The art of bearing the unbearable – the perfect storm called El Niño 2015

May 15, 2015

It’s no longer a theoretical possibility. El Nino is here. Earlier this week, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology released a statement, saying that conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean had developed enough for their forecasters to confirm an El Niño for 2015. As of today, Thursday, May 15th, NOAA – the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – issued their own updated forecast, stating that the El Niño had strengthened and spread towards the east, developing into a more “classic” El Niño scenario.

As it stands now, NOAA forecasters give a 90 per cent probability that El Niño will persist at least through the summer months of 2015, and an 80 per cent chance that it will still be around by the end of the year.

El Niño is scheduled to bite around September. The timing couldn’t be worse. As where I turn the wheel of life, we usually don’t get any rain for months of June, July and August. That means the second monsoon of 2015 will fail to materialize.

In the best case scenario, if the Monsoon in the Indian continent holds and the cold currents from the Himalayas continue to pour into the Andanman seas – there is a slight possibility, we may get some rain….it’s doubtful thought, as the weather boffins have categorized this as an epic sized events. So no rain for at least six months.

In the worst case scenario, if El Niño conditions persist thru to 2016 and the waters in the Pacific continue to flow to the Americas – then the first monsoon of 2016 will fail along with the second monsoon of 2015 – result no rain for nine months or possibly longer.


‘I know how this will all pan out. I guess knowing can only heighten the terror. I don’t know it as just a distant abstraction like how one watches a movie with that all to familiar feeling of detachment about how drought scissoring thru the countryside can bronze everything as far as the eye can see.

I know the chronology. I know it exactly, precisely and sequentially. What will happen when the rains fail for the first, second and third month and so on and so forth. I even know how the trees will put up a good fight in the very beginning and I even know how they will be beaten down only to be slowly weakened by each passing day as it cuts like a knife.

I know it so well…it’s cut and dried.

This thing is too big to fight. Sometimes that’s the way the cards fall! So all I am going to do is give in to it, step right inside it in the way a diver submerges into an alien world, closing my eyes and plugging up ears so that the water stays out, and simply allow my being to sink deeper and deeper. There’s no sun here, no moon, no landmarks, no sense of time. Just the swirling gyre of very strong undercurrents that overwhelms a man and reminds him how crumbly fragile he is when he’s smack in the middle of something so unimaginably big.

Recently I read somewhere how Amos Yee’s father had come to terms with his son’s condition – his exact words were something to effect, ‘I’ve come to accept the way he is…..’

For those who have never been initiated into the pathos of coming to terms with the finality of a situation, some may believe such a response belongs to the slacker parlance whatever. This interjection, which smacks of resignation, impatience, irony, dismissiveness and terminal disdain may well be construed as such.

But I guess what Amos Yee’s father is trying to convey is that, he’s resigned himself to the inevitability of the situation… that other nuanced Americana parlance of something else—resigned, accepting, neutral, passive: it is, what it is.

I don’t doubt such an attitude may come across as resignation…defeatism even. But it’s a layered meaning. As since it is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. It can only be the direct opposite of can-do….you jump, I jump….if you fail, try again.

No…it’s not defeatism. If anything it’s an attitude towards life that speaks of uncommon resolve in the face of adversity.

Acceptance. Coming to terms with a thing, no matter how unpleasant it is.

Acceptance. Reconciling oneself to the prospects this may well be as good as it gets.

Acceptance. Seeing it to this unpleasant business to the very end….even if it holds out no promise that it will all end happily.

To bear the unbearable as stoically as a man can bear.

All this is of course lost to bubble warped folk who have never had to stand helplessly before something so big when it proceeds towards them. That’s perfectly understandable especially when one considers how to the average Singaporean, the future is always perceived as malleable. Hence the mantra – it lies in our human hands to shape our future. Options are always on the table. And even if there aren’t any – one can always take faith in the notion…before it gets better…one has to go thru the worst.

So for the vast majority of hermetically sealed humanity as they go thru life – what I will have to go thru can only be a distant abstraction to them. I have reached an understanding of sorts where I am perfectly reconciled with how so many of attitudes along with the way I may see the world will always be estranged from the mainstream.

I have come to accept my estrangement…my exile…my marooned conditioned. Above all I stand ready for what may come way. For better or worse, philosophical acceptance has never been my default frame of mind. I am a sucker for believing everything from my weekend warrior spaghetti to wheel barrows can be improved….perhaps what really accounts for this optimism has nothing whatsoever to do with my much vaunted can do spirit. Maybe it’s arrogance.

I wonder as I contemplate both the looming El Niño and why Amos does and says what we does and say – that a little less faith in my convictions all things can be necessarily improved, bettered and that in the final turn of the closing chapter good will triumph over evil, could well be immeasurably improved with a little more skepticism?

Perhaps it’s wiser and kinder to the human soil. if we simply learnt to accept things stoically for what they truly are like Amos Yee’s father…..after all, it is, what it is.’

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