049 Compartmentalising one’s emotions

  • Living in the moment or evading problem?

About three weeks ago, a friend Ms. Loo joined me for a morning walk. The air was fresh, the scenery was beautiful and the company of a like-minded friend was great.

A picture taken at Mount Austin Golf Resort.

I told her,

“I realise that as we get older, we become better at compartmentalising our emotions. At this moment, I am truly enjoying the brisk walk with you. Yet, moments before you came, my heart was weighing heavily because of some matters.

It were as if I have tucked my troubles away in a separate compartment and become free from worries. I feel fully engaged with this moment of tranquility and companionship. I remember that it was much harder to separate emotions when we were younger.”

Ms Loo, a Buddhist believer, smiled with approval. She said, “You are becoming better at living in the moment. There is no short of worries in life. We all have to learn not to carry worries with us all the time. Learn to let things go and focus on the present.”

Picture above: Ms Loo called me “shifu” (master) at work; but in reality, she teaches me more.

And we went on sharing how we dealt with worries in life. I gained a lot of insight from Ms Loo’s sharing that morning. It is always a joy to glean wisdom from meaningful conversations with friends.

  • Learn to see your problem in another light

There was, however, something wrong in the way I was compartmentalising my emotions. The troubles remained unresolved as they were merely contained. I know I have to face them sooner or later. Compartmentalising only offers temporary relief. I wonder if I were evading my issues on the pretext of living in the moment.

Picture from WordPress Photo Library.

I know that time is a powerful change agent, but it did not feel right to simply cast problems aside and wish that they would go away over time. Yet, constant worrying over woes wouldn’t help either. I spoke to an old friend Hian Pin, who told me candidly,

“Perhaps you are doing it wrongly. Living in the moment isn’t about splitting your life into different compartments. It is about being in a state of mindfulness: you learn to appreciate fully the experiences that are occurring in that instant.”

As Hian Pin spoke, it dawned on me that compartmentalising emotions is not about being in denial; it’s about putting things into different perspectives and appreciate that there is more than one way to see a problem. In doing so, even though the issues never go away, our view of the problem has utterly changed.

In life, when things get seriously rough at some point of time, it can be very difficult to maintain a peace of mind. I think the ability to put away the hurt is necessary to gain new light on how to deal with the problems later.

A picture taken from the window of my bedroom.

The key is when we shift our attention away from our troubles, we must not squander the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and discover what we fully value. Only a real change in ourselves will prepare us better to face difficulties that used to seem so insurmountable.

I am so fortunate to have friends who share candidly with me precious life lessons when I needed them most. Thank you!

William W. K. Tan

21 June 2018

Thursday

048 Knock Some Sense Into Someone

  • Something Happened Just When The Plane Took Off

Just hours ago, I was on a flight to Perth, Australia. Safely buckled up in my seat, I was all ready to fly.

Then just moments after the plane took off, a piece of heavy-looking luggage flew out of a supposedly latched overhead compartment and hit me before falling to the floor. The noise caused a commotion in the cabin.

Ouch! It was a metal suitcase which belonged to a passenger who was sitting beside me, a man in his thirties from Sichuan, China. He looked apologetic and quickly asked in Mandarin, “That luggage weighs more than 10kg. Are you alright?”

I felt concussions on my head. Immediately, I touched my head and fortunately there seemed to be no obvious bruise or cut on my head scalp. The man helped to look through my hair, and he said with a heave of relief, “Seems alright. But are you feeling okay?”

I forced a smile, “I am fine.” I was not a hundred percent sure, but I felt alright. I assured him, “Not your fault. The latch just opened on its own.”

  • Some Help Was Given

Minutes later, after the seat-belt sign went off, three stewardesses came forward to show their concern.

I was embarrassed by the attention, and quickly assured them I was alright. But as I spoke, I tasted a taint of blood inside my mouth. I must have bitten my lips when the luggage hit me. I quickly washed and gargled with the mouthwash in the toilet.

When I returned, a stewardess gave me two ice bags that she improvised with a pair of latex gloves.

I was advised to nurse my head with the ice bags. Some concerned passengers nearby gave me the “Are you okay?” expression, which was comforting. I felt obliged to reply with a quiet smile.

During the four-hour flight, two stewardesses walked over to check my condition a couple of times. A senior supervisor apologised and said she would report the incident. I told her to put on record of a very small bump on the head which one of the stewardesses discovered, and a small cut in the lips. Other than that, I was fine. She seemed genuinely sympathetic, and told me she would give me her email contact. But somehow, by the time the plane landed, she did not come back to me.

One thing they remembered to do though: just before the plane was going to descend, a stewardess came especially to my seat to double check that the luggage compartment was securely latched. Seeing that, a passenger on the other side broke into laughter of cynicism.

  • Making Sense of The Accident

It were the other passengers nearby who came over to talk to me out of concern. An Australian passenger who sat behind me helped to unload the metal suit case upon landing. Then, pointing at the luggage compartment, he said, ” That was really dangerous.” His expression seemed to suggest a displeasure in the lack of proper checks that every luggage compartment was properly locked before the plane took off. It was then I realised that the airline should see this incident from this perspective.

An elderly Indian passenger by the name of Jagmohan came to me after I alighted from the plane. He said, ” You are a strong man. I had a serious fright seeing that luggage hit you when the plane took off.” I remembered him well. He was one of those who look worried when I was nursing my head in the cabin. I like kind people like him, and replied him with a laugh, “I am not strong, but probably have a hard skull.”

My boss who was seated at the business class only got to know of my accident at this point. I told him with a laugh, “Probably God is telling me this is not a good day for me to work, boss.”

Realising that I was fine, he responded with wicked humour. “Perhaps it’s because you think that way, that is why God is knocking some sense into you to work harder!”

I am relieved that you are not god, boss! I have a different realisation: Wake up! Time to cherish what truly matters and to learn to let go of some things that matter but may not be necessary.

And I do hope this is also a serious lesson that will knock some sense into others too. You may want to double check the luggage compartment is properly latched on before takeoff especially if you have an aisle seat.

As for the cabin crew of Singapore Airline, my all-time favourite, perhaps more diligence is required to check the safety of luggage compartments before takeoff, don’t you agree? This accident could be a lot worse if the luggage landed on an elderly or a kid.

William W. K. Tan

8 June 2018

Friday

Written in Perth

Afterword:

If there is just one good thing out of this accident, I chanced upon Mr Jagmohan and his lovely family just 10 minutes ago at a place 20 minute’ walk away from my hotel. Coincidentally, they were just telling their daughter about my accident. And they were kind enough to ask if I was fine. With their permission, I upload their picture on my blog. Look at them, they are indeed a warm and friendly family.

The world is a small lovely place, isn’t it?

047-C 深夜泡茶室的乐趣

近凌晨1点了,我竟还没睡意。不仅如此,我还悠哉悠哉地一个人坐在一家茶室,慢慢地消磨时间。

认识我的人都知道,我的作息习惯像老头儿一样,晚上十点上床,早上五点起身。本来朋友们怕我一人在外地寂寞,还相邀陪我吃宵夜。后来顾虑到我看来有些不适,又知道我有早睡的习惯,才做罢。让他们知道我竟一个人深夜溜出来泡茶室,不掉眼镜才怪!这时候不睡觉,还有闲情逸致,听听歌,喝喝茶,写写字,连我自己都惊讶。

茶室里播放的歌曲都是近年熟悉的流行音乐,像薛之谦、李荣浩、周杰伦等的K歌。因为对歌词还算熟悉,我也不觉地随着哼歌起来。独自一人的心情并不寂寞,反而有些许任性的自由感。

坐着坐着,原来点的一杯玄米热绿茶也喝完了。就随意再点了杯珍珠奶茶和两样台湾风味的小吃:盐酥鸡和梅子番薯条。不知觉中,一个人竟享用着两人份的饮料和食物。平日运动上的努力和饮食上的用心,总在海外出差和旅行的时候破功!没办法,我觉得做人就该及时行乐。

这家位于新山奥斯丁(Mount Austin)的18度C茶室,我猜想是受台湾的18度C巧克力工房的启发而命名的吧。据说18度C巧克力工房的原意是代表制造巧克力时对温度的执着,这间茶室的执着又是什么呢?

还好碰见年轻又健谈的老板之一家凤,我得到想知道的答案。可能是见我不像其他客人有朋友相伴,又看我对这地方甚是喜欢的样子。她也乐于和我聊两句。这下子,我才知道原来18度C茶室的名字由来并非模仿他人,而是她们坚持在奶茶制作的过程中,把煮得滚烫的茶水迅速冷冻至18度C以防止细菌滋生。听家凤说话,我觉得,难能可贵的是年轻人对创业的热忱和用心。就借这篇博文给年轻人的用心打气!

18°C Tea•Café

地址:No 8 Jalan Austin Height 8/2 Taman Mount Austin 81100 Johor Bahru

营业时间:12pm – 1am (Monday-Thursday);12pm-2am (Friday-Sunday)

想好了,下次还是会再来的。不过呢,和几个夜猫子的朋友在这里聚聚聊聊,那也会是件乐事吧。

我想,人若想身心健康,规律化的生活是必要的。但是,不必像守清规戒律般地一成不变。有时候,放松一下,会发现生活中不一样的精彩,同意吗?

陈惠谦

William W. K. Tan

1 June 2018, Friday

045 Write Off Your Troubles!

Last week, I wrote about some difficult decisions I was contemplating (044: When is it time to give up what you like?) but stopped short of answers.

  • Writing Is Therapeutic

I have not found answers to all my problems yet, but I have found solace in writing at such times of emotional upheavals.

In the last ten days, I have made short entries into my diary as and when necessary. Doing so allowed the pent-up emotions in me to be released in a quiet way. It was healing for my wounded soul, without disturbing others.

I wrote about how I felt and thought. The problems seemed so insurmountable at first, but they looked less intimidating after I put them down in words. My contention is if a problem can be articulated clearly, then the solution is most possibly in sight.

The most vexing problem is one that you can find no words to describe. Being able to translate anxiety into words is therapeutic. Writing helps the mind to organise thoughts and make sense of the problem.

  • Writing is introspective

Writing also helps to know thyself better. I introspect about the things that trouble me and figure out what matters most, and where I have gone wrong.

Often, I write from the first person point of view. The kind of narrative that uses the “I” . After all, I am just telling my own story. I have found it useful in overcoming the emotional inhibition of telling someone else freely.

Sometimes, I write from the third person point of view as if it is someone else’s story. It allows me to take an omniscient view and peek into the minds of others. That helps me to break free from the endless mental torture of brooding over my own troubles, and see the problem from others’ perspectives.

  • Health Benefits Of Expressive Writing

Interestingly, there is a name for this kind of writing that copes with stress, trauma and emotional woes: expressive writing as they called it.

Many research studies have provided evidence of both mental and physical health benefits for people who engage in expressive writing. It has shown positive effects on people with anxiety issues as it helps to put a halt to ruminating on certain issues. Studies on the effect of expressive writing on patients with health conditions such as sleep disorders, asthma, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, and cancer have also shown encouraging results.

  • Acceptance Is Always The First Step

Nonetheless, expressive writing is not a panacea for all problems. As a matter of fact, it is possible to feel worse if the person is not ready to face the problem. For example, when I was demoted many years ago, I believed it was a mistake that would soon be rectified. As a result, it took me a much longer time to come to terms with it. For better or worse, acceptance of the situation must be the first step for healing to begin.

In life, we all experience trying times at one point or another. If you want to try writing, no harm giving it a try if you are ready to make an honest conversation with yourself. If you are not into writing, then confide in someone whom you trust. As for me, I can’t say that I am out of the woods already, but I am no longer lost. No worries.

William W. K. Tan

20 May 2018, Sunday

8:30 pm

p.s: Thank you to friends who have shown me concern. You know who you are and I will remember.

044 When is it time to give up things that you like?

  • Make A Habit To Do The Things You like

I do not give up easily. Once I decided that something is worth doing, I will make it a habit to do it regularly.

For example, I have been writing an article weekly without fail for this blog, for 44 weeks straight, even when I was unwell or became overwhelmed with work.

I have been running and cycling regularly at least 3 times a week without fail for 13 months.

And I spend time with my children on activities like gardening, swimming and cycling weekly.

All these efforts are not tedious because I have simply made it a habit to do the things I like. I encourage you to do the same: Make it a habit to do the things you like. It certainly raises the quality of life.

  • When It Is Time To Give Up

But there is always an end to everything, no matter how much you would like to continue doing it. Knowing when to put an end to things is equally important.

Too often people end up doing something out of habits or obligations. They continue doing it even when the circumstances have changed. As a result, they lose sight of the original purpose and the joy of doing these things in the first place.

This week, I have been contemplating on giving up some things that I hold dearly: putting an end to blogging, going separate ways with some people, changing the course of my career and aborting a long overdue study plan. These are agonising decisions to make. I realise that I have no clear end-game plan in mind. But clearly to me, the circumstances have changed and some serious decisions have to be made soon.

There are no easy answers. I shall pray for wisdom to make sound decisions. For a start, I shall suspend the practice of distributing my blogposts to all my friends and family for a couple of weeks, and only send to those who ask. Perhaps, that may give me a chance to pause and rethink what truly matters.

William W. K. Tan

12 May 2018

Saturday

9:30 pm

O30 Lessons From Women: Love And Looks

A colleague K, who became an ardent reader of my blog, asked if I could write something novel. She said,

“You’re always on the same topics about health, love and life. How about writing something that remains characteristically William yet not so predictable.”

I get it. People are getting bored with reading the same stuff I write (laugh). Time for a change before my readership plummets. I thought hard at her suggestion.

Here is what I’ve decided to write this week – “What I learnt about love and looks from women.” Sounds interesting?

  • Lesson One: Learn About Love From Women

Women never quite understand why men find it so hard to utter the three simple words “I love you.” Some believe that men see confession of love as a sign of weakness. Others believe that men see more value in action than in words. Why is it so difficult for men to talk about love?

The truth is men get jitters when they are being questioned, “Do you love me?” Men know that no answer is good enough to women.

I find women demonstrate a greater appreciation of love in their roles in men’s lives as wives, mothers, sisters, teachers, confidants and more. It is not that men are clueless about love, just perhaps women know love a little more.

Lesson Two: Learn To Appreciate Aesthetics From Women

Looks are superficial. But the truth is, it matters a lot. Women know that much better than men because women and men are not fairly evaluated on the same scale for physical appearance.

Men who are lacking in the looks’ department, can always make up with personality, money and fame. But women cannot compensate looks with non-physical virtues easily as men tend to place a premium on physical appearance.

Perhaps it is for this reason, some obnoxious men mistakenly believe that their wives have to keep attractive, while they are allowed to turn obese and bald.

Contrary to such mistaken belief, I’ve learnt that women maintain good physical appearance neither out of societal pressure nor for men. Simply, aesthetic boosters make them feel good about themselves. That is also something about looks that more men are now learning from women.

I have more lessons from women to share. That is, only if you’d like to read them.

William W.K. Tan

4 February, 2018

027 Rethink The Value Of Time And Life

  • Time Is Money?

The other day at a bus-stop, I overheard a mother reprimanding her son, “Don’t waste time. What do I always tell you? Time is money!”

The boy nodded with a blank look while I shook my head from behind.

No doubt that the mother’s intention was to teach her son to cherish time. But to tell a child that time is synonymous to money may produce unintended side-effects. I cringed at the thought of the child telling his mother one day, “Don’t waste my time, I’m busy. Don’t you know time is money?”

  • Lost Time Never Returns

As a parent myself, I wondered what my eleven-year-old son, Conan think about time. So, I posed the question to him, “Time is money. Do you agree?”

Conan was engrossed in a game on his mobile phone, but he immediately raised his head upon hearing the question. Without hesitation, he said firmly, “Time is more than money.”

I pressed Conan for reasons, “What makes you say so?”

“Well, lost time never returns. Even if you have money.” Conan explained.

I was quietly impressed, but argued to make the boy think more, “That’s not true. Money can buy you time by paying people to do things for you. That makes up for the lost time.”

Conan was baffled, “I can’t explain clearly, but it’s not the same.”

I smiled. Conan was right.

It’s not the same. One can always find ways to make time in the future. But no one can turn back the clock and return to those same old days that were gone. That makes time more precious than anything else.

  • Time Is Life

How precious is time then? Perhaps, it is more apt to say time is life.

Most people recognise that life is more than a quantitative measure of the number of days a person has lived. Rather, it is determined by the quality of life experiences in our living days.

In other words, the quantity of time we spend on health, loved ones, work and personal endeavours does not predict the level of satisfaction we gain from living. Instead, it is the quality of life spent on these priorities that decides whether we will lead a satisfying life.

  • Life Is Not A Zero-Sum Game

Yet, many people continue to see life as a zero-sum game. If more time is spent on work, then time for family must be sacrificed. If they need to spend more time on health issues, then they have to give up work or study. There are times that we need to spend a lot more time on one thing than anything else, but does that mean other priorities have to be forsaken when the going gets tough?

Certainly not. As the proverb goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. When things become extremely difficult, people become stronger as they rise up to the challenge. It is in difficult circumstances, the opportunity to gain exceptional life experiences prevails.

Time is a commitment to doing things that matter, and for the people who matter. That’s the way to enhance the quality of our life. Life does not have to be a zero-sum game.

William W K Tan

14 Jan 2018

Personal Notes

Recently, I have been feeling the stress of coping with competing priorities to the point of having recurring bad dreams. Probably in part due to my poor health condition in the last two weeks (I have fully recovered), I started to contemplate if I should seriously give up one or two things that seem less important now.

As I write this blog post, I reflected that I have not given enough thoughts to overcome the difficulties I faced. There must be ways to do more if I learn to use time wisely and more efficiently. This is perhaps a chance to make myself stronger.

Do share with me if you know ways to manage time better. Thank you!

017 What Does A Traffic Accident Set You To Think About?

  • An Accident In The Early Morning 

Enough talk about life and death, I thought. I was wrong. Just last Monday’s morning, at barely ten past six, I saw a toppled truck lying motionlessly near a traffic junction.  There had been an accident. Rescuers were already on the ground.  But no one was on the driver’s seat behind the shattered window. The poor driver must have been ambulanced away. I lamented, ” Who would have expected to begin their day with a mishap?”


Like the other onlookers, I quickly moved on with my own business. An hour later, after my run, I found everything was returning to normal as the truck was getting ready to be towed away.

Then I spotted a worried-looking man nearby, I asked him, “Are you alright? Can I help you?”

As if he had been waiting for someone to ask him, the man blurted out, “It was all my fault. He was driving straight, and I turned into his lane.. I shouldn’t have tried to beat the traffic light…” The man was almost choked with emotions as he pointed to the traffic light.

I followed his line of direction and realised that he was pointing to the same traffic light crossing that I use every morning. I shuddered at the thought of his car beating the traffic light…

  • Moral of the story: Life is fragile and unpredictable 

It is not uncommon to encounter traffic accidents on the roads. People would experience some stirring of emotions of sympathy for the victims had the accident been gruesome. But that’s about it. They tend to move on with their lives quickly as if nothing had happened.

But there is an important lesson that they are missing here. Traffic accidents are reminders that life is fragile and unpredictable. There is always an element of unpredictability in life, no matter how sure you may think tomorrow will come.

  • Live Every Moment Fully 

Keeping this lesson in mind doesn’t mean that you need to fret over death constantly.  After all it is a natural part of life that is unavoidable for everyone.

Neither do you need to put down everything you are doing and spend each day as if it is your last. Surely, there are things already in your life that you like to do and people you love to be with, last day or not.

What you ought to do is to accept that life is temporal, and learn to live in the moment. A friend A wrote to me thoughtfully,

“If we consciously remind ourselves of how little time we may have left with our loved ones, we will cherish every moment with them and we will not sweat the small stuff like being annoyed at them over trivial matters.”

No wonder I always feel something special about A’s family.  There is this gentle warmth between her and her husband, and between them as parents and their three wonderful children.

We should all learn to cherish every moment of being together with our loved ones. And I think that can be also extended to cherishing every moment of doing things you enjoy, be it at work, study, sports or hobbies. Live fully in every moment and let every moment counts.

  • Lead A Regret-Free Life

Finally, I’ve just one more thing to say. A number of friends told me that they hoped for a regret-free life.  Here are some most common regrets spoken by dying people, which I briefly mentioned in my very first blogpost:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

  1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  2. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  3. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  4. I wish I had let myself be happier.

(Reference: Bronnie Ware’s “52 Reflections For Regret-Free Living”)

What do you imagine your regrets would be? A friend G remarked, “The greatest regret is probably to miss the chance of saying goodbye to our loved ones.”

It is not too late if you do it now. For starters, try out the four things-to-do before death that I repeatedly mentioned in my previous two articles.

First, express gratitude (道谢). Let the people who have supported you, know that you are truly thankful.

Second, express love (道爱). Let the people who you love, know and feel the strength of your love.

Third, express repentance (道歉). Let  the people who you have hurt, intentionally or not, know that you are genuinely sorry.

Fourth, express longing (道别). Let the people you wish to see, know that you like to spend more time with them.

It is easier said than done though, especially when it comes to expressing love and repentance. I shall discuss more when the opportunity arise.

William W K Tan

4 November 2017 (Saturday)

Personal Notes

I guess you had enough of talk about life and death. Me too. I will move on to another topic next week. A friend made me a hilarious suggestion.

Remember my funny friend X who coined her own version of the four things-to-do before death with “eat, sleep, shit, spit” (016: Cherish And Live Each Day Well)? I was so surprised that some friends remember her words better than mine.

In her signature humour, she texted me, “You have been thinking about life before death. Perhaps it is timely that you revisit the Haw Par Villa to learn about life after death.”


(Taken from the internet. PHOTO: SINGAPORE HISTORY CONSULTANTS)

Probably she thought that a tour of Haw Par Villa’s 10 Courts of Hell will give me a chance to think seriously about the afterlife in hell! What a wicked humour!

Seriously, anyone think that is a good idea? Come on, I am not going to write anything about afterlife. Surely not.

016 Cherish and Live Each Day Well

Last week, I wrote about my views on life and death. Within 3 days, the post (015C: 生死的感悟 About Life and Death) generated more than 110 views. Little did I expect that an article on such a sombre topic would generate this much interest. Let’s alone, it was written in Chinese.

  • Four Things To Do Before Death 
  • Friends found meaning in thinking about the important things to do in life before death.
  • A friend M immediately texted me after reading,”I was touched by the four things to do: To express gratitude (), love (), repentance (道歉) and longing (道别) to the people who matter in your life.”  
  • A friend Z said she could feel my fear for death. Whereas, another friend L said that death never bother her because each day of living is a gift in itself. Alas, not all my friends are sober thinkers. My friend X was hilarious. She said, “Before I die, all I ask is to be able to do four things well each day! Eat, Sleep, Shit and Spit” I chuckled at her words.

    But as I pondered over these words a little more, I realised that the four things she said are relevant to keeping healthy on a daily basis. I couldn’t quite figure out why she considered “spit” as important, until another friend J explained on her behalf that many old people find it difficult to expel the phlegm, which results in pneumonia, a common cause of death at old age.

    I want to thank you all for the collective wisdom generated. Since I have pretty much covered the gist of last week’s article, I will not translate it. Rather, I would like to borrow the key points in the previous article and delve a little more on the same topic. Consider it a remake version, dubbed in English this time though.

    • Life Gives Meaning To Death
  • In the previous article, I recounted that I cried under the covers for fear of death when I was a young boy. I couldn’t fathom what it would be like to cease in existence one day. The idea of certain death was very unsettling to the young mind.
  • My eleven-years-old son Conan revealed that he had similar fears about death. He said, 

    “When I imagine that I die and no longer exist, I see myself shrouded in utter darkness. But if I no longer exist, how could I possibly tell it is dark?”

    I smiled and nodded in agreement, 

    “Son, what you’ve just said is similar to what Descartes, a famous philosopher had said, ‘I think, therefore I exist.’ So if you can still tell that it is dark, you are probably not dead.”

    The truth is, death is hard to comprehend. Death, by itself, is devoid of meaning. Only life can give meaning to death. Confucius, the titan of oriental philosophy, once said, “How can you comprehend death if you do not know the meaning of life?” 未知生,焉知死

    • Life: More Than Self-Actualisation
  • Growing up, I became increasingly convinced by the dogma that the meaning of life lies in self-actualisation. That means to find out what you are good at, do your best and see how far you can go. Put it in a cliché way of saying, “Go for your dreams!”
  • Self-actualisation is highly satisfying and rewarding, except that it is flawed for its sole focus on self. I was constantly working on self-improvement and pushed myself hard, and perhaps others too. A long-time friend and associate at work T told me recently, “You have changed much.  Do you remember that I joined you for an overseas conference more than 10 years ago? You couldn’t let up even for a moment. At the end of the conference, you had all of us stayed up late in the evening for discussion.” 

    Unwittingly, I had allowed my life to become an one-dimensional narrative of personal endeavours, defined by narrow notions of success and failure. Fortunately, marriage and parenthood taught me to see life beyond self-actualisation. Contrary to general belief, I believe that people are more willing to do more for their significant others than themselves. Life becomes larger and more meaningful when you know who matters.

    • Life is a gift: Never Neglect Heath!
  • Death re-entered my thoughts after two recent health scares. 
  • The first time was in February last year when some abnormally long but benign tumours were detected in my thyroid and had to be surgically removed. The second time was in April this time when I was hurried to the hospital because of an abrupt drop of blood pressure that caused me to lose consciousness momentarily.

    Both times, my condition were far from life-threatening, but they were enough to hit home the fragility of life. It was,  however, at the first hospital stay that I experienced a pivotal moment which completely altered the way I see my priorities in life. I witnessed firsthand the devastation of a person’s life because of health problems.

    A young man in his late twenties, he was a Uber driver who suddenly found himself unable to drive one day. For many days, he was plagued with suffering that arose from persistent headaches, blurred vision and swelling of legs. While recuperating on my sickbed after surgery, I overheard the doctor telling him that his kidneys had completely failed and daily dialysis was his only option.

    Each day, behind the curtains, I listened to the conversations doctors, nurses and social workers had with him. And each day, his young wife would arrive after working hours to keep him company. She would stay till almost midnight, sometimes cuddling up to his bedside for solace and leaving only to catch the last train service. I was stumped for words when he told me they have a new-born baby and were about to get the keys to their new home.

    Life is a gift in itself. Never never neglect your health, no matter how young and strong you are. Do it for yourself and your loved ones.

    • How many more years of good health left?
  • On the topic of health, a friend G told me recently, “We are already in our forties. How many active years of healthy life do you think you have left? For me, at best 10-15 years.”
  • I pose the same question to you, “How many more good years of healthy life do you think you can have?” 

    Most of you who read my blogs are above the age of 30. Surely, you know by now that 20,30 years is not that long a time. And surely, you also realise by now that time flies faster as you age.

    I did my Maths. If I give myself 20 more years of good health, it translates to 7,300 days. Does that sounds like a lot to you? Not at all, to me. Of course, I have every intention to live up to 100 years of ripe old age healthily (laughs).  

    You should also do your own Maths. Only you know better if you have squandered the precious time in your life. 

    Which is why, my loved ones and friends, I have been using this blog to invite you to join me in this journey of discovering health, joy and love in life. To begin with, cherish and live each day well.

    William W K Tan

    First published on 28 0ct.2017

    Rewritten on 29 Oct. 2017

    Personal notes:

    A friend alerted me that my latest blog had gone missing this morning! I must have binned it accidentally when I tried to correct some of the grammatical errors my son pointed out. Because I did not keep any back up copies, I had to rely on my memory to rewrite.

    The bad part is I have to sacrifice my morning run, which I will make up later in the afternoon. The good part is the revised article turns out well and I marvel at my memory. I won’t be getting dementia anytime soon, I guess.