacher said I was a naughty boy and threatened to spank me, if I didn’t stop my nonsense get into the school compound.
I told him that if he laid a finger on me – my friends would fix him nice and proper. He got so infuriated by my perculiar response that he smacked me. After that day no one ever spoke to me – all the parents told their kids, “don’t mix with that boy, he’s queer.” Even the rest of the teachers left me alone to do my thing – all except the biology teacher, her name was Miss Grace Lim.
One day when she saw me standing looking at a tall Chingay tree as I usually did after school. She sat beside me on a bench - she stroked my hair and asked, “what is it that you see?” I told her to be still and just listen. At first Miss Lim stirred restlessly. Maybe she wasn’t accustommed to sitting still for hours. So I held her by her cheeks and told her, “you have to remain very still Miss Lim. Otherwise you can never hear them speak.” And she did exactly as I told her – every day after school. We would sit for hours and just look at this tree.
One day, Miss Lim turned to me and whispered,
“Oh my God!” She started to get nervous and her expression began to fill with horror – that was when I placed my little hand on hers and told her, “be calm Miss Lim. They don’t mean us any harm at all.” After that day, no one ever smacked me ever again. You see it is very simple Miss Lim finally understood. And once you understand a thing, it’s like crossing an invisible line in your head – life will never be the same again.
As for the PE teacher one rainy day, he took cover underneath a tree and a big branch came down on him. He broke his collar bone. I told him I had friends in high places that could fix him. He should have listened to me!”
April 6, 2014
It is very natural for all of us to feel from time to time, we are not good enough….I get assaulted by these feelings of self doubt more than you think. Maybe it’s my inferiority complex.
And whenever self doubt appears right before me. I always tell myself the people who come across as more confident and assured of themselves probably feel the same as well.
The only difference between me and them is they know how to suppress this feelings of self doubt better and that is all there is to it.
As I said, it’s very natural, so don’t beat yourself up over nothing.
‘There are times when I am in the company of landowners who tower over me like mountain ranges. Some of them own lands that are so vast. You could start from the center and walk from East to West or North to South for days on end and still see no sign of their boundaries – it’s a geography that’s so big that you can’t even wrap your head around it – and there I am with my veggie patch wondering to myself how the hell am I going to get up there. I tell myself. It’s just so bloody impossible. I don’t even know where to start, it’s like standing before a smooth rock face with no foothold or even the slightest indentation. The texture is like wet polished marble and it just goes right up beyond the uppereaches into the clouds…..so high that it even hurts my eyes whenever I try to make out the summit.
At these moments, I feel so very small. So small that I even believe the sum of all my life’s work could probably fit into a postage stamp and that’s really just another way of saying, it all really just amounts to a big diffusion of energy amounting to a big nothing and maybe I should just chuck it all in and disappear like a cloud.
Sometimes I feel a wave of anger sweeping right across me. My jaws tighten and my breathing becomes scraggy and suddenly everything around me just sharpens to a point where even breathing becomes painful…it’s like breathing needles… and at that moment it’s as if, I’ve managed to step right out of skin and there I am looking at these people who are all larger than life while I am three feet shorter and I say to myself, ‘Life is not fucking fair. I am the world’s greatest farmer. I can grow anything. I bet, I could even grow carrots on the moon. But since I don’t have the contacts and network, it’s hard to get a sizable acrerage to even prove my point…life is just not fair.’
That’s when I usually see HIM passing me by in the corner of my eye. A ghost from the past. He’s always in his flared ridding breeches, mirror polished knee high boots. He’s always wearing that silly shoulder holstered revolver across his open collar khaki shirt with his hair swept back.
Usually when he appears I try to slip away, but I can never get very far. As no matter how fast I run, he’s always there. Ahead of me. Always giving me that sardonic look of condescending understanding like he knows I’ve just shitted in my pants…..I am not good enough.
It’s been this way ever since I could remember stretching all the way back to Africa. We always end up facing each other sitting in one dark corner over a bottle when everyone has gone back home. Usually we just drink quietly. We seldom speak. There’s no need too. Not when a cluck of the tongue, raised eye brow or curl of the lips can convey just as well the length of a full sentence. Mostly single malt whiskey. From time to time he pauses and peers at me and I say, ‘whaaaat?’ He chuckles and we go back to our drinks again. Each of us lost in our own thoughts.
But you know what…. I always feel better when he’s around. I don’t know why, it’s as if suddenly everything doesn’t seem so impossible any longer. From time to time, I steal glances at him. I never dare look him squarely in the face – never, there’s something unsettling about him. Maybe it’s the peculiar way he crimps the middle of his cigarettes before he lights them. A trick he learnt from the legionaires in the Sahara…comes in handy during a sandstorm – perhaps its the way he looks out at the world. A desolate wasteland beneath a Godless sky, steely white where nothing can thrive….except maybe a certain type of man who looks out at the world with eyes of defiance….No…no…let us not go there tonight… to that place in the distant past. Let us just say, I know he can always be counted to come through…to punch a hole and slip right thru it….let us just say, I always feel much better when he’s around. I know he’s got his faults and all. I don’t know why. But I do.’
April 5, 2014
When you buy into the idea of downgrading. It just means you have given up on the whole idea of bettering your lot. That’s it. It’s cut and dried. The long and short of it all.
The way I see it, if the right conditions do not exist for you to gainfully improve your standard of living where you are. Then it’s best to just cut your losses and head off to somewhere else where you can still continue to gainfully work towards a better tomorrow for yourself and your loved one’s.
But NEVER downgrade. Never allow anyone to tell you, you’re not good enough to make the grade and you have to make do with less. Because if you go down that road of compromise – then I can more or less guarantee you, it’s downhill all the way from that point onwards – the road to perdition that is, where you may even take comfort in the necessary lie from time to time – ‘I’ll just drive a taxi till something better comes along. This is only temporary.’
But you know what, nothing will ever come your way – nothing will ever change…not for the better. Because you’re so into the gyre of the doing day in and out. Every hour, minute and second that there is little else for anything besides just panting like a hamster on the wheel to keep it spinning for nuts. You even dream about being stuck in traffic jams – soon your self assurance and confidence will leach away like a ball of camphor giving itself bit by bit to the atmosphere without you even realizing it and in no time, all that’s left is a pale shadow of your previous self – a sad broken man who now only lives in the distant memories of his glorious past. A hollowed out has been PMET who has now made peace with the whole idea of finality – this is my lot! It is, what it is. Yes, you’ve become a caricature of Lola in the Copacabana twenty years after Tony was gunned down by Rico…..faded feathers and all. You much prefer to live in the past. You even talk about it all the time. As it’s really too painful to live in the present…as for the future that notion has disappeared almost entirely from your field of possibilities – the only thing left is the litany…the daily unceasing grind….where one day will unfurl precisely like yesterday…where every day is a perfect imitation of yesterday – where the only thing that changes is the diminishing size of your toothpaste or it’s time to get to cut your nails and very little else except these markers along the chastening passage of time. But there is a glimmer of hope…all is not lost…you tell yourself this… all the while hoping against hope, the numbers you have scrawled on last weeks lottery ticket will magically line up and take you away from this shitty life.
But deep down. You know only too well the terrible truth…that day will never ever come….as probabilities never add up to possibilities.
Never downgrade….it’s slow acting poison. Never allow anyone to tell you to downgrade either…tell them if they come near you, you will beat the crap out of them. Tell them, you’re a violent man and you just want to be all by yourself all alone and work hard on fleshing out your plan B. Once its good to go get on your bike and take off!
Don’t even tell your wife. Just go like Benjamin Button. Who realizes, if he doesn’t get on his bike and just take off. He will con’t to go that other way. A way that will just take him exnonarably away from who he was meant to be. They will never understand. But you do.
Trust me wherever you decide to go….you can’t do worst than where you already are when you have decided to downgrade….even should you be in the hottest place in hell surviving on insects and battling zombies. Trust me. You are standing on higher ground to be the man who you were always meant to be. As you are still intact. You still have all of you together in one piece…nothing is missing. Nothing has frittered away. You are not affected by the poison of settling for the life of decreasing circles. As you are in a place where no one can make you into a beggar thru downgrading. Absolutely no one….as you never ever gave anyone the permission to cross that line in your head.
There are certain lines in your head that you must always be prepared to always protect. If you don’t people will just trample over them and you will just disappear.
It gives me no pleasure to say, I have seen this many times before.
‘Once you buy into downgrading as a means to make ends met. All you have really done despite all the clever words is made the decision to cannibalise everything that is worthy about yourself just to get by – it’s really not so different from the main protagonist in Jules Verne’s novel, ’round the world in eighty days.’ Where on the last leg of the journey, just to beat the clock, he strips down all the timber from his boat and feeds it into the furnace to frantically make to it to port….and when he arrives, there is nothing left except a skeleton…a shell…a lingering shadow of what used to be.
Now what you need to understand is when you buy into downgrading as a personal organizational logic – all the qualities which would have been need as the raw material to fashion you into the man that you were meant to be and much more just went right into that furnace…..for what? Just to get by.
Now can anyone here please tell me, if that is the case, what’s the bloody point even if you make it past the finishing line….please can anyone tell me?
At this point let me share with you a power word that I personally find very useful to make the paradigm shift. It is like those other power words, Halleluya and Ohm….it is simply No! As when you say No! Believe me the field of possibilities will just unfurl and a road will just open right up before you – all you have to do is get on your bike and go! Doesn’t matter where it is, even if you decide to go to Africa, where folk are shooting live rounds at you….at least you still have all of yourself to be your own man who has decided to live life under your own terms and you’re not doing something self destructive like cannibalising your self esteem and sense of worth just to make ends met by downgrading.
I wish you Godspeed in your journey to be the man who you were always meant to be….drop me a postcard when you get to the other side.’