What does it really mean to be the most emotionless people in the world?

November 24, 2012

This seems to be such a simple question. Yet there seems to be an abstract quality about it – it is as though we are looking at a thing through bullet proof glass. We all know what the dictionary meaning of the term “emotion,” implies. But if we really search ourselves – we can’t seem to get a firm grip on what it really means when we are labelled the most emotionless people in this world.

I guess it is only someone like me who will think about such questions at a deeper level – and one reason for this has to do with the e-book, I am currently writing. It is a story of a middle management banker who got retrenched and after a prolonged period of languishing in between jobs – he decides to drive a taxi. He tells himself it’s only tie him down for this lean period. It wouldn’t really be a permanent thing. Something better will come along. But as his meter clocks away and time goes by – and more time ticks away – like the many street lamps this taxi driver passes so does the chastening passage of time. Till it dawns on him, this may after all be his life. His only means to the turn the wheel of life.

The taxi driver would often say to himself at the end of the shift. “It may be a hamster wheel, but at least I get my daily grub.” Something has died in this man, it has frittered away. But even he doesn’t know what it is – soon each day resembles a series of prayer beads. Each day comes and go with the regularity of one bead being caressed and slipped over again and again – there is no beginning and no end. It’s an endless litany of pick up’s and long stretches of searches. He even regularly dreams about being stuck in a traffic jam. This goes on and on. Day by day. Till one day, this ex banker and newly reincarnated taxi driver no longer begins to ask whether perhaps he could even do anything else any longer except drive a taxi. He has given up.

One day he picks up a well dressed woman. She’s talking over the phone – it’s an arbitrage deal requiring cross financing. He knows that area like the lines on his palm. He strains to follow the conversation further. Something whirls in his mind, like a dusty old pistol being cocked. He shares what he thinks to the woman who seems unable to hide that look that says it all, “what do you know. You’re just a taxi driver.” But mid way through, she realizes the taxi driver has a point – she doesn’t need to cut the deal that way. This might work. And she begins to wonder who is this man? Really who is he……and what door has this taxi driver opened? Will it lead to his salvation or destruction?

It’s really a story about lost and found – but enough of that. I digress really.

In the process of trying to flesh out the character of the main protagonist. I had a lot of trouble trying to imagine the litany of driving a taxi. So one day when the world’s laziest journalist and her lazier editor rolled out the fairytale of the $7,000 taxi driver in our beloved daily rag. And the story washed up on blogoland. I dropped by into James Lim’s blog – diary of a Singapore taxi driver and just asked him.

.…..Tell me James. I want to know how it’s like for you to drive a taxi. I want to really know deep down how’ its like. Can you please share with me what goes through your mind before, during and after your shift. Please I hope you will not consider my request an imposition.

You see James, in my next book. I am considering featuring a taxi driver as the main protagonist.

I would consider it a personal favor, if you could humor a farmer who spends most of his time alone in the evenings all by himself in his plantation.

Darkness 2012

31 October 2012 18:14
Lim James said…
Hi Darkness 2012

You really want to know what is really deep down in my heart and mind during my shift?.

From the start, I must say that I’m
just one among thousands of taxi drivers and my thoughts definitely are not representative of others. Each one of us has different motivations and comes from different background and are unique individually.

Anyway, I’ll do you a favor and write what goes into my mind right now without edit.

Ok, I hate begin a taxi driver and wish I could do something else to make a living. On the other hand, it’s an easy and sometime fun job. So, my feelings shift frequently. I envy my friends who are do not have to work for a living now as they had accumulated retirement fund or are running their own business with good social standing. Taxi drivers are not like MP with good social standing. But than I’m glad that I’m healthy with a good family.

I must get to the wheel each evening albeit reluctantly because I committed to pay rental and had place food on the table and enjoy my occasional beer with puff. Once behind the wheel, I’m focused to do a good job. Each passenger I got made me feel good and when they left I felt lousy as I had to hunt for another “prey” like a hunter. I felt most “miserable” when I missed a passenger to someone else. But I moved on. I look at my taking and watch constantly. If had enough collection or earning for a shift, I’m tempted to break and call it a day at my handout at coffee shop with my buddies. Here, with my comrades, I felt most happy.

Sorry, Darkness. It’s late. Need to stop and get to my wheel. Bye.
31 October 2012 20:47

I began to reflect deeply on James’s reply – and now that I have been told we hold the accolade of being the most emotionless people on this world. This only serves to confirm what I have always suspected all along – it’s pithy summary of our times and if I had to point to one reason why most in the marginalized classes feel the need to insulate themselves with emotionless detachment. It has to be because it is so terribly expensive these days to be emotional. As any form of emotional attachment requires commitment – and how can anyone who is turning the wheel of life these days be really committed to anything when it seems the center is giving way? I sense a ground well that many are beginning to reach the realization that it’s getting harder and harder these days to turn the wheel of life in Singapore. Uncertainty about the future can only sharpen the sense of anxiety brought forth by fear – fear of losing ones job – fear of not being able to be a provider. Fear that one may suddenly be overwhelm by missing a foot amd falling on the treadmill of trying to keep up woth the frenetic pace of change that seems to shrink the power of the dollar day by day. Fear can only lead to anger. Anger to suffering. And suffering can only lead one to feel nothing. An emotionless state where one simply tries the very best to bear the unbearable.

As the main protagonist in my new book who regularly dreams about getting stuck in the traffic jam puts it “It may be a hamster wheel, but at least I get my daily grub.” To put it another way, when fear takes hold long enough, then even the best of us dare not dream beyond tomorrow. All that matters is really matters is to keep to the endless litany of an emotionless existence.

Darkness 2012


“If you look around in blogoland these days. You will find alot of Potemkin sites that exist solely to promote what’s churned out my the propaganda machine – let me tell you why this is happening. As there is a great battle for that grey material in between your ears. The propagandist want to plant a flag in your brain. Now you know why Bertha Harian keeps begging us all to buy this or that paper. It is really a battle for the hearts and minds. And since no one these days really takes the ST seriously – what these people have to do is project online.

That is fine with me – as reading is really self selecting – only for me I value my brain. As without my brain there is very little I can do. Without the ability to see the events unfolding accurately, it is doubtful that I can even steer my business successfully – so for me, I simply cannot afford to read propaganda. As it can only mislead and cloud my powers of judgement. To me propaganda is poison! But even if you should regard the ST as impartial, objective and the purveyor of the truth and nothing but the truth.

As a reasonable man even you have to ask – why is it whenever there is a negative poll about Singapore = it is always conveniently explained away as a abberation or plain rubbish. But if it is a poll that paints the PAP in a glorious light, then they take the gongs and drums out and beat it again and again till all of us need to take two panadols and rub our temples with tiger balm. What is happening here? Are they trying to say to all of us that, all polls that paint Singapore in an unfavorable light are dubious and suspect? Do you all notice this happens almost every time without fail – or is it just me?

But my friends these days these propagandist are getting smarter, they even use reverse psychology by getting a white trash to write a counter commentary to lend credence what they have to regularly forward. To me this is very disturbing as what this suggest is these people are in a state of denial – when someone is in a state of denial, it is not so different from an alcoholic who doesn’t believe he has a drink problem. It is very difficult for this man to reform or even see any motivation to change his lifestyle.

That is why whenever one comes across a negative poll – it is best to reflect deeply on it and not be so quick to shoot it down – and to even ask ourselves whether this is really a problem and if so how best can we go about solving it to improve our lot. This is what wise people do. What they don’t do is dismiss it as rubbish or just something spurious automatically – only very arrogant people who believe they are always right and people who don’t see the value for continuous improvement will regularly do this. And they are silliest people in town. If you follow them. I can almost guarantee you that you will probably end up in debt and panting away in your hamster wheel. Now you know why I have not read the ST for nearly 5 years. Not even casually. As stupidity is contagious, worse still once you have developed the bent of hearing only the good news and even start living the happy life when you are munching on mud cakes and tree bark congee, it must means, your mind is no longer yours. It has been appropriated. In which case, you really need to press the pause button and ask yourself – are you just existing or are you really living? Maybe what you really have is the illusion that you’re living, when in fact all you’re doing is just existing.”

One Response to “What does it really mean to be the most emotionless people in the world?”

  1. JW said

    (Please note, this site does not usually allow public comments. But in this case an exception has been made – the Interspacing liaison officer)

    Hi Darkness 2012,

    I cannot help but agree with your statements on ST. It was only not too long ago (maybe a month) ago that I started to think am I reading the correct media for information to enrich my mind. I have been a faithful reader of ST since young only till recently. I am very much interested to know how people make it in life and ST never fails to paint a damn good pictures of their so-called successful people every weekend. I will spend times trying to read thru all these articles and interviews to decipher what are the things that I lack as compared to those in the papers. It was not till lately that ST started to interview some so called business owner/Director of those gold investment firm that I seriously start to cast doubts on all these ST reporters and editors. I have been a true blue bullion dealer for the past few years, and what was being reported in ST was basically confusing the public rather than educating them. Best part is they seem to be still glorifying these “SCAMMERS” to the poor public. As I have expected and warned others against gold investment schemes with up to 20% returns on annual basis, truth prevails and there is a gold investment company which got investigated recently under the name of Genneva Gold. Yet ST can still interviewed another company by the name of Gold Guarantee and Asia Pacific Bullion( if I did not get the name wrong), who is not much difference with Genneva Gold. It really got me to a point that ST is becoming more like a joke to me. I am in bullion market, and I do know how tough it is to even make a dollar from 1 oz of gold, how can anyone believe it is easy to make money from gold and there is no downside risk? Ironically, both Gold Guarantee and Asia Pacific Bullion belongs to the same boss. If they are so good, why do I not have any business dealings with these companies? Basically, they DO NOT even qualify to open account with my bank. So, for company who don’t even qualify to do business with banks, do you think we can invest in these companies? ST is definitely not employing the right people to investigate on the background of the company before reporting.

    At the same time, there is nothing MAS can do to these companies since they are a privately own company. They can only warn the public. But what’s the bloody use of warning? There is not even a public awareness of gold investment and all the government does is just to warn? I bet they can do better. It just whether they want it or not. Anyway, enough of my side of story, i just want to say that you have inspired me tremendously. I have totally stop reading ST after reading your blog because I do think my brain really deserve something better.

    Likewise, for all sandwiched class of people, I am struggling on a daily basis to try to keep my job and hope the management will not marginalized me. Unfortunately, I am the typical Singaporean who got caught in the rat race as well. Yet I am always thinking why should I let others take control of my life and career? I am working so hard but yet I was not appreciated by some really “emotionless” people in my work place. Every now and then, I was just being cornered to do all their works because the seniors are living in their own world. Ironically, as much as you have written about the Taxi Driver litany, I am facing the same dilemma if I will end up doing this for life? Pay is decent but not fantastic, but with the rising cost, we will never be able to keep up and retire in peace when the time comes. Everything is just getting ridiculously expensive these days in Singapore. if you do not keep a decent paying job, we can even just kiss our savings goodbye. We will never get to save much for our later years. always worries after worries. There is no one time we can just let our hairs down and just relax. I just have my first kid recently and was even made already made to join in the kiasu environment just by peer pressure. What have we actually got ourselves into? i really wonder at times am I really doing it right? I do not want to say that the government is at fault for all these things that are happening, as compared to a lot of countries, we are really fortunate esp in terms of security. However, I am also very much trust the country can do a lot more for us as well and not just for the “Elites”.

    Sadly speaking, most of us do not stand a chance to lead a well balanced life in Singapore as compared to the Europeans or Americans.. we are treated like workhorse and just have to keep working till we finally drop dead without finding out the truth meaning to life. I cannot help but worry for the next generation here as well, how will they ever catch up if they are at the bottom food chain? It will be even tougher to break out of their status quo at the rate we are going. It is surely getting more and more tiring to stay in line with the lifestyle these days. The government has painted too good a lifestyle to lure us into following their dreams and getting us further in debts. I remember those days where my parents takes only 10 years to pay off their properties while we are doing it at 30-35 yrs.. gone are the days where you work hard and you will live a decent life.. i have seen people who work so hard to support their family but yet still not having enough to sustain a small HDB flat while trying to feed the family as well. $1800 to raise 6 kids?? haha.. another joke of ST.

    Anyway, just trying to vent some frustrations here. Thank you for hearing me out and hope there will come a day I will get to meet up with you. Please keep your blog going and thank you for all the inspirations you have given me thus far. Have a good sunday. Cheers!


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