Recently I engage in humanities. Not sure if it is a sign of old age. :) The recent visits to historic places such as Beijing were definitely one of the triggering points. Reading the memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew and Chen Peng and books on Buddha and Zhuang Zhi(庄子) were the others.
Oh no. Perhaps it should be the other way round. Because I was searching for a balance, searching for ying-yang, hence I chose such visits and readings.
I have been involving in science, engineering and money talks all these years. These have enabled me to contribute to the national economy. In return, these contributions have enabled me to earn a living and to feed my humble family. They have enabled me to appreciate the tranquillity, beauty and ugly part of the world.
On a particular self reflection day, suddenly I felt lost in the state of the art human world. I felt mentally tired and lack of energy to push on. I was deeply depressed. Certainly that was not a healthy sign especially after I had made a commitment to live until 120 years old. If indeed I could live in longevity, The state I am in now is equivalent to an infant. I am just an infant and the world is there for me to explore. I am just at the beginning of entering into many years of new discovery.
The past encounters and survival instincts built up over time could possibly provide me some form of confidence to move ahead and deal with the various unknown challenges for the many years to come. But the emptiness still persisted.
Then I found humanities. It filled the gap that was hidden deep in my soul. Humanities gave me a sense of balance. History is there for us to learn and relearn.
After changing position and perception, the world looks so different. It is no longer a place of pure science and engineering that talks about hard fact and logic. It is no longer a place of finance and money that talks about material wealth.
Standing at the great wall of China, can you imagine the 2500 years of battles that were embedded with human, social and culture development? The discovery of the past and present is right from the bottom of the heart. It is about right brain. It is about feeling and human touch. At that moment, I found that I was quite wealthy. Wealthy at heart.
Driving pass Hwa Chong Chinese High along Bukit Timah Road, can you imagine once upon a time, the hot blooded Chinese school students formed a united front defending their rights against the colony government? They had the passion, they wanted an independent Singapore (or Malaya?), they wanted the colony government to get out of the country. They fought a war without weapon.
Walking down Singapore river, I could hardly imagine that I was living by the river, which was smelly, dirty, busy and full of energy, for 19 years?
If Singapore river cultivated my life, the last year of staying by the river totally brightened my pair of eyes. I was studying in Singapore Polytechnic then and was an active member in the Chinese Language Society (CLS). During lunch times and over the weekends, the members would gather around and sing along. 黑水河 was a popular song. It was a song dedicated to the hard labours making a living at the Singapore River. They sang with powerful voices but I just couldn't feel the touch. I thought perhaps our CLS friends did not really know about lives by the river.
The house rental getting expensive and father decided to move out from the river bank to a one room flat at Maude Road near New World. My CLS friends volunteered to paint the flat for me but on the actual day, only one of them turned up for less than two hours. At that time we had yet to subscribe to utility supply in order to save some money. We borrowed water from a very helpful neighbour. She came from the poor and knew the poor. My friend complaint about my poor planning and he had to clean his hands with a pill of dirty water. What a damn! He left angrily.
He did not know what was poverty. I did not blame him. He was just one of the many hot blooded youth in CLS but did not really know what was hardship. Where are they now? I loss touch with most of them. Nevertheless, they formed part of my personal history. The past is like illusion, sometime I wonder whether the past exists or it's just a dream.
It is full of green outside my window. The green is rooted on a small nation called Singapore. Does Singapore exist or just a illusion? Every national day I would glue myself in front of the television. In the recent years, tear came to my eyes. My right brain has taken the ruler's role. My heart would be full of joy with all the young hearts who'd put in their months of effort to present a perfect show in front of the nation. They were proud of their nation and love their nation whole heartedly for that night, at least.
One fine day they would be getting old, they would find the history and the past are like illusion. But they could proudly tell the next generations that they've walked through the real and the illusion. They contributed to the nation building.
National day is around the corner. Happy birthday Singapore.