Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

As you may have known, I will be going to Kinabalu next week, to climb that big gigantic mound of earth. One of the things-to-do-in-before-I-die.

It’s only a week away and obviously I am excited.

Anyway, I was in the LRT this morning when I bumped into a colleague of mine who works at the headquarters. I told her that I will be going to climb Kinabalu next week.

‘You are going to climb Kinabalu?’ she asked, eyebrow arched with a look of disbelief.

But I am pretty sure what was running in her head was, ‘Yeah, right. You don't even look like you can kill a spider and you want to climb the highest peak in South East Asia?’

What I find unbelievable is that there are people who think that I couldn’t do it. Do I look like some kinda wimp? Someone who will scream at the sight of a bat? And complain that the thin and dry air is bad for my skin? What do people take me for?

(No, you don’t have to answer that.)

Fine, I may not be the most butch or masculine-looking person around. But still, I do usually pass off as straight.

Seriously though, the point that bugs me is the tendency to put other people down. OK, maybe putting down is too strong, more like please-take-an-honest-look-at-yourself-in-the-mirror-and-tell-me-again-what-
are-you-gonna-do
. Very seldom do I come across people who are supportive and encouraging.

Let me illustrate. I have been wearing glasses since I was four. This I can surely say is hereditary. I can still remember clearly how I looked like when I was in kindergarten. Recall that spectacles back then were huge. Imagine the face of a cute six-year-old (hey, no sniggering).

Now, put those two together and you would have an image of a child with glasses five times the size of his eyes and took up half the size of his face.

With glasses that big and which without my vision would be blurry, I was always reminded to be careful. So, parents being parents, they would go, ‘Oh, be careful when you play on the swings.’ or ‘Watch out when you run or skip or jump or do anything that a curious and inquisitive six-year-old is likely to do.’

As such, being the good kid that I was, I listened to their advice. To this day, I clearly remember that, during recess, I would be standing by the sidelines under a tree, looking at my classmates have fun, chase each other and play games.

For that, I have fair skin. I would rather have my fun and games childhood anytime, thank you very much.

Now, you can’t blame me for being not very enthusiastic about things in general. I may not be an Energizer bunny with boundless energy and enthusiasm, but I do think that I am not some depressive, happiness-sucker like Dementors either. (Please refrain from making jokes at this point).

Truthfully though, I was described as ‘serious, moody, intense’ back in high school, or so I have been told. People change over time and so have I.

Inadvertently, I think my upbringing has inculcated a sense of daring-do in me. Mind you, not a very strong one though. I don’t think of myself as an adrenaline-chaser, but bungee-jumping and skydiving do appear on my list of things-to-do-before-I-die.

Sometimes, I do wonder if my daring-do behaviour is to get back at my parents and show them that their fears are grounded, but quite unfounded.

I think I have veered off from my point.

Back to the point that bugged me – the tendency of putting other people down. I might be wrong, but somehow, I think it is more common in Asian society. How often do people tell you to go for your dreams no matter what it takes? To encourage you to get up and try again when you fall?

‘I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.’
‘Astronaut? For what? Do you know how dangerous it is? The rocket might blow up or there might be engine failure or 101 other kind of malfunction. You want to die young is it?’

‘I want to be a millionaire before I reach 30.’
‘Sure, in your dreams. Or if you strike the lottery. Other people work hard until they retire also don’t have a million dollars and you want to be a millionaire by 30?

‘I want to start my own business.’
‘Very risky. Income not stable. Where are you going to get the capital? If you use your own savings, you might lose everything. Now you have a good job that pays you a monthly income, not good enough ar?’

‘I am looking for a long-term relationship.’
‘Haha. *can’t stop laughing* Don’t be so na├»ve and idealistic. There’s no such thing in the gay community. Everyone is just looking for casual sex. Who wants to be tied down by a relationship?’

If what they say is true, how come there are still astronauts (China put a man in space), millionaires below 30 (mostly technopreneurs) and long term relationships (I have heard of a gay couple who celebrated their 20-year anniversary).

Our perceptions and outlook on life are shaped by our experiences and beliefs. And one’s beliefs are hard to change, even when confronted with the facts. This article shows that beliefs are designed to enhance our ability to survive and they are biologically designed to be strongly resistant to change. How, we wonder, are people able to hold beliefs that contradict the data? To change beliefs, skeptics must address the brain's "survival" issues of meanings and implications in addition to discussing their data.

The above article is another interesting read, highly recommended. It does provide a logical explanation to human behaviour, such as homophobia, cynicism, racism, rigidity in thinking, differing outlook on life, etc.

Of course, this leads to the question of how specific beliefs were formed, and not others, in the first place. Anyone who comes across research which answers this, please let me know.

4 comments:

Jay said...

Some people think that it's cool to be cynical about life - and I've been guilty of it many times myself; laughing at those who still believe in old-fashioned values, rolling my eyes at friends who gush about their new relationships (and taking bets on how long they'd last...)

Maybe it's a coping mechanism. It's a lot easier believing that life's not fair, that we should accept human limitations and our lot in life, than admitting that there are people out there every day - other people - making their dreams come true.

Or maybe it's just more fun being a bitch ;)

Derek said...

Yeah, I agree as I am quite cynical myself. My blog ID says it all ;P

An encouraging word or two, to share in another's new-found relationship (however short-lived it may be), it's not easy. Cynicism is so much easier.

Though sometimes it does get to me. All those bitching and negativity is just too much. I get sick and tired of it. And feel that it's time to get out there and to do something about it.

At the end of the day, it's a personal choice really. Do we take the path of less resistance or do we make another fellow human being happy?

weeshiong said...

it's definitely an asian thing. the concept is that dreams are for people who have time and money and have no need to slog to put food on the table like the rest of the honest, practical, hardworking, productive world.

well to heck with that.

just imagine: the look you got from telling her that you're going to kinabalu probably would pale to the look you'd get if you came out to her! hehehe...

by the way, i hear the view from the top's amazing. have a great time up in the clouds!

Derek said...

Thanks, I'll definitely enjoy myself at KK and will share the experience once I am back.