Sunday, January 30, 2011

Woman of Steel, Heart of Gold

Do you know anyone that we can call a woman of steel? A successful, strong-willed and no-nonsense business woman perhaps? Well, the lady whose story I would like highlight in this post trumps anyone that we know, man or woman, because she has taken life by its horns and challenged it with a heart of gold. She is none other than Mdm Cai as featured on Channel 8's show, Dream Potters.

Mdm Cai's life is filled with unspeakable and continuous setbacks that most of us could never endure. She got herself into a bad marriage in which her husband left her, leaving her to take care of her in-laws. In addition, her own brother left the family and now she has the responsibility of taking care of four elderly parents. Furthermore, her son left her to take care of her grandson alone only to take him back after 19 years. Worst of all, Mdm Cai got news that her grandson jumped off a building a few years later.

What Mdm Cai went through is definitely comparable to Job in the Bible. Yet, what made her truly remarkable is the grace and goodness that is in her. After several years, she found her husband and he was very ill. Any woman would have left him to his own devices or, at best, send him to a home and pay for the first month of care or so. However, Mdm Cai took it upon herself to nurse him back to health and merely treat him as a friend. Her generosity and love was not to be repayed as her husband left her a second time and indulge in drinks, gambling and women.

Despite being betrayed and hurt several times, Mdm Cai certainly does not believe in once bitten, twice shy as she forgave him yet again and took him in her care when he was found to have dementia several years later. To top it all off, as she was taking care of her husband, she was struck with cancer and became blind as a result. Fortunately, she braved through that ordeal, recovered and return to taking care of her husband.

Now, how in the world does she possess such enormous strength, courage and love for others? To face such horrible things in her life, contemplated suicide and incredibly, decide against it and live her life in the service of others is absolutely saintly! When the production crew of Dream Potters visited her and asked if there is anything they could help, all she said was she wanted to raise funds to help others!

If one were to doubt the basic goodness of man, Mdm Cai is a living example to prove one otherwise.

To watch the episode of Dream Potters that features this amazing woman, click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pace

Here's a piece I wrote a while back. I found it while clearing up some old stuff. Enjoy!
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Andante, in music, refers to the speed of the piece to be set at a leisurely speed or a walking pace. However, if we were to play that piece set to a "walking pace" by today's standard, the piece will definitely be offensive for it will be too rushed. The breathless speed by which we are going in our everyday existence is certainly puzzling. Where are we rushing to?

This phenomenon cannot be further from the truth as evident from a recent shopping trip. I went window shopping with a friend and at one point, he asked me to cut through the throngs of people. I was utterly puzzled by his impatience for we were not in a rush nor do we have anything in particular to shop for. I asked him if he was rushing to get something and he remarked that everyone was walking too slowly and that we needed to walk at a proper pace. What is this "proper pace" and why is it that fast?

To me, we are rushing headlong into madness. It is as if we were trying to retain the sand of the hourglass as much as possible but we are found helpless as we see it slip through our fingers. Our preoccupation with efficiency and productivity has consumed us so much that it eats into our leisure hours instead of it being confined to the workplace. This is due to the fact that we anchor the stability of our lives to all things material; money buys us comfort and stability. This sets us up to acquire "enough" money to secure our future. But how much is indeed enough?

Have we forgotten that our emotional and spiritual well-being is the only key to our happiness? Our quest for comfort and luxury is to pander to our own happiness. It also panders to our pride in the ability to enjoy a sense of achievement. The reason that we may have such a preoccupation could be due to the fact that material gains has an immediate and readily available effect of comfort. Thus, we happily delude ourselves and go for short-term fulfillment.

However, our spiritual and emotional well being lies in the relationships we have with others, self, God and our personal beliefs. Ironically, these are things that are truly tangible for it lasts and determines our present and future. This is definitely different from the wealth and pride that we pursue which do not last.

Therefore, my gentle readers, the next time we find ourselves flustered and rushing for no rhyme or reason, I urge you to think of what andante means, take a deep breath, smile and travel life's journey in a walking pace. For those who are not familiar with andante, indulge in one of Mozart's famous work below!



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Job Search Dilemma

A rite of passage that most of us go through is to find a job to earn some extra cash or to bring the dough home. Yet, in the process of finding a job, one is sometimes torn between finding something of interest or one that pays well. This is especially true for students with minimal working experience who are finding jobs during the vacation period. This means that one would either be an intern in a company according to one’s interest or be in charge of menial tasks.

As such, I am no exception to the scheme of things as I recently endured the process of combing through newspapers, asking for recommendations and looking through online job advertisements. Being utterly torn up myself, I decided to look at what my peers have chosen. Understandably, most of them subscribed to the pragmatic route and just accept whatever decent offer that they could get.

While it is a noble enterprise to earn one’s keep and accepting what life offers, there is a deep-seated sense of uneasiness within me as I could not bring myself to do that. To me, it is not just a choice between two logical and commendable paths but one that reflects the outlook to one’s life: Do you choose to accept whatever life throws at you or do you fight for what you desire as long as there is a chance? How many times are we going to opt for a “safe” option and never find out what would happen if you took a chance?

Such questions plagued me endlessly and I decided to take the road less travelled and find a job that caters to my interest. This decision is made not out of rebellion but on the premise that I have no financial obligations except to myself and I am not limited by anything except by my resume and experiences. Therefore, why would I not want to take life by its horns and seek valuable experiences that are in line with my interests? This is especially so in view of the scarcity of such chances once responsibilities to family, friends and career set in.

On the surface, it may seem absurd to extrapolate the issue of work to life’s philosophy but every choice we make will contribute one way or another to who we will eventually be. In this vein, the choices I make now is a stepping stone to carve out a life that I would want for myself in the future. Come what may, I will be proud of my decisions even if my choices meant that I would fail miserably.

Having said that, one should realise that everyone is unique and different. Hence, my choices and outlook is never superior to another but it is best suited to my situation as I have mentioned. By extension, I am not saying that my friends have made a wrong choice but I am espousing the idea of making choices based on what one truly wants. If it means that one is only interested in the monetary value of the job, then go for it.

At the end of the day, life is all about choices and one should not be hampered by the “what ifs” but be encouraged by it to gain a broader experience. In the words of entrepreneur and maverick, Richard Branson, ‘Brave people don’t live forever, but cautious people don’t live at all.’ In case there are people who are interested in knowing what I have settled for, I have filed several applications but to no avail due to various reasons. But I am still trying, still fighting and still living.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Looking Ahead to 2011

As the day slowly winds down and it is slightly over an hour before 2011, I'd thought I look ahead and share some of my hopes for the new year.

2011 will definitely be a year of excitement as I will gain new experiences. The two main things to look forward to would be working for the first time as well as entering university.

With regards to the job prospect, I will most probably be a relief teacher. I am equally excited, anxious as well as apprehensive because it is indeed a very important responsibility; one that may decide what the kids will do in future. I personally do not believe that the end result of one's education is only decided by oneself. That is because as a student, I have been influenced, shaped and moulded by many teachers who have illuminated my life in ways that extend beyond the classroom. And if one were to truly believe that one could learn by oneself, it is interesting to note that these adults do not home school their children and let them take national examinations as private candidates.

On top of that, I am fortunate to blessed with a side job of being an assistant instructor to a brass band. It is a scary experience because I do not know very much about brass instruments. Yet, as this job requires teaching and making music, what better that to bestow upon these children the gift of music? While my musical experience extends to a meagre eight years, I do hope that what little I could teach would allow these children an alternative outlet of expression that transcends any language, cultural and chronological barriers. As music has inspired me, I hope I would be a bridge for these children to cross which will allow them to be inspired in profound ways.

As for entering university, it is definitely an exciting prospect because it would be the final culmination of the many years of my education. The possibilities are boundless and I still have not a smidgen of an idea as to my major. But I am definitely looking to do a double major for I love too many subjects offered to choose just one. Nonetheless, it would definitely be a exciting trip.

On a personal note, 2011 would mean the year that I would turn 21 - a year that is considered to be the start of an adult life or as one friend puts it, "you're definitely going to prison and  get caned for whatever wrong you've done once you're 21... No way around it." It would be a year to explore maturity and what it means to be a man in this modern age. Something that interests and excites me at the same time. As for my aspirations in relation to my coming of age, I truly hope to be as all rounded as possible especially in the intellectual arena. Also, with regards to my physical condition, I definitely look forward to improving it and am sure the myriad of activities that university has to offer will hopefully aid me in that.

So here's to a wonderful and blessed 2011!!