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We Cannot Have Everything in Life

There is a price to pay regardless of the path we choose in life. You gain one thing, but you lose another. We just cannot have everything- but we have to decide if the tradeoff is worth it. So far, I have not came across anything that had convinced me otherwise.

You’ll probably can quote me some examples of folks who have done it- and I will request that we judge at the end of the person’s life. The later years are often the hardest to bear.

Let’s take an example, the life of the late Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew. He came from a very poor background and started out as a foreman- he had no education. Then, during a trip to Osaka in 1957, he saw the first motorcycle (that time, there was no motorcycles in Malaysia). He was able to persue the manufacturers to appoint him as the oversea distributor. He had a big dream- the motorcycles were a hit and he expanded into a whole industry by selling spare parts and other products. He then diversified to other industries such as hotel, property and newspaper. He was also a great philanthropist.

Unfortunately, his personal life was laden with tragedies (view source):

Fate dealt a cruel blow when Kah Kheng (his son) was found dead at his Tanjung Bungah seaside villa in 1987 under mysterious circumstances. Boon Siew was devastated and a totally changed man after that, says a company source. Another tragedy struck in 1999 when Kah Kheng’s son Loh Yu Jen died after a fall from a condominium in Tanjung Bungah. In 1996, one of Boon Siew’s daughters, Datin Loh Gim Ean, died of cancer.

In his later years, Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew was often see in a very run down restaurant eating his meals consisting of kaya toasted bread and porridge. He could afford the most expensive restaurants and hotels in the world- and yet, he chose to eat at those places that he had frequented when he was poor. I’ve been to that restaurant when I visited Penang and yes, they do serve great coffee and toasted bread. Despite being one of the richest man of his time, he still favors the simplicity of life.

There are a lot of examples of this happening that I’ve witnessed around me and even in my own life. When people ask me- why not use the skills I have to climb the corporate ladder and get more pay and prestigae: and I think of the price to pay- long hours, stressed body and the stolen years with people that I cared for. And how empty I felt when I had to deal with policies that sometimes went against my principals- and the only consolidation I had was the salary, contractual and performance bonus. I constantly consoled myself then by overeating, shopping and buying lots of expensive stuff that I don’t need and drowning myself with tonnes of expensive lattes that gave me leg pain.

After I stopped working, I automatically quit the bad habits, not because I could no longer afford them, but because I don’t need those consolidation anymore. I had a clearer mind and write better articles- catch up on priorities that I’ve left behind – basically I reclaimed my life. Yes, we cannot live on air or on ‘God’s grace’ – so I’ve considered carefully prior to quiting- to make sure I could support myself financially even with the travelling. I am spending a lot of time offline- to research and learn alternative ways that I am able to earn a living via honest means but need not require me to be in the corporate environment that I dread- for the first time, I read about finances. I do not blindly believe the claims made by experts- I carefully reconsidered what I’ve learned and match them against my observations over the year. I take what that is applicable.

But please, I am not saying that everyone should follow my path. Many of you would have lots of financial commitments- mortgage, children, aged parents- and you cannot just evade from the responsibilities. It is not often that the ‘commitments’ that weigh us down- it is the kind of expenditures that made us choose that kind of jobs that are very stressful- driving big huge cars, buying exclusive properties, having furniture that looks good but require expensive long term maintenance (white leather sofa, for instance). In other words, commiting ourselves to the kind of lifestyle that put a rope around our necks.

We have been infuenced by media and by looking at other people that forms the perception of what we need- not realising that we are slogging our guts out just to console ourselves with that Channel or Dior bag. These stuff are lifeless inate things- they offer no consolidation whatsoever if life is to deal that cruel blow.

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