Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Dear Boys,

This 39th birthday I truly understand the meaning of family. It is simply because I felt a sense of abandonment from my mom and brother. I heard from my mother’s sister, my aunt, that my mother and elder brother has moved, she invited her sister to her house for some kind of house warming but she didn’t inform me. Given the kind of relationship I have with my brother, I can understand why she didn’t invite me, at the very least, tell me where they’ve moved to.

That is quite a psychological reality check for me, I guess I should have seen it coming, things hadn’t been the warmest between me and my brother and mother, but I still would think of them as family. The signs are there when I visited them one Chinese New Year and me at the gate, roused my brother from his slumber, only to hear him said, ‘Brother? I don’t have a brother.’ That was when I greeted him and asked him where is mum, and I’m his brother!

So now they’ve move, and without an address the cut is complete, and absolute. Perhaps is better this way, boys, I don’t know, things are always happening in future tense that leave us with little preparation in the present. The reality is that, I felt the loneliness in a deep and profound way.

So this birthday, it was a very small family affair, just your mum, and the 2 of you, there’s really no one else left who will remember my birthday, not to mention the mere celebrating the day. When I die, if anytime sooner, my wife will have her parents and little brother to remember her birth and celebrate with her, she has the both of you, that kind of birthday song, would sound a little louder.

For me, this 39th birthday for me, looking at the 3 of you, singing the song, made me really, really wish, and I want to hold true to that wish, ‘I wish that the 3 of you, sitting before me, will be by my side for as long as I live

Posted February 23, 2015

Stop at Success

Stop at Success

Dear Sons,

Your mum baked butter cakes yesterday. Twice.

For the first round, the 2 of you tried to help in the process, In measurements and cutting of the butter, it was good to have involved the 2 of you, even though you boys monkeyed around more than being helpful.

The cake wasn’t very well made, it rise in the beginning but the cake collapsed towards the later part of its time in the oven. Of course your mum, was dejected, it was a failure. The texture of the cake was too light, and it felled apart when we cut it and when we ate it, even thought it tasted good, but it wasn’t a ‘cake’.

I saw the opportunity and told her “Let’s bake another one!” I wanted to drive this point home, Do not stop at failure, stop only when you are successful. Later that afternoon, I went out and bought another bunch of ingredients and we tried at it again, and this time the cake turned out alright.

You see, boys, the difference is that if we stop at the first bake, what would have locked into our minds? The end process of it was ‘failure’. And if we do not correct that immediately, the feeling, the mood and the psyche of having failed at baking, would have sunken in, gotten locked into our sub consciousness, and the next time we bake, may be next week, next month, we will go to our sub conscious file and access the last time we tried, which was locked in ‘failure’. What a way to starting making something as beautiful and delicious as a cake! Will our next attempt fail again? I don’t know, but I’d rather start a new endeavor , with a past history and memory of success rather than having a last records of failure.

We also did something different the second time we bake, we wrote down every bit of the process, step by step. For the second time around, you boys were playing in the living room and had no part in the baking process, maybe the absence of you 2 monkeys would help in your mum’s concentration as well?

We wrote down every writable details of the baking, so that if we fail, again, we will know, more than less, how we can adjust our process.

The second time was a success!

And what a difference it made for your mum! From dejected, deflated talk of failure in baking the first round, she is now beaming with joy knowing that the second bake was a success. This is what I want to have locked into her psyche, that she can bake and baking is a process of success. And with the formula on hand, now she can bake and repeat the same success.

So boys, when you do fail in future, quickly dust yourself off and try again. Do not stop, never stop until you have successfully achieve your given tasks. Failure and success is nothing more than a state of mind, be careful at which state of mind you decide to take a rest, for it will affect you and your next course of action. so when you fail, do not stop, keep going, stop only when you are successful.

Posted August 12, 2013

How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

Dear Boys,

I decided to give your mum a ‘me time’ for the hardwork she put in helping you, Ian with your exams. So I took you boys out so that your mum can go for her nail message, compliments of Auntie Chai Ping.

Where can we go, 3 male members of the Lim family? The Istana was hosting an open house and it is free entry for Singaporeans, so why not? We packed up and headed out, looking forward to spending some time at the official residence of our President. After all, it is free entry and its been a long time since I’ve step foot in the Istana for a visit.

We reached the place and found it to be raining a little, and got heavier as we approached the Main Building. the compound is really a nice place to visit, with the sprawling greenery, and magnificent lawn. Once we passed the tight security, the first sight that draws us towards was the Swan pond.

Swan Pond. Admiring the Swan

The both of you were fascinated with the single white swan there and snapped pictures like it was the last living White Swan on earth. Thankfully the turf on the Istana ground is quite well maintained, despite of the rain, and wet grounds didn’t translate into a muddy quagmire, despite of the heavy trampling by the large crowds.

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As we walked up and towards the slight gradient, the both of you chatted that this was where they saw on television the funeral procession of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and wondered where is the Sri Temasek.

The Sri Temasek

The premises was out of bounds and we can only stop to appreciate the diminutive building, where so much of our country’s history has happened there. While we watch, our minds played the mental image of Mr Lee’s cortege rolled out from the place, in a wet day no different from the day we visited Istana.

The Main Building

We had to seek refuge there along with many ‘un-umbrella’ folks, as the sky decided to open up on us. We learned from a Scout there, that we can actually buy a ticket to go into Istana for a house tour. With nothing better to do, I decided to leave the 2 of you with the Scout and headed out in the downpour to get the tickets. There is no photo taking allowed inside so we have to keep our pictures in our head.

The interior is a grand place, which is of course, as we have to host our nation’s guests there. There is an air of importance as well as decorum, you can’t help but feel the importance of such a place to us ordinary Singaporeans. it is important that we host our country’s guests in the highest pristine so that we get the respect and voice in the global community.

The Gun Terrace

This is certainly the highlight for the both of you as you boys take turns to take pictures of it, walk around it and explore this World War 2 relic.

The Military Guardroom

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We did a few fun shots there with a few ornamental mini cannons, your little brother, as usual, is such a pain when it comes to making him look at the camera and do a decent pose!

Our signature childhood photo

This is the kind of photograph where we can look back, decades from now and relish the memories. I am sure many of us and our parents out there has a photo like that taken with a soldier standing at attention. This will certainly be a journey I hope the 2 of you can cherish and remember fondly.

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Posted November 19, 2015

How Relationships Breaks Apart

How Relationships Breaks Apart

Dear Boys,

Last weekend I happened to ‘walk’ into one of those moments where you both were arguing about something. I asked tersely: ” What is going on?!” There tension in the air and 弟弟 is looking the way he looked downcast when there is certain accusations flying around, and the 哥哥 has a hard tone, and walked out, telling me to ask the 弟弟 instead.

I did and of course, I will not get the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, all I got from Wayne was snippets of “I said something, and kor kor is not happy with what I said and…”

It’s typical for anyone, not just you, Wayne to hide the truth about what has actually happened, especially when the person in question is the perpetrator.

I called Ian in and hears from him: “Wayne was saying that he sometimes feels like a dog and simply follows his feelings and moods.” ” I cannot take it anymore and so I told him off.”

Pushing People Away

Sometimes the reality is too much for us to handle, we can get overwhelmed and suddenly we say ‘Enough is Enough!’ Negativity can be infectious, and brings the collective mood down, granted that 弟弟 says such a downer statement on 哥哥’s birthday, can add to rain to the parade.

So we start to push people away in a bid to protect and collect what little optimism we got left, or we got so hung up and focused in our work, we shove people away, people who needed our help. It happens when resources is scarce and we are left fighting for ourselves. We often want to find a hole, jump in and disappear from the world’s problem. We want to tell people:

“GO AWAY!” “LEAVE ME ALONE!” “HAVEN’T I GOT ENOUGH PROBLEMS ALREADY?!”

The Consequences of Pushing 弟弟 Away

The issue here is, that person you pushed away, is your 弟弟, he confides in you, and you only. Everyday when he comes home earlier than you (more often than not), he will look out of the window, constantly waiting and eager for you to come home. You are the only one he share little nonsense with, the inside brothers jokes, chit chats, and things as a parent wouldn’t understand.

He will confide in you, good and bad, and sometimes the bad can be a little irritating, I know 弟弟 is still young and learning, and in the process he can be whiny and clingy, emotional and self-depreciating. So if he don’t confides in you, who else can he go to? Me, or your mum? Sure, but we have a different vibe, we are his parents, dad and mum, you are his brother. It is not the same talking to us, talking to you.

Don’t Tit for Tat

Not forgetting that you will confide in him sometimes during your times of need and share your brotherly bonding time, and sure enough, you wouldn’t want him to push you away and say he have enough of your Bulls**t and negativity?

You are his only brother and if he don’t confide in you, would you he rather confide in his friends and end up joining teen gang because they appear to care more about him than you do?

Pushing him away now may look insignificant, but doing this often enough to form a habitual response, will build a rift so far apart in future, that you will eventually forget what you guys are fighting about, and just simply fight because that’s all the strong emotional response you both can remember. Small cracks sinks big ships.

I know because that’s what happened between my elder brother and me.

Properly Expressing Yourself

Ian, you are just coming 16, you cannot solve the world’s problem, you cannot shoulder your 弟弟’s problem; you don’t have to, we are around, you can refer your little brother to us, if you are up to your neck with issues. Instead of blowing up and shoo your brother away, and leaving him to fend for himself, and deal with his own sh**ty emotions, you can ask him to come to us.

We are your parents, and we have been there, done that, and here to help you with your problems, escalate to us and we can come together with a solution. There is nothing we cannot figure out as a family. So instead of saying:

“I don’t want to deal with your problems, you negative, whiny little boy!”

try saying

“Frankly, I’m kinda not in the mood to handle this, I think we can talk to papa or mummy, and maybe they can help you.”

or

I’m kinda not able to take in what you are feeling now, because I’m swamped myself, can I come back to you when I am better?”

As you grow up, you will need to learn how to use such coping phrases to help you stave off certain onslaught of strong emotions, we cannot deal with everything and anything that comes our way so learning to better express ourselves can help people understand that we have limitations too.

Lean on each other

Unfortunately, the elder brother is the elder brother, Ian, there is no way around it, you will have to have the strength to save your little brother’s ass again and again, never failing him. He will always look up to you as the elder brother he can depend on and emulate. Ian, you become a leader because you are in a place to be one, Wayne you will become a leader because you learn from your elder brother how to be one.

So learn to lean on each other, I will be tell the both of you again and again, and there will be times where both of you have nothing left except each other, so instead of pushing each other, with ignorance, hate and defensiveness, hold on to each other and your world will be all right.

How to Avoid Q & A (Quarrels & Arguments)

How to Avoid Q & A (Quarrels & Arguments)

Dear boys,

Yesterday, you both started an argument, when 弟弟 wanted to concentrate on his Math assessment and he needed the 哥哥 volume down his music in his earphones, while in the study room.

I didn’t came to know what happened, I found your mum talking to the both of you sternly, the air in the room tensed with accusations and simmering anger.

So I thought of sharing my best tried and tested number one method of winning at Q&A (Quarrels & Arguments)…

DON’T START ONE.

Well, easier said than done, I agree, like many things in life, it’s the execution, actions and behavior that matters more than rhetoric. Until you both mature to better understand the nuances and tensions that runs in life, I’ll have to talk the walk, while you both learn to walk to talk as you grow.

Gold Coast Sea World 2018

Don’t Start One

Many times in life, you’ll walk into a situation you didn’t plan to walk into, and suddenly you find yourself difficult to walk out of it.

Sometimes we are ‘caught’ with a perspective and because of the ensuing conversations and exchanges of idea, you unwittingly felt attacked or felt a need to defend your view. Sometimes such a conversation build up over time and the tension stacks on one differences after another, and it can spontaneously combust into an all out argument, which gets everyone pissed off.

Don’t start one requires you to be very sensitive to the trigger points which leads to exposing a person’s insecurities. Avoid those trigger points, avoid people’s insecurities. Many times we felt a need to ‘help’ others with their insecurities, DON’T. Their insecurities are there long before you get to know them and will be there still, long after the world is dead and gone. If there’s anything, anyone can do about a person’s insecurities, it is the owner of that specific insecurities. You deal with your own demons, and they deal with theirs.

Fix You

Of course you’ll get people trying fix you, thinking that they can help you with your insecurities, and they can’t, since the road to hell is paved with good intentions, learn to look out for pseudo-Samaritans who wants to help you exorcise your demons so that they can avoid facing theirs. The world is full of such people. When you meet one of these many goody-two-shoes…

WALK AWAY

Thank them and walk away, there is nothing for them to fix, and I’ve come to a point in life which I learned to deal with my own s**t. There is usually not many people in this world who can help you the way you can help yourself. Sometimes all these helping can lead to frustrations which leads to Q & A.

They can never see your point of view the way you do, and sometimes words fail you when you try your best to explain and you don’t succeed. Those who are truly able to help you, will sit with you, leave you alone, or listen to you with no judgments.

Don’t make me cry.

Q & A between brothers

You both are going to get into a lot of Q&A in future, for sure. In fact, the both of you are testing grounds to thrash out opinions and perspectives. There will be opinions which both of you argue to stalemate, or simply cannot agreed upon. So what to do?

Always remember, the both of you are brothers, and long after your parents are dead, it will be the both of you, back to back, against the world. While you both can argue, you both must lean on each other, and never let anything, anyone tear you both apart.

Let’s go, Let it go

Nothing in this world is worth the bond you both have as brothers. Never let an argument break that brotherhood. It’s really not worth it. Like your argument over 哥哥’s noisy music with 弟弟 studying, if you let that simmer and fester, the ill will unresolved will eat into the good you both have build and years after this innocuous incident, you’ll both drift apart not know what happened. Just think about it, is it worth it? Arguing and keeping scores over a small tiff?

There’s a Chinese saying which will be helpful here:

忍一时风平浪静 退一步海阔天空

Forbearance in the short term, helps you see ease in the wave, forbearance in life helps you see the entire ocean of calm. In short, back off, each belligerent take step back, give some space.

I’m not asking you both to endure the s**t you throw at each other, that would be lip service, but as you grow in life, you’ll know what to bear with, what to give in and what you both can argue about and comes to a good outcome.

Q&A solution to a Q&A problem

Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

The best way to get out of a Q&A is Q&A, Quit (arguing) & Apologize.

Between brothers, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, who started it, who escalated it. Between you both, deconflict by saying ‘sorry’, give in and give way, then the healing can start. Sometimes there is no resolution that you can achieve even after a heat argument, once either one cooled down, please apologize first. Never let small puny differences put a wedge in between your brotherhood, if that happens, you both will swallowed by the waves and drown in the ocean.

Brothers Forever

Forgiveness- Asking and Giving

Forgiveness- Asking and Giving

Dear Boys,

As you both know, I don’t have a family past which I can be proud of. My parents, and my elder brother, well…they’re difficult to manage, they have never been in my life, for the good times, and they’re always there in my memories when I think of the bad. That’s a fact.

The Letter-it’s not that bad…

The story of my life is one of waiting, for the dreaded. When it finally came, well… it didn’t feel so bad. So…moot point, nothing in reality is as bad as you imagine it to be. Whatever happens, you can deal with it.

The letter was from the government, sent when my mum went to them to get money from me. My dad did that to me about 7 years ago. I’ll go into the details later in future, but the gist of it was both my parents think of me as a kind of ‘gold mine’ where they can milk money out from. This leaves me in a bad mental state, and oh let’s not talk about my elder brother.

Wishin’ and Hopin’

Celebrating my elder brother’s birthday, circa 2000

So I carry them as my ‘family history’ as a burden on my shoulders, always gnarly and bitter about not having a more supportive and loving parents. Well I guess I am always kind of wishing for something better, the wishin’ and hopin’ was actually not doing anything good for me. There’s really nothing nice I can say or mention about them, they are not my source of pride and joy.

Whoever or whatever they are or were, they are literally poisoning my personality and reality without even being there. The best part was I was allowing them to do so, lurking in the fringe of my mind and psyche.

Turning the bad to good

The relationship is so aloof with them that they’ve never found a good reason to contact me, and this caused me to develop a doubt over the good things that has happened in my life. That cynical person in me (usually my mum), who is always suspicious over a positive turn of events. ‘Cannot be! There must be a catch!’ ‘How can it be so good! You just watch it, it’ll always turns bad!’ And things always do.

While I was thinking about the bad stuff they’ve caused me, bad personalities they’ve endowed me with, twisted stories my mum (especially my mum) and dad has told me; a silent voice in me grew louder of late, whispering softly to me that they also did left me with something good. I just need to find out what that is, while my dad was a failed businessman, who was probably a bankrupt, he was after all an entrepreneur. My mum was at times a good judge of character, she has a wonderful smile in better days. Even if all they left me was something bad, I didn’t turn out bad, I learned from the bad things they left me with. The trap was I was learning so much, I was slowly turning bad. I was learning to avoid the poison, by eating them to get rid of them, not very smart right?

Forgiveness

From what it seems, they’ve very much unwittingly done me wrong and left me a little twisted. If we were to move on, forgiveness is a mental closure for everyone to heal and become a better person. Sometimes our perpetrators might be self vindicated, to think they are right and you are wrong. and you are the one who have hurt them, therefore they hold the ‘key’ to your forgiveness, and they’ll punish you and hold you psychologically hostage, by not forgiving you for the hurt you did to them.

Relationship is always a 2-way street and for my case, I don’t think I can get them to forgive me, and I don’t think they will ask for my forgiveness, after all, I cause them the hurt, didn’t I?

I forgive them

My mum

I forgive them anyway, never mind that they’ll never know I did, ignorant to the reality that they have left a son, a younger brother alone, lonely and a little bitter almond seed in my heart.

I forgive them anyway, as I have to accept the judgement they’ve passed to me. I’ll never be the good son, or little brother in their lives. I’ve punished myself enough to try and live up to that fantasy, and the reality is, I am a good husband, decent dad, and okay guy.

I forgive them as I need to forgive myself, for being unfilial, for ditching them, and for being the bad guy in their narrative. I don’t live in their narrative, I live in my reality. I have to forgive myself for playing this sad sorry tune in my head for the longest time.

Always give and quit asking for it

An old polaroid photo of my dad and my elder brother. My only photo of my dad.

Don’t beg

If you are waiting for people to give you their forgiveness, you’ll always be begging. While in a healthy and balanced relationship, you can ask the person whom you’ve hurt; for forgiveness, and it’ll heal faster for both the victim and the instigator, when you give forgiveness, ask for forgiveness and gets it. Nonetheless, if you ask and you’re not given, it’s okay, forgive them for not forgiving you and move on, some things are never meant to be solved and some sour relationships are meant to be sour, no matter how hard we try to better it.

Don’t do what your dad did for the past 20 odd years, waiting in vain for my history to better. History is history, no matter how hard we try to rewrite it. What has happened is not something we can understand, I can never fully understand why my elder brother is the a**hole, he still is, why my mum tells lies to everyone about everyone. People are people, they’ll change to their whims and conveniences, a lot of us live like this and will be like this for as long as we live, you boys can be better, and start being better by learning to forgive yourself, and forgive those who have hurt you.

And boys, if I’ve hurt you, please forgive me, I forgive you for any and all the hurt you’ve caused me.

SuperPark-An Expansive Been-There-Done-That

SuperPark-An Expansive Been-There-Done-That

Dear Boys,

I promised you guys a visit to the fabled SuperPark since late last year when it first opened November 2018, so we decided to visit it for the March holidays.

First of all, the park has an EXPANSIVE array of activities all in one roof, which is great because we can get to try out many types of sports, all in air-con comforts. And this come at an EXPENSIVE price tag.

superpark prices

As we could only make it on a Sunday afternoon about 1-nish, we were deciding on the Middle Session which was priced at S$40 or should we go for a S$48 still, despite of only being able to enjoy the later half of the day. Your mother, the better economist, argued that the One Day Ticket is still a better deal, because if we were to purchase the Middle Session Tickets; we have to exit the park by 5.30pm , and for another S$8 more, we can use all the way to 9pm, park closure.

That comes up to $195 in total for the 4 of us, inclusive of a Grip socks for Wayne.

Ouch.

Yeah talking about the Grip Socks, Super Park only allows a specific type of grip socks.

 

Both Grip sock was from a Tramopline park we went to before and we got these socks, Wayne’s sock was the one on the left, and this wasn’t allowed, perhaps the grip surface wasn’t big enough. So we have to get one pair for Wayne, that’s S$3.

Then off we go!

We were thankful for your mum’s foresight. We played from 2pm all the way to closure, and it was worth the S$48, in a specific way, as we really make sure we played all the stuff within Superpark. And there was more than enough time for us to go through everything twice or 3 times over.

And the spoiler alert was for us One Day Ticket folks, we get to enjoy a lull, between 5pm to 6pm, as there was a ‘shift change’ for those Middle Session Tickets players leaving at 5.30pm, and those After 6pm crowds coming in only at 6pm.

So if you pay a One Day Ticket and goes in the morning when the park opens at 9am, you’ll enjoy 2 lull time one when the Morning Mayhem crowd leaves at 1pm and the Middle Session Tickets crowds comes in at 1.30pm, and the afternoon lull.

Making a fool of ourselves

Personally I enjoyed SuperPark, as it was a place for me to make a fool of myself, without being self-critical or self-judgmental. I confessed I’m not a good ball guy, but I played basketball, soccer and ‘dodgeball’ just for the sake of having fun. Oh, not forgetting baseball and I managed to hit 2 out of 5 balls.

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It’s basically a big activity buffet place. There is a skate park where you boys tried skateboarding ( you boys didn’t liked it) then there was skate scootering, which was good fun. You can also try rock wall climbing just round the corner, after you are bored being a skater, and then you can head off to play the slides!

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So technically you can have never-ending fun, running crazy all over the place, from balls to carts to slides to more balls, trampolines, rock walls, and more balls.

Injuries

With activities like these, there is bound to be injuries, as one girl had her nose broken when a baseball hit her. Thankfully nothing major of that sorts happened, but Wayne was hit by the ball a few times on the lips, and it caused some slight bleeding. I was hit in the face by a ball, and thankfully my glasses didn’t break.

But what the heck, if you want to play sports, injuries are bound to happen, just hope it wasn’t a serious one.

Little or no wait

One thing they did right was to time the activities, and most activities have a one-minute timer which the anyone playing must exit when time is up. There was a few times some folks playing ahead of us didn’t activate the timer, and continued to play (of course the system isn’t counting the points, since the timer didn’t start.) but people are usually civil and they realised that and promptly exited after their pressed the timer, and played till their time is up.

The long wait

The long wait was for the rock wall, at the Super-Climb, this one no choice as it is really up to the climber’s finesse and climbing skills. The walls are relatively easy to climb, but it still takes different people different amount of time to climb it.

Besides, the safety aspect of it cannot be speed up; everyone has to be harnessed well and hooked up properly.

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safety, safety, safety

Overall verdict is…Been there, done that. 

Your mum and I thought through the whole thing and it was a park that we came, saw, did, and we can move on. While the park was a good mix of activities, each of these individual activities alone isn’t novel to us. We have been to a trampoline park, we have climbed rock walls before, skate scooted, played soccer (downstairs, on the field), basketball at our HDB court. Baseball? Well, yeah, hadn’t done that before. Go-cart? Not really a novelty, since the circuit was a tad too small.

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Robo Keeper

But I can understand where the Finns’ argument for such a park. I guess it is cold most of the days there in Finland, and there are times it’s too cold to play basketball outside, heck it’s too cold to play anything, so you need an indoor park like such to have everything under one roof.

Here in sunny Singapore, we don’t face such cold weather, and whenever we want it, we can take our basketballs out, play to our heart’s content, changed to roller-blades and go skate till the cow come home. If there’s a sport we would like to try out, we can always go to shop at Decathlon for these games and their products are cheap and good.

Call me a stingy Singaporean, pinching every penny, I had to agree with your mum’s
Cost Benefit Analysis, comparing a SuperPark day with an Adventure Cove  day, with an adult tickets costing S$38 and kiddo price at S$30, the latter would have been a better day spent. We would get the sun, sand and sea, as well as the thrills and spills too.

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No-it isn’t that scary. Really.

The Best Big Brother

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Ian and Wayne

Dear Wayne,

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.

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Girl: cute baby!

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Ian: He’s my little brother!

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.

Bath time

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.

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Ian and Wayne 2011

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.

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No Permanent Friends, No Permanent Enemies

Dear boys,

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.

 

 

 

 

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Letting things play out

Dear boys,

I’ve learned of late that there are much in life that we cannot control. We spend a lot of time in our lives trying to do things, influence people, get people to like us and we try to be the all positive ‘proactive’, constantly taking initiative and trying our darnest to get sh*t done.

 Sometimes you just have to let things happen. As a Recruiter, my job is to match people with the right job. This Client of mine wasn’t going to pay a the Candidate, the salary he wanted, so the deal was lost, or so I thought. Candidate rejected the offer, and the Client wasn’t keen to raise the salary offered.

The Client came back 2 weeks later, and gave the salary as to what the Candidate wanted, and I closed a deal.

The lesson here I learned was not to get so upset over the lost deal. It wasn’t meant to be, it never will be. It is of course so much easier to have it said. When you are in the hot seat, and everyone is expected you to act, and you didn’t or you did the wrong thing, that kind of mounting pressure can be immense. And so it takes a lot of confidence to let things happen.

I learned to let that deal go, have it lost. It turned around and came back. On hindsight, of course I could have done this and that, influence the candidate to take the initial offer, or even persuade the Client to up it, Either way, I would have come across as hard selling, manipulative and burn both ends and lose the trust and the deal eventually.

In Aikido, we are also faced with the same judgement call.

Sometimes, when our partner, poised for attack, can be unnerving. You would like to take initiative and strike first, but sometime first strike would be disadvantageous, and you might be caught in a situation you could have avoided by not doing anything, or allowing your attacker to strike first.

Of late, I allow myself to open and face my partner, and let the attack comes, knowing that I have whatever I have in me to deal with it.

Allowing the attacker to come, you allow the energy to get played out, and fully expends. That is where you can use your energy and control the situation when your opponent is at its weakest.

Dealing with anger

It is easy to tell a pissed off person, ‘Don’t get angry lah!’ Easier said than done! An angry person would tell you!

Sometimes, let the person simmer and get over with the anger, let it all out, and when the anger has dissipated, then the mind is in a more calm and open mood to receive logic and reasoning.

Dealing with matters that way looks quite retrospective, and lacks a lot of drive. You basically sit back and somehow let things happen.

It is not what it is.

Letting things happen, when you can do something, is learned helplessness. When you can do something, do it, but when you have reached a stage where you can no longer do anything; allow yourself to sit back, and have a bit of faith. The world works in a very curveball way you seldom sees beyond your horizon so don’t worry so much when things don’t go your way, after all that you have done. Just do what you can and let things happen.

Allow!

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Photo credit to Steven Lim

My friend Steven, came to this  epiphany a long time back, he allowed life to happen. This is only apparent when things don;t go your way, despite of all that you have done, what else is there to do next? Sit back and allow things to play out. It will.

It’s chess, my dear children…

Chess is a back and forth game, played between 2 players, right now if there is you, the other side is life, we can only make one move at a time, that’s all. After we made our move, it is the other side’s to make the move, and beyond that we can think and visualise our strategy, but not forgetting our opponents can pull a surprise. And when we have planned enough, and we are rich with experience, we can deal with surprises. But we still need to sit back, after we have made our move and let the other side play out, then we come back into the game and make our next move, then let it play out again.

We cannot stop our opponent from moving, life will move on, and to disallow, we are only stopping ourselves, making lives miserable for us. When we do not let things play out, the situation gets pent up.

In Aikido, if you stop an attack, you allow that energy to return to the attacker, and that energy, stored can be reused against you. Once the energy is initiated, let it travel the entire way and just be at the end to meet and change the course in your favour. That is allowing the play to happen, and in doing so, you will be able to turn things to your advantage.

Learn that and you will not have to grief much in life!