Saturday, April 24, 2010

The (my) idle life

While driving the long way to work the other day, i have this thought, if only our work load is within reasonable level, there won't be such terms as work-life balance, which every other people i know these days are talking about. Nor does one needs to take extended long leave from work, in order to pursue other life interests, if our daily life already allows us to.

Why must we work all the time or risk not being able to survive in the corporate world? Why do the emails keep streaming in, or the phone keeps ringing non stop and the to-do list you created each morning never can gets completed although you already tried to be as efficient as possible? Why do people assume their email recipient is on 7-24 standby to wait for their email with answer on hand to reply to them immediately?

Why do people scream why they couldn't reach you, when they have no idea that they are just one of the many many people who wanted a piece of you but you only have limited time, that even just answering 40 over phone calls telling people that you will get back to them is a demand on your time, a drain to your mental wellness and is non value adding to getting the real job done,

why do people make a request and expected it be completed immediately, as if resources are unlimited and someone else is just standby-ing to address their needs? Why are people getting rude, impatient and disrespectful to others. Why is it that when things doesn't go accordingly to plan, some people threaten and scream and create so much negativity, instead of just being cool and resolve issues via rational discussions and and good problem solving skills, why does a lost phone prototype causes one to commit suicide, why ? It's like every one losses patience and grace under this time crunch environment, such that everything gotta be fast, cramped, high pressured, stressed, reactive, explosive. 

I had a pretty good work review the other day and my boss was happy with my performance. I happen to like my boss and think i couldn't ask for a better boss in this organization, and i enjoyed my colleagues very much as well. But the the job is shitty. And it seems like nothing much can be changed - the workload and the shits (i couldn't find another more polite word to replace this) was supposed to be expected. So anyway, at the back of my mind, all i was thinking was, i need a life.

There are things in life where, while you are capable to do something, it may not necessary be what you want to do. There are times in life when at some point, monetary returns, or the pretty conventional success images, are not as important as pursuing success more intrinsic and closer to heart, not determined by what the outside world views.

Anyway, i am thinking of taking a sabbatical. After 10 years of hectic life(of work), it's time for some idleness, not from life, but idleness from work. To learn a language, do some painting, start a project, read a book, write a poem, relax, be in the present, do something creative and meaningful. :) nice.

I'll draw inspirations from those ancient Chinese high minded scholars, the ones who valued their characters more than achievements, soul more than wealth , poor in worldly possessions but rich in sentiments. Lin Yutang mentioned about these great men in his book, The importance of Living, one of my favorite books for a long time. In one excerpt, he wrote,

" great men of letters of this class, T'ao Yuanming, Sun Tungp'o, Po Chuyi ..." were generally " enticed into a short term of official life, did a wonderful job of it, and then got exasperated with its eternal kowtow and receiving and sending off of fellow officials, and gladly laying down the burdens of an official life, returned wisely to the life of retirement." " Yuan Chung Lang wrote seven successive petitions to his superior, when he was magistrate of Soochow, complaining of eternal kowtow-ings and beggings to be allowed to return to the life of the free and careless individual"

So me too, in modern day Singapore, I'm gonna lay down the burdens of official life and return wisely to the life of retirement. Hmm, life of retirement would be a luxury and i can't afford it anyway. But i think a mini retirement of a year or so would sound great! I'm looking forward to this carefree, 逍遥 life, even if it's for a short duration. :)

Sabbatical - Things to do - Volunteering

There's so much things running in my head on the things i can do and pursue during my personal sabbatical from work it sometimes gets me really excited. I would be driving and suddenly would have some bright ideas on a business plan, or i would be lying on my bed imagining all the things i can do and learn that my mind gets so active i couldn't sleep. Just yesterday, i woke up from bed in the middle of the night googling on volunteering and charity. 

When i was 17, i wanted to be a social worker. After completing my JC studies, my plan was to enroll in the university to be trained in social science.  However, a teacher dissuaded me and convinced me that it was better for me that i go get a traditional professional degree which is a safer bet for a better income job, unless i have a rich dad. I can always do volunteering work or engaged more in charity at any later point in life. I gathered the advice was pretty practical and makes a lot of sense and  hence dropped the idea to be a social worker as my first career.

Since i graduated, work has been relentless and it just gets heavier over the years as i get more entrenched in the working world. I tried to do some charity here and there but time and work demand always work against this wish. This is one of the reasons why i have been having ideas to stop working in the corporate, to start a business or something, to one day have time on my hand,( the new rich (NR) to borrow Timothy Ferriss), so that i can spend time on meaningful things, such on charity, and on things i have interest in.

Anyway, to side track a bit, i recently bought this book, The 4-hour work week from borders, which talks about escaping the 9-5 and it has been a really inspiring read. At least, it provides some hope that this kind of lifestyle is possible.According to the author, the New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design.

Back to my volunteering. I'm considering this or a residential Zen training in my potential to-do -list plans. It's a residential volunteering opportunity where you get to live in the study institute, work on charity and non-for profit projects, study on Buddhism and spend time learning on personal development.Volunteers will live at the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley in shared rooms and receive vegetarian meals, a small living expense stipend, and a full scholarship for Institute classes and workshops

I think it's quite meaningful as i can get to do meaningful charity work (i'm thinking of working on Tibetan Aid Project ) and gets to improve on my knowledge on Buddhism. But as i have other plans to consider, i do need to seriously plan my schedule a bit to see if it works. Otherwise, i will explore other options.

Life is great when you have time on hand! :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In Praise of Slowing Down

Came across this video on TED and it so resonates with what i had been feeling for quite some time, and which i finally took charge recently to do something about it. This is a video by Carl Honore arguing why slowing down is good for us.

In my opinion, there's a place for both slowness and speed. The key is keeping a balance for both. Unfortunately, in our modern society today, most of us are stuck in a rat race, constantly being pressed for time, and relentlessly being expected to achieve more and even more, within less and lesser time.

For me, my speedy rabbit has been let loose for too long. It's time for my inner tortoise to take his turn, to go for a slow leisure walk, smell the flowers and savour another side of life my rabbit has missed. :)

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed (Plus) 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Run for Water 2010

Participated in the DOW LIVE EARTH Run for Water today. This is the first running event i took part since i took up running few months ago and it feels great when i completed it. It's a 6km run, which is the average distance women and children in developing countries walk every day to have access to drinking water.

The run route was quite scenic, starting from the F1 track towards Marina bay and passing by the Singapore Flyer, the Kallang river etc. I rather enjoyed myself, listening to my ipod, taking in the beautiful morning scene and just running at my own pace without stopping. :)

Here's me at the end of the run with my finisher medallion. :)

I tried to lift this water container, I think it's about 2.5Kg, i couldn't carry it up! This is about the ave weight of the water people carry to collect drinking water.

The water village.

Participants resting by the water after the race.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Back from Cambodia

I'm back from Cambodia. Just downloaded my photos and realised that i had took nearly 400 pictures in this 5 days trip in Siam Reap and Phnom Phen!

Angkor was fascinating with its architectures and mythology and all the beautiful rustic sights, with the highlights being Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and the Bayon. Ah, words and photos can't really describe the real thing. You just gotta pay Angkor a visit.

And in Phnom Phen, what really registered with me even now back in Singapore was the depressing visits at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Muesum and the Choeung Ek Killing Field. I only vaguely heard of Pol Pol and the Khmer Rouge and their altrocities before the visit but i really get to learn more and felt the sadness for the victims and the country during this trip. Even when just casually talking to our old tour guide who grew up during this period, i can somehow sense his sadness, disappointment and 伤感. It can feel really heavy at times.. Bought a book on The Pol Pot Regime after that so that i can understand more.

And here's some photos of me with my friends from the trip. :)

And some photos of sights and scenes from the trip.