Tag: reflection


Having met up with the 404 guys frequently, the inevitable discussions of our future career paths have helped me re-evaluate my decision to transfer to JC and the reasons behind it.

Seeing my friends with vastly different strengths/interests/passions, I wonder what they will pursue in Uni and beyond. Will they turn their hobbies into careers, or will their hobbies remain as hobbies? Does the notion of turning your passion into work, hold water in the face of realism?

I have had dabbled with this idea many times before. I was once a firm believer in that idea, and anyone else who did otherwise was a sellout. And because of that line of thinking, I had a large disdain for corporate workers.

However, I have come to realise that the idea of turning your passion into work may be quite disillusioned. The perfect example of this to me would be entrepreneurship; people who create businesses based on turning their intangible ideas into concrete reality. A few names jump to mind immediately; Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.

The picture of monetising your passion and living life never having to work a single day if you are doing what you love is illustrated based on a few individuals. These success stories are glorified on a pedestal and perpetuated throughout our culture which paints a very naïve and romanticized version of doing what you love for a living. And for the few success stories we have seen, legions of failures or people destroying their lives by following this path we have not considered, or made the effort to.

The notion is flawed not because of the natural supply and demand phenomenon or that society falls nicely into a bell-curve when plotted on two axes, but it is flawed also because we may not derive happiness based on doing something.

Most of us will get bored doing something we “love” for the rest of our lives, and most of us do not even know where our interest really lies.

Secondly, our actions are largely motivated by secondary reasons. Consequences, results and end-goals. I think our actions should come from a more fundamental place, driven by our primary character. What values do we uphold, who are we? Only then can we adequately consider the secondary factors when choosing a career path.

For example, becoming a lawyer purely because of prestige and financial success may not be the right reasons for going into law. But maybe going into law because you want to uphold integrity and justice and fight for the right cause, coupled with the prestige and financial freedom, will be a more sensible decision.

Pursuing music because of fame and attention may not be wise as compared to using your voice as a vehicle to raise awareness or promote better values or help people feel better when they are down, because you are an inherently kind person.

Choose something based on values true to yourself and not predicated on the opinions of those around you. The primary factors should be sound before the secondary factors are considered for a sensible and wise decision to be made imo.

At the end of the day, joining the rat-race in the corporate world, or busking at the side of the road selling music are both right and wrong. It all comes down to choices. Choices based on what you think is right, choices you will not regret when you are old, and choices you can wake up excited and go to bed satisfied with. Choices YOU make.

There are 2 kinds of people in this world, those who can choose, and those who cannot.


My Trip to Surabaya

“Now it’s your turn to tell me your dream.”

Tommy (a student guide) and I were talking in the showroom of a local furniture company after we had went on a tour of their factory. He shared with me his dream of building his own company to provide jobs for more Indonesians. The way he casually chatted about his ambitions with such sincerity amazed me. Similarly, another student guide told me he wanted to study at NUS for his MBA and work in the States one day.

I was wondering why were they so ready to verbalise their dreams and aspirations. Was it their culture? Or was it because they were filled with hope?


10th November 1945

24,000 British troops invaded Surabaya and bombs were dropped mercilessly. The Indonesian resistance fought valiantly, drawing the battle on for 3 weeks, resulting in over 16,000 Indonesian casualties and majority of the local population fleeing.

The Indonesians fought with hope. Hope, the fuel to get back on their feet when they have fallen; the voices to their spirits when they charge onto the battlefield; the steeling of their hearts when surrounded by enemies’ bayonets, defeated; the quiet melody singing the anthem of a better future.

“Freedom or Die!”

18th September 2014

We visited the Heroes Monument dedicated to the people who died in the battle. A tall phallus-shaped landmark erected in honour of those who died during the battle.

We then moved on to the 10th November Museum located beneath the monument and saw historical artefacts and video recordings of the battle. Amongst which was a sculpture of Indonesians on the battlefield, fallen but still flying the flag of Indonesia with pride. The attention to detail of the sculptor was frighteningly accurate. It recreated the feelings of the soldiers and conveyed them to the viewer through a lapse in time. I felt as if I had been standing on the battlefield and witnessed the tears roll down the cheeks of the soldiers and heard their battle cries and felt the uniform cling to my skin, drenched in perspiration and humidity.


The sculptor definitely succeeded in conveying emotions. But what I think he did most importantly, was to pass on the spark of hope of the soldiers.

I won’t let you bury it
I won’t let you smother it
I won’t let you murder it


Sweaty manual workers were lifting heavy objects by the roadside, 3 boys in soiled uniforms were walking across the top of a cement wall to cut through a field to get to school, technicians with greasy skin were repairing motorcycles in the hot weather. They may have been living in grimy conditions with filthy clothes, but they wore the purest smiles I had ever seen. And I personally think they were smiling because of hope. Not of hope for a better GPA, more money, an iPhone 6, more likes on their Instagram or retweets on Twitter. But maybe for health, happiness and freedom for another day.


Leaving Surabaya has taught me to hope; an internalised metronome driving the piece of music even though it doesn’t see the full composition. We may not be able to agree on what hope is, what it is for, or where it comes from. But maybe we can agree on this,

“Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

― Stephen King

Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail

Darkness fell and enveloped the world in its entirety, or my world as it was. My air-conditioning was turned on ironically, at a mechanically precise 25 degrees celsius, almost as if to mock the cool night air on the other side of the glass windows, acting as a membrane between nature and artificiality. However, nature doesn’t bear grudges; it accepts whatever we throw at it, and its response is a direct result of our behaviour.

The only source of light permeating my room was from the street lamps lining the pavement. They emitted a quaint yellowish hue, similar to that of the pith of an orange. Intermittent droning of car engines roared unceremoniously as tires pressured against the metal drains without much effort for courtesy, resonating an irritable clanking.

What prevented me from falling asleep, or rather what kept me awake, was the activity in my head, not the coarse sound of combustion engines, and the livid state of my mind, as compared to the poignant lights.

I was inebriated with my own thoughts and fantasies, bustling with activity. I felt myself drift to distant lands and as the world stood very much still, my mind was reproachably active.

I dreamt of people all around the world. What were they like? What were they doing? What was their weather like? How were they feeling? What were their dreams and aspirations?  I really wish to meet the people I didn’t know, or maybe have yet to. One day the puzzle will piece itself together, and that thought served as a sedative, sending my body to recover for the next sunrise.