Thursday, August 09, 2007

Collectors, Consumers, Conclusion

Rockin' 'bout town:
a celebratory dinner at Morton's where the menu means a waitress, well-seasoned with American gregariousness, pushes up a trolley laden with cellophaned pink cuts of beef and exalts their meaty virtues in an enthusiastic show-and-tell;

Chat Masala, Greenwood
good Indian at Chat Masala where the fish briyani is so good and the ginger lassi is so good-strange and where we were so merry and laughed so loud, the packed restaurant was shocked into sudden silence;

Banana Energy for Basketball
a 3-on-3 basketball tournament where my on-court puke-iness in the finals reduced us to a silver medal, with my profusely burbled apologies;

Festival of Praise, Singapore
Festival of Praise a Don Moen and Delirious? concert saved from herd-instinct vacuity by the study of Hosea that very arvo;

Wild Oats, Emily Hill
sweet punnets of strawberries headed for fates surely involving variations on the theme of strawberry cheesecake because one night - a martini glass of deconstructed strawberry cheesecake at Wild Rocket and then after, because there is never ever enough strawberry cheesecake, a shot of cocktail (featuring coconut cream liquor) made to taste of strawberry cheesecake at Wild Oats. (Wild Oats which sits on the Emily Hill compound that previously inspired many latenight ghost stories during those halcyon NAFA days of artistic disrepair. Wild Oats which shall now be known for its obstinate waiters who huff at 3 separate tables,"We're a bar! We don't serve coffee!" and refuse to bring any over from its sister restaurant, a spitting distance away.);

Prata Brunch, Jalan Kayu
a pleasant morning in Seletar Camp where there was once carolling at Christmas: spacious living for humans in hammocks and smiling dogs and happy bunnies, languid swings hanging from the strong arms of great shady trees, pretty red letterboxes, yellow hibiscus bushes, purple morning glories draped lazily over backgates, and brunch at Jalan Kayu after. Tomorrow night, there will, God-willing, be salsa dancing (because "there is no way you are backing out of this") at 10pm (because "people don't go there that early unless dressed in loud hawaiian shirts trying to look cool and blend in" and because I don't actually own a Hawaiian shirt).

Great company and good food for the most part. Expansive generous talk. No weedy industry fare, no sour sweaty gossip, no bland frivolity, no inflated insincerity. Solid, meaty, satisfying conversation: encouraging each other in the truth, in how we make our decisions with God as our priority no matter how heart-wrenching and painful, in how we stand firm in what is right regardless of how stupid and foolish it seems to the world.

Ding Tai Fung, Junction 8
And a story: someone's sister passed away 2 years ago. Space constraints recently required that her room be cleared to make way for a living person. Stashed in her cupboard: the full collection of Hello Kitty plushes carefully collected for months from McDonalds and limited edition t-shirts still in their wrappers and never worn. How she must have queued and planned and bought countless McDonald meals to make up her collection. How she must have invested time and energy in procuring and folding and bagging the t-shirts. I know they must have meant something to her, said the Clearer of the Room, but there is no space. I have no choice. I will bin them all.

Our collections are, for the most part, no longer about the vulgar conspicious consumption of the 1980s; they are, we think smugly, about beauty and taste, about an appreciation of the finer things in life. We collect many things: cars, watches, guitars, wine, handbags; gems to pad our CVs; brownie points with the right bosses for a nice bonus or promotion; friends to stave off loneliness and boost our social standing; networks and contacts that might prove valuable in the future; comfortable investment portfolios; high scores on games; greatly cherished experiences from another time and another place when we'd really really lived...

But the finality of death makes stark the utter unimportance, the puerile pettiness, of it all.

Amongst many other corrective behavioural therapies, anger management and marriage counselling advocate that taking a long-term view of events allows a person to live the here-and-now more reasonably, none of that sticking the cheese knife into someone and appearing, handcuffed in a wild-eyed photo, in the next day's gleeful New Paper. Driver cut into your lane without signalling? Toothpaste left uncapped despite constant pleas not to neglect the cap? STOP. THINK: how will this matter in 1 month, 1 year, 5 or 10 years' time?

Since our event horizon is a bit longer than a decade and slightly wider than this world, then the relevant points of reference for our acquisitiveness, our reaction to situations, our fondling idolatry of things and people and experiences, must surely be that of eternity and the massive massive kingdom of God.

I am constantly amazed how often I forget this fact. Though, what with a partially redeemed mind and heart in this now-but-not yet, such forgetfulness should come as no surprise. Sometimes, the rejection of God by his children does not happen at the end of an Al Qaeda gun barrel but amidst great peace and safety, where the jolly comfort of "friends" mask their cunning deceitfulness. And I suppose I don't quite say this enough, but thank God and thank you all you true friends who keep reminding me, who keep forcing me to avert my gaze from my own navel, to look up and out into the grand and glorious scheme of things revealed to us by our Creator and our Final Judge.

Tomorrow morning, I shall blush at such sentimentality and my unwieldy sentences and grammar mistakes. But in the light of eternity and God's kingdom, I guess I'll manage!

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At August 11, 2007 1:13 am , Anonymous cupboard overuns said...

how was salsa? ;)

At August 12, 2007 9:28 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was just about to mention Wild Oats to you cos I read about it in a mag...

Anyway, in light of all that is going on now, thank you for this post - the reminder to look UP & to weigh this incident in light of eternity and all that REALLY matters (of course thanks for all the listening too!).

"F" eyes.

At September 09, 2007 3:11 am , Blogger shadow said...

cupboard: sweat + spinning = salsa.

anonymous: thanks for the reminders too!


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