One early morning – Kendo

May 1, 2010

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Deep down, I don’t believe it takes any special talent for a person to rise above himself – may sound trite. But that’s what I really believe. We all already have it in us—every man, woman, and child—every human being is capable of that feat….I don’t believe you need to learn new information as much as unlearn many of things that is already swimming somewhere in your head to accomplish this goal.

It’s a process –  like letting your muscles go limp – but you can’t do that unless you’re first aware of the cadence of your breathing; the tightness of your muscles around your rib cage and how affected you are by the things happening all around you – eventually you make that connection – you have too; like me just before I scribbled this down.

It’s Saturday Kendo practice at 4.30 am – and the guy before me wants to bang me. I want to bang him. We have been at it for an eternity  – my movements are scraggy; they’re all messed up by this idea I have to get through his defense –  That’s when it hits me – gradually, in the way every climber eventually begins to feel the weight cutting into his tired shoulders; that’s when he stops and rummages  through his rucksack trying his best to lighten the load; from time to time asking himself – “do I really need to carry this where I am heading?” That’s how it all starts – everything else follows from that.

Gradually I begin to release myself in the way a fisherman seeds out rope and immediately feel the tension giving way to relief. Little by little, I give myself invisibly to the atmosphere like camphor. Till everything acquires an indescribable sharpness and clarity – an eerie sort of emptiness filled with silence – where even time acquires the texture of honey – and then, little by little I begin to feel as if I am lifting off the ground and the field of possibilities begins to open.

I see it all in Technicolor, my opponent, his teeth clenched – and then I do something that even surprises myself – I close my eyes – for that brief moment, I felt it all, the before, during and after – he closes in, the whip lash of the bamboo cutting the air with a faint whoosh; the smell of sour sweat and finally the hit followed by the body blow –yet as soon as it all came, it all went right through me and suddenly I found myself in a place far away from anyone or anywhere – a place where the first thing that strikes me is the realization. I’m not so weird to myself anymore….

I think in some crazy way; I may have won this round despite having lost it all. No that’s not bad. It’s good. Life after all is just a four letter word.

Darkness 2010 – The Brotherhood Press 2010

“Singaporean culture is all about winning and very little else. Being second best just doesn’t get you the ticker tape parade. From cradle to grave this idea has been subconsciously drummed into each and every single one of us – in school right through work (and if we get a chance to retire) the goal is to win.

Even the language we use daily reflects this single track mentality; the market is the high ground; we need to obliterate the competition; better still if we can hammer him into dust – all of these reflects our fixation with the winning mentality.

Only I can’t help but feel, we may be fighting the wrong war, with the wrong weapons, against the wrong enemies and for all the wrong reasons. For starters, the world doesn’t work that way – life is never simply an all or nothing game – If anything it’s closer to a marathon; where if you really want to win it may just do you a whole lot of good to buy into the idea of regarding both victory and success as one of the same reality – may sound easy; but it’s not. Not when you used to winning and having your own way most of the time. But unless you want to keep on beating up yourself or allow things, events and people to muck up your day, week and life – that may be the only way to live with yourself and others without having to be an asshole all the time.

we have 50 knot head wind against us; a cold front is creeping in from the South and we are low on supplies – besides, we’ve been stuck here freezing our guli’s off for the last 3 days waiting for things to change, but it’s getting from bad to worse – so if you want to go out there – go ahead man.

I am not going to stop you – only for me and my crew it makes far more sense to pick and choose our battles, this is where we are going to get into our car and drive back where we came from….besides what’s the big deal, she isn’t going anywhere – this time next year, she will still be here – only she’s won this time – but there will be a next time….trust me….there will always be a next time.”

Darkness 2008 / Pumori Expidition – The Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2010


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