The best part about being back in Singapore is to be living the dream of being in a place I can call “home” – an idea I increasingly appreciate with every new article released about the displacement of refugees from where they once called “home”. To know how to get from place to place easily, how to communicate your intentions with the locals clearly and to feel safe (safe enough to have dreams about the future); boy, are we fortunate. This month, as part of my hopes of leading an intentions-based 2016, the intentions of the month have included:
1 Learning to juggle new priorities in the new normal (ie family / exercise / driving lessons / internship / freelance work)
2 Making time for the NS fresh recruits in the exciting new phase of their lives
3 Self care: Dates with those in the Raffles Program who make a large part of my support network and dates with myself
I have as much praise for the people I’ve met up with this month as I do for this place I call home this January. This one is for the former – I call them my “Dutch Uncles”. Last year, at National Youth Council’s #YouthSpeakSG conversation held at SCAPE, I had the privilege of listening to Singapore’s first and only funeral celebrant speak. I vividly remember her blunt, but on point, words of wisdom to today – “People will say things to you, as if they are serving dishes to you on the table. You shouldn’t eat everything! Listen, think, then decide – if it’s good, you eat; if it’s shit, throw away.” The crowd laughed. Soon, it became my rule of thumb. Why would we take the unconstructive, dampening criticism guised as “feedback” as if we had no choice? There is always a choice.
This month, I find myself surrounded with the intelligent, kind people I have had the luxury of finding and keeping after my precious 6 years in the Raffles Program. They are the ones who tell me bad things about myself amidst the good things, pointing out my flaws and nagging at my bad habits (or memory). Even then, the good intentions remain – to make me better and to love me all the same. They are those I’d like to call my “Dutch Uncles”. In his book titled The Last Lecture, Professor Randy Pausch uses this term to describe “a person giving firm but benevolent advice”. For the long time friends or those whom I’ve recently met, I hope to keep them for long because they are exactly people capable of such valuable input. From the bottom of my heart – thank you, Dutch Uncles.
Here’s to keeping the people who are good for us: the ones who look into our eyes when we speak, thank us for our company and admire the zest with which we lead our lives. I guess in some ways, people are also like “dishes on the table, you shouldn’t eat everything… Listen, think, then decide” Let’s not be greedy though, take onto your plate only what you can manage. In the most recent Economist edition I’ve finished, Dr. Dunbar’s research is quoted. As a psychologist at Oxford University, he is responsible for Dunbar’s number, a rough measure of the number of stable relationships that individuals can maintain. According to which, it turns out we normally have a support clique (those you rely on in times of crisis) of about 5 and a sympathy group (those you would call close friends) of about 15.
This month, I am thankful for the Dutch Uncles in my life and I remind myself of the need to love and let go.