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i can't wait for you to paint me

it's amazing what three days at a camp with fellow army scholars can do to one's perception of life now, and life to come.

i've never met so many like minded and dedicated officers congregating together and interacting with each other. meeting the senior commanders and generals was one thing, but looking at my peers and those who wear the same rank as i do, it was extremely inspiring and humbling knowing that there are people out there who share the same passion and sentiments. and in the span of three days and two nights, we had endless conversations that surfaced issues that were always on our minds. a platform had developed between us to share issues that worried us on one hand, but at the same time, share our experiences. i've always thought that i was passionate about my job and about what i do, but then i meet these other people who are equally, if not more passionate about their jobs too. there was an infantry officer who has a strong personal belief in sending our troops to hot zones in iraq and afghanistan, even if it meant fighting a war that wasn't ours. and the basis of such a stand is that with that combat experience, we as officers have a leverage when it comes to commanding and leading our men, that we know first hand what it means to be caught in the crossfire. meeting officers like him who believe so firmly in the importance of ground command and experience was indeed humbling. so yes, this variety of people i have met has made the whole experience so much more inspiring, knowing that there are like-minded people who share my passion and are inspired by the same things as i am. and despite being from different formations and different years, we are somehow bound by the same force that has pushed us to where we are now, a force that has fashioned our actions and thoughts.

we had a dialogue session with a retired general and he started off with saying that even till his retirement, his passion and love for the army has never ceased. the army like he stressed, is a profession and not a career. it is a profession of arms and passion is an integral component that needs to sustain the spirit of an officer in the armed forces. and often, you have skeptics who tell you that passion cannot feed you, that it does not put rice on the table. essentially, it's an imbued spirit that guides you towards this profession. it's a dedication and commitment not only towards nation building, but to the moulding of a character and spirit in the next generation. it's not very much unlike a teacher in that respect, but at the same time, there's this obligation to the defence of our country. at the end of the day, it's the passion that drives this sense of civic duty. the question now is to ask what is going to sustain this passion. and i guess having this network of friends who share a common vision and similar passion will make it easier to talk about it as the years go by, to motivate and remind yourself of how you started out. and that's what most regular officers forget or lose sight of along the way. either that, or they simply started off with the wrong mindset. the armed forces is the only national institution entrusted with the core responsibility of nation building and every participant of the organisation plays a part, it all depends on the level of commitment each person decides to put in to achieve the orgnaisational needs.

the army's wide spectrum of operations include operations other than war, humanitarian relief being one of them. we had the opportunity to engage the general who commanded and coordinated the whole military relief effort to banda aceh following the boxing day tsunami. listening to the one man who singlehandedly managed the three services in an unprecedented operation in singapore's history to help rebuild meulaboh, and it was amazing to say the least. you come to see that there is a myriad of possibilities this organisation has to offer beyond operations we have so often stereotyped it with. it is pretty reaffirming seeing what we are capable of, and the possibilities one can reach in this organisation.

so yes. my passion lies in this organisation now. but there were talks about what we're gonna do after the 4/6 years of our bond. alot depends on those years that follow our studies. and it's not a given that we will leave. undeniably, my interests lie further abroad and we're talking about international organisations like the UN, regional organisations like ASEAN, and humanitarian aid organisations. but like we were discussing over the last three days, the uncertainty pushes us to make contingency plans even as early as now. but that does not mean a lack in the commitment to my job because till the last day, i will put in all i that i have. staying on in the army after the 6 years is definitely a possibility. but at the same time, there are things i want to pursue eventually in life - to live life the way i want to, to try things that i did not dare to, to live life without the inhibitions that have locked me in.

and that's the impossibility you see with us, because of my commitment and the future that i'm bounded to. and if only you could see me for what i am now, and what we could achieve now. let the future come at us with all the fury it has because we'll never know what may come, and the strongest will believe and confront this force with steadfast hope and strength, not alone, but side by side. it always boils down to this doesn't it? because as much as my mind did not stray to you the last few days, retrospectively, seeing how i have grown makes me realise that i'll never have the uninhibited unhappiness we had before. and i'll never be able to find it because i am undeserving.

“i can't wait for you to paint me”