Like John McEnroe’s hair, you don’t need a comb for everything.
“You can’t be serious!!” was the tennis legend’s rallying call, either for himself, or as a psychological tactic to give himself a little advantage in the eyes of the ref.
A man who is so willing to throw his dignity out of court for even the littlest advantage is both hated and revered.
John McEnroe is John McEnroe.
In the end, comfort is our absurdity.
The capacity to respect is central to being in civilisation. If you don’t have it, you won’t be counted to be part of it.
It’s that simple.
Are you authentic?
Isn’t it impossible not to be? A universal that I’ve discovered is choice, and every choice we make simultaneously enslaves and sets us free.
But we are ALL authentic, even when we choose not to consider our selfhood that way.
We know what we like, and when we are honest with ourselves, our instincts tell us who to trust, and who to be suspicious of.
We know how to be suspicious of people who are missing something that we cannot describe – an ability to hold our gaze, or answer questions directly or have a discussion that goes beyond the surface. When that something is missing, we instinctively or involuntarily feel a stir that sets us on the edge of unease.
So what are we supposed to make of a nation, how do we know we can trust a nation, when it doesn’t have pig farms, green grocers and land to bury its dead?
Possibly the most abstract self-referential term here in Our First World, ‘identity’ is something that we allude to in a sort of coy, oblique fashion. More likely than not, we are clueless as to what it really is; and how we are related to it.
In Our First World, we discuss identity using the filters of ‘values’, then layer the discussion in tangible, practical terms like ‘achievement’, ‘preferences’, and ‘conditions’.
Achievements such as having world-class this and that, and attaining world class this and that, those are obvious and have attracted what I feel must be adequate discussion. (Think of the words, ‘hub’ and ‘world ranking’).
Likewise, preferences form an easy part of the discussion, usually centred around topics like cuisine, fashion, consumer patterns and such.
Finally, there are the discussions on conditions that we all share in Our First World. From early childhood, to formal education and the less formal rites of passage that we all go through, like visiting the ICA office, or HDB Hub, or MINDEF – those experiences that we share also purportedly bind us as a people.
But where is the talk on identity?
What makes us so emotionless? So sullen? So reserved?
What makes us ignore each other as strangers when in public places?
Why are we so materialistic? Sterile? Awkward with diversity?
Why do we drive monochrome cars? Dress so shabbily?
What are our most common traits, and where did they come from? Do they define us?
So many questions. All with valid answers out there. I am sure that one day, we will be able to put the descriptives in, and come closer to understanding our identity, and how it relates to us as individuals and as citizens of Our First World.
Are we so pragmatic that it becomes a handicap?
Are we able to find happiness, in spite of all our hangups?
There are people who are like bunkers, you’re ankle deep in soft sand and your egg is deep fried. You just want to blast it out as fast as you can, but in your rush you kill your downswing and bury the ball even deeper in its grave. You promise yourself never to get in there again.
There are people who are like an ocean par-3 on a stormy evening, where everything looks awesome, but the tempest ensures that you’re all doubt and nerves, and you can’t pull the trigger, certain that you’re gonna drown your last Pro V1. The fear intimidates you, but you finally take your shot. Its over, you found the bail out zone, and you wish for another chance.
There are people who are like a tee shot through a narrow chute to an open fairway between towering, beautiful trees. You’re comfortable, and it feels like you’ve known this place forever. You stand tall, and without hesitating, rip one with the confidence of a giant. You know you’ve got a keeper.
Then there are those who are like a driving range mat. Lifeless, stone cold, and indifferent to whatever the hell you’re going to do to that golf ball. You have another 139 balls to go anyway. And you think to yourself, “this is just to warm up”.
Finally, who can forget those who are like the 19th hole, there for you when you want to celebrate, and there for you when you want to drown your sorrows. You know you’d want to play this tape over and over.
Money is especially important when you’ve forgotten how to have fun.