Ian bellowed across the supermarket aisle at the frozen section.
Sometimes it is not the best way to tell people about your serendipitous wealth.
The Law of Finder’s Keepers.
Your mum told me about something like this when she was about 5, your little brother’s age. She was with her mum, on a Sunday going to the market, her mum was walking in front, when your mum was blocked by a $50 note lying on the ground in front of her.
She too shouted for her mum. This time she said: “There’s a $50 on the ground!” repeatedly, whilst her mum was gesturing repeatedly at her to pick it up and shut her gap.
She did, pick up the wet note and her mum took it away from her.
That was her.
For us, I saw the lonely $2 on the floor, unbelievably, no one saw it, and it is not as if the aisle is vacated. I walked a pick it up and kept it, of course. But not without Ian telling the whole world your dad’s keeps.
Well, boys, it isn’t the easiest thing to do as to explain the law of such finds. I mean, what is someone walks up and say, hey that is my $2! What can I say? What can you say?
This is one of life’s grey area, there is no right no wrong to it, but you cannot simply just leave the $2 buck on the floor! If you don’t pick it up, someone else would and guess what, finders, keepers!
Netflix is fine, as long as it is the last thing on your task.
As we draw closer to the end of 2022, there are still a few things on our plate to complete, for Wayne, it will be his final year exams. For you Ian, well, you have an uphill task ahead as well.
Despite of these big hurdles looming, I come home one day to see both of you on Netflix.
Since the both of you are already of age, I cannot kick anymore sense into the both of you, except to urge action.
What did Newton says about action? Or was it motion?
An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force.
That leads us into this interesting thing about human dynamics
Humans or anything organic for that matter, does not stay still. Everything in this world is constantly in a flux, whether you see if or you don’t. Things are constantly moving, changing, evolving, and growing. There is always action, somewhere, somehow. Nothing is fully ‘at rest’.
What happens when you don’t move? You decline. You wilt.
That’s why your dad is constantly exercising, moving and getting some activity, any opportunity given. If I can sneak a 20-lap swim during my lunch time, I would; if the distance is not too big, I’d cycle to work, and I’m doing that twice a week. Aikido every Monday. Anything just to move, because if I don’t I know my bodily woes will catch up. I will fall ill, I get hurt and won’t heal so quickly. Mentally I won’t be ship shape, its a gradual downhill that will lead to an uncontrolled free fall.
Atrophy happens if you do not stay active and stay in motion.
Even if we constantly stay in motion, we stay constant, and consistent, then we are doing the bare minimum, keeping our lives happily humming along. Everything is find and dandy, watch Netflix all day and nothing will happen, sun rise, sun set. Things stays in equilibrium.
That’s where we plateau, on this large flat featureless surface, where nothing is challenging and nothing is challenged. It’s a pleasant plain vanilla where you just watch the clouds go by. You won’t degrade, but you won’t progress as well.
Just a word of caution, life eventually catches up and one fine day your homeostasis might lead to atrophy even before you can say Oops!
This is where fear, unknown, trepidation, round-the-corner monster, resides. If you can constantly challenge yourself and find a higher calling, you will look up and you will climb. Hopefully you have seen what your better self can achieve and aim for it.
Growth is not about ‘constant motion’, it is about deliberate, activated additional actions, decisions, planning and go-getting. It is tiring, takes effort and sometimes, you fail, plans goes south. Murphy’s Law comes to play.
You boys have strived and achieved goals before, not big goals but goals you both can be personally proud of, you own personal bragging rights. Use these achievements to build your confidence on, and climb. Small wins leads to big wins.
That’s life’s non-negotiable fact, you don’t climb, you’ll stay still, and if you stay still long enough, you’ll slide back, and once that happens un-arrested, then good luck, you’ll hit the infinite bottom and the climb back up is going to be another hell of a story to tell. I hope we don’t have to tell that kind of story.
Life’s like riding a bicycle
This is very much a cliché but it is true, you stop cycling, you fall off your bicycle, it is, really as simple as that, so please, for your own excellence and growth, never stop hustling,pedaling, grinding and striving.
Last week, we did a technique, Ryo Katatedori Kokyunage. It started out as a simple technique and to add in some difficulty, I decided to apply the ‘unbendable’ arm as an uke so that the nage can have an increased level of challenge.
Mingjie, as the nage, couldn’t do it, so I switched role and be the nage, and he did what I did, using the ‘unbendable’ arm, and I couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I try, Turns out, that method of kokyunage, is ineffective.
It does bugs me a bit, but I have long said, I am not perfect, and some of techniques I do will fail, as it has many times, but this time it makes me think deeper. Perhaps the label as a ‘sensei’ comes with the expectations for me to be able to do every technique, or teach, overcome roadblock or barrier. I couldn’t.
That is a reality check for everyone, particularly myself, of course my ego was bruised.
More than that, this inability exposes my learning path, which I must overcome.
There is 2 ways to look at this inability.
1- I have not attain the level of proficiency to do this technique, hence this technique is more advanced and beyond my current abilities. Harry sensei can do it, and of course, he comes with many more decades of experience.
2- This technique is ineffective. Try as hard as I could, I cannot make it work, Mingjie couldn’t make it work, Choi tried and couldn’t make it work, and checking YouTube, nobody does it the way we did it on the mat that evening.
That is of course not a exhaustive list and perhaps Harry sensei could because this was within his technical ability, or we have been charitable as ukes. Or it is really not an effective way to do it.
It bugs me because, I have seen this level of incompetence before, in me. There were some technique I couldn’t do in the past, I could now. There are things I didn’t understand in the past, I made an effort to learn and now I possess the knowledge to certain subject matter to hold a conversation.
While I was compelled to write this off as an ineffective technique, the stronger compulsion was to dig deeper and…
Investigate, Probe, Learn, Explore, Discover
It can be so disappointing to those on the mat to see me fail, well, I did. and I explained to the rest that hey, I do fail. and we need to learn from it. the Dojo is a place to learn, and we will fumble, and have our incompetency exposed. It is fine for me, as taking a class is not a performance, I do not expect myself to conduct a ‘perfect’ class. There is no such thing.
Every time we come for class, even as an ‘instructor’ I also learn and at a very different level. While I want to instruct, there are times I couldn’t. Of course the students pay money to have the best possible instructorship, I hope they can also lean something when this instructor fails. I have no intentions to hide my failures, using excuses or some lame justifications. I’m not competent about it, and I am not shy about it either, the only way to overcome it is to train harder, investigate into the whys.
The good thing is Mingjie is on the mat every Monday, and I have to opportunity to work this with him, until we both learn to overcome this, together.
One thing we learned in our planning is that we need a lot of communication, constant talk, and making sure that we communicate our expectations, goals, obstacles, challenges, adversaries and friends. This kind of communication is important all round, because it helps you keep close, tactical, on the ground tab on what is happening and if you would be able to meet your goals as planned.
This communication is starts with yourself!
Self talk has a lot of taboo. People thinks that people who talks to themselves, sometimes a bit too loudly, are crazy people. Well, your dad is one of those crazy people. When I was younger, I would break out into a crazy dance when I’m in the mood with a song.
Then again, I learned that self talk can bring out a different creature in you!
I used to scold myself, and belittle myself, with a lot of profanities and vulgarities. Constantly playing the role of a ‘Drill Sergeant’ to myself, nothing I did for myself was good enough, and everything I did was bad enough for a string of profanities, all aimed at myself.
Then as I grew older, I learned to love myself more, accept me for who I am and the things I can do and cannot do. Well you call that maturity, I call that meeting reality once too many times!
The bottom line is this, you have to have constant objective feedback to yourself, is your plans working, is your goals achievable and is what you are currently doing helping you work your ways towards your goals? you have a chance to learn and get exposed to many things I only learned in my twenties. You have a head start, and you need to tell yourself that you have an advantage over your dad’s generation and you need to work hard to make sure that you use that edge!
Please talk to yourself more, make yourself your own best friend, and learn to negotiate with your own expectations. And make sure that you talk to yourself in the best possible language.
In the constantly changing Singapore landscape, another one of your dad’s past has bitten the dust, literally.
I grew up at this address: Blk 49 Bedok South Ave 3, 11-220 Singapore 1646, until my parents divorced back in the early 1990s. This address holds a lot of fond (and not-so-fond) memories, nonetheless, it has nostalgic values to me.
This plot of land certainly holds no nostalgia to the Singapore government as they finally figured out what they want to do with the whole place. While I didn’t track the progress, Google map showed the place was in the process of being torn down back in Aug 2021.
I’m not sure what is the grand scheme of things in the Government’s playbook for this place, but I’m glad I captured some memories back in 2009 and 2018.
Back in 2009, it was already a kind of laid back, old neighborhood feel, there is still a people staying there, and it felt like it will stay like this forever, albeit the place getting quite staid and stagnant.
There is certainly a deep sense of memory for me, lots of childhood experiences there, of course my friends and classmate were all around the neighborhood. I went to the nearby school Bedok View Secondary School for 2 years before I dropped out. By 15 years of age, I have to grow up real fast, that’s a story for another time.
There was however, a different fate planned for my Block 49, as the place was barricaded as if the end is near. I couldn’t go up the block, so I went to Block 47 instead to take some pictures. While Block 49 was completely vacant, and locked out. I could still go up Block 47 and took some pictures.
Of course such skyline picture no longer exists, as the whole estate is now nothing but a flat grass field.
I chance upon a visit back in 2018, again for reasons I cannot remember, and the whole place seems to come to life again, as the government has rented the place out for foreigners to stay. Even my Block 49 was open for residency.
There’s some sense of life, and perhaps the place has found new uses.
The street Directory view 2001, 2007 and 2022
As you can see from the 3 copies of Street Directories, they whole estate Blk 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 was still around back in 2001, still there in 2007. Bedok View Primary School in 2011, which I attended from Primary 4 to Primary 6 was still around as well, but come 2007, my primary school disappeared, the blocks are still there. But come 2022, my former primary school has been repurposed to become APSN (Association for Persons with Special Needs) school; and all the blocks are gone.
This is just and empty field.
Gone are any semblance or trace of my old estate, not a single shred of evidence that many families was raised there, people lived and died, grown up, or grown away. All the carparks, old rain trees, jogging tracks and shelters are gone.
All that remains is my fickle memories to hold on and tell stories about my life when there was still Blk 49, Bedok South Ave 3, #11-220 Singapore 1646
I wanted to write about this because one evening, we were talking, and Wayne said ‘Tomorrow is going to be a good day.’ Yet, knowing him, there is always a caveat.
Of course during the day, somethings might turn up, screw up our ‘good day’. We might meet an obnoxious person who piss us off, and mess up our ‘good day’. We might get our results back to find out that it is a ‘fail’, that is not going to be a good day.
It is all in the perspective, boys. What we focus on gets magnified. even things we ‘don’t want’. This is the classic law of attraction, and it has happened to me so many times. especially when I’m riding trails, the more you tell yourself, ‘don’t slam into that tree, don’t slam into that tree, don’t slam into that tree,’ what happens, you end up slamming into the tree!
So I will train myself to look ahead and plan the route to take, usually it is quite a successful endeavor but being on a mountain biking trail is anything but predictable neither ‘successful’.
Law of attraction
Which is why we need to be very conscious about what we think about. It’s fine to say ‘Tomorrow is going to be a good day.’ and leave it as that. BUT, adding, ‘I hope nothing bad is going to happen!’, and you can be sure something ‘bad’ will happen and you will be fixated over it instead of what other good stuff that has happened.
It will happen especially when we don’t want something. The more we don’t want, the more we select reasons to justify our don’t want-ness, and we look around for more situations to put ourselves in, just to say: ‘You see lah, everytime like this one! I always get what I don’t want!” Just truly and earnestly think about what you want then, and let the magic happens!
Boxing yourself in thinking about dying.
Wayne, there was a period of time when the argument or scolding isn’t going your way, you will think of dying. or killing yourself.
So during one of those heated scolding, you brought this up again, as you sense that you are cornered, boxed in and everything is your fault. So you say that you might as well kill yourself. And I gladly entertained that thought, let go into killing ourselves. We imagined a few scenarios, how sad we will feel if you die, and how people needs tremendous amount of energy, focus and will power just to kill themselves, or throw themselves off a building. Why not, focus all that energy, on being good? Save yourself and not kill yourself?
We explored focusing on living, the wonderful gift of having a chance to better ourselves, despite of making mistakes, despite of losing, despite of looking stupid, we have life and another chance to try again. By focusing on death, once you are dead, you are dead, there is no more chance to try again, make a better day, or simply enjoy being loved by your brother, mom and dad. No more mummy tiger to hug, or smell patchie boy again.
The elephant in the room
It is a taboo, I want to address it with you boys, while we grow up, we need to be very careful what thoughts we bring into our mind. Some of these thoughts, we brought them in, some others, people planted it there. So by talking about death and suicide, we properly addressed the matter instead of treating it like a taboo, because the more we don’t want to talk about it, the more it will surface and the larger it will become, so much so that it will be too powerless for us to talk about it. So now we got such zero sum game out of our mind, we can focus on growth, focus on the good day, magnify the awesome, and build on the phenomenal.
Our negativities will not go away, being upbeat and cheery isn’t a façade, thinking and focusing on good stuffs means when we are hit with bad stuff, we know how go to a resourceful and open state to handle a rough patch well and emerge from such episodes no worse for wear.
I bought your mum a bouquet of sunflowers last week, and you enthusiastically took the initiative to want to draw the sunflower.
We were of course open and positive to your idea.
2 days later, I asked you about it, you told me you’ll do that next week.
My dear son, the Sunflower will wither and die.
You see, the sunflower will not wait for you to finish your paintings, the sunflower has its own schedule to follow and it does not gives a hoot about you and your drawing. It doesn’t care about what you want to do, capturing its beauty and essence. When it withers, it will wither.
Life is like that, we cannot wait and wait for you to do your things, life has its own schedule and timing. and it is nothing personal. The sun will rise and set, and there is no way you or anyone else can say, “Hey, wait a moment! Don’t set yet! I’m not done with today’s work!”
You can get angry with the sun, the sunflowers and everything that is external of you that you cannot control and there is nothing you can do about it. It is unreasonable, rude and impersonal.
When you want to do something, do it quickly and with all your energy, once that is done, leave it aside and move on to something else. Don’t wait and dwell for things to happen. Go out there and make the sunflower happen!