The Impermanence of Life

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Life is strange. So many uncertainties yet one definite truth about life is that it all ends at one point in time. How it ends, how it stops, how we spend our last breath is one we do not know. When reading the many articles and literature on happiness (humans seem to be obsessed with finding happiness), one advice that often comes up is to think about life and death.

This week I’ve had many reminders. Many opportunities to think about life and death.

First, having dogs that are innately hunters, I am constantly reminded about the circle of life.
My happy dogs like to bring me gifts from their day’s play. Sometimes it’s a dried up dead lizard or snake. Sometimes its animals which I’d rather not see and have to ask Alex to dispose of. This week, I found a poor bird whose life has left its winged body on my porch. It was such a pretty little bird who had a ‘bad’ day. For dogs, hunting is everyday life and play. They hunt, they kill, then they lick me happily on the face and take a nap. I love them dearly.

My second reminder was on how weak physically humans are. I caught the flu. A vicious flu that showed its full strength just as I had to travel for work. I have had my annual flu vaccination and been exercising regularly. I believed I was in pretty good health, but yet it still took a great many days to overcome this vicious virus. I am still not completely well. I survived meetings through aids of medication and vitamins then spent nights trying to sleep amidst the fever and congestion. Once I got home, the adrenaline that kept me in working state vanished and I was left feeling frail and weakened. Muscle strength vanished and appetites disappeared. Thumping headaches followed. It’s been a long time since I felt so weak and such an invalid. Life is indeed fragile. Although a flu is nothing compared to other illnesses, it’s enough to remind me.

My last reminders were news of a dear friend’s family loss. The next day it was followed by the lost of a dear colleague’s family loss. Just a day apart, they have had family members who suddenly parted. One morning, you wake up to what will be another day, like every other day, but by evening it is not so. So quick and fleeting is life. So final.

So impermanent is life like everything else. Let’s remember to enjoy and be grateful for our lives. Let’s live in the present. Let’s not worry so much about the future, we forget to live in present.

Let’s do something to help our world. As Benjamin Franklin once said we should constantly remind ourselves and ask ourselves is “What good may I do in the world?”

I’m searching for a cause I would like to devote my energy to helping make a difference in this world. There are so many I can’t quite decide. What are some causes that drive your passion? Please share. 🙂

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Grandma: 7 January 1923 -24 November 2015

They say that when you look back on life, it is the little things that you’ll remember and cherish. I agree for it is indeed the little things about Grandma that put a smile on my face and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. To me, Grandma embodied warmth, kindness, and happiness.  

I remember sitting on her lap when I was around 5 years old and playing with grandma like granddaughters do: rubbing her skin, measuring her arms against mine and overall just curiously playing with her whilst listening to childhood stories. Grandma always had time for her grandchildren and stories to tell.

I remember spending Sundays at Grandma’s for it was when family would gather at her house for lunch. The house would be buzzing with activity and food more than one could possibly eat. She would sit there beaming and smiling drinking her coconut juice and having a comment for each and everyone. I always loved hearing her comments. She was a lady truly unlike anyone I know. She was our pillar and our centre.

Strong, sharp and loving; Grandma I love you. We all love you. Although you are no longer physically here with us, you will remain forever in our hearts and nothing can take away our love. Thank you for being such a wonderful Grandma. Thank you for being our inspiration. You were the best.

Life is life, Death is death

It has been awhile since I’ve last written.  It’s been a long while.  I don’t even remember the date or the last time I sat at my laptop typing away.  It’s been that long. I’ve missed it.  Life as it is, has decided that this year would be the year to teach us about life and death.  This is a year of teaching what it is like to lose loved ones and be near death as it sits on the porch waiting to come in.

Even though the moment we are brought into this world, the one certainty in life is that one day we will all die, it is still a concept that is hard for us to embrace.  We spend our entire lives trying to avoid ‘death’ in one way or another.   We take care of our health, do yearly health checks, drive safely, watch for cars while crossing the road and are constantly aware of things that will hurt us or bring us closer to ‘death.’  We have rules and regulations to minimise deaths.

Yet, the fact remains that one day we will all be gone.

One lesson I’ve learnt from deaths this year is this.  “Enjoy life as much as you can, whilst you can.”  Don’t spend your life trying to be “perfect” or cow away from experiences.   You never know what will happen, what life has planned for you, so just do what you want to do in life and enjoy the experience.  Don’t wait until it is too late.

If there is something you always wanted to do in life, don’t think to yourself that you’ll do it when you are old and retired or at a later date.   Who knows, you might never reach that later date.  Life may decide to leave us without notice.

If here is something you want to do with someone, likewise, don’t wait.  Who knows if you’ll ever get the chance again.  Life may decide to leave them.

Don’t waste time pondering why death decides to choose one and not the other.  There is no logical explanation.  It is all just a part of life.  Just live your life the best you can and make it a happy one.  Walk out and smell the roses, feel the wind in your hair and listen to the birds chirp.  Play ball with your dog and spend time with your children before they are grown. This is life.

Have a great day everyone and remember to enjoy life! You only get one chance at it! 🙂

2012: A year you call your own

It’s 2012. It’s the year the world as we know it is supposed to end. There’s a whole movie dedicated to this year which I haven’t seen yet, but many tell me it is strikingly familiar with earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and any kind of natural disaster you can think about. Whatever happens, let’s not live in fear about what will or could happen. Let’s approach 2012 from another perspective. Let it be a year of new beginnings, new adventures and new life.

Let it be a year you can say was your year.

Life for me is a lot about what you make of it. New Years is a good time for us to reconsider what is important to us, what it is we want to accomplish this year and most importantly, what it is we learnt the past year.

 I know I’ve learnt a lot and there is still much I have to learn.

One of the most important things I’ve learnt though is that your life is in your hands. If there is something about you that you don’t like, you don’t have to dwell on it and forever be in a state of sorrow about it. You can take action and make things better. It doesn’t always have to be external factors like losing weight or getting fit, it can be internal things like the way you think.

For example, many of us (and I included) like to see the negative side of things. Sometimes we see events or view things from a negative side and as a result become unhappy, sad and emotional. If we let it eat into us, we will be living our life in sadness, bitterness and sorrow. What sort of life would that be? Perhaps one grey and sad like Ebenezer Scrooge’s world before he realized what life should be about.

So let’s think positive. Let us enjoy the year ahead of us. Even if the economy is bad, even if something happens we don’t want to happen, think of it this way: Bad things happen to us so that better things can happen to us.
So find the “positive” side to anything that happens to you this year and let 2012 be a blast of a year! It is what you make of it. Let not others run your year. It is yours to run. 🙂 No need for a list of resolutions. Just this one I think is enough to keep one busy all year round.

I know not if half way through we will all die or if I will just happenly succumb to a heart attack and die young. Who knows what will happen. I might just choke on a spoon of water. These things do happen. When it does, lets hope we can look back during that brief flash before we die and be proud of the life we have lived. Happy New Year 2012!

Steve Jobs: Not just any man

The past two days the hot topic on everyone’s lips has been “Steve Jobs has died.”  It’s strange that I should find out about this on my iPhone, a few  minutes after waking up.
When talking to others the first reaction is a little ‘gasp.’  Everyone knows him. Even those who are not Apple fans.  He’s dead and millions worldwide mourn his death.  Millions who have not seen nor spoken to him in person, yet we all hold a part of him in our lives.  We use his inventions to contact those dearest to us and as research even suggests, what we feel for our smart phones may not be merely addiction, but in fact ‘love.’

Yes, we have grown to ‘love’ our iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs and many things Apple related.

For me, the iPhone has become so much of life that it is the last thing I look at before I go to bed at night, and it is the first thing I wake up to in the morning.  It is my alarm clock, my organizer, my camera, my newspaper, and my source of contact to the virtual world of social networking.    I no longer have to carry around newspapers, books, notebooks, agendas, games, or other things when I travel.  It’s all in one.

Before the iPhone, a phone was a phone.  I used it to call people, answer calls and do a little bit of email here and there.  That was it.  There were no androids back then.  We had symbians and blackberry.  Functional phones.  When I was in highschool in Poland, we still used those telephones with round dials and operators to call international.  Now we use Skype and internet on our iPhones.  Amazing how fast technology has changed.

Now many lives have forever changed.  Children now play with iPads and iPhones as if it were the most natural thing on earth.  They play with it without any hesitation. It is intuitive and responsive to the human touch.  Looking back at my own childhood, I still remember playing summer and winter olympics on the Commodore 64.  Then we had Atari.  That was considered amazing.  5 inch flopping disks coupled with green and black screens. No Windows. No coloured screens. No internet. Computers were still not so approachable.  We feared it a little.  No longer.

Steve Jobs changed the technology world, but what do we mean by this?  I think what we mean is that his creativity and his visions have allowed us to experience what once could only be found in science fiction.  He let us believe that dreams can be accomplished, that anything was possible.  You just had to find it inside of you.

No longer do we have to settle for boring functional telephones and animations whose stories were targeted only for children.  Steve let you enjoy a bit of art and design in the iPhone, iPad and anything Apple.  Every curve, ever corner well considered, well thought out.  Crafted with love.

He affects us because his creations helped take the drudgery out of everyday worklife, where many seem to work without souls.  Steve worked with his soul.  Steve worked with his heart. He ‘created.’

If only we could all put our hearts and our souls into doing something we love, the world would indeed be a different place.  If only we could all find our ‘passion.’

Yes, we will all miss Steve Jobs and his visions.  The world will and has already remembered him. Good bye Steve Jobs. We’ll miss you.

All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”

William Shakespeare


I think Shakespeare was really right to compare our world to being a stage and us merely players.  We are all born onto this earth as a child, we play our parts, grow up, and then we depart.  Sometimes it’s as if we are taking part in one giant movie.  Each life is a different movie.  Sometimes they interact, sometimes they each take their own path.   Upon each path, we encounter a series of characters, each one brings with it new experiences, new emotions.  Then paths diverge and evolve.  It’s a lifelong process that ends when we depart from this world and exit the stage.

I am suddenly reminded of the Truman Show.  A life we thought we had, was simply someone else’s show.

What happens when we exit the stage?  No one knows. It’s another story, another stage. Some believe in the afterlife, reincarnation.  Some believe there is a soul that remains and perhaps we go to heaven or to hell.  Some believe we are nothing more but dust and air once we perish.  It’s an answer no one alive can ever tell you.  To find out, we’d first have to exit this stage. Then, we wouldn’t be here discussing what happens.

What ever stage we are on. Whatever movie we are taking a part in, I think what matters most is what you learn from those experiences.  What you learn from your interactions with the other players and how your react.  That is life.  A series of experiences and interactions.  Fascinating.

What do you think? Please share.

Pray for Norway

The past weekend has been one full of tragedies.  All over the world, there were nothing  but news of deaths and sadness. In Thailand, a third helicopter crashed while on a mission to remove the bodies from two previously fallen helicopter missions.  The first fell due to bad weather.  It is presumed that the second one also fell to bad weather while attempting rescue the first.  The third helicopter fell from engine failure.  Lives were lost.  9 in total.  What a tragedy.  My prayers are with them.  A Chinese high speed train crashes. Then Amy Winehouse dies.  Worst yet, a lone man shooting spree occurs in one of the world’s most peaceful nations.  Norway.

This is the home to the Nobel Peace Prize and has a crime rate so low that policemen remain unarmed.
Most probably have only fired arms in training.  News of the shooting made my heart and soul drop. Literally.  I have to say that it is something you just don’t wake up thinking about.   You wake up with the sunshine hoping that today will be a good day.  It’s summer and you have to imagine how happy the Norwegians must be to have sunshine after months of snow and bad weather.  This is what children and families look forward to.  Summer holidays and summer camp.  It’s time for laughter and pleasure.

This little piece of utopia is then abruptly disrupted by a man with psychological problems and in need of help. Big Help.  Paradise turns into nightmare and everyone is left scarred for life.  For me, (although I have never been to Norway and know not any Norwegians)  I feel like this nightmare has probably changed Norway in a way that no one can imagine.  I feel like Norway lost a bit of its soul the day that .

A peaceful nation, who can imagine that such an event could happen.    No one wants it to happen. No
one wants anyone to be killed.  Although the police are said to have reacted slowly, who can blame them for not having tried their best?  Everyone was unprepared.

No matter what happens, I pray that Norway and its people recover.  I pray that they will get over this nightmare of an episode and once again reinvent the Utoya island into it’s former glory. I pray the children who survived will not grow up to be disturbed people.  I pray they grow strong and get over it.  I pray that it will not make people angrier as a whole.  I pray that those in need of attention or have psychological problems really seek out help in other none damaging ways.  Most of all, I pray that there be no more shootings, no more deaths, no more blaming.  What’s done is done.   We are all humans no matter what religion and what race.  In the end we all die.  Let it be a peaceful one.