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5th May, 2012

Will the Shadow Days be Over?

From his upcoming album (finally!).

John Mayer - Shadow Days

Did you know that you could be wrong
And swear you're right
Some people been known to do it
All their lives
But you find yourself alone
Just like you found yourself before
Like I found myself in pieces
On the hotel floor
Hard times have helped me see

I'm a good man, with a good heart
Had a tough time, got a rough start
But I finally learned to let it go
Now I'm right here, and I'm right now
And I'm open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
My shadow days are over now

Well I ain't no troublemaker
And I never meant her harm
But it doesn't mean I didn't make it hard to carry on

Well it sucks to be honest
And it hurts to be real
But it's nice to make some love
That I can finally feel
Hard times let me be

I'm a good man, with a good heart
Had a tough time, got a rough start
But I finally learned to let it go
Now I'm right here, and I'm right now
And I'm open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
My shadow days are over now

I'm a good man, with a good heart
Had a tough time, got a rough start
But I finally learned to let it go
Now I'm right here, and I'm right now
And I'm open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
My shadow days are over now

4th Apr, 2012

Teeter Totter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_QIiAvO5TI&feature=share

Sometimes I wonder what I'm hoping for in my career in the big G. The video above should speak for itself the kind of change that I hope to see in Singapore. It was well put-together. It was sweet. And moreover it meant something that I believed in. 

It is hard to imagine sometimes how distant I've become from the 'activist' I used to be just some years ago. All this talk and think about policy strategy/administration gets in the way of being on the ground and feeling for others and feeling oneself. I am beginning to recall  those events at Hong Lim Park where the people who showed up (few as they were) had passion fired in their eyes. I felt both humbled and intimidated by them - I wondered what it was like to feel so strongly for something and admired the courage they plucked to do something about it. I have benefited so much from a comfortable life and my ups and downs haven't quite been as disorienting as it would be for many other people. In a way maybe I am romanticizing suffering and discrimination in Singapore, but I suppose I do believe that the big G still has a long long way to go in terms of engaging citizens in a way that means something to everyone.

Making an inclusive society is such a buzzphrase in Singapore at the moment but the reality is that there still are so many pockets in Singapore who are living without a voice. I recognize that too many voices can be detrimental, especially when people might not see or remember the silent majority. How this voice should be heard should not have to mirror what happens here in the US. With technology and an evolving media I'm sure we could come up with an interesting model. 

What of the big G? I guess I do recognize that the important changes that many people in Singapore need in their lives aren't quite as sexy as the LGBT cause. One man's right might come at the cost of another's, and the grand plan of the government is to maximize privilege and minimize cost. It never is quite so simple coordinating resources and development but there must must must be a way to still be a big government while not having to have such a command and control over society. Technology?

In any case, I'm contemplating my role on this side of the fence. Hope to find some answers...

14th Feb, 2012

When the Magic is all but gone...

A year and a half ago I came to this side of the world with all the magic in my eyes. I saw new things, heard new voices, tasted new experiences. 

A year and a half from that and I finally realize that the wonder of that phase was long ago evaporated. I no longer bear the fire that carries me through the semester. A week is now a plain, old, regular week. Just as it was back at home. The normalcy of it all is at once saddening as it is humbling. I remember feeling like that at the beginning of JC - I'm bored... so what am I going to do to make it special for myself? It is up to me to make the most out of this opportunity and I need to stop looking at my friends at other places with the envy in my eyes. I have so many opportunities being thrown at me but yet it is my own eyes which glaze over in rebellious rejection. Will I let me feet sink into comfort? Or will I allow my soles to feel grass which I've never trodden on before?

I have a little more than two years left... time is running short =(

11th Feb, 2012

Drive

What drives a person into excellence? I have been pondering over this question for a good year now, after having been exposed to hyper-driven personalities. I think it is fairly safe to say that people are driven by different emotions. Having lacked this drive myself I've been trying to figure out what can motivate me to do more than is 'required' of me.

Is it love?
But in the world of the romantic belies a strange divorce from reality. 

Is it arrogance?
But in the world of the arrogant, he/she ends up standing alone on top of his own mountain.

Is it greed?
But in the world of the insatiable satisfaction is never attainable. 

Is it curiosity? 
But in the world of questions there are many truths which are unreachable by the limits of our human minds. 

Is it insecurity?
But in the world of the insecure who measures him/herself to countless others will only lie confusion.

I really don't know if there is an answer to this... but it still remains that I'm lacking the drive I used to have. Maybe it's the age...

The JLin Effect

So this week has been a phenomenal ride for Jeremy Lin and perhaps the Asian American community as a whole. It has been unnerving to see a dwarfed Asian going toe-to-toe with American giants on the courts. His jumps, his spins, his tactics actually makes me want to get better at basketball. 

For all his wins though, viewing this spectacle with "The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations" in mind provides a contrasting insight to the real prejudice that underlies our society. "Sometimes compliments are the worst insults." Compliments are showered when expectations are surpassed, and at times they expose the extraordinarily low expectations we may have of a person due to superficial qualities. In this instance, an Asian man wasn't expected to be able to succeed in basketball because he would be too small and too short to out-manoeuvre larger opponents. It wasn't because Asian men sucked, but rather because the nature of the game wasn't inclined to advantage his build.

But magic floods us when we defy those expectations. As rational and as reasoned those expectations may be, there will always come along those few jokers who manage to surpass those limitations and come to their own in spite of evidence that works against them. Jeremy Lin holds the courts with a speed and agility that the larger players lack. His smaller size allows him to duck beneath tackles. Jeremy Lin is challenging the Asian American stereotype that Asians are only good at studying and pingpong. He is showing us that with perseverance, hard work, a mind of steel and a God to rely on one can disentangle oneself from stereotypes and set new boundaries. 

This brings me back to what Professor Kapur mentioned last semester about "aspirations". In his perspective, aspirations are powerful not only at the individual level but at the societal level. In this case, the Jeremy Lin effect is allowing the Asian American community to rethink what their fate in society is. Although I do agree that generalizations and stereotypes often do have good bases for their emergence, it is also highly debilitating to narrow down the possibilities of one's future simply because everyone else does. We never know what our strengths and weaknesses are until we try - and what these are we really cannot base them on every other person in the community. 

How does one infuse a group of friends, a community, or a country with aspiration? And I mean aspiration with a dose of rationality. Mao clearly managed to do so but its effects devastated the oldest and largest nation in the world. Is the Jeremy Lin effect reproducible? And what of the self? How does one apply this moment of aspiration to one's own path in life?

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