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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

LIVING IN A PLASTIC WORLD

As I write I am on a flight from Singapore to Bangkok, musing over life in the former.   My musings started over dinner a couple of days ago with an old school friend who is now living in Singapore, Patrick Heywood.  Part of our discussion concerned what the Singaporean government spends its money on.

Patrick mentioned that they are not especially interested in researching things like alternative power sources, because quite frankly if people want to drive fossil fueled cars, the authorities will just continue to tax them out of existence because they don't really want a lot of cars on their roads.

No, they would rather fund research on how to grow food underground, because there isn't any space above ground to grow food, but their own food source would make them less dependent on other countries.  Never mind that we all know that veges weren't designed to grow underground, other than some fungi.  So if they find a way to do it you can be sure that they won't be the veges that Grandma used to cook.

I then found out that a large part of what is stored in Singapore is underground.  Huge holes and tunnels are dug in which markets, transport systems and whatever else are housed and stored.  The sand from the holes in the ground is then used to fill in tracts of sea and reclaim land.  And then huge skyscrapers are built on the reclaimed land so that more and more people can live and work high above the ground.  I was amazed earlier today to see several square kilometers of new land and buildings where previously there had only been sea when I first visited Singapore about 15 years ago.

Walking into a particular company's foyer I saw a beautiful half life-sized ornately painted elephant which had a porcelain look about it.  On closer examination I found it was made of plastic, which somehow disappointed me, but that kind of epitomized Singapore for me.  Other perhaps than the historical Singapore cricket club, dating back to the English colonial years, there is not much that feels particularly authentic about the place, and even the cricket club is out of place in a country created largely from Chinese and Malaysian migrants who probably had no interest in cricket before the Brits arrived.

Anyway, the point of my musings is that I can't help wondering how, in a country made up of plastic, skyscrapers, branded shops, iPhone 6's, expatriates, underground storage and land which has no right to be where it is, one remains authentic as an individual.

It is so easy to be seduced by technological, commercial and economic advancement that the potential for forgetting how to connect with Life, self and others is enormous.  Singapore is an extreme example, but most countries are advancing at a pace which requires people to keep up if they don't want to be left behind in the race for more money, bigger houses, flashier cars and smarter phones.

And by engaging in that race, we can easily streak past and forget about old-fashioned values like self- and mutual respect, connecting meaningfully with other human beings at a heart-to-heart rather than at a wallet-to-wallet level, acknowledging ourselves as precious beings in the Universe and simply being real rather than being people whom we believe others would like more so that they will do business with us.  My sense of it is that, when we live in a make-believe world we start living in a way which aligns with the make-believe, pretending that we are something that we are not.

I am often asked what it means to be authentic.  There is a school of thought that maintains that whatever you do is the real and authentic you.  For instance, if you behave brashly or in a self-opinionated way, that is the authentic you.  I personally don't buy that.  That sort of behaviour is often a dramatic way of trying to earn attention or respect, and it does just that when others give it energy and power.  However, whilst one is behaving that way, where is the space for the inherent traits and capacity which we all have: loving and capable of being loved, connecting at a truly heart level, sharing feelings and thoughts, fears and aspirations in a real and connecting manner?

The plastic world takes us away from the grass beneath our bare feet, sand between our toes, away from the non-GMO foods, from streams and mountains and bush, from wholesome conversations and loving relationships.

Which is not to say that you shouldn't engage with the plastic world, but just to suggest that you don't lose your true self in it whilst you engage.

2 comments:

  1. That part of you who knows and behaves in alignment with the truth.

    ReplyDelete

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