sequence of a life

The sequence of a life ...

Max Weber, with whom I serendipitously share a birthday, gave us from his death-bed

Das Wahre ist die Wahrheit

Most have but only one chance to accomplish what they need to - we unlucky few have countless lives to re-count and re-collect; to return and tend to incomplete tasks, follow the course that we have been set upon.

All that stuff that you've read in the preceding pages have all been either snapshots of different, truncated parts of me, or logical examplars of my complex. But what of the sequence of my life? A resume, if you will. There is a passage in Victor Frankl's Holocaust memoir Man's search for meaning:

The experiences of camp life show that a man does have a choice of action [...] can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind. [...] We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. [...] They offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way

Pause: To linger; tarry. [From Middle English, pause, from Old French, from Latin pausa, from Greek pausis, from pauein, to stop.]

Stocktaking can be a futile exercise, involving a cut-off mark, a static snapshot of what is essentially fluid.

... in 17 sentences:

0. God created the Universe (or The Big Bang, depending on your theistic tendencies)

1. Two millennia after Jesus's birth and resurrection, the attraction of opposites culminates in a marriage of inconvenience.

2. Armstrong walks the moon; born third of 4, born too soon for sure.

3. Oma and Opa (together with countless uncles and aunts) make for a great childhood.

4. Seventies, Scandal and Sin: sojourned to entreport Singapore. Modest beginnings: new language, new friends, new culture.

5. Twelve years (and undetected dyslexia) within the Singapore Education System fail to instill the correct societal values within the youth.

6. Westward Ho! Leaving home at 17 is no trifle footnote when this is 10,846 km and several time zones away. Looking back, I never returned. My Mom's hope was for me to find a "Male role model" ... in the confines of a Catholic Boarding School. It was fun! Music to smoke joints to: "Dark side of the moon".

7. A 2-year battle against stereo-typical image of academically proficient Asian student ensures; successfully fail all exams (apart from Politics). Music to be uncool to: Bryan Adams.

8. Pause: The year in Oxford changed my life. Living with a family who struggled to make ends meet, despite the worst efforts of their drunk father, was an epiphany. Adi L. + Jon P. taught about social justice, truthfulness, Marx with unforgettable passion and led me beyond the narrow horizons I knew.

9. My first memory of Warwick was of the first Saturday, lost amidst the library's books, with a mumbled, awe-filled: "So many books!" Three terrific terms, thrice: twists, turns, trysts, theoria, tobacco, telos.

10. A year lost in Essex. I have no recollection of books and learning, lost touch with the friends I shouldn't have. It is as if a large eraser was used by the Almighty One.

11. Pause: A nomadic year in Moscow. Love and work at the vortex of World Capitalism. Ice-skates, winter walks and cuddles, cold baths, mafia, corruption, love and Julia.

12. Back home in Warwick and this time, it's personal: why is a good degree considered an achievement at all? I'm proud of only 2 things in my life, and this period is one of them. Gillian died of ovarian cancer. One of Life's misdeeds.

13. A lost year due to the mistaken belief that love is best served unconditionally: that is the beginning of abuse. Music to break-up to: Radiohead. I take little pleasure in reporting that her life, through no contribution on my part, is a total shambles, complete with drugs, depression and bankruptcy.

14. Four years in Berlin spanning the millennium divide. Not many have the opportunity to manage a hundred million dollar company before turning 30. This is the other bit of my life I take great satisfaction in.

15. Pause: The longest and quietest of pauses. One of life's mischievous little turns catches me by surprise. If nothing else, one learns the hard way that losing one's religion - be it in the form of values, culture or life-style - is the hardest obstacle to overcome.

16. Small steps to independence and growth lead to the opening of an entire continent to conquer. Life is full of surprises! What's next?