Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lesson from An Old Chinese Zen Story

Once upon a time a big monk and a little monk were traveling together. They came to the bank of a river and found the bridge was damaged. They had to wade across the river. There was a pretty lady who was stuck at the damaged bridge and couldn't cross the river. The big monk offered to carry her across the river on his back. The lady accepted.

The little monk was shocked by the move of the big monk. "How can big brother carry a lady when we are supposed to avoid all intimacy with females?" thought the little monk. But he kept quiet. The big monk carried the lady across the river and the small monk followed unhappily. When they crossed the river, the big monk let the lady down and they parted ways with her.

All along the way for several miles, the little monk was very unhappy with the act of the big monk. He was making up all kinds of accusations about big monk in his head. This got him madder and madder. But he still kept quiet. And the big monk had no inclination to explain his situation.

Finally, at a rest point many hours later, the little monk could not stand it any further, he burst out angrily at the big monk. "How can you claim yourself a devout monk, when you seize the first opportunity to touch a female, especially when she is very pretty? All your teachings to me make you a big hypocrite."

The big monk looked surprised and said, "I had put down the pretty lady at the river bank many hours ago, how come you are still carrying her along?"

This very old Chinese Zen story reflects the thinking of many people today.
Lesson : We encounter many unpleasant things in our lives, they irritate us and they make us angry. Sometimes, they cause us a lot of hurt, sometimes they cause us to be bitter or jealous. But like the little monk, we are not willing to let them go away. We keep on carrying the baggage of the 'pretty lady' with us. We let them keep on coming back to hurt us, make us angry, make us bitter and cause us a lot of agony. Why? Simply because we are not willing to put down or let go of the baggage of the 'pretty lady'. We should let go of the pretty lady immediately after crossing the river, that is after the unpleasant event is over. This will immediately remove all our agonies. There is no need to be further hurt by the unpleasant event after it is over.

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

Lesson from the frogs

A farmer came into town and asked the owner of a restaurant if he could use a million frog legs. The restaurant owner was shocked and asked the man where he could get so many frog legs!

The farmer replied, "There is a pond near my house that is full of frogs - millions of them. They all croak all night long and they are about to make me crazy!"

So the restaurant owner and the farmer made an agreement that the farmer would deliver frogs to the restaurant, five hundred at a time for the next several weeks.

The first week, the farmer returned to the restaurant looking rather sheepish, with two scrawny little frogs. The restaurant owner said, "Well... where are all the frogs?" The farmer said, "I was mistaken. There were only these two frogs in the pond. But they sure were making a lot of noise!"

Lesson : Next time we hear somebody criticizing or making fun of us, remember, it's probably just a couple of noisy frogs. Also remember that problems always seem bigger in the dark. Have we ever laid in our bed at night worrying about things which seem almost overwhelming like a million frogs croaking? Chances are pretty good that when the morning comes, and we take a closer look, we'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Lesson from the turtles

A turtle family decided to go on a picnic. The turtles, being naturally slow about things, took seven years to prepare for their outing. Finally the turtle family left home looking for a suitable place. During the second year of their journey they found a place ideal for them at last!

For about six months they cleaned the area, unpacked the picnic basket, and completed the arrangements. Then they discovered they had forgotten the salt. A picnic without salt would be a disaster, they all agreed.

After a lengthy discussion, the youngest turtle was chosen to retrieve the salt from home. Although he was the fastest of the slow moving turtles, the little turtle whined, cried, and wobbled in his shell. He agreed to go on one condition: that no one would eat until he returned. The family consented and the little turtle left.

Three years passed and the little turtle had not returned. Five years...six years... then on the seventh year of his absence, the oldest turtle could no longer contain his hunger. He announced that he was going to eat and begun to unwrap a sandwich.

At that point the little turtle suddenly popped out from behind a tree shouting, 'See! I knew you wouldn't wait. Now I am not going to go get the salt.'

Lesson : Some of us waste our time waiting for people to live up to our expectations. We are so concerned about what others are doing that we don't do anything ourselves.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Road to recovery

I am supposed to write this earlier than today but as usual, once I got caught up with other issues of the everyday life - I became lethargy and to be honest, lazy. It was a chill out Sunday afternoon for me and I appreciate just being able to laze around doing nothing. Then my guilty soul beckoned me to write something...

It's been 3 weeks since John's crash. Slowly but surely, he is recovering. He is currently seeking TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatment for the injury on his left rib and perhaps some clot blood that might've been stagnanted somewhere. Sometimes the after effect of a fall may not be immediate and can only be felt after a few days. Another cyclist, Lisar also experienced pain on her chest, ear and back 3 days after her crash. In fact, she lost her memory for a few minutes that very instant but managed to regain her consciousness and equilibrium rather quickly.

Anyways, they are both back to running on the roads again! John and I tackled the Double Hill and Carcosa yesterday, and this morning, we made it to Hartamas and back, giving us a total mileage of 35km. I believe he is still quite, no worries.

By the way, the air is so cool and breezy right now that I just couldn't wait for dinner to happen cos' it's gonna be Steam Boat at Mother Teresa's house. How appropriate!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A journey to remember...

A couple of days ago, John had the biggest blow in his life! He suffered a nasty crash while descending downhill at Genting Peres during the Inter-State Cycling tour organised by the Pedalphiles Cycling Club (PCC). His helmet and bicycle handle bar broke and his jersey...torn! It was the helmet that saved his head, otherwise it's curtain close for him!

Fortunately, he survived with a deep cut just above his right eye, wounds and bruises all over from his face down to his legs and his left elbow was the most critical. Who cares about anything else...thank god, he's alive! The other cyclists were all very helpful, quick to respond and came to his rescue almost immediately. One of the support team crews drove him on his car to catch up with me and we took him to the nearby clinic in Titi to get medical attention.

Actually when I first saw him, he was such a bloody mess; blood griping all over the place, yet he was still beaming and assured me he's okay. "Ok? I wasn't too sure..I doubted and thought he was playing poker." Well, after an injection, 3 stitches near his right eye and left arm bandaged - it's amazing that his spirit was still high. He was still keen to stay with the group and we decided to continue the journey and move along with PCC team but as a supporting crew.

Throughout the 3-day journey, John was his jovial self and became famous too...everyone (even the taukeh at the kopitiam and ah pek at the roadside stalls) got to know him and asked about his plight. I noticed that human beings are by nature kind and caring. I was also glad we made the decision to continue our journey with the pack and not return home despite the mishap that befell John. I observed that it was the collective energy of friendship that had helped ease the pain and the amount of compassion shown that helped heal the wounds. The sight of John actually made one feels that this guy must be in great pain. Pain - yes, but not as serious as he looks. We were also fortunate to have Dr. Raymond with us - he helped change the dressing for John during the journey.

We also had fun being the support team. We enjoyed cheering and taking photographs for fellow cyclists, handling food and water to the thirsty and rendering assistance to a trio with flat tyres. The fellowship over dinners were great. Like runners, cyclists are another special breed of humans with their own stories and their fair share of experiences (mainly accidents, oops!) and I was inspired listening to them.

While cyclists like Jason, Gerard, Jezamine, Tomato and others achieved their record of the longest ride; I achieved my own record of the longest drive in 3 days covering a total of about 665km. From Kajang - Bahau - Kuala Rompin - Kuantan - Kuala Lumpur...passing through plantations, lakes, estates, some very remote areas I hardly knew existed in M'sia and some very scenic and 'heavenly' places like Genting Peres, Felda Land at Gemas, the beautiful beaches of Pantai Lagenda.

All these and perhaps much more...will certainly etch to my memory and remain as one of my forget-me-nots.

As for John, I bet with my last dollar that you'll see his ass on that Scott again in two weeks time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Some forget-me-nots

Remember this oldies ?

"Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
When grass was green and grain was yellow
When you were a tender and callow fellow
Try to remember and if you remember, then follow...

Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow
That dreams were kept beside your pillow
That love was an ember about to billow
Try to remember and if you remember, then follow..."

Little things in life have a strange but pleasant way of reminding us of the big things. Sometimes a brief moment is all it takes to shift our focus and align us back on course. We hear and see so much about so much but how much of it is significant enough that it retains in us?
In the recent Olympics, the world witnessed numerous records being broken, in the world of education, we often hear the highest distinctions scored, in the domain of medicine, the breakthrough in cancer research. All of them are fantastic feats and worthy of applause. But just how much of it is good enough for us to remember for the rest of our lives? Often we marvel over the information and forget them the next week if not tomorrow. So, what really matters then?
Besides a very memorable and spectacular Beijing Olympics in August that got me glued to that idiot-box, a series of events took place in my personal life as well.
And it has helped me realized and learned that touching mortal lives have a longer if not a lasting impact than chasing after the many things which can so change as long as others live after us.
Remembering a kind deed is by far easier and more meaningful than memorising the steps of a salsa dance!
I can vividly recall the times when my nanny spent all her time nursing me and helped me cope with a difficult childhood. She was always sensitive to my needs eventhough she has 6 children of her own to tend to. She is 93 years old now and still very much a mother to me even until today.
When I twisted my ankle and couldn't walk for a week, there was Susan an ex-colleague who never failed to chauffeur me to & fro work, to the doctors and everywhere. She even made sure that all my meals were taken care of.
I also remembered the time when I had high fever just the night before the Penang Bridge Marathon - it was John and Francis who took me to the doctor.
Then there's my mentor, Miss Moey whom I can always find solace. And she remains to be my role model for as long as I'm around.
All these and many more remain not because I want to remember them but somehow, they etched themselves to my memory and my heart.

"Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your names on hearts, not on marbles." - Charles Spurgeon