Sunday, June 24, 2012

Photography: Singapore Botanic Garden

I did not visit Singapore Botanic Garden for a long time (except for a wedding dinner).
Today, I took time off to enjoy it slowly and mindfully.

It was really enjoyable - strolling slowly, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze, breathing fresh air.
The slower I move, the more things I notice, the more I enjoy.
Practicing mindfulness is wonderful.
Everything is beautiful.

However, it is only visible to those who slow down and appreciate it.
It is wonderful.
I will let the photos do the talking.

When is the last time you slow down and appreciate life?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What is the significance of a Birthday?

I never had a birthday party.
I never wanted to have a party for me.
But I always have birthday celebration with family or friends. 

For many years, I really do not see much significance of a birthday.
Last thursday morning, I found my reason to celebrate birthday.

I walked towards my mum, putting my hands on her shoulders and said this to her while I hold back my tears:
"Mama, thank you for giving birth to me.
Thank you for raising me up."

My mum just smiled and did not say anything.

When I was on my way to work, I received a message from her “生日快乐” - Happy Birthday.
This is her way of expressing her love.

Birthday should be a day of gratitude.
Think about the kindness I have received throughout my life.
Without their kindness, I won't be around.
Be grateful towards my parents, my siblings, my relatives, my friends, my teachers etc....
I am nothing without them.

Thank You.

A simple porridge prepared by my mum when I was sick.
I am grateful for it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My watch and my anger

Last week, my 4 years old niece took my brand new watch (a birthday present from my brother), and out of mischief, she threw it onto the floor. I lost my cool and shouted fiercely at her. Asking if she would like other people to throw her things onto the floor. She was crying and apologizing to me.

I seldom lose my cool. May be this is the first time in recent weeks/months. 
That evening, while I was showering, a sense of guilt overcame me.

What am I angry about?
Why didn't I "catch" my anger?
Do I really need to shout at her?
Is MY brand new watch that important?

If my niece threw some other people's watch, I won't be as angry.
Somehow, the idea of "MY" thing is more important than other people's thing.
It is my ego problem.

Actually, I don't really care about this brand new watch.
It is just a thing. 

Anger is such a useless quality (unless it is for righteous reason).
Anger always mess up the mind.
We tend to say/do the wrong thing.

I learnt a new lesson.
My niece also learnt a new lesson.

Fortunately, kids do not bear grudges.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A Story: Thinking that you know what is good or bad

Taken from Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell.
The Huai Nan Tzu tells a story about this:

A poor farmer's horse ran off into the country of the barbarians. All his neighbors offered their condolences, but his father said, "How do you know that this isn't good fortune?"

After a few months, the horse returned with a barbarian horse of excellent stock. All his neighbors offered their congratulations, but his father said, "How do you know that this isn't a disaster?"

The two horses bred, and the family became rich in fine horses. The farmer's son spend much of his time riding them; one day he fell off and broke his hipbone. All his neighbors offered their condolences, but his father said, "How do you know that this isn't good fortune?"

Another year passed, and the barbarians invade the frontier. All the able-bodied young men were conscripted, and nine-tenths of them died in the war. 

Thus good fortune can be disaster and vice versa. Who can tell how events will be transformed?


Lady Gaga Concert and my thoughts

Lady Gaga's Concert in Singapore

This is the first concert that I ever watched. Generally, I felt that concert ticket is way too expensive, but I decided to experience the showmanship of Lady Gaga. The atmosphere was quite good, people dancing to the music etc... I quite enjoy it, but it wasn't spectacular. Interestingly, the part that I enjoyed the most was when Lady Gaga shared her story as a high school girl who tried to fit in and was bullied by the boys who threw her into a rubbish bin. Not sure how much of it is truth or is it part of the performance. Anyway, it inspired more people to love and accept themselves. That's more important.

On another note, I was reflecting my desire, which is very illusive.
Prior to the show, I had strong desire to watch this performance. But after that, the show did not leave a lasting impression. Then, I reflected on another recent desire - to watch Avengers, which was not great as well. And thinking further, I thought of my previous strong desire to visit Machu Picchu, which I visited in January. Machu Picchu was very beautiful, but it seemed to be better in my imagination.

Desire is temporary and unstable. Desire often overestimates the happiness that a person/event/place might bring. That's why it is illusive. Somehow, we could never be satisfied and a new desire would appear and we  would pursue it until we got it. Then, we move on to the next desire...

People: Ivy League school janitor graduates with honors

Columbia University janitor Gac Filipaj, center, looks on during the Columbia University School of General Studies graduation ceremony, Sunday, May 13, in New York. Filipaj, an ethnic Albanian who left his native Montenegro 20 years ago to escape war, is graduating with honors after 12 years of balancing studies and his full-time job.

An ethnic Albanian and Roman Catholic, he left his family farm in the tiny village of Donja Klezna outside the city of Ulcinj because he was about to be drafted into the Yugoslav army led by Serbs, who considered many Albanians their enemy.
He fled after almost finishing law school in Belgrade, Yugoslavia's capital, where he commuted for years by train from Montenegro.
At first in New York, his uncle in the Bronx offered him shelter while he worked as a restaurant busboy.
"I asked people, which are the best schools in New York?" he says. Since Columbia topped his list, "I went there to see if I could get a job."
Part of his $22-an-hour janitor's pay still goes back to his brother, sister-in-law and two kids in Montenegro. Filipaj has no computer, but he bought one for the family, whose income comes mostly from selling milk.
Filipaj also saves by not paying for a cellphone; he can only be reached via landline.
He wishes his father were alive to enjoy his achievement. The elder Filipaj died in April, and the son flew over for the funeral, returning three days later for work and classes.
To relax at home, he enjoys an occasional cigarette and some "grappa" brandy.
"And if I have too much, I just go to sleep," he says, laughing.
During an interview with The Associated Press in a Lerner Hall conference room, Filipaj didn't show the slightest regret or bitterness about his tough life. Instead, he cheerfully described encounters with surprised younger students who wonder why their classmate is cleaning up after them.
"They say, 'Aren't you...?'" he said with a grin.
His ambition is to get a master's degree, maybe even a Ph.D., in Roman and Greek classics. Someday, he hopes to become a teacher, while translating his favorite classics into Albanian.
For now, he's trying to get "a better job," maybe as supervisor of custodians or something similar, at Columbia if possible.
He's not interested in furthering his studies to make more money.
"The richness is in me, in my heart and in my head, not in my pockets," said Filipaj, who is now an American citizen.
Soon after, the feisty, 5-foot-4 janitor picked up a broom and dustpan and went back to work.
A reminder that it is never too late to live your dream.
The question is whether you have the courage and perseverance to achieve it?