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My Grown Up Christmas List

It’s the time of the year when it’s the end of the year.

The usual things that occupy me would be squeezing time and space to do an area cleaning of my office as well as my home. The clean up of home is a less disruptive affair, since I actually do routine cleaning on a weekly basis. The end of the year clean up would merely be the 1st round cleaning up that precedes the Lunar New Year cleaning.

The clean up of the office is very much different. It necessitates dealing with a lot of dust which come from the old files. This course of cleaning precedes me coming down with some respiratory issue as a result and subsequently a full blown bout of flu. It has been the same over the past few years all the way from end 2006.

In some ways, things have never changed. Some things, in fact, never change.

Upon taking stock of the amount of cleaning required for the home, I come face to face with my extra audio components sitting around. Having extra components lying around is proof that I have found time for my hobby, which means I had time to myself. Having finally sold the car to stop the meaningless and wasteful depreciation of multiple vehicles, I almost immediately committed the monthly savings of a thousand dollars into another amplifier. The new kid was going for a song, I simply had to have it. The manufacturer intended it as a serious piece of engineering and not some mickey mouse amplifier but it’s a toy simply because to me it fulfilled a want and not a need as I am already well served by many others.

When another functional component is added to the stable but fails to serve any additional functional purpose, the desire of simply wanting the component (however seriously designed) classifies it as a toy. No wonder some women say is that “the difference between the men and the boys is the price of their toys”.

Toys are the perfect way to indulge the self when November comes followed by the festive mood and thereafter the new year. November this year was a milestone, it marked the beginning of my forties. Finally hitting the big “4” made me reflect that though I might be getting older but given these toys amongst other obsessions am I actually getting more mature?

Being somewhat fortunately relatively unencumbered 🙂 without worries about day-to-day needs can make one restless. The mind wanders towards other wants and desires. I was consciously aware of this and to distract myself, I had sought to move away from materialistic wants to update myself on the current affairs of the world. Things that had occurred over the past two and half years which I did not really pay much attention. I had to digest information on sad situations all over the world environmental and humanitarian disasters in various places Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, the intense hardship of the Arab people that led to the Arab Spring, the civil war in Libya and Syria and the recent Philippine Typhoon.

The problems these peoples and countries faced which would have justified active large-scale intervention from the international community. However, all military or humanitarian intervention is stuff left to the office bearers to decide. It is somewhat out of place for the common man to attempt solutions, however ingenious, to solve the world’s problems. 🙂 Similarly at home, where Singapore’s problems are, by comparison, tiny and insignificant, they should similarly be left to those in charge to deal with for it is their responsibility. With the power of office comes the responsibility. There are no two ways about it.

And then I pondered on the role of the common man in the midst of all this. I came to the conclusion that, inevitably, each of us carry a burden unique to our own circumstances, and universal truth and logic mandates that each of us fulfil the responsibility to the self before actually looking beyond. This corroborates with the saying that anyone seeking to do greater good must have settled his own basics, to be in the position to offer to the larger community. A failure to check all the boxes might result in the endeavour towards public office being be twisted by less altruistic motivations and thereby skewing the object, the process and the outcome of the original intent of involvement. And trust me, these will show. 🙂

It is then apt to conclude that all who seek public office should have proven their abilities in areas of their life, their family and their career so much so that when the calling for public office becomes the next logical extension of involvement in the community. This will result in making a conscious decision to use one’s energies towards the public good and not be skewed by self-interest considerations. Correspondingly, logic mandates that the reverse will also be true. When office bearers fail their higher calling and act in a manner to only serve their self-interest, they inevitably denigrate themselves to the degressed position of a common man serving one’s own self-interest.

This self-introspective criteria is only one part to the equation meant to achieve a distant and lofty ideal. Finding answers to the questions is only the first step and does not guarantee anything. For the level of comfort and security for different individuals differ, so would their degree of honesty and self-awareness.

A simplified approach to the conundrum would be for one to direct the simplified question to himself of how much is enough? When should a person start to consider service to the public as one of his objectives in his life? What should the ideal threshold of one’s achievements before looking at sacrificing to serve the greater good? I must admit that at age 40, I do not have answers to the above questions which I myself formulated. 🙂 Despite my having idealistically jumped the gun previously before reverting to take a more conventional and practical path. 🙂 It would therefore be right to conclude that I have regressed to being a common man 🙂

However, I must clarify that to focus on fulfilling the responsibility to oneself, one’s job and one’s family should never and must never cloud one’s sense of what is right and what is wrong. A decision to focus limited time and energies on what is basic, immediate and pressing is not a compromising of principles and beliefs.

For cleaning up one’s own backyard does not equate to a changed moral compass, values and principles. This is the only surefooted approach. What value can a person bring to the larger society in striving to clean up the neighbourhood when his own backyard ain’t in order? Similarly, what value can someone bring to the greater cause when in striving to clean up the neighbourhood, his sense of right and wrong gets perverted along the way? These reasons, read collectively, fully justify each and every person first focusing on one’s basic obligations as a person, a man and a son whilst preserving the innate sense of what is right and what is wrong and only upon surmounting the intermediate levels of achievement, should one take the step forward for the larger community.

But the questions remain, how much is enough? where do we draw the line? what then can be done in the meantime? These questions admittedly take on a deeper meaning and require deeper introspection during this time of the year. Every year. The birthday month (time for celebration and introspection) together with the proximity of Christmas (time for giving) and the new year (a time of reflection and resolutions) come together to form a potent mix. In fact, it is probably too much for me to bear. It is no wonder that I come down ill on every approach to the new year. During this seasonal forced rest and sleep, I reinterpret my thoughts while being confined to the bed. It was in this period of rest that I surfed the web to update myself and was taken aback by humanitarian disasters in various places of this planet that deserved far more assistance and active intervention from the more well endowed nations.

In the comfort of my bed, I could not help but compare the plight of the affected of having not enough food, water, medicine, sanitation and basic safety from physical harm to my own dilemmas of adding yet another redundant toy to the stable. But this then begets the question – what is a common man to do in the face of big and insurmountable problems that are undeniably way beyond his abilities? Do we stop living? Do we stop doing the things which we are supposed to do? Do we stop enjoying the things we have earned and are entitled to enjoy?

In the past, I have had little difficulty in making wishes for myself at the end of the year (hey its my birthday and its christmas). However, this year 2013, faced with this dilemma, as opposed to other years, I could not find it in me to ask for more. Nursing my bout of flu in bed, there were no celebrations. I was unwell with dip in my health and fitness, but by and large, I had to concede that I was not lacking in anything. I had a sense of fulfilment. But at the same time, I also had an equally strong sense of entitlement for it was Christmas and the New Year was coming. This was coupled with a sense of being at a loss of being entitled to make a wish, but not knowing what to wish for. I sought the internet for answers in the same manner that I sought information. The answer came to me when in my medication induced stupor, I “youtubed” ‘Christmas list’ as opposed to “googled” ‘Christmas wish’.

The song that came up was “My Grown Up Christmas List”. This was written by David Foster some time ago and though it is a great and meaningful song, it does not seem to have enjoyed much airplay. The beautiful lyrics went as follows:

Do you remember me I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well, I’m all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I’m not a child But my heart still can dream

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely wrapped beneath our tree
Well heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth
(there’d be) No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh

This is my grown up Christmas list
This is my only life long wish
This is my grown up Christmas list

The lyrics of this song are amazingly powerful AND as it is obviously an old song, I must have heard it before. But somehow I have never noticed it. Until now. The revelation brought by this song was the answer to my dilemma. I have come to believe that God specially places angels to guide each and every one of us, to show us the way.

For me, He has generously given me several 🙂 He placed one notably in Korea, and yesterday morning, He spoke to me through her and made me grow up. This is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS3p4jv4Ov0 to the somewhat incomplete fancam recording but one that has the least audio distortion of angelic TaeYeon’s lovely rendition.

I have to admit that it was only after TaeYeon’s rendition, for the first time in my life, I made a wish for the world at large. AND at the risk of sounding like some beauty pageant contestant wishing ad nauseam for an abstract concept of world peace…..

(there’d be) No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And every one would have a friend
And right will always win
And love would never end

On this final day of the year 2013, I do hope, that with this wish and prayer, I have indeed changed and grown up. 🙂

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December 31, 2013 Posted by | audiophilia, Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment