December 22, 2016

What's up 2017?

Yes, the year is coming to an end and what most people do around this time is talk about what they will like to do in the coming new year … their plans, ambitions, resolutions, goals and dreams. Very good, it shows that many people have so much to look forward to in the year ahead and maybe also the many years to come.

What about me? Do I have anything to look forward to?

Hmmmm, let’s see ... I don’t have big plans nor do I have great ambitions and I don’t make resolutions. I have achieved most of my goals already … quite easily because I did not set anything difficult to attain and I am not the kind who shift goal post frequently … you can say I am an easily contented person. And now I seek memories rather than dreams.

So ... what to look forward to?

Well, I think I have a lot of time … yes, a lot of time since I don't have much to chase after ... so I will look forward to spend some time. So really, for next year I will just do exactly what I did this year and the few years before … just continue to spend my time doing what I like … simple, easy and happy.

In the last few years, I have spent quite a bit of time with my wife and kids. So I probably will continue to do that … make time for each other and make do with the time we have to talk to each other, laugh at each other, make a fool of each other, joke with each other, poke at each other and last but not least (at times) annoy each other.

Family time at the beach
We cannot afford to go on long overseas holidays or expensive family outings or generous celebrative occasions but we can have many spans of time in our everyday activities. Maybe it is just a drive to school, a bite at McDonalds, a quick teh tarik and roti at the local mamak , a pep talk over dinner at home, a trip to the hypermarket for groceries, a movie on weekends or maybe a short escape from the heat to the local malls ... the important thing is that in those spans of time, we talked … about this, about that … about everything. Our conversations vary from schools to markets, clothes to movies, food to books, friends to pets and sports to fashions. This is how we bond and how we constantly stay connected. I am happy with these moments … this is my idea of spending quality time.

Others have different thoughts about quality time … whatever it is, it is important to build a bond and stay connected. But very often I see, though the people are together ... everyone seems to be corresponding, engaging, interacting and somehow connected only to their smart devices. Sad but it is happening.

Anyway ... apart from my family, I would like to spend time with my friends. Whether it is for our usual trek in the jungles or our foodie trips to small towns or budgeted overseas tours or pot luck parties with our families or just a boys’ night out to talk about anything and everything under the sky … I want to continue doing what we have been doing for the many years to come.

You see, we are a bunch of old uncles who have known each other for almost half our lives and a few I have known for more than 40 years. We don't have to gather in “happening” places or have expensive sumptuous meals or attend some posh events so that we can have “glamour” photos to post on social media … nope, we are comfortable drinking coconut water under a tree or having a cheap beer in a coffee shop or cramping in our old cranky van on an outskirt road looking for small town street food.

Boys' night out
Even though among ourselves there are those who are well-off and affluent but when we meet, we don’t equate ourselves in material status and we don’t compare our monetary worth … there is one simple thing that we valued very high between all of us and hold close to our hearts and it does not cost anything at all ... yes, absolutely free … it is what we called friendship.

So to my friends … whether you like it or not, in the coming years you will see me very often.

After allocating time for my family and friends … I think I still have some time to spend … time for myself. I like having personal moments … I mean apart from those I spent sitting in the toilet every morning.

A quiet moment over a cup of tea
I like the cold breezy moments of some days where I can have a pot of “puer” while relaxing in the midst of the greens in my garden, listening to the sound of the water fountain and letting my mind wanders into memory lanes. I look forward to rainy days where I can just step out for a rain shower that reminds me of my younger days basking in the rain half naked or just sitting in my garden, looking at the rain drops falling and idling into nothingness … strange but this is how I recharge.

Sometimes I have the house to myself for a few hours ... the time to bring out my erhu and try to screech out a new song to the annoyance of my three helpless dogs. Very often, I will suddenly flip into karaoke mode forcing air out of my lungs through my cheap ‘pasar malam’ cordless mike that makes it sounds like someone pulling a cow up the tree … ok, ok that is an exaggeration ya … so far I think I must have sounded quite alright as the neighbours have yet to complain.

Working on my wood art
If I get my hands on some wood and pallets … I can indulge a bit of time trying to put what I learned from art school to good use … cranking loud noises on the electric saw and drills to the curiosity of my very tolerating neighbours hoping to churn out some recycle art pieces or some DIY furniture.

And after all that and if I still have time left ... don’t worry, my wife will make sure I put it to good use with a list of chores and errands to keep my butt away from the chair.

So what’s up for 2017? Nothing much really ... no plans, no ambitions, no resolutions, no goals and no dreams ... just plenty of time to spend.

November 22, 2016

Do something for people to write or write something for people to do

Recently one of my favorite writers (from a local newspaper) passed away … I read almost all the articles he wrote on every Sunday and even though I don’t relate to every article … I must say I found great insights in many of his writings.

Soo Ewe Jin was one very remarkable writer … cherished by his readers and respected by his peers. He wrote with the simplest approach on ordinary things in life and yet able to create very meaningful stories. His writings have influenced me in many ways and I believe have also inspired many others like me … rest in peace Soo Ewe Jin.

Really, I wished I could write like him.

Someone once told me this … to be known, either you do something for people to write or you write something for people to do. I believe there is some truth to these words.

In my 50+ years of life, I have done all sort of things … “jack of all trades”, one can say but “master of none”, I must admit. You see, up to this point of my life, I have not really done anything and I don’t think I will do anything probably for the rest of my life that is worthy for someone to write about.

Then how about write something for people to do?

OK, let’s put it this way … I like to write and I must have wrote at least a millions words in hundreds of articles but for me to write something that people will do … I think it is a very far shot … very likely it will not happen.

Whatever I have written or going to write, are just things that I have experienced, things that I have learned from others, things I have read from other writers (like the late Soo Ewe Jin and a few others) and things I like to see happen before I leave this world. So there is nothing special and there is nothing new in what I have written and what I am going to write.

So no … I don’t think people will do what I have written. Really, it is the other way round … I am actually doing what other people wrote.

I like to write … to share my thoughts, to put across my views, to seek ideas, to challenge illogic conventions and maybe also to satisfy some of my curiosities in everyday matters. I write in simple words … with candor, cheeky at times and can be acerbic in certain matters. More importantly, I write in honesty, facts, science, logic and reality.

I am not a good writer like those who can weave words and create meaningful stories with the simplest of things … I tend to stir the hornet’s nest, I am controversially curious and I can be brutally blunt at times. From the comments I received … I believe many don’t like my approach. Maybe they don’t like my writings with direct words, maybe they don’t like my blunt approach, maybe they don’t believe in what I believed in or I don’t believe in what they believed in … hence the many displeased comments.

Look, we all have our own beliefs, we all experience things differently and we all have different approach in how we should live our lives … so we are all entitled to our own opinions. I respect others' opinions and accept their comments.

I will continue to write with simple words, with the same direct approach, with the same candor, with the same blunt logic and with the same acerbic tone … maybe many will find my writings difficult to relate to but I hope people can respect and accept my approach, my beliefs, my views and opinions with an open mind.

October 24, 2016

I should be in heaven


Hey Shiek, just a month ago you said you will go to hell … now you say you should be in heaven? What talking you lah?

OK, this time let me get straight to the point … I promise you, no beating around the bushes.

The belief is … good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell right? And a good guy hangs around with the good guys in good places and a bad dude will mix with other bad dudes in rowdy places. Isn’t that what most people believed in, isn’t that what we see in movies and isn’t that how most people were brought up and taught to be?

So, the guy who is in charge of heaven, the lovable Mr Able, the goody goody fella … probably the best of all things good and what he (maybe she) likes? Good people of course! So he (or she) welcomes all the good people to heaven and all the good people become friends and live happily in heaven … so far so good?

OK … on the other end there is this guy who runs hell … that mean looking red fella with two horns and an arrow headed tail holding a menacing trident … he is a badass right? I mean this fella is the badass of all badasses … he is the devil and the king of hell. So what he likes? He likes badass people of course … the more badass you are the better and he invites all the badasses to turn hell into a crazy frenzy badass place … hence the saying … “it’s hell of a place”.

So, my simple reasoning is … (like I was told) if you are a good guy, you will go to heaven where all things are of good nature and where all your good peers are so you can live among them in the good ways that you always wanted right? 

Then the same must apply … if you are a badass and when you die, you go to hell and in hell, you will live in a freaky fiery world that fits badasses like you, where creating havoc is the norm and you will live among your badass peers. So really, you are just doing what all badasses are expected to do … then why should you get tortured?

I was told many times that I am a bad person by many people. They said because I don’t believe in the “good invisible guy” aka god, then I don’t have morals. Really, they said that in the exact words. And they told me I will go to hell and my soul will be tortured there. Well, if that is what they want to believe … let’s play along.

So when I die and if it is as per what I was told, then I will go to hell … but, I don’t think I will be tortured like many would like to believe … instead, I will be welcomed probably with a big party by the devil himself. And I will strive well in hell … you see, if I am as bad as they say I am … then hell is an environment where I will be at my best.

For those who wished that I will go to hell and if they really think that my soul to be tortured in hell … you guys have got it all wrong. Hell don’t torture badass like me … on the contrary, the devil likes badasses. Like I said earlier … he is the badass of all badasses.

As a matter of fact, I am already associated with him now … I have a small cheeky red little devil in diaper with two horns and an arrow headed tail holding a menacing trident tattooed on my chest … I call it the “devillet” ... my slang of a small cheeky devil. In all my social media correspondences, my sign-off emoticon is the purple two horns cheeky smiling creature and my favourite symbol is of course the devil hand sign. You see, I think I probably will be invited into the devil’s inner circle of badasses when I go to hell.

Really, if the devil wants to torture anyone in hell … it should be the good guys. That is why the good guys don’t want to end up in hell. And vice versa, the bad guys don’t want to go to heaven … so, if people believe that I should suffer and I should be punished for all the bad things they said I have done … then I should be in heaven.

September 23, 2016

I will go to hell

I am going to hell. How do I know? They told me. And who are they?  Well, there is a long list of people who want to see me go to hell.

First on the list is my wife … every now and then when I make her real mad (intentionally and unintentionally) … she will be fast to retort … “Go to hell” … in a menacing tone and manner. It’s OK, after living with her for so many years, I am used to that … like many women, what she says and what she really means is totally different.

Then there are those who said that if I don’t believe in what they believed in … I will go to hell. They sounded very convincing and they are very sure I will be there soon enough.

And I know there are a few whom I may have offended bad enough to curse me to hell. Hey, I am not a saint … I don’t have to pretend. In my 50+ years of life and especially during my working days … I did offend quite a few people. Call it corporate politics but that is how one needs to survive in the “dog-eat-dog” world.

Last but not least, I know a few crazy ones who wish that I will go to hell … "meet you there" ... they said. This bunch of people are more or less like me … they think that they are more likely to end up in hell than anywhere else when they die. Good to know that I will have a few peers with me when I am in hell.

So I am going to hell … what‘s the big deal? What am I trying to say? Stop beating around the bush … get to the point!

OK, OK … bear with me, I will get to it soon … indulge me for a short while, I need to build an elaborate setting to my message to make it interesting mah.

Alright, here it is … you see, they say that the soul will be tortured in hell … let me repeat, the SOUL will be tortured … not the body or anything else. Hmmm, it is just the soul that the devil wants. So when I die, there is no need to bring my body and everything that is in it to hell right? OK good … if that is the case, I might as well do something with my body and whatever in it.

So what can I do? Donate … yes, donate my organs. Since they think I have not done anything good (that is why they say I am going to hell remember?) when I am alive, I might as well do something good when I die. As a matter of fact, I have already signed up for organ donation. And for that matter, take my cadaver too … I am sure they can make good use of it in medical schools. Maybe after the good medical students are done with my cadaver, I hope they can process it into fertilizers … I read something on the internet recently that bodies can now be processed into fertilizers … do it, don’t let it go to waste.

Look, the gist of this long “go to hell” story is to get to the point about organ donation and maybe even body donation. The point I want to make is … many are not willing to donate their organs or body for medical needs or studies because their faith and beliefs won’t allow it … it is a sin to do so. I don’t know why … I don’t know the religious reason behind this sin.

My simple reasoning is … if someone can believe there is heaven and hell … they can believe that it is their souls that will go to heaven or hell when they die … then they really don’t need their organs and bodies which most likely will be left to rot or burnt to ashes. Then why not donate their organs and body to good use?

I don’t believe there is heaven or hell … so for me, it is just a practical reason why I want to donate my organs and my body when I die. But for those who believe there is heaven and hell, there is one more reason for them to do so. Let's put it this way, if you did good while you are alive and your soul will go to heaven … why not walk that extra mile and do good one more time when you die … heaven don’t need your body or your organs, so donate them to those in need. Or, if you have done bad while you are alive and your soul will be in hell … might as well take the opportunity to do one last good thing when you die. Hey, you will never know … maybe the devil will go easy on you for the one last good thing that you did.

August 24, 2016

The truth is ...

Most people are aware that their physical well being will start to decline when they reached the half century mark (maybe even earlier) … as a matter of fact, it is actually declining faster than they think. But many choose to ignore that or refuse to acknowledge it … some even say they actually feel better than when they were younger. They know very well that is not true.

So what do they do?

There will be some who will go to war with nature … an anti aging war. Though it is a very misleading term in the health and beauty business but “anti aging” is also one of the most believed terms for those who desperately want to think that one can stop growing old. From hiding gray hairs to enzyme supplements to cosmetic treatments to complex procedures … many faithfully submit to these processes thinking that they can stop or even reverse the effect of time.

Come on, don’t kid yourself … when you have lived more than 50 years, you should know better. The truth is … going against aging is a costly and frustrating war you will never win.

This is what I think … to see gray hair is fortunate … some people don’t get to live old enough to see gray hairs. Wrinkles? That is absolutely fine too … it is just on the face not in your heart.

Then there are many of those who said … look, I can still run a marathon! They boast about hiking the G7 mountains.Yes, many in my age group have this urge to participate in challenging activities. Not that they love the sport or they have a passion for it … quite a few have not even engage in anything that includes running or hiking in their younger days. But when they grow older, there is this urge to show or to prove to themselves (really, it is more to show others) that they can do it.

Strange but true … many think that by being able to run a marathon or hike up a mountain means that age has no effect on them … they like to think that if they can still do what a 30-year-old does then they have not aged at all. That is just bullshit but still there are a lot who want to think like that.

The truth is … if you feel that by being able to do what a 30-year-old does and that means physically you have not age at all … you have just wasted the last 20 plus years of your life.

Running, hiking or trekking (plus other challenging activities) is not about proving what you can still do or proving that you are still able to do what a younger person does. I salute those who run because of their genuine passion for marathons, those who hike because of their lifelong aspiration to conquer the peaks and those who trek simply because they love to bask in beautiful surroundings of the natural jungles.

And it gets stranger … there are quite a few of those who think they can take the easy way to just buy back their youth, their health or their well being. I will come back to this point … first, allow me to build the setting for the story.

Look, we all need money … no money, you are in trouble. That is a fact. So go make money and make as much as you can. But remember this … there is no freebies in this world. You give some, you take some and the question is … what are you giving in return for what you take?

The problem is … people just don’t know when to stop in the race for money … when they make some, they want more. It is always a bigger car or a bigger house or a better lifestyle and it is very hard to say enough. Over the years, they continue to remain oblivious to what they are giving away until it starts to affect their health, which in turn affects their families … then, it is too late already.

Here is my point … with the money they made, they willingly pay for the best medical treatments hoping that they can buy a cure that will bring back their health. The unfortunate truth is ... the best medical treatments have no guarantees.

And then there are stories about “magic potions” and “miracle cures” … luring those who are desperate enough to pay thousands of dollars believing that they can bring back their youth with magic and solve their health problems with miracles. The sad truth is … in modern time of science and scientific facts, there are still those who believe that Snow White and the seven dwarfs actually exist.

A lot of people simply did not plan out the various stages of their lives … maybe they are busy trying to make a better living … when they realized how quickly time passes by, they whine about time running out.

So maybe now you want plan what to do with the last remaining few chapters of your life and live accordingly. Don’t fool yourself trying to be young ... thinking that you can pluck another 20 years out of thin air.

Look, the truth is … from the half century mark onwards, things will go downhill faster than you think … regardless of what you want to believe. Yes, time is running out and many will complain that life is too short. But come to think about it … is life really too short? Did it ever cross your mind that maybe you took too long to start living it?

July 21, 2016

Before I die …

OK, the title looks like it is going to be one of those peculiar writings on the taboo subject of death … nope, rest assured this one is not … so no worries here.

And here it goes.

Everyone … errrrrr well, almost everyone have a bucket list. A list of things one must do before one leaves this world … kick the bucket, so to say.

I have seen many so called bucket lists … list of “must do” things and many of course are famous places to visit around the world, exclusive sports and recreational activities to engage in, exotic cuisines to savor and some common challenges in life like run a triathlon or climb some famous mountains.

And some strange ones too … one guy told me he wants to experience death. What? He wants to be (in his exact words) “put in a state of death” and be revived! Really, I am not joking ... so I told him he should put that as the last item on his bucket list … just in case, you know.

For me, it was never on my mind to say that I must do this or do that before I die. Famous places to visit? Visited a couple of the world wonders and many other popular places in various countries but they were not the places that I must go to before I die … it is just that I chanced upon the opportunity to go there and so I went.

Exciting sports? Not that I really wanted to do it … just happened to be there at the time. Like diving … I was told I must try diving before I die … it is an out of this world experience, they said. And I dove … one time at Sipadan and when I was just several meters down, I said to myself … I am F**KED! I was scared and I was not breathing properly. And the words came back to haunt me … “out of this world experience” they told me … of course, I was going to die! So, I got back onto the boat in no time. Look, diving is not something I must do before I die … more like something I should do if I want to die.

How about exotic cuisines? Kobe beef, Beluga caviar or Fugu sushi to name a few … nope, cannot afford any of those. Then a friend told me about foie gras … absolutely delicious and very expensive from what I was told. Again, must try before you die he said … I found out that foie gras is actually goose (or duck) liver. I consumed chicken livers many times before ... so, goose (or duck) liver should taste more or less the same I guess. 

Then at a dinner on a trip to France, foie gras was on the menu. Expensive dinner on company’s expense … the menu was about E$200 per head. Wow, almost RM1000 (then) … that was the most expensive meal I ever had in my life. And when the foie gras was served, (remembering what my friend told me) I took a good look at it … at first I wasn’t convinced but when I took a bite … I was sure, I must be participating in a Fear Factor reality show. One bite was all I had … errrrr, I will stick to chicken livers with chili sauce. Foie gras … must try before I die? Actually, I rather die than eating what looks like an enlarged diseased liver. OK OK, to be fair to all foie gras fans out there … it is just an exaggerated personal opinion ya.

Really, I don’t have a list of “must do” things before I kick the bucket … in my younger days I was busy doing things to help my parents, (when I got my own family) I have to put a roof over our heads, schooling for the kids and gather enough for my wife and I to live decently in our later years. Nor do I have a list of “must try” exotic food and cuisines … the “must eat” for us are mainly simple food on the table … maybe better varieties on celebrative days and festive seasons.

After I retired, I don’t have any “must do” challenges … I try staying active and doing just a bit of everything to keep me busy for as long as I am still able. And no, I don’t have a “must visit” list of places … only occasionally short breaks with my family to where the budget allows.

Many people have a bucket list but I don’t.

However, I do have a few things that I would like to see happened before I die. A few things that people are working on now which I hope will be realized in the near future.

So before I die, I hope to see astronauts on the moon again … that will certainly be new steps for further space exploration … like sending man to Mars. Before I die, I hope deep space scientists searching for extraterrestrial intelligence will be able to detect other intelligent life form(s) … that is to tell people not to be so arrogant to think that we are the only intelligent ones in the whole universe. Before I die, I hope physicists will be able to solve the mystery of Higgs Boson … that will bring new discoveries of how everything works in the universe. Before I die, I hope archaeologists will open and study the tomb of Shi Huang Ti, the first emperor of China … that will be a great opportunity for historians and the world to learn about one of the greatest early civilizations. Before I die, I hope medical researchers will find a cure for cancer … that will end the suffering of millions of people in the world. Before I die, I hope to see people having greater understanding and tolerance of various beliefs (whether religious or not) … then there will be real peace to all in the world.

And why do I want to see all these happened before I die?

Because then I will know when I leave … the world will be a better place for the generations to come.

June 27, 2016

I am not a likeable person

A lot of people don’t like me. Yes, no joke. I tell you why … I am not a likeable person.

Why is that so?

OK, let me explain. You see half of the people who know me don’t like me simply because I don’t believe in what they believed in. Yes, it is true ... the minute I tell them I am not a religious person, somehow I suddenly morphed into a reddish being with sharp ears and two horns holding a menacing trident.

I am not a religious person but I am not anti-religion. Too bad many people don’t see it this way. The way they see it … as long as you don’t belong to any religion, you are not going to be liked. More so if you are not in the same faith as they are.

So there you go … half of the people I know don’t like me already.

Then there are those who don’t like me for being direct … they say I am rude. There is a huge difference between being direct and being rude. If you are wrong, I tell you in your face that you are wrong … that is direct, not rude. I don’t tell others … why? Because it is YOU that need to change, not others. Unfortunately, some people cannot accept that.

And that makes another quarter of people who don’t like me. Not much left right? Wait, there is a few more.

From what is left, there are some who said I talked too much and they don’t like people who talked too much. Yes, I am a very vocal person … I don’t hide my opinions. The real reason why these people don’t like me is not because I talked too much, it is because what I said is different from what they wanted to hear. Sad but true … you don’t get ‘likes’ for honest opinions.

So you do the math and add up everything … you will see most people I know don’t like me. Now, what about the remaining few?

And here comes the gist of the story … like all my stories, I will take you go one big round before I come to the few lines to stress my point.

You may ask … “So, how about the few left … they like you?”

Well, these few are my close friends.  Do they like me? Errrrr … I don’t know. Put it this way, they did not say they like me … but, (here is my point) we get along very well because we are open to each other’s thoughts, opinions and frankness … because we can understand each other’s feelings, sensitivities and sentiments  … and also because we hold a certain tolerance level of each other’s beliefs, faith and devotions.

May 23, 2016

I see ... ME !

In the home of the elderly …

I see … unwanted burden and liability
I see … the forlornly aged, redundant and dispensable
I see … living being helplessly disconnected
I see … still eyes hollowing into blankness
I see … gray hair uncut and disheveled
I see … weak legs struggling to no avail
I see … shivering hands trying to feed
I see … sad face with a forgotten smile
I see … strange mumblings of unrecognized words
I see … loveless self without memories
I see … lost mind drawn to the threshold of insanity
I see … wandering thoughts contained and confined
I see … aged body fast disintegrating
I see … diseased organs in a fragile frame
I see … supported life on tubes and liquids
I see … exhausted body waiting for the end

And I see … ME !

April 29, 2016

Me, successful?

During a casual chat with a young graduate, he said to me …“Wah, you are so successful … don’t have to work already”.

Me, successful? Errrrrrr … depends on how you look at it. I’ll get back to that in a while.

First, let me ask … how do you measure success or what do you use to measure success?

Let’s throw in a bit of economic jargons just to make it sounds better … when measuring the GDP, it is not based on a fixed basket of things … like it differs from time to time in GDP, the things to put in the basket to measure success differs from people to people. OK clear? 

What it means is that everyone has their own ways of measuring success … some measure by life standards and values, some by religious principles, some by the hard way of sweat and tears and others used material gains to show what they have achieved.

Success comes in all shape and forms … it can be a small personal success like when you trained and ran a marathon … or it can be a big achievement in career advancement like when you have worked hard to be your own boss … or it can be a huge national pride like when someone wins the Olympic Gold for the country.

I am sure everyone has various form of successes in their lives and what you use to measure the successes is totally up to you.

Richard Branson is successful man but I don’t know what he puts in his basket to measure his success … all I know is that he has the Virgin Group to his name and he has an island with a posh resort home, millions in the bank, a yacht and of course airplanes to show how successful he is. So is Bill Gates of Microsoft, so is Jack Ma of Alibaba, so is Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and so was Steve Jobs of Apple.

Then again … so was my Dad! BUT ... he had nothing to his name or anything to show. You see, my late father always say that he is a successful man and when I ask him how he qualifies that, he simply said … “I don’t owe anyone, anything”. You see, my dad don’t have much to put in his basket to measure his success …  he was not like Branson, Gates, Ma, Zuckerberg or Jobs … all he ever had was his years of hard work.

My point is … you don’t have to be like Branson, Gates or Ma to be successful. You don’t have to have something to your name, you don’t have to measure success like the big boys and if you have nothing to show, that is absolutely OK … you are successful by your own measures.

So back to the question … am I successful? By my own measures of time, health, family, friends and maybe some other small little things ... yes, I am successful. But if you were to ask how successful I am ... then, like my dad, I have nothing to my name and I don’t have anything to show.

March 24, 2016

I don’t need to be blessed

(Note: The following article is strictly my point of view and may stir the comfort of some people with certain beliefs … so, please read with an open mind.)

It‘s the time of the year for burning money again … oops sorry, I mean burning fake money (or hell notes, as they called it). But then again, people are using real money to buy fake money and burn it … so, really, they are actually burning money!

You've guessed it …  it is going to be “Qingming” soon, the Tomb Sweeping Day or some called it the family AGM … where the Chinese will go to the graves of their loved ones to make offerings. They will burn lots of paper stuffs … houses, cars, designer bags, watches, shoes, clothes ... you name it, they have it … most important of all, stacks of “money” ... the netherworld currency in the billions.

And why people want to do that?

Many will tell you that it is about tradition, it is about filial piety, it is about remembering the dead and it is about respecting our ancestors.

Well, that’s part of it … what many will conveniently forget to tell you is that it is also time to ask for something in return … believing that their loved ones in the netherworld can bless them with fortunes, wealth, good health, longevity, prosperity, opportunities, education success and last but not least, a set of numbers to win the big jackpot at KTM (Kuda Toto Magnum).

The way I see it … if it is about tradition then it is quite an outdated belief of burning stuffs for the dead. If it is about filial piety … what filial piety is there to show to the dead? If you want to show that you are filial … show it to your parents when they are alive! If it is about remembering the dead … that is all in your mind and in your heart … not in the stuffs you burn. And if it is about respecting the ancestors … then do better than what they expected you to be … that’s all you need.

All the “hoos hahs” about waking up early, got stuck in the long traffic jams, getting the various types of offerings, cleaning and clearing the graves and spending real money to buy fake money to be burnt … really, it is about I scratch your back and you scratch mine.

Look, when someone goes to the grave … let him or her have peace. Isn’t that why people say R.I.P. when someone passed away? So, try not to go to the grave every year and ask for this and ask for that ...  hoping to get more than what you already have. Strange but true … those who already have abundance, those who can afford a better life, those who make huge offerings are always the ones who are asking for more … they scratch hard asking for a harder scratch in return.

Put it this way, I am sure your late father or mother would have done enough for you while they were alive … you still have a list of things for them to do for you while in their graves?

I have visited my ancestors’ graves and every now and then I go to the temple where my late father’s ashes are kept  … I remember one time at the temple a relative said to me … “why don’t you make some offerings and say something to your father … maybe ask him to “” (bless)  you.

I did not say anything really but if there was anything I want to say to my late father, I would have told him … “Don’t worry about me, I am doing absolutely OK and I can take care of myself and my family. I am in good health and staying out of trouble. There is enough to spend on things I need … so I am financially stable. Dad, I have done what you have expected me to do and I am sure you are proud. And no need to worry about your grand children too … there are doing OK. Though they will have to struggle a bit to pass their exams but no worries, they will get through by themselves ...  no help needed. They will have to learn to take care of themselves and make a living by themselves through hard work and perseverance.  And one more thing … don't take the trouble to come into my dreams and give me numbers to bet at KTM … if I want to place a bet, there is always the “lucky pick”.

Really Dad … go enjoy yourself, have fun be happy … go reincarnate (if you have not already done so) … don’t worry about me … I don’t need to be blessed.

February 24, 2016

I am at my best ...

Recently I quoted … “I am at my best in my simplest form” and posted it on various social media. Then someone asked me … what do you mean by “your best”?

I think people are asking me how do I qualify “my best” in the things I do … or maybe how do I evaluate and measure it.

OK, let me explain what I meant by “my best”.

You see, when I say I am at my best … it simply means when I am most happy, when I am most satisfied, when I am most contented, when I am most pleased, when I am most at ease, when I am most relaxed or when I am most comfortable.

Many times I have said that I am a simple man. I like simple things or things in their simplest forms. Simplicity is my approach. For example cooking … I love simple food so I like simple cooking and I cook very well with simple recipes. So don’t ask me to churn out something from a long complicated recipe … very likely I will “simplify” it and you may not like what it will turn out to be.

I write with simple words. Not that I don’t know how to use impressive jargons like how I wrote proposals and reports in my corporate days but hey, I am not writing to apply for a highly paid copywriter job. I am just writing to tell a story in the easiest way possible … so, simple words are most effective for a storyteller like me.

I love simple outdoors activities … trekking and hiking with a stick, backpack and a pair shoes … just walk and talk basically, nothing complicated really. I am not those adventurous types who use cutting edge GPS technology to map and cut out new trails, venture into unexplored jungles and mountains and conquering peaks around the world … that is just too tough and too difficult for me.

Sometimes I do a bit of cycling too … bought a RM150 used mountain bike and cycle around the neighborhood as and when I feel like cycling … that is all I do for cycling. So no, I don’t have high-tech bicycles with a complicated gear system that cost an arm and a leg or any impressive looking designer cycling gears and I don’t participate in 100km cycling races all over the country. Really, I am just an old uncle trying to get out of the house to enjoy the nature and a bit fresh air … I am most happy doing just that.

You see, I can be at my best in many different instances … I am at my best when I am alone at total peace with myself or when I take a nice evening walk with my wife around the neighborhood … that is when I am most satisfied. I am at my best when I am surrounded by my friends’ laughters and joys or when I have a quiet homemade dinner with my loved ones … that is when I am most pleased. And I am at my best when I basked in the rays of the morning sun penetrating through the branches of the trees in the jungle that I am trekking or when I am splashed by the cool waters from the waterfalls in the middle of the serene nature … that is where I am most at ease.

And if you look at where and when I am at my best … you will see that they all shared one common attribute … simplicity.

So, I guess you can see that I strive best in simple things or in simple activities or in simple environments … so, maybe you can now understand my meaning when I said … “I am at my best in my simplest form”.

January 22, 2016

Live old is an instinct ...

Everyone wants to live old … really, as old as possible and there is nothing wrong with that … it is the natural instinct of survival since human walked on the earth.

In ancient times, people fight savagely against primeval beasts or in brutal primitive wars to stay alive but today people are more likely to depend on scientific methods to help them live older. Whether it is now or thousands of years ago, this same instinct of survival remains in us … it is just that the methods of trying to live for as long as possible changed over time.

Many would think or would like to think that living old means as they grow older, they will age gradually and gracefully. And then come the day when the time is up, they will just pass on naturally and peacefully in a comfortable process.

Errrrr … sorry, I have to pour cold water on that thought.

The sad fact is … out of the top 10 causes of death, 9 are directly related to serious illnesses … not that I want to play up the fear element here but these deaths don’t come comfortably.

Click to enlarge. Sourced from Internet.
Look, let’s face it … as we aged, we get more vulnerable to a host of deadly diseases. For a very large majority, contracting one of those diseases is almost confirmed … it is just a matter of when. Some people get it during midlife, others even earlier … the rest may avoid it for several more years but eventually it will come. And when it does, it is no longer about living old … it is about trying to stay alive.

So, looks like living old does not sound so good after all. Hey, I am not saying that we should not look forward to getting old, I am just pointing out the fact that living old comes with its perils.

Maybe the younger ones are not bothered to talk about this yet … they have plenty of time and plenty of things to do, so for now, they are more concerned about how to make a good life for themselves.

But for those who have stepped into the final few chapters of their lives, I believe they must have asked themselves what will it be like as they live older.

And here is my point of the story … really, there is nothing much about living old. It is just a natural process and an instinct to stay alive for as long as possible. So let’s not worry about living old. As we grow older, let’s think more about living well. And what is living well?

The way I see it, living well is about staying active and always eager to go. It is about spending time on yourself, your friends and your loved ones. It is about helping to contribute to the populace and making things easier for others. It is about continuing to learn more and passing on your knowledge. Last but not least, it is about making the world a better place for those to come.

I am sure you know what I am talking about and I am sure there are more that people can add to the ‘live well’ list. So, for as long as you can … every day, every week, every month, every year … try to live your life well. I believe with this, growing old can be a lot more meaningful.

Live old is an instinct … live well is a choice.