We’ve frequently extolled the virtues of remembering. We hail those with perfect memory as heroes. Hell, we even have World Memory Championships. Sometimes we don’t remember the fact that memories are dangerous things.
You’ve probably asked people how their thought processes work. Mine works pretty badly; I reached today’s topic by thinking about how I or anyone else would or could move on from the death of a loved one. I decided to think about the gift of forgetting.
It was on our tenth day, as we drove yet again to the desert, that our social expectations quickly wore thin, and our natural inclination for individualistic hedonism quickly took over. For me, of course, it was sooner than most; my attempts at socialization were after all, always only a farce. I had buried myself in an intriguing book by Doytevesky and Simon had emerged from his backpack with a Spanish-Dutch romance novel. I gazed outside, staring at yet another endless plain of bush forest, or was it grasslands, or temperate desert? It did not matter after all. I was more intrigued by the cloudy skies, the visage of its underbelly concealing the full range of its existence. The hidden behemoth that was the Australia cloud led me to the contemplations of the certainty of dimensional existences. To a God looking down, we must be very flat characters after all. Continue reading →
To get over freezing and almost dying in the Himalayas, I decided to head down to Australia. The land of kangaroos, camels (Turns out, Australia has the largest camel herd in the world.) and vast open deserts seem to be the best place to warm up. I decided to bring beachwear and tank tops. In the south of Australia. In July. Where an Australian winter can reach 5 degrees. I painfully learnt of the need to research local weather temperatures, before happily relearning that lesson in Taiwan, but that’s a story for another time.
After a month in the cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, I was done exploring the pub crawls and the admittedly awesome speakeasies (hidden bars). I wanted an adventure dammit. And so I found myself on a roadtrip from Melbourne to Perth. It was the most amazingly meditative trip. This is how I did it.
This is a new series where I explore posts that have unconventional or complex conclusions drawn from comparatively simpler life situations. Arguably, this is the entire premise of philosophy, but still.
I used to be like one of you uni-cyclical sleepers (People who sleep once a day)(I made that term up. It’s mine.) until I adopted the complex philosophy of ‘Screw it, I’m tired and going to bed, I don’t care what time it is’. This has resulted in me taking a series of short naps; waking up and sleeping at various times of the day. Common conversation topics with my hallmates include ‘Why the hell are you sleeping at 3pm?’ and ‘Why the hell have you just woken up at 12am?’.
I stay up in the library a lot, to the early mornings of the day.
Those who know me know I do not study very well so sometimes I do something different.
Our library have light sensors that are triggered by motion sensors. It is common to see a swath of corridors light up as a person comes in and out of the library. When one sits long enough, the motion sensors fail and the lights go out.
Sometimes, I play a slow piano serenade and sit still, long enough to see the lights go out one by one, as the darkness descends steadily towards me until it engulfs me completely.
It becomes so beautifully surreal. No longer buoyed with reality, my mind lifts me by a tether and I watch myself watch myself watch myself.
For most of my National Service, I was pretty exhausted mentally and needed something fresh to help mark a new start into life. Something simple. I decided to climb Everest Base Camp. I once went on a Scouts hike. Probably the same thing.
Anyway, I was young and I was ready. This is a short window into my experience, how I did it, and what it was like.
In December 2013, I decided to try climbing mountains for the first time in my life. To begin my foray into what would turn out to be a never-ending wanderlust, I climbed the beautiful Mt. Rinjani, located in Lombok, Indonesia, an island next to Bali. If you’re in the area, you should definitely visit Mt. Rinjani for a few awesome reasons:
Trekking through a wide range of different terrains in the course of 3 short days, from wet jungle terrain to dry scrubland, rocky mountainous terrain, slippery volcanic sands, vast endless meadows and countryside grazing fields
Being able to swim in the ultimate private pool – An ancient volcanic lake
Being able to see the island of Bali located an immense 180km away while climbing Rinjani
Due to relatively little light pollution, being able to see the entire constellations and formation of the Milky Way galaxy extremely clearly.
As a friend traveling with me described it, Rinjani is a photographer’s paradise. In fact, the 2010 National Geography Photo Contest was won by a Singaporean with a photo of Rinjani eruption
Is the pursuit of ignorance a legitimate philosophy? I assume I’m speaking to either dissidents of this theory or hypocrites. I would prefer to have been ignorant about the nihilistic nature of life. I would prefer to have been ignorant about many things. I would have the highest quality of happiness I would have known.
In Alain De Botton’s book, The Social Status, he talks about how the presence of greater wealth and information have directly lead to a greater level of unhappiness. When we know what others have, and what we can have, we find ourselves yearning, he argues very convincingly. Surely then, happiness can lie somewhere in the lines of a more spartan and remote life.
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.