Happy New Year 2008
New Year 2008 crept in quietly but meaningfully with the family. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2008! I have been recieving SMSes non stop since Christmas so its pretty amazing how the modern handphones can store them since I have been offline for quite a while during the holidays. It has been an adventurous holiday in many ways.
New Year Resolutions
So talk about New Year Resolutions if any, I came across an interesting article in the Borneo Post Online on 30th December 2007 penned by Dunstan Chan (it pretty summed up what I need to do in 2008) - it is entitled Cast off your excess Baggage:
I was standing in a queue at the airport waiting to check in when I heard a couple behind me having an argument.
“I told you not to buy so many things. Now we are going to be overweight.”
“What about your books? They are the ones which are heavy.”
Glancing back I realised the source of their mutual recrimination. The number of bags they had obviously would pitch them over the baggage allowance.
As some of you may have noticed, the low cost airlines are very stringent on excess baggage. I suppose it is one of the ways they can increase their revenue. Then noting that I had only a small carry-on bag, the wife said to me, “Mister, do you mind checking in one of our luggage for us.”
Having heard of many horror stories of people being duped into carrying drug, I reply tersely, “No!” and spent the next half hour avoiding eye-contact with the couple.
Yes, we all do carry excess baggage, and not just when we are traveling by air, but also in our journey of life. Somehow we just cannot resist accumulating so many things - clothes, papers and all kinds of bric-a brac. Once in a while we would go through the routine of trying to throw out the unwanted and unnecessary and keep only the important — separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. However, that is easier said than done, for how do you distinguish one from the other?
“The problem with you is that you are a squirrel,” said my wife, watching me going through the Hamlet-like routine of “to throw or not to throw”. And most of the times the “not” won the day. I like to console myself that my affliction is universal and that it is grounded on the very sound principle of being thrifty and frugal.
I remember my late parents used to drum into our heads - “waste not and want not.” My dad even told us the story of the two neighbours, one was an extravagant merchant and the other a humble thrifty farmer. The merchant’s family used to throw all the leftover rice into the drain which ran passed the farmer’s house. The farmer, the prudent soul that he was, collected the rice, washed them and dried them in the sun before storing.
Some years later a drought hit the region and famine set in. It was so bad that the people were reduced to eating tree barks. One day the farmer found the merchant and his family languishing with hunger. He took them into his house and fed them rice gruel and continued to take care of them until the famine was over.
“Where do you get the rice to make gruel when the whole region is starving?” asked the merchant. The farmer then took the merchant to his store, and there piled one on top of the other, bags and bags of dried rice.
“Do you know what this is?” said the farmer. “This is the rice which you threw into the drain all these years.”
With a story like that in my head can you blame me for being a squirrel?
Then there is that little matter of sentimental value. Some of the things we collect are not just things; they are fragments of our life - memories made tangible. But there comes a time when reality bites, and that’s when we just run out of space. So we have to take the bull by the horns and face the task of unloading the excess and unwanted baggage.
A friend sent me some tips from a management guru who said “Once in a regular interval you should clean your baggage and throw the unwanted. You should keep only the things which are either useful and important or really precious. If you are not using something for the last two years, perhaps that thing is no more useful to you. If you’ve never felt it was needed during the last two years, what chance is there that it will be needed for the next one year? If the answer is ‘NO’, just throw it.” Sound advice, very Mr. Spock, all left brain and logic. (Spock is a main character in the Star Trek TV series. He is an alien, half-Vulcan, half-Human. His personal struggle between the Vulcan logical self and his human emotional self is the centerpiece of the character). So go on, clear your room and good luck.
Difficult as it may be, what we carry outside (the physical baggage) is easier to let go of than what we carry inside - the emotional baggage. We all have emotional baggage of some sort or another: the things that happened to us in our past that have influence over our future actions. We need to learn to dump the unhealthy excess emotional baggage. Like millstones around our necks they can pull us down and prevent us from being able to move on with our lives and find happiness and success in relationships, business and family.
Benjie is a man of forty. All his life he has lived in the shadow of his dominating father. On top of that he has three aunties who cared for their nephews and nieces very much. When Benjie’s father died, he finally became the man of the house, having sole responsibility of taking care of his two sisters, an aging mother and the family business.
Concerned about Benjie and anxious for the welfare of the family, the aunties bombarded him with advice constantly and relentlessly. Finally, Benjie cracked and did the unforgivable. “Leave me @#&% ing alone!” he screamed and swore at his aunties.
The aunties were very hurt. That was over a year ago. Throughout the year the cold war in the family was smouldering. Other members tried their best to bring about reconciliation but to no avail. Benjie, though sorry for his outburst, is too proud to admit it. His aunties are still in no mood to forgive. At family gatherings during the year Benjie was conspicuous by his absence. Such is the weight of the emotional baggage they all carry that the time-honoured principle, “blood is thicker than water” or the sage advice “forgive and forget” were crushed underneath it.
Let me share with you the teaching of Tanzan, a 19th-century Japanese Buddhist monk and professor of philosophy at the Imperial University. His wisdom comes down to us today in the form of the following Zen story or koan.
Tanzan and Ekido, a fellow monk, were walking together down a muddy road. Coming around a bend in the road, they arrived at a small, swift stream, where a lovely young girl in full kimono dress stood crying.
“Why are you crying?” asked Tanzan. In between tears, the girl explained that she was due at a wedding in a village on the far side of the stream, but to cross the stream meant ruining her kimono.
“Come on, girl.” said Tanzan. With that, he hoisted the girl on his back, waded across the stream, and deposited her on the far side, high, dry, and happy. Tanzan and Ekido continued on down the road.
Ekido was mortified by that behaviour but he held his tongue until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near women,” he told Tanzan, “Our order forbids it. Yet you carried that girl across the stream. Why did you carry that girl?”
“I left the girl at the stream,” replied Tanzan. “Why do you carry her still?”2008 is just two days away, let me wish you all the best and that you are able to cast off the excess and unwanted baggage, physical and emotional, to emerge lean and mean to take on the new year.
Family Activity Celebrating New Year
The family had a gathering on the first day of the New Year and we had a lot of sharing, toasting and wishes.
The wine used for our Family Toasts
Picnic under the Mango Tree behind our house in Sibu
BBQ time - yummy
The Computer also had a chair!
Traditional food in the menu
Shania enjoying the Picnic