Thursday, June 25, 2009

Command and Control

One of the desperate feelings that grips me from time to time is the feeling of loss. More so loss of control over life's directions.

When I was around 40, I told myself that I need to plan for my retirement. So I mull and pondered over all the possible options. Now more than 10 years later, I find myself not any closer to any answers.

I love coffee, photography, and food. Operating a small corner coffee stall, like a mini starbucks, was one idea that I know will be wishful thinking - but fun to think about. I am not cut out to be a serious photographer - eyesight not too great and shaky hands. Food? My wife is now a better baker and cook than I am. She has overtaken me leaps and bounds. When we first got married - I was the chef. She was good for the rice, fried eggs and fried vegetable. Today, I only good for fried eggs. Even at this, my youngest does a better job!

Coming from a line of administrators, I never expected a great career where I will be high and mighty in some multinational corporation. But life do have surprises. I had my fun times - like getting aircraft manufacturers to admit that they screwed up on some technical designs and then getting compensated!. Had a chance to be a "mighty connected" executive with blackberry. I gave up the blackberry a few years later - time alone was more precious than the false promise of prominence.

Being in the "post 50" stage, what should I do? Retirement is just round the corner. I would like to quit my job and work in Ikea - wearing sneakers, fixing shelves, moving about, getting sweaty - but I am not finanancially independent. Guess I will never be ......

So now at the twilight years of my life I am caught. But over the past weeks I come to realise that in life, there are always options. And each option has a cost to it. Not quite a "zero sum game" situation but similar. In all choices, we lose some and gain some. However I had difficulty in selecting choices because I did not change my mindset - like in management gurus' term paradigm change.

And so at the twilight years of my life, I realised I needed to change my worldview of life itself. Life basic needs will always be there - but the issue is how much should I be reacting towards meeting needs. More crucial now is, has my life purpose change?

In some degree it has. I seem to see more clearly now what I want to do because I am now less distracted with many of the concerns of life. Age puts dampers on distractions!

By God's grace, I am looking forward to these coming years. I want to put much effort in helping the next generation. Now I am a wee bit satisfied that I still in some control of my life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Curve Balls

Ever notice that life has a way of throwing "curve balls" at you? 30th April 2009 was a special day for me. I took leave so as to enjoy a longer weekend as 1st May, labours day, was on a friday. I had purposed that I will wake early to catch the sunrise. The pictures below were the better ones ...

The picture below was taken to try out the 18mm. I am truly well pleased with the 18-200 lens.

200mm of course ....

To make the day memorable, I retured in the evening to catch the sunset. But we were late and the picture below was taken by Ben. I like his composition ...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeling Old

Went running last Tuesday with Ben. Tim was on the bike. I would love to write that I ran at such pace that neither of the boys could keep up. However I do realize that such fantasies are actually good for me! It somehow gives me the motivation to continue - the hope that my next run will be more or better.

Was I happy with that run? I was both disappointed and happy. Disappointed because I still cannot breach the 1 km mark. Happy because my knees are holding up. Disappointed because I have not lost any weight. Happy because I have an activity that I can sweat and at the same time retreat from the constant echo of uncompleted office assignments.

I also come to realize, after the last run, how clumsy I have become. Sitting in a car, doing mostly administrative work has lulled me into a sense of time freeze. I only remember myself as when I was much younger and more agile. That run brought reality back in.

I never used to be introspective over my physical being. When I was much younger, introspection was focused mainly on my failures - be it situational or emotional. Now I am very aware of my physical being. I am becoming like my mom - thick skin. I am no longer shy of what others think of me.

Aging is strange. It makes one feel old. Yet in this aging, I feel more aware of many things I never realize as important. I wonder what I will be saying in 5 years time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

this Morning

Friday at last. In many ways this week was not one of the more pleasant ones. But that is life. After a lifetime of looking back, many times I forget to look ahead.

As usual, got to get up earlier and leave the house by 7 am so as not to get caught in the rush hour traffic for work as I had to drop Ben off at his school. Ben as usual struggled along. As I left the house, I realized that the sky was clear. Another hot day ahead. After dropping Ben off at the center, I prepared myself for the next portion of the journey that would take me about 45 mins at best.

Leaving Puchong Prima is often a stressful event. However as I was negotiating the traffic I was confronted with one of the most beautiful sights of the sky I have noticed in a while.

The rising sun, was hidden behind a blanket of high level clouds. The rest of the sky was a blue with dashes of "cotton" clouds spotted with grey clouds from the night before. The edges of these clouds was glowing with the reflection of the morning sun. Blue, with golden yellow hues dashed with while and grey.

I wound up on the slower lane. And I told myself that at least I have more time to enjoy this wonderful sight. I was about 7 minutes behind my schedule.

How I wished that I was on leave, with my D60 and a tripod.

Strange how a simple change in what we focus on can change our perspective at the start of the day. Instead of looking at the traffic jam and the other vehicles, a simple look up to the magnificient beauty of the morning totally replaced the stress with a peace and rest.

I wonder how is tomorrow morning .....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crazy over lenses

And so I return after a long break .......
Time seem to fly nowadays. As the global unease over the economic situation mounts, so too did work in the office. To find time after work is tough. More and more, the only break I find is the lunch break. By 5.30 in the afternoon, the mind is a blank and I am am only thinking of food - those nice sweetened and calorie rich fat inducing saliva stimulating desserts....

I finally bought the 18-200mm nikkor lens for my D60 today. I have been eyeing that lens for more than a year. Recently I had the chance to try out the Sigma 18-200mm. I liked the feel and the pictures. BUT the focusing ring sits just at edge of your palm. So when you take a shot, you will find that ring turning against your palm - yikes. Also the zoom ring is located right at the base. I find it hard to sit the lens on my palm. In fact I was quite dissapointed with the design.

I tried the Nikkor. Ergonomics won. Even though it was much more expensive than the Sigma
the lens just sits into your palm and you just focus and shoot. I was surprise that Tim told me that it felt good - given that the lens is heavier than the 18-55mm we are used to.

My wife had been urging me to buy that lens for over 2 months now. She was even willing to pay for half the lens! The truth, I believe is so that I would just stop pinning about the 18-200mm. Strange that I am actually quite a whiner. Now I understand proverbs where it said that it is better to sleep on the roof than in the same room of a nagging wife.

Am I happy with the lens? Well I only manage to get about 10 shots - about 20 minutes shooting time. The rest was taken up by both Ben and Tim. I like the results - but I am no pro.

I was actually quite apprehensive after spending a significant portion of savings to get the lens. But to see both the boys enjoying the lens put things in perspective and gave me some respite from my conscience. My family enjoys this too! I find it a great blessing to share common ground with the boys and wife. We all enjoy good well taken pictures. We all also enjoy taking pictures. We talk about taking good pictures - we are no pros... just "juara kampung"

I recall the time when I was entering my teens when I woke up one day and realised that I had drifted apart from my dad. After that we only shared "polite" conversations over superficial topics. We seldom had heart to heart communication. Even when dad was dying in hospital, the daily visits was good - but we could never touch heart to heart. I wanted so much to hug him and tell him how grateful I was for all his sacrifices. We did not have common ground. It was too late to find common ground.

Friday, January 23, 2009

of Being rich

It was my boys that helped me conceptualized the meaning of being rich. I always had a one dimension view of being rich.

My first encounter with richness was when I attended my primary 1 (grade 1) friend's birthday bash. His parents were millionaires. He was chauffeured in a hugh Lincoln car. Those days the "normal" man uses Austins.

His driver came and picked me up from home. When we reached his home - bungalow of course - we were ushered into a corner together with other kids. We were given party packs of goodies and some toys. Dinner was party plates of tidbits from the table. The adults were gathered in the hall. Of the roast pork, I vividly remember each of us just getting a piece of the skin!! Perhaps this explains my strong affinity towards roast pork - reaction to my childhood denial!

We are all just onlookers. My classmate opened his presents. For me then, those toys only happen in dreams. He was telling us that the coming holiday he will be off to Hong Kong and would like one or two to join him........

I never realized how deep an impression it made in me. After the "discovery" that the word "rich" is meaningless by itself, I must say I find that incident bitter sweet.

I have now a very simplistic definition of rich - having lots of ....... something.
If it is money, then we are money rich. If it is rice, then it is rice rich or friends rich or time rich or health rich and so on.

I thank God for my wife making me companion rich, my boys making me ego rich (!!), my job making me "frustration" rich, my New Balance 768 jogging rich, the homecell members for making us friends rich

In a sense nowadays I have less tendency to desire to change my HiFi toys, Car, camera and tools. But it does not mean I do not yearn for them. I find myself more pinning for time. Time for the boys, for my wife, for myself.

Often I used to be assailed by the concern on being adequate for my retirement. Now I am coming to realised the need to enjoy the richness I have daily. Soon, I will be donning the NB768. The joy of being able to have time, health and energy to jog! I believe that the boys will be coming along too - one on his NB 767 and the other on his 20 inch bicycle. And sorry darling wife, I will be late for dinner!