A meaningful life – what should we hold most dear.

As cognitive beings with limited life-spans, we have sought to define and find meaning in what makes a ‘life’ meaningful, so,

When we breathe our very last few moments, we can say to ourselves: “It’s been a good run”

I’ve been a very competitive spirit from young, always preferring to say: “that’s ok, that will be mine soon” instead of “why does he have it and I don’t” whenever a pocket of envy arrives.

But as I became a parent and started to see my parent’s age and how fragile our mortalities are – my ambitions have somewhat mellowed and taken a turn.

Kei at 1 year old, Ricoh GR II. 

Let’s start with a few facts.

  1. It is not likely that all of us will strike a multimillion lottery to live happily ever after, a small minority of us will, but not likely a significant number of us. 
  2. If we die on the job, I am pretty sure a replacement will be doing whatever you deemed most important within the next 24 hours.
  3. We don’t get to re-live our lives like the immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii)

And I think what’s nice about ‘Life’, (assuming it’s sentient here), is that life does remind us nicely sometimes to focus on what’s important.

Jan 1, 2019 was marked with trauma with Lynn (the junior at now 2 years old) suffering a very bad bout of stomach pains (think scrunched up, cold sweat, high fever) with a rush to and ending up, a stay in the hospital. 

We were told if we are lucky its a case of stomach flu, and if not, a case of intussusception which will require intervention to realign the intestines. 

The school term was starting the next day, and if you are in teaching – you pretty know that it is a big no-no to not be around on the 1st day of school to clear out the crapload of admin work, and so I went to work, with the wife and me taking turns to ensure Lynn never felt she was left alone. 

And so my 1 Jan till around 10 Jan was marked by a blur rush of between hospital , home and work, even clearing a school camp etc while working on a slew of projects due on a monthly basis. 

But in the end, I am not complaining, nor am I angry at fate or whatever you call it. I was relieved that despite so I had managed to be there for my kid, my family and to work with people along the way offering support or even just a word of comfort. 

I was relieved that I am blessed enough to have a support network to call upon and that we had planned enough for last min surprise expenses. 

Maybe my answer to this age-old question will be a simple word: 

Relationships.  

We can work our ass off at work, but given a poor relationship with the boss, you will go nowhere. We can sell our kidneys to feed the family, but given a poor family relationship, you will probably don’t want to be at home. We can ask for help, and if given that if a person has only built weak relationships, help will be hard to come by. 

Whereas, if one has always lived right, credible and spent time working on positive relationships with others, life can be kinder and yes, more liveable. We will have a support network which is mutual and nurturing. 

Of course I am still pragmatic , and in case you were wondering the hospital stay wasn’t free – with a bill totalling approx SGD3000, mostly paid off with private insurance bought (the government shoved down on your throat insurance is crappy at best

Rather its a balance that I strongly feel we need to work on, bosses will want you to work 24/7, 365 and a quarter days if they can do so, but I will want to live a life where I wake up in the morning while the sun has not risen to put in a reasonable amount of hours in giving back to my job and society, be able to reach home before the sky turns dark again to spend quality time with my family and whom/what I hold dear and this will be my focus, working in a balance. 

Lynn all well after the hospital stay, Fujifilm X100F

And a final tip: 

Also true is that while we invest the best of ourselves in caring for others, it is ok and important to take care of yourself too, so we don’t end up as a burden as far as possible to our loved ones. 

Here’s wishing that you will have a good year ahead, one that you can invest right in and make meaning of. 

Thank you for reading.

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