May 20, 2015

Going out is good but coming home is better

People have goals, targets and objectives … they set out to get their goals, they work hard to make sure that they achieve what they set out to do. Some made it fast, some took a longer time ... others who failed will keep trying.

For those who achieved their goals … they get to show their achievements and enjoy the success. They have reached where they wanted to be, what they have struggled so hard for … they will get the financial rewards for their success and they will get due recognitions.

Many believe that with success, recognition and financial rewards, they will become a better person.

Errrr … I will debate that.

You see, many people are not aware that in the process of getting to where they want to be, they changed … slowly and maybe unknowingly … due to the long exposure in the unforgiving competitive environment, the never ending aggressive rat race they are running in and the nasty dog-eat-dog business they faced every day. Some lost their good ethics and became rude, callous, brutal, nasty, mean and vindictive. Others lost their true values … they mastered betrayal, infidelity, treachery, deceit and dishonesty.

They don’t realize it … it is the people close to them that will see and feel the changes. More often than not, it is their loved ones who will have to tolerate or maybe even suffer due to this.

So, when you have achieved success, recognition and financial rewards, ask yourself … are you a better person? Maybe you have become a better provider but what I really mean is … are you a better son or daughter to your parents? Are you a better husband or wife to your spouse? Are you a better father or mother to your children?

And do you still have the same good ethics? Do you still hold the same true values?

Yes, by all means go out in search of your goals but it is important to remember that by the end of the day, it is not what you get … it is what you have become. That is my point.

Look, going out is good but coming home is better. Sadly, too many people go out in search of success, recognitions and financial rewards but forget to return to where they were. They forget to come home to where they are needed most, to where they are most appreciated and to where they can really be themselves.

It may sound strange but really, the fact is … we leave home to look for things we want, only to find them when we come home.

April 22, 2015


Recently in a casual chat with fellow players after our weekly badminton games, someone asked me … “Shiek, why you stopped working so early lah, now you have nothing to do … how do you past time ah?” From the tone and manner, I guess he thinks that my life is pretty boring and very mundane day in day out. Anyway, I played along his notion and said to him … “Ya lor, Mondays to Fridays, I do nothing … Saturday and Sundays, I rest”.

But really, it is not like that.

I don’t know why many assumed that people like me, who have stopped working permanently have NOTHING to do … like we are all sitting at home rotting away, slowly dying uselessly.

Look, there are many people like me who left the working world early because we have had enough of the rat race. We stopped before we start to trade away our mental and physical health in the relentless chase for career, success and recognition … we quitted chasing for more than what we needed.

We don’t work ... so, on one hand we don’t get the frustration of long traffic jams every morning, we don’t have to agonize over ridiculous deadlines every day, we don’t have to stay back for tedious assignments every so often, we don’t have to backstab anyone in ‘blame storming’ meetings every week, we don't have to type long reports every month, we don’t have to worry about budgets, profits and loss every quarter and we don’t have to get caught in scheming office politics with everyone.

But on the other hand, we also don’t get to enjoy the perks … we don’t get paid to sit in a nice office, we don’t get to hang out in stylish cafes to see and to be seen during breaks, we don’t get treated to fancy restaurants every other day, we don’t get to go entertain and be entertained in posh clubs every now and then, we don’t get to be invited to glamorous social gatherings every week, we don’t get to fly business class to meetings every month and we don’t get to go on grand incentive trips every year.

BUT … that doesn’t mean that we have NOTHING to do.

There is a lot to do … depending on your mental and physical well being … some can be as exciting as hiking the Himalayans, while others are more adventurous like backpacking to see the world or maybe just trek some smaller local mountains and jungles.

At other times maybe one can engage in those less physical endeavors. How about traveling to see places? How about enrolling in home-stay programs to learn different cultures and experience diverse traditions?

Maybe get involved in social and community projects … one can keep themselves active and occupied by helping out in the many soup kitchens and charity homes in their areas or make visitations to orphanages and old folks’ homes.

And keep on learning … spend time on self improvement activities. Read, study and write subjects of interest, try 'self-taught' social dances, exercise routines or even music … maybe learn handyman or arts and crafts skills. And after that, teach what you have learned to others who are interested.

Last but not least, one important thing that people (who did not give much thought to in their pursuit of success and recognition) can do when they decide to quit the working world … put more time and effort on building strong values among family, relatives and friends … spend quality time with wife and children, provide care for aged parents, create activities together with loved ones and invite or visit relatives and friends to build close relationships and meaningful friendships. 

Yes, for those like me ... there is plenty to do and plenty of time to do it. Not just a list of physical and adventurous challenges that are fun and exciting but also a variety of things that can improve ourselves morally, add depth to our knowledge, builds closeness with those around us and in the meantime, maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Let me make a point here … for people like me … it is not that we don’t have things to do, we just don’t have work to do.

March 27, 2015

I can’t do what I love … so, I love what I do

I want to do what I love. But the problem is ... to do what I love, most of the times it is very costly, sometimes it is too difficult and at times, people think I am a bit bizarre … so, I won’t be able to really do what I love.

Well, if I can’t do what I love … maybe, I can love what I do.  Huh??? Errrrrr ... what’s the difference ah?

I put it this way … say you want to travel and see the whole world, then “see the whole world” is what you love. If you “do what you love” … that means, you go “see the whole world”. But then what is “love what you do”? In this case, it is travel … you love travel, not necessary to go “see the whole world” but just travel to anywhere you are able to.

Got it?

OK, back to my story … as I said earlier, I want to do what I love but I can’t. Here is a costly example … like many, I want to travel to see the whole world too but it is very costly … I just cannot afford it. So, to do what I love will not happen but I can still love what I do … I can still travel, maybe on budgeted travels as and when I have a bit extra to spare.

I love the beautiful Himalayas … I want to trek the snow capped mountains that I love but I can’t … it is next to impossible for people of my physical standing. So I can’t trek at where I would love to but I still love what I do … trekking the various mountains and jungles where I can experience the nature and bask in the charm of the natural world.

I am not an artist … but that was what I love (to be). So I did not make it as an artist but I like artistic and creative works. That's why I create various arts and crafts ... from recycled wood and other materials. Though I am unable to create great masterpieces but I love what I do … I love the idea of creating new things through recycling and helping to keep the environment clean.

Here is a crazy one … I love aliens. YES! REALLY! You know, the little grey beings with cone heads and bulgy eyes … I love them and I believe they exist. One of the things in my bizarre list of “do what you love” is to go shake the hands of an alien. Now that is quite far-fetched and I don’t think an alien can be found … at least not anytime now.

So I can’t do what I love (shake hands with an alien) but I love what I am doing about aliens … I read a lot about them, I watch documentaries and I am always looking for new clues, facts and findings by the various experts in the world in search of aliens. Eh … who knows, maybe one day the scientists and expert aliens hunters will find a few … alive and well too. THEN, I can do the one bizarre thing I love … go shake hands with the little grey fellow. 

March 02, 2015


We all like things to go our way. But the fact is, things don’t always go our way and when that happens, many are unable to accept it … it turns into anger and frustration. Now, if we can accept that things don’t always go our way and we can live with that … then it becomes tolerance … it shows patience and open-mindedness.

Losing … a lot of people hate to lose … to them it is a failure that beckons resentment and revenge. But if people can accept losing, then it is not a failure … it becomes an experience, a learning of a valuable lesson.

Everyone owns things but no one can own everything … there will be things that others have that some may not be able to get, whether it is material or not. Accept that … if people cannot accept that others have something more than them, it will become jealousy that can sow greed. On the other hand, if people can accept it … it will turn into an admiration that can be a source of inspiration.

Then there is fear … fear of the uncertain. It could be an unforeseen tragedy, an unfortunate accident or an unexpected threatening illness … and when the uncertain happens, fear will not make things any better … instead, fear brings panic and confusion. If people can accept that there will be plenty of uncertainties in life ... then, when faced with any uncertainty, they can accept it as a challenge … it will only make them stronger.

And the fear of death ... that is why many will try all sorts of ways to stay alive for as long as possible. Maybe they are afraid of losing everything they have or maybe they fear the uncertainty after death.

I don’t fear death … I accept it but hey, don’t get me wrong … it is not that I am looking forward to die soon. My point is … as a person who is not into any faith and beliefs, I have absolutely no clue on what will happen after death but I can accept the uncertainty. I take it as if I am going to trek a mountain full of uncertainties … the slippery slopes, the tricky rock cliffs, the unpredictable weather and the strange shrieks and sounds of wild dense jungle … I don’t see fear, I see adventure.

January 27, 2015

I will be SKI-ing

We all love our children … very much of course and we express our love for our kids in many ways. One very common way that many parents show their love for their kids is by accumulating for their kids ... they have their reasons for doing so.

Seriously, many parents will use a very large portion (or in some cases, most) of the income they earned for the purpose of building and accumulating for what I called the Kid’s Inheritance.

And there are those who will slogged and worked their asses off not because they have not saved and accumulated enough for themselves to see them through their later years … they slogged, they worked way over their retirement age because they are always worried that they may not have accumulated enough for their children. So they keep working to build the Kid’s Inheritance … some even worked until they cannot worked anymore.

For me, as a parent, I think what is important for my kids is that I provide for them, and provide the best that I can afford until the day they are to face the world themselves because I love my kids and also because it is my responsibility to ensure that they grow up with whatever needed to be a good person. Of course I will accumulate too ... but it is for me and my wife, NOT for my kids. Maybe if there is anything left when we both called it a day … then that is what my kids will get from what I have accumulated.

My point is … provide for the kids, provide the best that you can afford and provide according to whatever they need while they are growing up so that when they are old enough to face the world, they will have a strong foundation to fend for themselves and face the world with confidence. There is NO NEED to leave an inheritance.

I am sure there are many parents who will disagree with me … those who willing to slog, work, save and accumulate to keep building their Kid’s Inheritance … maybe because they love their kids a lot more than I do.

Hey, I am not against what these parents do with what they have accumulated … I just beg to differ. For now, I am providing for my kids until they are ready to face the world by themselves. After that, I will spend what I have slogged, saved and accumulated … you know what I will be doing?

I will be SKI-ing … Spending (the) Kid’s Inheritance !

December 30, 2014

Leave the world a better place than I found it

Many people make resolutions every new year … that is a good practice for people to make a change or pledge to do something better for themselves that may also be better for the world that we live in.

Like many, I too want to things to be better but I am not really making a new year's resolution ... I change as and when needed. So when I came across some shared beliefs from a contest that was conducted by the co-authors of the book Atheist Heart and Humanist Mind, I found many good points that are according to what I believe that will make things better ... at least for me.

Now, to those who have different beliefs, please read with an open mind and let me share with you an excerpt from what I read about the book … “atheism NEED NOT BE reactionary (against religion and God), but rather that it can offer a clear set of constructive principles to live by, which establish atheism as a positive worldview”. And it is based on this notion that I hope will make things better in the coming years.

So here it goes (full credits to those who participated in the contest and shared their thoughts) … to make a difference for a better 2015 and beyond, I will be open-minded and accept ideas and beliefs based on new facts, new proofs and new evidence … understanding what that is very likely to be true and not to believe what I wish is true.

People should think … I want to be in the same direction with those who think and think alike as I believe that those who refuse to think will simply accept misinterpretation that favors the deceivers.

There is no one right way to live … so, I will strive to understand and accept how people live their lives and exert control over whatever they do as long as they take consequences and responsibilities of their actions.

Like my peers, I will reason and question because I know the world will only progress by reasoning and questioning based on science not based on the old dogma of just obey and accept. The fact is … scientific methods are the most reliable way of understanding our natural world, so I will put my confidence in science and scientific methodologies in making progress for humankind on this planet and towards the vast universe in the future.

Last but not least, we have the responsibility to consider others, those in the future generations, for in time to come we will have to leave and I hope with the difference made, I can leave this world a better place than I found it.

November 20, 2014

Long long do one time

I tell people that I am quite happy and contented … going into what I like to call the “home run” of the journey of my life, living the way I always wanted … an easy life. At this point, I am just trying to complete not compete in whatever things I do.

Then someone said to me … “Shiek, your life is not ‘happening’ lah”. I guess he was trying to tell me that I should live my life a bit more eventful. But to me, at this age (though many in my age group will disagree) it is OK if things are not ‘happening’ anymore … that doesn’t bother me at all.

Oh yes, there  are plenty of ‘happening’ temptations but let’s face it … the fact is, I am getting old … the thoughts of still wanting to be ‘happening’ are just the urges of mid-life crisis trying get my ego to work overtime.

There were times when I almost let my life dictated by my ego when I want to believe that it can still ‘happen’ for me … the ‘second wind’ as they say. Yes, I get the urge to go leathered up on a big bike and ride into the winds … yes, I thought of running a marathon (not because I have a passion for running) just to prove that I can still do it and makes me feel younger. And of course I did think that I can still act hip and trendy, hit the clubs trying to score a sweet PYT and have great sex … maybe I can, maybe I still have the charms … oops sorry, I mean cha$$$rms.

But the reality is … when you are two thirds into your life, nothing much can be ‘happening’ anymore. I said to myself … come on old dude, you think you can still charm a sweet PYT??? Don’t be a fool.  And great sex???  I don’t think it is going to be ‘happening’ … now wait, I am not saying that it cannot happen, it can happen but it is like ... ‘long long do one time’. And to make it a bit more ‘happening’, at best … ‘one time do long long’.

Many in my age group are probably in the same situation like me but most will deny it … they may not like what I have (bluntly) said but that is the fact. Anyway, that is just my very own point of view … you don’t have to agree with me.

So, it is not ‘happening’ for me but I am happy at where I am and what I am doing now. I have let go of the ‘happening’ life and settled for ‘been there, done that’ so I can move on.

Yes, I am on the ‘home run’ … some may say it is the last stretch of my life but there are still some exciting things in line for me. I may not get to ride a big Harley into the winds but I enjoy peddling my mountain bike for a good exercise … I can’t run a marathon to make me feel younger but I get as much satisfaction from trekking the mountains and jungles to keep me healthy. And I may not be able to charm a sweet PYT at the clubs but I already have the sweetest PYT in the whole world at home with me … my darling daughter.

October 22, 2014

I don't believe in miracles

Sometime ago, I wrote in an article saying that should I be faced with a terminal disease, very likely I will not seek any medical treatment … some understand my thoughts, many totally disagree and there are several who think that I am completely out of my mind … now, I have my own reasons for this.

I received several suggestions and comments from various people and there is one suggestion that I would like to talk about here. Someone suggested that if I don’t believe in medical treatments, maybe I should think about miracles and for miracles to happen, I should convert and believe in god because only god can create miracles.

First, let me explain a bit … it is not that I don’t believe in medical treatment for terminal diseases … I know many modern medical treatments have been proven successfully. It is just that I don’t want to go through the wearying and agonizing process of medical treatments for terminal diseases … I think it will create a huge financial and physical burden to me and my family. What I am trying to say is … I am not afraid of dying, I am more afraid of the pain … just give me something real strong for the pain so that I can ‘go’ painlessly. And all that, at this point of time is just an assumption ... I may die of different causes.

OK, clear?

Now, what about miracles? I have heard of what many believed are miracles … people who are dying of terminal illnesses suddenly healed themselves completely without any medical treatments. Strange … it baffles the doctors and experts cannot find any logical explanation for it ... as such, many believe that these miracles are created by god.

I appreciate the good intention in suggesting that maybe I should think about miracles but I don’t believe it in miracles, nor do I believe there is a god who creates them. I cannot explain these so called miracles of people healing themselves … all I know is that the human body is an amazing piece of living machinery and sometimes it works in very strange ways and do wonders that cannot be explained … maybe not yet.

I am a man of science … I believe everything has a logical answer to it … however strange it may seems to be now.

Take the eclipse for example … at one time people thought that the eclipse of the sun was something very mysterious, strange and bizarre. The ancient people associated this strange phenomenon to their own beliefs ... the Chinese believed that it was the demon swallowing the sun whereas others were convinced that god was angry at them. Later, people learned more about the eclipse and were able to predict its occurrences accurately ... of course, now we understand why eclipses happen and are able to explain them scientifically and logically.

Be it current medical mysteries, ancient secrets or cosmic phenomena … I believe experts in their relative fields are progressively seeking scientific explanations for them … I am sure many of these strange things and unusual happenings can be explained and will be explained logically … much sooner than we thought.

September 24, 2014

Don't come to my funeral

We all have friends ... childhood friends, school and college mates, neighbors, ex-colleagues, business associates and those friends of friends ... we can have plenty of friends but how many are really a friend? You certainly can’t say that all the social media friends are your friend right? You get what I mean?

So, my question is ... how can you say who is really a friend? At the very least, what does it takes to be a friend? To many, the question is very subjective and there isn’t any good and straight answer.

Let me tell you why do I want to ask this?

I went to a funeral recently ... I met the deceased many years ago, we had some business dealings when I was in the auto industry and we stayed in touch since then. He called me once in a while, had a few drinks ... I visited him for lunches when I was near his office and vice versa. When I heard that he was ill I called a few times to wish him well, we spoke briefly but later he was avoiding contact when his condition turned worse. I was not his best friend, not his good friend or his close friend. I can only say I was just a friend ... a friend who meets and calls him occasionally and write him a few words every now and then.

Now here is the gist of my story ... at the funeral, I was sitting with a few people who were talking about the deceased. A man who was doing most of the talking said he was a good friend (let me repeat ... a GOOD FRIEND) of the deceased and known each other for 30 years ... same school, same village and the likes ... seems like common talking points in such occasion. But then he said something that got me scratching my head ... he said he has not seen or talked to the deceased for the almost 7 years and heard about the passing just the night before the funeral. From what I gathered further, this man also did not know that the deceased got married, the deceased was ill for the almost 2 years and was even surprised to find out that the deceased lived just a few kilometers away from his house. Didn’t he just say that he is a good friend? Hmmmm ... does it make any sense?

I don’t know this man ... my opinion is, I don’t think he can say that he is a good friend of the deceased and I will take the context of what he said to illustrate a point.

My point is ... the man displayed no attention to the deceased for years ... he showed no clue and has no idea of the well-being of the deceased for the almost 7 years. Where is the simple empathy of being a friend and where is the notion of a friendship? I don’t think that is how a friend should be, let alone a good friend or a close friend. Really, I wonder why he even bothered coming to the funeral.

Let’s go back to my question earlier ... how can you say who is really a friend?

First, let me put it simply ...  as friends, let’s make an effort to meet, otherwise try to call each other every now and then ... or at the very least, write a few words in anticipation of a reciprocal effort from each other ... that is what friends should do. Not someone you don’t see or talk to for years, who suddenly decides to show up at your funeral.

And now let me put this bluntly ... in my case, if someone thinks that I am not worthy of at least few words from them while I am alive then there is no need for him or her to come see me when I am dead ... so, don’t come to my funeral. 

September 02, 2014

Do you look at things differently?

Many people want to live their lives differently but to live life differently, one must be able to look at things differently.

Photo downloaded from Internet
If you have watched Dead Poet’s Society ... the movie in which Robin Williams (one of my favorites comedians who passed away recently) starred in ... I am sure you will remember a scene where Robin Williams stood on a desk and said ... “Why do I stand up here? Anybody? I stand upon my desk to remind me that we must constantly look at things in a different way”.

I shared the same point when I wrote ... “The first rule...” in which I talked about the first rule of photography, which is ... “never shoot a photo at eye level” ... always look at things from a different level, at a different way with a different perspective ... then you will be able to live life differently.

The question is  ... “how many really look at things differently?”

Sadly, not a lot ... but too many think that their lives is different, special and maybe exceptional ... they doesn’t realize that the only thing that makes them different are the different masks they put on every day when they go out competing in the rat race to attain recognition by doing what the world tells them to do. They keep doing it for too long until they unknowingly turned cold and calculative ... so much so that they begin to love things rather than using them ... some worse, they use people rather than loving them.

So, what is looking at things differently?

I would like to put it this way ... do what is important rather then what is urgent. You see, people are always in a rush trying to stay on the top ... doing things for the whole world to see. The norm is ... urgency always has priority over importance. So, maybe you want to break away from the norm ... do it differently. Go, make an unscheduled surprise trip to pick up your kids after school for a burger at the local drive-in ... well, the world may not know about this ... but you know (how important it is) and so do the kids.

If you worry that you may not have enough, let me tell you there are many out there who are contented with half of what you have.  Hey, look at this differently ... how much you have is not measured by how many things money can buy ... how much a person really has, is measured by the things he (or she) has that MONEY CANNOT BUY!

There is a simple way to live life differently ... you don’t have to be elaborate or do great things for the world to see or show the abundance in your lifestyle ... just step away and take a back seat. From there you can definitely see and do things differently ... then you will be able to live life in a different way. It is OK if the world doesn’t know about it but you do ... so will those who are doing it together with you.

August 05, 2014

What is my ambition?

A teenage friend of my neighbor asked me recently ... Uncle, what was your ambition? The young man was asking me what I wanted to be when I was at his age and he was a bit surprised when I told him that I did not have any ambitions. Really, I cannot recall if I ever had an ambition to be anything.

Maybe in primary school, the teacher did ask us to write an essay about our ambitions and I remember (at that time) everyone wanted to a doctor, an engineer or a pilot ... but that was just an essay to write ... nothing to be taken seriously.

It has never crossed my mind to want to be something or someone. When I was in school, I was just trying to finished schooling as soon as possible and get to work ...  not sure what kind of work I will find but as long as it pays.

So really, what I have was more like an objective ... to help put food on the table. Even during school holidays, I was doing odd jobs already. As soon as I left school, I went for the first job available ... I worked as an electrician apprentice not because I like it ... it is because I have to help put food on the table.

As time passed ... things changed, people changed, trends changed and I went from job to job ... as an electrician, a draughtsman, a photographer, an insurance marketing executive, a small advertising agency owner, a coffee shop partner, a marketing manager and finally a senior brand manager. Though my life changed but my objective did not ... it is still putting food on the table ... well, maybe I needed to also put a roof over our heads.

I have never had the luxury to have an ambition to be someone or something that I like to be ... I was everywhere, dabbling in everything ... I was like a Jack of all trades.

Many people have ambitions ... to be an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a politician, a scientist, an inventor, a designer, a writer ... all sorts.  Well, not for me ... all I had and still have is an objective of providing the necessities for my family.

But then again, if I look at it in another way, maybe I do have an ambition ... and that ambition is ... to be a good son, a good husband, a good father and a good man.

July 07, 2014

Karma, it works both ways

I came across a frustrated post of betrayal on a social media and attached to the post was the popular saying ... ‘KARMA : No need for revenge, just sit back and wait. Those who hurt you will eventually screw up themselves up and if you are lucky, God will let you watch’. The message was quite clear ... the person who posted this may feel that someone has betrayed him (or her) and is probably very mad hoping that those who done injustice to him (or her) will screw themselves up and get what they deserved.

Karma ... I understand the philosophy but I think too many people are too quick to use this philosophy to try to justify their grievances.

People always complained that they were played out, back stabbed, framed, blamed, bad mouthed and cheated ... many of these people conveniently invoked the words of Karma to seek justification for their suffering. Well, let me ask them ... have you ever done the same to others? NO? Well, you must be a real saint and if you are a saint, you won’t be complaining then.

Did you see an irony somewhere? Did it ever cross your mind that YOU are getting what YOU deserved? The pain and frustration that YOU are suffering are probably the same as what YOU have caused to those that YOU HAVE BETRAYED ... and it is the very same people YOU betrayed that are now watching YOU getting a taste of your own medicine ... have YOU thought of that?

Can you see what I am getting at?

Let me tell you this ... I did my fair share of foul plays. I have stepped on a few toes, stabbed a few backs, thrown blames, pointed fingers and staged a few ruses. Yes, I have done all that and I may have my reasons ... blame it on dirty company politics that one may need to stay afloat in the corporate world or the underhand business tactics to gain in business ventures. Now, I am not alone ... I believe there are many like me though they deny it.

So in return, I got my back stabbed ... was stepped on, bad mouthed, blamed and framed many times. I won’t deny it ... there were times I complained and have thought of justifying my grievances but then I also realize that I am just getting what I have thrown to others. Like they say ... what goes around comes around.
(What goes around comes around)
The thing is (and many will not admit it) that when you shoot an arrow at others ... you think that it is all OK. But when others shot back ... you complained and it is so easy to seek the justification from the words of Karma hoping that this belief will take its course on those whom you think have caused your grievances.

There is truth and wisdom in the words of Karma BUT remember there is also an irony that maybe you never thought of or maybe you just refuse to acknowledge ... KARMA,  IT WORKS BOTH WAYS.