February 27, 2014
I have been having the same dream again…and seems again. I am dinning all alone in the only seafood restaraunt in my village. I am sitting in my favourite table. The one where I can see everyone, but half hidden in the shadows by a screen.
There is another table in the far distance. There is a group of businessmen there. They’re drinking. At the head of the table is a landowner who once poisoned all my trees. We are supposed to keep to a truce, so I do my part and eat quietly without looking up…I want to keep to the truce…then suddenly I sense they are all talking about me…laughing at me….I can feel anger swelling in me.
The laughter grows louder and louder…my anger is full blown now. I walk into the kitchen. I pick up a cleaver run my fingers along the edge….it’s sharp, but not sharp enough to do the job well. I pick up another one…this time its razor sharp.
I walk right up to the table and they’re all laughing. One of the bodyguards try to stand up. He pushes me. I slash him across the jugular. I know he is done for – the other is readying himself. He reaches for his gun. I look him deep in his eyes and tell him in a calm voice to think about his wife and children. I tell him don’t fight me please as I have no quarrel with your clan. He looks at me momentarily and runs away and drops his revolver. Then suddenly its just me and this man. The whole room suddenly becomes small. Darkness closes in. For a moment, I wonder to myself – how could this happen, it was large and bright just a while ago, but it soon passes.
The man is scared now. He tries to run scrambling on all fours. He slips. I grab hold him by his hair. He is screaming. I drag him to the middle of the room and cut his throat. Slowly and deeply. He tries to struggle but my hold on him is like an iron vice. I can hear his blood gurgling. He raised his hands. I cut his fingers and his hands. I pick them off the floor slowly and put them on the plate and I sit beside this man and dip one of his fingers in soya sauce and eat it. He looks at me with his eyes wide open…it is a look of disbelief. I whisper to him that I will do the same to his wife, children and their children and I want him to know this before he goes to the other side.
I tell him. I will throw them off the balcony one by one as they scream on their way down – but before I do so, I would explain the reason why it has to be this way and there can no other way. As I am a man who does not like to be humoured and I can never forgive….never…never ever.
Then I light a cigarette lean back into the chair and for some curious reason I decide to pour myself a drink. I remember feeling a wave of intense satisfaction sweeping over me. But it doesn’t last long, as that’s when I see myself in the mirror – and at that moment…I am suddenly filled with unspeakable horror. I wake up covered in cold sweat.
I have been having the same dreams again and again….what does it mean. I don’t understand. Really I don’t.
“I believe, I am good. You see, it is not unusual for stray dogs and women to come to me. They want to be with me and that is all there is to it. There is no mystery there, but to others, I am certain, it will always be a matter of intense speculation.
Some of these women are very rich. They reveal their intentions to be with me quite openly. But since I am by nature a very reserved person. I always tell them, please do not have fantasies regarding me – as you do not know me. Let us just be friends. But I am really not in a position to consider commitment. When I consider how often I have been in this position – I can only say they must be attracted to me, as they all see me as a good man.
I don’t want to be evil. Really I don’t. That is why I believe, it is best when people do not humor me…perhaps from time to time, they would do well to consider what is the best way to bring out the best in this man….I feel, if people can only do that, their lives will be immeasurably enhanced and that would make me very happy. As to be perfectly honest. I feel very sorry for those who do not seem to treat this as a matter of upmost importance.
Remember always, I am a good man.’
February 27, 2014
Only in the kampung are all things possible including the impossible. Now we just need the Singaporean version and hopefully he can work his way up and kick out the kill joy PAP!
February 26, 2014
Many people have suggested many things that we would do well to have with us all the time – a pen to write down our thoughts, a notebook to file the many twist and turns of what we have done and may plan to do in the future, a watch to keep us bound to the discipline of keeping time, a condom should we get lucky (or in my case unlucky when it rains and I need to waterproof the barrel of my shotgun), a rabbit’s foot or protection amulet to stave off malevolent spirits, the names and addresses of friends should we need help…so on and so forth.
But the most important thing we should all aspire to own has to be in my opinion first and foremost ourselves…to just be present in the moment and not allow even one quarter of our mind to be invaded by the distant past or future…to just be in the moment…to have all of ourselves in the way a man gathers all the marbles in the palm of his hands…to be so completely in control of our thoughts that we have become one with the Dao of the world.
This is true power. And that is all you need, the rest will always just be stuff. People who do not know this will always diffuse their lives in the way one drops a red dye into a glass of water only to disappear. They will search for meaning in their meaningless lives by going to meaningless places to hear meaningless sermons from charlatans who just want 10% of their salary. They will search for happiness in the company of friends and in shopping malls above all they will always fear solitude….as they search everywhere for answers to their questions…except themselves.
“There was one time when I was in the city and I found myself standing before an green oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. So I rang the door bell and an elegant lady appeared – I asked this woman in an authoritative bearing of a landowner whether she would allow me to rest my tired soul in her beautiful garden. She looked at me in a very peculiar way and so I must have taken it as a yes and proceeded to sit on a stone bench beneath the shade of a sprawling Mango tree.
After a considerable length of time watching me from her balcony, she summoned the servants to serve tea and proceeded to sit next to me. She asked me where I was from…as in her words…you are definitely not of the city. I told her, I live amongst trees and I was grateful for her kindness for allowing me to sit quietly beside my friends. I went on to tell the lady of the mansion with the blue mango tree, there was no need for her to try to make conversation and she should just be herself. As nothing would give me more pleasure than to sit quietly beside her.
From time to time, birds would perch on the Mango tree. One particular bird caught the lady’s eye, she looked curiously at it and asked..why are it’s feathers such an odd shade of red – I looked up and agreed with her, ‘yes, she certainly looks different from all others.’ I went on to recount to the lady of the mansion, the ochre winds that I had once seen in the deepest bowels of Africa…a relentless wind that even blotted out the sun for weeks. A wind which was once considered so evil. A mad sultan declared war on it and marched out to meet it at the edge of the Sahara with fluttering silk banners, war elephants and a hundred thousand soldiers. A wind seasoned sailors in the Coite de Noire called the wind of blood – the Harmattan, the Ormugh, while others in the Niger simply called the Iskham – as when it rained, it turned the skies blood red…I told her that is why the feathers of that finch were stained a curry powder patina….it has travelled very far. She looked amazed and when it was time to take my leave. I thanked the lady, she told me I was most welcome to pay a visit again. But for some strange reason her voice seemed strained. So I looked at her expectantly as she began to explain, she felt compelled for my sake to inform me that it may not be a good idea to do what I did today, as my behaviour may be construed as peculiar to city folk. I turned to her looked deep into her eyes and asked, do you consider me peculiar madam? The lady looked down and replied, ‘No, I think you are a very calm man…slightly unusual, but very nice….it is only some of my friends who do not know you will think different.’ I merely said, then that is all that really matters madam….as for friends…they are not here…’ She looked up at the peculiar bird again perched on the Mango tree…this time instead of frowning she smiled and gave me a blue mango.’
I do not fear the drought. Not at all. All I need to do is enable plan B. It is really as simple as that……
February 25, 2014
It is very natural to feel jealousy. If you are not jealous of others at times, you’re probably not part of the human species. You must go and check your family tree, your father and mother could be aliens from another planet.
I am not kidding!
Jealousy is a very powerful and primal force. It can often overcome us suddenly….usually we are overwhelmed by feelings of jealousy without us even realising HOW or WHY….suddenly we feel it swelling inside us…it is as if a sacred part of who we are is suddenly appropriated by a dark force within us…we get all defensive….we tense up and get angry and of course…we suffer….
Like I said, usually jealously takes hold when we least expect it – just a few days ago, when I was having dinner with a newbie farmer and his wife who had just moved here from Singapore. I was suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of jealously when his wife served us steamboat……as the carefully prepared dishes were placed on the table one after another…I was mindful of my feelings of jealously swelling…soon I began asking myself….why does this man eat so well? While I have to always make do with card board military grub? How lucky he is to have a loving wife who dotes on his every wimp and fancy…this is a man who can enjoy a thousand pleasures…while poor me has only my dogs to keep me company…and iPad porn…why can’t I have a loving wife like him….soon I turned skywards and wondered why heaven has not been fair to me….why have I been victimised….singled out for suffering…. this went on throughout the course of dinner.
The only reason why I felt it is necessary to share this is merely to illustrate the corrosive power of jealously.
Till of course….I admitted quite candidly to my host, ‘I feel so jealous of your life because it is so much more comfortable than my threadbare Spartan existence.’ Through the years, I have observed, this is the only way for one to deal effectively with jealously….to see it for what it is…to confront it head on…as since it’s power is invisible, once it is seen, it’s hold on the mind will begin to diminish.
The first step to defusing our jealous state of mind before it takes hold of our lives and destroys everything in it’s path – is we have to see it for what it is….and not run away from it. Or try to hide or deny it. As when you recognise, you are jealous, you have acknowledged a thing for what it is – it’s now transparent…..like a bomb with its casing removed….all the wires stand before you….now you can proceed to defuse it.
But if you do not even see it, then it is like an alcoholic who doesn’t even believe he has a drinking problem…so it becomes incredibly difficult to manage it. It is like one of those stealth fighters…not there…but there…and everywhere it seems.
So recognize it, acknowledge jealousy.
Then understand it – as jealously is really just another way of saying, you would like to have the same things or qualities as the person you are jealous of. So it is perfectly natural to feel threatened, scared, angry, anxious along with feelings that you may not be good enough. Only understand these feelings are wholly irrational and often it is created in our minds based on the raw material of bad experiences from the past, they have nothing whatsoever to do with reality.
Once we acknowledge this. Suddenly we all become less self-centered. We no longer think the world revolves around us and soon our mind begins to see the bigger picture and our role in it.
As when I admitted my jealously to my host – he turned to me with a surprised expression and confided, ‘I too am very jealous of you. As you are wise beyond your years and it is widely acknowledged by all that you are a very serious man.’
As the dinner went on. I began to feel happy for my friend. Happy that although he was new to farming. At least, he had his wife to stand beside him and that I knew would hold him in good stead. Soon my feelings jealously subsided as a larger picture began to form almost before me…one where I realised, I was genuinely happy for him…happy to be here enjoying this meal with his family…and happy that I could be happy.
‘Jealousy is a very powerful and natural primal instinct. It isn’t something you can just get rid of immediately or rationalise away – that is why I do not understand when people say, ‘don’t compare.’ ‘don’t be jealous.’ How not to compare? Do you mean if a man is driving a Mercedes and I pull up next to him in a whacked up bone shaker, I am supposed to magically wish his car away? So to me this way of managing jealously is really nonsensical.
But when you acknowledge that you are jealous. Then within that very moment of admission, the spell of jealously loses it’s hold on you – in that instantly, it’s power is greatly diminished – it is really like switching on the lights to a room when it’s pitch dark. Suddenly everything is clear as day!
Suddenly you understand it’s irrational. And this will allow you to move on to the next stage where you might even ask yourself, how did this fellow get to drive such a big car? What would I have to learn to enable me to drive such a big car one day? And when you begin to see the world thru this new lens, then you will live in the PRESENT, instead of feeling self pity, regret and hurt – as jealously is really all about the past. The wrongs that others have inflicted upon you. Moving beyond jealousy is a life skill that you need to learn with practice, and trust me. As you begin learn to acknowledge it, you will thru time be more comfortable in your own skin and as time goes by you will hopefully see the world clearly without the slightest trace illusion – one where you will arrive at a place of wisdom and simply understand, no one gives a shit how much you have in your bank account or how much land you own. All they really care is whether you treat them with respect, dignity and love….and that’s it – people who do not know will always feel angry without truly knowing why….they will suffer…and suffering leads to darkness.’
February 24, 2014
Building trust in myself as a competent farmer is something that I’ve always struggle with. As what I really lacked when I first started commercial farming was confidence in my decisions…I wasn’t sure…and that to me is just another way of saying…I don’t trust myself.
Fortunately, with the passing of each season I got much better at getting it right on the first call and so it became much easier to trust myself.
Trust that I could (most of the time, at least) make a good quality judgement call…and get it right the first time….trust that I could just roll a clump of dirt in between my index finger and thumb, bring it to my nostrils and say to myself, ‘There is no mystery here!’
Trust is so very important…NOT WITH OTHERS, BUT WITH YOURSELF FIRST.
I am not just talking about the skills to make good decisions that you will not come to regret later. But sometimes, trust that you can see a thing through from beginning to end is equally important – it may be trying to slim down by making a promise to yourself that you will not eat food that makes you fat and ugly any longer – or just trying to keep to a simple promise you once made to yourself that you would watch less TV and cut down on your smoking and drinking.
Why is trust in yourself so jugular…important. Because if like me during the first few early years when I first became a farmer – Life can be a grind when you just can’t trust yourself – you can’t even trust yourself to see a thing thru from beginning to end – and very often my lack of knowledge corroded my confidence and this just meant I kept breaking promises to myself again and again. It’s like if another person constantly cheats on you or never seem to keep their word – as time goes by, it’s natural not to trust that person anymore. The same holds true of the promises you make to yourself.
Learning to trust yourself is arguably the most important thing you can ever do. Trust in your brain….trust that, if you promise yourself to do something, you will nit procrastinate…trust that you will work hard to build trust in yourself.
You could even say, this is the first principle of living a purpose driven life
‘Farming is all about observation. That I imagine is why it’s not unusual at all to see a farmer perched on his fence staring out into the yonder for hours. That could be why so many people think that I am mad as well. As whenever I do this in Singapore….people think, he’s a very odd man…I think, I’ll call the police…as over there no one really bothers to just stand so very still and really look…I don’t mean just look, but really look….at the clouds, birds etc etc. To even feel the gentle caress of the breeze…to pick up the slight hint of the salt in the air…no one really stops and just looks. They’re all too busy trying to get to where they need to be etc etc.
But farming is all about observation….every morning at a certain time, I will open a hatch in my kitchen. Sit down on the floor with a mug of coffee and just study the way the light falls on the tiles. I know of at least 23 pantheons of yellow…each tone can tell me a tome about how the weather is going to unfurl, it is more accurate than a weather satellite…these days, I notice the light is different….I have never seen such colors before…it’s not the usual bright corn yellowish light that I am used too…but much closer to an amber vinegar copper tone…so I know from just this, the dry spell is going to last much longer than what the weatherman says…I just know deep in the marrow of my bones…it will be dry thru to March….bone dry…this is going to be a season that will test my mettle I reckon.
Everything that I once went thru was meant to prepare me for this season…no, I can’t rely on my tabula data any longer…I must throw them away…I must assume, past performance is no longer a reliable indicator of what is going to happen…I must make the assumption, she will go the other way, do that other thing that I least expect….many people will go bankrupt this year….if I can make it to the other side or maybe I will get lucky and she’ll spit me out like a seed then I stand to gain from the carnage, from now on…it’s a game of cerebral fitness…as it will only rain a few days in the following weeks….I have to make everyday count….every arrow must find its mark….if I do this. I may just be able to slip by and find a sunny patch…after all the price of palm is going up, because no one has any fruit..as it has not rained at all…so the farmer who can produce fruit will win. He will prosper and grow…while the others perish.
I must believe this is possible…above all I must trust myself that I can pull this off. I must.”
February 22, 2014
A series of small steps all add up to huge distances. This might seem so obvious that it hardly requires any explanation, but I don’t feel most people really understand this – don’t get me wrong. I am not saying they’re stupid…only I feel, they have not really experimented with this idea enough to feel really confident about using it to improve their lives.
Today I visited a newbie couple from Sengkang Singapore. They’re new settlers and as a general rule I always make it a point to touch base and see whether they might need any help. They’re planning to grow organic veggies for the up scale market. From what the husband shared with me, they seem to know how to go about it. So it came as a surprise when the husband told me when we were having a smoke outside his verandah, he planned to put up the parameter fencing in four days. I said sardonically, ‘Oh really…’ He replied, ‘there is nothing to it.’
Two days past uneventfully, on the third his wife called and informed me frantically her husband was hospitalized for sun stroke.
I asked what happened. Apparently, one day while working in the field, he just became so exhausted that he keeled over. She asked me whether I could help him out with the fencing…as it seemed harder than it seemed and she was concerned – I said certainly.
After he recovered as promised, I went over to work with her husband on the fencing. While he was panting and sweating putting up the fence post. I sat beneath the shade and just read a book. After a while, he turned to me and asked, ‘I thought you were going to help me?’ I replied, ‘are you blind. Can’t you see I am helping. My job is to call the ambulance when you pengsan again!’ He looked at me with a puzzled expression, then I took a sledge hammer hit the ground real hard and it bounced right back like concrete…boing! I told him thereafter, the ground is hard like armoured plated steel as it hasn’t rained for the last two months and it makes far more sense not fight nature and to use this opportunity when the grass is short and frizzled to survey the fence line and mark out the position for the post and get all the stuff ready like nut and bolts, wires etc. As when the rains come in a few days it will soften up the ground quite nicely. This way, I told him work will proceed faster with less effort, as we are going with the flow of nature…..small steps…smaller the better.
‘How does one go about eating an elephant? Cut it up into tiny pieces….seems obvious enough rite? But when you look at how most people approach the whole subject of work. Most of the time, they want to make 10 changes all at once. Personally I just feel these people think it’s a macho thing to take a big chunk and see whether they can eat it without choking. But trying to do so much at one time simply means they’re setting themselves up for a fall…and even if they can somehow manage to pull that feat off, they’re unlikely to get quality results…besides they will probably be so worn down to the bone that instead of enjoying that whole experience of seeing a thing thru from beginning to end, all they have done is demoralize themselves along with burning up all the enthusiasm they might have had for that enterprise.
Recently, I read this story about this graduate who started a Bak Kut Teh outlet…now less than a year into his first enterprise, he goes and tries to eat an elephant by starting another outlet even before the first shop has stabilised..then he complains to everyone that it all crashed and burnt because he couldn’t native workers and the straw that broke the camel’s back was when one of his kitchen hands dipped his hands into the till. Now you tell me – is the problem manpower related? Or is it closer to failure to manage growth intelligently by taking on too much at one time.
My point is not even McDonalds or for that matter Bill Gates did one thousandth of what this fellow tried to do, that is start another outlet within 5 months into business! – they all took things slowly and incrementally build up both their technical and managerial core competencies by taking really small steps…first by getting things to work in a garage where over night pizza went to die and getting by with loads of superglue and duct tape. That’s what smart people do – they grow organically. They don’t put their enterprise on steroids and they certainly never buy into that nonsense Rome was built in one day.
The way I see it, if you set yourself very small, realistic and achievable goals by taking small steps, you’re well on your way to reaping long-term pay outs that will give you the confidence to grow from strength to strength organically – so if you’re new to driving a taxi, just drive safety, better still put a big sign that reads, ‘please don’t talk to me. I cannot multi task! That is why I am driving you!’ and just focus of getting yourself and your passengers to the destination safely. Just do that till you’re really good at it and everything else will take care of itself. Same goes when you’re trying to make small changes to your diet and activity levels — after a year, you’ll be way fitter than before. Rather than going on a crash starvation diet only to look good for two weeks and after that your body starts to malfunction and you end up fatter than before you started to change the way you look.
This is especially true of farming. As I have seen many new farmers who try to take on too much in one season, only to end up going round and round in ever decreasing circles. While the wise planter just focusses on one thing, knows it so well that he even becomes a subject matter expert on it and builds up the rest of his core competencies incrementally with this, do one thing at a time attitude, in the way a samurai sword is layered. End result: he becomes wise in the way of the land.
The best part is when you commit yourself to just doing one thing at a time and most importantly being kind to yourself – you’re more likely to enjoy the whole experience and since it’s such an incredibly edifying feeling that you derive from it – you will want to do it again and again.
February 21, 2014
Today while lunching all by my lonesome in the only Chinese seafood restaurant in my kampung. A group of Christians approached me and recounted to me in a very excitable and urgent manner – there is great moral battle being waged back home in Singapore.
This woman who wore a big stainless steel crucifix went on to tell me, it was my moral duty as a believer to do the right thing and to support their cause against what they all saw as the erosion of moral values in Singapore. The husband of the woman shared with me, their cause would be greatly enhanced if I could lend them their support.
I asked all of them – ‘why are you all getting so worked up lah? Where is the moral battle?’ I asked the woman, ‘has the the bum buddies petitioned the Pope to fuck her husbands or sons backside?’ I then turned to the man and asked him in an authoritative tone of a landowner – ‘Has your asshole been violated without your consent by the bum buddies brigade?’ ‘Do you feel that there is a clear and present danger to your asshole from the homosexual community?’ I turned to the woman and asked of her, ‘do you see the need to buy steel plated underwear for your husband to protect him from been fucked in the ass by the gay zombies?’
After my round of enquiries – a few women in the group pretended to pengsan and proceeded to faint – I commanded them to rise in the name of the spirit (tiger beer 5% alcohol spirit lah) in the booming voice and boing, boing, boing and boing…they all rose – this time the husband of the flustered woman began to call me all sorts of names…I was uncouth…rude….unbecoming of a gentlemen…and they would report my bad behaviour to the church elders for follow up action and that they went on to mention. They had obviously made a serious error of judgement by approaching me.
I told them all, what a man decides to do with his dicky dally is really his own business and providing he draws the curtains and does whatever he feels he needs to do with humans, animals or inanimate objects with or without batteries in a private setting is really none of my business, theirs or for that matter their pastor. I went on to stress their pastor may have misread the good book….either that or someone from the bum buddies brigade has been pressurizing lately to fuck his asshole and that may be why he has an axe to grind with them, but even then I told them…they have no right to force their views down the throat of others….where is the love for your fellow man I asked.
By then all of them were so shocked by my response them all left dumbfounded. Maybe they have seen the light? And hopefully stars as well.
February 21, 2014
Most of us don’t really consciously audit our thoughts and discard the old and useless in the way we regularly delete the many messages and e-mails that pile up in our laptop or phones. That is quite normal, I guess. As most of us do not see ourselves as either office equipment or mobile devices.
But if one considers that even these devices need to be regularly updated with apps to keep them relevant and that bandwidth is always finite – then surely even we humans will have absolutely no problem in understanding the need to update, upgrade and most importantly throw out that which have become useless in our life.
When we see change for the better as just function of throwing out old and bad habits and buying into a better way to live, play and work, then it is easy to understand why it pays dividends every day to find quiet time and audit our thoughts to enable us to lead happier lives and get on the path to leading a purpose driven life.
‘Everyday I make it a point to set aside some quiet time to think about whether what I did, said or thought the day before is the person I want to become. I find that when I do just that, I am more mindful of my actions along with understanding my strengths and weaknesses. I happen to believe this daily habit has been very good for me. As at times, I do say, do and think of thoughts which I believe could be considerably improved on – thoughts, actions and deeds which i say to myself, ‘maybe that is not the best way to put my point across.’ and its not unusual for me to right that wrong the following day.’
This is necessary for me, if I don’t want to end up doing something I will regret later. For example there is this businessman who stays quiet close to me. He once poisoned all my trees over a disagreement. Whenever I see this man, he talks to me as if nothing has happened…as if he’s done nothing…and it’s really just another day in paradise – I find this form of humoring especially offensive and there have been many times when I have had to just walk away. As if I don’t, I know myself very well – I am likely to do something that I will end up regretting for the rest of my life. My point is not everything can be forgiven. Not for me. So this is one way to make peace and move on as best as one can.
As for that man, I still dream of hacking him to pieces with my parang from time to time. I can see it in my minds eye, he’s in some seafood restaraunt. When I walk him, his friends run away. He raises his hands to avoid the blows. I cut off his fingers and hands. Then I drive it deep into his stomach and push it right up to the hilt….. what scares me most about this dream is when I wake up. I feel very rested and satisfied. There is a slight lag when I wake up and I actually believe, I am going to the electric chair for what I just did….but like I said, I just feel incredible satisfied and even happy. So when I talk about improving myself, I realize, I still have a very long way to go. I reckon these are things you don’t normally read in self improvement books….but that is just the way it is with me. I am not where near a guru, but I like to believe I work hard to make myself a better person every day.’
February 21, 2014
Security is very important to me. As I work in a very dangerous environment. That I imagine might not come across as so – as when many of you click and watch the many YouTube videos I have uploaded, it comes across as probably one of those idyllic scenes in little house on the Prairie. But I assure you all nothing can be further from the truth.
I am one of those people who believe, if harm is going to come, it’s probably going to appear from the blindside where you least expect it – when your guard is down and usually when you’re most relaxed, that’s why I train, train, train, train and train as realistically as I can – as often as possible.
The goal is to develop the muscle memory to interdict threats. This way when a threat appears, the response is automatic. Thinking is no good. As thru experience, I believe there is usually no time to think! And because you have gone thru the scenario in endless variations thousands of times, trained, trained, trained and know where your weak points are there is no cause to panic. You can trust yourself 100% to perform under conditions of stress, even if you are outnumbered and outgun and do it effectively and efficiently to get the job done.
Nothing can be accomplished without iron discipline…absolutely nothing. People who do not know this will always just have a lot of expensive equipment and wonder why they cannot even do one tenth of the things other people can – the answer lies in only word: attitude.
‘Through the years I have built up an incredible repository of knowledge on how to survive in the hostile environment of an oil palm plantation. Most people are only aware of two weather conditions in the tropics, dry and wet.
But if you spend as much time as I do in a plantation, you would realize that even in the dry season, there are at least seven variations, when the topology, roads, foliage with take on very distinctive forms which can be rightly considered a season in it’s own right – for example, in rubber estates, wintering will occur only in January thru to February. There is another dry spell which usually comes at May and last roughly three months, but during this period foliage in rubber estates is thick and fauna is dramatically different from the month of January. Why is this important? Well it’s probably not to you, but to me, it can be the difference between being able to survive and dying…so as you can see, I take this whole idea of being able to thrive in hostile environments very very seriously. I can even tell you there are at least seventeen ways to open burn when the Northwesterly winds blow and another twenty two when the winds blow the East in May – again why is this important? Well not to you mabye, but to me that could be the difference between making money or being a charitable organization….as I said, things are not as simple as they appear to be.
I can even move very heavy loads thru plantation roads without leaving a trace or for that matter the slightest signature of having been there. I am an expert. You can give me a map with elevation and some spectral imagining and I can tell you…go here…do it like so….be careful of this and that. There is no one in this planet who is as dedicated as I am to perfecting my craft or for that matter feels even the need to document all these details, file them and even update these sort of information regularly – again why is this important? Well probably not to you – but to me, this is everything and much more because I know one day such information will be jugular.
Knowledge is power….if you have it, you can go very far and your plans will pass from theory to reality without having to incur high blood pressure….if not, your chances of success stands at nil and you will always be scratching your head. It doesn’t even matter how fit or good your equipment is, you will die. Life is cruel.’
February 20, 2014
I have always been punctual all my life. I don’t mean just on time, but military punctual, right down to the millisecond – that’s always been part of my nature ever since I could remember. That I reckon could well be the reason why waiting for people has always been something very stressful, where I tighten up and get anxious about when they’re going to show up or fulfill their end of the work task – that along with wondering why these people are so inconsiderate by not even respecting my time.
It’s frustrating and can make me you or me angry. Especially, if like me, you’re anal about keeping time.
But today, I took a different approach. I loosened up, and while waiting for someone, I told myself, it was not as if I needed to rush anywhere today or that I have any back to back meetings. So I just sat down and took in the marvellous view of the mountains early in the morning when a slight mist still blanketed the plantation – I just flowed with the moment as if I wasn’t beholden to the clock and when the person eventually show up. I realised, I was much nicer person…..
I like to believe from this example many of us can often be our own creators of heaven or hell to either make our days miserable or happy – its really all in your hands….the power not to sweat it, that is.
When we are anxious, it’s only because what we plan and what happens don’t gel together – we may want to be somewhere at a certain time or want something to pan out the way we see it in the grand design of our mind’s eye. But this expectation…. this goal….this need … it’s entirely self created.
We create a picture in our head….a need…a story…and when it doesn’t turn out the way, we visualise it, we feel frustrated and angry. That’s it. No Da Vinci code there.
Hence we create our own anxiety. And WHY is knowing this is so important – as if we genuinely want to fill our days with more happiness and less grief – then we better learn how to let go…..either that or we just get used to going thru life huffing and puffing like an angry bird….to simply let go of want…expectation…and even need and to just allow ourselves to loosen up.
When we see the world with this attitude, we are indeed bullet proof to stress and many of the seven habits of highly ineffective people and circumstances which used to frustrate and make us angry…the inconsiderate driver who cuts into your path….waiting for someone who doesn’t respect your time…dealing with difficult people….or getting a handle on our emotions when things just don’t go our way.
No! I don’t for one moment believe adopting this attitude necessary means you’re selling out on your values, beliefs and principles. It just means you value your peace of mind above all else and you don’t mind letting the small stuff that can ruin your day just slide – so to me its a great trade off. As when you choose to keep your mind still like a lotus on a calm mirror lake… it just means you are very serious about living right, instead of just existing while other people press your hot buttons no end.
Breathe it’s another beautiful day…..
February 19, 2014
All of us have experienced it before. We may not even be consciously aware of it, but trust me. We have. The art of making it up as we go along, that is…to begin, with just a rough outline of how a business plan, holiday, party or even a simple conversation will unfurl and to just let it take us wherever it decides to go…while we sit back and enjoy that long and amazing ride that took all kinds of unexpected twist and turns….I reckon life can much more interesting and fulfilling, if we just learn to let go of many our fears, anxieties and concerns and sit right back and enjoy the journey.
“Life can be beautiful, if only we are prepared to let go of the things that hold us back. Its really as simple as that. I don’t really see the point of sweating stuff that I have no capacity to exert control over – for example, its dry now, where I am and everything is shriveling up real fast and furious…that’s bad for agriculture, mucho bad. But I am not too concerned, as my life style is the very definition of simplicity unto itself, and if I have to do with less….I will just do with less…but it could have been very complicated I reckon, if for example, I have a lifestyle like a furnace where I regularly need to shovel loads of money just to keep the fire going, then I guess it would probably be a very big problem to let go..but like I said, I live a simple life. So letting go is not a problem, I will just enjoy the dry season for as long as it last….as when the wet season comes, I am sure it too will bring it’s own blessings and curses just like the wet season…that’s the way it is.
I think its the same with people, some people just bring out the worse in me, and as I get older, I am just not interested to get into a debate who is right or wrong any longer. I used to be passionate about getting my point across, but these days I just feel that sort of attitude may well be counter productive, if not self defeating – so if these people feel, they are right, justified and closer to the truth, then so be it…alright…go lead your life…bye bye. My point is I no longer want to sweat that sort of nonsensical stuff any longer – I don’t want to live my life wondering any longer why people are cruel, why do they always want to sabotage me…why are they so bochap…why can’t they love and support me…why do they abandon me …why do this and that why, why, why, why etc etc…
I dowan, dowan, dowan…dowan to wonder any more like an engine running and going no where – those things no longer have a hold on me, as I have made a decision to let go…so they fall right out of my hand and I just walk right thru that door.
Because I realize one truism…ONLY you can make yourself happy, fulfilled and commit yourself to lead a purpose driven life. ONLY you! Not someone who once walked on water, that fellow can only leave you 10% poorer every month…Or some stupid con man who you saw on TV who asked you to be a crane operator, all he cares about is his bottom line so that he looks good at the end of the year to his boss. So if you’re a robot and take a run with what he told you, don’t be surprised, if you end up poor, fat and no one wants to fuck you. My point is, if you have to depend on others to make you happy all the time by setting the things that are wrong in your life, right…then it also means they can make you sad as well…as what you really done by delegating your happiness and well being to others is to give them so much power over your life that you may even have to put your hand up just for urination breaks one day – so it’s best in life to just let go of those things that you can never control in the first place and just focus on controlling what you can 100% – what’s happening in between your ears…take care of ONLY that…do it well…so well that you can trust it 100% to make the best life decisions and I am very sure everything else in your life that’s not going right will fall into place quite nicely.
But before you can do that….you have to let go…and just go with the flow.’
February 18, 2014
I ventured into business at a late age — before that I had toiled through various jobs for years and even experienced a long spell of unemployment. So when I began my business, I had reservations. As when I looked around, I was always surrounded by much younger men who always seem to know more than me. There were many moments of self doubt, when I found myself wondering whether this was even a worthwhile move or perhaps it was just one of those things that I would come to regret starting, as I might not be able to see it thru to the very end…happily…successfully…and above all without regrets.
In my first year, I didn’t really know what I was doing (and probably still don’t). I tried everything to turn in a good harvest – to even remake myself as someone who I wasn’t – to come across as more congenial and easy going to others, in the hope of putting them at ease…to be accepted…less threatening…in the fervent hope that, they would like me…and even welcome me with open arms. Some of it worked, but most backfired – for example, I am by nature trusting of people and this meant many people saw me as easy meat. I was also the sort who much preferred to walk away from trouble and many perceived this as a sign of weakness.
But through trial and error and most importantly leveraging on my previous work experience and allowing time to slowly carve me to the person who I was meant to be – I was able to discover the right formula to succeed. I realised with the passing of every harvest (which got better with time) nothing is ever wasted in life – as though I had ventured into a line of business that had nothing whatsoever to do with what I used to do before – something I learnt, came across or just did in the past can always be brought to bear to improve my yield as a farmer…. to add value to my enterprise. When I began to grow more comfortable with the idea that I could do this and still manage to get good results which often made me a subject matter expert in my own right. I realised many of my initial fears in not being able to compete with younger farmers who had considerably more farming experience than me began to diminish – truth be known, there were many things, they didn’t know which only I knew. As since their experience is limited to only farming and the constrains of a kampung – mine on the other hand was considerably more varied and richer than theirs and that by itself provide much more raw material for improvisation. – above all I no longer saw the idea of being NEW to commercial farming as a handicap. Rather it gave me a competitive advantage. As since my experience was not exclusively confined to only the traditional industry of farming – I did not come with any preconceived assumptions of what can and will work – and that simply meant can, I had absolutely no hesitation in changing many of the practices which I can only describe as parochial, insular and backward on how things have always been done since time immemorial – I was not afraid to kick down the door of convention many a time and to even throw out time honoured practices which I considered restrictive and backward and to even experiment with new methods of improving yield.
I am not here to show that I’m superior to anyone, but to share an example of what might actually work for you should you decide to embark on a career change, especially if you happen to be someone of my vintage. To show that nothing is ever wasted and that it can even be reused again to serve you so very well in whatever enterprise you want to pursue.
Knowing this is very important as it will give you the much needed sense of confidence to succeed in doing the things you never thought possible and to do it so well, that only you and you alone could have done it – if only you can find the courage to believe…..nothing is ever wasted…it can all be useful again.
‘I once had a fren in Singapore who was a high class call girl. (for some inexplicable reason, I always make friends like this) She was very nice to me and would often allow me to drive her Masserati and even buy me expensive meals in places that I could never afford to dine in, but nonetheless much preferred over economy meehon…. I was unemployed at the time.
Most of the time, she just followed me around (as she worked flexi-hours) and she would talk and I for my part would listen. She found it comforting to talk to me and she could literally go on and on for hours without the need for any prompting…a very unusual skill.
One day she told me, she was sick and tired of her life….she wanted a career change. I asked her what was she good at. She said, not very much…though she graduated with a double first in media studies, but since she hasn’t worked a single day in the industry, as the pay was crummy, her experience stood at zero.
This prompted me to asked her again…what r u good at..this time I said…think….she thought long and hard this time and then she mentioned she was really good at one thing…I asked what…she said supplying a perfect illusion of love and that usually her fantasies were so seamless and believable that she never ever had any problems getting rich old men to keep her living the life of the rich and famous. I asked what else was she good at…. she said, not very much again, as she had the bad habit of making promises that she often realised she could never deliver on and whenever she was asked why she had made those promises, she would just switch off her mobile phone and go to Australia for an extended holiday only to return and insist she had no possible recollection of ever making those promises and much preferred everyone to move on from just nitpicking on her imaginary faults…she went on to tell me, to the very best of her knowledge and those who knew her intimately, she was just…totally useless..with zero marketable skills and her only aspiration in life…if it ever qualified as one was to get the most out of the system without doing a single day’s honest work.
Thereafter she turned to me and looked at me with her large liquid expressive eyes and asked me for my honest assessment. I sighed and told her that she was really too hard on her self. As based on what she had shared with me, she was in my considered opinion imminently qualified to go places…as she certainly has loads of ministerial potential….she smiled and told me, I was a very nice man. That is very true….as to the best of my knowledge, I have always been very forthright and true to her.’
February 17, 2014
Certain stories have in them the power to leave you more then when you first stumbled on them…oh yes, they do..the parable of the stone cutter is one of those stories. It is so seemingly simple, yet very powerful. And it is a story that I often find myself reflecting on…. over and over again at various stages of my life.
Each time as I recount the story so very slowly and assemble the image of the stone cutter in my mind’s eye, it never fails to reveal yet another hidden chapter of wisdom.
I imagine this could be the reason why I keep returning to this parable time and again – or perhaps I am just enchanted by the poetry of stones…I have always like their dignified silence…texture…their seeming permanence, timelessness and quiet beauty, it is not unusual for me to look at a rock face for hours and to just marvel at how the light at various times of the day transforms and paints them.
Above all, the stone cutter parable is one of those stories where there is so much room for interpretation, each of us can really take whatever life lessons we want out of it and even choose to call it our own…very few stories, I am often reminded are that considerate. For me, it is story that has so many hidden chapters, if only we bothered to peer into it’s many darkened interiors – at one level of understanding, it demonstrates how the idea of power will always be relative.
The themes of “powerful” and “weak” repeat themselves in this parable like a mantra. The story begins with the stonecutter feeling “weak” compared to the “powerful” rich man – when he sees how the crowd fetes the “powerful” high official, he is once again dissatisfied with his “weak” state – and this interplay between ‘powerful’ and ‘weak’ and satisfaction or the lack of it, goes on and on…the cloud becomes more “powerful” in relation to the mighty sun, but soon becomes “weak” in relation to the wind and so on and so forth…till at the end the stonecutter ends up where he started from.
What does it all mean?
This suggests that nothing is really set in stone – notions of what is “powerful” and “weak”, are at best relative – a man of modest income might call himself “weak” because he scripted to measure what is “powerful” primarily in terms of his nett worth. Another man with the same income might call himself “powerful” as he measures his life’s worth based on how many times he can make his child laugh and feels rich that he can bring so much joy and happiness to those around him.
Do you begin how the idea of power is seldom as robust as we believe it to be, rather it is a very crumbly idea that is predicated on what we wish to prioritise as important in life.
The lesson here is what is “powerful” is at best an illusion because it is based entirely on the arbitrary terms of a comparison. When scrutinized closely, the word collapses ontu itself. As what is powerful to one is weakness to another, and vice versa.
Hence true contentment can really only come from accepting what we already are and probably have and not to even take for granted many of our blessings that we usually don’t appreciate…that we are in good health…have parents…or even that we can just all turn the wheel of life.
The conclusion to the story (to me) suggests that if each of us just press the pause button somewhere in our heads. Instead of running mindlessly to the next best smartphone, mall, boyfren, magazine, bottle of moisturizing cream, car, condo…..still our minds long enough to perceive ourselves correctly…. we would all suddenly cease to indulge in petty comparisons and be grateful for what we already have.
“The man who thinks deeply about life is a very powerful man. He has to be powerful as if you have the privilege of spending one year with this man, you will experience what it means to live one life time. But the man who just follows what everyone is doing and goes thru life like a robot, is weak even if he is materially well off – as to this weak man, everyday is just a repetition of yesterday, the only thing that marks the chastening passage of time for this man is the diminishing size of his toothpaste or that he notices it is time to visit his barber again….to me that has to be a form of death. The Africans, specifically the Ma’ia have seven gradations of death, this I imagine would have to be very close to what they call Kaifu’l- in Hollywood it is known as zombie. But I just prefer to call it what I believe it is, existence….not so different from how a turnip or cucumber would exist.
So if you happen to come across people who don’t seem to be very interested to chase the same things you do and they even prefer to go the other way, do that other thing – do not be so quick to call them weird, strange or mad. As it is conceivable when they see how you lead your life – they may even say to themselves, ‘what a bloody waste of a good life…can someone please shoot me and put me out of my misery.’ instead be open minded and just go with the flow and if possible try to suspend all judgement till you make it to the other side….you see, if you just have the patience to bear out that trip. You never know, you might just walk away from the whole experience seeing the world slightly differently from the way you have always seen it…and that is really another way of saying a door which you once did not realize existed has opened somewhere in your mind…and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing, it just means you’re well and truly on the road to living instead of just existing…this is something I don’t think you parents or for that matter the Harvard Business School will ever tell you…how to live that is. Anyone who doesn’t know this, just hasn’t lived before.’
February 17, 2014
This morning as I prepared for another long day in the field. Kee Kee stood on the window sill and looked out at his brothers and sisters – they were outside playing and for a moment, it looked at if Kee Kee did not understand why they did not want to play with him.
I could sense his confusion. I am the only one I imagine in the whole wide world who can do this – as this is the way when a man knows dogs beyond the meaning of just a word – as Kee Kee looked on…he seemed almost to ask me pleadingly, ‘Papa why am I so different from my brothers and sisters? I hate my golden brown pelt and want nothing more than to be black like them. Can you please make me like them?
I hate my pink nose and much prefer to have a shiny black one like their. Can you please change it? And I hate my grey eyes which is so different from their brown large expressive eyes. Can you also change that please? Perhaps if I was born like them Papa, my mother would love me and not have tried to kill me instead….Papa I am envious of my brothers and sisters….I feel very sad Papa that I am so different….Can you please change me?’
I told Kee Kee that the first lesson of life is that one must learn to be comfortable in one’s own skin – and this simply means, one must strive to be at peace with one’s nature and not to be too bothered about what others think.
I went on to tell Kee Kee, a wise man only strives to control his own thoughts and never those of others…that is a very foolish enterprise…I laughed and even told Kee Kee, even with Papa, there are many people who believe he is strange man and could even be slightly off centre upstairs – but that does not mean they are right. Not at all. It is merely their opinion. In truth, these people who like to pass judgement are really not so different from the proverbial frog in the well – an unimaginative creature who can only believe the world is a big bluish and white circle and no more…..there can be nothing beyond this interpretation of the world. As in the known world of the frog in the well. This is life!
I turned to Kee Kee and asked him, does a wise man bother himself with the rumminations of a frog in a well?
Of course not, as he knows only too well, it is difficult and perhaps even impossible to convince those who believe the world can only take one form that there might exist other shapes that are different to theirs – I went on to tell the young apprentice a very simple, yet powerful story to illustrate – how sometimes what we desire most in life can really only amount to illusions that may lead us astray – as in truth, life extremely democratic and what we already have in the palm of our hands is really all the raw material we need to fashion the path to a purpose driven life.
Papa believes you are perfect Kee Kee….
Kee Kee allow time to carve you and shape your nature….
February 16, 2014
There are many anime and manga that can rightly be considered classics for one reason or another. Of these, only very few can surpass this status and rise up from the endless sea of the run of the mill to be considered masterpieces in their own right.
Standing supreme amongst the Samurai genre is a tale that is considered the single most influential piece of literature out from Japan during the 20th Century.
It is the story of Lone Wolf and Cub.
The story tells of a brooding Samurai warrior, who roams the countryside with his baby and together they battle the evil assasins of the Shogun – it is set during the cowboy town era of the togukawa shogunate…
Thus begins the legend of Lone Wolf and Cub.
To say that the story is breathtaking is like calling McRitchie reservoir in Bukit Timah a puddle. There are very few words that can truly convey the depth of the nuanced emotions as one experiences the trials and tribulations of the Samurai everyone calls Lone wolf and his baby, the cub on the road to the long and windy road if meifumado (the buddhist hell).
This is a work that will evoke almost every emotion you’d care to name, from righteous fury to heartwrenching sorrow, from earnest hope to blind hatred along with the many set lietmotiffs of Samurai genre. The complexity and detail of the plot pushes the envelop of the Samurai genre to it’s outer limits and though many have tried to copy the textural complexity of Lone Wolf and cub since Its release in the 70’s, none have managed to better it….it stands tragically alone as the classic that it is…
Lone wolf and cub.
“This morning I went to the Bak Kut Teh shop in my kampung for breakfast. Hardly had I taken my usual seat against the wall – I noticed my enemies at a far table making fun of the cub that was peeking out from my pocket…one of them said, ‘look, he does not have a wife…so he has to sleep with a dog to keep him warm.’ The others laughed I glared at them narrowing my eyes and flaring my nostrils…it was then that Kee Kee, the cub who lived in my breast pocket began to growl for the very first time in his life…grrrrrrrrrh…I realised his eyes had opened. At that moment I felt a mix of joy and sadness flitting across me…and as long as that sliver of time lasted….I was happy that Kee Kee had passed a milestone in his difficult life…but the joy did not last. As it was overwhelmed by a stronger feeling of emptiness that suddenly overshadowed that brief moment of joy. Till I found myself searching for answers on an altar of the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yi that stood in the middle of the shop…I asked her…why is life so cruel and it was then Kee Kee growled again. Suddenly I was awoken from my trance as I found myself turning to the growling cub in my pocket and thinking to myself, ‘Papa is so very happy your eyes are finally open Kee Kee. Papa is also so very sad…as he would first like to ask your forgiveness…as you are born into such trouble times…all that Papa can promise you Kee Kee, is endless blood, sweat and tears.’ With these words I turned to the altar of the kopitiam again…..this time, I could not make out the serene features of the Goddess of mercy…instead the crimson faced God of war Kwang Kong stared back.’
February 16, 2014
Farming is very 直率, straight forward, clear cut and blunt. There is really no room for bullshitting and clever talk. If you really want to know whether a farmer is a master of his craft or just talking thru his straw hat – all that needs to be done is to pay a visit to his land and see for yourself whether his trees are producing heavy and sweet fruit.
As there is no such thing as accidental heavy and sweet fruit – It’s really like talking about snakes in Norway…the bloody thing doesn’t exist! Being in a position to produce heavy and sweet fruit is really just a function of doing the right things consistently with the right degree of commitment, care and love. That’s it! The end.
Some things in life will always been very simple and true…all the time.
“Even amongst your circle of friends and colleagues it is not too difficult to make out two categories of people.
The first are always blaming others for their unhappy circumstances. You will find they will blame everyone and everything under the sun… their husbands, their bosses, their colleagues, their neighbours, their pet gold fish, global warming, melting ice caps etc etc and if they have nothing to put the blame on will…they will just manufacture their unabridged version of the truth…but observe very carefully.
You will notice one thing that is a truism with this erudite lot. They will ALL WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION never feel the need to look inwards and ask of themselves the most pertinent question: ‘why is it that I only seem to eat bitter fruit all the time?’ – these people are very sad. I call them vampires, as I have observed usually they have a very nervous disposition about them….they are never calm and composed so they will always bring out the worst in people. As since their minds are always all over the place like a tornado and in a perpetual state of turmoil….they are always distracted, unfocussed and diffusing their energy needlessly..often they will run here and there, do this and that, try this and that to search for the missing parts of their lives to make themselves whole and complete – one week, they may feel happiness is to be in a bottle of moisturising cream where the only active ingredient is water…next week they may run around like a spinning top to the next flavour of the month – on other days they may believe happiness is to be found by dedicating themselves to their new found hobbies, so they will buy this, do that like one of those characters who can never remain still in those silent comedy movies…but observe…. these people despite dedicating themselves to their many pursuits in their quest for happiness never ever seem to get closer to sweet and heavy fruit….as I said earlier, they are not so different from vampires. Did you know, Dracula can turn into a bat. And if you have ever been unfortunate enough to watch bats fly, they are indeed very nervous animals. My advise is if this is new to you, you best pop two Panadols before you go bat watching…they fly here and there and everywhere very erratically like some nervous creature…with their pants on fire dissipating their energy needlessly….is it a wonder they are always hungry. To me bats are the Proton saga of the skies…they are very painful to watch. As they always give me a headache.
As for the wise farmer. He is like the calm and stately eagle – the S class Mercedes of the skies, graceful in purpose and intent. Resting when he should be resting and searching purposely only when the right moment presents itself – optimal use of resources and opportunity. You will never find him jumping up and down behaving like one of those agitated and nervous creature.
As before one can even set about the business of producing heavy and sweet fruits, one must first be a very calm, focused and serious sort of man who knows what needs to be done on his land.
Neither does such a man allow his friends or other worldly distractions to interfere with his mission in life either. Never. If his friends fritter their lives away on idle chatter about football, TOTO, drinking and womanising, this man will never ever join them. Never. As he is first and foremost his own man….not a team player who craves the approval of others or a honorary member of the rah rah ‘you jump, I jump’ brigade…but someone who may not even have any hesitation in going the other way….doing that other thing….walking his own path….the approval of others is optional….not an ordinary farmer…but what did you really expect….did you really believe heavy and sweet fruits just comes about thru cheap talk!
So if others decide to diffuse their energy, time and money on mumbo jumbo by listening to charlatans – this man will rarely have time for such knaves and fools who can only distract him from his mission in life – and should they be foolish enough to come near him, they will know his wrath. Above all the farmer who is able to produce heavy and sweet fruit does not run around here and there diffusing his time and energy recklessly. He knows there are only X hours in a day, Y opportunities and Z threats, so he is always mindful of how and with who he spends his time. Above all the wise farmer knows how to love a thing well and to bring out it’s very best and this he does with a calm and happy heart….and since his trees are always nourished by his love, is it such a wonder such a man will always be able to enjoy heavy and sweet fruit.
When one sees relationships in the way a farmer dedicates himself to his land to produce heavy and sweet fruits – then it is very easy to understand why some people will always reap a bitter harvest with weak and broken relationships will they fly around like agitated bats searching….and searching and always never find peace, happiness and sweet repose.
While others who know how to bring out the best in themselves and those around them by just dedicating themselves to what is important and needs doing day by day, will always have very little problems with others loving, respecting and cherishing them.
Life is so democratic. What you put into a relationship is exactly what you will get back in return. No more or less. It doesn’t matter how high, low, intelligent, stupid, rich or poor you are….it doesn’t matter whether you’re a hawker who is trying to garner a cachet of loyal diners, a politician whose striving to be trusted by your constituency, an ISD officer who is out to save people and planet, nurse who aspires to be like Florence Nightingale or just a cookie cutter who hopes one day the world will be kind and open doors for you instead of slam it in your face….you will only get back what you are prepared to put into a relationship…nothing more or less…this is the golden rule of farming that every farmer knows by heart.’
February 15, 2014
There are times when we all encounter crippling set backs which at that point in time we can only believe, we will never be able to recover from. But even as bad as those things may appear then and there, they can really be just a few miles in the marathon of the great journey called the sum of your life. Look! It is bad. But they really only add up to a few pages in a very thick book….that’s all there is to it….and when you see your life in those terms. You have to know life is far from over as there so many other blank pages that awaits the telling of your great story…and that is how I see a setback….pain is unavoidable, but with wisdom, suffering will always be optional….always.
‘Beware of the man who suffers set backs. Do not think just because you cut off a man’s leg or declare him a bankrupt or drag his name thru mud, that’s the end of the story. Trust me, life is not so simple. If you are wise, then you would realise it’s just the beginning of a new chapter for this man of constant sorrow. Because if this poor sod makes it to the other side, the chances are he would have gathered something so valuable about life from that terrible experience that he’s probably a man that you would have to be awfully silly to just brush off as inconsequential – and let me share with you why – because this man who once went through a river of shit knows something that you can only imagine or you just watched in the movie or read thru books – you don’t really know this dark and hopeless place that this man once had to crawl out from. You can certainly imagine it, but even then that’s at best an approximation and at worse an abtraction – my point is because you know nothing of that experience, it’s something that will always be new to you…something that will always have the capacity take you out like a full metal jacket on the blindside…when you least expect it….Bang! You’re down for the count! One….two….three….four….five….six. Do you understand? He will always be stronger than you! You may not want to admit it, but that’s because your pride and ego is in the way…only understand this in clear terms! To this man who once had to climb out from a shit hole…all these things which are still unexplored mysteries to you are known to only him. And because of that, he will always be a force to be reckoned with. Remember this always…otherwise you will lose a lot of opportunities in life…you will take on battles and it will be like Stalingrad and bleed you dry…the sort where you grow thinner day by day, till poof…you just disappear. Always beware of the man who is accustomed to suffering set backs.’
February 15, 2014
Recently someone asked me this question. I have had a lot of time to consider this question deeply and I have come to the irrevocable conclusion. I cannot find myself agreeing with the rationale for the recent curbs on free speech in the Internet. I consider these actions to be so fundamentally flawed at so many levels, that I cannot even possibly see myself sitting with anyone from the PAP to work towards a better Singapore. As this one issue will overshadow all other considerations and possibly divert my commitment as a team player.
I have every reason to believe many of my regular readers may have noted this shift recently.
As these days, I much prefer to write and think about my many other objects of interest… As for the PAP, I simply cannot understand them any longer. I am by nature a very simple man who can only see the world in very clear cut agricultural terms. So when I don’t understand a thing after considerable effort (which isn’t surprising at all, as it’s conceivable, I may even be slow about such matters) – be it, a business proposal, how a particular heavy machinery might work or in this case how censoring the Internet can bring about a better society – then it can only hurt my brain and as such I much prefer to set the matter to one side and not probe, interrogate or even think about it further. I am not malicious, I don’t have any ill will – I just cannot understand how censoring the internet can possibly make Singapore a better place…above all I don’t want my brain to hurt any longer…that’s it, it’s really that simple.
“I think farming as a profession by it’s very essential nature imposes upon one a very clear and simple way of seeing the world. Either that or it’s just one of those professions like cleaning toilets that accords very well with men of limited intelligence such as myself.
That I imagine may also supply an explanation why whenever I am confronted with hubris or an unknown quantity which I don’t understand, despite trying my level best to do so – it’s not unusual for my brain to hurt and I will feel the need to see a doctor. I realize city folk rarely feel the need to see the doctor for such ailments, but in the kampung it’s quite common – for example, if I am not mindful and I am not clear on provisioning instructions for how work is to be done in the plantation, it is not unusual for my farm hands to put their hand on their head as if something hard has just landed on their skulls – this is very common in the kampung, where it is not unusual for one farmer to say to another…I don’t understand…this is hurting my brain.
I realized it was not appropriate to verbalize my confusion in this manner when I worked, lived and played in Singapore. As I once saw a very kind physician, who bought me lunch and told me there was nothing wrong with my brain. I insisted it hurts every time I read the newspapers in Singapore. This lady told me there was no such malady, she even took out a book and read it to me, to prove it is not possible for one to suffer the sort of pain I regularly said I experienced when I was confused and she went on to caution me that if I persisted asking for medical leave because I insisted otherwise. She would have to refer me to the IMH. She was very nice to me and she went on to tell me, if I went around telling people my brain hurts just because I read something in the newspaper that confused me, people will think I am slow and they would lose confidence in me. So this lady actually made me promise to keep this all to myself. She didn’t want to see my life cut short in Singapore. I didn’t even tell my wife. But the pain did not go away….it only got better when I decided to treat newspapers in Singapore like deadly plutonium and to regard politicians as comedians that should never be taken too seriously.
But let me just explain for providence sake (since we are on this subject) what this kampung parlance really means…my brain hurts…and what might it entail. For example, when I come across ideas, things or people who I cannot understand. It’s not unusual for me to just press a big red emergency button somewhere in my head. You know, it’s like one of those oversized buttons you usually see in heavy machinery that says, STOP.
When I press this button…everything just comes to a stop. I don’t even think…everything just powers down and I don’t go any further beyond that point…and that’s when the pain in my head just stops and I feel much better.
I can remember very clearly on one occasion many years ago when I was in Moss Burger and an investment consultant was trying to sell me a plan. It was during the height of the dot.com boom when it was not unusual for online firms to command such a helium high premium that many of them were sold way above their book or shall I say real value. As this person was explaining to me why I should plonk my money into this scheme. I had great difficulties trying to wrap my head around the basic idea that a dot.com firm selling dog food online could have a book value that even exceeded a firm that manufactures tractors. I went through the math, it made sense. All the dots connected. But since I couldn’t figure out that part, my head just hurt like hell. I told this person that I don’t think it would be wise for me to go into something that I don’t fully understand as I don’t want my head to explode like a hand grenade. That chap called me a weirdo. A couple of years later the dot.com bubble exploded and most of my friends who once made fun of me for not jumping on the bandwagon lost all their savings.
My ability to feel pain I reckoned…the sort that most people are oblivious too saved me.
I can go on and on recounting other such stories. There was this time when I wandered into a church and when everyone was speaking in tongues – I tried very hard to join in, as when I looked around, I was the odd one out and who likes to stand out like a sore thumb….but since I didn’t feel anything except maybe my stomach growling (as my metabolic rate is unusually high and I am hungry all the time), I just felt very out of place and soon my brain began to hurt again. I did try to join in and I did so by muttering yabadabado or something to that effect, but really there was nothing and when this man in a Korean haircut put his hand on my head and asked me to repent. Again I was confused why everyone was falling down like bowling pins while all I could do was feel my head throb with pain. They told me my faith was weak, but in truth my brain hurt too much…and I remembered thinking to myself, why would God want to hurt my brain?
I like things to remain understandable and simple. If they are too complicated or come with one of those confusing made in China instruction manuals or appear so incredulous that I cannot even make out head from tail and see how that idea can possibly continue to work sustainabily, then usually I much prefer not to go near it.
I prefer to dabble in things I can understand completely rather than partially. I once bought a second hand pump for a song – the previous owner didn’t want it, as he said, it was too old, heavy and finicky, so I bought it and took it apart like a watch and put it all back again. I am very happy with this pump as I’ve managed to understand it from the inside out. I realise many people don’t care for this pump, as in their eyes it’s an old fashioned ugly soviet era pump and they much prefer the sexier computer controlled Japanese models, but my point is, I will always love and only use this pump….as it is considerate enough not to cause me pain – and that is really how I have always defined my relationship with people, animals and objects.
So to me when I people say they love and care for me and they don’t even seem to care enough to take my phone calls or to ask me from time to time ‘are you still alive?’ And I really only hear from them when they are shouting at me for money….my brain hurts….and I don’t want to even see them. It’s the same whenever I hear politicians say one thing, yet they do another as if they think I am someone who regularly suffers from short term memory loss and believe they can get away on the cheap as to be quite honest most people are quite bovine about accountability, but for me since my brain hurts so much….I just been to ask them more questions as that is my only way to seek relief from pain – I don’t think it is possible for me to respect, love or even work with people who are so inconsiderate all the time that they seem to do very little except hurt my brain. And my nature is such when I don’t respect someone, it’s almost impossible to find common ground and work towards a common goal. So I much rather be alone and do my own thing in my little corner of the world. I am not disturbing anyone…I am not fashioning bombs in my basement….I am not trying to finance the Illuminati or the Freemasons to control the world economy…I just want to live my life in a way that doesn’t cause be to suffer pain regularly…and I really don’t believe it’s too much to ask, to be left alone.”
February 14, 2014
Today it rained after what seems to be an impossibly long and dry spell. It wasn’t a big rain. Not at all. And though, it lasted for only fifteen minutes – I like to believe that’s really all it takes to lift the curse….I am happy and I want to do very little except hold on to this idea…things will get better from now onwards.
But as soon as i do this. I am aware that it may be a false dawn and I find myself wondering why…I guess it might have something to do with just living in this age – it’s all too easy these days to be cynical about life – to be so jaded about life that we can no longer bask in the small things that come or go our way…small things that should rightly fill us with joy, hope and make us feel good about being alive. Perhaps, the human condition modern living has imposed upon us has overwhelmed us to such an extent that it has even conditioned (without us realising it) us to only feel a sense of edification, achievement and satisfaction over the big things, while the precious little gems of life that are all around us are treated like grist to the mill.
In our quest to experience the more seductive and exciting “highs,” we may have lost sight of the fact that most of life, indeed 99.9% of it is made up of small things…small gestures…small moments…small acts of kindness. All of these small things add up to make up the grand mosaic of the very big thing called life.
“People who can appreciate the small joys of life will always be highly blessed and favored. I am not taking about the Kong Hee blessed and favor where you will always end up 10% poorer every month – but the real McCoy of what it means to feel hthese and intensely edified. As when we think about life it is made up of so many small things that all add up to creatr this thing called memories – and for me whenever I am sad or when I don’t understand why so many people want to see me either dead or bankrupted – all I have to do is replay these happy little memories in my head like some projector and there I am watching and reliving the moments all over again – some people say that’s living in the past, but I don’t see it that way at all. And if one day we can met and have an opportunity to spend one day together and I can explain all this to you – you probably wouldn’t think that way either. Because so much of who I am isn’t based so much on the big things. Rather its an accumulation of the very small and even mundane things that once came my way and managed to encrust themselves in this greater construct called character. So acknowledging how the small and forgettable things once played a very big role in creating the person I am today is my very private way of finding the God in the small…and just being thankful that those things came my way.
I think when we take the trouble to remember the small things that others have done for us. We are less likely to be rude or cruel to them – that I can imagine is probably the reason why so many people continue to try to trip me up, isolate me and put me in one corner…they have all forgotten the small things.”