On a usual Tuesday morning I hopped into the car of my neighbor and friend Chang Yuen Wai to hunt a coordinate in Tuas. Wai and I have several things in common. We are both arty mums, we were living abroad for some time and living (for now) in the Treehouse condo in Singapore. But most notably we both spent time to think about the world and what makes people sometimes so miserable and how we can change that.
Last year Wai was writing a paper about mindfulness, which I was reading around the time when I was creating the artworks goddess of gratitude and Licht Liebe Leben. Whenever we ran into each other we are talking about awareness, mindfulness and resilience (besides the every day challenges of being a mum). That’s why I knew, I didn’t need much of explanation when I ask her out for hunting a coordinate to get a unbiased view of Singapore.
The coordinate was on a green patch between a warehouse company and a road, and a viaduct road above us. The buildings and streets in this area are gigantic, so that the 8ft containers next to the coordinate were looking like small Lego bricks. We circled 2 times around, surrounded by heavy trucks, not knowing where to stop the car. It felt like a goldfish swimming next to whales.
We found a parking bay nearby and walked on the well maintained pedestrian way to the coordinate. Wherever in Singapore you walk, even in the deepest brush of industrial area there are at least 4 kinds of trees planted, surrounded of some flowering weeds.
I gave Wai the sampling kit with bags, containers, torches and tweezers. She searched the area. That day it was loud, hot and steamy, but she didn’t mind. She was fully focused searching the spot. Than she pulled out a paper from the dirt.
It was an ad for tiny houses. I knew tiny houses from some documentaries about minimalists and dropouts, which are now living a hermit life somewhere with nothing else than a bag full of goods in the outback. The Wikipedia article about tiny houses points out that this movement is about to provide an affordable home and a simpler and ecological lifestyle.
Maybe a broad hint from the universe? At home – thinking of leaving everything behind and moving to a remote area in Australia – my first thought was: “how tempting”! But than I thought how sad it would be to not have neighbors like Wai around. No chit-chat over the fence, other kids to play or a shared drink on the pool side.
In the second year of the pandemic we are still retaining in our apartments, asked to minimize the contact to each other. There are no prospects for adventures anytime soon. Sometimes that can make us feel tiny, stifled, helpless and bored. According to the bestseller author Yuval Nova Harari, in the world we are living in today, the greatest weakness of us is the inability to deal with boredom. But only with boredom and if you allow space for boredom in your inner conversations you are able to explore yourself.
So maybe its fine to feel tiny and bored sometimes. We all feel like this, but just becoming a dropout and buy a tiny house is not a solution.
As artwork I would like to request from you, to walk through the dessert of boredom.