Sunday, November 26, 2006

how much will you sacrifice to be superstar?

the past few week or so I sick lah, so never blog. actually last week, i was watching project superstar (ha, now you all know i watch such trashy shows on tv) and something happened on that show which set me thinking. one of the female contestents, Kewei, was disqualified from the competition despite making it into the top 12 female contestents. She was disqualified becuase she did not quit her current job, and as a result failed to accomodate the filming schedule of the TV programme. now this got me thinking because i find myself asking, "how come she never quit her job ah?"

when me was watching singapore idol earlier this year (yeah lah, yet another trashy show), i couldn't help but notice there was always a mantra spoken "as long as you believe in yourself, anything is possible". "keep working hard". "don't stop chasing your dream". And similar phrases of encouragement were espoused in earlier seasons of singapore idol and project superstar, i'm sure. now this got me thinking. why did kewei take part in the competition, if not to pursue a dream? and if that dream is worth pursuing, surely it is worth quitting your current job over? unless of course, you think its not a dream worth pursuing. meaning, either kewei thinks that the chances of her winning are so low that it is not worth losing her job over, or she thinks that even if she does win the competition, she does not want to lose her current job because of it.

based on her performance in the qualifying round, and blessed with her jamie-teo looks, myself and my peers thought she had quite a good chance at the competition. but of course, i know not what she was actually thinking. maybe she decided that she just didn't want to go through with the rest of the competition liao. maybe from the start she had no intention to be "superstar", but just wanted to put her own abilities to the test and see how far she could go. maybe lah. no one knows. but what i want to do, is draw attention to the tension between two conflicting values: "pursue your dreams" and "do the practical/pragmatic thing".

this blog is written by lily goh. lily goh was the deaf girl who took part in the first Singapore Idol (appeared in episode 1), and praised by the judges for her step of courage. since then, she recieve sporadic media coverage, often highlighting her never-say-die spirit, her determination to pursue her dreams despite the obstacles she faced. lily hopes to become a deaf-performer, a percussionist musician not unlike Evelyn Glennie, whom she has met twice. if u read her blog, you can see that she is still determined to pursue that dream, even if it means making sacrifices such as taking time to take music lessons, and thus having less time to earn income. yet, lily is but human. she clearly expresses her frustrations at the obstacles she faces, the family and friends who do not support her dream, of her slow progress towards her goal, of being rejected my music schools because of her deafness. Still, she does not give up. Perhaps she believes, as do many of us, that a life is not worth living when you give up what you care the most about, and if that happens then you end up having nothing to live for.

that however, is only half the story. you see ah, i am also a musician. in fact, i play the exact same instrument as lily goh and evelyn glennie. it is also my dream to become a professional percussionist (and teach in a university/conservatory). but i know that currently, i am eons away from achieving that dream, but still, i am closer than lily is to achieving that dream. i am already moderately proficient in the instrument, but lily goh is only a beginner. based on my musical opinion (which it must be noted that i am not a professional hor), lily's dream is very very difficult to achieve. even more so because she is in singapore. and even even more so, because she is deaf.

so how? what should i tell her, should i even tell her anything? i've been told by the leader of my musical group not to approach lily. doing so will offend her current instructor, and since the music community is small in singapore, politics need to be carefully played. so i cannot approach her. fine. which still doesn't answer the question: if i am given a chance to talk to her, what do i want to say to her?

the more conservative side of me might tell her "be responsible for your own life. if you are truly aware of how massive the task is before you, then perhaps it is in your best interests to stop chasing fairytales. not everyone can be singapore idol. not everyone can be evelyn glennie. you still have your mother to look out for, and your own livelihood and sustenance to be responsible about." the more liberal side of me might tell her "never give up on your dreams. you only live life once, and if you decide to give up on your dream, regret will forever lace your life." is there even a right or wrong answer?

i believe there probably is. the problem is, none of us know the "right answer". we can only give opinions. and our opinions are already very heavily influenced by whatever ideals of values we already believe in (conservatism or liberalism). perhaps i ought not to give advice, even if i am given the chance to. despite that i can probably help her more than her other friends can due to my unique position, the fact remains that i will have no idea if my own opinions are in close vincinity of what would be the "right" action for her to take. And since the rest of her life is at stake here, how could i make such a decision flippantly? i may as well just tiam tiam and not say anything.

the wrong actions, even if borne out of good intensions, would be just as damaging. but i think ah, we humans are too preoccupied with what's right and what's wrong. because i so afraid of helping her to make the wrong decision, then i would rather not have such a responsibility. i wash my hands clean lah. but yet i wonder lah, maybe its not so much about making the right or wrong decisions. maybe its about how hard we try to help ourselves, and help each other. i still very much want to help this girl, because i feel for her plight (and in some ways i share it), and because perhaps nobody else is in the same unique position i have to help her. does it matter if i eventually help her to make the "wrong decision"? perhaps life is not about decision making based on projected outcomes, but decision making based on what matters to one's heart, be it dreams or practicality.

that is why i believe, being superstar was never something which mattered in kewei's heart. and if so, good for her that she decided not to quit her job.

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