5 Advantages of Being Married

5 Advantages of Being Married

Dear Boys,

I’m married, of course I ‘sell’ and advocate marriage. We are all our own product ambassadors, if I’m not happily married, I won’t sell it. If I like being single, then I’ll find every damn reason there is to justify my single-ness.

Anyway here is my 5 advantages of being married.

1-You build a bigger network of extended relatives.

Humans like all organisms, are network-centric. We need to continue to grow and develop our high trust network. The easiest quickest way is to get married, suddenly all your spouse’s relatives becomes your in-laws, and obligated by the by-laws to help you, and make your aspirations successful.Think medieval times, why kings and warlords marry off their children to secure lands and power.

Who knows, your spouse might have a rich multi-billionaire uncle with a couple of million to spare for you to do business get rich?

2- You can be safe with members of the opposite gender.

Sometimes you need to work with really smart people and really beautiful people to do really smart and beautiful things, and in order to avoid mixing pleasure with business; your wedding band, spouse photo in your wallet, are ideal shields against such unwanted solicitation, attractions and distractions.

Sure some singles out there consider married individuals as fair game or even premium, then you need to hold true to your marriage oath ‘forsaking all others’. If you don’t, then you are just another two timing scum.

3- You get economies of scale

Sometimes, produce and products are better consumed in large quantities. A quart of ice-cream, shared, are calories halved. You can also go into restaurants and order 2 different items off the menu and then share, so that both gets a varied taste of the eatery.

Or if you’re too full to eat, you can always get your significant other to finish off the meal.

4-You can do crazy stupid things, without the fear of being seen as crazy and stupid

Who says only singles do crazy stupid things? Married folks can also do crazier, stupider things, all without having to seek attention. You’re married, you no longer have to seek attention, you do crazy stupid things, because you simply love doing crazy stupid things, without having to get anyone’s acceptance, other than that of your spouse.

5- You get instant maturity.

This is not funny. Choosing to spend the rest of your life with just one person, when there are more than 6 billion other alternative human beings; that takes courage or sheer idiocy (or both). And living with another human being by choice, warts and all takes a certain level of perspective, personal growth and growing up.

Taking care of another person for life, and having another person taking care of you for life is not a joke. There are responsibilities beyond that of an individual in the single-hood realm. When you tell people you are married, you get instantly upgraded up the social ladder, people will think that you have the maturity to be some kind of marriage expert and elevate you to be one. Your opinions will carry weight and what you say as a married person will be generally considered to be worth something.

First posted Dec 13 2015

Loss and love on the journey to parenthood

Mum and dad were a long time waiting before this baby girl finally arrived last week

PUBLISHED ON MAR 15, 2015 3:45 PM

https://static1.straitstimes.com.sg/s3fs-public/styles/large30x20/public/articles/2015/03/15/ST_20150315_BABY15_1141852e_2x.jpg?VersionId=EQubjjdkQCrsZmP2Nq8.13F9JINbcIZr&itok=rLt6Ce8_

BY LI XUEYING HONG KONG CORRESPONDENT

As a young reporter 11 years ago, I wrote about an alarming trend: The number of miscarriages in Singapore was going up, up and up.

I got the statistics, spoke to a woman who had experienced a miscarriage, interviewed five doctors and probed a politician on possible ways to address the problem.

It was an assignment to me, a story to be done before I moved on to the next.

A decade on, the issue became personal. Within six months, I had not one, but two miscarriages.

In May 2013, I found out that I was pregnant. It was unplanned but my husband and I, after some initial adjustment, were thrilled.

After all, we had been married for four years but somehow life had got in the way of making space for children: I went overseas to do a master’s degree, then waited for a posting as a foreign correspondent. I was then 34, just a year from being defined as a geriatric mother – or what doctors call a woman of advanced maternal age.

We saw a doctor in Hong Kong where we were now based. He did a scan.

Congratulations, he said. There was a gestational sac – the first sign of pregnancy but no yolk or heartbeat. But that’s normal, he declared. It’s early days yet.

We returned to Singapore for a break and as a surprise to our best friends who had just had a baby. We popped champagne and I had an illicit sip, a toast to the new addition to our group as well as the embryo growing – I thought – inside me.

Back in Hong Kong, we went back to the clinic. The news was not good this time. The sac had not expanded, which meant the pregnancy was not progressing as it should. I’m sorry, said the doctor.

We were upset, of course.

But I sought comfort in research and statistics, including the ones I had cited in my own article from years before. One in five known pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Some of us, I told my husband and myself philosophically, just have to make up the numbers.

We decided I would have the procedure “to clean up” at the public hospital. Like many others who had miscarriages, we told few people. I explained to my office that I had to take a few days off work for a “medical procedure” and left it at that. In hospital, I finished Salman Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton and kept tabs on the Edward Snowden saga then unfolding in Hong Kong.

But my husband and I had changed. Within just two short weeks of being pregnant, our world had shifted. We had begun to plan and dream, to think of what it would be like to be parents, from how we would dress the child to what values we would impart.

Two months later, I conceived again. This time, we were not so innocent in our joy. We waited till we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen twice – a red dot pulsating amid a mass of variegated greys and blacks – before we told our parents.

On our third visit, when I was about 11 weeks along, I complained of slight abdominal cramps. Probably just ligament pains as the uterus stretches, the doctor – a different one – reassured me as she moved a transducer over my belly.

My husband, reaching out for his camera to take a photo of the screen, stilled. It was all darkness. The heartbeat had stopped.

This time, there was little bravado left in us. We opted for a private hospital where I would have a dilation and curettage operation that night.

We shared a room with a Hong Kong couple in their early 20s, who we gathered were there for an abortion and were placed in the awkward situation of having to listen to me tearfully break the news to my mum over the phone.

They went first. As they left, the young man whispered: “We’re sorry.”

Our turn came. In the operating room, my doctor, her pearl necklace shimmering from her surgical scrubs, loomed over me. Later, as I emerged from the haze of general anaesthesia, I blearily asked her: “Did you see if it was a boy or a girl?” She shook her head gently at me.

Silly me. It was all scraped up and sucked out.

Medically, recurrent pregnancy loss is defined as more than two miscarriages in a row. We were two strikes down, one more to go. But as anyone who has gone through miscarriage will know – and without meaning to diminish the pain for those who suffered even more loss – one is one too many.

So we went through test after test searching for causes. Nothing stood out. The only certainty, said the doctor, was my age. Fact is, old eggs are old, which means a higher risk that embryos with genetic abnormalities are incubated.

That there was all this uncertainty made it harder.

It was an invisible grief. We returned to work, looking the same on the outside but bereft within.

There had been no wake, no funeral, no body to be buried. We did not even know what to call our losses – technically they were not babies; the first was “just” an embryo while the second was “old enough” to be a foetus.

I grappled with my feelings. Somehow, society speaks of miscarriages in hushed tones – the word itself seems to suggest some kind of responsibility on the part of women who “mis-carry” their children. See how we use the word when we describe legal travesties as a “miscarriage of justice”.

The fact is, why miscarriages happen is often shrouded in mystery, and most times, say doctors, they are beyond one’s control. Yet, the secrecy surrounding it leaves much ignorance about the issue.

For many, what we know of miscarriages is what we have seen on television – a woman falling down and ending up with blood on her thighs.

Is it any wonder that many who have gone through it choose to keep silent?

I was fortunate to have family and close friends who gave us enormous support.

My husband and I certainly were not ashamed of what had happened. But we were in pain and we were not sure talking incessantly about it would help.

Furthermore, what could we expect people to say except an awkward “I’m sorry”? Unlike for other bereavement, there is no social ritual for coping with this particular kind of death.

Yet, I did feel an irrational resentment that not more people knew of our losses. It was not exactly sympathy I wanted. It was recognition, I think, that a loss from a miscarriage was felt as keenly as any other.

And, I wonder, if more speak more openly of their experiences, would those who have experienced the same pain feel less alone?

It is a personal issue, and different people will feel differently.

In all honesty, I began writing this only as my husband and I were waiting to welcome our daughter.

Kei An, weighing 3.25kg, measuring 49cm and boasting a nose like her father’s, finally arrived last Tuesday, six days past her due date.

Without the hope she represents, I am not sure I could write about our past losses.

But what I do know is that as my husband and I get to know this little one, we will also remember our other babies gone before her.

xueying@sph.com.sg

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/more-opinion-stories/story/loss-and-love-the-journey-parenthood-20150315#xtor=CS1-10

(Published with kind permission from Xue Ying; Thank you!)

Attack the Day!

Attack the Day!

Dear Boys,

It happens to all of us, at any given time. We can be lost, demotivated, felt like we have lost a sense of drive, purpose or even belonging. We might feel like a fraud, and even though ‘Fake it till you make it’ sounds like a decent comping mechanism, often we do feel like the faking it seems fake!

What do we do?

Especially when we are swamped with work, or even at times where we don’t have much to do and feels listless.

Recently with my new job, I was struggling to get traction, working very hard touching all the bases but invariably losing some, and of course, missing tasks happens often and being the responsible guy I am, I can be very unforgiving to myself and this self-reprimand can affect our sense of self worth. Maybe I am not good enough?

Eventually I thought about my time Mountain Biking.

On the trails with my buddy

On the trails, you have no time to think, or you eat dirt. You cannot be afraid and you really need to process your information in a flow. There is no judgment nor time to be critical, on the bike, you work one root, one stone, one curve, uphill, downslope at a time, one by one, you cannot think too far, nor look back and gloat at the nasty boulder you just hopped over. You must be in the moment.

Be afraid and worry about the next root, and surely you will get caught, and fall. This happened to me once at the Bukit Timah Mountain bike trail back in 2019. I had 2 bad falls and damn near broke my left shoulder. The impact was so hard it left a permanent bump on my left shoulder, I think my bones has shifted permanently, but there was no broken bones or dislocation.

The Really Bad Fall

Attack, attack, and attack

Sometimes you have to be aggressive in life and attack the tasks at hand vehemently. This is one way to deal with procrastination, take yourself, your ego, personality and self-talk out of the equation, take the task at hand and deal with it one at a time, never judge which is more ‘difficult’, or which is the one that will make you happier. Treat each tasks the same, and take them one at a time, build speed, velocity and efficiency in getting s**t done.

After a while, you will get a sense of how many tasks you have ‘killed’ off and then you an quickly add more complex tasks to your work. Think of the outstanding work you need to do in a clinical, objective manner, and struck them off your list without getting to emotionally involved. There is no need to get angry, happy, sad or whatever. Just objectively get them done one by one.

Don’t wait

Don’t get fixated at how ‘tough’ a task is, or how you dread talking to a difficult person, just get on the call and talk to the person, use whatever you already know, it might not be much but it is a start. You might be mocked, or ridiculed, but keep going, keep clearing tasks. You know what you know and you will learn what you don’t know, as you go along. Never wait for information to be given to you, go out there and get it.

Waiting means you will lose the initiative, and get a curve ball in your face. Standing still means that something unexpected and unprepared that will knock you off your momentum; so keep moving, keep working, keep attacking the day and before you know it, you would have gone through the hour with a lot of things done and time to spare.

This is a tactically efficient way to get the busy out of the busyness, and it does summon your energy in the right channel and focus. Doing this day to day means you will build an energy and a can-do work ethics puts you in a very productive state of mind.

Of course once you are done with the day, don’t look back too much and look forward, use what you have accomplished to move forward, into another position and start the attack again, consolidate what you have gained the past days and use it to remove more tasks at hand. There is a time and space for reflection, and do not mix this up with an action based attack day.

The Gluten-Free Life

The Gluten-Free Life

Dear Boys,

Both of you and your mum are mildly Gluten intolerant, which can make things difficult for us, especially when we are living in this part of the world where wheat is such an integral part of our lives.

How it all began

For as long as I can remember, you boys have some sort of a bad skin, and Ian you had it worse, so bad I wrote a post about it, while we talked about ‘conquering’ your eczema, the truth is that we can only manage it for life. Hopefully as you grow older, you will be more resistant to this skin conditions.

One of the trigger points, as we learned over the years is Gluten, symptoms like eczema, dry itchy skins, bad stomach, indigestions, are all signs of Gluten allergies, and this was also told to us by many of the doctors we have seen, pharmacists trying to sell us their latest eczema cream, also well wishers, whom in their best intentions asks us to try their latest organic products, ala Multi-Level-Marketing.

2018-Gold Coast Australia

the good ‘ol days of flying.

We were in Gold Coast, and just before that we were getting acquainted with this ‘Gluten intolerant’ experience, your mum has bad tummy aches, diarrhea, bloatedness, and plain stomach upset. There was a lot of signs pointing towards Gluten intolerance, but back then we were kind of resistant to trying out a Gluten free diet, as there was quite a limited range of Gluten Free food on the market. Being Asian, bread is staple, cakes, noodles, and all that stuff we have been eating for a long long time. For us to change? We couldn’t be sure if it was the Gluten, part of us didn’t want to believe it was, that means we will have to give up a lot of yummy food!

Tough, especially when we cannot pinpoint our digestive discomforts squarely at this Gluten culprit.

You CANNOT get this here in Singapore

Our 2018 Gold Coast trip, our perception was widen when there was a lot more Gluten Free options in Australia, as such a condition is more studied and accepted.

There was rows of Gluten free food, or food catered for specific dietary needs. we were able to try and experiment different kind of Gluten free food and from our trip we did feel better. Our stomach didn’t ache so much and there wasn’t so much flatulency!

From Coles Gold Coast
Hadn’t seen this here in Singapore

It’s a long journey

So from then on we scour for Gluten free food, educating ourselves more in depth as to what we can eat and what we cannot, as we learned through trial and error, we can tolerate some forms of gluten better than others. Since we are not chronically nor acutely Gluten intolerant, we can and do snack on some wafers, or biscuits, unlike more serious cases which even a minute trace of gluten ingestions can result in critical or life threatening consequences. So there are ‘cheat days’ and you boys and mum can indulge on a little tasty bread or biscuits.

There is a growing awareness of Gluten intolerance in Singapore so more and more products are gradually becoming more visible to our selective perception. But Gluten free food is expensive and there is a very limited range, you can never find a Gluten free croissant, or Gluten free instant noodles. For some food, wheat is the primary ingredients. Surely there is no Gluten free beer!

I am not Gluten Intolerant

After saying all that, I am, strangely, not acutely Gluten intolerant, while I do have eczema flareups and some occasional upset stomach, it is just the usual normal stuff, as I always told you boys and your mum, your dad is a food processor; one end in, the other end out.

Nonetheless, I have to be sensitive, and make sure I am more conscious about putting Gluten on the table to tempt you three, so these days, I seldom have a good taste of pizza (gluten!), or even plain white bread, or bagel (gluten!) as it is just me eating them; it is economically heavy just to buy one big loaf of bread for my single consumption, so the majority of the snacks at home are Gluten Free, as much as practicable. We do occasionally get to indulge in a gluten free pizza of sorts.

Each to their own

Everyone deals with their dietary intolerance differently, and as mentioned, there are so many well wishers who tried in their best intentions to tell us what to do, detox this, try that supplement, but we know our own body best and how we can deal with it.

We are just thankful that these intolerance are just mildly inconvenient, and in Singapore, we can still get by, by being a little bit more selective.

It’s the mindset we have to deal with, like how your mum in her early years, told her one of her aunt that she is gluten intolerant, and she cannot eat noodle. The aunt retorted back, “If cannot eat noodles, then you eat what to grow up?!” LOL

Everyone’s an Uke

Everyone’s an Uke

‘Hold my hands’

No, this is not a line from a romantic movie, this phrase is most often used to indoctrinate anyone who is looking to join Aikido. Everyone starts Aikido holding someone’s hands, that connection is established the moment we step into the dojo.

What is an Uke?

Well this is a theme I’ve been toying in my head for a while, Uke (受け) in Japanese, literally means the person who “receives” a technique. And it is commonly mistaken as the ‘attacker’ in a dualistic sense, because the uke often ‘initiates’ the technique with a ‘strike’ or a ‘punch’ or something else.

As we get closer to the dynamics between a nage (The Thrower)and uke, you can see that the line is very, very fine. Well let’s not go there yet.

Back to being an uke on your very first day learning Aikido. Let’s rewind that back a bit more.

Back to being an uke on your very first day sucking on a milk bottle.

Back to being an uke on your very first day you learn to ride a bike, becoming a Dad, becoming a teacher, learning to lose your loved ones, opening a restaurant, looking at a business problem for the very first time, your first day being a doctor.

Every step of the way, we are in the path of reception, every baby will reach out and receive milk and food when they are hungry. There is no naturally born expert Dad, every dad is a student to their children, and the kids are teaching their parents valuable lessons about parenting.

My baby son holding my hand for the first time

We are constantly receiving

There is no way about it, the moment we are born, we receive our first breath, without it, we will be receiving our first bacteria, coming to rot our dead body back to nature. The irony is, when we think we are becoming remotely good at something, we begin to dish out lessons, and hide behind a thin façade of competency, when we are best receiving.

Even a doctor, or a business consultant, armed with years of medical knowledge, or years of management experience, will have to receive their problem or ailments at the get go, and will continue to receive these problems and issues. Only when you can fully comprehend, and accept what the problem really is, then a medical solution or business proposition will work. A doctor cannot simply give panadol for a runny nose, without properly receiving information from the patient. so the doctor works best being an uke, constantly receiving and not judging, not putting his years of medical knowledge in front and masquerade as an expert.

Refusing

You can only become unhappy when you refuse to accept an outcome and decision, and feels that it is unfair to you. Refusing to accept is not receiving wholeheartedly; of course life can be unkind, and despite of your best efforts, you don’t get what you want, but you will always get something, and when you open your heart to receive, you will realize that you have so much more to learn from something as disappointing as not getting what you got.

Essentially Aikido is the fine art of reception, it is only when we can openly receive what the universe has for us, come what may, then we are ready for more. Fighting for more, hoarding, selfish egotistical pursuits of shallow meaningless material possessions is futile, is unnatural. We are endowed to receive, the more we are open, the more we will get, it’s only natural!

Round the Island Walk (Part Two)

Round the Island Walk (Part Two)

Dear Boys,

Following Part One. let me continue sharing the rest of our journey to complete the loop.

Bayfront MRT to Harbourfront

This was a little unique as it included a little hiking in Sentosa, as well as Mount Faber. since both ends of this leg is accessible, Andy drove and parked his car at the end of our leg, Harbourfront, and we took a bus back to Bayfront MRT to start our walk. By the time we reach Harbourfront, we would have our transport waiting for us.

It was interesting to note that Sentosa is never known to be a hiking place. but hidden in Imbiah, is 2 nature walk, which is very kids friendly, there is the terrain, jungle and all things considered in a hiking expedition, BUT it is very safe, come on, this is Sentosa, what could possibly go wrong? Sure, you might meet with an accident or incident, but help is never too far away. I’m considering bringing you kids there for a night walk, the trail is short and with no artificial lighting or lamp post, it might be a good nocturnal adventure.

Views from Henderson Waves

Pandan Reservoir to Tuas Link

This is worthy mention as we passed by many interesting stuffs. One thing we noticed was, most warehouses have their staircases located outside the building. The only assumption was that these buildings need to maximize storage space so stairway, taking up spaces is put outside the building. It is also quite scary for you to use the staircase, looking down, especially when you are almost 20 stories up!

We also made it to the signature lighthouse, which makes it extra swee.

The Next and Final Leg

Admittedly, we ‘cheated’ a little, because for our final leg, we should be starting from Tuas Link, instead we decided to start at Gul Circle which is logistically more realistic, while it might have ‘shorten’ our final leg a bit, we both didn’t mind.

It turn out, we made the right choice, because the final leg spans 29km! Jurong back to Kranji!

Long Walk

This part is comparably worse than our East Coast walk, as there is no purpose build pedestrian walk space, we have to share the walk with trucks and cyclists, and every time the cars zoom past us, it will kick up a small dust storm and we both end up with dusty mouth. Thankfully I brought along a small bandana which I use to cover my mouth with.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves

We did a longer than usual break there, since our end point is nigh, we took time to enjoy and soak in the sight and views. which is plenty. Along the way we encountered a little drizzle but nothing to put us off. While this was the longest trek, it somehow seems the most memorable as we will rarely get to put our feet down in those places. We see many interesting things like multi-story fish farm, navigating the Kranji countryside.

THE END!

Finally completing our last leg 23 April, we covered 156km in total, and it was a very rewarding experience. One thing for sure, it will be tougher to do it solo, and if you have to do it with a buddy, find a good one, someone who is able to adapt and change as sometimes things on the ground might be different, and when both are tired, the last thing you want is to quarrel over small things.

I’m glad that I had Andy’s company for this as we really complemented each other’s temperament nicely, we accepted each other’s silence and we basically eat each other’s food, no complaints. On times where we encountered hiccups, both of us can overcome it, in good spirits.

ICE CREAM to celebrate our win!

Tips for walking

Get a good shoe, I prefer hiking boots, with a bit of ankle support, while it is heavier, you trade a grip that will handle most terrains and of course, more comfort in terms of all round cushioning.

Please wear socks, I had a bunch of toe socks, basically gloves for feet, it was nice and helped prevent blisters

Compression tights helped with fatigue. It could be subjective, some people thinks it’s placebo, but it works for me, more than once.

Generally walking in Singapore is quite safe, so there is really not a lot of first aid things to carry, I just carry a pack out of habit, and some water and snacks.

To Yield or not to Yield

To Yield or not to Yield

This is the million dollar question in Aikido.

You see, if we are able to forget everything and move like how nature intends for us to be, then we would have solve our dilemma, sort of. That would also means that we are becoming more like an organism, no faculty of self awareness, choice, autonomy and critical thinking, all the hallmarks of being ‘human’.

Nature’s way

It Takes Time

Nature will take it’s time to work around things; trees will grow around an impediment, you will not see it today tomorrow, but over time, the tree ‘wins’. Sometimes we see a dramatic volcano explosion, or an terrifying earthquake, that happened suddenly; more often than not, it is a cumulation of years, decades or even centuries of work, grinding, moving, building up the pressure and at an instant, BOOM!

Just like nature, we need to understand things take time, and we can choose a path of willing, exercise our free will to train harder, train longer, put in more focus, study Aikido texts or we can simply choose to focus on something else.

Photo by Pixabay, Pexels

Time or Timing

On the mat, it is usually about timing, you need to watch earnestly the opening, and also where your partner might be strong and where there is a pause in his movement and that is where you can apply countermeasures. Not everything can be countered, or forced. and if the point of opposition becomes predictable, mechanical, or cyclical, then the Aikido technique is dead.

That means if you as an Uke can catch your Nage at a stoppage every single time, then something is wrong, it might not necessarily be a Nage’s ‘fault’ nor it boils down to a uncooperative Uke, neither is the problem and also both possess the solution. The Nage needs to change something to break that stalemate, and the Uke needs to yield a little so that the Nage can continue with the movement.

This is the kind of subtle communication between Aikidokas in movement that takes years of practice to build, and this is what we train for, there is little spoken between movements and we read each other instantly, keeping everything in a stable flux. This is level of training, both Aikidokas melt into each other and then you can see no distinction between winning and losing. So much so it looks like a dance, except it’s deadlier.

Photo by Gratisography, Pexels

No Competition

Naturally, when you don’t compete for pecking order, there is a more collaborative output, since we are not looking for winners by knockout, or winning by points.

In a competitive environment, there is no yielding, you can expect opposition at every given moment, and even if there is yielding, you can’t help but think if it is a feint. Once we put ourselves in a zero-sum game, everyone loses, even the winner. Eventually, such environment builds resentment and people will train hard so that they can topple the top dog, which defeats the purpose of training altogether.

Even if you come around and shake hands, hugs and all, there is still a level of distrust and guardedness which will not be conducive for mutually beneficial learning and advancement. Everyone will be watching everyone and I wouldn’t want to teach you my mat tactics; in the event I meet you on the mat, you will use what you learned about me, against me.

Photo by cottonbro, Pexels

So yielding, or not; is a judgement call on the mat, and it takes years to discern how to compromise and how to stand firm. Sometimes it can be frustrating to learn that you cannot execute a specific technique against one specific guy in the dojo, then that is a sign you need to train more with that difficult guy, because your greatest lessons awaits.

Round the Island Walk (Part One)

Round the Island Walk (Part One)

Dear Boys,

Your dad went on a round island walk with a couple of months back with Andy, we were following a predetermined 150km route that covers almost all the 33 corners of Singapore. We didn’t do it at one go, we broke it into parts of 10km on average, only on a few of the routes, we did about 20km++.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1XmNLQFjX_FBH9q6Y3cjD6yaoen2XhRuw&ll=1.3420718159739893%2C103.84128639160157&z=11
Source: SGTREK – Round Island Route-https://sgtrek.com

It started when Andy, my trusty cycling buddy called a few of us to try walking these routes. A few of us was game, there was some discussion and we decided to start 29 Jan and hope to complete it over a couple of Saturdays. I was still thinking we are gonna do this 150km at one go. Crazy.

Andy kept a detailed chronology of it in a Google sheet, and we will talk about part 1 here, which will cover our start to East Coast (24km) which was one of our longest leg then to Gardens by the Bay. Part 2 will cover the rest of the journey all the way to the end, our finale was another one helluva walk, the final 28km!

The Logistics

Since we are doing this in segments, it meant that we need to get to the starting point on our own, Andy drove for a few of the legs, and the rest was accomplished by Grab or Gojek. Food wise, your dad always carry my own supply of biscuits, and Andy did his own as well, and sometimes having munchies during these long walks does helps with the morale.

These walks also let me try out a few loads, sometimes I’d carry a waist pack, which seems to hold all my items, and sometimes for the longer leg, I opt for a small backpack with a larger water bladder, and as always, I have first aid with me.

First Leg! Kranji MRT to Yishun (Canberra MRT)

Nicholas and Isaiah joined us and we have 4 guys walking the first 13 km. We visited the Sembawang hotspring, Woodlands jetty for a few of the highlights.

Andy, Isaiah, Nick and me

It was a good warm up crowd, and the pace was good, we didn’t encounter any bad weather and apart from a few constructions here and there, we do get some quite scenic views.

Following that,, Nick and Isaiah couldn’t continue for the rest of our Round Island trek due to weekend commitments, (Isaiah did joined for the Punggol to Changi leg), it was down to Andy and me to continue with the walk.

Changi to East Coast Leg

View from the Changi Beach

The second longest leg in our RIR

This was actually 2 segments combined into one, since the end of one part was Changi Naval Base bus stop, Andy and I both agreed that we should push on and end it at East Coast, which would makes more sense, since it would be easier for us to hail transport back home, and also a better place to kick off the next leg.

It was a tough 24 km, since the last time I walked so much was in my National Service days, where we had a 24 km route march in FBO (Full Battle Order), doing it when you are 18 years old and now in my forties makes me question my existence. When you are young, you don’t think so much, and just do what your buddies are doing.

The East Coast route, however did come with some respite as there are human traffic, cyclists and some beach scene, wait till I tell you boys about our last final leg walking from Jurong to Kranji!

East Coast to Bayfront MRT

After our long walk the week before, this was easy, besides, we still get to enjoy some very scenic East Coast, and Gardens By the Bay Views, which kept our morale up. Mentally, we were also stronger, knowing that we did 24km before, and this leg is just a mere 13km, no sweat!

Systems… They are Everywhere

Systems… They are Everywhere

Dear Boys,

Things don’t happen by default, there is a process, system, flow that we might not understand. There is no such thing as a ‘simple’ thing. Situations, issues and problems are all linked and doesn’t happen in isolation. even when it looks like the last straw that broke the camel’s back, it usually isn’t that one last straw, dig deeper.

For you to better survive and thrive, a keen understanding and appreciation of ‘The System’ is necessary so that you do not break yourself against something seemingly random and abstract. It will also help you work with The System, analyze the root cause and come to a better more holistic understanding of how things work around the world.

A Home

Even at home, your dad runs a system that is unique (and yet not quite) that keeps the house a home. As mentioned in my earlier post on Adulting, even mundane things takes time to build and I have to think of end to end. Even changing a simple light bulb, once it is blown, I have to know the size, cost, brand, and where to get it. How to change it and discarding the blown fluorescent tube. While my part of the deal ends when I thrown it into the bin, the ‘rubbish’ has its own systems that makes it way to where ever it might become. Even before I buy the new tube, there is also a manufacturing system at the backend that make sure the replacement tube reaches me, the consumer, the dad/ electrician at home.

Source: Karla Hernandez-Unsplash

Watch and learn

The challenge for me as a dad is to make you boys see beyond the simple day to day chores. How to ignite that investigative and curious seeking nature that is latent in all of us? Going in depth and asking the questions that matters.

Why? How? What? When? Which? and Who?

Is there a risk of overthinking even for something as simple as a household chore? Quite the contrary, in our world right how, we lack thinkers, no need to overthink the overthinking, it is over worrying that we need to worry about. When we bother to think critically, long and deep, we will find that ‘solutions’ are not really solutions, rather they are compromised outcome. There are still problems in solutions and there are also solutions hiding in the problems. So these solutions might cause minor inconveniences, but it keeps the greater larger systems wheel going.

When we go back to the tube replacement example. You boys flip the switch and the light is turned on, or not. If you do not understand that it is The Dad that changes the tube, you might go whining to the Mom, which is not the right contact point. Or you can understand how The Dad goes about replacing the tube, and do it yourself.

From there, you might trigger a thought:

“Why do we keep replacing the tubes?”

“Can I improve it?”

“Make a tube that don’t need replacement, ever.”

Then you’ll need to work The Systems to see how, if that is possible. Improvements which seems to come in leaps and bounds is often supported by unknown and unseen minor constructions which is done by countless of people who are keeping The System going.

Without getting a clarity for how The System works, it will be difficult for you to make a difference in this world, in fact, you will be blinded, and indifferent to the realities and inconveniences in this world. You will end up whining and complaining about how things are unfair to you and you will make an issue out of every single things that don’t go your way.

The System don’t Care

The world really don’t care about us, our plans and our whiny, puny thoughts. The System won’t respects us, until we respect The System. That said, The System isn’t a big huge machine that we are powerless against, work The System, and find out the pros and cons, and what you can do to make the pros work in your favour while you circumvent the cons. Not everything will go your way, so when things does, appreciate it, don’t gloat, and when things don’t it just means that there’s issues in The System you didn’t learn or understand.

Waking up to a different World

Everyday might seems like a Groundhog Day, the movie is a very good analogy for our cyclical life where, if we are not careful, will fall into a trap that grinds us, and we become de-personalized. The ever talented Bill Murray, trapped in an endless Groundhog Day, finally took his time to learn, appreciate and fully dive into that very one day, only when he can get to the grind of things, he is able to break free from the repetitive wheel and do something different.

But it is never so dramatic, work small and don’t let the larger, seemingly insurmountable big machine of The System makes a mockery out of the ingenuity, authenticity and originality you both are endowed with. If The Systems seems too big, always remember the Navy SEAL saying:

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”