Sunday, 7 June 2009

Burnt Out

Recently two strangers called inertia and reluctance have come to visit and stay with me. Attempts to politely send these two strangers away have so far proven to be feeble and futile.

Patricia said I must have been burnt out. Oh yes, I am sure, as the breakaway to Taipei in April failed to refresh my mind and body for the challenges at work. While it was merely two months ago, the feelings and memory about it seem 10 times longer.

In fact, my mind and body have been hoisting signals every now and then for a year or so. The signals have become so frequent these days that I can't seem to push them aside any longer. It is particularly alarming when I can no longer concentrate and relax during my tai-chi sessions, if I can attend. My breath and movement should remain slow and steady but I'm always ahead of the others instead. Worse still, I'm going to miss the weekly sessions again this weekend for work.

Knowing that many others are struggling to make their ends meet, perhaps I shouldn't have complained. But I can't hypnotise myself either to accept something against my philosophy. What I can do is to convince myself to stay calm and endure until there is an opportunity for change.

As I wrote last May and September, I am now more sceptical about capitalism than ever. Long before the financial crunch erupted nine months ago, I have come to smell something wrong with the consumption-based model of economic growth. Despite the up-and-down cycles, little seems to have been done to avoid repeating mistakes and to make our lives better from the fundamentals.

Unfortunately what I have been doing so far is what I find increasingly hollow, shallow, pointless and even detrimental to the sensible mind. Working on something one finds suspicious, questionable and uncomfortable is perhaps one of the cruellest self-torture ever seen.

To a certain extent now I better understand why so many cultured and learned scholars in Song Dynasty (960-1227 AD) opted to retire early and study and teach in their hometowns. Education, either for oneself and the others, is actually one of the greatest, if the greatest, achievements of mankind. Education is such a powerful tool to nurture dignity and integrity. Paradoxically, education after Song Dynasty has inclined heavily towards utilitarianism, prone to exploitation by the rich and powerful. Sadly, the education system in Hong Kong only points to the strong legacy of utilitarianism, more than ever.

Perhaps it is time for a change.

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