Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Contentment : Powered by memories and Kentucky Fried Chicken

The day the author felt true contentment was on a mildly sunny early afternoon. One had found himself returning to the outskirts of his living district, dressed plain in a oversized shirt, shorts and slippers. Fashionably accompanied only by his  unshaven chin and hair, hardly combed. The goal? One had woke up in the early morning to collect some tropical creams from the National Skin Center of Singapore but a much more meaningful and unexpected adventure was to take place that no one would ever know of other than the author and well, now you...

One was walking home and along the way had actually walked far enough that he had found himself in front of the local Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet. The aromas of the fried culinary dishes and scientifically enhanced fries usually do not capture the author due to his stingy nature to spend on food if his fridge at home is still full but on this day, his resolve was weakened. The Gods had decided to leave a exceptionally full restaurant with a wide empty booth in plain sight, this stopped one in his tracks and in  a moment of action that seemed to be not of one's will, one found himself lining up behind 3 people. Life's most important question at the moment : "Do I want original or crispy?"

Having too little time to decide, one had given into indecision and had ordered from a wholly underpaid young teenager one of both types of fried chicken along with a small 7UP and a upgraded cheese fries. With a meal that resembled a little piece of heaven and having his small tray of chilli sauce, careful not to take too much as that would be excess, one was pleasantly surprised that the wide booth was still available for one to occupy and afforded one a clear view of the people in the local square going about their business. Having seated oneself, one did a silent prayer to whichever God existed to his agnostic nature and went on to clear his palate with a big gulp of 7UP  and went on to take the first bite of his 2 piece chicken meal. The first bite came in a wave of ecstasy and nostalgia. One's frontal cortex burned with the memories of when one was a child, excited at the fact that back when the author was a  wee boy, MacDonalds and KFC had just opened in Singapore and to enjoy its meals was only on special family outings. Each bite of chicken and cheese with mayonnaise soaked fries was as enjoyable as any, a glowing pretentious food critic gives a dish in a five star restaurant. The whole time, one had no worries in the world due to a lack of media and enjoying nothing less than watching people young and old enjoy nothing more than a piece of fried chicken and what seemed like each others company, just like when one was a child before knowing the sins of the world.

The meal ended and the author went on to dump the remains of his tray into the bin and a addition of good feelings came when a staff member walked over and said thank you for the act of clearing the tray from the table. The feeling being so good, as on that day, we both did something that made someone else's day just a little bit better. Along the way home, one started to ask the question. What does contentment mean to me? Of which the answer came in quick succession. " It doesn't matter you Fucktard, just enjoy the moment God gave you for once."  Giving a quizzical look to no one in particular, one accepted it and walked home with no thoughts in one's head about worldly issues or problems but only a belly full of satisfaction, good feelings and a smile ear to ear.
Till next word...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Walking away: A efficient trait generalisation of Asian Philosophy

(The author's brief thoughts on generalisation is listed below today's main topic*)  The de facto generalisation of Western and Asian culture is that Western culture tends to stand up against what they feel is wrong and argue the idea into you till you agree and its Asian counterpart tends to just follow what is the status quo and goes with the majority. The important difference here is that the Asian philosopher (in generalisation) literally walks away from the disagreeing party rather than argue it. Confucius, Mencius, etc. wandering China rather than implanting themselves in one spot hostile to their teachings to preach being an example. This particular trait and its positive qualities will be the topic of discussion for this post.

The standard thought of today's world people is no doubt mostly Western and with a whole internet of information as 'evidence'. Anyone can literally argue any point and believe in its righteous nature. Thus in essence, one is going to meet more people in this current world that would be less likely to change an opinion even after a convincing discussion. And to that end, it can be argued that one might as well never had that discussion and just taken that time to do something more productive.

This being said. the author is not implying non discussion, rather he is taking a position of efficiency. For example, debating a point with someone who has already a biased position is equivalent to listening to a person who is complaining about a situation that has already past. The result equates to nothing achieved and nothing solved. Your presence is just there as a tool for this person to finish a sentence and feel better about their own person. The efficient thing to do, either talk about a way to improve/solve the problem, move on from it or just leave and not listen to the problem.

The world is not perfect though and sometimes people will argue with you, whether you like it or not. In some cases, even with hostility in mind or action. And it was after discussing about one such hostile argument with a friend that he pointed out a very Confucian idea and solution to the issue : Just walk away. It was not meant literally in all cases but for example, sometimes, just agreeing with a biased person and ending the conversation is better than continuing to discuss it with him/her as it leads to the same result. The person still ends up only believing in their own point of view. Confucius and the like knew this and with the knowledge that there was literally a world of people willing to discuss/teach/learn about their issues better, why then stop at a dead end of a biased argumentative person when there is so much better to be had by just taking a step beyond said person.

In conclusion, one's life is so limited and the truth is we all do not know for sure what happens to us after death, thus life should be spent as efficiently as possible. To give an example, with a time limit, would you rather use a sledgehammer to pound down a brick wall or use one's untrained fist.

Till next word...

*Mencius (Mengzi**) taught that a man who tries to gather all knowledge will end up knowing nothing. Thus it would be clear to say that sometimes a person is forced to make generalisations to make sense of a world he can never fully understand. This being said, when generalisation is used as a discussion point, the importance comes in the fact that the user knows he is generalising and takes that point into account. 

To be fair, there are those that prove such a generalisation wrong for today's post. Such as the life of Western philosopher Nietzsche***, leaving for a life of seclusion when others did not take to his philosophies well at the time. Thus the reason, generalisation is used in today's post is as a tool to help most get into the core idea of the post faster than if one was to write a long thesis length piece and thus certain liberties have to be taken.

**The link is to a animated list of Mencius core works (those with Book 1A, etc) told with English subtitles.

***A short documentary on Nietzsche's life and the application of his basic philosophy of hardship to everyday life.