it’s not the storm before the calm

it’s been a while since i came back to singapore from tokyo. granted, i did spend two weeks in tokyo/tohoku and another in taipei/kaohsiung between the first of april and now, but otherwise i’ve been here, in this hypervillage. those days i had appointments, i went to clarke quay, or katong, or the american embassy, or clementi mall, or the ministry. other days i just sat at home. i have a backlog of books i own but haven’t read, and these few days i’ve been felling them one by one – sandel’s justice, eliot’s critical essays, heller’s closing time, bennett’s the unusual reader, the arbinger institute’s leadership and self-deception, hesse’s siddhartha and narcissus and goldmund, styron’s the suicide run… i’ve got quite a bit more to go, but i’m blessed with time, and the desire to remain where i am.

i say that the stationary impulse is a blessing because i’ve always been a i’ve-got-thirty-minutes-free-shit-i-need-to-go-somewhere kind of person. a bit of space in my schedule and i hit the joint. on a more macro level, presented with a choice between staying put and going somewhere else, i’d almost always choose the latter. it’s not that i’m adventurous. far from it – i’m the kind of person who creates a modus vivendi and sticks to it. five years of japan, five years of a lifestyle i grew somewhat used to – and now i’m full of apprehension about going to the states, because i have no idea what it holds for me. when i was 20 and preparing for japan, i was doubly armed – first with bravado, and then again with a rudimentary command of japanese. now that i’m older and more timid, the first emotion is not excitement but fear. this fear is rational. with luck it will become a kind of fuel, something to keep me going when i’m otherwise running on empty. but, as you either know or can guess, this fear is at its heinous worst nothing less than slow-motion immolation.

but what about my infidelity to habit, then? it’s probably a combination of flippancy and curiosity. flippancy, because i assume that somewhere there’s something fun, and it’s worth running out and around to look for it. curiosity, because whether it turns out fun or not, i’m assuming there’s another narrative to be found, and that this narrative is worth finding. yet usually all my scurrying falls well within the bounds of caution. my running around japan was done in the assumption that i wasn’t getting out of my comfort zone. moscow was a bit of a curveball, but that was just the flippant and curious side of me bullying caution into submission. and it paid off so well – i learned so much, i saw so much – that nowadays i’m so much more ready to screw all and give anything a shot. it’s called receptivity in some circles, silliness in others, but no one knows until the endgame looms.

so now that i’ve some kind of peace, and precious time, to myself, i’m hunkering down. the next book is the sea is my brother.

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