What’s the best thing in the world? Live life.
What’s my most feared thing to experience in life? Death.
But we can’t max out life if we don’t conquer our fear. We can’t accomplish anything if we let our fear take over us. What if fate pushes us to our limits, bring us to a challenge. We become wounded, we fall. Though, we shouldn’t let that stop us. Cry over the failure, don’t be afraid to overdo if that is what you are feeling at the moment. Once it is done, don’t forget to stand up again. Be determined that you’ll be doing better than the last, and never give up no matter how many times you fall. If there’s no failure, success doesn’t exist. Failure is nothing but another motive for us to do something better, and the best.
I am afraid of heights. I am afraid of closed spaces. That is why I am not a fan of airplanes, nor a crowd of people. Trains (MRT) at rush hours. Elevators. High-rise buildings. Those are my weak spots. Everytime I am exposed to these things, at extreme cases, my heart palpitates, cold sweats. I just let my mind do all the work – my brain tells my body to calm down countless times, and let my self think of other positive things, anything to distract myself.
At extreme cases I mean includes experiences like at times the train being stranded in the middle of the railway – turning off the aircon, no airflow inside, people are packed, literally I can’t breathe. For minutes I try to calm down myself as my heart starts to beat fast, I got cold sweats, I feel high, I feel like floating, head lightly spins, until aircon gets on again. I got off the next station grasping for air, the first thing I did was to sit on the bench and let myself calm down for a bit – before I walk and got out of the station. Elevators? Another experience on the office where I work, the elevator acts up intermittently. Yes, I once included in a pack of people stucked on an elevator. For a minute I panicked and pushed the emergency button along with others. Good thing it didn’t take 3 minutes of being stucked. From that moment, I use the stairs, fortunately we work on the 6th floor. And finally, airplanes. Turbulence gives me imagination of unacceptable images.
Though look at me now. I don’t have much accomplishments. Its because I let my fear take over me. What do I love and like to do in life? I don’t want to work. I want to do something I passionately love. Is web designing and development really my passion? I don’t know. What crosses my mind for several times was to be an architect, to design buildings and see my work around the nation or the world; another was to be a veterinarian, or the one who saves and cures domestic animals, and the one who will build a decent adoption shelter for unfortunate animals; or I want to be a nomadic traveller, the one who explores people and culture at the same time acquire different life experiences. But what more could I do at this age, I am truly a late bloomer who doesn’t realize my worth until its quite late. But what I seek now is experience rather than being a cave woman. The risk is, my life is not an exception to jeopardy if I go out there in the world. This currently puzzles me, how do I want my life be spent?
Travelling. I am not a prayer warrior, but I have faith, I trust Him. So wherever I go, I always make sure I have my 2 rosaries (given by my cousin, and one from my mother who bought the rosary from the Holy Land), and just recently, a novena card of St. Pio. When I carry those, I feel secured, I feel He is with me. Then, I can go on and experience life. And the budget? I have work, but the income goes to the bills. For now, I want to start to travel, even with a tight budget.
What are the significance with Christopher Mccandless, Julia Child, Steve Jobs to me? They all inspire me at different ways. Chris inspired me to simply live life and screw man-made society; Julia taught me that learning and skills doesn’t choose an age; Steve taught me how guts bring you somewhere (Life’s Lesson from Steve). Now, its up to me how would I apply the things they taught me, in real life.
Where do you want to go in life?
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. – Steve Jobs, 2005, Commencement address to Stanford University
This is a speech by Adrian Tan (author of The Teenage Textbook, 1988), a guest-of-honor to the NTU convocation ceremony, to the graduating class of 2008.
I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.
My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.
On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.
Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.
And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.
Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.
The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.
You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process”and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.
The good news is that they’re wrong.
The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You’re in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.
I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.
You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There’s very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and restful nap.
Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.
So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you’ll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper.
Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they’re 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn’t meet their life expectancy.
I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.
After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.
Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.
That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.
If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.
Life’s a mess
What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.
Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.
What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.
Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.
Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play.
The most important is this: do not work.
Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.
Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That’s the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.
There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.
People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.
Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.
Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.
I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.
So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.
Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.
Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.
In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.
I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.
One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.
Love another human being.
The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.
I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.
Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.
Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.
Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.
You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.
You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.
Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.
Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.
Sadly, we have to just realize life is short only when one of the people closest to our hearts would die. For me, the word death is so much dreadful, unimaginable and is the saddest part of life. And I am still afraid of death, maybe because I haven’t fulfilled anything yet in life and is not ready yet. I would sometimes wish I am an immortal individual and just watch life pass by… but I guess its just a part of a fantasy world.
Just like humans as a living thing, any breathing mammal is considered a crucial life… must be treated with importance, even everything works as a cycle.
Meet Cocoy. A half-dachshund breed. Our canine family who was given to us by a friend, whom we took care of, even at his delicate age of 1 month, he had to experience such a shock.
Barely three days after we got him, we just took off to buy his things, and when we got home we are unaware he already fallen from our high stairways. We determined that as a high energy cute pup had climb off the obstacle and got off the room, played with the towel that hangs on the handrail, and eventually his small body shoots between the spacing of the handrail to the other way and fall to the lower steps. He experienced convulsions, excreting urine involuntarily.
Fortunately, he overcomes it, able to recover, and gradually grew up but skinny. I then started to realize that when you give love to a dog, he could feel the care and he would then start to fight for his life, because he knows someone cared.
After 3 months or so, he was struck with Parvo Virus. He excretes stool with blood, was lethargic, and wouldn’t eat. I couldn’t wait. I checked for a nearby vet and rush him to it. Good thing he was rushed no sooner, or he’ll die of it, told me by the vet… three days after the confinement on the clinic, he was already barking endlessly…
The Third Fight
I don’t know why, is it because he was partly pure-breed with low immunity, that he was easily stricken with disease? A year after, he was now suffering with distemper, a week after he was neutered from the vet along with our other mixed-breed black half-Labrador dog.
When he was showing symptoms of respiratory disease, I was praying it was just that and could easily be cured. But our vet told us he was certain that it could be distemper. He gave us 5 days to observe while giving Cocoy some medications. On the 4th day, Cocoy has his energy back, jumping and playing with me. On the 5th day, suddenly his energy fell. And from there I could say we already seeing the signs he was starting to fall from his feet when standing and swaying of his hips when he was walking.
We went back by the 8th day and had his follow up check up. They gave me another 3 days to observe. Until, he could barely walk up and down the stairs (imagine an elderly with rheumatism going up and down the stairs), I went back and finally told me to have him test for distemper. The results came out positive for Parvo-Distemper. And that day… Cocoy just couldn’t stand up anymore, and would just lie down most of the time.
It was quite hard to digest the truth, especially when the vet told me that the disease has no cure and could eventually lead to death. It took me like 1 day or 2 before I searched an information about distemper on the net. And from there I found the Kind Hearts in Action site, where hope is given to distemper dogs. I skimmed the site and saw that there was this treatment that is done overseas. I wrote to the author, giving brief info about Cocoy and somehow asked for help if treatment could be brought here. And yes, treatment has been already not knowingly been practiced here locally… the author wrote back with some information directing me to the vets, the clinic, and the case of Icy.
The treatment, was a hope for distempered dogs, though the recovery effect has a small percent of chance. Either the dog would fully recover and live for more than a year, or the dog would recover but suddenly breakdown and die. For me, it is a risk I am willing to take… because I would like to try all possible things just for him to extend his life, at least, I tried. Rather than waiting for him to die eventually, without doing anything.
A Plead of Help
I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your help, we were looking for a donor dog, for our Cocoy.
For a brief background about the treatment from what I understood (on the website KHIA and from the attending vet of Cocoy from VIP):
- The treatment consists of two methods: (could be one of these or both depending on the stage of distemper)
- NDV* – where dog donor is required. Serum is made from the dog donor and injected on the dog with distemper, to kill the virus. (more information: http://kindheartsinaction.com/2009/11/05/anti-distemper-serum/)
- Spinal Tap – for dogs that already experience seizures (spasms or uncontrollable shaking of legs and/or head; neurological stage). This develops eventually with untreated dogs. (more information: http://kindheartsinaction.com/2009/11/05/treatment-of-neurologic-distemper/)
NDV is done if the dog is experiencing the early stages of distemper, first few days from the first sign of distemper. NDV and Spinal Tap is done if the dog is at its late stage of distemper, neurological phase.
Usually, if its off-season for distemper (season where major dogs were struck by the virus), the VIP clinic have serum reserves that they could use availably without the owner look for a dog donor. When we took a visit to the clinic, to our dismay, they had no reserves… and that made the process difficult for us.
*I would like to elaborate this process, which, what are the requirements for a donor dog to have, and what the donor dog would undergo.
This requirements were given to us by the attending vet of Cocoy from VIP, donor dog must be:
- 20 kgs. and above – 15kgs. and up is good but the larger the dog, the better
- healthy dog – check for skin problems, and pinkish gums. The dog will be further checked by the clinic upon presenting, full-laboratory check up, as far as I know. When the dog is healthy, the recovery process of the dog is fast (from draining blood from him).
- intact dog – un-neutered dog
- dog must be 1-2 years of age
- 5-in-1 vaccination is up to date – an updated vaccinated dog would lower the chance for him from getting diseases from other dogs while in confinement on the clinic.
From the reqs. it is understood that we do need large breed dogs, a mixed breed or mongrel is also ideal.
What would the donor dog undergo upon arrival in clinic would be more or less, as follows:
- A full-laboratory check: weight, skin problems, worms, blood-born disease… etc.
- Anesthetized, inject the La Sota vaccine to the dog.
- 11-12 hours waiting, in between those hours, the blood would be extracted from the donor dog
- Serum would be made from that blood
And from the serum, would be injected to the distempered dog.
If the link I’ve given above (NDV treatment) was read, it was noted by the last line of instructions:
19. All my donor dogs have survived. I have not lost any.
As a pet owner, I know this kind of assurance is important, but taking a word of it I know isn’t easy. But as far as I could say, a numbered, if not a lot, of dog donors have already gone on the procedure through the VIP clinic, and so far, I haven’t heard any complaints about it.
If we could find a donor, we would bring the dog to the clinic first, and after the procedure, the donor would be brought home, before we would bring Cocoy to the clinic and wait for further instruction from the vet on how to admit the dog without contaminating other dogs. I say they were careful, as we were instructed before, to let the dog stay outside the clinic while waiting for the doctor. It is been known as you might already know, that distemper is highly contagious and can be transmitted via air.
Hopefully we could find already one. It was already more than a month since Cocoy has first showed his respiratory symptoms (estimated by the 4th week of Aug) 😦 and we haven’t yet got any donors yet. We tried asking relatives, and even thought we already have one until we brought the dog to the clinic and discovered that the dog isn’t updated with his vaccine (the first vet overlooked this criteria and only gave us the first 4 requirements).
For a few days last month, he shows already subtle signs of twitching, from often to frequently occurring. But good thing, this strong canine of ours, as days passed, the twitching stopped. When we first visited VIP, they gave us maintaining medications for Cocoy to take while looking for a donor, so up until now, we were still giving him his medications.
Amusing but still hoping, you can take a guess about his current condition. He stopped walking (paralysis of hind legs) a week after the first stage of distemper (respiratory). When I first saw how he struggles to stand, it is a sight I could barely take. But… he now could stand and balance for a while, take a walk and pee or poo, though still falls on his feet and sit from time to time. There… it goes hope.
But on contrary when he was still unable to walk to which he has large appetite, lately he got a little appetite, eat only what he wants in a minimum. Though he drinks a lot of water. Explains why we always wake up in the morning with all the dried-sticky pee scattered on the floor. As always, from the very day he was paralyzed, his pee was involuntary and couldn’t be controlled. He also developed some skin patches on his body, still starting out, but I’m afraid this could go severe. Physically, he is as thin as a stick, even with the vitamins we gave him. His back eventually lowered, with his spinal only sticking out. Incredibly thin.
Here Cocoy is, still going strong, given to him is care and love as his source of his strength. If he doesn’t give up, I do not want to give up either. Together we plead, to help us to fight this another challenge in his life, and conquer the odds of fate, let them know that not all give up easily. We are ought to sway the fate ahead, and defeat what it is to make his life shorter. If we might, please help us find a donor dog, and help to save another distempered dog.
Thank you for reading. 🙂
Disclaimer: The facts presented isn’t as exact as they seemed to be. I have laid out these according to what I understand and experienced on hand. It is still advisable to confirm the facts with the experts themselves; the vets in VIP, Ed Bond (author of KHIA site).
Thank Yous: My heartfelt thanks to those whom I wrote to and extends their prayers for Cocoy. Frankly we were at the near of giving up since as we still haven’t successfully got a donor. Hopefully this time through this post, it could reach someone with a kind heart.
Updated: Added recent pictures of Cocoy
I would never speak ill any of my friends. If it is best to say what is true even if it can cause pain to the person, I wouldn’t do it in any way to humiliate this person in front of everybody else.
Yes everything is a cycle that we know we were circling around the journey of life. I may be abundant now and centless after a month or two. Karma is something we could care about, and thus what life would give us, is should we ever receive it without resentment. Everything that is happening to us has a reason behind it, either we deserve it or something may return much better after. We never know.
Doing something to hurt someone is the least I can do and most probably without the dire intention. It would be awful – and worse, it wouldn’t look good on your side. It would cause pain on both sides, to you, and to that person. I agree that each individual has different personalities, each differently handle such situations… that one may absorb and never forget the pain, and one who shrugs off and never care to what others would say… but to experience something that is not good at that very moment… it is a thing you can never take it back regardless on how people handled the words that comes out of your mouth.
That’s you, I understand. But by just giving empathy to the person what would’ve he or she probably feel after, is one of the good deeds you’ve might give, that no amount of money can justify.
And by being me… I remember those who tries to care and as much as possible, gave it with less pain… and those who were inconsiderate and blurt out all that is whatever on their mind, without much thinking, who were trying to appear knowledgeable though instead they appear to be worst than the dumb because they enacted as an unethical fool.
I hope we all learn from Heidi and Spencer Pratt:
money sometimes can’t satisfy a certain person… that is why there are so-called, greedy people. why do we choose this profession? to earn money. and a sidebar of reason to help its own family. only a few do say: its my passion, its my joy to do such thing, its my life, my dream… and something that i don’t call work, but funness. reality it is to know that we were deep in burrows of financial crisis, that money is the only hope to survive. but too much is not enough for someone.
annoying is it, that you’ve met a greedy individual and who is not ashamed of acting such. isn’t it a great satisfying feeling that you’d like to slap a thick bundle of paper money unto his face and let him know evilness overtook his life. why wealthy people keeps getting rich and poor ones keeps on suffering… as they all say. wake up juan. money may save someone’s life, but it isn’t the life. money is there to spent, and if too much you have, share.
Broken. Shattered. And a few more words to describe how torn a person is. There she is, admitting to herself she might be on top of the circle of life at the moment. A couple of months more and she’ll wouldn’t ever notice she’s already at the bottom. Walking around the circle for the rest of her life pushes her to the limits and anytime now she couldn’t handle it anymore. And give up. Everything.
Where am I? What have become of me? she asked herself. She appears to be distressed, as she leaned forward to her desk, looked down and covered her face with her hands. For the nth time she felt empty.
I don’t know what happened, but it seems for every good thing there is a price to pay. she continued. Obviously her mind was clouded, with confusion and emptiness. For several minutes she closed her eyes, everything in her life rewinds fast like an old recording tape.
Something is missing. And one day, it’ll be found.
…of being a designer.
The internet since 2001 has a lot to do with my current skills. I’ve been visiting through a lot of websites, learning and self-studying what I’ve subconsciously loving… design – well, digital art, graphics, and of course, web.
Now that the internet is at its peak, I’ve noticed a rapid growth in number of new inspiring designers. Read the rest of this entry »