=733= Word: Advice

Two years ago, before I enlisted, many people have given me advice for army. Certain advice includes:

  • Don’t be first, don’t be last, be the second person to do things.
  • Don’t burst out in anger, tolerate getting scolded for ridiculous reasons, express it later.
  • Aim to go command school.
  • Don’t get affected by bad influence.

Now that I am almost over with my service, I am thinking about what advice would I give a pre-enlistee.

I would give:

Learn how to protect yourself. This is something that I had to learn when I got to my unit. In everyday work, it is vastly different from training school. It doesn’t mean training is irrelevant. It just means that in every work, there are certain welfare set in place to make your job easier. As a result, what was done is different. However, one should learn what is the standard. Know the benchmark and know what is right. Be smart when you rest, be smart when you adjust and never compromise on the basic requirements of your job. If you can’t even do your job and show a minimum standard, there is definitely a reason to scold you.

Work on your fitness. I think that if you want to be a commander, you should work on it even before enlistment. When you are unfit, it really shows. Even if you have a good attitude and charisma, the fitness is still an issue that affects quite a bit. Even though your mental resilience is not your physical resilience, but people in the army see the physical side as an extension of the mental. Besides if you are fit, it is good for your health.

Don’t put people down. There are quite a few times when I see people desiring a rank or a promotion and the way they do it, the way to make themselves look good, is to put other people down. Let me say something, everyone knows what you are doing. Everyone knows that you are trying to wayang. It is really obvious when they do certain things that they never do. It is really obvious when the stuff they say is really weird. When you are trying to do this, even a nice thing can be weird. So yeah.

Don’t brag. Well, light showing off is fine, but not an announcement to say how much you have done. No one likes a showoff. People can see effort for themselves. It is also very strange when people say what they do for other people. Learn to be secure man.

Think before saying anything. Especially to your superiors. There are implications to whatever you say. Do not bring personal vendettas to meetings. Please think about the platoon collectively.

Correct when necessary. I struggle with this so much, but it is indeed necessary. There will be times when people, perhaps even your batch mates, does sloppy things. I think it is good to correct them. Perhaps correct once or twice in love. Teach them how to be more sensible.

Accept things that are not fair. To be honest, there are so many times when people get more welfare than me, more offs etc etc. There is a need to realise that just because it isn’t fair, doesn’t mean that you have to complain about it. Thinking about the platoon as a whole helps a lot.

You may not be the best, but work hard. I am definitely not the best person for shooting or any combat stuff in general. In fact, I was so bad at it in BMT. Actually, just anything physical. I started army without being able to do a pushup properly. However, I am now at least decent at it. Work hard, if you cannot do a proper tire flip, learn how and always try. If you cannot shoot properly, try again next time. Don’t give up just because you are bad at it.

Be patient. It is indeed hard to work in a place where rank matters so much. Even if the motivation to do things is for good, be patient. Indeed, I received a lot of broken promises, but I must say that, there are many things that changed in my time in army. Be patient, a platoon culture, an SOP, etc etc won’t change overnight, be patient.

If you are Christian, I would give some other advice too.

Be a servant. Indeed, the first will be last and the last will be first. Be a servant and serve other people and in time, you will lead them. Show kindness in everything you do. Why can’t we serve people in army too? Why follow others just because they are lazy? The character really shows when you do your best in an environment where no one does.

Simplify your QT. I think in army, your time isn’t your own, so I think there is a need to treasure it. By simplifying your QT, you will be more consistent with your quiet time and it is better for your walk.

Do your best. I was unable to participate in the parade and hence I was tasked to be in charge of the water point. At first, I was really sloppy about it. Not caring much about the water. After a while, I simply decided to do my best. I refilled the ice without being asked to and the cambros had cold water throughout the rehearsals. I think that it is a good thing to do your best. You will be on a better side with the commanders and people trust you more. Seriously, don’t think that what you do in army won’t affect you in the future.

So yeah, I am really happy today. It is a nice one week. The end never looked so near. AHAHA!


=732= Word: Blessing

I always wondered about Jacob and Esau’s blessings. Isaac blessed Jacob what he meant to bless Esau and when Esau came in, why didn’t Isaac just bless Esau with the same words that he blessed Jacob with?

I was writing cards to my platoon and I realised that I don’t write the same things to everyone. I don’t just go, “Thanks for the time spent, will miss you, bye bye!”

I have a personally crafted message for each person. Each person has journeyed with me for my time in army and I have seen certain things and so I offer different blessings to people. For a person that spends too much money, I hope that he will be more wise with his money. For a person that is going to work, I hope that he does well in his job.

In that sense, it doesn’t make sense if I gave the same blessing to everyone. Not everyone needs to be more wise with money, not everyone will start work, so why should everyone get the same blessing?

Giving the same blessing kinda questions credibility in the person too. For example, you recommend one person for a job to your friend. You tell your friend that this person is the best person for the job, he can do the job better than everyone else you know. How would it look like if after recommending that person, you recommend another person, claiming that he is the best person for the job too? It just shows that you are not a reliable judge and you exaggerated things.

Let’s bring the analogy further, what if you accidentally recommended the wrong person, let’s say they both guys had the same name and the person you were referring to is the wrong guy. Imagine if your friend had already hired the guy and you realised that it was the wrong person. You will have to explain to him that you recommend the wrong person, but the fact of the matter is that the person is already hired. The right person would have to find a different job, unless the employer decides otherwise.

I also have been thinking about what exactly are blessings and curses. It certainly isn’t just buying something for someone. Cursing isn’t just, may this happen to you. I wonder does complimenting someone also equate under blessing? I wonder does saying mean words to people equate to a curse?

A curse isn’t conditional as we can see how Jesus cursed the tree. It wasn’t a “if you do not grow fruit, die!” It was a “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”

Cursing and blessing are somewhat similar. I think both requires declaration. May you grow and lead. May you never have to worry about what you eat. May you never bear fruit again!

What we declare in God’s name is very powerful. May we have the wisdom to bless or curse accordingly.


=731= Word: On Drumming and Practice

Just last week, my two drum books came! Syncopation by Ted Reed and Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone.

As a result, I have been practicing for 3 hours the past few days. It is tiring, but really rewarding. Stick Control is a mind bending book. It is such a rigor to practice each exercise 20 times. Not to mention that plenty of the exercises are REALLY challenging. It really takes a lot out of me to read each sticking note for note. Syncopation is starting to get tough as well.

I always admire people that have the discipline to practice their instrument for hours. For me, over the years, my practice time has been at an average of 1 and a half hours. This isn’t everyday, because life gets really busy and it isn’t everyday that you get time on a drum set. To be honest, I often meet a brick wall on practice too. I often just put on a click and just work on time keeping. (Meaning, I just play whatever I want for that tempo)

With a book, it kept me structured. 1 page everyday. Whether I like it or not. I think practicing with my book it is different from grade exams too. With grade exam books, you simply practice the solos you want to perform, practice rudiments, practice sight reading etc etc. For so many months too. I think as it is a test. The approach to it is also very much like preparing for a test. You simply mug and mug and mug until you can get by the exam.

With my book now, I simply play a page a day and leave it be. I think it is a better system for me. I feel like I need a sense of progress. I can’t feel like I am stuck on something for too long. I get bored too easily.

I think it is better to just play the stuff and let muscle memory take over. It is funny, a lot of my feet technique is due to playing songs for so long. I sometimes catch my feet doing the slide technique without me thinking about it. Talking about my feet, I think I should practice my feet a whole lot more, totally unrelated, but yeah, I need to.

A wise drummer said that if you sound good when you practice, you are not practicing hard enough.

There is a lot to be done for technique. The sheer rigor of practicing the boring stuff is exactly what is needed to be a good drummer. I don’t need fancy chops, what I need is the ability to keep time and regulate dynamics. I will continue to work on that. Though I must say, chops do sound fantastic and it is great when I can pull one out of the bag.

I have been thinking about drum solos too. It really isn’t easy to improvise a drum solo. Other instruments normally take the song and play around with the chords, play around with harmony etc. They kinda have a template. The only template drummers have is the tempo. We can literally pull anything out. When there is so much choice, it is really hard.

My instrument isn’t a melodic instrument. I once watched a video amd Ari Hoenig said that if you cannot make music on your own, you can’t make it with people.

It is such a bummer because my instrument is such a supporting instrument. We seldom play by ourselves. How do I make music on my own? In melody when we repeat certain phrases, it becomes musical. My instrument is build upon repetition. It is so hard to write a drum solo that isn’t boring, much less improvise one on the spot.

I really hope my vocabulary improves and my ability to do a drum solo would improve too! Haha! I am still very much a song and band drummer.

Father, thank you for making me the musician I am.