KD-ADS: Expanding Horizons

Cos thinking should never be stagnant...

Friday, August 18, 2006


I have actually been pressurised by a friend of mine (you know who you are) to start blogging again, though I have no idea what she could possibly be looking forward to. I have also taken the time to browse my previous blog posts and am surprised to find new comments from readers that I have not come across. This 'discovery' is really of an interesting and delightful nature to me; for it does inculcate a reassuring feeling in myself that some people are listening to my words and take them to heart. Far too little people today are appreciate of these forms of reciprocal actions.

Nevertheless, I must admit to writing this entry without a coherent agenda in mind, and certainly without the kind of thoroughness or clarity that should be present before commercing on writing this post. But perhaps is it fair and logical to draft up a ten-point plan and structure first, before writing about what naturally comes to your mind? After all, blogging is meant to be a "free-for-all" activity, isn't it, where the author is free to pen as he please?

Since it is hard to discuss metaphorically or abstractly without first being concrete, let me review the events that have transpired since my last post (in April wow): the biggest major change in my life is work. I am working within the government body (and I probably will reflect on my experience one day). The second is still sketchy but technically, I am single now. Not sure if there is a third factor to posit, but for now these two events have turned my life into a new direction that was truly different from a few months ago.

Yet oddly enough, that's probably the rationale behind my title. Initially I said that I have no finished processed thoughts to pen down, and my fear was that I would "short-change" my reader with a dose of meaningless words (which is still possible), but strangely it also turns out that the significant events in my life have yet produced no definite answers or goals when I reflect on my future, hence things are still "undetermined".

One of the lessons regularly preached in motivational psychology (or new age self-improvement literature) is that a successful person not only understands (or at least reflects) on his past, and not only assesses his present situation and look for opportunities in his current surroundings, but he also foresees with utmost clarity what his future will be. Akin to the formula of describing a self-made millionaire, it is said to truly accomplish a satisfying meaning in your life, a future vision will not only bring out the best in you, but also help guide you towards that direction.

It's an interesting point, and I would like to think, for many people with a career focus in mind, and whom are strongly motivated and determined to achieve them, that vision comes intuitively to them. But is it fair to say that the less successful ones of us, perhaps the "ordinary" others are crawling and struggling on our feet and making ends meet because we just lack such vision? Would putting on this priceless pair of glasses repair our incompetence, laziness and lethargic nature?

The idealist in all of us would like to imagine that life was that simple, or that achieving our dreams could come a lot easier if we possessed such a unique trait that the "gifted" ones among us do. But upon closer scrutiny, life is indeed so much more complex and "awe-defying" that our vision of us seems contrary to our ideal selves. Psychological research has hypothesized that we all possess an "ought" and "ideal" self, and that much (or all) of our decisions in life is constantly about negotiating between these two "praxis". But a sensible question, perhaps one can ask now, is do we ever get there?

It would be truly an exceptional moment in time if we were to meet a dying man who claims in his last breath that he/she has attained his "future vision", that he has fulfilled every "ought"-kind of duties or obligations and that he has never disappointed himself in failing to live up to his "ideals". Chances are, most ordinary people, even when not near their deaths, have regularly come across questioning themselves why they just can't "live" up to that vision of themselves even if they know what it is? Does every single person who dreams up of becoming a millionaire become one? Can one even claim to be unequivocally to be the "honest, sincere, truthful, helpful, kind, sweet, understanding and [insert any other benevolent descriptive]" person that they know and wish of themselves to be? Do your visions, as clear, concise and precise as they are, ever cystallizeto be what they were meant to be?

Ironically, even at the last stages of our life, everything still seems "undetermined". When do we die? How would we die? What would happen to my loved ones when I go? Or there is also the religious probe, "what will happen to you when you die?"

Interestingly, it is here that we also find the most funniest aspect of our human being. Humans constantly seek reassurance, clarity and a "determined" meaning in their lives every second. Religion and spirituality provides much of the basis for that. Atheists might not rely on a religious narrative to lead their lives but they are just as straight and clear to know what not to follow to live their life. So very much of our own progress is not only made up of choices of what we want, but also what we don't want. Thus, it would seem insensible and unreasonable to conceive that the firm negative rejections we make are self-defeating; whereas in every sense, they do provide some route as to where we wish not to go.

Unfortunately, life does have its irony. In writing this, I am to recall one incident that has struck me poignantly when I was in the midst of job searching. When I was feeling down and depressed of being rejected by numerous firms (although one can have a knowledgeable understanding of the crisis, it doesn't change how you feel), I was told my family members that my eldest sister (who is now a hotshot corporate banker) faced a similar situation in her own time. Upon returning from a prestigious university, my sister also endured a lengthy period of time before finding a job. However, one feature of that experience left a strong impression in me: that the job she took was not what she wanted. Yet, nearly 10 years later, here she is, in the same line of work, and now thriving. Whether she has come to accept and bond with what previously was a "unflavourable" decision, or simply learnt to endure the misgivings and enjoy the rewards, that is up to her to mediate and find out.

The question (for me and I suppose, you) is if we really can be determined about the "positive" affirmations and "negative" rejections we fill our conscious with. Otherwise, if we don't, and if we do find ourselves drifting to new directions never contemplated before, then perhaps all of life will remain "undetermined". If that is so, then perhaps the "future vision" was always an illusion.