The Meaning Of Life

I am not sure where this post will lead to so please be warned that this will sort of be a major “core dump” and the mother of all randomness.

Much have happened between the last quarter of 2017 and up to this point. I finally have the time to be alone to “release my mind”.

It was World Compliment Day two days ago on 1st March. The need for such a day deserves to be reflected upon. It makes me feel that the world is in so much need of love. That is because we no longer give credit where credit is due. We are very stingy with our compliments for others.

I am not sure about you but I feel that we are living in times when we are very quick to discard, judge, and “kill” while it takes much longer to heal.

We live with a lot of insecurities and distrust.

The world has never been noisier. It feels like there is so much distortions and interferences in the matrix. There is some sort of disquiet.

We have so much and yet we yearn for more.

Comfort entices us to be greedy and live above our means.

Often times, we slip and fall in our pursuits for short lived happiness.

The taste of luxury get us hooked and so we keep chasing after the “first high”.

But at the end, we realize that what we yearn for is not of material in nature. We need the connection with others – the relationships and friendships.

Then, there are those relationships that breaks down due to all sorts of reasons. We often forget that it takes two hands to clap and it is usually not fully the fault of one party.

Whatever situation that life puts us in, it really is up to ourselves to chart the course of our destinies. At the core of it all, we are to face life alone because everyone have their own demons, vices, and struggles to conquer.

To make things better, we are encouraged to dream BIG.

To take charge!

And to BELIEVE that nothing is impossible…

Perhaps life is just an illusion that we condition our minds to believe.

I guess the key to life is to stop depending on the need for external affirmations. We need not yearn for the compliments to tell ourselves of our self worth. We need to stop putting tangible measurements on ourselves because not everything is measurable and in numbers.

Can you really put a value to a life?

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At the crossroad between religion, culture, and expectations of life

For the last few years, the season of Lent started around the same time as the Chinese New Year. And this year, Ash Wednesday fell on the day before the eve of Chinese New Year. As we know, the eve of the Chinese New Year is when the traditional re-union dinner takes place. Meals seemed to be the most common item made as a sacrifice during Lent.

There seemed to be a clash and stirring because of this “impeccable” timing. The season of Lent usually means moderation, fast, and abstinence.

On the other hand, for the Chinese, the Lunar new year represents prosperity and abundance. The grand celebration of culture is met with the restrictive religious obligations.

How can you then be moderate in the midst of all the desire to bring about abundance?

“When you fast, do not be somber like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward.” ~ Matthew 6:16

This verse usually lingers in my head throughout Lent. But a few occasions I have experienced made me understand it from the perspective of the hypocrites.

If you are living among a judgmental society, one filled with expectations how one should behave during every season, it is very natural for people to be pretentious so not to “rock the boat” or “ruffle the feathers”.

We tend to outcast people who are different from us. If God wanted and desired uniformity, don’t you think we will all have the same fingerprint and human cloning would be legal?

I believe some of us grew up practicing the faith our grandparents have taught us – some are obligations of the religion while others are various family traditions. I was having a conversation with my wife regarding this one incident that took place on a certain Friday. We were seated at a restaurant next to a friend from church. Upon seeing us having meat on a Friday, he tried giving us a “friendly reminder” that it was a day of fast and abstinence. Until this day and due to that incident, I vowed to have more meat during Fridays.

It annoyed me because I felt violated and infringed. I do not wish and refuse to practice the religion as how it has been passed on by someone’s ancestors. The various expectations and obligations imposed as how they are understood for generations. I have a personal relationship with God through the way he touched me in my life. I believe that everyone experiences it differently and one’s relationship with his or her creator is unique, special, and exclusive.

Furthermore, the prices of fish way surpasses the prices of meat now and if we are to abstain taking meat on Friday because it is taken as more expensive and “luxurious”, some practices need updating. If not, how can we keep up with the real world situation in all that it reflects in the practices of old?

In his conversation with David Marchese for the vulture.com, Quincy Jones when asked if he was religious replied, “The Catholics have a religion based on fear, smoke, and murder”.

Quincy Jones is of course no God but how true and at the same time sad it is for a religion to be represented that way. It must have been how the religion has been practiced throughout the years.

Like the matrix, I sometimes feel that to practice a religion these days one requires to adhere and stay in line or else you will be treat as the little variant, glitch, or blip. Being different is often seen as being under the influence of the satan and one needs to be exorcised or receive the sacrament of reconciliation.

When often times, all we need to live this life is some love, common sense, and a good conscience. When everyone is doing it, it does not mean we ought to. Do we ever stop to ponder, reason, and listen to our inner voice. But wait, that voice could be of the devil’s we like to tell/accuse of ourselves.

So what’s the real deal?

The real deal is that I’ve got two family members stricken by 4th stage cancer. The thought of the possibility that I might lose two people I love this year is not only scary but frustrating at the same time. Do I need to restrict myself from being in celebratory mood if that means the world to them both during this time of celebration? I chose to make them happy.

We need to convince ourselves that everyone goes through their own struggles in life and no matter what, there is no “one size fits all” guide to life. That’s what “To Each His Own” means…

Organized Chaos

Happy New Year 2018!

Christmas sure brought an interesting facet to life last year but it was the feast of the Holy Family (the week after Christmas) that brought an interesting homily. It is no coincidence that the same message was repeated twice in the span of two days for me.

It is a glimpse of the future as well as what we can do now to prepare us for that.

Unfortunately we can never accurately define the future but instead to speculate based on the current trends.

On one hand, we were asked to recall the types of jobs that did not exist 10 years ago but are available today. In the same manner, we were also asked to imagine what will be the jobs of the future. With that thought process, we need to reflect and contemplate what will be the relevant skill sets our children will need moving forward. It gets complicated given the different upbringing, values, traits, and behaviors of the younger generations.

That was the gist of what I have heard at my children’s school briefing Saturday morning and it was something worth pondering.

And in the priest’s homily last Sunday (New Year’s Eve), he shared with us his observations and what he derived as the 3 common temptations destroying family life today. I was only able to make a mental note and the following are all that I can salvage from my deplorable short term memory:-

1. Pampering instead of loving children

Due to all the guilt for not spending quality time with children, most of us shower them with material things to make up for what we perceived as our inadequacies. There should be “no gadget” policy at meal times.

2. Confusion between the definition of equality and sameness

Using an analogy of the relationship between a teacher and his/her pupil, as a person the teacher and pupil are equal but in terms of role, they are not the same. A student will respect his or her teacher because the latter is wiser. They both have different purposes in life and in many aspects are not equal.

3. Over exaggeration of one human dimension over the other

We have various needs and there are many perspectives to life be it spiritual, financial, physical, mental, and intellect. When we emphasize too much on one of these dimensions, there will be an imbalance that may cause a rift in the family.

Life seemed and should be simple but all the above can be quite provocative. I believe that the fundamentals in life do not change. Automation and Robots are just tools to assist us humans. They will never replace human empathy, compassion, and the ability to love.

Unless and until technology is able to replace this human dimension, humans will always rule over technology.

Unless we choose to be enslaved by technology and losing our fundamentals and values through allowing our younger generation uncontrolled gadget time, the furthest we can go is having people that live on things that are created rather than being the creators themselves.

We are in this period of “organized chaos” where everything is vague and murky. We all need to find clarity and the first thing we all need to do is to see the purpose in everything. We need to get back to basics where one needs not exchange cold hard cash for a virtual currency before performing a transaction.

When we can eat directly using a spoon, why should we eat using another tool that holds the said spoon?

Chimpanzees have been documented to solve problems by using tools like twigs to fish for insects. There is no intermediary tools used and it is a practical and direct approach.

I always wonder why humans tend to make things complicated or make things look intimidating just to sugar coat a simple concept.
There is a saying that goes – “if you can’t convince them, confuse them”.

There are things we need to re-invent and improve in order to advance but not fix what is not broken.

I am sure you get my point.

For 2018, my wish is for people all around the world to have CLARITY. Clarity in seeing what is right and in making the best decisions for oneself, family, community, and the world at large.

I hope that we are able to take a step back to admire the beauty in all the “organized chaos” in our lives, zoom in on what’s important, and go through all challenges successfully.

Have a good year ahead!

The Password

“Have You Change The Password?”

I could hardly hear him say in his airy weak voice as I leaned towards him.

Grandpa was two months shy of his 89th birthday when he breathed his last breath and I was 9 years old.

Grandpa lived through two world wars and four industrial revolutions. Most his age struggled with technology but grandpa kept up with times – well, mostly.

I guess he knew that his memory was fading the day he passed me the password in a small piece of paper with his frail hand.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I entered a new password the second time as required for confirmation. A few seconds later, I became the owner of his social networking account. Fond memories flooded my thoughts as I went through the many moments he had shared on his timeline, feed, wall or whatever it is called. I could only wish that he had more time to document his interesting life but those who knew him in person knew all the accolades and accomplishments that he had achieved. And we are very proud of him.

How much time has changed I thought to myself and I wondered most about the concerns of people from his generation. I am sure most of their actions paved the way for a better future. A future their descendants will be able to build upon.

There were also a lot of emphasis on inheritance – properties, gold, and riches.

I am sure that has not changed but instead, expanded.

Our lives are so well documented and preserved even to the smallest bit. We are leaving behind our memories in the form of digital storage.

There isn’t much storage capacity back in grandpa’s time. We were all his little “memory cards”. Our minds stored more than just bits and bytes. Our memories include values and emotions. The images are embedded with feelings of nostalgia and feasts for the senses.

Grandpa left behind more than just physical inheritance. He passed on values, virtues, and life lessons. He passed on wisdom that empowered his descendants.

The thought of grandpa reminded me that we should not emphasize on documenting our lives on social networking sites but instead make every interaction with our children count. Each interaction should embed in the minds of our children the virtues, values, wisdom, and emotions.

Being in the moment is more meaningful than capturing the moment.

Perhaps the day will come when I lay on my deathbed and as my daughter leaned towards me, I whispered in her ear for the very last time.

“Do You Remember?”

Happiness & Joy

The four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas are given each a virtue – Hope, Love, Joy, & Peace. Some churches practice the lighting of four candles on the Christmas wreath representing each virtue.

There is a sense of expectancy, anticipation and waiting during the season of Advent for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. And we’ve entered the 3rd week of Advent which is represented by the virtue of Joy.

I have always wondered the difference between Joy and Happiness because very often, I have written notes on greeting cards using these two words in the same sentence.

Fr. Michael defined it most accurately for us in his sermon last weekend.

“Joy is the contrast of Happiness”

Happiness comes from the outside while Joy is from within.

And he gave a few examples of how we are happy when we obtain and receive certain material things or when we receive compliments from someone.

I am unable to recall the examples he gave for joy but I guess it was along the lines of joy being permanent and comes from our inner soul. Joy can come from how much we understand ourselves – our self worth, purpose, and etc.

It is midweek and the fourth Sunday of Advent will soon be upon us. For some of us, we might be spending most of our weekend in church for 4th Sunday of Advent and also Christmas Vigil since both fall on the same day.

Nonetheless, I would like to wish you Merry Christmas! May you be blessed with Hope, Love, Joy, Peace, and Happiness (fellowship, food, and gifts being external factors)!

Why

Like. Follow. Trending.

It feels strange that living in today’s world, it is all about volume. Regardless of quality, quantity seemed to be the key to everything and anything. The larger the following, the higher the value certain things are perceived to have.

Are we really that caught up and into trends that we have stopped asking “why”?

Yes, we are bombarded with so many things in the span of a day and we are so busy “keeping up” or chasing what is perceived as of value that we have forgotten to pause, reflects, and to simply ask “why?”.

If we would look at the season of Advent differently, it should be an opportunity for us to “slow down” or even to pause and ask “why?”.

Why are we liking certain trends?

Why are we following certain trends?

Why are we contributing to what’s trending?

Why do we like certain things packaged differently when they function just the same?

We seemed to be going in an unending circle of re-packaging things differently and call them a “face-lift” version with renewed promises of better or bigger advantages.

There are so many questions we need ought to ask ourselves before drifting through life blindly. We need to first take responsibility of our lives and stop depending on others to fulfill our destiny. We must make use of this one brain given to us. We should exercise our brain powers by asking questions and learning new things in the process.

Most pertinently, why be followers when we can be leaders?

War Between Organic & Digital

My idealism tells me that we are all born to be creative. No matter what, we are all here to build rather than destroy. Somewhere along the way, we have picked up the habit of discarding rather than fixing things.

This weekend I spent some time building yet another Christmas decoration – The Nativity Scene. It took me just 30 minutes turning a box into a crib.

Making a crib

Crib

Instead of using the traditional characters to represent the 3 wise men, shepherd, Mary & Joseph, and baby Jesus, I wondered how a new age Nativity scene would look like. Thus, I used some toys from my collection as a representation of the characters.

Cybertronian Crib

New Age Crib

And that got me thinking about the eventuality of our world being taken over by robots and everything digital, perhaps if robots are still believers, this could well be how a “Cybertronian” Nativity scene looks like.

And that brings me to what seems to me a grave situation for mankind.

Let’s begin with two words – PERCEIVED and ACTUAL.

Call me ignorant, call me old fashioned, or call me dated, call me shallow, call me whatever, I still cannot wrap my head around the fuss of cryptocurrency and here’s why…

I am suppose to be from this generation in between the Gen-Y and Millennial. I work with computer software. I suppose to be all excited about these sort of stuff. But I really don’t dig this sort sh*t.

I simply cannot see substance in it.

This world is mutating in such a way that it appreciates the superficial instead of tangible values.

If you invest in gold, you have a piece of gold. If you invest in currencies, you have bank notes.

You have something physical that counts for something.

But, the hype now is around believing a number (even binary – 0s and 1s) stored in a server which its physical location is unbeknownst to us! Oh yeah, it’s call cloud and it’s another IN thing!

Rightly so, Wikipedia have this to say about the origin of one such cryptocurrency – “…was invented by an unknown person…”

But who cares when the bottom line is someone’s making money right?

It truly is a matter of principles.

The past few days, we spent a lot of time at the hospitals. I observed the nurses working very long shifts. There are genuinely hard working people out there!

Sugar coated and sophisticated technological terms like cryptocurrency and their hype and PERCEIVED value are nothing but insults to hard working people investing their precious time for physical and ACTUAL bank notes!

The point is, there are things digital will never win over the ORGANIC.

We need a different level of connection digital will never ever be able to provide. In terms of nurses at hospitals, we need the emotional connection – empathy, compassion, and love.

For me, cryptocurrency is nothing but a fad and hype. The more the following, the higher its value. Therefore, our support or rejection of such scheme will directly impact its value. Medias can now be manipulated to make anything an IN thing and that helps boost the following that ultimately increase its PERCEIVED value.

I am a true believer of substance and ACTUAL values.

Like MLMs, it feeds on the huge network and only the few at the TOP benefits the most out of all the people at the lower bottom of the food chain.

Surely, the early adopters and those who jump on the bandwagon earliest will benefit the most.

I believe in the hardworking nurses, farmers, and all who bust their ass off but sadly being exploited by those who cut edges just to make a dollar.

I believe in the ORGANIC and I hope you will too!