086: Should I Bring A Baby With Disabilities To This World?

To Keep The Child Or Not?

If someone is struggling with the painful decision of keeping a baby who is likely to be born with disabilities, what would you say to her?

Two days ago, a pregnant woman sought advice in a parenting group in the social media. She wrote about her dilemma,

“I am at the 13th week of my second pregnancy. A recent Down Syndrome test revealed an absence of nasal bone in the foetus, which caused alarm. I just did a further blood screening test, which will reveal the result in two week’s time. I am worried sick. What if the baby is inflicted with Down Syndrome? If the risk is high, should I keep the baby? Should I bring the poor child to suffer in this world.”

I was mulling over her words till the wee hours of morning. I felt compelled to share with her my thoughts, hoping that it would help the poor mother in her decision-making. Here’s my heartfelt sharing with her, which, to my surprise, garnered a lot of positive reaction from other parents.

Cherish The Opportunity To Make A Deliberate Decision

“I have a child with special needs. And I have not met any parent who deliberately CHOSE to be parenting a child with special needs. So, you have a precious opportunity to make a deliberate decision now.

I can tell you unequivocally that raising a child with special needs is a rewarding gift of love, humility and empathy. Raising my son has taught me what unconditional love and absolute patience mean. The journey so far might have been fraught with difficult moments, but I believe I have emerged a better person.

Weekend runs with my children (Photography by William WK Tan)

You can do even better. But that is only if you and your husband are willing to accept, love and support not only the child, but also each other unconditionally.

The Onus Is Solely On Parents

My son brings me much joy with his innocent smiles and every small step of progress he made. Life itself is a gift, disabilities not withstanding. It is not a suffering to any child if they are adequately loved and cared for. I am of the opinion that the argument children with disabilities will surely lead a life of hardship is flawed.

The real question is whether you and your husband are willing to accept that the child is not the problem. The real issue is whether parents are prepared to:

(1) accept the child fully;

(2) take up their responsibilities;

(3) learn about their child; and

(4) allocate time and resources wisely

Consider your family’s circumstances and the things you need to do to receive the child. If the more you know, the less scared you become, then you are ready to go on the journey.

A Journey (Photography by William WK Tan)

Let’s pray for the best and be prepared for the worst. Hopefully, it is a mistake. Meanwhile, please do serious research by watching video documentaries on raising children with Down Syndrome and read up everything you can find. If possible, visit some happy kids at the Down Syndrome Association. Better still, speak to parents of these kids.

In the end, after u have done all your research and had heart-to-heart discussion with your spouse, whatever decision you arrive is not for others to judge. You would know in your heart if you have made the right decision.”

From the heart (Photography by William WK Tan)

I hope my words have helped someone out there.

William W K Tan

24 October 2020, Saturday

083 A Touching Love Story- I Love You

It’s late at night. A young man was waiting patiently for a lady who was ascending the steps hurriedly. The lady said, “I’m late.”

Hiding a ring box behind his back, the man nervously told the lady, “You know, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things…”

That was his prelude to a marriage proposal.

But before he could finish his sentence, the lady said, “Let’s go separate ways.”

Taken aback, the man exclaimed, “What?!”

“Let’s end our relationship.” She said resolutely.

Just when It seemed that a love story had abruptly ended, it did not. 

One day, the man unexpectedly received a parcel from his lost loved one. Opening the parcel, he found a sketchbook with these words written on the first page— “It’s quiz time!”. 

Flipping to the second page, the first question emerged,

“Q1 How did we get to know each other? (Time limit: 3 minutes)”

The man’s mind drifted into the memory lane. His memories were mostly sweet. But some became sour, and even turned bitter. Then, as if the lady could read his mind, she wrote her second question, 

“Q2 Recall the happy memories we had together. Multiple answers allowed. (Time limit: 10 minutes)”

This is the love story of Takaya and Yumiki, the man and the lady in the music video— “I Love You”. Why did Yukimi break up with Takaya? And why did she pose those questions to Takaya? My curiosity was aroused. But more than anything, I had a sense of foreboding when Yukimi said, “I think a life like fireworks would be nice. Fireworks make people happy in a burst and then scatter away without a trace.” 

Needless to say, the biggest draw of the music video was the soulful voice of an American black man, Chris Hart who successfully broke into the Japanese music scene in recent years. I could hear the authenticity in his emotions and a tinge of melancholic tenderness in his voice. No wonder the song has amassed more than 30 million views on YouTube. For days, I watched the music video repeatedly and learnt to sing the song. 

 

Chris’s music and the beautifully-made music video got to reach more people outside Japan! I searched high and low for a version that comes with English translation of the lyric and the drama, but to no avail. I know I can deliver a good translation, but it would take time and effort. Still, the idea did not go away. I have long known that learning language from songs is one of the best ways to learn a new language. 


I have always been keen to impart language skills to others as a part-time hustle.  As a matter of fact, before I started working from home three months ago, a friend JO had been receiving one-on-one Japanese-lesson coaching from me for several months. Another friend SK from Malaysia picks up new English phrases from every blogpost I wrote and expanded her vocabulary by guessing the meaning of those phrases. And most recently, I started giving pointers to a new friend from Myanmar, RM who shared her self-constructed Chinese sentences on the Facebook. Thanks to these friends, a teacher thrives on in my heart.  


Convinced that this music video will make a good lesson material for Japanese learners, I made a recording of the video and was about to input the subtitles. But I do not have the permission to use the video. It will be an infringement of copyright even though I have no motive for personal monetary profit.  In the end, I decided to transcribe, translate and write a review instead. For those who are keen to enjoy the entire music video, please go to its official YouTube channel with the link below:

https://youtu.be/k7D6CguCXqc


Don’t worry if you do not understand a word of Japanese. For the benefit of Japanese language learners, I am providing my translation for free below.


If you find it useful, I’ll make time to write another review for the sequel, “Still Loving You”, where you’ll get to know the full story of Takaya and Yukimi.
It’s a tear-jerker and makes a great stress relief if you still believe in love stories.


William WK Tan

14 June 2020

Document1 : Drama Transcript

Translation by William WK Tan

Title: I LOVE YOU 我爱你

Artist: クリス・ハート Chris Hart 克里斯 哈特 Album: Song for You 唱给你的歌

Lyricist: H.U.B.・坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume Composer: 坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

< Scene 1>

女: 遅くなっちやたね。

On’na: Osoku natchiyata ne. Woman: I’m late.

女: 我来迟了。

男: あのさ、俺、色々考えたんだけど。

Otoko: Ano sa, ore, iroiro kangaetan dakedo.

Man: You know, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things.

男:知道吗,我想了好多好多。

女: 別れよ。

On’na: Wakare yo.

Woman: Let’s go separate ways.

女:分手吧。

男: ええ?!

Otoko: Ē? !

Man: What?! 男:什么?!

女: 私たち、もう終わりにしよう。

On’na: Watashitachi, mō owari ni shiyou. Woman: We’re done.

女:我们,就这么结束吧。

< Scene 2>

男:はい

Otoko: Hai.

Man: Yes

男:是的。

配達人: こんばんは、鈴木孝也様宛てに届き物があります。ここにサインをお願いします。

Haitatsunin: Kobanwa. Suzuki Takaya-sama-ate ni todoki-mono ga arimasu. Koko ni sain o onegaishimasu.

Delivery man: Good evening. There is a delivery for Mr. Takaya Suzuki. Please sign here.

送货员: 晚上好。给铃木孝也先生的东西到了。请在这里签收。

(箱に書いてあることー受取人:鈴木孝也 ご依頼主:須藤幸美)

(Hako ni kaite aru koto. Uketori hito: Suzuki Takaya, Go irai-nushi: Sudō Yukimi)

(Written on the boxーAddressee: Suzuki Takaya. Sender: Sudo Yukimi Takaya: Dōmo gokurōsandesu.)

(箱子上写着 —收信人:铃木孝也,寄信人:须藤幸美)

孝也:どうもご苦労さんです。

Takaya: Dōmo gokurōsandesu

Takaya: Thank you for your hard work. 孝也:谢谢。辛苦您了。

配達人: はい。ありがとうございました。Haitatsunin: Hai. Arigatou gozaimasushita. Delivery man: Yes, thank you.

送货员:好的,谢谢您了。

<Scene 3>

クイズです!”

“It’s quiz time!”

问答时间!”

Q1 2 人の出会いを答えよ。(制限時間 3 分)

Q 1 futari no deai o kotaeyo. (Seigen jikan 3-bu)

Q1 Please answer, “How did we get to know each other?” (Time limit 3 minutes)

Q1 我们是如何相遇的?请作答。(限时 3 分钟)

<Scene 4>

幸美:ちょっと、君、何をしているの?

Yukimi: Chotto,-kun, nani o shite iru no? Yukimi: Hey, you, what are you doing?

幸美:喂,你在干嘛?

孝也:あー、すみません。

Takaya: A, gomen’nasai

Takaya: Oh, I’m sorry.

孝也:啊,对不起。

幸美:えー、ここ、私の場所だから。 Yukimi: E ̄ , koko, watashi no bashodakara.

Yukimi: Um, because this place is mine.

幸美: 嗯,这可是我的地方哦。

孝也:好きです!

Takaya: suki desu!

Takaya: I like you!

孝也:我喜欢你!

<Scene 5>

幸美:暖かい!

Yukimi: attakai! Yukimi: It’s warm!

幸美:好温暖!

幸美: 私、花火みたいな人生がいいなあ。ぱぁっと人を楽しませて、潔く散る。

Yukimi: Watashi, hanabi mitaina jinsei ga ī nā. Pa~atto hito o tanoshima sete, isagiyoku chiru.

Yukimi: I think a life like fireworks would be nice. Fireworks make people happy in a burst and then scatter away without a trace.

幸美: 我想人生像烟花该多好。啪的一声令人快乐,然后干干净净地 散去。

<Scene 6>

孝也:何で用事があって、何でいつも連絡を取れないの?男?

Takaya: Nande yōji ga atte, nande itsumo renraku o torenai no? Otoko?

Takata: Why are you always so busy? Why is it always so hard to reach you? Is there another man?

孝也:为什么你总是有事,总是联络不上人?你有别的男人吗?

幸美:は?

Yukimi: ha?

Yukimi: What?

幸美:什么?

孝也:ふざけんなよ!ふざけんなよ!

Takaya: Fuzaken na yo! Fuzaken na yo!

Takaya: Stop your prank! Stop your prank!

孝也:别闹了!别闹了!

<Scene 7>

Q2 楽しかった思い出を答えよ。複数回答可。(制限時間 10 分)

Q2 Recall those happy memories we had together. Multiple answers allowed. (Time limit: 10 minutes)

Q2 我们过去的快乐回忆,请作答。接受复数的答案。(限时 10 分钟)

To Be Continued

故事待续

xxxxxxxx

Document 2: Song Transcript

Translation by William W K Tan Title: I LOVE YOU 我爱你

Artist: クリス・ハート Chris Hart 克里斯 哈特 Album: Song for You 唱给你的歌Lyricist: H.U.B.・坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

Composer: 坂詰美紗子 Misako Sakazume

<歌詞 Lyric>

ねぇ 君はなぜ 哀しそうに うつむくの?

nee kimi wa naze kanashi sou ni utsumuku no?

Hey, why are you looking down so sadly? 欸,你为什么这样难过的低着头呢?

まぶしいほど 青い空 なのに

mabushii hodo aoi sora na no ni It’s such a bright blue sky. 明明这样耀眼的蓝天,

いつからだろう? 君と手を つないでも

itsu kara darou? kimi to te wo tsunaide mo

ギュッと握り返してはくれないんだね

gyutto nigirikaeshite wa kurenai n da ne

When did it all happen? Even when I held your hand, you did not hold on to my hand back tightly.

究竟是什么时候开始的?就算牵着你的手

妳也不紧紧握回了呢?

何を言えたなら あの日に帰れるの?

nani wo ietanara ano hi ni kaereru no?

What can I say so that we can return to those days? 我要说什么才能回到那些日子呢?

胸を埋め尽くす不安だけが

mune wo umetsukusu fuan dake ga

My heart is wholly filled with anxiety.

深埋在胸口里的尽是不安

泣いても 泣いても 消えてくれないの

naite mo naite mo kiete kurenai no

No matter how much I cry, no matter how much I cry, it does not go away.

我再怎么哭,再怎么哭,也不会消逝。

I love you I love you I need you ずっと愛されたいあの頃のように

I love you I love you I need you zutto aisaretai ano koro no you ni

I love you I love you I need you. I want to be loved all the time, like those times back then.

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 像过去一直你爱着我的那个时候

叶わない願いでも この気持ちはいつもそうその胸に届いています か?

kanawanai negai de mo kono kimochi wa itsu mo sou sono mune ni todoite imasu ka?

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, has my feeling reached your heart?

就算是无法实现的愿望,我的感受也一直传递到你心里吗?

I love you I love you I need you どうして 僕の心だけ奪ったまま

I love you I love you I need you dou shite boku no kokoro dake ubatta mama

I love you I love you I need you. Why did you still take away my heart?

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 为什么你把我的心夺走?

叶わない願いなら さよならを告げて

kanawanai negai nara sayonara wo tsugete

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, can’t you just say goodbye? 就算是无法实现的愿望,也要向我说声再见呀。

ねぇ お揃いで着けていたあの時計は

nee wo soroide tsukete ita ano tokei wa Hey, that matching watch we used to wear

喂,那对曾经相衬戴着的手表

止まったまま 外しただけだよね?

tomatta mama hazushita dake da yo ne?

It had stopped moving. That’s why you had removed it, right?

就这么停下不动了,你是因为这样才不戴了吧?

確かめたい でも答えは 聞きたくないの

tashikametai de mo kotae wa kikitaku nai no

I want to ask you. But I do not want to hear your answer.

我想问你,但是不想听你的答案

しあわせな時間まで消えそうだから

shiawase na jikan made kie sou da kara

Because it feels like even those happy times are going to disappear.

因为感觉连幸福的时光也像要消失了

春は咲く花を見に行ったよね

haru wa saku hana wo mi ni itta yo ne

We went to see the blooming flowers in the spring

我们在春天的时候赏了花,

冬はぬくもりの部屋でキスをした

fuyu wa nukumori no heya de kisu wo shita And kissed in the cozy room in the winter.

在冬天里的温暖的小屋亲吻了对方

あの輝きさえ 忘れたと言うの?

ano kagayaki sae wasureta to iu no?

Are you telling me you have even forgotten all those sparkling moments? 这些光辉的时光,难道你说都忘了吗?

もう一度 思い出して どうか

mouō ichi do omoidashite dou ka Please, can you recall it one more time?

无论如何请你回想起好吗?

I love you I love you I need you ずっと愛されたいあの頃のように

I love you I love you I need you zutto aisaretai ano koro no you ni

I love you I love you I need you. I want to be loved all the time, like those times back then.

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 像过去一直你爱着我的那个时候

叶わない願いでも この気持ちはいつもそうその胸に届いています か?

kanawanai negai de mo kono kimochi wa itsu mo sou sono mune ni todoite imasu ka?

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, has my feeling reached your heart?

就算是无法实现的愿望,我的感受也一直传递到你心里吗?

I love you I love you I need you どうして 僕の心だけ奪ったまま

I love you I love you I need you dou shite boku no kokoro dake ubatta mama

I love you I love you I need you. Why did you still take away my heart?

我爱你 我爱你 我需要你 为什么你把我的心夺走?

叶わない願いなら さよならを告げて

kanawanai negai nara sayonara wo tsugete

Even if it is a wish that does not come true, can’t you just say goodbye?

就算是无法实现的愿望,也要向我说声再见呀。

 

 

070 Practise Even More to Love and Feel Loved

NO Hugs, NO Kisses!

Last week, I spoke about teaching autistic children to be affectionate.  Many readers were touched by our family’s efforts to train our son to be warm and spontaneous. Some parents with autistic children, however, had their misgivings.

I was told of a story about a mother X who imposed strictly a “No hugs and no kisses” rule on her autistic son Y. She was concerned that the teenage boy would get into trouble someday if he displays affection inappropriately to strangers.  One day, the mother X even punished her boy Y by making him hug a tree for several hours after he had asked his mom for a hug.  The punishment was the mother’s way of protecting her son from getting into trouble.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library.

I felt troubled and told my wife about the story. She replied thoughtfully, “We’ve been through it ourselves. Let’s not be quick to judge others. She must have her reasons. Anyway, every family needs time to work their problems out.”

My wife is right.  There may be more than meets the eye to the story. Perhaps, the boy had gotten into some serious trouble. Or perhaps, the mom had done everything she could but failed to get the child to understand. We do not know the full story enough. But one thing I know for certain is, the suppression of the emotional needs may lead to dire consequences for the family.

Source: The Straits Times, 19 March 2016.

Three years ago, Singapore was shaken by the news of a mother, a primary caregiver of her seven year old autistic child, who threw the latter over the parapet to his death. The mother was depressed over her marital woes and physical exhaustion, which she believed was caused by her autistic son. And one could only imagine the desperation and pain the mother experienced for the murder to be committed one day before her 42nd birthday.

I trembled at the thought of seeing such tragedy recurring. For days, I thought hard about my family situation.  My family was nowhere near the brink of desperation, but the fatigue and stress had been mounting to a point where smiles and laughter at home had become scarce. I instinctively knew that more had to be done to bring happiness back. But I did not know how. 

Gleaning lessons from this tragedy, I became even more convinced that a spouse must share the burden of caregiving wholeheartedly. And parents must not suffer in silence or denial, hoping that their problems would just go away. I constantly reminded myself to learn and seek help from others whenever necessary. And most importantly, to stay hopeful always. Still, raising an autistic child remained a challenge as we had to cope with one problem after another.

Stop seeing the child as the problem

Finally one day, it dawned on me that parents must stop seeing their autistic child as the problem. Autism posed problems to the child and the family, but the child did not.  No child should be blamed for his or her medical condition.

If parents see their autistic child as a “problem”, there will be a limit to how much they can shoulder the lifelong heartache and grind of unremitting caregiving.  But if they can separate the child from the troubles they create, parents will be able to handle problems in their stride.  Over time, we have become more composed and skilful in dealing with all sorts of problems, from bizarre behaviour to severe meltdown that erupted at school and home.

The biggest encouragement came from the child himself. As we continued our efforts to train our boy to be affectionate, we began to experience more moments of joy. The son who was a constant worry becomes the wellspring of our family happiness.

Cherish joyous moments in daily life

Here is an episode of joyous moments that occured last Sunday. I found bouquets of beautiful flowers on sale in the supermarket.

Turning to my fifteen year old autistic son Kyan, I asked, “Do you want to buy flowers?”  

“Yes. I want to buy flowers.” Kyan replied.

I probed, “Who do you want to buy the flowers for?”

I was half-expecting his answer to be “Papa”.

Kyan replied without hesitation, “Mama!”  

I laughed and thought to myself, “Mom still comes first to the children no matter how hard I try.”

I knew my wife was not into flowers, but this was a not-to-be-missed opportunity for my boy to practise affection. I told Kyan, “Bring the flowers to mama and tell her!”

Picture taken at Fairprice Supermarket on 20 July 2019.

Kyan quickly grabbed a bouquet of flowers and ran to his mom who was preoccupied with buying grocery. Shoving the bouquet excitedly into his mom’s hands, Kyan remarked loudly, “I want to buy flowers for Mama!”

His mom, looking pleasantly surprised, thanked him and immediately gave the jubilant boy a hug while quietly slipping the bouquet to me.

“Now that you have given flowers to mama, what do you give papa?” I teased. 

Just as I was wondering what he would say, Kyan thought for a moment and said, “Kiss!”

With that, Kyan leaned forward and planted a gentle kiss on my right cheek

I was overjoyed and felt blessed.

Make it a priority to help autistic children become affectionate

Contrary to the conventional belief that parental love is inexhaustible and unconditional, the agony of unrequited love from an autistic child does take a toll on caregivers. Make it a top priority to help your child become affectionate.

Do not let any concern that the child may display inappropriate affectionate behaviour with others get in the way between you with your child. Once your child feels loved and safe, it will be easier to teach him the boundaries.

For a start, practise often at home proper display of affection between you and your child. All it takes is just two persons to love and feel loved. It costs nothing and the reward is priceless.

William W K Tan (aka Uncle William)

26 July 2019, Friday

061 What Does A Celebrity’s Marital Woes Remind Us About Marriage?

It’s no laughing matter to see somebody’s marriage in tatters

After the news broke out about how Hong Kong’s most beloved Cantonpop diva, Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文) was cheated by her husband Andy Hui (許志安), who was caught on video canoodling with another woman, it quickly became the gossip in the office’s pantry today.

Andy apologises for his indiscretion at a press conference. Photo: Screenshot from YouTube.

A colleague X was saying, “I had watched the video very closely. It was that woman who made advances to Andy. Twenty times! Alas, how many men can resist that kind of advances from an attractive woman?”

Y retorted, “That woman is not attractive at all! Any woman who seduces another person’s husband is ugly.”

I laughed before retreating quickly from the scene. It’s safer to steer clear when women start talking about men’s infidelity.

Photo: WordPress Picture Library

I have never quite understood people’s interest in the extramarital affairs of celebrities. It happens all the time. And what has it got to do with us? Out of curiosity, I ran through the news reports and online chatter about the scandal. The more I read, the more I felt sorry for Sammi Cheng. After all, it is no laughing matter to see the marriage of another person in tatters.

Marriage is about lifelong learning of being together

The outrage from women, especially Sammy’s diehard fans is understandable. Sammi and Andy’s marriage was described by Hong Kong’s most famous actor-comedian Dayo Wong (黃子華) as “the fairy tale of fairy tales” for good reasons.

The couple had experienced twists and turns, highs and lows in their relationship for 20 years before they finally tied the knot in 2013. That was supposed to be the perfect ending to their love story. But now, it has turned into a disappointing tale of broken vows and betrayals. That’s a big blow of confidence to many people who believe in the sanctity of marriage.

Photo: WordPress Picture Library

An attractive and plucky friend PY shared her indignation on Facebook by borrowing a comment she read online.

“Look at all these celebrities! No matter how pretty, capable, faithful or virtuous they are, their husbands still cheat on them.

That goes to prove that there is nothing women can do to stop men from going astray.

Women should love ourselves more, make ourselves prettier and better so that we can easily find a better man if husbands dare to cheat on us!”

An extract of her post on Facebook

PY’s exhortation to wives to love themselves more is also a stern warning to cheating husbands who do not cherish their marriage. But one question emerges: Is marriage all about commitment?

Marriage should not be construed as a mere lifelong commitment. Rather, it is a lifelong learning about being together.

Marriage is continuous education

Marriage is continuous education. It educates people in ways that we never even notice. My eighty-two-year old mother has noticed positive changes in me since my marriage. She believes that the credits should all go to my wife.

My mom had always worried about my lack of prudence in the use of money.  When I was a school boy, she would be irked to find out that I had spend every cent of my pocket money without knowing where the money went. In contrast, my elder brother came home from school every day with a clear account of what he had spent on.

It was only until a couple of weeks ago that she was delighted when I did a double take on the restaurant bill and asked for a refund on the unused wet wipes. Mom laughed heartily, “Lucky for you, your wife succeeded where I had failed. It looks like you’re now the most prudent with money among your siblings.”

Come to think of it, that was indeed one of the many things I have learnt from my marriage. Like most married couples, we had our highs and lows in our marriage. Many difficulties were only revealed to us years later as precious learning in disguise.

In retrospect, it was the ability to keep learning in the most difficult circumstances that kept the marriage going. Marriage is a learning journey about love.

An extract of her post on Instagram

Sammi Cheng rightly called the incident “an important lesson in our marriage”. She penned her thoughts about marriage after two days of silence,

“Marriage is not just about having joy and company. It is also about learning to embrace and forgive each other’s mistakes.”

Love, kindness and forgiveness are vital in a marriage. It’s Good Friday. Let’s take a leaf out from the Bible:

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance”

William W K Tan

19 April 2019

024 Express Love And Feel Loved

  • What To Give Our Loved Ones?

It’s time for Christmas. Everyone says Christmas is all about giving. What are we giving? Mostly gifts, I think. I’ve received more gifts this year alone than all the previous years summed up.

I am thankful, of course. But as the number of gifts grew, I started asking myself a bigger question, “What is the most valuable gift to give our loved ones?”

The answer is obvious — love. The less obvious part is how do we give love?

  • Five Ways To Express Love And Feel Loved

Some people love to receive gifts from you, while others love to be in your company more than anything. A mismatch in the expression and experience of love can become a constant source of conflict in any relationship.

I didn’t realise how inept I was in expressing love, until I started learning from my past mistakes.

For a long time, I was exasperated by repeated failures to buy the right gift for my wife in spite of my best efforts and intentions. It was only after I read Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” that I realise where went wrong.

My wife and I were interpreting love in different ways. While I saw giving gifts as an act of affection, she deemed it merely as making a choice of purchase. What mattered more to her at that time was the quality of time we had. Clearly, there is more than one way to express and experience love.

Chapman suggests that there are five ways, which he calls “the five love languages”, namely gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.

1. Gift Giving

Do not take gift giving lightly. In this week that preludes Christmas, there were a lot of gift giving going on at the workplace. C remarked,

“Everyone knows that I don’t take coffee. So guess how I felt when I unwrapped the gift from this other colleague and found coffee.”

Gifts are symbols of thoughtfulness to people who appreciate gifts. A thoughtless or hastily-bought gift may be disastrous, especially if it is for your significant other.

2. Quality Time

Quality time means spending time together on an activity that both parties find mutually enjoyable. Do you have like-minded friends who enjoy an outing or a conversation with you?

If you have, make time for them. Nowadays, everyone seems time-scrapped. But surely you will make time for the person who truly matters in your life.

Giving your undivided attention is all you have to do. People who cherish quality time have little tolerance for distractions, postponed dates and poor listeners.

3. Words of Affirmation

People thrive on the encouragement and heartwarming words from their loved ones. Unfortunately, it seems that the closer people become, words of affirmation turn scarce.

I remember having a nice dinner with a friend. Our nice conversation was dampened by her abrupt switch to annoyance towards her mother who called her over the phone. She said, “That’s how we speak to each other at home.”

Words are powerful. Hearing your affection in words is powerful enough to skyrocket a person’s spirits. Conversely, curt remarks from loved ones can shatter confidence in a relationship.

4. Acts of Service

Can washing toilets really be an expression of love? Absolutely! A friend told me that she is always the one washing the toilets at home because her husband’s back hurts. I bet her knees hurt too, but she does it willingly. To be a supportive spouse is her language of love.

Anything you do to ease the burden weighing on your loved ones is an act of service. After years of trials and errors, I’ve become convinced that any act of service speaks more volumes than compliments or gifts for my wife. The words she most love to hear: “Let me do that.”

On the other hand, forgotten promises and making more work for people who speak this language of love is a sure way to damage the relationship.

5. Physical Touch

Physical touch is not all about bedroom intimacy. Hugs, pats, holding hands, and light touches on the arms– they are ways to show excitement, concern and love.

Many years ago, I used to feel uneasy when friends from overseas welcome me with their big, warm hugs. But over time, I’ve grown to appreciate the sense of closeness physical touch fosters.

I experimented doing the same with my parents. Probably because I am already a grown-up man in my forties, I felt embarrassed at first. But the embarrassment was quickly dispelled by the smiles of my parents. Physical touch provides security, while neglect can be destructive.

I hope you find my sharing useful and apt for this joyful occasion of Christmas. Now you know that there is more than one way to give love, rethink how others experience love and not what you think is the best way to love.

Merry Christmas! Make This An Occasion Of Giving Love!

William W K Tan

24 December 2017, Sunday

Written between 3-6 am.

006 Running Out Of Friends

I never quite know how to make a convincing argument for spending time on friends, especially over family. After all, the truth is no matter how strong a friendship can be, its significance seems to pale in comparison to family ties. 

  • What are friends for?

Yet, we instinctively understand that friends are necessary for human flourishing. At the very least, the presence of friends provides a sense of familarity and safety that is needed for harmonious co-existence. And at its very best, friendship can blossom into a springwell of goodwill and strength derived from the extent friends are willing to do for the sake of friendship itself. At any rate, it seems self-evidently true that a life nourished with friends is more satisfying than a life without any.

  • Will you regret not spending more time with friends?

Still, maintaining friendship is a tricky business. Most friends come into our lives by chance, and often they slip out of our lives as and when they like.  Along the passage of time, people find new friends to replace old ones, as if the former is a convenient substitute for the latter. Friendship is seldom enduring and its transient nature casts serious doubt on the value of spending time on friends. 

Out of practical considerations, prudence teaches us to spend time on only a handful of chosen friends, rather than counting the headcount of friends one may collect. However, only time can discern lifelong friends apart from the passer-bys. As time passes, we may find ourselves losing more friends than we can handle, especially when even the most cherished ones are gone unexpectedly. No wonder one of greatest regrets people have at old age is said to be “not spending more time with friends” when they could.

  • Running out of friends

I did not realise my folly of not spending adequate time with friends until quite recently.  In a self-imposed exile for nearly a decade, I had skipped every class reunion with old friends and turned down almost every invitation to social gatherings that might rob whatever precious time I could give my family. And neither did I made any effort to connect with friends using social media. Soon, the number of friends I had dwindled drastically, and alas, eventually the phone calls I got outside work and family, were only those from the representatives of bank institutions and insurance companies.

I was unalarmed with the dearth of friends until I was hospitalised one year ago. Lying on the sick bed for five consecutive days, each day passed with my longing for the company of friends grew stronger. But no one came, not even a single colleague from the workplace. I realised, at that instant, workplace friendship is fundamentally different. I understand why people prefer to keep private and professional lives separate, but I couldn’t help feeling sad as there are colleagues that I genuinely like and count as friends.

In desperation, I called up a close friend since college days, “Hi, buddy, I am in a hospital for a surgery. Nothing serious really. Just thought if you have time for some catching up.”  I felt somewhat embarrassed.

To my delight, my good old friend visited me immediately without hesitation and I enjoyed his company tremendously. Thank you, my friend, I will never forget. And thank god, I  still got one friend left, I thought. 

  • How did I run out of friends?

How did I arrive at such a dismal state? You might have already guessed the reasons: Marriage, Parenthood and Work. On hindsight, however, I realise the root cause was something else– a lack of proper appreciation of friendship.

Entering marriage and parenthood in my early thirties, I was prepared for a reconfiguration of my social life to fulfill my new-found duties as a husband and a working father. What I was unprepared for was the double whammy of my first-born child being diagnosed with developmental disorders and an abrupt change of job nature that increased the frequency of my overseas travels sharply. My life tailspinned into chaos before I could put home and workplace back into order after years of efforts. Spending time with friends became a luxury that I could ill-afford for a long time.

  •  Lesssons on friendship from friends

Although I was once near the brink of bankruptcy on friendship in the domestic front, I have made some unexpectedly enduring friendships abroad over those years, and am starting to see some good results at home ground in recent months after making changes.

Among my new-found friends and old ones, some have become my mentors and counsels, and a few others see themselves as my apprentices. It all started as purely work relationships, but have blossomed into something more because of shared values and mutual trust. Having like-minded friends at work is enjoyable and raises productivity. Even after the work is ceased and people have parted ways, the relationship will continue to grow as long as both parties develop a genuine liking for each other to make continuous efforts to deepen the connections. 

I have learnt a few precious lessons from these friends, both new and old:

1. Friendship enriches a person and becomes an asset only when it is based on shared values and mutual trust.

2. Workplace friendship may turn into a liability only if it is grounded on convenience and calculated interests.

3. One must genuinely like a person, whatever the circumstances, to become lasting friends.

4. Do not mistake reciprocity of kindnesss as a transaction of give and take. Friends are willing to give and give for the sake of friendship alone.

5. Your friends may not always be there for you when you need them most. But if you truly cherish your friends, you can feel their presence even in their absence.

Thank you all for encouraging me to keep on writing in your WhatsApp messages. Please share your comments here or chose to follow my blog if you find it thoughtful and sincere enough.  I am curious to find out also for how long and how often can I keep up this efforts to share with you, my family and friends.

William W.K. Tan

16 August 2017 10.20 pm

Singapore

005 随着年龄的增长,你还相信爱吗?  Do you still believe in love as you grow older?

最近午休时小聊,几个同事分享了夫妻相处的心得。
一人说,她多年来都坚持每周一次两人独处的时间,不带小孩,就两人的约会,或是共享晚餐,或是看一场电影。对她而言,爱是陪伴吧。另一人说,夫妻相处在于互相忍让,你退一步,我让一步。对她来说,爱是包容吧。

这时,我加了一句,”不只是忍让,还要有爱吧。”不料她一听,不解和无语地看着我,只差没直载地问,”你都这么大年纪了,怎么还天真地相信婚姻靠的是情情爱爱那一套呢?”

如果是我错读了她的表情,在此致歉。不过,这提供了我深思的机会。是我太天真了呢?我发现,生活确实会不小心将人变得现实到把爱情看成奢侈品。毕竟,柴米油盐,养儿育女,生活的起落,都会让人对爱的追求减少,甚至以为是多余的。

  • 人与人的关系和幸福,为什么需要爱?

尽管如此,我相信爱在建立任何真诚而有益的人际关系里是不可缺少的。不仅是亲近的关系如夫妻,父母和孩子,就算是没有血缘联系的同事和朋友,若要成为良师益友,也需要爱的基础。如果没有由衷的喜爱,人与人的关系就难以升华,只能停留在表面互动。

对爱的追求,我想,是没有时间的限期的。不论是豆蔻年华的年轻男女,或是年华老去的爷爷奶奶,也包括像我这种夹心族在内,知道自己有爱和被爱的对像的人,要比在生活中感受不到爱的人的幸福感高多了吧。

问题是,对于爱的学习,人们因为种种原因辍学了。人们在年轻时,刚开始碰到爱的习题时,总是愿意孜孜不倦的学习,认真地做答。时间久了,或以为得到了,或失败气馁了,或只是忙得都忘了。结果,没好好去学习如何去爱老去的父母,如何去爱容易操心孩子的妻子,如何去爱想法变得很不同的孩子,如何去爱有恩于自己的良师,如何去爱能了解和充实自己的益友,这一切都是需要一辈子不断的学习。你也和我一样,或多或少的,荒废了学习爱吗?

  • 一起学习真爱吧

最近   我在学习中,拜读了一行禅师的著作《怎么爱》,深感受教,借此与你分享。

一行禅师用”慈”,”悲”, “喜”,”舍”四个佛理,深入简出地解释如何去爱。我呢,对佛理的悟性不够,但还是看明白了其中的道理。让我尝试用通俗易懂的语言,加入自己的诠释,与你分享:

要获得真爱,需要培养四种能力。

  • 爱是给予对方幸福感的能力

自己一人如果不能感到幸福的话,是难以将幸福给予别人的。首先,我们要学习接受自己的不足,并积极地发掘自己的强处,让自己的内心强大起来。要成为一个不必倚靠他人,也能自身能产生幸福感的人。该怎么做呢?要学习以活在当下的生活态度去面对周遭的人事物。这样一来,就能变得从容和感恩,就算遇到磨难,也会有较强的自愈能力迅速恢复,持续发光发热。

  • 爱是了解自身和对方痛苦的能力

一个明白自身的痛楚源自何处又懂得面对的人,对于别人的痛苦就较能够有同理心,也较懂得聆听对方的心声。具备了了解自身和对方痛苦的能力,在对方的痛苦时,就不容易被对方负面的情绪所困扰,而能够起着感化和疏解的作用。

  • 爱是提供喜悦的能力

一个人若懂得在生活中发现喜悦,那生活的点点滴滴都可以变得愉快欢喜的事情。具备提供喜悦的能力,也有助于提高幽默的能力。幽默感体现于学会彼此调侃和逗笑。这有助于滋润双方的感情,提升两人共处的愉悦。

  • 爱是最大的包容能力

最大的包容是不设限的。简单地说,也就是不分你我,将对方視为共同命运体。选择性地接受对方有利于自己的部分,而拒绝对方的另一些令你不悦的地方,那不是包容。当然包容不等同于纵容。包容是接受对方的缺点的同时,用耐心,理解,能力和时间去化解不好的一面。

真爱所需的这四项能力,说起来容易,做起来不易。修炼爱情应该是终身学习的一门课吧。我把本文献给同样天真地愿意相信爱,愿意学习爱的人。你如果认为这篇文章对你关心的人有用的话,也劳你传阅,大家一起学习共勉。

陈惠谦

2017年8月10日

休假日修炼中