The Brave One

The Brave One

Dear Ian,

There is always a point in time where you decided

to take charge and decide for yourself. That defining moment came to me when we visited Sentosa Adventure Cove ( last weekend.

It was one of those water theme parks, we have all been to Wild Wild Wet(, you’ve been to the water slides and the river-like float.

These are the things we did and my proudest moment was when we went to the Rainbow Reef, it’s a large fish tank where the simulate a snorkeling environment.

I have never snorkel, ever. All I can relate to is pictures of people snorkeling, and I didn’t know the reality of it. First thing that hit me, and you I’m sure was how cold the water was. While we played at the wave pool and the River, the water was warm, well at least warmer than that of the Rainbow Reef. The next thing that hit me, was the unfamiliar equipment, I didn’t know that a snorkel mask covers the nose, cView from underwater completely. Now that I’ve worn one, I can understand the logic, since you are breathing through a tube, with your mouth, it made sense to shut out the nose.

I didn’t now that. And I didn’t know how to prepare you for it as well. Oh, didn’t I mention the tank was 2.9 metres deep?

It was difficult for you, I can tell, firstly, you are not that great a swimmer, yet. and the mask was giving you a problem, I’d wanted to play it safe and count your effort to try was commendable, but you decided to hang on, also against the better judgement of the Chinese life guard.Ian surfacing

He thought you didn’t dare as well, and for safety sake, I would agree with him. You don’t even date to straighten out your legs. when we move off the ledge. Twice I have to pull you back to the ledge and adjust the mask for you. You didn’t seem to understand the concept of the snorkel, and you have to breath through that.

Ian in his first time snorkeling

I wanted to call it quits. But you said to try one more time.

This time, with the lifeguard’s suggestion, I lay you face down, leg straightened and let the buoyancy of the life vest float you. Once you look comfortable face down, breathing through the snorkel, I took you off the ledge!

If there is any highlights this year of being a dad, this would count as one of them, because there I was, your dad, the only person you can count on, in the pool, holding me while you simply enjoyed yourself with the experience. Nothing could replace that feeling, where you know your son is holding onto you, in his own innocent world, enjoying the fishes, trying to talk through his snorkel, while the dad, does the propulsion. It is a feeling of certain measurement of trust, between a father and his son.

the base of the 2.9m pool

Your mum is just as proud of you as I did, and really, that was the defining moment, where you made a big step out of the little Ian and into a slightly larger, more responsible Ian. There was a certain level of confidence you had, when you said to try it again. I can tell you are not forcing it, there was not uncertainty, you knew you could do this and you did, and I’m glad you did.

First published in May 21, 2013

Why we Pray

Why we Pray
Fo Guang Shan (Singapore)

Dear boys,

Everybody prays, one way or another. For someone who is areligious, it is quite difficult for me to really explain this ‘pray’ thing we humans do in detail.

But yes, I do pray, and your mum do pray too. I don’t know if you boys would pray and who or what you’ll pray to, but I’ll give my 2 cents worth.

Kuan Im Tng Temple (Joo Chiat )
Kuan Im Tng Temple (如切观音堂)

Firstly let’s look at a practical example. When your mother had a very difficult boss in the earlier days of her working life, she dread going to work. But she has to, so she seek solace in prayers when she visits the Kuan Im Tng Temple (如切观音堂) at Tembling Road. She did that almost every weekend and not long after that, her boss began to treat her nicer, and her days in the office seems to have improved. I don’t know what you can attribute it to the efficacy of her prayers or you can attribute it to things getting smoother, and she was experiencing some teething, new job jitters.

But I think there is some psychological positive effects of prayers. Religious people pray to their gods, buddhas, deities, saints, and other items or characters of higher powers. I prefer to appeal to my spiritual side, and the idea of a prayer is like sending your silent scream out into the cosmos, and seek strengths that you find lacking within.

Pray for good things, seek good conversations with yourself through prayers.

I don’t know if prayer works for me. Personally, I’m a Buddhist kind of person so I do go to a Buddhist temple, burn 3 joss sticks and usually in three bow, pray for 3 things that I want from the divine to have happen in my life. Don’t ask me why the ‘trinity’ of things. It’s not something I have an explanation for, when I do, I’ll share with you.

Prayers are a very, personal and intimate things; so it is really up to the both of you to decide if you want to believe it or not. But I think the human psyche is such that the more you think, belief, the more you will act on it to manifest it in reality. Prayers are something like that, you want something to happen, you pray for it, be it in a temple, in the quiet of your bedroom, in the depths of a psychological dungeon, you utter a prayer, to yourself, to seek strengths, to calm yourself down, and perhaps, the prayer you utter will connect you to the great scheme of the universe. And when you seek help, help will come.

Prayers are not answers

Please remember one thing though, prayers are prayers, you can pray, but if you do not act on your prayers, nothing will happen. You still need to work, even if you pray to strike a 1 million dollar lottery, you will not win, if you do not get your ass off the couch to buy the lottery ticket. Nobody wins a lottery they don’t buy. Prayer works best when you commit to action. Sometimes, when the going gets tough, and action seems to be waning, a little prayer is like a kick booster, gives you that little internal strength to continue. With a little prayer, you will breakthrough.


Prayers are a form of internal conversation

When you pray, who do you talk to? Some talk to god, buddhas and other characters they believed to be true, more importantly, prayers are an internal conversation you have with yourself. Even when you talk to god, god doesn’t really talk back (for those who’s gods talks back, needs to see a really good shrink). The whole idea of using prayer as a form of internal conversation with yourself is to help you reach into yourself, into places where you normally won’t reach, to find strengths to do things you normally won’t do. That’s what prayers do.

Prayers are positive energy

Nobody prays for their negative things. Everybody wants to pray for good things. Sometimes, people do pray for bad things to happen to other people, that is not a prayer, that is a curse, a hex, you are trying to ask the cosmos to hurt someone else out there. Please don’t do that. If you want to seek divine power to help you, use the universal energy for good, for positivity, not to see that someone gets hurt.

Pray for good things, seek good conversations with yourself through prayers. Then you’ll be ready and open to accept and receive good things. You cannot protect yourself from bad things from happening to you, but if you have a good conversation with yourself through prayer, then the bad will quickly pass. Always seek positivity.

It is not the best answer for this rather abstract and highly personal topic, and I am not a fervent advocate of praying. I do drop by our nearby temple to pray. It makes me feel good, burn 3 joss sticks, offer 3 bows. I really don’t know what happens beyond what I can’t see, but I walk away from every prayers a little stronger, a little bit more positive, that things will turn out well. And if they still don’t; well, makes me wonder if I should pray more.

Using TRX to smile

Using TRX to smile

TRX Montage

Dear boys,

I learned something looking at the photographs of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He is this big guy who was a wrestler with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and he transited to the big screen. And now he is a movie star.

Dwayne smile 1 montage

There is this phrase called the ‘million dollar smile’ and I think he has it. I know a there are other people out there who are millionaire and billionaires and they also have such a qualities in their smile. But The Rock’s smile is particularly appealing to me. His smile is big, infectious, wide and beaming. It is unabashedly loud and says ‘Hey, I smile, therefore I am.

A smile will helps us connect with people.

That’s something I realised, smiling is not an intrinsic quality I have, it actually needs a bit of practice to get it right. And being Asian (that’s a lousy excuse by the way), showing our emotions on our face is apparently not in our DNA. So I took the opportunity to practice my smile, when I’m doing something I enjoy, my TRX bout.

Its a bit of a vain for me, because I like to take photographs, but I don’t quite like my photographs to be taken. Its a strange psychology, I guess I’m just pretending to be humble and I try to shy away from the limelight. And guess what, the limelight shy away from you too.

The emotions is quite a bit of a mess to explain as I hadn’t really sort out my feelings as I write this, but I need to write it down first, before I sort it out. Truth is, I’m not gunning for the limelight just for a sake of it, what I meant is that in order for us to be successful, we need to behave in a certain way that allows us to attract success.

The Art of Smiling

A smile will helps us connect with people. A learned and mastered smile will do more than that, understanding the psychology of smiling will beam happiness into a otherwise dull room, a spontaneous smile will open hearts, and build bridges. A smile will always attract a smile, you rarely can look sad and feel sad in the presence of a smiling person. Therefore, a smile attracts happiness, popularity, joy, laughter, open heart, a spirited company and of course, success in all areas of life.

Andy Lau smile 1 montage

A smile is a universal language, regardless if you’re Asian, look at the way Andy Lau smile, he has it too, in his own way. The Rock hailed from Hawaii, you can almost see the Hawaii sun, sand and the sea in his big, wide smile. Andy Lau on the other hand, smiles in his own accomplished, successful way. It is confident, not loud, open and warm people up slowly. He smiles in a way that draws you to him, The Rock smiles in a way that almost bear hugs you. Either way, their smile is the expression of a successful individual.

A Smiling Learner

So for me, I’m still learning, and I think after a workout, with all the good chemicals released in my body, I’d try to learn to smile, and I can honestly say I’m getting better at it. Even at this very moment, thinking of S-M-I-L-E brings a grin to my face. It wasn’t like that in the past. When I was taking my wedding photos with your mum, I have a 1-2-3 smile. which means after the count of 3, my smile basically when stiff.

So let me work on it. There are some stupid and funny things I did while I do my TRX routine, and it never fails to crack me up, and after that, I smile. And when I look at the photo, and I go ‘eeeeeeeewe!’ The I know I did a Stiff Smile, not a Spontaneous Smile. It’s still work in progress, and I think as I learn and keep fit with my TRX training, it is also a good time for me to progress and get better with my smile training. I think my smile hadn’t hit the ‘million dollar’ mark, but I’m sure I’ll get there.

TRX Montage 2

Remember, a smile cost nothing, but it is the most precious crown you can wear on your head.