Seeing beauty in ugliness….value in worthlessness

December 20, 2015

Not very long ago a farmer posted a substantial dowry for anyone who was willing to marry his daughter. Two acres of prime land thrown in with one year of free fertilizer and even the possibility of inheriting everything the farmer owns. However despite the substantial offer there were no takers. Soon many of the villagers started to make fun of this farmer and his poor daughter. Villagers would whisper behind their backs…she has unsightly huge feet, they are so big even if the Yeti saw her footprints, he too will run away! He is so desperate to get rid of her! etc etc etc.

One day while walking the dog on my land – I came across the big foot girl weeping all by herself. When I asked her, why are you so sad girl? She began to recount how her family has been scolding her day and night as they say she is a curse and embarrassment to them as she is born with unusually large and unsightly feet. When she mentioned this, she curled her feet inwards to make them look smaller.

The following day I paid a visit to the village barber who also doubles as the my personal Central Intelligence Agency of the the Kampung. I would have you know the clandestine services that I have put in place has as many eyes as a pineapple that would even make Mossad look like the 80’s version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I told him to arrange an anonymous acceptance of the offer for the hand of the big footed girl posted in the kopitiam. The following day everyone in the village was in a state of shock and disbelief. I was informed by the kampung foot doctor, many people pengsan when they heard the news – when the pandemonium was at it’s highest. I went down to the kopitiam dressed in my sporting bushjacket, briar pipe with my hair pomaded back complete with a walking stick that makes me look at least ten to fifteen years older – and told everyone in an imperial tone…how dare this man ask for this beautiful girls hand! What insolence! I will challenge him to a duel. Everyone was of course shocked…pengsan galore some more! That was when I turned to the marriage broker who also happens to the village barber and told him in a loud tone for all to hear – tell the father of this girl. I don’t need his dowry. Instead I will offer ten acres of prime land, a brand new tractor and one kilogram of gold for the privilege of being her husband.

When the entire village heard about this strange evolution of events it was like an atomic bomb exploding and sending shockwaves thru out a 300 mile radius – news of this unprecedented offer even spread like a firestorm to other adjoining villagers and it became the talk of the region – everyone exclaimed in a tone of disbelief – how is it possible that the man who lives on the hill has offered such a handsome bounty for this ugly big footed girl? The conceited among them went on to add – there must be more to this than meets the eye! That was when some of them who once made fun of the girl began to ask themselves why would such a prestigious man make such a remarkable offer for a girl that seems to offer so little – they remarked, the man who lives all by himself on the hill is no fool! Bear that in mind. He’s a smart cookie. This was the same man who once outwitted ten landowners like a sly fox…so if he is willing to make such a handsome offer for the hand of this girl…there must be something very precious and valuable about her….yes that must be it! There is gold somewhere!

Soon I was asked my the village marriage broker to consider a host of other prospective brides – there were many of course…bus loads of them, one of them even looks like a younger version of Serina Wee as she even paraded herself before me. I told the marriage broker in a tone loud enough for all to hear – no doubt she is beautiful now, but lets face facts, once a woman hits thirty. She’s like a old tractor that needs a lot of maintenance…she’s a bloody liability – besides her arms are like twigs and as for her feet they are too lithe…tell me what fucking use is she to me in the field? Can she can carry fifty kilogram bags of fertilizer up a hill with those feeble feet! What if I am bitten by a snake? Can she carry me to safety? Besides she dyes her hair brown and that reminds me of my pariah dog! The family was so insulted they promptly stormed off!

Then drawing the attention of the entire village to my four by four Toyota landcruiser – I exclaimed in a tone of quiet appreciation and admiration – do you all see how big the tires are on my mechanical horse?

Can you all not see how form follows function and how harmonious this symmetry sits with the divine laws of heaven and earth – it is poetry in motion – a delightful thing…a very beautiful thing. I went to declare in a loud tone, ‘I can go where no man can go with these magic tires!’ That was when all the villagers murmured in agreement….yes, he has a point….it’s certainly functional and very practical in the field. That was the cue for the village dunce to add, he had after all been primed by the director of intelligence services in the kampung – ‘those big tires on your mechanical horse, they are like the big feet of the girl you are proposing marriage too!’ To which all the villagers chorused, ‘Aha…yes of course…now it all makes perfect sense!’

After that a counter offer was made by a suitor from a neighboring village – the man was none other than a cognoscenti of big tires as a he owned a fleet of tractors who promptly bettered my offer with twenty acres of prime land and five kilograms of gold.

When it was finally announced by the marriage broker – the offer for the hand of the big foot girl was accepted by the family. Everyone in the village was so sad for me – they would be heard recounting, the man who lives all by himself on the hill is once again condemned to be alone again… cruel fate is to conspire against him…he was so close, yet so very far it seems.

That evening when I went to the Kuan Yin temple to offer alms – I overheard a old couple whispering to themselves, ‘this is so sad for the man who lives on the hill all by himself with only his dogs. Perhaps in his next life, he will be reunited with the big footed girl and heaven will smile on both of them as husband and wife.’

I simply smiled and thanked my lucky stars there was actually a higher bid…otherwise. But let us just leave it at that.

This is a true story.


‘Nature is incredibly democratic. If she takes with one hand. The chances are she has given with another. The question is not whether she has given? The question is do you have the intelligence, imagination and wisdom to appreciate what she has given to make up for what you wrongly perceive as the shortfall?

It’s not alway clear! Seldom apparent. At times, it takes time to show itself. At other times, it remains hidden like a secret and sometimes you may even have to ferret it out….but trust me it’s there?

That’s my point….nature is incredibly democratic.

So if you are born pretty or handsome. Don’t think you are blessed and have a natural advantage over others. If it seems that you have the upper hand all you’re doing is drawing strength from an illusion. To put it crudely, you are living in a lie. As what you placed all your hopes and trust in cannot possibly give you a good return on either your energy or investment. And even if in the short run, it seems as if it can confer you a competive advantage – it’s appeal will always only be limited to the lowest category of men and women.

Wise people. Rich people who know how to buy low and sell high. People who can consistently make good decisions 8 out of 10 to alway outperform the curve always look beyond the obvious…so if you are one of those who think you can go places by jiggling your fun bags, shaking or ass or trading on your six pack. You’re playing a losing game against the clock and one day, when it counts down to zero….you have nothing else to fall back on.

However if like me you happen to be born not too smart, handsome, pretty or always seem to be awkward around people and always find yourself out of place and that causes you to feel sad. Do not despair.

Always remember nature is very democratic – she has given and so you must seek it out!

You often find your natural advantage in the most unlikeliest of place. Take the case of something as seemingly ugly as sadness. That too can be beautiful as it gives depth…texture and nuance to one’s character. Happiness of course reaches for the skies. There is no Da Vinci code there. No mystery even. It’s just a tree reaching skywards to touch the sun…but this wouldn’t be possible without sadness that gives roots that enable this miracle to happen. Both the twin heads of ugliness and beauty are required. Each compliments the other. They don’t take away as much as reinforce each other in the way black gives white meaning and vice versa. One cannot exist without the other. They are all one of the same reality. As the higher a tree goes, the deeper it’s roots goes to the womb of the earth as well. This arrangement is always proportional….equal and truism in nature. This what it means when the wise speak of balance….harmony….symmetry and the whole idea of organic growth.

Do you see how something as ugly as sadness can bring forth happiness and how inextricably encrusted they both are to each other?

So never cling to worthless things that only seem to give you confidence, strength and a false sense of happiness – as these things are not meant to last and all have a built in expiry date – never invest in things which will wax and wane with the chastening passage of time. As even now when you read this – you’re decaying…you’re losing your freshness and the mystery of change is furiously at work.

That is reality!

The only thing that endures is character. This is the one thing that will always remain timeless, real and get’s better with every passing year PROVIDING you cultivate it diligently like a farmer who tends dutifully to his orchard.

This is not a quest for plastic knick knacks or Hello Kitty toys. It is NOT a mindless chase for money, influence, power, prestige, respectability etc etc etc or any of those paper mâché status symbols; it is a fundamental question that intrinsically involves HOW and WHO you want to be at every stage of your life…be it in your twenties, thirties, forties and beyond.

Most people don’t ever think consciously about this at all, they proceed from one level of life to another with that sanguine attitude of same shit, different day.

That is why the wise are great investors in character – they read broadly, think deeply, network strategically, manage themselves and others with a long term view, but above all they know how to seek out value in the most ugliest of places.

Where do you find a diamond? You think you can walk around Orchard road and discover a diamond? You find it in a filthy and smelly mine – that is what the wise always opt for because they know investing in one’s character pays out the highest dividends in the long run…only be warned…what you may see when you look honestly inwards may not always be a handsome thing…at times it is very ugly…but this is the only reliable way for one rise beyond the vapidness of trying your very best to fashion yourself into the eye candy the month. Or diffusing all your time and energy to titilate and even amuse, but only understand this it can only do just that and very little else because it’s superficial and at best only a wafer thin notion that doesn’t even come close to the gravitas when I speak about character. As it lacks the essential quality of resilience and durability and most importantly the means for you to grow mentally and spiritually from strength to strength with the passing of time.

When you invest diligently in the things that matter such as character….you will have to come to terms with your own ugliness…your greed, envy, feelings of inferiority, your prediclition to always slake your ego, your vindictivity, pettiness, conceit etc etc – it is only when we confront our own ugliness deep within us that we are able to grow at every level of our age. This is the only enduring way that you can remain beautiful, interesting and timeless at every stage in your life. Even should you be in your forties, fifties and beyond there will always be contours in your thought processes. You a man with many dimensions of complexity a nuanced profundis and it will show in the way you speak and convey your thoughts and how you relate to others – this arcanum of knowing things for what they are and not what others say it is – it’s this elemental quality that makes a person truly beautiful and timeless at every age and not oonly when they a young with beautiful teeth. As for the rest, it will wither, it will be grist to the mill and lose it’s lustre…invest always in the real and worthy things.

Life is too bloody short to do otherwise!’

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