When I went down to Singapore last week, I met the lovely people at Armour, and I met my Publishing Director and his wife who were really kind to me, brought me for a meal and ice cream, gave me books, taught me things about writing books and about life, lugged my books around for me, and sent me off at the train station.
He asked me if I was going to write another book. I shrugged and I said, there are too many good authors, too many good books. Isn’t it all too saturated? Why would I need to write? I would only write if I was convinced the world needed my book! Wouldn’t I be better off doing something more helpful like…like feeding the poor or meeting some practical need?
And of course, he immediately pointed out that I didn’t have the money. But now, I see that that wasn’t really my question. My unanswered question was, how important are artistes, really, compared to doctors, teachers, engineers? Would I really make a difference if I were an author, a performer, a dancer, an artist? I needed to know, I needed to believe it would; that the world, or at least some people in the world really need me to do what I do.
Maybe I’ve been wrong all along to think that the world doesn’t need entertainment. I’ve been too practical to the point of losing common sense. More than entertainment the world needs beauty. Why do I forget that I can’t survive a week without some form of creative stimulation, some connection that makes me laugh or cry?
Like baybee Joanna, growing from a crying ball into the little girl she is today, learning how to pick the shoes she wants to wear, knowing how to place her tiny hand on my shoulder and balance herself while I slip her feet inside her shoes, surprising me and causing me to draw a breath.
Like Michelle Chun, frowning over her Apple Crumble Recipe, studying it in full concentration before our Law paper, and then looking at me with dead-serious eyes, telling me that the apple crumble she needs to make later has overtaken her law exam. Her face again, engaged in serious conversation with her mum over the phone just 10 minutes before the exam, all anxious about the apple crumble. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Without beauty, you can build houses for people, but never a home. Humans would be efficient, perfect, and absolutely lifeless.
Yes, yes, how silly of me to forget, the world needs beauty…the imperfect perfections that make us want to go on. The little moments we catch like snowflakes with our hands, and never manage to get angry when we’ve lost them. How can we? They’re too beautiful for that. Watch the video.