This blog will hopefully inspire you, warm your heart, make you smile and feel positive.

Archive for the ‘Contemplations’ Category

Giving Life A Second Chance

If you’ve ever heard the saying: “you can learn and grow from every experience”, this is indeed true. I always wonder how everything that has happened in my life have led me to the person I become today. When I look back to some of the hardest moments, each of these experience have taught me some of the most important lessons and made me a better person. That love can heal, there are other people out there if you allow them in. Memories of loved ones live on forever. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. You alone are good enough. Words can kill. Friendship is sometimes bitter sweet. You cannot please everyone. Never settle or give up as life is a journey full of roadblocks. The best comes when you refuse to let failures break you down and acknowledge that there is a purpose for everything.

I like to laugh and I also like to make others laugh. Life passes by no matter you cry or laugh. So why wait all life for happiness? People often ask me, “What makes you so positive?” The truth is sometimes you don’t have a choice. When you fall into really bad situations, you cannot waste time in feeling sorry for yourself. You have to survive, build an armor around yourself and push on. My mom passed away 4 years ago. Others might see I’m coping it well. They think I should be over it. But sometimes I’ll stare at the emptiness and think about her. When I was a mess, I felt she’s still around and reminded me to hold on and be strong. Although I am still struggling with grief and uncertainties, mom taught me how to become a responsible person. I am meant to do amazing things, not just because that’s what mom wanted, but because I know what I am capable of.

You may be hitting rock bottom right now, remember that life isn’t all a dark cloud. There is light at the end of every tunnel and sometimes the rainbow you are looking for is just right in front of you. Never ever give up on yourself, there are people out there who care. You are meant to be who you are. All of the hard times you’ve gone through are not what power the stove. They are simply minor parts of the elements on the stove top that allow you to run smoothly. Experiences do not define who you are. Never forget your past or where you came from, but use them as motivation to move forward. Even if the journey so far is not that satisfied, learn the lessons, rebuild your life and set off again. Give life a second chance.

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Late Night Thoughts

circularquay

1:30am. Circular Quay. We were updating the system for a production deployment. The deployment window was 12am to 5am. This mean we had to finish the deployment before 5am. We just cleared a major hurdle and were racing with time. Now the service team was working in a good pace. I was checking the readiness of the back end system for the final verification when everything was connected together.

Circular Quay is a harbor in Sydney. We were working in a wharf which is an open area. It’s winter in Australia and the wind was blowing towards us from the harbor. I guessed it’s only 1 or 2°C. My fingers felt like frozen and couldn’t type freely on the keyboard. I should wear more. But I couldn’t care much now, there were too many problems to face.

In the past few weeks, I turned myself to a geek – overworked, under-slept and lots of coffee. Other than sleeping, eating, commuting and showering, the remaining time were all spent at work. I talked more to my colleagues and clients than to my father. Why I need to do this? A number of reasons: a tight project schedule, a fixed delivery deadline, and a promised press conference that couldn’t be postponed.

When I was young, I was always looking forward to the future. I imagined how I will look like when I grow up and what sort of person I will become. The idea of adulthood gave the promises of freedom. I thought I can eventually pursue a career and a particular lifestyle. I thought when I’m older, I can be whoever I want. But when we grow older, we understand that although advantages come with age, so do responsibility. There are commitments and sacrifices to make. Sadly, we don’t know until they come.

I lost count of how many jobs I had worked for. Each time when I changed job, I felt like reinventing myself and experiencing life from a new perspective. Organizations actually are not different from each other that much. People always have their own interests and you simply can’t please everyone. When things go wrong, you learn to stop complaining or blaming others. When life is unfair to you, you learn to avoid letting the little things bother you. You know you don’t need to complete with others but need to give your best in every project. In the end, just enjoy yourself and have an amazing time in the celebration.

You also know when you need to move on. Every turn in life is just a crossroad, not a dead end. We may eventually be an ordinary person who is not rich or famous. But it won’t stop us to have some little dreams in our heart – do what you like, love a person, take a trip, learn a language, run a marathon. I looked up the high rise luxury apartments, all the lights were turned off. People were sleeping comfortably above while someone were struggling to earn a living below, what a contrast!

Embrace the Struggle

No matter what happens, the morning will still come tomorrow. The world keeps spinning, everyday seems the same. Wake up alone, stand up straight, pick up your feet, take it like a man, be nice to others, don’t swear, oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. But little things are changing gradually over time without notice. One day, you will suddenly feel bored with your once favorite song, give up one of your lifelong habits, let go those people and things that you think you will never let go. Time is so tough and all you can do is to adapt and overcome.

Most of us believe happiness is the absence of heartache and struggle. We prefer a life of comfort and ease, void of problems. However, happiness is actually shrouded in struggle and facing challenges that gives us the traction needed to move forward and live a more meaningful life. Changes accompany growth. So don’t be afraid of change and don’t run from challenges. Every challenge is an opportunity for growth. Avoiding struggle will only doom yourself to a life of mediocrity. Failure is the best way to learn. It makes you think, determine what went wrong, and make you change.

We are just normal people, not superheros. We will sometimes get emotional and complain the world is unfair. Afterwards, some people give up, some persist. It all depends on your choice. There are many ways to live your life. If life is a movie, you are the scriptwriter, director, and the leading actor. You may also be the only audience. But many people simply make their life movies that will be liked by other people. This doesn’t mean they can’t make one that they really like, they just don’t have courage to ignore the ways how others see them.

Life’s inherent challenges are what make it possible to thrive. Pain produces progress. Without challenges and the weight of your own personal load, there will be nothing to overcome, nothing to achieve, nothing that could bring you happiness. You can’t appreciate the good without experiencing the sting of the bad. Bad is what makes “good” good.

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.” – Andy Rooney

In Loving Memory

Mom left us 4 years ago. During the time when she was sick, if the weather was fine, I would push her in the wheelchair outside the courtyard to get some sunlight. We didn’t talk much at that time, we both knew the end was near. We normally watched the clouds in the blue sky quietly. I remembered when I was young and still studying, I also liked to lie lazily on the balcony and watch the clouds in those summer holidays, wonder what my future would be. I felt guilty that I didn’t spend more time with her to travel and see the world. And now it was too late. To everything there is a season, the earth revolves as well as life. But only after the loss of your loved ones, you know what you actually need in life.

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

I don’t know where you are and how busy your life is. But when we look back, it’s amazed that we had spent so much time to do the same things day after day. We become comfortable with our daily routines. We even make excuses to procrastinate those trips we need to plan; too busy at work, not enough annual leaves, let me save more money first, I may not be capable of doing this … If you don’t take the first step, you will never know the possibilities. If we don’t start the journey now, we may never have the chance to set off. Our next breath is not guaranteed. Everything passed, that’s why life is so beautiful. So break the norms and try something new. The bravery is in moving forward, no matter what.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up … To more than I can be.

I need to walk for 10 minutes from home to the train station. I always hurry to catch the train most of the time. But sometimes when you slow down the pace, you will start enjoying the little things in life – a flock of birds lining up on the overhead wires, a dog looking at you when walking with its owner, people preparing for the day’s business, the aroma of coffee, or even a smile from a stranger. Happiness is not about how much we have, but how we view our life. So stop and take a moment to admire the things and people you take for granted every day. Happiness is in every corner, waiting to be found and embraced. Be happy, you never know how much time you have left.

Lyrics: You Raise Me Up

Confession of a Runner

I seldom have running partners, I won’t talk when running anyway. Kevin is the rare one. We used to run during lunch time when we were still working together. We then changed jobs and lost contact. One day we met in the train station and found that we are actually living in the same suburb. We then ran occasionally on Sunday mornings. But he likes to drive to the national park and have a mountain trail run there, and I prefer to run around the neighborhood streets which is easier and less time consuming. So we don’t run together very often.

One morning after we finished a nearly 20 km run, he asked me a very strange question, “Have you ever risked your life for someone?” Still recovering from the run, I hardly came up with a clever line, “Yeah, for my boss, I always imagine I’ll get a heart attack at work.” “Why did you ask?” I was interested whether there was a follow up to the question. Kevin answered, “I was once involved in a serious fight, I thought I would die that time.” Kevin is a few years younger than me and a polite person, I can’t relate him to any violent behavior. “What happened?” I asked while expecting a bar fight story about a bunch of drunk people. Might be still in a runner’s high, Kevin told me his love story.

Kevin and Shirley were friends for many years and he loved her. The problem was Shirley was married. So Kevin just maintained a pure closed friendship with her. Shirley’s husband once made a wrong investment decision and lost most of their savings. After some heated argument, Shirley moved out. Kevin helped her to move and tried to support her during those tough times. One day, while Kevin was visiting Shirley, her husband turned up. Argument then turned into a fight, police was reported and at the end a restraining order was granted to enforce Shirley’s husband to stay away from Kevin.

“He hit me first, Shirley tried to stop him but he pushed her to the ground. I was angry and I hit him back. That was my first and only fight. I applied everything I learned from Jacky Chan’s movies.” Jacky Chan? I think Rocky or some real MMA fights are more appropriate. This might be the reason why Kevin was beaten up and needed to stay overnight in the hospital. But Kevin claimed that he had successfully torn the guy’s pant apart. I didn’t ask whether Shirley’s husband was wearing a short or his underwear was also torn apart, the aftermath should be interesting.

If life’s like a movie, this should be a happy ending here that Kevin and Shirley will be together forever. But things happen for no reason in real life. On the contrary, Shirley and her husband were back together after the event. “I don’t understand why someone can love a person who is not worth their love,” Kevin sighed. I was not sure he was talking about Shirley, or about himself. But only he can judge who is worth for risking his life. Shirley and her husband eventually separated a year later and were in the process of divorce. Neither Shirley nor Kevin contacted each other.

Kevin said he had registered in running the full marathon later this year. Every runner is looking forward to their loved ones waiting for them at the finish line. I’m not sure Shirley is the one Kevin wants to see at the end. When you look back in life, there are always someone that you know you should let go but you choose to hang on. You just want to make them happy, protect them and face every setback in life with them together. You won’t regret for everything you had done even one day they walk out from your life. As those are the moments you truly lived, and probably the best memories in your life.

Year of the Rooster

rooster

The arrival of 2017 is followed by the Chinese Lunar New Year. Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, new year falls on January 28 this year. In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is associated with an animal sign, plus an element – 2017 is the year of the rooster and the element is fire. According to ancient legends, the rooster is proud and confident, hardworking and punctual. Fire is the element associated with brilliance, warmth, passion and spark. So a brilliant and enthusiastic rooster, combined with the salient characteristics of fire, this is a year of results and achievements. This year we can fulfill our dreams.

It’s a custom that before the new year we will clean the house thoroughly to sweep away the old and welcome the good and the prosperous. The entire family will enjoy a big dinner and stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve to watch over the arrival of the new year. Everyone will try their best to go home for New Year’s Eve to pay respects to their parents and elders. New year is a time for family reunion. We will visit family and friends to wish them good fortune and prosperity. So sometimes we will meet those relatives who live far away only once a year during the new year.

My mom would give me the first red envelope that we call lucky money. At the same time, she would also give her blessing to me for the coming year – top of the class at school, a job promotion, a huge pay rise, getting married, lots of kids … Although I kept disappointing her, she would continue to wish me good luck every year. Now she’s no longer with us and the feeling of Chinese New Year is a bit different. Like missing a piece of puzzle. But mom, those happy moments that we’ve spent together really make me smile. If I can turn back time, I’ll be more earnest when I’m talking to you rather than trying to be funny. I’ll hug you more. My best luck in life is that I’m your son.

There are also things that we don’t do in the Chinese New Year. Don’t use words with negative meanings, like breaking, death, sickness, pain, losing and poverty. Don’t break anything, as it may result in losses or family rifts. Don’t give gifts such as clocks, scissors, pears, umbrellas, shoes, mirrors or cut flowers – they can all bring bad luck. Don’t take medicine or go to hospital, unless you’re seriously ill, or you’ll suffer from illness all year. They are all old sayings and are shared as interesting facts here. In the end, may the Year of Rooster bring you joy, love and peace.

The Hardest Truth In Life

hideo

It’s New Year again; did you make you New Year’s resolutions? When looking back, how many New Year’s resolutions did you actually achieve? There are always regrets in life that some dreams cannot be fulfilled; some people cannot be let go.

In a Japanese variety show, a group of elders were asked what they would say if they had a chance to speak to their younger self. There was a 76 years old man named Hideo, he talked to his 18 years old self:

Hey Hideo, I know you are planning to apply to a top university in Tokyo.
In order to motivate you to study harder, I’ll tell you the outcome in advance.
You’ll make 2 attempts but both fail and you will end up going to a less famous university.

The audiences laughed, they thought Hideo was funny … until the second part when he talked to his 24 years old self:

Hideo, you will meet and date a girl named Hana at work.
Due to your introverted personality, you’re not sure whether you should get married or not.
But I tell you, if you love Hana, just propose to her.
As 2 years later, she will get sick … then pass away.

OMG! The audiences were now sad with tears in their eyes while Hideo continued:

Also Hideo, please tell Hana that I love her very much.
And you will still be single at the age of 76.

Breakups, divorces and affairs happen everyday. But there also exists a pure relationship that people only love one person in their whole life, despite that person is still around or not. Hideo reminds me the movie dialogue from Stephen Chow’s “Journey to the West”:

There was once a sincere love in front of me, but I did not cherish it. When I lost it, I can only regret. There is nothing more painful than this in life. If I can have a second chance, I will tell her these three words: “I Love You”. If I have to give a duration to this love, I hope it will be a thousand years.

This is voted as the most touching movie dialogue in Hong Kong. Although I feel it’s overpraised, it illustrates the hardest truth in life. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have and the decisions we waited too long to make. If you love someone – love them now. Don’t wait until it’s too late, you might not get another chance. We won’t have a thousand years.