Home > Reflection > When The Beach Is As Far As You Can Go

When The Beach Is As Far As You Can Go

Life is surging ahead of my ability to keep reach of. In recent times, my ability to write and my writings would have been indicative; if I had the time, the space, the subject and the focus, then I’d know that things weren’t getting out of hand. Even when the gaps between my blog posts were getting to be a few weeks long, I didn’t feel uneasy because I usually had my notebook on hand to scribble in, and I couldn’t post everything.

In even more recent times, though, unease has crept into many of my easy moments. My notebook has been the repository of a number of unfinished, half-written posts and accusingly undeveloped essays, and a look through the pages preceding this one feels like an onerous undertaking as I consider it. My easy moments are rare enough, in any case; time, space and the mental and emotional resources left over from the days’ commitments hardly seem sufficient for me to begin writing in earnest, most of the time. The feeling that I’m plunging into work repeatedly makes the intervening moments feel too precious to actually invest, and I think that I’ve opted to resist and deny the things related to work instead, whether it’s by spending immoderate (or at least not frugal) amounts of cash in Singapore city, or by avoiding things and situations that are in some way reminiscent of my work environment. (The last point might not strictly be a negative thing, because many of the things I dislike should rightly be avoided where possible, but my antipathy to the more general notion of ‘army’ has seethed often enough recently that I find reason enough to be cautious of the responses and behaviors that could be reflexively anti-army.) The posts have dried up, the notebook is anemic, and I don’t even have regular music-making to galvanize me any more.

Life hasn’t been terrible or unbearable, this I feel obliged to note in the interests of fairness and the part of myself that remains imperturbable and unperturbed; I work hard but I’ve not run myself ragged, and I’ve had time and freedom enough to take a break from time to time. But the texture of my life has changed, though. Time is unpredictably fragmented (emphasis on ‘unpredictably’), and the responsibilities and challenges I encounter most regularly are of the trivial and, at worst, the petty and grating sort. Ironically, the times I’ve been happy and grateful have also served to vary the texture sufficiently that being stoic isn’t something I can easily resign myself to.

I’m all for resilience and work ethic, but, especially now that there are no recruits to channel nurturing and creative energies towards, these things are observably and sorely lacking around me. This is coupled with the sense that we, meaning my colleagues and I, are victims of mismanagement, and convenient targets of a kind of institutionalized blackmail which proceeds along the lines of, ‘Do the work or take the blame.’

When a colleague, neither the most indignant nor the most given to sagacious wisdom, observed that ‘the most dangerous thing to have in army is a sense of responsibility’, those of us present were in instant agreement despite being caught off-guard. While I am… aware that irresponsibility is no virtue, the fact that it would be merely as good as we get from our supervisors is condemnable. It is neither professional nor good for morale. For a commander, however junior, who works with these same considerations in mind, what is left is either a struggle to maintain a fiction or indifference. Insofar as this has contributed to the texture of my life, it is in how there is little reason to be optimistic about work, which is where I am physically constrained by a strip of ocean for much of every week. I get sea breeze over con-wire.

My contempt problem has naturally been resurgent, and one of the things I love to hate is complaining, which I’ve been doing quite a lot of myself, though with more venom and vitriol than the norm. (All the unprofessional behavior I observe will turn me into an elitist, if anything does.) I guess I’ve found that bitching is an easy way to cope in an unreasonable situation; expecting anything beyond that from people isn’t wrong, but I think it’s optimistic. At the end of the day, though, I’m glad I had the resources to produce this, though I’m afraid it’ll probably be the last one in a while, if I don’t produce anything else before next week; the arrows are flying and there are too many to dodge, despite our efforts. And, just for the record, manpower shortages are a unit-level problem, and they should be properly managed, although I suppose in some minds NSFs are expendable (which is ridiculous considering what the shortage is).

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