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.

June 11, 2014

When you are dead, you are just a noBODY

My writings on life and death (especially the latter) tend to disrupt the comfort zone of some people. So, let me point out that whatever written here are strictly my personal opinions, please read with an open mind.

OK, here it goes ...

Last week, my insurance agent called to persuade me to add coverage for major critical illnesses ... I quickly and bluntly declined and she was taken aback on why I was so quick on my decision.

Why I was not at all interested in the major critical illnesses coverage?

Now, have you read the definition of major critical illnesses by your insurance company? If you have not found out yet, let me tell you ... by the definition of major critical illnesses specified in the insurance policy (at least the policy that I have read), you will have be so sick that you are almost two third of the way into your grave ... only then, you are eligible for a claim. Don’t believe me? Go read your policy now.

The way I look at it ... if it is as critical as defined in the insurance policy then yes, I will need money if I intend to seek treatments, surgeries, drugs, chemo-radiation therapies and other procedures to keep me alive.

I may be alive but the question is ... am I living a life or just staying alive? Really, I have seen many of those who went through torturous procedures and took high doses of drugs just trying to stay alive. Yes, they may live a while longer, barely staying alive but in the end, they still lose the battle without ever knowing if they have really suffered from the illnesses or from the treatments and procedures.

But having said that, I am sure there are people who have sought similar treatments and procedures and have recovered fully to enjoy the rest of their lives very well. That is why I said earlier ... please read with an open mind.

I don’t intend to seek treatment if I am terminally ill. Very likely I will be in a lot of pain ... so, I seek pain killers and plenty please. Of course I will also seek strength to face the inevitable, to face death but with as little pain as possible ... really, I am more afraid of pain than death.

So that is why I declined the major critical illnesses coverage. As tenacious as my insurance agent is, I knew she was not going to let me go so easy. She then said that I don’t have to use the money for medical treatments and procedures if I don’t intend to look for a cure. I can use it to pay for other things ... like making sure that I have a proper and appropriate ‘final journey'.

I saw that coming and I knew exactly she what she meant.

So I told her ... as far as I am concerned, there is one and only journey that is to be travelled when I am alive not when I am dead. My journey starts when I was born and I am living out my journey now and will be celebrating it every day until the day I die and my journey ends. That’s it ... there is no ‘final journey’. 

What comes after someone is dead is basically a cleaning up process ... I don’t think one needs to spend a lot just to get a body properly disposed of. Yes, a BODY, that is how you will be addressed. You don’t even have a name or an identity ... you will only be known as a BODY. People will say ... ‘clean the BODY’ or ‘wash the BODY’ or ‘embalm the BODY’ or ‘put the BODY into the coffin’ or ‘take the BODY to the cemetery’ or ‘lower the BODY into the grave’ or ‘prepare the BODY for cremation’.

Simply put ... when you are dead, you are just a noBODY

May 20, 2014

I am detached

When I wrote “What is your idea of an easy life”, as usual, I got a few comments from those who follow my blog ... most comments were mainly kind words, some offered their views on the subject while others share with me their differences. I am glad they took the time to give me their feedbacks.

There is one particular comment that I would like to talk about in this article.

This email comment suggested that I seem to be detached from life ... the anonymous commenter said that I seem to have given up on the good things in life. He (or she) wondered how one can live an easy life when one is not (in his or her words) ... “having the good things that you need to enjoy and live a better and easy life”.

Hmmmm ... I think I can see the point and I am sure this person has his (or her) very own idea of how to live an easy and better life which obviously is quite different from the way I see it. Now there is no right or wrong ... we are all in the same game just playing at different levels, in the same hell just dealing with different devils.

Yes, I gave up a lot of good things and in many circumstances I settled for less ... so, am I detached from life? I will come back to this in a while.

Many people think that having the good things will make their lives better or happier or easier  ... so, people are always chasing and looking to enhance and satisfy their material desires ... the problem is, they don’t realize that they have become so engrossed and addicted to the chase that they do not know how (or they just don’t want) to detach themselves from it ... then unknowingly, they let their material desires own them.

Now back to the question ... am I detached from life? NO, I am not detached from life ... I am very much attached and living my life the way I want. But I will say I am DETACHED in the context that doesn’t mean I SHOULD OWN NOTHING but that NOTHING SHOULD OWN ME. 

April 28, 2014

When you are dead, you don’t know you are dead ...

Errr ... looking at the title you must be wondering if this is going to be another one of my views on the taboo subject of death. Relax ... this is not about death. I am not going to get controversial with my ideas and beliefs relating to death on this article. So, what’s with the title then? Be patient, stay with me ... I will get to it eventually.

Now, here is my story ... a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a birthday dinner ... a 60th birthday celebration of one of my trekking buddies. Our group (of regular trekkers) was seated together with a few other guests and I sat next to a woman ... I was told she is an old classmate of the host. In a very short moment, I realized what it was going to be for the rest of the evening.

Boy oh boy ... what an earful evening it was. You see, this woman just cannot stop talking ... she was babbling all night about everything under the sky. Now, I don’t mind listening ... but this woman is just spewing out a whole lot of nonsense.

Really, a lot of NONSENSE ... you don’t believe me? OK, let me tell you what she was telling us. Now get this ... she told us she KNOWS where MH370 has landed. Wow ! WOW !!! When all the real experts around the world are searching the ocean with planes, satellites and submarines trying to find a logical explanation to what happened to flight MH370 ... here we have a woman who knows where the plane landed. The way she said it, the tone and manner she displayed when telling us ... really, she was not joking ... she was (in my terminology) ‘cocksure’ that the plane has landed on an island in Indonesia.

And how did she gets to know about MH370? Apparently her ‘sifu’ (master) told her ... she then went on to tell us about her ‘sifu’  ... a seemingly powerful guy nicknamed ‘dragon king’ and you know what? This ‘dragon king’ can summon the 12 Chinese zodiac animals to be present at his rituals and ceremonies ... fuyohhhhh !!! Then she said she has photos in her smartphone to prove it ... she flashed the photos and I caught a glimpse of some smoky, wavy forms which she insisted are figures of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals ... that is what she believe.

Honestly, I don’t know what to say ... I am sure you have an idea of how the rest of the evening was to be.

I kept rather quiet trying to ignore this woman but I can’t help listening to her babbling all night to the rest of the people seated on the same table ... she seems to know EVERYTHING. Whatever the subject ... places, food, politics, medicines, beliefs, rituals ... she knows it all. And Madam “Knows It All” always have to say something. If all of us were idiots then we would have believed what she said ... but really, it only takes a bit of common sense to see that half of what she said has no logic and the other half is just rubbish.

The dinner went on with me keeping rather quiet because I like watching people making a fool of themselves ... quite amusing actually.

And like most Chinese dinner celebrations, towards the end of the dinner there was a karaoke session and someone sang a popular song by Teresa Teng. When the name Teresa Teng was mentioned, our Madam ‘Knows It All’ quickly grab the opportunity on the subject and asked us ... “Do you all know how Teresa Teng died?”

Here it goes again ... so how did Teresa Teng die? I couldn’t be bothered really but then let see what Madam ‘Knows It All’ have to say and there is nothing to lose anyway. And Madam ‘Knows It All’ said excitedly ... “You know, Teresa Teng was murdered ... really, you all don’t know but I know, she was killed because she was a SPY ... when the ‘gwai lows’ (foreigners) found out that she was spying against them, they poisoned her”. Hmmmm! How interesting ... I have absolutely no idea. But how did Madam ‘Knows It All’ gets to know about all this ... she did not say, maybe hoping that someone will ask her. But all of us kept quiet ... we knew not to ask as it will give her another opportunity to unload more illogical and incongruous rubbish on us ... though it was amusing watching people making a fool of themselves (I don’t know about the rest) but I had enough of rubbish for the evening.

After the dinner, on the way home in our van we were all talking about Madam ‘Knows It All’ ... really we were a bit annoyed but amused at the same time and so we all jested about what she said. We were thankful that our spouses are not like her and someone made a joke about the husband of Madam ‘Knows It All’ ... the joke was quite crude so I am not going to mention it here but I would tell you a similar joke. It goes like this ... a husband puts up an advertisement as below :-

Urgent Sale !!!
60 Volumes of Comprehensive Encyclopedia
Don’t Need Them Anymore

Yes, we hear and read all sorts of stories from various sources ... some believable, some skeptical, some possible, some suspicious, some bizarre ... but the important thing is, we must apply a filtering process with a bit of common sense and simple logic to differentiate those that carry a bit of truth, possibility and prospect from those that are just nothing but whole lot of rubbish. No matter what story we heard or read, I think any sane and rational individual will automatically apply this filtering process to understand and find if there is any logic and fact in the story. But sadly there are those who don’t know how to apply this simple logical filtering process or for some reason refuse to do it ... just believing whatever they read or heard and speaking about it without absolutely no true and logical sense of understanding what they are talking about ... for me, I will tag these people with one (for the lack of a better) word ... STUPID !

So what do all these have to do with the title? OK, here is the connection ... when you are dead, you don’t know you are dead ... same if you are STUPID !

April 14, 2014

What is your idea of an easy life?

Since I stop working permanently several years ago, I have been telling people that I am taking things easy ... indeed I am living an easy life. My son said to me while I was driving him to school ... “Daddy, your life is very easy ... every morning you go look for nice place to enjoy breakfast and after that you are free to do whatever you like”. I said to my son (like what I always said to others) ... “YES, I am living an easy life”

Is this your idea of an easy life?
But what exactly is taking things easy and living an easy life? Millions stashed in the banks? Don’t have to work? Having fun every day? No worries whatsoever at all?

Look, in my book, taking things easy and living an easy life doesn’t mean that I am without financial woes, doesn’t mean that I have no worries and though I don’t have to go to work, it doesn’t mean that I have nothing to do. Like most people, I have my fair share of all types of problems and worries. The difference is ... I try to make my life easier for me. But how?

I don’t have millions stashed away somewhere ...  I don’t believe that people should stashed up millions for later years. Yes of course we all plan and save for our later years but you don’t really need millions to live an easy life. You will need millions if you want to live a luxury life. You don’t need a lot really ... if you simply make do with whatever you already have and maybe sometime you even have to settle for less ... if you can accept that, you will be able to make your life easier. 

You see, I chose to let go of things that I think will make my life difficult ... like when the petrol price goes up, I sold my Korean made 2-Litre SUV and make do with a low consumption, low maintenance second hand local car ... I made my life easier without having to worry about maintaining a high end petrol guzzler.

Like when the utility company (TNB) decided to raise the electricity tariff, I cancelled cable TV (Astro). It is whether I want to enjoy the air conditioning or I want to watch my favorite sports live ... if I want both, I will have to really worry about the increase on my household expenses ... so, I have to let one go and that made my life easier without having to fork out extra expenses.

People tell me ... “Hey, your life is so easy, you don’t have to work”  ... yes, I don’t go to work for an income ... I don’t have meetings, reports and the frustration of traffic jams every morning but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to do. I have to repair the roof, refurbish the furniture, paint the house, re-wire the electrical system, do the gardening, groom the dogs, fix the appliances and I have to build a storeroom from scratch. I have to do all that by myself ... at times it can be quite tiring and exhausting but I am not complaining. You see, my life is easy not because I have nothing to do ... I have plenty to do. I made my life easier because I don't have to pay people to do it.

But what about our children, people asked? Their schooling needs, their education fees ... you want to give “the best” to your kids, right? Oh yes, I am concern about this too because “the best” doesn’t come cheap. But I cannot give my kids “the best”, I don’t have the ability to give them “the best” ... so I gave them “my best” and they have to settle for that ... that is a lot easier for me to do.

What about leaving some wealth for the kids? Many parents intend to leave much of what they have saved and accumulated for their children so that their children won’t have to struggle financially when they come out to make it on their own. Wow, how nice! I am happy for their children ... I can already hear the children saying ... “saving is the best thing, especially if your parents have done it for you”.

Tell you what ... I don’t intend to leave anything for my kids. My logic is ... I will give “my best” (the best I can afford) upfront to my kids until a time that they should be able to make it on their own ... that is all they will get. What I have saved and accumulated is for myself and my wife ... as selfish as it may sound, this is to make my life and my wife’s a lot easier especially in our later years. Errrr ... maybe I will leave something for my kids ... that is if there is anything left by the time me and my old lady kicked the bucket.

Hey what about healthcare? Oh yes, healthcare cost is extremely high ... the joke is, if you ask the doctor what do your problem is, the doctor will ask you what can you afford. People worry about their health ... they worry more as they grow older when problems start to surface. Some may just be common ailments, some may be troublesome diseases and unfortunately there are some that are terminal. I worry about my health too ... so, what do I do about it?

When you are sick, you can’t really make things easier ... now, if you can afford it, you can make it more comfortable while seeking treatment. Life is never easy for anyone when faced with unfortunate health issues.

Maybe in certain cases one can choose to face it in a different manner that in my personal opinion will be an easier way to deal with the outcome. Let me tell you what I will do ... let me stress that this is strictly my views and you don’t have to agree with me. If I am terminally ill, I will not look for a cure (really, I am serious) because looking for a cure will create a huge financial and mental burden which will make life very difficult for me and also my family. Instead, I will look for strength to face and accept the tragic result that cannot be avoided ... I think this will make it a lot easier for me and for my family.

Now, let me ask you ... what is your idea of an easy life?

Really, looking for an easy life of having millions, work free, forever healthy, absolutely no worries and no uncertainties whatsoever ... that is like looking for something next to impossible ... but strangely, some people believe they will find it.

For me, in my life there are no millions stashed away but there is enough, I don't have to go to work but there are lots of things to do and there will always be worries and uncertainties. Really, I have never look for a life that comes on a silver platter ... instead, I look at how I make do with what I already have, I look for means to lessen the worries and I look for strength to face and accept the uncertainties ... I believe that will make my life a lot easier ... that is my idea of an easy life. 

March 31, 2014

Just STFU !!!

Recently I voiced my dissatisfaction, disappointment and displeasure on some of the sarcastic comments and insults I read on the various social media about the recent unfortunate incident involving our national airline.

Yes, many are not happy on how the relevant authority is handling the unfortunate incident ... in some instances, there were some “kelam kabut” (confusion) in handling of certain issues. Hey look, the people handling this situation is facing something they have not seen before, really they have no experience in the crisis management of an incident of this magnitude. It is not like every other year or so that they crash a plane so they should have plenty of experience in plane crash crisis ... this is an unprecedented aviation event for them.

When something like this happened, there are bound to be confusion, anger, frustration, annoyance and disappointment ... especially for those who are directly affected by the incident. Of course these people will take frustration to the various social media ... it is understandable.

But what I cannot tolerate are those Toms, Dicks and Harrys  ... who think they are smarter than everybody by just reading whatever thrown at them from their TVs and computers and start to wag their acerbic tongues spewing sarcastic remarks, inconsiderate insults and abuses on the various issues of the incident.

Everyone wants to have a say in this mysterious incident ... it is a huge unprecedented (and rather strange) aviation incident and the whole world is watching it closely. Of course everyone have the right to offer their opinions ... that is OK. But what is not OK for me is when people start insulting our national airline, our nation and even the innocent Malaysians are not spared the insults, sarcasms and abuses ... this I cannot tolerate.

OK if you want to mock the guys with the coconuts, bamboo binoculars and their so called 'magic' carpet ... that I don’t care. But hey, anyone with a sound mind would not be bothered by these jokers really.

But don’t blame Malaysian Airline ... you think they want a plane to crash? The last thing they want is a crisis like this. Don’t blame Malaysia ... the country is not responsible for this incident. Don’t blame the innocent Malaysians ... we have absolutely nothing to do with it ... on the contrary, we are saddened by this incident too.

Don’t politicize the incident ... this has nothing to do with politics. Don’t point the finger too soon ... for now no one knows what actually happened. Don’t try be an expert if you don’t actually know anything ... if you do know something, please give your suggestions directly to the relevant authority handling the incident. Don’t guess what happened ... let the real experts figure it out what is most likely to be the real cause.

So, to those who are quick to wag their acerbic tongues ... please look at the gravity of the situation ... there are already a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, mix-ups and uncertainties. If you cannot offer any REAL assistance, if you cannot offer any good words ... you can help if you could just STFU !!!

March 10, 2014

You should be glad if you have cunning, crafty and mischievous kids

I have two kids ...  my son is 15 and my daughter is 13. Both are now in secondary school doing IGCSE ... well, academically I must admit they are not as good as I hope they can be but that is OK because I don’t believe that exams results should determine their futures.

But if they are not up to mark academically, they definitely made it up with the traits of cunningness, craftiness, mischievous and disobedience ... so don’t be fool by their innocently naughty and playful nature.

Now, I am not worried about them having these traits ... I will be very worried if they don’t. Look, they are normal teenagers ... so, it is very normal for them to pick up these traits as they grow. The way I see it, cunning doesn’t mean one have to lie, crafty doesn’t demand one to be deceitful, mischievous is not necessary ill-behaving and disobedience means knowing how to say no ... these traits are not so bad actually ... so long as these traits are not being used underhandedly, deceitfully or dishonestly.

(Example of a cunning, crafty and mischievous kid ... cartoon image sourced from the internet)

OK, this is my personal opinion and you don’t have to agree  ... the way I see it, these traits can be good for the kids. I think kids who display cunningness, craftiness, mischievous and maybe playful disobedience are the more resourceful ones and quite likely will be successful (I am not saying this because my kids have similar traits) in whatever they do in the future. ... that is, if these traits are channeled constructively ... 'put to good use' so to say.

I am not saying that the good, obedient and well behaved kids who followed the book and played by the rules are not going to be successful ... I am sure they will flourish and will do very well too. What I am saying is ... it is OK if kids bend the rules a bit or twist the story a little or maybe wily in approaching or cunningly calculative ... this means that they know how to get around things, get to what they want, putting things in their perspectives and using alternative methods ... that is creativity at work. 

If managed and channeled properly, the cunningness, craftiness, mischievous, scheming and conspiring ways of the kids can be constructively developed into what I called “street smartness” that will provide them with an added advantage when they go out to make a life on their own.

Look, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there ... I am sure you will agree that a street smart kid will fare a lot better when it is time for him/her to come face to face with the real world.

Let me share with you a true story to support my point ...  I know of a very successful person who started working under me when he finished his studies ... we were working together in a large international company in the early 90s. He is a smart guy ... today, he owns and operates a multi-million dollar company. Picture this ... the CEO of the international company that we used worked in is now working for him.

Now here is what I really want to tell you ... when he first started his company, he told me he was going into a business venture with a financial service broker that I knew. I was a bit concern and ask why he decided to go into a business venture with this broker knowing very well he (the broker) is a very cunning and shrewd man. What he told me made a lot of sense.

He said this (not in exact words but something along the line) ... “I know the guy is very cunning and shrewd ... that is why it is good for the business venture ... I know how to manage him and channel his cunningness and shrewdness to my advantage ... really, I am not worried at all”. What he really meant was that as long as he did not allow his partner to take underhand advantage of him, he can make use of his (partner’s) cunningness and shrewdness to generate revenue for the business venture.

You see, we meet all sorts of of cunning, crafty, sneaky and sly people ...  in work or in our personal lives. Many will avoid these people, not wanting to deal with them ... but hey, why not think of how we can manage and channel the cunningness, craftiness, sneakiness and slyness to become something constructive?

OK, back to the kids ... do your kids bend the rules a bit or twist the story a little and full of tactics? Are you worried?  But really, you should be glad if you have cunning, crafty and mischievous kids.

February 06, 2014

I don't have dreams

I have a car but it is not my dream car, I have a house and it is not my dream house either. I don’t have a job now but my last job wasn’t my dream job too ... errrr, so what am I trying to say?

What I am saying is ... I don’t have dreams.

Many believe that people must have dreams ... to be millionaires or billionaires, to own a private jet, become famous stars or singers. Of course not all people dream of riches and extravagances ... some may just have simple dreams but surely one must have dreams ... right?

Well, I am not disagreeing with that. But for me now, I don’t have dreams ... really, doubtfully as it may sound but I am done with dreaming.

You see, I think I can make do with what I have for the rest of my life ... I may not have a lot but I am not dreaming for more. Should I needed more, it probably will be some basic neccessities and common essentials ... so I wouldn’t consider those as dreams ... agree?

Then people ask me ... so, if not dreams, what do you live for? To them it seems like one cannot live without dreams. I beg to be differ ... I don’t want dreams, I want memories.

I am seeking memories ... like memories of things that I was fond of during my growing years ...  going into the jungle, swimming in rivers, catching birds, plucking fruits and making kites. I like these memories, so I am trying to do the same again and enjoy the same amusements that I remember so well.

I have tasty memories of the butter scones that my mother used to make, the fragranced aroma of the ‘nasi lemak’ (rice with coconut milk) steam-cooked in a wooden tub that the ‘pak cik’ (elderly Malay man) sells near my old primary school and not forgetting  the drooling sweetness of the ‘ais bola with gula melaka’ (ball of ice flakes soaked with liquid palm sugar) sold by the Indian ‘cendol’ (local Indian desert) seller who made it from ice flakes created by scrapping an ice block from a stool-like wooden device. Last but not least, I remember the distinct “ting ting” sound of the Chinese peddler chipping away small pieces of yellow pineapple sweet at the back of his bicycle. I am constantly looking for these treats and may or may not find them again but I remember their tastes so well, so much so that every time I think about these treats, strangely, I feel like I can taste them.

I will always remember how I met my wife on the last day of 1988 and her suspicious smile when I gave her my phone number ... the bliss and joys on the day we got married, the day we move into our very own house, the day my son was born and the day when I first saw the ultra-sound scan of my daughter. I like to remember all these special days ... these are the good memories that made me feel good every time I think about them.

Though it was not one of those good moments of my life but I cannot forget the day I was pushed into the operating room with a collapsed lung ... I was very scared and worried but I remember my wife was with me all the time during this unfortunate incident ... I remember how gratified I was (and still is) knowing that my wife was (and will always be) at my side, rain or shine.

Looking at the many photos of my kids I can recall the anxious moments of watching them crawl, then trying to stand, then fall and finally making the first step. I remember taking them to swimming lessons, teaching them how to ride bicycles, watching them dance in competitions and seeing them covered in mud while trekking. Looking and comparing old photos with recent ones, I remember how small they were and how much they have grown and changed ... these photos bring sweet memories, these photos bring tears of joy.

Almost every week, I will meet with my old school mates ... most of them are now my best of friends. We talked about the good old days, the places we went to, the spiders we caught, the tents we set up, the games we played and the truants that got us into trouble. We are still arguing like we used to many years ago ... in some instances, we are still like a bunch of school boys enjoying the carefree days. The good memories of our younger days bring lots of laughter and joy to all of us.

So, as you can see, my life now is mostly about memories, plenty of them ... I want memories and as I move on I want to gather more good and meaningful memories and remember them for as long as I may live.

So, I said earlier ... I don’t have dreams ... why? Because I don’t want to die with dreams ... I want to die with memories.

January 16, 2014

What Susie says ...

Susie :   You know, Sally told me she enrolled her son in the private school near her house. 

Friend : Good for her. 

Susie :   But the school in not very good ... I sent my son to XYZ international school. It cost a bit more but it has better facilities and my daughter will go to the same school next year.  

Friend : Then good for you too. 

Susie :   And Sally’s husband just changed job. He now travels to work in KL everyday. 

Friend : I know, Sally told me. 

Susie :   Don’t know why Sally’s husband wants to change his job. My husband joined of ABC Bank for almost 30 years now. He started as an executive and now he is a senior manager and it never crossed his mind to change job. He will stay with the bank until he retires in 3 years’ time. 

Friend : He likes his job a lot. 

Susie :   You know what, I saw Sally’s husband driving a new car. I think it must be the company’s car. 

Friend : That is good, his company provided him a car. 

Susie :   Ya, but I think it is better to own a car yourself. We own both our cars. I bought my SUV two years ago and my husband’s MPV is less than a year old. We also tendered for special registration numbers so both our cars have the same numeral digits. 

Friend : Wow, that’s very nice.

OK, quite obvious one can see the above short conversation is exaggerated and fictitious. I am just creating the whole conversation to illustrate a point which I would like to emphasize.

As you can see, the fictitious conversation is about Susie talking to a friend about Sally. This happens every day ... people talked about people ... gossips, tattlers, rumors and hearsays.

Now, many people are affected by what others say about them ... they get agitated, some insulted while there are those who felt offended. My advice is ... take it with a pinch of salt. We can’t stop people from gossiping, rumor mongering and bad mouthing others ... some even worse, even though they did not see it with their eyes, they invent it with their mouths. Put it this way ... if people want to talk behind our backs, that is exactly where they will be ... behind us.

Though the above is a fictitious conversation I created ... more often than not, the notion is quite similar in many everyday situations. So, Susie was talking about Sally but from the whole conversation we don’t really know much about Sally ... do we? Instead, we know which school Susie’s kids goes to, which bank Susie’s husband works in, what post Susie’s husband holds, how old Susie’s husband is and what type of cars Susie and her husband drives ... right? And more or less we have an idea what kind of person Susie is.

So, my point is ... what Susie says about Sally says more of Susie than Sally.