The Fruits Of Our Labour

Never give up, because great things take time.

Here’s a story of two farmers, both with their own methodology of things when it comes to reaping the fruits of their labour. Critical to many important aspects of our lives today, this short story is an overview of the way in which we face our social situations.

The first tale is of this farmer, Mr. Walker. Walker, a very concerned farmer, he’s constantly worried about the Apple Tree which he recently planted. Distraught and always on the verge of panicking, Walker would always be the overly tender, super committed farmer. He would put in so much focus into ensuring that the plant is growing properly, that sometimes, it seems as if he’s suffocating the very tree he loves so much.

Next is the story of the other farmer, a more carefree farmer that believes in being independent in all aspects, while maintaining a lovely relationship with his other priorities and his Apple Tree as well. Mr. Meister, the name that everyone knows. He carefully plants a seed, and waters it when it is necessary to ensure the little plant receives what it required, nothing more and no less than needed. He never frets for a rainy day, nor does he tremble at the mere sight of a blazing sun. Meister knows that if he allows the plant to fight by itself, it will become stronger and more independent, creating and producing better fruits to come. But he’ll still put in the necessary effort when needed. Should the plant die of thirst, dehydration or even over-hydration, he knows that it mostly isn’t fated – if the plant dies even with his assistance, then he knows it is not his fault. He can try relentlessly to save it, but the roots of the Tree has already withered from within.

For Mr. Walker, in before the complete harvest of his Apple Tree, he will be very anxious about the current situation, of whether the fruits will be growing bigger and better, or maybe it’s time for his to cash in. With trepidation and insecurity, Walker inadvertently chooses to reap his harvest. Small, unattractive and displeasing to people, not just to himself, he knows that he has failed. All the little factors, being too cautious, too anxious and too codependent by babysitting his Apple Tree, he has caused it to fumble and burn from within. The Apple Tree, as much as it tries to grow, has reached its apex, albeit a stunted one. It’s fruits were not a product of joy, but of unnecessary persistence. The flesh were not sweet, as would a normal fruit in its natural state. Mr. Walker has grown bitter of his predicament, cursing and striking at mother nature because of his follies. For he is blinded by his own self-worth and over-reliance on matters that takes time, he has lost it all. Every single bit of the sweet, abudant harvest is gone. Concerned about reaping large and sightly fruits, he forces his way into what is supposed to be the work of nature, choosing to defy the power of time for his own gain – and to an ironic twist of fate, the fruits of his labour are in vain.

“Father, I thank you for this harvest that you’ve given me, and the ones that you’ve taken away from me as well.” Said Mr. Meister. He knows that his harvest is good. When it is time to water the Apple Tree, he did, and he let it grow. When it is time to care for the Tree, he did, and he allowed it space to ‘roam‘. When it was time for it to he independent, he allowed it, supplementing it only when it is necessary, making sure he isn’t doing too much. He is grateful for all the successful harvest that he has received, and is equally thankful for those that doesn’t survive. A good harvest is worth the wait. Sometimes, placing trust and decent space away from your orchard is widely necessary to ensure such. He knows that it isn’t going to be easy. But no matter how long it takes, he knows the harvest is always worth the wait.

Are you the kind of person which relates to Mr. Walker more? Constantly in the high road, micromanaging situations and every tiny detail in your life, making sure it is perfect? Truth be told, sometimes, we just have to let nature take its course. Like the waves on the beach shore, the swash and the backwash and complements of each other, pushing and pulling the grains of sands on and off the waterfront. Like life itself, it has to have a deliberate, and very much natural, take on facing the mountain-high times and those valley-low ones. It’s how we pick ourselves up, and become stronger.

Instead of directing all our focus on a singular aspect, without the right reasoning and judgement, we should appreciate the philosophy in which Mr. Meister has on his harvests. He knows certain things in life cannot be forced upon. While he continues to place his minimal effort in watering the Apple Tree, he continues to show care and concern to the Tree, but manages it and ensures that it isn’t too forthcoming and over-extended. More importantly, he gives space for the Tree to blossom and produce fruits, of hard labour, of love. When God acts, nature reacts. Just when the drought hits, and the harvest is wiped out entirely, he knows to never give up, even though he is engulfed with emotions of hopelessness and rejection – for he understands that great things are take time, and are worth the wait.

I’m afraid that as much as I like to paint myself as Mr. Meister, I’m consistently caught up with being the emotional Mr. Walker. Incessantly provoked by a lack of self-confidence, I always seek to define my ‘harvest’, where am I at, how are we, what do I need to do to proceed. Like Mr. Walker, I’m very concerned with what I’m doing, rather than focus on the adventure. I may have failed to “enjoy the process” as you said and tried to rush into things to get my fruits out. In a similar fashion, I thrust myself into the depths of my own destruction, into an abyss of absolute rejection.

I’m really sorry if you feel like I’m pushing too fast, and trying very hard to define us. It took me awhile to understand why you needed what you needed and why you act this way. Good fruits take hard work and labour to produce, a very careful and meticulous effort has to be placed for that to happen as well. But the most important factor of all, is to let time do its job. I never understood the concept of time very well, but that’s no excuse coming from someone whose time is vastly restricted.

If all you need is time, I’ll be willing to wait. I now know, and truly believe that the harvest that I seek isn’t supposed to be easy. A good harvest is always worth the wait. ❤

Love you, Boo.

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Acceptance 

 

Year 2021, the year of the 21st – 21st Year of the 21st Century. As Korea celebrates it’s 1st year of unity, he coincidentally celebrates his 21st birthday with much joy and excitement, or so he thought.

“Happy 21st birthday, Dart!”

“Captain and the 3-time champion of the 100m All-Stars Sprint, James the Dart,” his best pal in school, sport and basically everything, blasted across the hallway. “Tonight’s your night my buddy. You own the night my friend!”

Then, amidst the thundering dance floor with what seems like a great party, a sweet soft voice emerges from around him, only him. It caught him off-guard – the great athlete has been rattled. He thought he was hallucinating, conjuring up some weird fantasy, because the party was remarkably loud and unbelievably fun, one of the greatest party he’s been to. He ignored it. And then, there the angel’s voice resonates.

“Jay,” the angelic voice came again from behind him, this time strangely familiar. It pierces through the mild yet wild party on to his little ears. “Jay, we need to talk.”

“What…” His jaws sank. In shock, he’s trying his level best to register what he was just told. “What do you mean by that?

She drinks, smokes, clubs and have the best time of her life – every single night. He should have known that. He should have known that face before they even started going out. He knew. But he chose to see the best in her. As a matter of fact, he saw the best in everyone – he believed in everyone. The puny water-boy from prac, the near-dropout guy from Calculus, and even the drug-dealing, misanthropic Asian kid who nearly destroyed the school with just Chemistry. He believed that people have the potential to better than they are, better than they were. But much to his regret, he didn’t know that his unsaid expectations of her could shatter his life so hard.

She couldn’t bear to hide the fact any longer. She loves him, she really does. And he loves her too. But she knows for an honest fact that he loves her more, maybe a lot more – to the point where she can no longer hide the truth, without feeling guilty, any longer. The past that she tried to bury has crawled back from under to haunt her. How could she bear to continue to lie to him? After so much he gave her, after all those times that they shared together, after how she felt his love – pure and as real as it gets – how could she not tell him?

He turned his back on her. She knew it would happen. He started to take a few steps away, then slowly, by the second, he was out the door – out of his own home, his own 21st birthday party. She tried to hold back her tears, but to no avail, it poured out of her like a waterfall. Nobody noticed, not because they didn’t, but because they couldn’t bother.

She sank. Both her heart and her soul. But she knew it was coming. Who would accept a broken piece of furniture? An instrument that’s filled with blemishes and mistakes, she felt, who would want that? Tears continued to roll down her cheeks, beautiful girl, if not for those hurtful, heartbroken tears. She regrets her past mistakes, she does. And if she had met him then, she wouldn’t have done it, she’s sure of it. But it’s too late – too late to regret about what has already happened. She has lost the man she loves so dearly. Part of her accepts her fate, and another part of her is reluctant to let go. Looking down on the ground, contemplating about her current predicament, her current surge of emotions, and her loss of her one true love. I love you, she thought. A shadow loomed over her small frame, and she looked up.

He came back to give her a hug, the hug of a lifetime. The hug that says, I love you no less because of what happened in the past, and I’ll never let you go until you promise to be mine forever. I love you, he whispers into her ear. I love you too, she mumbles back in her tears and snot.

Jay knew of the culture of today’s society, especially when it involves kids his age. They party hard, and party wild. Things can go awry, mistakes can be made. But as long as the moment is real, he believes, that no matter how grave a mistake is, everyone deserves a second chance. The things you do for love, a phrase that justifies actions made in the name of it – love shatters the realm of hate, and build bridges. He knew he couldn’t love anybody else as much as Germaine, and he’s not willing to give her up because of what she has done during her youth. He knows love knows no boundaries. “Live and let live,” his father once said. “A man must overcome all odds and still stick to his code, whatever they may be.”

”当兵” – The Becoming of A Singaporean

“Ah boy ah, very long never see you liao ah,” asked as a rhetorical question by my neighbour who lives at the opposite end. “Go army already ah?”

As we witness our friends and family enlisting into the Army, Police and SCDF, we hear a myriad of response – some dreading the inevitable NS life, some can’t wait to enlist, breaking free from the mundane and cyclical lifestyle of mugging and the quarterly rush for the submission of assignments. Yet with all these responses, there’s a group of responses that the government has to deal with every single time. Is there really a need for Singapore to have an Army? Or rather, is there a need for the SAF to conscript and confine Singaporean men to 2 years under military law?

The answer is yes. Absolutely and without a doubt, yes.

Coming from someone who has served in the military, I’ve gotten the best of the Army. I’m not saying that I’ve got a pleasant life in the Army, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t want to trade this for anything else. (I’ve always wanted to be an Infanteer and experience JCC but we’ll leave that topic for later.) To name a few, I’ve gained some decent experience, unforgettable memories and most definitely, hard-earned friendships forged through blood, sweat and tears. Cliche, but true. And here’s a few reasons why I believe that the Army can be a meaningful and wonderful experience for every Singaporean.

You will meet all sorts of people from all sorts of life. It’s true, really. In my BMT days, I’ve met people from the upper echelons of JC to the lousiest course in Poly. But it didn’t matter who we were. Our past identities, whoever we are in our heyday, were all, without prejudice and favoritism, stripped away from our core the day we shaved our heads. Our individuality has come to this: an Identity Disc Tag (ID-Tag) with our NRIC, Blood Type and Religion inscribed on it, and our 4D (4-digit) number. We were then known as Chao Recruits – the greenest horn of the whole SAF, and we all know the Army is coincidentally decorated in green as well.

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The Oath Taking ceremony done at Pulau Tekong before the Enlistees are officially inaugurated (as Recruits) into the SAF.

I, S9833257A, REC XIAO DAO LAO, do solemnly pledge that, I will always bear truth faith and allegiance…

One will most likely, first and foremost, go through a typical BMT route through Tekong. Following which, depending on their BMT results and how capable the Recruit is in terms of supposedly man-handling the Platoon, combat and physical standards, and of course, their peer appraisal and SIT test results, a short-listed candidates of the top 10% will be eligible to go for OCS to train as an Officer. These are the cream of the crop, as most will say/mention. And I was just really proud to be part of this whole, OCS team, going through numerable exercises. One of the greatest takeaways from my OCS journey is actually getting to know a lot of more of the “all sorts of people“. Some of them are the guys you envy, and you’d want them to notice you and be friends with you. Some are just plain dicks that happen to stumble upon this road with you. Others, they go through thick and thin with you, shed blood and sweat together with you, and face the floor as much as you. And these are the people that you really need to cherish and keep for as long as you could.

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Post-Exercise Scorpion King, where we took a picture of our dirty outfit with the Kranji Memorial as our background. Kudos to those Veterans who fought in this land before me.

Furthermore, one of the few experiences I’ve had and I’ll probably never want to trade away is that I’m able to go for this function called the Social Night. It’s a summary function for us, Officer Cadets, to celebrate the end of this torturous, sleep-deprived exercise called Exercise Scorpion King. Why I don’t want to trade this away is because I get to bring a girl to the Social Night! Sounds pretty shallow? Trust me, whether you are an eligible bachelor boy or a love-struck boyfriend who can’t wait to show off your girlfriend, this is one opportunity you never want to miss as long as you’re wearing Green.

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Me, my buddy, and our dates. I never really liked raisins anyway.

Did I forget to mention that as Officer Cadets we get to do some of our exercises overseas? For myself, I’m being trained as a Signal Officer. We’ve walked through the jungles of Brunei, and roamed the local streets with our Portable Radios (not your typical talkies, those military ones) and just walk. Like seriously, we traverse through day and night, sun and shine, on the highway and the farms, to find checkpoints all over one of the rural countrysides of Starlight. I mean, the experience in itself was great. Though we only had around 2 days, accumulated, time for our own rest and relaxation time, it was arguably well spent.

Anyway, the hype of the OCS life does not simply end at the Social Night, or even the overseas exercise. It ends when you throw your peak cap, after the arduous journey of a 3 week long training, solely on marching drills. Horrible. The sun was blazing hot every day, and it scorches our skin brown. Almost everyone had the same, dark and sexy, skin tone – it’s truly the look of ‘having served the army’.  It was worth it. The feeling of actually being in the parade and doing it, after having spent countless of hours drilling on rehearsals and practice, is so much more different. Surreal. The tossing of our peak caps were quite overrated though. Or maybe it is just me throwing my peak cap? All in all, we celebrated the end of this long awaited 9 months training. While we all cheered at the glorious day shouted the Officer’s Creed and Commissioned, deep inside of our hearts we knew our reality had just began. A life full of responsibilities, a journey of stress and work-life balance has only started. But hell, we didn’t care that much.

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My comrades and me after we got our 2LT ranks, saluting the camera because we can.

Right now, as I’m struggling to type and slogging my brain for the proper sentence structures and grammatical phrases, I’ve been living my life day by day. In my current unit, 10 C4I Bn, life is hard. I am subjected to my OC’s beck and call, and I have to manage my guys. For the part of my OC, he’s not that bad actually, maybe he’s just a little bit weird. I’m sure there are much worse OCs around. For my guys, they are from the same BMT batch. Which means that they are highly likely from the same educational intake – commonly dubbed as the “First JC Batch”. They’re so opinionated and so self-righteous. They have no sense of pride being soldiers, those pampered and temperamental kids. But I still got to love them as I’m the Platoon Commander. Tough love.

Have I found meaning in national service? Maybe. Do I want to be able to skip national service and just roam around or enjoy the sweet, beautiful life before university starts? Maybe, maybe not. I believe that our experiences shape and mould us, our character, our personality and our habits. Delete a single event or, anything of significance, and we could hardly say that we’ll turn out to be the same person we are today. I’m glad I went through a shitty BMT experience where I was asked to “knock it down” every single day. Platoon IC, Section IC, every sort of IC was given to me except my NRIC. I roughly remembered doing close to 200 push-ups a day in my stint as Platoon IC. Don’t really fancy it, but I appreciate what it has done to me. Didn’t choose the Signals life but ended up here instead. Glad that I’m able to go through a slightly different path as compared to the stereotypical army-is-infantry loop. Sometimes, we never really appreciate the tough times until months later, or even years later when we stumble upon memory lane. It’s good that we have a conscription. A common experience that every Singaporean son should go through, whether you’re PES A or PES E, whether you’re a Commando or an RSAF Ops Spec, and it doesn’t even matter if you’re a Mess Boy or an Officer. As long as we feel that the 2 years is well-spent, considering the people we’ve met, the fond memories we’ve forged and the blood and sweat that we’ve toiled in Asrama, it would suffice. Any more, you’d probably have to sign on.