What are all the actions you conduct in service of a single purpose?
How much reading goes into writing a single sentence?
What do you continuously have to do to maintain what you have?
How much of searching is required to facilitate a desired outcome?
What is a fair cost/investment to burn for one goal?
In the “before times” I arrived in Singapore with the gumption to learn, make, do, eat, and gain everything. New city equated to new possible futures and I was excited, everyday. Each 24 hour bracket was enveloped with a craving for limitless consumption. New cafes, new people, new workshops, more cafes, more people, more workshops. “New” quickly and subconsciously became “more” until I had little grasp over my own agenda. My living was bent towards the schedule of every establishment’s opening hours and everyone’s else’s availability.
One night in 2019, after a Lee Strasberg Method Acting workshop, my facilitator and friend said to me, “it feels like you are doing everything in service of something and not actually doing the thing”.
I spent the next two years wondering if I was conducting the grandest act of procrastination.
In trying to excavate what my end goal truly was, I took a magnifying glass to my choices. Each opportunity shaped excursion was scrutinised. Every emotional expense was evaluated. Cost-benefit analyses on commodities and individuals were executed. This helped me trim the unnecessary and realign my priorities, but there was still plenty left to do. In the end, I discovered that there was also no end goal in sight.
There is a scene in ‘The Incredibles’ where Edna Mode demonstrates her handiwork on the super suits. She starts with the baby’s suit to Helen’s shock and horror. Helen questions Edna on why did she think it was necessary to create a bulletproof, 100 degrees heat resistant, roomy, comfy for sensitive skin and machine washable
super suit for an infant.
“What on earth do you think the baby will be doing?” Helen asks.
”Well, I’m sure I don’t know, darling. Luck favours the prepared. I didn’t know the baby’s powers so I covered the basics.” Edna nonchalantly replies.
Helen tells her that the baby does not have any powers but this does not shake Edna’s resolve. Edna replies, “…eh he’ll look fabulous anyway.” and moves on.
I do not think we’re designed to be lucky. I think we’re made for doing everything we can to be in the right place at the right time, when luck arrives. This act of “doing everything” is definitely on an adjustable metric, depending on our individual capacities. But, I have come to realize that the nature of “doing everything” work is predominantly maintenance work.
It is mostly basic and mundane, but also subconsciously and immensely necessary. Like how you need to wash the pile of dishes in the sink before you embark on a new recipe. Like how you must pay the necessary fare to commute to a gig. Like sweeping floors, wiping surfaces, recycling tuna cans, packing an umbrella, waving Hello to the security guard, reading randomly, writing specifically, repeating the same beginner movements to service an opportunity that has yet to arrive.
Perhaps, the trick is not to be in waiting but to be ready, for an uncertain future, with no single end goal in sight. Perhaps, we need to be comfortable with not knowing, but doing it anyway.
If nothing arrives, at least we’ll look fabulous.
May someone else’s playlist have your favourite song,
This incredible piece by The New York Times on the mad history of Haiti’s “emancipation from slavery” by having to pay reparations to their enslaver.
‘There’s an illusion with work that everything you give up now, all the stolen time commuting, working overtime, checking your email and Slack notifications after hours, will somehow earn you freedom and capital in your later years. But the farce of “work hard now, play later” has been exposed for millennials and Gen-Zers; most of us will be working until we die. It’s hard to maintain your ambition in the face of that reality.’ - excerpt from Losing My Ambition by Amil Niazi
My father said
“She is my only daughter. So, she is my favourite. No choice.”