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.