Sunday, January 02, 2005

Subset, Not Sample II.

More than one person who knows me in real life has suggested that I show more facets of myself on this blog. To tell a joke to show the humorous side of me. To post a positive article, to show the optimistic side of me. Or to post some "slice of life" articles in order to put a more human face on this blog. Or even some commentary on current affairs.

Sorry my dear readers but I have to selfishly disagree. Because you see...
I write primarily for myself.
And I wish to keep this blog topically focused on this life decision that I am currently working my way through. The logic being that if I cannot communicate my thoughts clearly to a third-party, then I have obviously have not thought through the matter. Especially since being in a culture makes it even harder to think / write about the culture. It is like a whale trying to describe the the ocean to a pelican.

Having said that, I have to selfishly acknowledge that all the comments received so far are a wonderful boost to my ego. Nevertheless I have to remind myself that they are not the primary reason why I write. I must be honest in scribing this record and resist the urge to pander and showboat for the audience (however small). For entertainment and general social commentary on current affairs, I am afraid my dear readers will have to go somewhere else.

Of course I am not sure if I will continue writing if there are no readers. But I suspect I will from my experiences in childhood writing short stories (long since lost) and recording events in my life, which will never be read.

Hence no tsunami updates, reports or commentary. No details on my SO being suddenly admitted to A&E and hospitalised. No reflections on 2004. No new year resolutions. Not unless these events have some relevance (perhaps tangential) on mentally working out my decision to stay or to go.

In the interests of clear documentation, there are some administrative clarifications for the more obscure references which have people confused. For the record.

"There are people who go, people who stay."

The quote comes not from a song, but from a novel by S.E. Hinton. The young adult novel Tex has one of the themes being change. The plot is of a young man discovering his place in life. The characters in the book are roughly divided into those who have found their place ("those who stay") and those seeking change ("those who go"). And the bad things that happen when those who should have stayed went, and vice-versa. Not a bad book for light entertainment.

The Stockdale Paradox

It is named after James Stockdale, the highest ranked US officer (Admiral) held as POW during the Vietnam war. The paradox is summarised in the form

Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.
Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Stockdale was imprisoned for eight years and tortured over twenty times from 1965 to 1973 in the "Hanoi Hilton" POW camp. He survived when many of his fellow prisoners did not. Stockdale recounts that it was the positive-thinking optimists who did not survive. In his own words: "This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

For those interested in more details, you can find them in Stockdale's book:
In Love and War: The Story of a Family's Ordeal and Sacrifice During the Vietnam Years by Jim Stockdale and Sybil Stockdale


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