Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life Examined

Last night I spent time in Face book looking at photos of my old friends as well as old relatives. Face book allows us to keep in touch and examine the life of other people as the years go by. My brother posted old black and white pictures of our uncles, aunties, grand fathers, grand mothers, cousins, friends, mom and dad. Old photos with the lush gardens of my youth filled with luxuriant foliage but are now long gone, bright young faces looking eagerly at the camera but now old, gray and cynical. The young bucks all seemed fresh and ready to conquer the world. Almost all are now dead and buried. Among those that still survived, their old faces betray regret or perhaps a fondness of those old days of youth.  It seemed that my mother is the only one who has not lost her innocence. Or perhaps its old age dulling the mind into a former freshness.

My friends or former acquaintances in collage or high school are older and fatter. I guess I would look the same when they see my current photos. The mind still keeps the image of one’s youth that outward appearances would deny. College days are so far away that one wonders what happened along the way. I made a mind map and a sort of Gantt chart of my ‘progress’ and activities in Singapore when I moved there roughly 8 years ago. I had forgotten or rather did not keep a diagram of my life since that transfer. It’s as if my life only begun 8 years ago in Singapore when I was 38 years of age. Of course a lot had happened prior to my move like getting married, raising kids, building a house, vacations at the beach, drinking with buddies after work and so on.

But life seems to have moved at a blur perhaps because I was always busy or my mind was always occupied. I had to travel 4 hours every day to and from work for almost 10 years. Leaving home in the wee hours of the morning, bring the wife and kids to their destinations, go to work, face the daily challenges (including a union strike at the factory) have some drinks before going home, arriving late in the evening at 11 pm after making the long journey back, eating dinner, going to sleep and repeating the same cycle for 10-12 years will blur anyone’s recollection. But also memories of good weekends; of reading good books, biking and swimming, watching movies and watching the kids grow up. There where times of reflection too with journal writing and studies at school for a post graduate degree and fun reunions.

My life really started when I was 31 years old working in a new company from the ashes of the old, crushed by debt and worker’s revolts. I had a chance to travel many times all over Asia where my physical journeys matched my mental journeys; ranging wide due to my book reading and movie watching. Frequent travels to China, Japan and Thailand opened my eyes to the world that I had only experienced in my mind. Meeting new people, facing new challenges and discovering new things increased my self reflections in journals. It was a way to keep sane in the rapidly changing environment as the company was boot strapped into the modern age; tied along the vessel of a world class multinational company. It was a new world with new ways of working using computers and software.

Singapore was a paradise although a challenge at first moving the whole family over, adjusting to the new life. Work was challenging and difficult but no more 4 hours of daily traveling, or worrying about water or electricity or thefts at home or in the bus. Public transportation was excellent so no need to maintain a car. It was a relative life of ease and I spent the next 8 years trying to regain a lost decade. In quick order due to more free time: golf, mind mapping, tai-chi, French, photography, tennis, museums, public libraries, investing, blogging, project management and Toastmasters. Also more travel to new places like Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, France, India and Algeria. Met new people, learned new things and did a lot more. There was also a lot of exercises, swimming and biking and discovering the former British colony.

Still there were more stress, challenges, failures, growing old, company politics, learning new ways to cope with alternative tricks like meditation and Tai-chi and new ways of thinking like visual think. A lot of anxiety, fear and self-doubt as the company restructured and laid off people. Then at the age of 46 moving to the new world of America and an exciting new president proclaiming change. More free time and a slower pace of life, great libraries and extraordinary places to visit like California, Washington, DC, and the American South, new things to do and with a realization that finally one feels like coming home. I was lost and now I am found and perhaps with the amazing grace that God can bestow that one’s dream of being a writer can finally be accomplished. At this stage, one does not need to accumulate superficial skills and experiences but limit triviality and focus on the important tasks.

No comments: