2016 : smoked up ham sandwich

Source: wixgram.com

Source: wixgram.com

It seems customary to have a reflection post. After all, I believe one of the best things I’ve done for myself is to constantly reflect, burdening myself with the impact of my past so that my future may be brighter. 2016 is a tough one to think about, though. In a lot of ways, this has been a hodgepodge of a year and maybe that’s alright, but that makes the reflection process a bit tougher. I think I’ll try to elucidate this into a few points and we’ll see where we get from there.

The Music doesn’t Stop

If I was to think of 2015, it was a numbing pain on the weekdays and a blaring party on the weekends. It was the drawl, the inching to the end of a painful beat that would provide the impetus for a no holds barred celebration at the end. The music would be loud and violent and then stop suddenly, bringing on the misery again.

2016 taught me to find the music in the day to day. I found the sweet melody in rhythm and consistency – in poetic peaks and lulls and in escalations but also declinations. I heard my soul’s passion for adrenaline and experiences and learnt to accommodate my body’s need for health and rest. It’s ridiculous to think that it took me this long to learn how to pause (not stop), or even better, lower the volume.  Now I have music every day of my life because as great man Chance says: Music is all we got.

A Common World

I still believe in a global world. I think with the depressing rise of neo-fascism and populism, I was faced to confront whether my views were simply overtly liberal and fundamentally privileged. Was the world of opportunity I was able to see different from the world of hopelessness many others were observing? Perhaps, and I must choose whether to give up or persist. Should I still champion a connected world or must I relent and accept the world of our grandparents was better off?

I’ve learnt this year that I’m a strange person. I see strength in difference, and in my hope to connect the world, I’ve pushed myself to not only see the world but also to share the world through my socials to my community. I feel a moral prerogative to ensure that my friends and family see the need to empathize with the rest of the world – to see beauty in the diverse terrains I traverse and more importantly, the regular people I meet.

This experiment has been successful. I feel excited when friends rally from my travelogues and social postings to their own travels. I feel inspired when they ask me for travel tips, but I also feel energized when they ask me about my learnings.

I saw an invite for submission recently for the Global Challenges Prize: A New Shape that invites people to rethink global governance. It was at this point that I realized that very few of the world’s leaders have had much-conflicted exposure to the global experience aside from political matters. In my travels, I’ve seen matters of corruption, inequality, ecological damage and so much more. But I’ve seen them from a narrative that is intimate with the people I’ve talked to. I don’t know what a new model of governance looks like, and I’ll try to think of one, but I know for a fact that one important factor is a political leadership that cuts the bullshit and has seen this world for what it truly is – a non-idelogical mess of real lives that need to be reconnected to a common vision for humanity.

The Story must Go on

2016 was a lot. I had many takeaways, most of them small and all of them important. I’m not sure of what 2017 looks like. I think in line with keeping the music to a consistent beat, I can’t make any lofty goals till I decide the next step. I want to do a lot, and a lot I shall do, but I have to graduate and to decide my Master’s program. I have to tie up loose ends at Northwestern and say my goodbyes. I have to kiss my family all on the cheeks and I have to tell them I love them. I have a lot I must do before I do any of the lot I want to do.

But the Story must go on. The quiet but bold narrative of the naive Singaporean kid who wanted to see a world less broken than the one he entered in. I think this is the first time in a while that I have to accept I don’t know how the next chapter looks like. I can’t pretend that I do and it’s scary. But I do know one thing.

I’m sitting in Buenos Aires, in the airport, writing this on my laptop. 3 years ago, as I wearing my HAZMAT suit learning to clean up dirty bombs in the Army, I never imagined myself here. My life will change, as long as I commit the same energy to my principles that I always have. I will keep believing, and I will keep fighting bullies.




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