Reflections after the storm

In the wee hours of this Sunday morning we had a summer storm. I woke up and lay in bed listening to the sounds of howling winds and raindrops pouring down on the roof and garden. I loved it. I love listening to sounds of rain, of course when I’m not stuck outside, and blissfully thought how much cooler it would be later on in the day. I thought about how the dry grass would be rejuvenated and trees would blossom from the water. I thought about how happy the birds would be to have some water. They always liked to come play whenever I watered the plants. I thought about the toads that would be hopping around the garden.

I got out of bed and as my morning routine is to grab the ipad and start reading odd news here and there while having some morning time with the dogs, I realised the wifi was slow. It annoyed me. I felt emotions of annoyance bubbling up on such a lovely morning.  Then Alex reminded me, it’s good enough that we have internet.

That’s true. It’s indeed a blessing to be able to have wifi all day, 24 hours a day. I admit I am addicted to the internet and to being ‘connected.’ Two decades ago, this would not have caused me to be annoyed. I grew up in a time when essays were handwritten.  Internet required modem dial-ins.  I still remember the sound of the modem and how it would signify communication from afar (email).  It’s so easy to forget and lose ourselves to our emotions and be dissatisfied, never satisfied, always wanting more. Wifi and being connected aren’t worth the energy being dissatisfied. Life is too short.

Life should spent be living. Research says that showing gratitude and content are key to happiness. I agree. For now, I feel blessed to be able to think about all these things and not have to worry about the roof of my house flying off from the wind or that the house would be flooded. I don’t have to worry about my next meal or if I’d have clothes to wear.

Time for me to donate some more to charity. Clear the clutter from the house and donate to where it would be better loved. Live simply. Less is more. Happy Sunday!

What’s your Cheese?

The other day I read an interesting book called “I Moved Your Cheese.”  It’s a book that follows on the famous “Who Moved My Cheese?”  and I find it interesting for it tells a story of three mice in a maze that challenged the maze in which they lived.  It’s fascinating.   The story is simple and you could finish the book in one night, yet it makes one think.  It is a reflection of what life should be.

The three mice in the story were not like the other mice for they thought outside the box.  They questioned the fact that “cheese” was indeed important for everyone and if they should in fact pursue this “cheese” just because everyone else is pursuing it.   Follow the cheese and find it.  Adapt so that one can consume this cheese.

To put things short, the story basically teaches us to do some self reflection.  Think about what this “cheese” is for us.  To some, it may mean getting that limited edition bag, to others it could mean going on a trip, or for some it could just mean sitting at home on the couch with a good book with the person they love.  Discover what it is in life that makes you happy and pursue that. 🙂

Follow your own dreams not other people’s dreams. (or other people’s dreams for us) 🙂

The Sweeper

On the street where I live, the streets are always clean.   Every morning an old  man, who lives in a little unimposing house in a corner, gets up and sweeps the streets.  I call him “The Sweeper.” He’s not paid to sweep the streets.  He is an inhabitant of the street, yet every morning he sweeps the street for everyone.  He gently moves down rows and rows of houses with broom in hand sweeping away trash, leaves and whatever else is left on the street.   He asks not for recognition, he asks not for notice, he asks not for money.  He sweeps the streets because he wants to.  He sweeps the streets because he has a good heart.

It’s not easy to find a man like him in this modern day where no one wants to do anything for free.  Everything now must be bought, be exchanged, be in response to another good action.  It reminds me of what Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan about man being innately selfish.  The Sweeper, however, sweeps because he wants to. He is not selfish.

I have not talked to him, but early mornings around 6am when I am rushing out to run, I’d see him already sweeping.  From the looks of his age, he must be many years past retirement.  Perhaps a decade or more.  I assume he started sweeping to keep himself busy, as a form of exercise, but I could be mistaken.  One day, I shall have to park the car and have a chat with him.

I wonder what pushed him to start sweeping. I wonder what his life is like. I wonder what he thinks. I wonder what he was before we all know him as “The Sweeper.”  I wonder if he has any family.  From what I see, his only companions seem to be the dogs that wander around his house and watch out for him while he sweeps.  Some days, I’d see him sitting on the street in front of his house surrounded by the dogs.  They love him.  Dogs know who have a good heart.

I wonder if there ever was a day he wanted to give up and just not get out of bed.   Rain or shine, he
is always there.  He is like a reminder of times past.  A time when Bangkok was less cosmopolitan, less busy, less hectic, and more loving.
I am thankful that on this earth there are men like him.  He reminds us that sometimes life isn’t about always doing things in expectation of returns or compensation.  Life can be about giving.  It’s about doing what gives us pleasure.  He need not be boastful, yet his goodness shines out far and wide.

Thank you Sweeper for reminding us all.  I wish you a pleasant, healthy and good life.

Another Year, Another Step, Thank you.

July has come and vanished before my eyes as if it were a firefly.  It’s my birthday month and now I am officially another year older.  (Hopefully a little wiser. )  Birthdays are one of those days you can’t wait for to arrive when you are a child, get a little anxious when it gets to a turning point, (like when you turn 30 or move up another notch), yet there remains a certain childish feeling of happiness one cannot quite put into words.  Though it dissipates over time, hints of it remain in the system as if it were a glowing glittering firefly that never dies.

Birthdays for me have always been one of those days to celebrate with friends and families.   Three decades on they still are but of course things have evolved. No more days of hot potato games, blowing out candles (that actually reflect your actual birthday), or  playing hide and seek.  Now it’s dinners and lunches in restaurants surrounded by those who matter most.   Now its facebook wishes from around the globe.  I have to admit it is something to “like” about facebook.

Nevertheless, looking back on this past year, I wonder if I am indeed older and wiser as the saying
goes.   I have to admit I do not know, for being “wise” depends on your  definition.  What I do know is this:

There are :
– many things I have yet to learn in this world
– many dreams waiting yet to be accomplished
– many places waiting yet to be discovered
– many prayers yet to be said
– many things to be improved upon (personal things like speaking louder, forgetting less…etc..)
– many things to forgive

Thinking about this, I hopefully still have several more decades ahead of me to work them out.  It shall be an interesting one and one that is still a mystery waiting to be explored.

For the moment though, I’d like to Thank You my family, Alex, my sisters, and my friends for always being there for me.  I thank you everyone for being who they are and for supporting me through everything 🙂  Thank you.  This is what makes life worth living.

Another year, another step, lets keep on moving together!! 🙂

When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough

Being in a contemplative mood today a title of a book pops suddenly into my head: Harold Kushner’s “When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough.” I have to admit I have not yet read this book by Rabbi Kushner but somehow the title has intriqued me on more occasions than one. It’s a title that grabs you whenever you walk by it at the bookstore. It grabs your inner voice and leaves a mark in your brain as if it were your subconscious speaking the words “when all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough.”

So what happens I wonder when all I wanted isn’t enough? How much is enough? Is there an end to enough? The end seems far in sight. It seems to be far out into the horizon like when you are looking out towards the sea. There is no end. The earth is not flat and we won’t suddenly drop off the ocean even if we wanted to. If we keep going and going, we’ll go around in a circle and end up where we started. We end up still wanting something that we previously didn’t have.

Last year I wanted a watch. I saved up and got my watch. This year I suddenly want an iPad 2. I don’t really need it because I already have a desktop, a laptop, a netbook, and an iPhone all to myself. I really only use one at a time and when I read I can read from one of my computers or my iPhone. Yet still it’s not the same. I want that iPad 2. My brain says I don’t really need it. My heart says go out and buy it. This is what happens when all I wanted isn’t enough.

If I were satisfied with finally having gotten my watch then I’ll be completely happy. I’m happy I got what I wanted. Then suddenly, now that the watch is here, it no longer gives me satisfaction.

The same goes for everything else in life. Work, relationships, children.

It’s a mental challenge that will probably exist throughout my entire lifetime. How do we get satisfaction in life. I am happy the way I am, but if I chosen another path or if I had done something different would I be happier? Life sometimes I feel is like a constant search for satisfaction. The never ending search for the unknown.

When in reality, the unknown is really inside your head. Inside your mind. One way I think we can be more satisfied is to just be grateful everyday for what you have, what has been given and what you will receive. I’m not saying be passive and ignorant, but if you find yourself complaining day-in, day-out about everything around you, try instead to use different words. Change from the word “bored” to “happy.” Is your life really that miserable?

Look around and appreciate the good things in life. Use positive words. You will find that it has a good psychological effect on your mood. Even better yet, it has a good influence on those around you. It probably still doesn’t take away the feeling of “when all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough,” but I think it can somewhat lessen the degree with which you feel it.

After all this contemplation, I think it’s probably time I got Kushner’s book and read it. It’s tempted me often enough.

Have you read it? What do you think about it?

The “To Do” List

I have lots of “To Do” lists. I think everyone does.  And sometimes it gets a hold of me. I want to finish everything on that “To Do” list and when I do, I feel great. I feel like I’ve accomplished something but then all I did was cross off things on my list only to add more things to it.  It becomes a vicious cycle that never ends.  I delete then I add.   I run around like a crazy girl on weekends driving here and there, doing this and that,.  When traffic is bad.   I use the time to call up people and check on stuff I otherwise don’t have time to.   I plan my route so it is most efficient, but some days I can be out of the house by 8am and not be back till almost 9pm.   I feel like a winded clock.  I can’t wait to get home.  When I do, I rush up to my room and collapse on my bed like it was my saviour.  I fall asleep thinking about what I have to do tomorrow and next week.  My brain is on a perpetual “go.”  Some nights I dream of things I have to do.

That though isn’t really life.  Accomplishng tasks shouldn’t be what life is all about.

Life isn’t really about how many things you get done in one day.  Life isn’t about how many things you’ve crossed off the “To do” list or how many things you have left to do.  Life is more than that.  Life as Alex says so clearly is also about learning to just enjoy and appreciate the moment.  We need to go easy on ourselves sometimes.  Sometimes life could be just sitting quietly with one’s thoughts or watching that beautiful sunset.   Life could be waking up early to watch the sunrise or sitting at the coffee shop people watching with a good book in hand.  All this calm amidst the chaos is also life.  It balances us out.

If you spend your life running around accomplishing tasks, but never once just sit quietly, rest and remind yourself about how lucky you are to have this life, then you would be forever stuck in this rat race.  Stuck like a hamster running on the wheel that has no end until it collapses and falls off from exhaustion.  It ends up needing medical help to help it revive.  Therefore, other than all the “To Do” lists we have in this hectic world, don’t also forget another part of life that also balances us out.  Sitting quietly or reading a good book is part of being alive.  Listening to music or watching that beautiful sunset can be so good for the soul you wouldn’t know what hit you. 

Get off the wheel every now and then and give yourself a rest.  Give yourself time to enjoy the other side of life before it passes you by.  You deserve it.  Give yourself some “Me” time to rediscover yourself before it gets lost in the “To Do” list.

“Life” on this Earth

Sitting amongst my belongings, clearing out old documents, and finding the proper place for my things I wonder about life and death.  It’s really quiet here in my new house, and absent of my TV, DVD and stereo which have yet to be unpacked, I have a lot of quiet time to ponder and contemplate about life.  I like it actually.   I wonder mostly about what will happen to all these accumulated things once I am no longer on this earth and how they affect my life?

Then I think about death.  Life is fleeting.  This past New Years, news of horrific accidents made me sad.   Those who died were good people, with good lives and families which loved them.  Many were young.  Life could be taken from us anytime, anywhere, in anyform. Gone in a flash.

So when the time finally arrives, what matters then?  Is it all these belongings we have?  Is it the title we hold or the positions we held?  Is it the money in our bank account?  Or is life really just about what kind of person you are?  What good did you do in this world, and how you treated those around you?

I think the latter holds true.  When all is done, the only thing that matters in our lives is the experiences we had, the memories, and how we touched those around us.  What matters is not the money you had, but what you did with it. What matters is what kind of person you were.  What matters is your intentions and your actions, for actions speak louder than words. What matters is how you lived.

What do you think life is about? Please share. Thank you 🙂