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Thursday, March 23, 2006
Of Animals, Regression and the Beast

We are worse than animals
Some say what differentiates us humans from animals is that we are able to create machines to help us in our daily lives, create complex language patterns to pass information and store history. Mankind do certain things repetitively and these activities are absorbed by new born babies and accepted as part of our ‘culture’. The list goes on and on, extolling the virtues and greatness of mankind but what we failed to mention is that mankind possesses the ability to lie.

Not only do we lie to others, to deceive others into believing what is not necessary true, we are the privileged lot because we are able to lie, even to ourselves.

And why do we lie? We lie to protect others, we say. I personally feel that we always lie to protect ourselves, even when we think we are protecting the person we lied to. At the end of the day, each and every one of us is selfish. If we were not selfish when we were born, life taught us to be selfish. And we lie and we become selfish to protect ourselves from others, from disappointment and from pain.

And so we, mankind, different from animals, because we are able to lie to protect ourselves. Now tell me - if it is possible that you not lie for a second - tell me, are we worse than animals inhabiting the Earth?

The Deep Shit
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror? Have you looked at yourself in the eye and search deep within yourself? I am not talking about surface questions, such as evaluating your life, what is good, what is bad, what your weaknesses are, what are your strengths. I am talking about the deep shit, the sort that makes you ponder for days and days, wondering what was right and what went wrong.

I am a thinker, so therefore I think. Or rather I think, therefore I am a thinker. And I do not like what I think these days. I have been looking at myself in the mirror and see lots of things in my life that I rather lie to myself.

Life is supposedly divided into clusters of seven years each, according to John Gray. And at each stage of our lives, we were meant to learn something crucial to ease us into the following stages.

  • First seven years
    What many psychologists, teachers and doctors believe to be the crucial years, the early years which form our world and what we understand.

  • Next seven, between the ages of 8 to 14 years
    Traditionally the school going age, we spend these years playing tag, chasing friends, flipping girls’ skirts and developing friendships.

  • Next seven, between the ages of 15 to 21 years
    The teenage years spent with cliques and peers who share similar interests and activities. We develop a lot of our perception, opinions and personality at this point.

  • Next seven, between the ages of 22 to 28 years
    Again traditionally the age for many to join the workforce, we spend our 20s forming friendships with work mates and developing our careers. Mentor friendships are excellent to help us along our career choices.

  • Next seven, between the ages of 29 to 35 years
    This is the favourite age for forming lasting love relationships and bond. Most of us would have settled down to domestic some time within this cycle of seven years.

  • Next seven, between the ages of 35 to 42 years
    These are the years spent with our new family, nurturing and caring for the children we share with our love partners, formed from the previous cycle of seven.

  • Next seven, from the ages of 43 onwards
    From caring for our children, we move on to caring/loving others in the community. This includes caring for animals, the elderly, the infirmed et al.

Failure to learn from any stage will result in regression into the previous. This would explain why I had the following conversation with my family doctor on my 27th birthday.

Otto: Doctor, I want to ask you a question. Is it normal for me to feel like a 22 year old?
Doctor: Do you feel sick?
Otto: No, I feel alive and happy. But I am worried because I don’t feel my age at all.
Doctor: How old are you?
Otto: Today I turn 27 and I am wondering if there is something wrong with me because I don’t feel old or 27 at all.
Doctor: Just as long as you are healthy and happy. It is fine feeling like a 22 year old. It’s healthy. My goodness, you are a big girl now, aren’t you? You don’t look 27 at all! (pats me on my head, like he used to do when I was 10)
Otto: Yes, uncle. I am quite old now. (sighs deeply)

My late teens and early 20s were totally fucked up years. I spent it growing up way before my time, carrying burdens that I should not have carried and responsibilities that normally would have been shouldered by people who were much older.

And now in my late 20s, more than two people have asked me, “Where is your elder sister? There, the one who drove the blue Proton,”. I would smile and reply, “That was me, ten years ago. I’ve changed cars.”

On hindsight
The only thing good resulting from the fucked up years, if I must mention something, is all that I am today is a direct result of who I was back then. The things that I had to swallow and face made me what I am now, all my earthly possessions, my memory and even my book project, all of them stem from that few years of absolute misery.

While others were out getting drunk every night, I was building my business. And now while everyone is struggling in their career choices, I have mine quite settled. And while everyone was studying in college, I had completed my Masters and now that everyone is trying to get their Masters, I am out painting the town a deeper shade of purple.

My high school years
I remember being the quiet one in high school. While everyone was out partying with the boys (I came from a French convent) I was in church praying and doing the Christian thing. Friends were decked out in their finest jeans and shoes while I was the nerd in flowery cotton dresses.

My parents were teachers and they made it clear to the kids that they could not afford the Beverly Hills lifestyle. University education was not a luxury, it was a necessity. It was our ticket to a better lifestyle. Because my parents were teachers, they could not give us all that we wanted when we were teenagers.

What I hated when I was a teenager but heard frequently coming from my mother’s lips: “Your friends wear Levi’s and Reebok now. But remember you will be the one who would afford all those pieces when you work. Not just one pair but so many pairs, you will never be able to fit them in cupboards.”

And like all mothers in this world, my mother was right.

The thing about beauties and the beasts
I think life is fair. You see, our class monitor was rather plump and studious. She had curly unmanageable hair and glasses as thick as her dictionary. These days, she is beautiful. Literally beautiful.

And then there was the clique of girls who thought they were the coolest girls in the school. They had it all – the boys, the shoes, the cool look, the bag – and they made sure everyone knew it. These days, they still let everyone know that they bought the shoes, the bag and the same group of boys from high school, recycled from one girl to another. But unlike high school years, girls are getting smarter and realised that not all is rosy when you got the bag, the shoes, the everything. There is a sacrifice to be made for every choice made. Latest expensive things on a shoe string secretary budget only means one had sacrificed other areas in life, kept tightly locked in the privacy of their rooms.

Then there was the smart girl, the one whom everyone thought would be the most successful. She was the straight A-s girl, the one who clinched every freakin’ title in competitions and the very same who was the head prefect, chief librarian, counsellor etc. These days she works in an insurance firm as an agent. I guess sometimes scholarly success does not necessarily translate itself into success in the big bad world out there.

And of course every high school must have the reigning spring queen. My year sported a pint size girl, so tiny like a little pony, with a small petite frame and an even smaller waist. She was the dream for boys for miles and miles in radius and each year during Valentine’s, she would receive more presents and flowers than the whole school combined. She now works as a flight attendant in SIA. She still has a small frame, smaller waist and yes, that includes the biggest boobs in our form. Some things don't change.

There was Miss Bitchiness, a whole clique of them. They felt like the world owed them, just because they were they. Children of lawyers or doctors or politicians or business people. Some made it big, with parental support. Others were mediocres, playing PA to some big shot.

And where were the Mr. Bitchiness? Well the last I heard of them, some were working for Goldman and Sachs in London, others were again engineers and doctors somewhere on earth. A few asked me, “So how are you related to them?” when I was standing next to E at our Chinese New Year reunion. “I am their classmate,” I replied, punctuated only with a smile. They were quite flabbergasted and you can guess for yourself the reason why.

But of course in every school, there are smart ones who succeeded and lazy ones who did not. There were ugly ones who became beautiful and the swans in high school became fat and tired ten years down the road. Some of them were nobodies in high school but now hold positions and play golf with the big boys. Others were somebodies then and now are nobodies.

Life is a box of chocolate. You never know what you are going to get. And when you feel down and think that you are a failure in life, remember, remember, never forget. All of your life is not a regret.

Stare yourself hard in the mirror and learn to tell yourself truths. And when you do tell yourself truths, learn to love it.

Small Talk
My first article was given two thumbs up at the editor's desk. Now all I need to do is complete the next five.

Darling pair of black leather pumps and shocking red patent pumps, mummy is going to rescue you from the shop soon, ok? Let me finish these articles and I will have you home, sitting safely next to your cousins and siblings from Aldo and Pedder Red *muah*



thank you Otto, you have brighten my day a bit, though it will turn gloomy again soon, just like yesterday, the day before, and every other day...

4:43 am  

I just got into work and damn... that's deep. I do agree though with your views. The world is fair in unfathomable ways that we don't always notice.

5:05 am  

love this post

11:03 am  

I think this is more effective and valuable than any motivational course that costs a bomb.

Thank you.

1:06 pm  

Am glad you guys enjoyed this post.

Rain signifies a new beginning. It nurtures the earth and if we are sensitive to the rain, it nourishes our spirit.

It rained today.

1:32 pm  

i dunno. but i feel there are many ways of "growing up" some gets old but never "grow up"
some grew up without knowing failure, some grew up with failure.

i agree with looking into yourself and telling the truth. the worst thing a man has to live with is to lie to himself. then he will be living in fantasy and never grow up.

2:26 am  

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