By Chia Jeng Yang
If you are like me, you have been caught in the gulf of understanding that exist in the schooling years before working life. I find myself in a stage of definition.
I struggle to define identity, philosophy and life. This blog hopes to be a platform for all of us, the casual blogger, to share their detailed thoughts on any subjects that we find most intriguing. And food, because food. Together, as amateur beings, as we stumble haltingly, let us lift torches of insights from wherever we may be.
The first story I would like to share is about the concept of good work.
We go to exams or work and if we work hard enough, we win praise, awards and commendations. These are intangible trinkets that draw their power from the established social structure. We are happy to receive these intangibles simply because society dictates that we should be. One day, I realized this was not sustainable. It did not fulfill me. It was work, successful and respectable work even, but not good work. Fatigued by a short lifetime of chasing for intangible reward, we forget the purity of physical suffering.
What? Physical suffering? That’s some weird shit.
Don’t worry; this isn’t a 50 shades of grey-esque piece. The beauty of physical suffering is something that all athletes are familiar with. Athletes win their accolades through the combined triumph of the mind and the body. Through their physical struggles, they reach a higher level of euphoria. The compliment ‘good work’ means more to them than a dull intellectual recognition of achievement. The fatigue in the limbs and the sweat on one’s brow gives rise to a primal sense of achievement.
Recently in March, I hiked to Everest Base Camp. At around Day 5 of my trek to EBC, I developed a pretty persistent cough that had me choking out orange-reddish phlegm hourly. I was pretty convinced that I had a minor infection and that my lungs were fine (It turned out to be pneumonia.) and that red did not necessarily mean blood (It did.) By that time, my oxygen absorption had dropped to 65%. Later, checking Wikipedia.org, it turned out that that was minor brain damage level.
Obviously not knowing that at the time, this was followed by another 5 days of trekking, much hacking and an increasingly serious nosebleed. A day after reaching base camp, I got diagnosed and evacuated to a hospital at Kathmandu.
I’ve been asked repeatedly if I would do it again, knowing everything. The honest answer is that I’m already planning my next trip. Standing at the bottom of the top of the world (ha ha) was a triumph of physical and mental will. For an extraordinary journey, I was able to define myself, a character of frequently conflicting instincts, into a singular triumphant moment. I was able to exist knowing every step forward I took, despite the pain, despite the cold, was good work. Who wouldn’t do it again?
I am about to study law when I enter university. I hope that I don’t find myself trapped in a world of intangible corporate existentialism. I hope that I can remember to go out and live in the world that exists. I hope to find that good work once more.
What is your opinion on the definition of a good work?
//I have to thank Gyan Magar, my guide, for helping me through this amazing journey.