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Life is fragile, appreciate it

People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. It’s too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies.

Haruki Murakami

Life is indeed a lot more fragile than we think. Don’t you think so too? Read a heartbreaking piece of news this morning, ‘Girl, 16, dies after being flung out of van.’ According to the paper, “The first-year ITE College East student fell out of a van when its side door slid open as it made a turn at a carpark.” This set me in a pensive mood during my morning walk. Too often we have taken life for granted. Tragedy like this can occur at any time. It makes me realise, and I hope it makes you realise too, how fragile life really is.

If we are not counting our blessings every day and aren’t grateful for them before our day is done, we are taking life for granted. Sometimes, it take tragedies in life to remind us the true value of life and how beautiful it really is.

In recognition of the fragility of life, my intention is not to preach living so cautiously to the extent that we are afraid of doing anything that could endanger our lives and to the extent that we forget to live. I just want to live consciously instead. I am also not saying not to take risks in life. I believe instead that we must live life to the fullest, we must take risks but not be reckless.

Living consciously means getting your eyes off the small display, ranging from 4 to 9.7-inch, in your hands. Immediately you are rewarded with an almost 180-degree horizontal field of view in front of you. Not to mention that with eyeball rotation of about 90° (head rotation excluded, peripheral vision included), horizontal field of view is as high as 270° (thank you Wikipedia). Conscious living also means making connections; making eye contacts, smiling, conversing and engaging in lives around you. It is being mindful of the beauties of life all around us. It is about being here and now; seeing, listening, speaking, tasting and feeling.

Bungee jumpingBesides living consciously, I want to live life fully, try more, take more risks, pursue my dreams and engage in more things that make my heart pounds faster. I love the thrills from activities like bungee jump (checked), tandem skydiving, hang gliding etc and these are all in my bucket list. I understand the higher risks involved in these activities. And precisely because of the higher risks, much precautions and safety measures are taken in them.

Furthermore, there are risks involved in all that we do but the difference lies in whether we are taking risk or being reckless. There is risk in driving but texting while driving is reckless. In doing that, we are not only endangering the lives of other road users but we are also endangering that of our own.

To really appreciate life is to live consciously. And because life is fragile, all the more I must live it fully and be ever ready to take risks. Quoting Steve Jobs, “… remembering that your are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” What do we have to lose? As the saying goes, “The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.”

How do you appreciate life?
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If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

Jim Rohn

Are you feeling defeated at this point in your life? Do you have 5 minutes to spare me? Click to watch the inspiring video based on the true story of a group of children in Koh Panyee, a little island in the south of Thailand. It is a floating village in the middle of the sea that has not an inch of soil. The children there loved to watch football but they had no place to play or practice. Guess what they did?

When there was nothing they could do, they did something; they create. Paraphrasing what Jim Rohn said, “They really wanted to play football and they found a way to do. They certainly did not let the lack of space became an excuse. What they did is simply amazing and it goes on to inspire and change the lives of future generation on the island.

Were there times in your life where you had really wanted to do something and you just went on to find a way or to create one?

Personally, one such experience happened back in 2005 during a business trip in the Philippines. I had an appointment to give a presentation to a group of students in a college about 2 hours away from Davao city. The journey consisted partly in a cab and in a jeepney (a type of public transport in the Philippines). I couldn’t remember neither a thing during the rides to the college nor the conversation I had with my friend. However, I could remember clearly, as if it has just happened yesterday, what happened when I was at the college.

Upon reaching the college, I was led to their lecture theater with a group of 20-30 students waiting anxiously for me to set up my projector and laptop. Without any delay, I got down to setting up the projector and the laptop, only to find out that the laptop had failed to start up. What did I do facing the group of students? I could give the most sincere apology and I was sure they would forgive me. Or I could continue to give my presentation? There wasn’t any laptop in the college which I could borrow and even if they had passed me a laptop, the presentation slides are in my laptop. When there seemed to be nothing else which I could do, I did something.

Seeing a whiteboard at the side, I asked for some whiteboard markers. I guess you would have guessed what I was going to do. The only challenge was, I have never done the presentation on the whiteboard before although I have done it countless times in the laptop. Surprisingly but not unexpectedly, as I started to write on the whiteboard, bits and pieces of the presentation came together just as I had always done for the presentation. And judging from the responses and participation from the students, it went even better than I thought. The presentation was more personal and engagement with the students were better.

I don’t deny that consistent practice made the first time presentation on the whiteboard a breeze. Yet when I looked back upon the incidence, I realised that I had really wanted to give that presentation and I found a way to do it. If I didn’t want to do it, I could have easily found the excuse too, especially since I had a valid one.
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Life does not always offer a second chance, sometimes it is now or never

Life does not always offer a second chance, sometimes it is now or never.

“You dun always have next time, sometimes it’s now, or never.” That was the last sentence typed by a dear friend before she signed off and went to bed.

“Today bought something very interesting.” That was the start of my little discussion with my friend last night; she bought two necklaces yesterday and she was showing me the picture of them and telling me excitedly that the gold inside the glass necklace moves or rather floats. Her excitement got me interested and I was asking how much she paid for it as I was thinking of getting one for myself as a gift for someone.

The discussion continued with the design of the necklace and then it led to gift giving.

Being a guy, I asked her for her opinion, “Would girl like this? From your experience.”

I agree that that was a dumb question. She laughingly wrote, “How would I know? Everyone is different.” I had to agree she was right. Giving gift is an art. There are a few considerations about the person whom we are giving the gift; the likes and dislikes of the person and how close we feel about the person. I said ‘how close we feel’ instead of ‘how close we are’ because sometimes to the person, the feeling may not be mutual.

We came to the conclusion that it really depends on individual.

Then she said. “Well, I wouldn’t suggest giving necklace or any jewelry unless you know her very well or already dating.” “Earrings maybe, if you roughly know what she likes; studs or chandelier, pearls or crystals etc.” “Because I won’t wear it if I don’t like it. So I said, unless you know what she likes.”

Yes, I must say that that was my main, or rather the only concern whenever I gave necklace or jewelry to girls and so I totally agree with what she just said. And yet when it comes to gift giving, sometimes I can be very irrational and follow my intuition; if I like it, I will buy it.

I confessed to her that during my university days, I spent about $500 from my saving to get a diamond necklace for a girl I like and in fact I told her I love giving necklace as a gift to someone special. My rationale has always been simple, “If I don’t give now, I may never have another chance again.” Didn’t Robin Williams said, “Seize the day,” in the character he played in the movie ‘Dead Poet’s Society?’

Sometimes we analyse so much and so deeply that we fail to take action. We have to learn to take risks and chances. I have come to realise that as we grow older, we are plagued more by the things we didn’t do than by the things we did. I would rather talk about the things I did then to look back in regrets to all the ‘Should haves,’ ‘Might haves,’ ‘Could haves,’ etc. I told my friend, “It can be very painful living in the should have been.” Life is not in the past or in the future … life is here and now.

And that was when she replied, “Yup. You dun always have next time, sometimes it’s now, or never!”

Today will never come again. Be a blessing. Be a friend. Encourage someone. Take time to care. Let your words heal and not wound. Take risks and chances. Let make it a good one! Let us live life to the fullest and leave as little as possible to regrets!
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