COVID-19 Thoughts

“It’s been an emotional six months.” I think we can all relate to that sentence.

When we started out the year in January, I never thought the world would be in a state that it is. I remember being saddened by all the koalas being burnt by the Australian bushfires and donating to the koala hospital. Life, otherwise was still good.  Who would think that within the span of a few months, countries would close their borders, global supply chains disrupted, millions asked to stay home, millions more in the movement  for Black Lives Matter and standing up against racism, and the five day workday, which has its roots in the industrial revolution, finally disrupted. I certainly didn’t expect this and I suppose neither did millions of people around the world.

I have always believed that every cloud has a silver lining and in every crisis there are opportunities. Of course, the first month or so when the virus first hit, I must admit I was feeling down and stressed. The uncertainty of it all, the fear that I, that we, that my family and loved ones would catch it was undoubtedly hanging like a cloud overhead.  Life priorities came quickly into perspective as we were quickly reminded of how fragile life can be.

I remember watching CNN and seeing truck after truck carrying the dead out of cities in Italy to be cremated at a neighboring city because the local crematorium was at full capacity.  I saw makeshift hospitals being built at Central Park where I used to roam around and I remember the sadness of families unable to say good bye and images of ICUs filled with patients on ventilators. It’s these kind of images that remind us how real the crisis is.  I am not sure if the images are now being censored worldwide, or if it is too dangerous for journalists, but we are seeing less of the reality on the front-lines and as a result, many still believe that the virus is a “hoax.”  Others, in a desire to go on with life, have simply started to forget how deadly and severe this Pandemic is.

I too am starting to feel “lighter” and as Thailand has not seen any domestic cases in over forty days, we are starting to loosen and forget to “socially distance” ourselves.  This is only possible as we aren’t yet allowing incoming travel without quarantine. Once, we reopen our skies, let us remember that the risk is real.  Before there are any vaccines, there is a high probability that we will catch the virus that is now even more contagious than before.  If not us, then someone close to us.

In the meantime, remember to spend time with those who matter most to you. Do what it is you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t gotten around to doing.  Make decisions you have been putting off and remember that there is no time like now.

One day our time will come. We just don’t know when or where.


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.

Anger Be Gone

The other day I had a chance to go to a temple unlike others in that the monk does not simply chant the buddhist prayers during the funeral, but instead he’ll spend roughly half an hour teaching us some of the philosophies in plain language for all to understand.  I think it’s great and I although the journey there was long and the journey back included wading through the flood and having my car at times turn into a boat, a lot of interesting thoughts remained in mind.  So much so I thought it’d be great to share a little of it here with you today.  It’s about anger.

Now we humans all have emotions. We feel happiness, sadness, fear, anger, jealousy and a zillion other feelings.  Sometimes we feel more than one at the same time and cannot quite distinguish which is which.   Sometimes they get the better of us and start influencing our actions.

It’s how we control those emotions though that make all the difference.   The monk’s example was on “Anger.”  For example, he said, if you light a match, the flame at the end of the match is but a small flame and you can easily distinguish it with a fling of the hand or a little blow.  However if you let the flame catch onto other things, it can grow to be so powerful that it’d burn down houses or even rows of houses.  By that time, a single firetruck would not be sufficient.  You’d need a couple firetrucks and a team of firefighters.

Likewise, if we get angry and cannot control it,  our anger can grow to be so powerful and strong it will overshadow our life and our actions.  We might spend lifetimes seeking revenge or retribution for a remark once heard, or an action once done.   We might kill lives, destroy things around us, or even misplace our anger on those who love us most.    Because of our anger, we do things that have utterly no benefit to our life.  We waste a good portion of our energy feeling “angry” and plotting revenge.  Then in the end, we all die with nothing left but that feeling of “anger.”

Of course it’d be great if we could all just turn off our emotions at a flick of a hand, but it’s something that is achievable with practice.  It’s not easy,  but if you stop, pause, take note of your emotions before it becomes a storm, then perhaps you’d have added a little more happiness to your life.  Count one to ten before you send of some remarks in anger or seek revenge.  Life is so short.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow?  Why waste time being angry when you can be happy?  Look up and smell the roses 🙂 Life is beautiful.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary! Yes, it’s Having ‘Me’ Time’s first Anniversary! A little over a year ago (on March 16th, 2010 to be exact) I turned on my computer, logged into a very old blogger account that had been inactive for years, and wrote my first post. I thank you Alex for encouraging me as you always have. I had no clue how it would evolve and until this day I am still wondering where all this writing will take me. The only thing I am sure of though is that I’m enjoying every minute on it and that I truly appreciate everyone who has continued to follow my posts as well as your comments. They make my day. Thank you for reading 🙂

A lot has happened in the past year, not only with me but with the world in which we live. Imagine, a year ago who would have thought an earthquake and tsunami of such magnitude would occur in Japan? Haiti and New Zealand? The middle east was still calm. There were no unrests in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Nuclear power was still on the agenda. Summer was just starting in Thailand before we had the political unrest that resulted in fires, deaths and my evacuation from the condo. I pray no such thing ever happens again. It was stressful. Too stressful.

As for me, I’m still the same girl with the funny accent and the “chubby” me deep inside though of course I am now a year older and (hopefully) wiser. A year is quite a long time if you think about all that has happened…and not so long if you think about all that you wished you had done. I still have some unfinished projects like knitting that bag I’ve half started.

This past year, one important lesson I’ve learnt is that sometimes it’s okay to just be the person you are, even if it isn’t always the person you think you’d like to be. Oftentimes we have images of the person we think we should be: a little more organized, less forgetful, more disciplined, more caring or more patient.

Sometimes we even fall into the trap of thinking we are a certain way even though we aren’t in reality. What is important though is that we recognize these “traps” and not fall into them. Are we really the person we think we are? Am I really a person who likes to spend every evening outside the house partying? I realize I do enjoy staying home so much more that now I you’d need to have a good reason to make me leave the comfort of my home. Or maybe it’s just age hitting me. Whatever it is, I realize I like it this way.

So now a year has past, a year where I have spent almost everyday on this blog and one that I must say has been one of my happiest years. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, about those around me and about the world in which we live. There is still, however, a world still of unkowns for me to explore and discover. There is much I want to do in this lifetime. How has your past year been? How have you changed? What are your thoughts on life? Feel free to share. 🙂

Happy Anniversary!

A Contemplation on Japan’s Earthquake: Life is More

It’s been two days since the earthquake in Japan, yet safe in Bangkok I still feel a certain sadness for those in northern Japan.  Some entire villages were swept away. Entire families and communities gone just like that.  In a blink of an eye.  I cannot imagine.  I cannot say I understand how it must feel to be in the midst of this devastation because I am not there and I am not the one whose house was swept away or whose relatives are missing.  All I can say is that my thoughts are with those in Japan and that I pray the worst is over. 

This earthquake demonstrates how powerful nature is to destroy all in its path.  Nothing can withstand the force of 10 meter high waves hitting inland. Footage show entire houses being swept away as if they were toy houses and cars rolling around in the water like ice cubes bubbling up and down in water.   Some say it is nature’s way of “cleansing” itself, it is interesting.  Perhaps there will be a period when the world becomes calmer.  Perhaps there will be a period of harmony when we all become happier humans and turn to value each other more than the value of our assets.

What do we learn from all this earthquake?  More than I can summarize in this post, however, discussing it with Alex  a lot of it boils down to this:  One cannot plan one’s life completely

We humans (at least me anyways) like to think we can plan what will happen and when.  We like to think that we are in charge of our destiny and in control.  But think about it.  Are we really in control?
Can we really determine what will happen when and where? 

Of course there are certain things we can influence, like when to wake up and when to sleep, when to go eat…but in the overall scheme of things, do you know whether your usual trip to the office in the morning would include seeing the World Trade Centre being reduced to rubble in NYC?  Did you imagine your usual afternoon meeting in Tokyo to include one of the biggest earthquakes in history?  Did you think your visit to Christchurch would involve seeing the city in rubbles or that your visit to Haiti would see millions homeless?  Did you think your annual diving trip would involve you in a Tsunami?  Did you think you’ll meet the person of your dreams on a plane?  Would we know that we would see our loved ones die before our eyes and there is nothing we can do about it?  

We don’t know. A Japanese man says he saw his wife swept away.  What a feeling of helplessness it must be.

We don’t know what will happen.  We have no clue what will happen with our lives.  We can’t plan, we can’t control it.  We just have to embrace what life brings us.  Look around yourself and be grateful for what you have. See the beauty in life and value what has been given us.  Many of us (me included) like to forget and complain about how miserable everything is, how we wish this and that were better.   How we wish things turned out the way we want them to be.  Somethings things just aren’t perfect.

We have no control.  So go out and live your life.  Look around you and be happy with what life has given you.  Who knows, something may happen tomorrow or tonight?

Pink Blossoms on Your Path

The weather has turned and it is no longer cool and breezy in Bangkok.  The cool wintry air has just vanished just like that.  Instead its hot and humid.  I don’t like this weather and will probably never do.  I wonder if anyone actually likes this weather or that they one day simply get “accustomed” to it like the way one can get “accustomed” to noise.

Anyways, whilst walking to lunch and thinking to myself how awfully hot it is in Bangkok and how I wish I could be somewhere cooler, I walked past a beautiful tree that was full of pink blossoms.  The blossoms fell around me as I walked and in that brief moment I forgot about my complaints and the hot weather.

The flowers were beautiful.  Pink and blossoming.  The wind brought them down and they floated down through the air and onto your hair.  They silently fell onto your path softly sprinkling it in baby pink as if it were icing on a cupcake.  Its hard to miss this path of pink.

The blossoms on the ground remind me of the shortness of their time in the spotlight.  They’d blossom and fall onto the ground in days.  I’m not sure exactly how many days they’d blossom, but they were just scattered all over the ground.  Some stopped and took photos, some picked up blossoms, and others walked by.

The pink blossoms are like life.  Short, beautiful and ephemeral.  All that remains in the end is the impressions left by that short period of time when the flower was in full bloom…