December 31, 2004
Times of Transition
The ancient Romans often celebrated the end of Saturnalia (Christmas) and the beginning of a new Gregorian Year through huge festivals, drinks and games. It is strange then to think that human civilisation since then, through the thousands of years, has not progressed much. Sure, we have made leaps in terms of technological, scientific and medical fields. But at the core of it all, it is still the same. The human heart, the human love for leisure and play, it has not changed. Today on New Year's Eve, in the wake of Christmas, there will be throngs of people littering the streets of Orchard Road, Suntec City and Sentosa. Today, there will be alcohol flowing from beer kegs and bottles and most will not know left from right by the time the countdown is complete. Today, there will be loud music, rave parties and plenty of clubbers going through the motions of getting drunk, dancing wildly and ultimately, getting pissed drunk after the wild night. Tonight, it will be the end of 2004 and the beginning of 2005.
2004 as a year has been one in which huge transitions in my life have taken place. From being in the armed forces to becoming an undergrad once again. From being attached, to being happily single. Sure, life is a journey. And through the years of our lives, transition is an everyday effect. We experience change as a constant in life. To say that we have not changed one bit is quite a big fib because even through each everyday life experience, we learn, we adapt and we change. I'm glad though. Because 2004 has been the year I can safely say changed my life for the better. Now, please don't be mistaken, I'm not saying that the stuff I went through was horrible. It just wasn't the best possible route which would secure my future, be it material-wise or spiritual-wise. I'm grateful for each and everything I went through in 2004. And through it all, there's a huge bunch of people I do owe big thanks to.
But I'm not going to do this like how I did it last year. I'm not simply going to list out people and begin thanking them. Because those few, short lines of commendation simply don't do justice to the amount of impact some of them have had on my life. I've retained great friendships in 2004 and made new ones whom I think will last a lifetime. The transition from being in a rigid, authoritarian organisation to a flexible, democratic university environment has been nothing but good for me. Friends like Yanting, Isabel, Robbie, Keith, Marie and Christine have all been wonderful people. To try to summarise how they've helped me or moulded me would be futile. One thing's for sure though, they've helped make the transition from Singapore to Melbourne a relatively seamless one. Then there's my ACS alumni group, Jansen, Ding, Bryan, Lin Bin, Jason and the rest. It's strange to think how the camarederie between us sticks so much despite the many years of being apart in different institutions and countries. I seriously enjoy the soccer sessions, barbeques and talk-cock sessions Jansen organises because they help me keep in touch with my inner-boy. They remind me that I was once a boy, wide-eyed and filled with dreams. They help me become aware of the changes that have taken place from secondary school till now, and of course the non-changes.
2004 also held in store a huge surprise for me because it was the year that my primary school class began keeping in contact with each other and meeting up for huge outings. It is strange to see people like Xingxiang, Daxuan and the class bullies becoming the good guys now and to note how much they have matured. We suffered together and played together and I think as kids, the experiences like these become entrenched in your mind forever since these people become pretty much part of your childhood. There's also my army friends, Patrick, Jiehan, Chris, Xianli, Jack and Ricson. I think because we all worked together, we formed this unspeakable bond between each other. Be it covering each other's backsides, tipping the other off or simply dishing out valuable advice in order to con half-witted regulars, we worked as a unit and braved many storms and 'hail stones' which often threatened to pour down on our heads. Then there's Stephanie. Although we aren't together anymore, I just want to thank her for being a part of my life once and showing me that life isn't just about being serious and putting my head down, there's a fun side to it too. Thanks for the many happy memories of yesteryear.
But there's a special group of friends whom I want to mention, a group of friends not coincidentally, that I'm spending my New Year's Eve with. They have been a part of my life since I was just a kid and they continue to provide laughs, support and basically good company through my years of tribulation and joy. Ben, Eugene, Mark, Terry, James, Mac, Kelvin and Lester have been great friends of mine and although sometimes they do irritating things like asking me to Rouge (I hate that place), most of the things we do together are actually alot of fun. Tonight, I hope will be no different.
Even in the midst of the celebrations, however, I think this year begs us to form important opinions and questions about ourselves. In the wake of the tsunamis which struck Asian countries earlier this week, it is clear for all to see that life is an extremely unpredictable experience as well. I'm sure if you'd asked any of those Singaporeans this year who are now listed as missing whether they thought they'd live to see 2005, you'd have been laughed off. Now, we can only hope and pray for the affirmation of their existence. Before I go, however, allow me to pose a question to all readers of this blog. Why not stop making resolutions which will only change your life materially and start trying to make ones which change your life immaterially? Because only when you are able to encompass that question, will you truly discover what it means to live life.
To all, Happy New Year and have a blessed 2005.
Traveller fell apart at 5:31 PM