‘We can observe many events in our daily lives that can serve as good wake up calls for us- to stop our obsession with money and material gain ….and reflect deeper on what’s important.
Last week, when I read in the Strait Times that Bee Gees Robin Gibb is battling with liver cancer, the phrase mentioned in the article really struck me:
“Robin is not good and there is a lot of concern for him,” the source said. “You can use your wealth to call in the best experts but sometimes no amount of fame, prestige and money can change things when it comes to cancer.”
Like most people, sometimes I tend to forget. Momentarily I would focus on things like why my blog earnings go down or on that particularly annoying fella at work when those things are not important. It’s easy to forget till we get reminders like this. That everything in life changes and it is really impermanent. Today we have, tomorrow we lose it all.
The life of an old lonely lady
You know, there is this old lady who is staying near my house. She used to stay with her husband and I would remember years ago when I used to drive past and see both she and her husband sitting by the swing (they have in their home compound) just ‘being’- doing nothing and be contended.
Then, about more than 10 years ago, her husband passed away- I remember the funeral……and she was left all alone by herself. I did not think anyone really bothered to ask how she was getting on. She was getting older day by day- and it amazes me that an old lady of about easily 80 years old plus could live all by herself. Everyday, she would slowly walk to the market- all bend and taking step-by-step to the market to get food.
She had a son but I heard he is settled in the States. And she did not like the cold and preferred to stay in Malaysia- or perhaps she did not want to trouble her son as it would be difficult for her to get PR- that would mean she would have to take long flights to and fro- which I doubt her frail body could take. I don’t remember seeing her son- and I wondered…did he come back to see her?
I used to walk past her house in my previous job and I would pass her as she was slowly walking to the market. She had always taken note of me- even though her hearing were no good, her eyes were still very alert. And for some unknown reason, even though I hardly knew her, she always comment that I am a nice person with a good heart.
Just few months back, I walked past her home and she stopped me to sit down to chat with her- using the silly excuse of asking me to help her sweep some dry leaves. I could sense her loneliness- we are all human and we all need family and friends. It’s tough to live alone especially when we are in our twilight years- in fact, it’s the worst time to be alone.
Her condition is what most of us deeply fear- that we would grow old and die alone. And yet, she was in that situation…. and it’s not that bad- for she got used to it. It was her choice- she did not want to go and live in a nursery home.
But as much as I would want to pay her visit, I got too caught up in the demands on my life. The weekends and nights passed by too quickly and too soon, perhaps because I try to juggle various roles.
Then, few days ago, I saw a couple of construction worker doing renovation on her home. She had always been alone- except for years ago where she had sublet one of her rooms to a student. So, if she had been around, I would have seen her lightly sweeping her lawn- using a stick to pick on the dry fallen leaves. Her house had always been dark- for she did not have much reasons to switch on most of the lights. But now, the house is bright and repainting is going on.
So she must have been…..gone. It’s life and it’s a strong reminder for me to not continue take things for granted- to focus on trying to get something relatively unimportant and at the same time neglecting my true priorities.
Whatever that comes in life, would pass. Whatever arisen, would fade.
Nature is a great teacher too
And so nothing remains forever. Good or bad, it would pass. So the good news is that if you are going through a rough patch, it would soon pass over. Just that during the period, you would need to be strong to withstand the storm.
Nature is a great teacher. These past weeks, the tropical weather had been really unpredictable. Like today, the weather was scorching hot- so hot that it feels one’s skin can be burn if exposed too long. We did almost a week’s worth of laundry- thinking that everything would be dry by noon at the rate the weather is going.
But about 1pm, the weather suddenly change and the bright sky turned stormy and ranging. It was dark clouds and heavy rain for about an hour- and then slowly the bright blue cloudless sky emerged.
I thought with the sky so blue, it would not rain. An hour later, the sky suddenly turned gloomy with stormy clouds- it rained heavily for about 20 minutes and now as I am typing this, I can smell the fresh air as dusk approaches.
When I am going through a rough patch, the changing weather had always somehow given me some comfort. From good and turn to something unfavorable- eventually, things would change. If we cling on and wished for things to remain, it’s like we are asking the shine not to shine or the sky to stop raining. It’s like chasing the wind (yeap, the Chicago song).
With that, we are going against nature. Who else but us that suffers? Nature is nature- it minds its own business. There would be success, but there would be failure. There would be happiness, and then sadness. It’s the way stuff or cosmic works and it has been this way since time immemorial.
After the rain, the air always feel fresh and refreshing. The sun would shine and the rain would stop. Tough times are not meant to last- but if we accept and do not whine or wail, soon, things would change for the better.
And don’t get too caught up with what we cannot get that we lose touch on important priorities- family, parents, children. For when the tide of change comes, we would have led a conscious meaningful life with least regrets.