Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Middle Children of History.

Sometimes modern life just feels so artificial, so out of sync with the natural order of things. Were human beings really made to spend prolonged hours squinting at tiny dots and splotches of ink on whitened tree pulp?

Do we really need another piece of IKEA's solutions to modern living to make our lives more complete?

"The stuff that you own ends up owning you."
- Tyler Durden, Fight Club
What ever compelled us to spend time in front of illuminated screens during our free time instead of spending time in the great outdoors anyway? Or walk around town with earphones on, with music blasting away, blocking out the real world outside?

Why do we, in this age of enlightenment believe that we need a degree to give us the permission to succeed in life when we all do possess so much potential inside anyway?

Have we all become so disillusioned with our world, with our lives revolving around so many things that don't seem to have a real connection with what's real, like slogging away for exam grades, or working for money.

Our lives have become so safe and routine that most of us don't even know what it means to risk your life in a fight anymore. Most of us have never even seen where the food we eat daily comes from before!

We're just not made for too much modernity - too much time online, too much television, too much blaring music too much safety and security. We forget that we need time outside with nature, physical exertion, time to meditate in contemplative silence and to feel the rush of adrenaline when we experience danger.

There's no adrenaline rush like the one you get before a fight - the heightened sense of perception, the thumping heartbeat - suddenly your mind focuses only on what's at hand, the fight itself.

Each punch that hits you sends a shock through your system - it wakes you up, the pain makes you feel alive again. As hurt as you are, you know that you got to push yourself to your limits, or you're going to lose the fight. You're going to return even more bruised than the person in front of you. So no matter what, you give it your best shot. There's no reason to do any worse than your very best.

Perhaps that's what it takes to make us feel alive again, to feel what's real in our increasingly artificial world.


Kevin Chan said...

21 Nov 08, 01:07
Ching: Slightly disturbing movie, nevertheless reflects equally distrubing truths bout us. Eh, the distractions were a lil too much thou. Hahah.

Kevin Chan said...

Just wanted to keep that comment safe and sound in this blog's memory, Ching.

KJ said...

Agree that is quite a disturbing truth. As much as I do not want to admit it, I'm hooked onto the media especially after my exams *looks away guiltily*!!!

"Why do we, in this age of enlightenment believe that we need a degree to give us the permission to succeed in life when we all do possess so much potential inside anyway?"

It is the stereotypical, default dream to go into a professional career. Doctor.Lawyer.Engineer.Biotech. Architect. Accountant. Many regard arts as an inferior side. Sad, but true. Yeah, you know all those well.

"Have we all become so disillusioned with our world, with our lives revolving around so many things that don't seem to have a real connection with what's real, like slogging away for exam grades, or working for money?"

Hey, it's not really our fault! Our beloved Asian values stress on things like listen to your elders or they've eaten more salt than us. Our perception/ disillusion of "exams are everything" are carved by the influences that our surroundings have exerted on us in our life time. Let us consider the life of a child. This child is born into a world where the major variables have already been decided for him: family, nationality, intelligence, socio-economic status. His parents decide which kindergarten he goes to, which schools he attends, and later on the subtle variables like which exams to take and which streams to go into. His parents are the "Gods" of his world, and he grows up in a life determined by them. He lives for them.

In my case, when I was a kid, I was told endless stories of people who passed their exams with flying colours, graduate and go on to the glory of warming an office seat (of course, the modern slavery journey to that seat was not told!). "Go become a chartered accountant. You earn big bucks by just signing those documents prepared by the junior accountants."
As a result, I grew up having the perception that a degree is a gateway to the career I loved. It is an enabler as well as a security. Of course, as I grew older, I know it is not 100% true. The list of people making it big without ever finishing a college education is long and growing: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and etc. We may not be able to apply his specific set of opportunities and circumstances to our lives, but what we can do is to seek out the attitudes and the mentality that got them to where they are today.

That is why I say our childhood years belong to our parents, and the years after are increasingly difficult for us to change all that we've build up, regardless of whether it's any worth to us at all. There are, of course, cases of people defying conventions and doing what they want, right smack in middle age, but these people are the rare ones, with the courage of their convictions and the ability to scale the brick walls around them.

Conformity is not alien to us. Likewise, we all know that in reality, life just isn't caring enough to reward everyone with success. But as you have said, "Do your best and God will do the rest". After all, shouldn't life be about searching for the desired state of mind rather then pursuing what society claims to make you happy? Do we call an age dark because the light fails to shine, or because most refuse to see it?

Quoting Theodore Roosevelt “arena” statement:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Whatever it is, our perceptions should be independent of man-made bias.

Meanwhile, I've got to work hard to get rid of my media addiction!!!

Ka Joy

KJ said...

And just to add on while you are at the Porter's Five Forces, there's always the Blue Ocean Strategy to consider where competition is irrelevant. So Porter's Five Forces would not be used in this sense. One disadvantage of Porter's Five Forces then!

It tells us that success is NOT dependent on fierce competition, expensive marketing/ promotional tools or high R&D budgets, but on smart strategic moves that can be used systematically by established companies or start-ups alike. I believe that this is an important concept for budding entrepreneurs like you and me. I, for one, am not fond of the idea of letting the boss decide my future.

But here's an interesting article on Malaysia Today to read. It's nothing to do with Management studies but it's nice to see how they apply them to our Malaysian politics!!

su said...

don't be stupid kevin. consumerism is what makes the world go round! and whether your life has meaning or not is up to you, not what is going on around you

Kevin Chan said...


Well said. And that Roosevelt quote is awesome! Thanks for your comments, they really are a joy to read.

On the Blue Ocean Strategy thing, I haven't encountered that model in class yet, but I'll be sure to read up on it when my exams are done!


Is that necessarily the case?
My point is just that in this day and age, consumerism has people making idols out of the material things in life and neglecting so many things that are important to us. When 'stuff' gets in the way of the little things that make life meaningful, we're definitely got a problem.

KJ said...

Same here, I never learned that in my Strategy subjects too. Just google for it during your holidays and you will find more of it. After all, learning involves the motivation to investigate, curiosity, and a desire to surpass expectations. It should not be confined to what the textbook is or says! Best wishes for your remaining subjects. I enjoy reading your posts. Keep it up!