Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Wesak Day message and beyond

Yesterday was Wesak Day. I received the following message from Bodhi Fellowship:

"The significance of Wesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind. He illuminated the way by which mankind could cross, from a world of supersition, or hatred and fear to a new world of light, of true love and happiness."

John and I are not very religious. We only go to the temple during Wesak Day and church during Christmas. We are seriously that simple. Although sometimes we failed in many aspects in life, we always try to make every effort we could, to live as decent human beings while trying to make sense of what being 'religious' or 'spiritual' is all about. Later, I concluded that Religion is the Politics of God while Spirituality is the Grace of God.

Dr. Brian Weiss in his book 'Messages From The Masters' pgs.236-238 wrote this :
"The soul has no race, no religion. It only knows love and compassion. When you dig beneath the surface rituals and customs of various religions, you find an amazing similarity of ideas, concepts, and advice. Even the words are incredibly similar.
In the end, it doesn't matter what sort of church and temple we attend, if indeed we choose at all. Like spokes on a bicycle wheel, all paths dictated by the great religions lead to the same center, to godliness and enlightenment. One path is no better or worse than the other. They are all equal.
To paraphrase a teaching found in all spiritual disciplines, the rain falls on the weeds as well as on the flowers, and the sun shines on prisons as well as on churches.
God's light does not discriminate, neither should ours.
There is not one path, one way, one church, one ideology.
There is only one light."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We can not direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.

"We talk about the spirit and spiritual laws of acceptance, cooperation, understanding and enthusiasm. But what value are all of these if there are no charity? Charity is the keynote that allows us to function." - John Roger
That afternoon after the Breakfast Run In Memory Of Ngae, a group of 20 members from the Pacesetters Athletics Club made the day more meaningful by paying the elderly at Rumah Victory a visit.

Everyone of us puts in effort to contribute in our own way, be it in kind or cash. This time, instead of the usual tradition of donating money, John and I decided to contribute some items from their Wish List eg. Face Towels, Medicated Oils, Oats and Analgesic Balms for aches and pains.

In addition to that, Gary used some of the money he collected to purchase some food stuff, while Lyn bought vegetables and Tammy donated handrails and ceiling fans.

Lunch was served by us.

Goh See Kwong, John and Tammy rendered some songs to entertain them.

After that, we adjourned to a famous restaurant nearby for a great lunch.

Yes, it does feel so good to have great friends sharing the same passion. Truly it is not how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness!

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender to the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and strong. Because some day in life, you will have been all these." - George Washington Carver

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In memory of Ngae

After 2 weeks of gloom and doom, I'll like to think of brighter days ahead.

Last Sunday, Wan Yew Leong our former president of the Pacesetters Athletics Club initiated an impromptu memorial run for Ngae followed by breakfast. The turn-out was overwhelming. Wan commented that it was as good as a 30km practise run that he executed some years back. No doubt about that. Many came wearing their sarongs for the very first time (yours truly included) to run and some even ran barefooted (Ngae's trademark). Not that easy but we did it in memory of this man, our fellow runner and friend. I'm sure Ngae will be happy to know that so many of his friends from all over turned up to honour and remember him this way.

At 6am, the Bukit Aman carpark was already filled up with cars and runners were seen busy putting up our bibs 'In Memory Of Ngae Koh Hieng'. At 6.30am sharp, the event began with a short speech by Wan Yew Leong and a touching message from Ngae's wife delivered by Juliana Ali (Ngae's team-mate during the Langkawi Ironman 2009). We then observed a minute of silence after which, everyone was free to run their own distance.

I chose to walk with Lyn, Jenny Lee, Jenny Lim, Wern Jun, Siew Yin, Kien Ho and for the first time, Sofian's wife Tip joined us. She doesn't come out often and that Sunday, she came because of Ngae. We were unusually quiet in the begining. Perhaps, each of us, has our way of reminiscing our friendship with Ngae. Later Lok Chan Chuen caught up with us and broke the ice.

As we chatted, we realized that most of us shared similar feelings we had for Ngae. Feelings of deep regrets, of shame and of guilt. If only one of us cared enough to visit him...if only someone sensed it coming...if only we bothered...if only we knew.
This is life, very often things happened and we are left with...if only.

On that fateful Saturday, while John and I together with a group of volunteers from Pacesetters were busy distributing the New Balance 15km bibs to runners...
while we were packing goody bags and preparing some other stuffs...
while others were having tea and joking or perhaps, some went on a shopping spree..
There was a man, our friend facing his darkest hour. He was not an ordinary man we know - he had run 100km to raise fund for a kidney patient. He survived a 7 day challenge of the Marathon Des Sable running 243km across the Sahara. He conquered 3 Ironmans, did numerous Triathlons and ran countless marathons (barefooted and in his sarong)! He was an ultra runner extraordinaire.
But that evening he was hit by the pangs of solitude, depressed and confused. Something seemed so wrong! He was just waiting for the right time, the right place and the right moment to act. I wondered what was running through his mind at that moment?
Has he ever thought about the further suffering a fall from a height would cause his family and friends?
Has he ever wondered when his body would be found and shocking news his loved ones would receive?
Has he ever thought about life after death?
No, he was lost in his own world.
Many still struggled to get over this for awhile but the reality is, we had lost a friend.
We will live remembering Ngae as he was. Kind, humble, determined, loud, witty, bold, amiable and full of enthusiasm.

That Sunday morning it took Ngae's demise to bond us and to remind us again the important things in life. It also made us ponder our mortality.

As I reflect, I believe I need to do some soul searching and take a deeper look within myself.

"Life is divided into 3 terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future." - William Wordsworth

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dedicated to Ngae

Sat : 15-05-10
Another sad sad day. John and I are saddened by the sudden demise of a friend, an icon, an ultra-marathoner, an ironman and the unique bare-footed runner with sarong named Ngae.
We tossed and turned all night, unable to shake the feeling that it might turn out to be a rumour but it wasn't. While we were both feeling so worn-out from the day's volunteering for the New Balance 15km Run, we couldn't sleep and decided to just stay awake. The news had left our emotions running low and feeling down. I was disturbed.
As a cancer survivor, Ngae went against all odds to perform feats that were beyond him. He overcame the impossible and inspired many runners. To me, he was one superfit strong fella who could sail through every storm and fight anything! So, while I was serving as a Hospis volunteer, it never crossed my mind to visit him although I knew he wasn't feeling well. How thoughtless can I be!
My mind flashed back to some fond memories of Ngae and the one that strike me right now is when he sang this song over the breakfast table at Pasar Rakyat Imbi a long while ago. It was also a song I knew from my youth and I'm gonna dedicate this song back to Ngae.

"I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may be to grey.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
As He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand.
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter,
As the golden stairs I climb.
Every burden's getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.
There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye.
At the ending of the rainbow,
Where the mountains touch the sky."

Ngae, no one knows why but as you return safely home to your Maker, may your soul find peace, comfort and rest. May the sun keep shining on you as you journey to the end of the rainbow where the mountains touch the sky.

You will be greatly missed!

Friday, May 14, 2010

One painful lesson and some favourite things.

Monday : 10-05-10.
I had the most unpleasant and dramatic day at work. I believe I really need to wake up and come to my senses...
That we now live in an era that encourages us to "polish our bosses' shoes" rather than working hard blindly.
That this is an age where most people make it their life's mission to cut the path of happiness short for others at work.

After today, I've learned that it is wiser to join forces with your opponents than to fight them. But then, I learnt it a little late and thus, became the weapon of my own destruction.
Devastated by the turn of events, I'm still bedevilled by the pangs of uncertainty and I remembered my own version of favourite things. I turned to them for comfort.
Sing with me if you can...(borrowed from Julie Andrews The Sound Of Music).

Sun blocks and lotions and lip balms for sunning,
Trophies and medals and prizes from winning,
Massages, deep heats and Milos they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Hot teas and coffees and waffles with butter,
Long distance phone calls and rooms filled with laughter,
Children at playground and gardens with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak
When the bones creak
When the knees go bad
I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so sad.

Pacesetters, movies and poetries in motion,
Mountains and beaches and Old Girls’ reunion,
Bundles of magazines tied up in strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinning,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinning,
And I won’t complain my short shrunken frames,
When I remember my favorite things.

When the joints ache
When the hips break
When the eyes grow dim
Then I remember the good life I’ve had
And then I don’t feel so bad!