The discomfort zone and the frontier man

February 13, 2016

If you think about it deeply and carefully. There is absolutely no compelling reason for any man to migrate from the comfort zone to the discomfort of the frontier….none whatsoever..well that at least is my humble opinion on the subject of moving out of one’s comfort zone.

I for one don’t ever imagine even the incentive of a better tomorrow would be hard pressed to supply the necessary motivation to propel a man or for that matter any sane man to seek his fortune in the frontier.

If this man decides to go and seek his fortune abroad….to me, he is a man who harbors either a great pain that he secrets from the world or that he has nothing to lose any longer or both…that’s why there is always a certain measure of shared sadness that will always be an indelible feature of that man who we all call the frontier man.


‘There is certainly an undeniable measure of romanticism associated with the life of the frontier man. That can never be denied. But that aspect of frontierism has to be closer to an imagined myth or perhaps a paper mâché stereotype that the movie business perpetuates just to keep the box office busy.

Truth is a much more mundane business as historically, people really only select to migrate from the comfort to discomfort zone when they believe all bets are off: a reputation in ruins, a bone crushing scandal, unrequited love, disappointment that leads to depression along with thoughts of suicide… to me, the choice to seek one’s fortune in the frontier is akin to joining a monastery – it’s an act of renounciation like how desperate men once opted to join the French legion as a last resort to save their sorry souls or to die trying to do so.

There is nothing romantic about it! It’s always laced with tragedy, necessity or just reaching the end of the road!

All frontier men know this deep down inside….they may never admit it or even choose to talk openly about it – but that’s only because society imposes upon them the obligation to be macho and keep a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. Besides beggars can’t be choosers – they can’t. But I guess, nothing prevents them from mythologizing their raison d’être to feel better.

That I imagine could be why when one Singaporean frontier man meets another in the furtherest reaches of civilization where angels fear to thread – they never ever speak about home, family or the past….it’s an unspoken rule in the fraternity of true frontier men – you never ask another or remind him about whence he came from – taboo – no one ever ask, which school did you go to? What unit did you serve in NS? Or do you remember that place in Changi village where there’s a stretch of pine conifers and huge boulders along with…I wonder is it still there…if someone did…everyone pretends that they didn’t hear it and life just goes right on – to paraphrase, no one ever wants to go back to the past in the outreaches of Africa where everyone has stayed so long. They know walking against tall reeds from east to west in December will only shred up your ankles and tights.

The legionnaires in Chad call this attitude of never mentioning the past -‘Zumba.’

‘Zumba’- a play of that other Swahili word, ‘Shum-bah’ means everything begins just like that…there is no past or future sense to speak of….like I said…it just begins from the point of time called ‘there’.

‘There,’ is where the frontier man prefers to see himself alongside the world. ‘There’ is the sanctuary from his unspeakable pain – in the Zumba sense of ‘there’…only the present matters.

And that I imagine is where most men who decide to go to the frontier much prefer to live their averagely miserable lives….for in reality, we are all dammed….just because one doesn’t talk about it doesn’t mean all is well, it must means no one ever wants to admit he’s damaged goods or go back to their painful past…he has a past, so do they and especially those who try to make out they’re pure a spring snow…I am no different…we put the best foot forward as best we can..yet beneath all the show. Each knows, he’s condemned to always wander this world as exiles from that very idea called home.

That’s what frontier men never ever talk about….they just don’t…’s Zumba!

The unmentionable needs to be said, otherwise many people will just end up hero worshipping a loser….and that’s the unalloyed truth!’

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