Explore more on the Ground

Explore more on the Ground

Dear Boys,

Sometimes, everyday chore can expose us to a better way of doing things, even when we have been doing the same thing everyday.

This happens to me when I was cycling to work. Yes, since your dad’s office is a scant 11km away, I will try to cycle to work, as much as practicable and the weather allows.

The Beauty of Google Maps

Of course, there is a plethora of mapping technologies on the web these days, we can plot till we foam in the mouth before we embark on our journey. While this level of planning is great, this is also why we have an entire generation of armchair critics. Knowledge you get from mapping helps you plan, knowing if your plan will work or not, depends on the people who have actually been there, and walked the ground.

Nothing beats putting your foot on the ground

In my context, put the pedal to the ground.

Looking at these 2 maps, they look discernably indifferent, with only a 30m between the 2, while on the ground, the experience is another story altogether. If you look between the 5km and 7km part between the 2 maps, lies the difference.

My default route is the 11.246km one, and while I have used it many many times, there is more complexities to overcome, not a big deal, but more.

There is 2 T-junctions (uncontrolled) I have to look out for, many bus stops with pedestrian traffic as Hougang Ave 3 is a major road with many bus plying this route. As this is the official park connector route, there are also more cyclists, like me, using it. Oh not to mention a petrol station along this road, which vehicles I have to be careful of.

My new route the 11.213km, however, is a unused gem. Defu Ave 1 is not as crowded, there are 2 T Junctions, one which has a traffic light. Less pedestrian traffic, since less bus ply this road. It has a clean gentle uphill (towards work) and the ride is generally more pleasant. the incline is reversed when I head home and it does help makes the ride faster, and I don’t have a petrol station to contend with.

It is even more defined when I am using the left side of the pavement, and not the right side, which will put you in the path of 6 T junctions, one of them is the main gate of SBST Hougang Bus depot, with buses turning in and out. Gnarly.

Not many people can tell you the difference in using these few choices and pick the best one out any given day.

Walk the walk, the talk the walk

You really need to walk the ground in whatever you do, this level of knowledge and detail beats any kind of hypothesis hands down. So while you boys go on to attain knowledge in your respective field, nothing beats hands-on, hard work. This level of experience cannot be attained the easy way.

No Augmented Reality, simulation, reading up, map plotting can get you there by actually walking, and for my case, pedaling. The Direct Feedback you get being there gives you the first hand knowledge which you can rely on, and others can count on, instead of just depending on Google map.

The Perspective of a Breakwater

The Perspective of a Breakwater

Dear Boys,

Life is always a about perspective. In any point in time you think life is a meaningless ‘Groundhog Day‘, you need to read this.

I like to go to Marina South Pier during lunch time as it is a nice place to go to, you’re close to the sea, and it is usually not very crowded. Far from the maddening crowd, as I would like to put it.

There is this long strip of concrete that is extended out into the sea. I know it is a kind of breakwater.┬áSo I didn’t think much of it, well a breakwater is a breakwater right?

It looks something like this up close.

So it is an innocent strip of concrete that is extended out to sea, as a layperson, I was just thinking how nice it would have been for an angler to go all the way out and fish!

The big picture

It was not until I moved into my company’s new office that I see the entire picture, from the 24th floor. What an epiphany!

The view of Marina Bay Cruise Centre

That long strip of breakwater was build in relation to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. You see when the Cruise Ships dock to the left of the Cruise Centre, the breakwater protects the Cruise ships from the waves, so that the ship can dock in calmer waters.

 This is is even more evident when we see it from Google Maps.


What has all this got to do with life?

The point is, very often in life we are thrown into some mundane things to do, and we don’t know the reason for doing it, remember this picture. We often do not see the big picture like how we do not see the use of this long strip on concrete.

There is always a purpose and the purpose will reveal itself a little down the road. You may not see it now, you will be able to see it later. So don’t take the things you do as meaningless. There is a purpose and meaning in everything.

We are on this Earth to do 2 things:

1- Find out these meaning

2- Give meaning to these task, events and situations.

And even when we are tasked to do something, that has no apparent meaning, we still need to devote our effort and time to it, and do it the best we can. What we do now may not bear fruit immediately, it often does not, but you still need to do it nevertheless.

Aikido is the same thing.

Boys, my journey in Aikido is the same. As Aikidokas, we can be doing the same technique again and again, with no apparent reason, or practical application. One thing in martial arts is the ability to bear faith and be disciplined. Thankfully I have a steadfast sensei who is able to guide me and provide that beacon, Harry sensei constantly points to the big picture, so that we can focus while we roll with the mundane task.

Right now, after so many years of training, I began to see how those little times I spent doing meaningless things comes to make sense.

It is very much like in the movie Karate Kid, the original as well the the later version, there is a ‘wax in, wax out’ moment in the movie that does not make sense, you are made to put down your jacket, and pick it up again, over and over again, with no apparent reason, until the reason appears very much later.

Take a look again

Look at the picture again, and you can see from a distance, the purpose and importance of the breakwater. And when you are there, all you see a long strip on concrete that extends out to sea. You will never get that perspective when we don’t see things from afar.

So be patient at time when you appear to be lost and don’t know what you’re doing. You will still have to do it first, and let the knowing comes to you, later, sometimes much later.