The dinner was a great chance to be acquainted with interesting entrepreneurs and partake in some engaging conversations. One conversation which really struck a chord arose from Yongfook sharing the reasoning process he was going through to consider Singapore as his next place of residence. A point was made that it was particularly interesting that foreigners were choosing Singapore as a place to stay while Singaporeans were desiring to leave the country.
I too have a particular yearning to leave Singapore to stay and work overseas.
The question is why?
I love Singapore and I know that I will always call this place my home. If I leave, I know I will return. My desire to leave the country has nothing to do with ill feelings about the country or the government or even the PAP. So why do I have this yearning that expands each day I remain on this little red dot till a void that is so expanse that even Moses could not cross forms within my soul. Why do some other Singaporeans feel the same thirst to travel, the same hunger to leave.
During the conversation, I offered an explanation – Singapore was too small. You must be thinking, “No shit Sherlock”. The size is only the cause. The effect of that size is that it allows few of us to change, it prevents us from escaping our friends.
Our friends. People who love us. People who have an idea of our identity. An identity that sometimes they hold onto more strongly than we do ourselves.
“I didn’t know you were into cooking.”
“You sure don’t look like the sort who will paint.”
“You sure you can go to the gym consistently. Think you will just stop like before.”
“Dancing? hahahah… You? hahahhaah…”
For inexplicable reasons, our friends trap us in a box. In a prison where they will shoot us down as we make for the fences that constrains us within a given identity. They have a painting of our identity and it isn’t cubist.
Singaporeans need to leave Singapore to grow. Away from the eyes of well-intentioned and kaypoh friends, we have a chance to change.
Like the ugly caterpillar that needs to crawl away and hide inside a cocoon, we need to leave Singapore, so that we can undergo the process of metamorphosis, to change into a butterfly.
Or as Bill would say, or at least I think that’s what he said, we need to go on our own heroic journey, our own personal odyssey. Here is a thought to our worrying government – Odysseus did not begin his journey with the fall of Troy. He began his journey when he left Ithaca – he left home and returned home.
For most of us, a wandering we must.