You have an awesome big brother. Really, no bragging.
He loves you unconditionally and in such a pure and naive manner, he can never hurt you on purpose. He has seen you grown in your mummy’s stomach and he was so ecstatic when you first came out.
Born to be your Big Brother.
Honestly, I don’t know how he does it, he took on the 大哥 role like fish to water. He knows when to protect you and look after you. We didn’t have to teach him much. He has always been there to look out for you.
Your Brother the Hustler
We will never forget back in 2009 when we went to the Central Fire Station for a kind of outing. There was a little girl coming over to your pram to check you out, your big brother wouldn’t let her touch you, and he puts himself between you and the little girl.
Backing each other up
As the both of you grows up, there will be conflicting priorities and there will be conflicts, despite of our best efforts to make peace out of the both of you. You both need your space to grow and you will have your own priorities. Sometimes those priorities will clash, but whenever you can, please try to come to each other’s aid as much as possible.
A couple of evenings back, you brother asked you to accompany him for his bath, well, he is kind of a scatty cat and he likes your companionship while be bath. You were on a game or something and refused to keep him company.
He came out and did a tit-for-tat when you ask him to help him with something.
I have to intervene to find out what was going on.
The bottom line
You both are brothers, and as far as my memory serves me, your big brother has never asked of you to do unreasonable things. And he will always comes to your aid, without reservations. You have to do likewise for you.
Right now, you still have your dad and mum to come in and intervene in such instances of conflict, by the time we are dead, I don’t want the both of you to go at your throats, because of a tit-for-tat. Being brothers is more than quid pro quo, you must drop whatever you are doing and go to each other’s aid. Because like what I’ve said before, there is no one else out there, it’s just the both of you against the world.
You will hear a lot of work-life advise in your life. Some say this and some will say that. It all depends on what works for you and what kind of a person you grow up to be.
You can either learn to take stress well, and be a tough guy, and be a Type A personality, that’s fine.
If you both gets married and have kids, you must make sure that you have a spouse you can talk to. Whether you choose to talk to your spouse or not, that is entirely a different matter.
Well, actually it is not that entirely different, becoming husband and wife and being in a marriage is building new habits, and the old ones evolve.
What I’m trying to say here is, at this stage of my marriage to your mum, I’ve learned to open up a lot more and tell her a lot of things. It didn’t used to be like that; in the past, I hate being on the phone, as part of my job requires me to be on the phone 6-8 hours a day. Enough of phone conversations!
These couple of years has evolved and I’ve taken to calling your mum ever-so-often, and you boys would have heard me calling home during lunch time and have a quick chat with your mum.
So what do we talk about?
Mostly work stuff, for me and also some work stuff for her and maybe somethings about you boys.
There will be people out there telling you not to bring work home, and when you leave the office, leave the work in the office. It means that you need to sort of compartmentalize some parts of your life and when you go home, you take off your ‘office manager’ hat and put on a ‘husband’ or ‘dad’ hat. Well I wish life is as simple as that!
Psychologically, it is quite impossible to draw a clear line as where your work ends and your family begins. sometimes, you get so heated up with a home argument, you are still carrying that anger into the office, and vice versa. And sometimes, our work and colleagues become our bona fide ‘relatives’, and we start to treat them as such.
What I’m saying is you need some skills to de-personalise your work and profession to be able to not bring work back.
That’s not my practice. I have full transparency with your mum, and she does the same with me.
It helps in our relationship as she knows what I am doing in my work. Its not so much about trust, but having someone to share your stories and also your woes. We are married and there are times where we have to fight the battles alone. For me, I sometimes fight those battles, with the full blessings from your mum.
Bringing work home also helps the “You don’t understand me!” department. While this will still sometimes occur, it is mitigated because there is a lot of banter. It’s not really a conversational technique, as it is something unique within a marriage and it differs from couple to couple. It is such casual banter that allows us to weave context into our relationships and when we misunderstood each other, we can pull out past banters ‘records’ and cross reference to help us work between the confusion and ambiguity.
That’s said, I don’t usually bring my family to work, despite of the fact that my wife and you boys are a very big part of my life. It is again a judgement call dependent on the kind of people I am working with. There are colleagues who are family oriented, because they are parents, husbands, wives who can relate to me. If such a connection can be explored, then I’ll sometimes share a bit more. But more often than not, I’d like to keep my personal, family life away from work. After all work is work, you can always find another work, but you cannot find another family.
I’ll not be clinical here, as you boys can read about it in the many, many journals out there. I’m also not trained or studied (in a serious academic way) in psychology or psychiatry. I know suicide in my own personal, macabre, deep dark way.
It’s not a sad thing, nor happy thing.
It is mostly an existential thing. Like what is the purpose of struggle? The purpose of life? Those big profound ‘cheem, cheem’ (deep, deep) stuff. These thoughts keeps me up, and they still do.
Sometimes it can be very mundane things like annoying colleagues, the day to day struggles, and why we do it. It can be as easy as lazy to live. Yes, it can be a chore to get up, get dressed, get up the next day and groundhog day, over and over and over and over and over again, and again, and again…monotony kills.
Just writing about it puts me in that train of thought…
Why I hadn’t kill myself yet.
Contrary to many out there who thinks that suicide is a form of escaping reality, it is in fact a very courageous thing to do, under some circumstances of suicide. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and will power to set up a rope to hang yourself, or to cut yourself to bleed dry, or hurl yourself off a building. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact it is one of the hardest thoughts any living being can entertain.
It is a powerful thought to have in your mind about killing yourself, and it is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It is a thing.
So use that thing, that powerful thing purposefully. Of course if your purpose is kill yourself, then perhaps its your thing then.
What is more salient here is the powerful thing you have. I learned about this when I heard one Mediacorp Actress/Host, I think it was Irene Ang who said that you need a tremendous amount of will power to kill yourself ( I think she was speaking from experience) and why not use that willpower to kill yourself, to do good and live? And that made sense to me
The other reason why I hadn’t kill myself
Your mother, she will not let me die. If I’d kill myself, she’d revive me and kill me herself. Joking lah. On a serious note, she is the meaning of my life. Sorry boys, you both comes in second. Really, without her, I’d have no meaning.
But with suicide tendency, it is an ironic twist. It took me a while to look outside of my own selfishness to see her. In the past, I’d still think of killing myself, despite of what she has done for me, and after all the love and affection we have shown each other.
But as it grows, and me talking to her about my suicide tendencies, she somehow has opened a part of my feelings that allow me to depend on her, and see my importance to her. I wouldn’t want to leave her alone in this world and change her title from ‘wife’ to ‘widow’.
In short, I see her life and well being as more important to mine, in a very intimate, and interconnected way. Sometimes, you might think that killing yourself is a way of setting your loved ones free from the burden of being with you, the other side of the argument is just as true. When I die, the world will be robbed of an unique individual, well not that I am that great an individual, but the bigger truth is, I am robbing my wife, her companionship, her someone to hold her hands, and make meaning in her life.
We all contribute to the world in our own small way and killing ourselves rob the world of a life, no matter how small, or insignificant it can be. Think of it this way, Wayne, if you kill yourself, your friend, Angel (pun unintended) will never have a chance of bumping into you on the streets. Neither will you ever find out how stupid or smart you can be.
I attended 2 funerals this year. Both my friends died of ailments and a genetic disease. Its not the death that matters, it is the fact that, when I walk the streets, I can never bump into Grace or Peter anymore, because they are dead. There will never be another Peter, someone who looks liker Peter, but not Peter. While death robs, suicide is almost like grand theft arson of life. You deliberately choose to eject yourself of life, and robs everyone around you a friend, brother, son, sister, mother, father, cousin, student, child, singer, driver, chef and so on.
Recently the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester committed suicide. The band wrote a song One More Light for one their friend who died of cancer. Somehow, my association of the song was more related to Chester Bennington’s suicide than anything else. I think it is the context of the song that matters. Sometimes, we take signs of suicide too lightly and wrote them off as some wild thoughts, our loved ones shrugged our thoughts of self-death as non-sense, out of fear or the lacking in understanding and openness to talk about suicide.
Well, boys, I do. I do want to talk to you both if you wants someone to talk to about killing yourself. About suicide, about gays and lesbians. I’m your dad, and somehow have I am gifted this unique exposure towards suicide.
Getting over it
There is, unfortunately, no getting over it. It is part and parcel of life, and just like flu, you will ‘get it’ again and again. The thoughts of suicide continues to linger around me, and if I slipped into the darker character of Randy Lim, yes, death is always there. But unlike flu, there is no visible symptoms. Suicidal thoughts, depressions and other mental conditions cannot be seen outwardly. Which is why Chester’s death is so haunting for me. He was okay and laughing and having family time 36 hours before he killed himself. He was happy, or so it appears to be.
So it will come and it will go, and let it go (of course!) when it leaves and if it stays longer than you are comfortable, your mum and dad are here for you to talk to.
Telling it like it is.
There is no sugar coating, no code word or whatsoever. Boys, if you have a feeling of wanting to kill yourself, just come to us and say: ‘Mum/ Papa, I feel like killing myself.’ We will not judge you, nor will be shrug you off like it was nothing. If you have suicide thoughts, we are here, we will drop everything and talk. Thanks to your mum’s chat, he voice and presences grew larger than the suicidal thought and when I think about suicide, I think of her, and everything is okay.
Suicide is the ultimate leveler
Suicide, if properly done, leads to death. There is no turning back from death. No saves, no close call, nothing, once you’re dead, you stay dead. And death has no age limit, gender or political orientation, you kill yourself you die. Period. And you can die at any age, time and space.
I don’t care if you are nine, or ninety, if you want to kill yourself, you can talk to me, boys.
The human race has been trying to save the earth for the longest time. And I was reminded again last evening by my friend, Siew Chin, that we can only save ourselves, the Earth will continue with or without us.
An we are doing such a piss poor job trying to save ourselves.
We have all sort of data, statistics and experts telling us the scarcity of our resources. How much fuel we are consuming and we are not sustainable at the rate we are sucking up the earth’s limited resources. Species are going extinct, forests are wiped out, greenery are gone, chemicals and harm are everywhere and we need to take care of the environment, and all that yadah yadah yadah, motherhood statements.
Single use plastics
In recent years, there are more talk about trying to reduce single use plastics as these are very harmful to the environment, and we need to reduce the usage. It is spreading all over the world and there are plastic wastes in the ocean the size of dunno which country.
In the depths of the ocean there re plastics, where ever we go, we see plastics being branded the poster child of an environment killer. We need to stop using plastics to save the environment. And we have limited time left to do so.
Well, take a look at this picture.
Cheap, cheap plastics, as far as your eyes can see.
How do we get the message across to people to tell them to treasure our limited resources, when the fact is all they see in supermarkets are unlimited resources of food, consumables, plastics and other supposedly Earth harming produce?
You cannot educate people on the scarcity of resources when all they need to do is to head to the nearest minimart to prove that they are right, nevermind you are wrong or not.
The bottom line is, people don’t care, or they care little for the world they live in. And as long as they care about their little world, there will be a massive faceless company providing that care, offering that care. While people care about their little world, and get that gratification doing so, they will not care about the world at large.
We can’t extend that care to those Elephants going extinct in the African Savannah, Giraffes are dying off, but who cares? We can still see them in a zoo. Polar bears are an important part of the arctic ecosystem, so in order to spread awareness, let’s make more soft cuddly Polar Bear plushes in PLASTIC, so that we can tell people how poor thing these polar bears is.
Meanwhile, let’s head to our supermarket…
Plastics, as far as your eyes can see, and mind you, one of these bottles might float and find their way to the ice caps, our dear polar bear friends might pick one of these up and eat it, killing them in the process, but who cares? We’ve got a softtoy to remember that we need to save these big white bears. Such is the hypocrisy of humans.
Who to do next?
Don’t ask me, I only have ideals for extreme, extremely unpopular methods. Being a realist, I don’t quite care about the individual needs, for us to really save ourselves, we need to ban plastic, and make people bring their own containers, make them understand the long tail of cause and effect. The entire value chain. No one seem to understand, especially the manufacturers, that once you make something, that something has an end date.
Typical of human nearsightedness, we only care about growth, and produce more and more, but no one thought about how to end the product’s life cycle nicely. Everyone wants to build and sell nice cars, but no a lot of people wants to take back old, used cars. So used stuffs will accumulate and build up to such a degree no one wants to look at them.
There is no end
Unfortunately, because of humans’ resourcefulness, there will be no end to this production and consumer led consumption of resources, organic or otherwise. People will find ways to continue this type of lifestyle, and it will be too late to realise that the abundance we see everyday is nothing but a veil of an impending destruction.
We write notes to one another, well, not so much these days, but I think in the early days of our family lives, it is a good way to tell and encourage each other that we have love, care and concern for every one in our family.
It of course started with me writing and putting these little notes in your mum’s purse, dress, crockeries and other places where she will use, go to or touch. the whole idea was to give her some kind of a pleasant surprises that her husband loves her and is constantly think of her.
While of course, it was a romantic gestures, more importantly, I want to put these nice loving thoughts so that we constant remind each other to be nice to one another, even in a quarrel or unhappy episode, we still need to think of each other in a nice way.
Of course your mum reciprocated in kind, and we learned to put little notes in your bags and wallets, in no time Ian you’re also writing stuffs for your brother and vice versa.
Try to keep this up as there are times where words can’t be spoken enough, or we did a lousy action and hurt our loved ones, but serendipitously come across one of these notes, will help soothes any ruffle feathers.
Humans are the strangest creatures, making friends one moment, and enemies the next.
Your Grandma’s experience
Last week, while we are at your Grands’ house, for our usual Saturday get-together, your grandma revealed an unhappy episode she had when she was in Secondary 2. She mentioned that the senior Sec 3 girls would pass their past year materials to their junior Sec 2 girls to copy, so that the juniors can have some advantage into their tests. Your grandma also ‘enjoyed’ such a privilege, until one day her friends turned on her. Her group of friend started avoiding her like she was a plague.
She couldn’t understand why, given no reason, she was perplexed. Eventually she managed to find out from her best friend, who somewhat sheepishly told her that their Sec 3 senior girls, told the rest of them not to share these materials with Kan Tee (Your grandma) as she didn’t want to go to church with them.
Your grandma was no pushover. To hell with that, she studied on her own. And during the good times, they will all walk to school together, and now, whilst they still walk the same way, it was a frosty walk, no one would talk to your grandma, and she kept to herself as well.
Eventually, the girls failed their test, and your grandma passed it. We jokingly say that Grandma’s Guanyin, is more powerful than the girls’ God.
It is not about the religion, but about the people who likes to group together. It is a common in-group and out-group phenomenon.
Your dad and mum’s experience
We too encountered our own share of relationship woes, with friends and colleagues. Both your parents encountered wonderful and lovely people as colleagues, folks we felt close and have that great friendship with. We talked to these friends and colleagues about everything, and some, even invited to our houses and vice versa.
All can fall apart the next day.
No given reason or revelations.
When we were younger, it hurts us in some ways. We like to think we have a healthy ego and we can socialise quite well, we can make friends take care of them, and them take care of us. That is a great feeling to know that we can build on these friendships to count on years later.
It was not, never meant to be.
It has been quite a few years ago and it happened to me more than twice, the hurt is no longer there, but it was replaced with a immense sense of curiosity. Why? Why did these seemingly good friendly folks turn? Colleagues who lunched and laugh at your silly jokes, you laughing at theirs, suddenly stop asking you out for lunch, buys everyone coffee except for you, no longer small talk, chit chat with you, no longer asks you ‘How’s you day?’ They just stopped caring about you and aiming to effectively wiped away your existence, socially.
I felt quite lousy, insignificant and somewhat indignant back then.
Not so much these days.
It made a difference I have your mum, and you mum have me. With the both of us, we pretty don’t quite give a f**k about what happened at work. Your mum is my pillar, and she came from a more complete family, she has her family to fall back on, no matter what friends and colleagues does to her. I relied more of my social circles to give me my sense of worth, and this kind of ‘sudden relationship winter’ hit me hard. But your mum has always been there for me, and it took me some time to accept her as my solace.
But that’s that. We are all much older now and I have grown not to take these kind of cliffhanger relationships personally anymore.
In the latest spat, I learned that some things was said about me, in my absence, and people started distancing themselves from me, typical signs of a drop coming. I’ve seen it all happen before.
Not to be affected, I continue with my work. People chit chat and joked around me, not involving me in their conversation, when I am clearly, physically in the room. I hear all the banter going on, and people asking each other about their personal lives, weaving care and concern all around. I just have this cold, hard shell, and continue plowing into my work. Keeping myself busy at work, helps you keep away from all these subtle insidious negative attacks. The aim of making you invisible is to make you feel bad, and them feel good.
I felt nothing, no good no bad, its a job, do it well and go home. I only feel bad if I don’t do a good job.
It will be over soon
Good times like bad times always ends, no matter what. Friends always comes and go, so does your haters. No one stays at a spot forever, well, at least not let yourself be the one. Move on and find something new. After a few years, these haters will no longer know why they hated you, or did those things to you. Heck, some might need you to do something for them in future. If your haters need you to help them, help them. It is not because you need to prove them wrong, you help because you can, period.
So while at times, especially when it is happening, it might seem like it will go on forever, but it doesn’t. Always remember what happens at work stays at work, you boys have a family to come back to. At home we can heal each other from the hurt we got outside in the big bad world. And over time, it will all be buried in the past, even the hurt to appear to have will be gone.
While the world may judge you boys badly, you can always come home where no one judges you destructively. There are no enemy in our family.
Have you ever trained until you feel as if you are no longer progressing?
Or seems like going to Aikido is kind of a sian (bothersome).
You feel like you are doing the same ol’ irimi nage with no sense of progress or improvement?
Appears to be making the same mistakes, or re-injuring the same injury point?
Or you are just simply jaded.
Welcome to the Aikido Plateau
It happens to everyone, I guess not only just in Aikido but also in other endeavors, sometimes, you might feel like you have dropped from 85kg to 80kg and then it seems to stop at an odd 79.52kg… for a long time. Instead of losing weight, you lose interest in losing weight.
Then you feel disheartened, and tries something else, or tries harder, this time not with vigor, but a sense of feet dragging. You seem to have visited the same plateau many, many times going round in circles.
It is a feeling of same old place, same old pain, same old shit, same old same old.
It happened to me too.
That was when I was going from 2nd Kyu to 1st Kyu…I went to class like it was a drag. I’m kind of stuck in my head, not getting anywhere with training. Or I’m simply frustrated with something.
Back then I remembered I didn’t feel a sense of improvement, progress or refinement in my Aikido, or worse, I’m deteriorating! Or the Jones has caught up, or is getting better than me!
Look at the mirror
Back then I didn’t the wisdom or maturity. Right now, I don’t feel a sense of plateau anymore. Sometimes on my way to the dojo, I get a sense that I am going round in circles with the same technique, but the thought didn’t surface with anger, frustration or a sense of inadequacies within and without. It’s just a revisiting of the curriculum and it lead me to think about other techniques I can potentially do.
More importantly, it is a sense of curiosity I bring to class, not a sense of familiarity. Every class is not the same, even the same partner you have been training with for years is not the same partner you have been training with for years. While life ebb and flow in a continuum of circle, the irony is we will never relive the same day again. In life there is no Groundhog Day.
The same circle is not the same
If you ever feel stuck like I did in the past, you need to ask yourself a very crucial question? Who’s turning up for class? Your current present self? Or your ego self? If you are bored, be careful, your ego is in play, in a bad way. You want something new, something flashy, something dynamic, you want to throw your uke in a flawless ‘Aikido style’, but you got frustrated by the reality of the struggle. Then you get upset, or to be more specific, your ego got upset. Then you fall into that same miserable feeling as if you are not improving.
What you can do
1-Train harder, think lesser.
There is a common understanding as to why potential Navy SEALs wannabes quit. Researchers found out that they usually don’t quit during their tough training, when they are swimming, or they are humping. Most SEALs student quit when they are taking a break, queuing for their meals, during downtime. They quit in expecting the tough time. The tough times didn’t make them quit, thinking or over-thinking the tough times made them ring the bell.
Similarly Aikido training is nowhere near as tough as SEALs training. But thinking of the impending boredom can kill the zest of an aspiring Aikidoka. Don’t over-think, and especially on the mat, don’t think, don’t anal-yze your movements, your failures. Train harder, and be less critical when you screw up. Let your body, your physicality helps you shut the ego up. Just shut the bleep up and bloody train LIKE MAD.
2-Take a break
It is not something I deemed necessary now as I don’t have a sense of plateau anymore. In my younger days, it seems to help not turning up for training say, for a month. A slight hiatus will help refresh your mind, and let the body take a break from the usual tenkan and irimis.
On hindsight, I felt that my hiatus back then was totally unnecessary and it reflects a kind of escapist attitude, and shows lack of commitment. But hey, if it works for you to take one step back and then two steps forward, why not?
3- Talk to someone
Your senpais先輩, and fellow classmates will feel the same plateau as you, talk it out and it is a great morale booster. That is why we have a dojo, with a community to help each other. If your sensei isn’t too fierce, talk to your sensei and he/she can help you unstuck your technique and potentially get you out of your rut.
There is a higher calling
If you are bored, there is another voice in you calling for a higher standards of training, and skill. It is not a feeling of ‘plateau’ but a hint you are on a verge of getting deeper into your discipline. There is always a new discoveries to be made, even with the same ol’ Shihonage. Just two evenings back, I did a technique which was quite familiar to me, and Harry sensei came along and told me to take a bigger side-step. I did and the entire, seemingly familiar technique changed; I learned some finer, more elaborate details I previously missed in the technique.
Had I succumb to my plateau and took a break, I would have missed that potential chance of making that small minor improvements that helps deepen my understanding of a familiar and simple technique.
So plateau is a state of mind, you need to be careful why you feel like that and instead of getting frustrated, let your curiosity investigates the plateau. It is a time to dig deeper and train harder. Taking a break is not something I’d recommend now, but if you need to, and it does helps you overcome the boredom, why not? Who’s judging anyway? 🙂