No guts, no glory

Esquire (Singapore) - - Editor's letter - Ed­i­tor-in-chief, Esquire Sin­ga­pore

There’s a new move­ment sweep­ing its way across Sin­ga­pore. It’s gath­er­ing a cult-like fol­low­ing akin to Wild Wild Coun­try on Net­flix; as ubiq­ui­tous as tis­sue pack­ets on empty ta­bles at your friendly neigh­bour­hood hawker cen­tre; and yet, it’s as sooth­ing to the soul as a cup of English break­fast tea (dash of milk, hold the su­gar thanks) in a freez­ing air-con­di­tioned Sin­ga­pore of­fice. What is it? Mind­ful­ness.

Mind­ful of what? My first thoughts, ex­actly. In fact, I thought I was al­ready mind­ful. I’m mind­ful to look back at my seat when I leave a café: Phone? Wal­let? Over­priced sun­glasses? Check, check, check. Mind­ful to wash my hands af­ter vis­it­ing the bath­room: Hand dryer? Where are the pa­per tow­els! And mind­ful, some would say overzeal­ously, to In­sta­gram Story my shop­ping es­capades: Should I buy this vin­tage green jump­suit? Vote now. (Truth be told, tell me that it’s “ex­clu­sive to this store”, “just landed today” or it’s the “last one”, and I’m sold.)

“Have you lost your mind?” asks Anita Kapoor, as if quot­ing Meghan Trainor’s catchy lit­tle hook in ‘No Ex­cuses’. “Open up your eyes,” she tells me. Yup, this co-host of our Esquire pod­cast, The Bite, is def­i­nitely a Me­ga­tron. “Mind­ful­ness is not about remembering to leave the toi­let seat down af­ter you’ve done your busi­ness,” she con­tin­ues. “It’s about be­ing present and thank­ful for what you al­ready have.” So, it’s ba­si­cally be­ing grate­ful? “I sup­pose, but also be­ing aware of your thoughts and emo­tions.”

When brain­storm­ing sto­ries for this ‘Good Sport’ is­sue—sit­ting around our ta­bles on Jalan Be­sar; what I like to call the ‘Brook­lyn of Sin­ga­pore’ be­cause you have to cross a body of wa­ter (okay, it’s a rain­wa­ter canal) to reach our in­dus­trial hood, and we’re sur­rounded by dope AF cafes (find me at Chye Seng Huat Hard­ware for the best brew in town)—thoughts ini­tially cen­tred around sport, sum­mer and good sports­man­ship. As such, we have a dy­namic fash­ion spread fea­tur­ing Mo­hamed Noor Sar­man, bal­let mas­ter at the Sin­ga­pore Dance The­atre (see ‘Dance is life’ on page 38); a cheeky visual guide on how to wear shorts by as­so­ciate fash­ion ed­i­tor Eu­gene Lim (head over to page 66); and a bril­liant photo es­say by Adam Moroz bring­ing to­gether six land­mark mu­sic venues in Austin, Texas (and en­cour­ag­ing the own­ers to praise their com­peti­tors, all in the spirit of good sports­man­ship—see ‘Texas two-step’ on page 143).

Talk­ing about Texas, our cover star this month is none other than Sin­ga­pore’s golden boy, Joseph School­ing, who has been study­ing eco­nomics at The Univer­sity of Texas in Austin for the last four years. There has been so much cov­er­age of School­ing in Sin­ga­pore—with shoots of him ei­ther in a slick suit or in a pool or some­times both at the same time—that we wanted to por­tray him in a new light. We wanted to show him as the sport­ing mav­er­ick that he is. So we flew up to Texas, drove out to Lock­hart (a quaint coun­try town just out­side Austin, and ap­par­ently, also the shoot lo­ca­tion for one of the Trans­former flicks), and handed Joseph a cow­boy hat and a pair of boots. For­tu­itously, both of his par­ents were also in town (to at­tend his school’s ban­quet), so I gave my in­ter­view ques­tions to his dad, Colin (who has graced the cover of Esquire Sin­ga­pore’s Novem­ber 2016 is­sue), and let him at it. Be­cause, let’s be hon­est, who wants to read yet another in­ter­view of Joseph by a jour­nal­ist when you can have a frank heart-to­heart chat between father and son? Pre­cisely. (See the ex­clu­sive in­ter­view and shoot in ‘A mav­er­ick is born’ on page 124.)

How­ever, the more we delved into this theme of ‘good sport’, the more we dis­cov­ered how im­por­tant men­tal strength—or more pre­cisely, men­tal health—was to the whole equa­tion of elite com­pe­ti­tion. As it turns out, mind­ful­ness isn’t just an app on your iPhone re­mind­ing you to breathe. (Kapoor, I can see you rolling your eyes hav­ing just read that sen­tence.) Elite sports­men and women are prac­tis­ing mind­ful­ness in or­der to stay fo­cused and give them their com­pet­i­tive edge (read Josh Sims’ story on med­i­ta­tion in sport on page 150). And, rather shock­ingly, with sui­cide as the lead­ing cause of death for men in Aus­tralia un­der the age of 54, we wanted to get guys talk­ing about their thoughts and emo­tions—and, hope­fully, to break away from that rigid con­struct that ‘real men don’t cry’. What bet­ter way to get ‘real men’ talk­ing than to pro­file ath­letes such as ten­nis le­gend Todd Wood­bridge and Aus­tralian Olympic swim­ming cham­pion James Roberts, about their bat­tle with de­pres­sion (check out ‘Sport’s dark side: elite sports­men and de­pres­sion’ by Jane Rocca on page 136). Kapoor, I see your Meghan Trainor lyrics and re­spond with this: I feel like a chip on my shoul­ders I feel like I’m losin’ my fo­cus I feel like I’m losin’ my pa­tience I feel like my thoughts in the base­ment… If Ken­drick La­mar can open up about his feel­ings—be hon­est about his per­sonal strug­gles with fame and suc­cess in his track, ‘Feel’—then, DAMN, we all sure can (see what I did there?). Hon­esty is Pulitzer Prize-win­ning stuff (it’s the new Grammy). No guts, no glory.


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