Turning 60

June 23, 2008

So Dad turned 60.

His birthday celebrations were pretty low-key but frankly with the amount he travels, the fact that my brother’s in camp and that I’m never at home, it was nice just to have dinner together. Dad seemed fairly nonchalant about turning 60 and was more pleased with the porridge buffet we had today than the considerably more posh (and more expensive) dinner yesterday. Somehow.

Over dinner he commented that he wasn’t very interested in celebrating his 60th birthday but thought that we should have a bigger celebration for his 30th wedding anniversary with Mom (next year). He reasoned that any idiot could turn 60 and it was a totally passive accomplishment BUT 30 happy years of marriage was something else and that was worth celebrating. Dad can be such a charmer! He’s such a sweetie. Hee.

The humble gratitude with which my Dad’s approaching his 60th makes me happy. There is something to be said about being blessed. Not just being blessed by material wealth or health or intellect or friendship or family. Indeed God has blessed us with all these things (and more). But about the ability to recognize and bask in a deep seated feeling of blessedness. It kinda reminds me of this verse from Isaiah –

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

– Isaiah 55:2

I know too many young people who have lost the ability to recognize and be thankful for blessings in their lives. Somehow, the jadedness of God-knows-what has cast a dismal shadow over their soul. But today, my soul is delighted that after 60 good years, Dad’s soul still delights itself in abundance.  There is something true and pure and beautiful about that.

God is good. 🙂

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11.5km

June 20, 2008

From the Straits Times –

“During the June 8 Saucony 100PLUS Passion Run, for example, participants who signed up for the 10km race literally went the extra mile. According to competitors’ foot pods – devices that calculate distance – they covered 11.5km.”

I’m sure this would piss some people off but frankly, I thought it was hilarious. At least the other runners could get their foot pods to work. My sensor just kept picking up other people’s signals! Anyway, it’s good to know that I overshot my new year’s resolution by 15%.

Damn this flu. I so feel like a run now.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry (1985)

Perhentian pilgrimage

June 16, 2008

Perhentian is my happy place.  Admittedly, the 2nd trip back killed a little bit of the magic of the first trip but I hadn’t been on a decent holiday since Spain in May 07 so I was thrilled just to be sitting on a beach doing bugger all.

10 wonderful things about Perhentian in 2008.

  1. Floaties.  Why didn’t I think about bringing them the last trip?!  Sitting in a large neon green swim ring and bobbing about in the bay without a care in the world is a friggin’ fantastic way to spend an afternoon.
  2. Shakes.  3 times a day.  Till they are flowing out of your ears.
  3. BBQ.   Sotong. Satay.  Yum!
  4. Lying on the beach under the night sky with a screwdriver (the drink, not the tool) in one hand.
  5. Snorkelling.  It wasn’t as good as the last time and I wasn’t feeling well (flu) so I didn’t go on the second trip but swimming around with the fishies is pretty fun.
  6. “The Long Way Round”.  My holiday reading was a book about Ewan McGregor and some other dude taking their bikes from London to NY.  It’s not even a fictional book but I realised that it was the first time in long while that I read something just for the sake of reading it.
  7. Managing to avoid a serious sunburn.  I have a weird tan on my back because I’m inept at putting sunblock on myself but it is my own damn fault really.
  8. Swimming in the sea.  After running a lot (by my standards) in the last couple of months, it was nice to swim around for a bit.  Although for a few brief moments, I did wish that I’d brought my running shoes along because running on the beach seemed like a fun thing to do.
  9. Spending time with the girls is always nice.
  10. Not wearing a watch for 4 days straight.  Having nothing to do on my to-do list.

All in all, a fun trip.  Except for the bit where I fell sick and had to hide in my room and try to sleep off the flu.  Even then, the luxury of sleep is pretty cool.  I really should do this more often.

“But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

I was sent the link to J.K. Rowling’s Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.  It’s an awesome speech – a nice mix of optimism and responsibility.  It awakens the activist in me.  I like.  🙂

Like the declaration of independence, I think the pursuit of happiness is an “unalienable right”. Maybe happiness is one of those things – like love, illusive but meant to be pursued with enthusiasm and vigor.

Well, at a recently discussion on economics of happiness and its implications on public policy, I exclaimed (without thinking), “Yah. But we don’t want to be a Bhutan!!.” Nothing against Bhutan, which I’m sure is a lovely place, but the Type A in me can’t stand the idea of happiness as an end point to be achieved, after which you fold your arms and bask in the glow of contentment. How boring!

(Now that I’ve written it out, it sounds totally terrible. I have a heart. Really.)

Anyway, I’m up at 2am in the morning because I’m doing work (I just finished). There is something about the solitude of the early morning, the ache of sore muscles after a long run, the tiredness that comes with a couple of very productive hours of work and the buzz of ideas in my head that makes me very happy indeed.

Shy that way

June 8, 2008

This song is just adorable.  🙂