a community of singaporeans

The thoughts of an NSman to a friend

Posted by theonlinecitizen on November 12, 2007

By Eddie Choo

There is the dreary boredom that saps the life out of us, the hours merely standing and waiting for things to happen, where the only thing that keeps us sane is that far-off hope that everything is going to be over soon – that being a lie we have to convince ourselves of in order to keep going.

All that I’ve experienced can’t be put neatly into words, words simply fail to describe the fullness of our NS experience. These are the endless days in bunk, training under the hot sun, full of perspiration – there are the endless nights digging holes in the ground, filling up sandbags, walking with our gear, under the moonlight, the stars, or the clouds. There is still so much to write about. So many words to say that can’t be spoken.

But all of these, all of these will end, and then finally, the joyous daybreak of freedom from the endless nights of oppression.

And after that, onward to my dreams. Everytime I think about this, I feel a lot happier. I’m still wondering if I should be a chemist or a writer , or perhaps I should do both. But on another level, I’m thinking about life-work, the stuff you do that defines your life, who you are, more than anything else. Do you think of this?

We all know the truth, that Singapore is really too small for our dreams.

But even that is peripheral to the goal we have to simply make life better for the people around us, our community, and even beyond, to the world.

Maybe I’m too stuck on all these, but I can’t think of another way to live my life.

Then there are those who live each day getting by on what they have. Our friends who strive to make a career, climbing the ladder of success, who participate in this endless rat race striving for fame, wealth and a comfortable life. Well, if they are smart enough, if they are talented enough, if they are hardworking enough, they’ll get to where they want to be.

But I do hope you understand why I’m telling you all these – the rat race is for them, not for you. Their means – this rat race that consumes their soul, if for their end. And what is their end? That’s the thing, they have no real ends. I hope eventually you’ll find an end worth your life, and join not their race, but your own.

I guess these sort of things might be too young for us who are just only starting our lives to understand, but I hope its not too late for you to sidestep this trap that so many others have fallen into.

Eddie wrote this as an afterthought to a friend.



8 Responses to “The thoughts of an NSman to a friend”

  1. Robert HO said

    1. You are young, Eddie, and at the risk of sounding patronising, may I venture that you can and probably will discover a whole new universe of values, experiences and actionable things to do that are worthwhile.

    2. When you keep positive mentally, even hate can be a liberating emotion that can drive you to great mental and intellectual heights. I speak from heartfelt experience. Can’t say more in this little Comment section but do visit my blog to see what I mean. Welcome to:

  2. Laremy said

    Hi, there is a typo in the title.

    It should be “NSman”, not “NSmen”.

  3. Charles said

    Sigh. i love your optimism. i dreaded the ns too. i thought it would get better after that, however university sucks too. or maybe it’s my pessimism and attitude to life.

    all the best to you eddie! hope u ord soon and get started in your race!

  4. Injenue said

    very nice writing. practically verbalised my feelings. the first para especially.

  5. I don’t see the link between the NS part and the rat race..Why is the rat race not for the “you” mentioned in the article? I don’t understand.

  6. ganchau said

    Hence, the importance of being an all rounded Singaporean! I do not find Singapore small for my dreams. In fact I prefer to live in a compact city where I can zoom around with ease. Then I can also venture into the world to explore and discover when I am not working.

    Anyway, I have shared my thoughts in my blog on “How to be an all rounded Singaporean…” Hope this old aunty has shed some light from her experiences…. 🙂

  7. Michael said


    Success is not what you think it is. This is sort of profound and really too much to say in this space. I’ll also make a gentle point: It’s infinitely easier to make the best of something you are stuck with than to make a decision for yourself and be satisfied with it. So- against your intuition, act, and I hope you find what you need. A wise man once said “do search, but other than to find what is searched for.” He also said “attempt what is not certain,” “tolerate chaos,” and “mistakes cannot be erased, but they move you from your present position.” I’d be most happy to talk with you.

    All the best,

  8. eddie said

    This was written for a friend, about the purposes of life other than the rat race in Singapore. It was about the lives that we will live after NS. Its about finding the meaning and purpose of our lives once NS is over. The ‘you’ was originally meant for a friend, here in TOC it can refer to the reader if you feel so.

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