The Elder Gentleman

I’m tired and sleepy, but this story has been whirling around my head all day and it’s one I’d like to share .  Like many mornings the past eight years, I woke up and got myself to the gym for a run before work.  Over the years I’ve come to know a few ladies through locker room chit chat, and to recognize the regulars by face. After eight years you start to know who comes on what days, what time, and who likes what kinds of exercise. I’ve also grown accustomed to being greeted by a gentleman who must be in his late seventies or early eighties. He’s a regular and spends around an hour each day on the treadmill followed by the bicycle before lifting a few weights. In between he’d greet people with a big smile.

I always thought to myself how active and pleasant this man was.  He’d smile and go around asking people how they were.  If I had gone missing for a week or longer than a two days, he’d ask me where I’ve been and remind me that I should keep coming regularly. He’d encourage you to keep up the good work when he sees you working out well. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing the familiar face at the gym even though I don’t know his name or anything else about him.

Then he disappeared for a few weeks.

I wondered where’d he gone. If it was for a holiday, it usually wasn’t more than a week but this time the absence was noticeable. Thoughts crossed my mind. I wondered if he’d fallen ill or passed away. After all he wasn’t young anymore. I pushed such thoughts out of my mind.

This morning I found out what happened.  Walking to the fitness room, I saw him sitting on a bench just in front of the fitness room. In that moment, I felt a big rock slide down my throat.  I felt like my heart dropped.  He was surrounded by two helpers with a walking aid in front of him. He wasn’t his old self and most probably had suffered a stroke. I dared not ask. When greeted, his speech was blurry but he still recognized and remembered everyone. After awhile, he slowly started his rounds at the various weight machines.

I write a lot about death, but it’s events like this that remind us how fragile life can be. One day you are living your life, following your daily routines, and the next, you find yourself having difficulty just moving a few steps. The trick is to keep on going. The gentleman continues his recovery but no one knows what will happen tomorrow.  Live life and enjoy it before it’s too late. In the end there’s one truth we can’t escape and that death is always on our doorstep.  Time stops for no one. Do what you want to do before it’s too late.

Good night!

Brain Fizz

My responsibilities this year has had me traveling almost monthly.  Fortunately it’s regional travel and despite its frequency, it’s mainly short trips.   During these trips you find yourself spending most of your time in the hotel stressed out in the meeting room, however, I try whenever I can, to escape for a morning walk or an evening escapade.   I look for somewhere to refresh one’s mind.  Somewhere to get a little rest and reinvigorate.  Somewhere my brain can just fizzle down and hear itself.

Sometimes just sitting quietly for breakfast with the morning newspaper and a nice view is all that is needed to give the brain a little boost.    Sometimes it’s just a little walk outside early mornings, to feel the wind in my face or to hear the birds chirp.  These things for me are what remind us what life is all about.

I tend to forget about taking care of my brain, but it’s important to let the brain have a little quiet time.  After all, the brain is an organ (a most important one that is!) and one must look after its health and its well-being.  If the brain malfunctions or gets overloaded, not surprisingly, we’ll find ourselves unhappy, impatient, moody and overall not a nice person to be around.  The “evil” black side of us comes out in full steam.

So if you can, take care of your brain.  Allow it some time to rest.  Allow it to refresh and you will find yourself invigorated and overall happier (hopefully). Some people meditate, some people listen to music.  In the end, just do what you find to relax yourself.  Just don’t forget your brain.

Gut, follow it.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Even if you don’t celebrate it, I think it’s a great day to just go out, reunite with family friends and have an awesome day. 🙂 Today what comes to mind is how we humans are indeed funny creatures (or maybe it’s just me). Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a decision, yet a zillion different choices come up? Which choice do you choose?

What happens to me is that at first instinct, I say “This is what I like.I choose “A”.

However, to be sure that THIS is the choice that I really like, I end up going through all the alternatives in meticulous detail. I go through the pros and cons, check details on websites, read reviews and think about the choices day-in day-out.

The result? After painstakingly looking at all the details and having a pile of information, I go back to “A.” The first option I decided on.

It makes me wonder, why do I go through all these motions of checking, going through details, only to revert back to the very first decision one made months or years ago? It reminds me of the book “Blink” I read before by Malcom Gladwell. It talks about the human instinct and how instinctively we sometimes know the difference between a fake and a real work of art. It tells us that from our past experiences, our accumulated knowledge, our store of knowledge, our “instinct” or rather our gut feeling is often correct.

I suppose one should follow one’s gut more often. However, it takes gut to do this so it isn’t very easy to do. If you can,however, it will stop you going through all the motions of looking at every possible choice and save you much time. Choose what it is you want and follow your gut 🙂 It doesn’t lie.


Thinking about how technology has evolved over the years and how I’ve witnessed these changes makes me sometimes realize I’m not that young anymore.   I grew up in a world of Commodore 64 and 386 computers.  Now I live in a time of iPads, wireless internet and harddisks the size of name cards. I start to feel like a slave to technology. Everything is computerized and stored. Even my entering and leaving the office building is accounted for.

Computers back then were rare, we wrote school essays by hand.  It wasn’t until high school did computers start coming into schools, and then it was a computer lab for everyone to share.  Games were played on Atari and my Commodore 64 was then top of the line.  Monitors displayed black and green.  Color excited us, and then it only offered a nice blue screen. Printers were dot matrix.  This was already wonderful.  I loved it already then.  I had my extra joystick and information was stored on 5inch floppy disks.  I still have some of that in a box somewhere.

We listened to music on tapes and radios.  I remember going to the record store and getting my first LP.  I remember buying Pet Shop Boys “It’s a Sin.”  Now LPs are collectors’ item and only those really into music like to collect them.  The sound just sounds purer.  Then CDs came along and that was in itself amazing.  How did all that music fit into a small disk?  Now we have DVDs which hold much more.

Computers now are dual core, my Pentium III that I got in college is no longer in existence.  I
donated it awhile back.  The beautiful large 17 inch monitor which was beautiful back then is now large and clumsy.  I prefer slim flat screen monitors.  Yes, they are beautiful.  I wonder if it can get any better than this.

We sold things on newsgroups on Unix.  There was no ebay, no amazon, no online shopping store.

Now we have internet, speeds get faster but I am increasingly impatient.  I want my news, my information at a click of a mouse.  Any download time makes me feel like I am wasting time. I get upset when my internet disconnects me from the rest of the online world.   Yet I wonder how I lived before in a time of dial up internets.  Back then we connected on phones and mail.  That was a time when I still got real mail in the mail. Now all I get are invoices and advertisements.

I wonder sometimes about all this technology.  I love it, I use the entire time I’m awake. But are we all really learning how to use it properly?  We should learn to use it to help us, aid us in doing things more efficiently and faster, but we should also not become a slave to technology. We must also learn to live and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  Breathe the fresh air,  feel the breeze rustle your hair and look up
into the clouds.  When was the last time you lay on your back imagining what shapes the clouds could be?  Maybe now its time to try it a little now that it’s summer 🙂

My 24hours

While thinking about “Big Rock” the other day, I wondered what do I do in 24hours and how can I be more effective in achieving what I want to achieve?  I can’t make my 24hours become 48 hours in a day (although I would love to) so I just have to work with the same number of hours but with a prioritization.

A typical working day for me goes like this:

7 hours :  Sleep
1 hour  : Travel to and from fitness
1.5 hour: Exercise +shower+change
9 hours:   Work (assuming this is a VERY good day)
1 hour:    Travel home
1.5 hour:  Dinner + family time
0.5 hour shower
1 hour blog
1.5 hours spare time (in case of traffic, long showers, long dinners, )

Looking at this breakdown, I realize I have roughly an hour extra a day to do what I want to do. What should be my priority during this hour? If there is a long traffic jam, I lose this personal time.

It can be family, health or work.  Just one hour a day isn’t much, but if you realize that this is your valuable time then do what you want to do in that special hour 🙂

What are you going to do?

Finding “Big Rock”

We all know there are 24 hours in a day, yet we always want to do more in less time. While reading about effective time management the other day, I discussed the topic with Alex. A lot of people (I included) like to think that if I manage my time better, I can squeeze in more things. I can get more things done because I am more efficient. (This is awesome, I can actually do things that would usually take me two days in one day.) Actually if you really think hard about it. Being effective doesn’t necessarily mean squeezing in more accomplished tasks or finished works into the same amount of time. Effective time management is really about prioritizing. It means ensuring that you get what you need and should get done, actually accomplished in the allotted time.

An example is given in the book I read about a “Big Rock.” The big rock is placed in a glass and those who see it, declare that the glass is now FULL with this Big Rock. The lecturer then takes out a bag of sand and pours it into the glass. It fills the empty space. Nevertheless, he is still not done. Water is then  poured into the cup.  What  does this teach us? If we don’t first put in the “Big Rock” into the glass, we will never get it in.
What do you compare this big rock with in your life?
–  Family time and time for those who love you?
– honesty, education, or money and wealth?
– other things in life….etc..You name it. The “Big Rock” can be anything.  If you have unrealized dreams, then put it into the glass.  If health is your priorty, make time for it.  If your family is most important to you, then take care of them.  If your career, or business is what you live for, then that is what you put first in life.Whatever your “Big Rock” is in life, remember to first put it in the glass.  If not, your time will be filled with sand and water (which represent unimportant tasks and unexpected things that come to take your time away).Live your life, find your “Big Rock.” Once you find it, put it in the glass 🙂

The Concept of “Time”

We leave Vienna for a day.  While unpacking boxes (yes I’m still not done) I came across a couple of old poems I wrote while in highschool.  Tonight I want to share with you one called “Time.”   Let me know what you think!  Thank you and have a great end to Sunday 🙂


What is it really?
No one knows.
An invention, an idea,
A practical tool
To communicate,
To name a part of history.

It seems endless
But yet,
There must be an end.
There must also be a beginning.
When did it all start?
No one knows.

We are all followers.
Followers of time.
We live by it,
We work by it,
That is our life.
Our life, governed
By an idea,
A concept
Called Time.

“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 🙂

A Thousand Dreams

I like to dream.  I dream of all the things I want to do and be.  I dream that one day I’ll be able to play golf like a pro.  I dream that one day I’ll sing like a bluebird.  I dream of traveling the world and having my own set of books.

I dream so many things that I wonder where to start.  Each day, each week, I come up with a new dream.  I wonder if this lifetime I’d be able to accomplish them all. There are just so many things to do in life. I have work, I have family, I have errands, I have social obligations.  Perhaps I need to have nine lives like a cat.

As said matter of factly by Alex:  “We only have 24 hours in day.”

It’s important to dream your dreams, but its also important to focus your energy on what dream you want to accomplish most and when.

If your immediate goal is to lose weight, then ignore all your other dreams for the moment and focus on losing weight.  It’ll take time.  It always takes time to accomplish a goal, and if you don’t focus all your energy on it, it’ll be hard to be successful.  There is no magic bullet, no magic pill.  Everything requires hard work.  It took  me half a year to lose 15kgs of my weight.  During that time, everything else was set aside.  I made time for my goal.   It wasn’t easy, but now it’s done, it’s done. 

I have crossed it off my “To Do” list forever.    It was worth it.  Everyday I am so happy I did it.

Once you get that goal over and done, you can then start on your next goal whatever that might be.  It’s through this succession of focus and prioritization that you will be able to accomplish all you want to.  Maybe you won’t accomplish all of the dreams you dreamt, but at least you’d have accomplished the dreams you really wanted most.

If you really want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to do it.  If not, there’s always an excuse. 🙂

Time flies but its in your hands

Time flies.  It seems to fly by faster the older one gets.  I remember when I was young, a day seemed so long. It was filled with going to school, having the afternoon nap, homework, playing with the dog, reading or doing other odd things.  I was always looking forward to birthdays and another year.

Nowadays, a day is over even though you feel like it just started.  You’re sitting there working and then before you know it, its already time to go home.  It goes by so fast, that years past like it was months.  My birthday seems to be coming by around faster.  Too fast.  I don’t look forward to it as much anymore.

Whenever people ask me how long I’ve been working, the answer is no longer one digit.  It is now two digits and I realize: “Gosh, I’m not that young anymore.”   What happen to all my dreams and goals?  Have I  accomplished all I want to?  Grey hair is popping up.

Despite all the bad news about time flying by fast, the good thing is that you’re the one controlling it.  Even if time flew by faster than expected, it’s never too late.  You’re the one in control.  You direct what to do with your time.

The trick is just to not get drowned by the speed with which its gone, but to hold it in your hands and decide what to do with the rest of it.  That’s what matters. It’s all up to you .  There’s no one else who can tell you what to do with it.  You’re the captain of your ship. 🙂

Afterall, didn’t Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC succeed at age 75? 🙂