Break Away

Break Free

Don’t know how I got the idea that the best inspirations come to those who had a few drinks and great lyrics were composed by song writers in drunken stupor. Yet despite a pretty serious hangover from not refusing good wine, my genius is nowhere to be found.

When I was new to art and writing, I met a veteran who told me that an artist, writer or musician has to live a rich life to be successful. That’s totally conflicting I thought.

In general, artistic people can hardly make ends meet. That’s why most parents never wish for their children to pursue art. “You just end up being a struggling painter, a hungry poet or a too-proud-for-your-own-good musician playing for loose change” such were the scare statements.

So the old-timer explained the richness refers to experiences – of joys and heartbreaks, of hunger and pain, of anticipation, hopes, dreams, fears and every emotion you can think of.

Didn’t Graham Greene write in Third Man – In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Singapore has modelled itself after Switzerland – clean, efficient and incredibly successful economically. Nothing wrong with that. And we definitely don’t need warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed to prove a point.

So what’s the point?

For people my generation, we’re wired up to follow processes, procedures and policies. Things work. Don’t question or challenge. Everything is taken care of. You’re just a cog in the big turning wheel.

Wired up. That’s what we are. How can we live a rich life if we’re all wired up?

As a writer that I now claim to be, I still feel I’ve not broken away from the conditioned life here. It’s a cushy little world this is. So cushy that being wired up isn’t so bad after all.

Except the winds of change are blowing stronger every day. The long-standing mesh is trembling with excitement and throbbing with desires. The seduction of the unknown is far greater than the comfort of routine.

Is it time to break away? To be a better writer?

Joan Yap


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