Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life in green

If I've said this before, I'm sorry, but this is really what I feel. I like going to reservist. Some say it's a waste of time, others lament the amount of work waiting for them when they return back to their office. For me, it's precisely because in the army, I do not have to be responsible for my time that I find it so refreshing. How does that make sense? I'm usually a very time conscious person who fills my time to the brim with not much not much wastage. Time is accountable to me, because I have precious little to waste it. I know my exact per hour rate (due to the nature of my work), hence I always end up with a tinge of guilt whenever I'm not working as hard as I could be.

That's very stressful, isn't it? Pushing yourself to limits all the time. That's why I go for my batam trips. There's essentially nothing to do but to sleep, watch tv and read books. It's a leisurely pace in life that I so crave for. Because my usual life is so full of responsibilities and discipline, I find that reservist is a very refreshing and a desperately needed change in pace. When someone orders me to do this, I'll just do it. There's no thinking involved in my part because it is supposed to be done by those superior in rank to me. In fact, I'll do it very happily because there's a bunch of good ol' army buddies whom I've known since I was 18, 19 years old, all doing it together with me. It's a mix of nostalgia combined with a heady mix of brotherhood that I find comforting. We can all bitch about our life (or army life) and perhaps the most serious decision of the day is whether the lunch is good or bad. Reservist not only gives me a chance to rest my body but more importantly, it gives me an opportunity to rest mentally and to reflect and indulge in some soul searching.

I always come out feeling more ready to go and more refreshed than any holidays after reservist. Maybe during holidays, I still have to be with my spouse. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't enjoy her company, but separation makes the heart grow fonder. I think a healthy separation from the company of each other can do wonders for our relationship. During my reservist term, she'll be going out and spending time with her friends, or even herself. I think it's the 'me' time that is important. With so many distractions in the civilian world, it's hardly justifiable to have 'me' time anymore. I'll end up spending time with myself in the night when everyone else is asleep. This keeps pushing my sleep time later and later and making me more tired and tired until the whole sleep cycle is restarted with a bout of reservist in every year. This is important to me.

In my experience, this picture shows two extremes reaction. One of utmost disgust, another of thoughtful reminiscence

No doubt I'll be earning less in my reservist period compared to working, I think it's still very worth it. It's compulsory anyway, so I don't really have a choice, which is good. Sometimes I think having little choice is better than a lot of choices, because the former makes you think really hard about each choice available to you, rather than making snap decisions and move on to the next one with the latter. In army, this lack of choice is even more stark, because you're simply ordered to do things. I know how this sounds - it's a pitiful attempt at justifying mental laziness and rejecting any semblance of responsibilities to one's own life. But hear me out, a life where one has to make decisions on your own is a very tiring life (satisfying no doubt but still tiring). I feel no shame in wanting a period of time where I do not have to be responsible at all. Those who are happily employed might not be able to understand what I'm saying here, because you've no idea how much initiative I've to take just to have the same pay back every year.

But I digress...I'm not bitching about my work life here and enjoying the much needed break during my reservist term. I'll be gone for a month (since last Fri) and there might not be any new posts. You certainly won't see me in the cbox. This is a delayed post made on a fine Sunday afternoon, and by the time you read this, I'm already well inside my army camp, possibly doing some mindless task or bitching about the sluggish pace of life while wearing green without really meaning it.


Derek said...

Hi LP,

I am with you. I enjoyed my reservist. Away from the hustle and bustle and all the distractions of city life. I will always make use of this opportunity to reflect upon life. Its also the only time of the year where I can get enough sleep.

Sure some aspects are challenging like the cheong sua part but the people make it all worth while.

Bonding is important. Just like in a workplace, if u can gel with your colleagues, u won't be dragging your feet to work or in this case reservist.

My unit has stand down and I only have one more high key to go. Reservist and my NSF experience will always be fondly cherished.


Cheng said...

No wonder seldom see you in cbox this week. We miss you hahaha.

Singapore Man Of Leisure said...

My reservist days ended when I hit 36.

It's a time where I can "escape" from work and "zone-out". It's because I am just a lance-corporal; just follow commands will do; no need to think :)

Ha ha! Enjoy your reservist!

Anonymous said...


I think reservist is a break from our day-to-day routines. It takes us out of our existing context of being a father/husband/son/brother/employee/boss and plonks us into one of military hierachy, inefficiencies and bottle-necks and the occasional risky business of charging around with rifles and bayonets or in vehicles.

For me, they were generally busy times because I was a line sgt in my platoon so had to help organise things and deploy the men to get things done. I liked the camaraderie and over time bonded with my platoon as we were not mono-intake (signallers tend to be vocationalists that come from every conceivable unit - including Navy!)

But there are downsides. In my unit, 1 reservist collapsed and died during IPPT. As I was in People's Defence Force, soldiers serving there are at risk to lighting strikes as we do a lot of training (digging defensive positions) in reclaimed land where there are few trees and you become a lightning rod during bad weather.

I also dislike the wayang nature of some of the senior officers who treated the men without respect even after many years of working together. Some of these officers act big during reservist but outside are fairly low ranking staff in their organisations.

The key thing is to be safe. If you are in combat vocation, training accident risks are very real with vehicles, ammunition (live-firing) and lightning. Also not to mention heat exhaustion etc.

So take good care of yourself!