Thursday, January 05, 2006

becoming predictable

As time progresses I realized that life has become more predictable. Take for instance my car. I started driving my Volkswagen many years ago, collecting many interesting stories in the process, failed brakes, things falling off, that kinda thing, and now I drive a Toyota, quiet, reliable, and well, boring.

I drove the Volks again today, this time to a further distance than usual. It reminded me of my past where I would go everywhere with this car. But today somehow I hesitated; what if it breaks down in the middle of KL? What if I can't start it up again? Questions that plagued me now as they did before, but just that when I was in college I could afford the element of surprise because frankly I didn't really need to get anywhere on time. Any breakdowns were a viable excuse to just skip classes altogether. But I think after a while you lose what I'd call faith. We have no faith in people (everyone's out to get you), we have no faith in authority (they just want our money), we have no faith in the government (they just want our money), or even wonderful new acquaintances (they're out to get you, and then your money).

In fact I got so paranoid that I left the engine running as I ran outside to the photo shop. I had the keys to the doors of course which I cleverly detached from the other keys so I can lock the doors while leaving the engine running. Yes, leaving the keys in the car doesn't sound like the cleverest thing to do. But then it was closed (the photo shop), so I headed to their main branch, which was near the US Embassy. I didn't want to leave the engine running there or it'd seem suspicious, so I turned it off. I read in the papers that after the bomb scare they noticed a guy armed with a camera. It just struck me as funny that someone can be armed with a camera like it was a sort of weapon. Cameras are not weapons. And in KL they're called Tourists. Or art school students. Go ahead and arrest them, see what happens.

Well the car started again after that. I must subconsciously be addicted to the adrenaline rush of the possibility of the car not starting, because as anyone can tell you, it isn't easy trying to convince someone to lend you their car battery.

On the way back I saw a couple of traffic policemen on their bikes. In one swift motion I unhooked the safety belts and kinda threw it across the side. Yes I don't use the safety belts in the Volks coz if I remembered correctly I didn't need to for a car this old. Safety belts didn't even come with the car it was just sort of bolted there years ago as an ornament of some sort. Anyway to prevent any kinda confrontation I did that out of instinct. It was then that I remembered a bit of my childhood.

When I was younger my aunt, bless her heart she's not with us anymore, used to pick me up from school in her old Honda. One day I asked her how come she puts the safety belt across but wouldn't secure it to the anchor. She laughed and said that there was no need. I could never understand that concept of it at that time, because, and I told her, that it doesn't really do anything because if we crash then the belt won't really do anything at all. (Yes I was an analytical child, would've done well in Physics if I could stay awake in class). The thing is years later I'm doing the same thing, for the same reasons. To avoid confrontation. Adults have a tendency to let people see what they want to see. We do that a lot more than we think, conforming to standards, in areas of fashion, or personality, or interests. We have a couple of offbeat ones who go overboard in their own non-conformist society, whom we like to label as punks, freaks, goths. I call them kids.

The real question is, are we able to maintain our identity without arousing confrontation? Can we be unique, special and interesting without being categorized? Some optimists would tell us that we are all special, but none of us are really doing anything that would support that. Perhaps that's why we feel that sometimes life just seems like a big old iteration that we keep going through, and wonder what our real purpose is.