The Sun (Malaysia)
Be joyful, come what may
APART from school textbooks, most of the books I bought were a long time ago in the early 1970s. I was then working as a tourist guide and spent a lot of time waiting at the airport for flights to arrive.
At a shop in Subang Airport, I purchased Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters written by the last Ranee of Sarawak and The Jungle is Neutral by Colonel Spencer Chapman, a British soldier who survived three and a half years as a guerilla fighter in the Malayan jungle during the Japanese Occupation.
The most inspiring book was the Dictionary of Quotations and when devouring many old and new issues of Reader’s Digest, I always looked for quotations that could be found on many pages.
In the 1990s, I read the local dailies to keep abreast with developments.
The most interesting book must surely be the Guinness World Records, now in its 68th year and published in 100 countries and 23 languages and maintains over 53,000 records in its database.
When very much younger and in good health, idealistic quotations easily impressed or inspired me.
One fine example was the quote by American evangelist Billy Graham who proclaimed: “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
But I am now much older and wiser, and will not be telling others to live by this maxim.
For someone like me, unable to perform physical tasks as well as I used to, the once-inspiring quotation now sounded like mumbo jumbo.
The truth is, there is nothing more important than being healthy and staying alive.
It is bad enough for anyone to be gravely ill, but it would be a double whammy for the wealthy if they cannot be cured with all the money they have.
Those disabled would feel miserable and unable to enjoy life.
Being able to walk normally is better than being chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce as a cripple.
Therefore, my greatest wish for others, especially my loved ones, is to live a healthy lifestyle before it is too late and to stay safe from injuries, infectious diseases, hazardous environments and risky activities that include speeding, rushing, and walking behind parked cars that may suddenly reverse.
So, stay healthy and as long as you are alive, you will eventually get what you want if you truly desire.
Be at peace
My second wish is that you make peace with yourself so that you can also be at peace with others and accept that this world will continue to be imperfect. But wishful thinking will not make it happen.
It requires a continuous process, starting with knowing who we really are such as our strengths and weaknesses, personality and traits, and being aware that we are a product of our environment and experience.
We are unique individuals with our own thoughts and feelings that may be different from others.
We ought to be kind to ourselves and others by forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we made and to others for the mistakes they made.
We should compliment ourselves for doing a great job and be quick to praise others.
We must accept who we really are and accept others who are quite different from us.
My third wish is for you to be happy and it would be wonderful if happiness or sadness could be chosen like switching a lamp on or off.
But we have a myriad of feelings that we experience consciously and emotions in the subconscious realm of the brain.
They exist and cannot be shut off totally.
Taking all the good and bad into consideration and reaching a state of happiness or sadness would only last momentarily.
Therefore, wishing others to be happy may require them to make a choice, which could be a struggle for many.
And even if they choose to be happy, it may just be a fleeting moment.
My wish for you is to be joyful by finding it in everything you see or do, and there could be a thousand and one things if you care to look for it.
Combining the many joys experienced daily would make us happy most of the time.
With practice, one could even find joy while suffering in misery.
The 1997 Italian film Life is Beautiful best epitomises such a situation.
The main character was a Jewish Italian bookshop owner who employed his imagination to shield his wife and son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp where he would eventually be put to death.
Although facing imminent death, he managed to move about in the camp without arousing suspicion and found joy in many things he did and never showed any fear to his son, not even while being marched to the firing squad, as he winked at his son who was too young to understand what was going on.
Incidentally, the movie was the second highest-grossing foreign language film in the US after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, released three years later in 2000 with the theme song A Love Before Time that was sung by Coco Lee, who passed away recently.
I find joy in listening to this song and many other musical videos and love to watch talent auditions from around the globe easily accessible using my laptop.
Apart from learning something new, I also find joy in unlearning and relearning what I know, especially those that are meaningful or useful.
I am not disturbed by my forgetfulness, as I get to enjoy old movies watched years ago or read what I have written a while back, having forgotten most of it.
We should not take life too seriously and ought to see the humorous side.
With a good sense of humour, bad situations would be less stressful for everyone.
In my youth and until today, I find joy in looking at a leaf or a patch of barren land later overgrown with a variety of wild plants that may be short such as weeds or taller as in a thicket, or a pool of water with some small fishes or tadpoles.
A fish aquarium with freshwater grass can look heavenly to me.
Most of the time, I found joy in making others happy by showing courtesy.
While most tend to ignore babies, my wife and I would always engage them whenever we had an opportunity.
Their parents would be amazed at the baby’s response, not knowing children are far more intelligent than adults think.
Even if not in a state of happiness, we can still feel it by choosing to be joyful with many things we encounter daily.
No matter what happens, our lives can certainly become much happier by finding and enjoying the many opportunities that are presented to us each day. So, do be joyful, come what may.
“In my youth and until today, I find joy in looking at a leaf or a patch of barren land later overgrown with a variety of wild plants that may be short such as weeds or taller as in a thicket.