Monday, January 19, 2015

Weeding Revisited

Weeding... I have not been weeding my garden regularly these last few years. I would do it when I couldn't stand the sight of the weeds especially when they were long and stood out like sore thumbs but there was no concerted effort to really get rid of them. As a result my yard would only look neat after a mow.

Getting rid of the weeds required a lot of effort as I have rediscovered. I was painfully aware how the years of neglect had allowed the the different weeds to spread their roots.

Well three months have passed. The skin of my thumbs and index fingers are hardened by the constant friction of pulling the weeds, making sure their roots came out too. Last year too, some signs of athritis began to show. The tell tale signs of knobbly fingers have begun to appear.

The first month of weeding netted piles of unwanted grass. It was a lot of hard work. It is always impossible to get rid of all the weeds. Life is like that too. One can likened bad habits to weeds (or not too). Bad habits can never quite go away too. You can correct and try to change them, or even try to get rid of them but they always come back. What we can do is like managing the weeds. The carpet grass if given a little help eventually will grow thick enough to squeeze out the weeds. Eventually you will still find the weeds tucked between the carpet grass, with a yellowy tinge from the lack of sun or looking scrawny but they'll still be there, waiting for the opportunity to break forth.

When we mow too, I realized, we can never cut the grass too short for the want of a flat, neat perfect kind of appearance. The grass must be allowed to keep a certain length to prevent the weeds from spreading. It brings to mind our efforts to raise perfect kids. I think many of us probably realised too that by trying too hard, many of our kids seem to lack that overall well-adjusted with little flaws here and there overall character. Weeds will always be there, no matter how hard one tries to get rid of them.

I shall try to keep the garden as weed free as possible. Consistent weeding will be required. I don't know if I have the time or the energy to persist but I will try. After all weeding is therapeutic as I have discovered too. The time spent draws me away from the incessant pull of the tablet. My mind goes free range when I weed too. And occasionally when I have company while I weed, it is also a time to simply just enjoy the company of another, be it in silence or chatter. We live in a world filled with too many planned activities and rushes... and one that is dictated by the whims of electronic gadgets.

Weeds... Just realised too weeds as I call them are grass too. They are just not the type of grass that I want.... just another personal preference. Same grass and of all things brought to mind the K-Pop singers hugging the girls. The bemusement and horror that came to mind. We are such sticklers to uniformity.... Adults bent on one tract expecting kids to be perfect (their version) when they themselves must have been less than perfect too at that age. One forgets the hormonal surges, the crushes that keep posters of their 'idols' on their room walls. The mind goes free range.... Maybe I should be kind to the weeds too... 8)

School is hectic but I am enjoying the work generally. Adapting to new tools and ways of doing things... It is also nice to be part of the agent of change too. Everyday poses new challenges. It may be tiring but so far I have found them to be challengingly fun.

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fluid

When I was a kid I used to think my parents knew everything. Then the teenage years came and the 'I know all phase' began. Before long secondary school ended and university beckoned. There was so much to read and so little I knew. University was an eye opening experience. The internet age followed soon after and so much information suddenly became available. And it highlighted the fact that I know even less than I thought.

Books used to be what we depended on for knowledge and we set the contents of those books to be true, that they are correct and accurate. And that is how many of us treat the digital information that is stored in the web too. We deemed them to be true too like the books we are so familiar with. But it might not be so....

I have learned that actually what is deemed as true may not be totally so. Facts.... they remain that until a point when error is pointed out. Knowldege is fluid. The wealth of knowledge that we have, I feel, is shaped and formed by the environment.

In the beginning it was the primitive environment which gave shape to knowledge. Knowledge was quite basic, I guess. How to start a fire, hunt a wild animal for food, skin it, etc, etc. Then as the environment became more sophisticated, knowldege took on a more refined form too... different ways to start a fire, various materials that aid combustion, multiple tools to hunt animals, curing skin, making intricate designs out of them.... in short knowledge undergoes changes too along the way. It is fluid.

Sometimes fluidity means add-ons.... a rewrite or even a rehash. Other times it means a total write off. It is rendered useless and new information replaces the outdated one. Point is it is constantly changing. And perhaps because of this particular nature that knowledge, it is also a tool for power. It can be used to control, mould and shape, enhance a status, subdue, subjugate and even cripple. Even a taboo is knowledge and we know how taboos can be used to stop actions, practices.

Fluid... Life is a cycle. That itself, I think points towards an untold fluidity that perhaps many of us might be afraid to face sometimes. I just read that the Church of England is fast tracking those with management skills upward... to stem the decline of membership. The hunt is on for the talented ones, those with the right knowledge (read as skills too) to be singled out for roles which will arrest the tide.

From brawn to brain... We have seen that evolution in our lifetime. Might or brute strength used to be the only path to power. Then brain came into the picture. For over 200,000 years life was basically ruled by the might of brute strength. But in the last 5000 years, we have seen brute strength giving way to a more refined yet more devastating aspect... Might driven by brain. And amazing changes have taken place in this short span of time.

As we seek to be more knowledgeable, as we embark on new adventures into the unknown..... I guess that's where we need the wisdom to differentiate. These are probably the most challenging and exciting times in our midst..... Yet wisdom is lacking. But sometimes I think the powers that are don't want us to be any wiser too. Enough to be useful but not too much to question.

Ramblings during the week when school is delayed because flood waters caused so much devastation in many states of the country.

 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015

Another year gone by. Feels like it was a daze. Spent the last two weeks of the 2014, clearing up stuff at work and doing repairs. My Moto-Saw, Rotary Tool, drill and all the other tools came out to play. Did stuff which I normally don't do or would be too lazy to begin. But I learned plenty in the process.

Tools are important. The right tool affects the ability to get things done, qualilty of finishing and speed of work. Without the right tools many of the tasks would have either not been possible or taken a very long time to complete. Quality of work would have been greatly affected too.

That's life too. We need the right tools to get by and get ahead. EQ, IQ.... The right amount of each is needed. For some, the privilege of pedigree birth gives a distinct advantage over the rest. This has often made me wonder whether life is really fair. One who is born in a family with wealth or even just relative wealth immediately has a headstart. On the other spectrum, one born in the third world country into great poverty would most probably be destined to roam the bush or the slums to which he was born. The abject poverty would make it an gargantuan uphill task to get out of the cycle. Likely that he'll be stuck there. The unfair advantage always exists.

Year end flood. Another plane crashed. I was struck by the number of seven helicopters available during the early days of the flood. Only seven. A plane crashed and multiple governments came out with pledges to do all they can. I wonder too how much it'll cost. I don't know what the exact amount is but the cost for the of MH370 is running into the hundreds..... and that's in millions. And still counting too...

I had an interesting conversation with someone on the last day of the year too. She talked about how the king has directed that flood mitigation projects be carried out in her village in Thailand. During our conversation which crossed many boundaries, I asked her if the monarchy was really needed. I said history has recorded that the lavish lifestyle of King Vajiravudh was one of the reasons for the creation of constitutional monarchy in the country which brought about the 1932 Revolution. The maintenance and running of the monarchy.... It costs money which is borne by the taxpayers. So do we need the monarchy? Her answer was yes because she said the present king is a wise man. But it remains to be seen whether his heir apparent can fit into his father's shoes. Our conversation soon drifted to other things.

A new year. My kids said it is just another day. I tend to agree with them. I asked them to stay up with me to herald in the new year. But they were in their room before the clock struck 12. I fell asleep too. They were right. It is just another day. Heralding the new year becomes meaningful, I think mostly in a social context. I read about how an old friend would make a trip to Singapore to greet the New Year for the last 10 years. Many people I know would spend the last hour at church for Watch Night Service. New Year celebraion is always done in groups. It's more fun, I think.

I stopped making resolutions years ago. Instead of making resolutions which I will break anyway, I went on an ad hoc approach and try to maintain whatever I have decided to do for as long as possible.... and pick up from where I failed each time I fail.

Maybe we celebrate New Year cos we have been conditioned to want new things. New clothes even when the old ones are still perfectly good? New cars cos they give one new prestige? New gadgets cos they promise more features? New friends cos they show our social prowess? New places to visit cos they allow us to highlight on Facebook?

Yet newness is not about all those too. New is about rejuvanation too. The new comes to enhance. It replaces the old. The old has to make place for the new to take over. The cycle is repeated..... new will turn to old too. Compassion, generosity, humility, kindness are needed to make life more meaningful.

Many say 2014 has been a difficult year. Was it? Or it's just another year.... one of many years. Anyway, 2015 is here. Happy New Year!