Saturday, October 25, 2008

At the precipice

Having been born towards the end of the year, I have the advantage of having more time to cling onto youth and not let it get sucked away from me by the swirling sands of time. Well, I have always asserted that age is not really an important concept to me because what we do with our lives is what we should be focussing on. If you have all the youth at 20 but have not achieved anything in your life, what do you have to show for it? What is the point of being young if you have not lived? On the other end of the spectrum, if you are 40 (and not exactly ripe enough to sleep on a death-bed yet) and have reached all the life goals you have set for yourself, there is actually no need to live for another second because you will die a contented person. Therefore age to me is nothing but a number, much like time displayed on a watch, and is just something to organize the world with.

Maybe the project engineering (ie. what I am doing at work now) is getting the better of me but I sometimes see my life as a giant project schedule capable of being mapped out in a single Microsoft Access document. And as all projects go, there must be milestone checkpoints where you take stock of what you have achieved and how much of the entire project has progressed thus far. And for this project called "My Life" which I am the engineer of, I see a major checkpoint coming up soon.

The big three-O.

One by one, I have witnessed my friends go pass this checkpoint in the previous months and now it is my turn too. Different people attach various degrees of emotion to this number and from what you see on TV and in the movies, this usually is a mix between despair, panic and depression (albeit masked by comedy most of the time). For me, I feel that life actually starts after 30 but before 30, we must first plough through 0 to 29 and in case you are wondering what exactly I had to plough through, you are in luck.

0 - 13
Basically before puberty, life is nothing but a means for you to reach puberty. I feel that too many people place too much significance in a happy childhood. Granted that those formative years do have an impact on your future adult life but we should all move on from there and make the best out of what we had and came from. I did not exactly have the best of childhoods having not had a father since I was eight and up till today, I do feel one of the reasons I turned out gay was because of the cliché lack-of-father-figure reason (don't shoot me for that opinion). For years, I have gone through depression for not having a fathered childhood and beating myself up for it. But what is the point of blaming your history for your current inadequacies in life? I am gay and figured that the best way to live my life is to live it my own way with my own goals and my own dreams. My own project. And looking at life as an unfinished project gives you something to work towards to all the time.

13 - 18
Looking back at my adolescence, I see a jumbled mess of acne, poor dress sense, insecurity, childishness and ignorance all wrapped up in a sense of being lost and desperately seeking directions and belonging. I have always told my friends if the price of being young again is to live through life not knowing how to fit yourself in and failing to blend into the background despite your best efforts then I would rather not be young. All those years of looking at magazines of men in skimpy trunks and underwear, admiring the physique and musculature of post-pubescent boys not being able to attribute any grounding reason for that is just plain wrong (albeit being totally exciting at that time). Trying to constructively chip into conversations discussing women's body parts without knowing an iota of what I was saying is even more wrong. I even tried wooing a girl for goodness sake and that just goes to show how clueless and ill-equipped I was at dealing with life. Want me to relive that? That's a big fat no!

18 - 21
But we all have to be patient even when the time scale is as long as an entire life. And if you are patient enough, life will certainly reward you by being more interesting. I don't think I was all that patient (and I am still the same now) but life did get more interesting for me. What came next on the timeline were my days in the army. Although it was only two and a half years, the army deserved an entire phase of life linked to it. National Service is something you can only enjoy in retrospect -- I recall seeing it as a complete waste of time (being stuck in an utterly inefficient system that the government still wants to package as something exciting, worth doing and to be proud of). But now, I realize that those years really shaped a lot of my current views on life along with the methods to deal with it. Being in an artificially-constructed environment in which people from all walks of life are forced into yours accelerates growth much faster than most people can acknowledge it. In the army, I had a glimpse of how life really is and it was nothing like what I have been taught at all.

21 - 25
The next four years of my life came and went in a flash. It seemed like a lifetime then but it was essentially a speck in the hourglass. When I was in the university, the only friends I had were lecture notes, tutorial assignments, tests, term papers and exams. I did not learn much about life and to be honest, I actually lost a huge chunk of it. Being the control freak that I am, school was always a stressful thing for me because it was something with results I had complete control over. Striving for perfection when there was so much to do left me no time to live out what a lot of people view as the most valuable period of one's life (a.k.a the period of reckless youth). The worst thing is that I did not get the best possible results attainable having been pumping in effort worth so much more than what I aimed to achieve! That is a smudge in my Microsoft Access document that will remain forever to taunt me and to remind me that sometimes in life, instead of being able to reap what you sow, you get ripped off.

25 - 29
So I was fresh out of university and with the world being my oyster, it was a time to set goals and plot a path to them. These years of my life were spent looking for a good job ("good" here means something that I don't hate and pays enough to allow me to live the life I want to live), and ultimately a good man ("good" here means "final destination"). Of course there was the sexual experimentation of all sorts (within reasonable limits) typical of youngsters of that age (it might be a tad late to Gen-Z standards though) which I believed helped to crystallize my desire to settle down knowing that I have sufficiently played the field. This four-year journey took me to the States for a bit where I saw another part of the world that I realized I was entitled to choose to live in. I saw for the first time what was available out there beyond the huge and thick imprisoning bars of the ironically small red dot on the map. My life was injected with a lasting chemical, biological and psychological high that left an imprint on all the future goals that I was to set for myself. Somehow from then, I knew that I must get out of Singapore and I must do it as soon as possible. It was venomous (and still is) and I had to run away before I get infected. So slowly (and sometimes sub-consciously) my plan of migration took form in my mind and as soon as I could associate a face to that form, that was my cue to fly.

And here I am standing at the precipice of year 29 looking back, I see that everything prior to now has a reason and plays a part in where and how I am now. The good, the bad, the sweet and sad all serve a purpose. And again I will have to start ploughing the fields, sowing the seeds and patiently wait for them to grow into trees that will provide shade for me in the future. Although age is a nothing but a number, it is still better if it were a nice round one. There, life is getting better already and I don't even have to do anything.

12 comments:

gabriel said...

nonetheless. happy birthday!

Daniel said...

Calling for photos of Kim with poor dress sense during the age of 13 - 18!
Reward: the kick out of seeing Kim get bombed by vicious comments! =D

Happy birthday! I guess I'm going to reach there soon too...

Kim said...

Hehe. Thanks.

I am at the precipice only lah and have not taken the plunge.

Birthday is exactly a week from now.

Yes Dan, we will all get there one day and I am also sure you have gone through that 13-18 phase. How did you find it?

Daniel said...

Hmmm...my memories of the 13-18 phase are that I finally understood the harsh reality (13-16)and got jaded about it (17-18). My behaviour sucks during JC, and now when I think about it, it's really...errm...not nice =/

Anonymous said...

u actually chased after a girl. tell us more about it! how is she like? like if she is like me, or jingmarn, or kimberley...

opl

Kim said...

Dan:

Your behaviour sucked? In what way? Bitchiness? Back-stabiness? Kiasu-ness?

And why did you behave in this way? And what changed from then to now (or the time your behaviour improved)?

OPL:

Finally you are able to reply! Your first reply to my blog!!!!

Girls... JC once, uni once. JC one is from HK -- bubbly, smart, independent yet feminine. Uni one -- typical girl (very feminine), one of the prettiest of my cohort.

So embarrassing to stir up age-old laundry now...

Ision said...

so you have girls germs and you didnt tell me???? eewwwwww!

:p

Kim said...

Girl germs? From "wooing" them? Nah, I only have Guy germs. 8)

Come to think of it, it was more cerebral than anything remotely physical. Maybe I was imagining it all back then. It was such a peer-pressure thing also because everyone was getting attached (and broken up of course).

Anonymous said...

haha. somehow i never know why there is peer pressure to get attached. like where did the pressure come from?!?!?

btw, daniel, i think kim's facebook has a picture of him with long hair, like shoulder length hair. that is a good glimpse of kim in university though.

and i still havent know what happened in usa that fateful night.

OPL
my no. 2.

Kim said...

My Facebook has that picture???? Why am I not aware of it at all?!~?!?~ In which album??

Fateful day in USA? I think I have forgotten what I have told you about it. Refresh my memory!

Anonymous said...

check out belinda or beatrice or somebody picture! you commented something about being in red due to CNY. i remember i had a hard time trying to find where u r in the picture.

that fateful night that i didn't know of because i wasn't around. then you won't repeat it to me.

opl
my no.3

Kim said...

Ah.... I know which one you are talking about now... Was the hair that long? Must go and look at that gain.

That fateful night? I am actually not quite sure which fateful night I told the others. I have had quite a few fateful nights. Hehe.

Yes, your no. 3.