July 6, 2014
I’m not that smart or physically gifted but in the end this was a blessing. It made me and makes me try harder. While other people are much more talented, I feel I am able to achieve more due to their complacency. They say “grit” is a better indicator for “success.”
I may not have had stellar marks at university but I felt I knew more than most of my batch mates. I had other interests also occupy my time. To have academics and IQ as the only measures of human potential is, to my mind, quite short-sighted. Sure it is easier to manage what is tangible but it is not always the case that it is what is essential to the individual or to the organisation.
I used to enjoy playing basketball even if I was slow, short, and could not jump very high. I used my brain to counteract my physical limitations. We are so obsessed with winning that we often neglect that what is really important is we strive to better ourselves and we work toward realising our potential: it is about mastery and not success. You say that is what a loser would say but we are so enamoured with being number one and top ten lists that we ignore the fact that certain things are beyond our control. It is not an excuse not to try hard but whatever we attempt needs to be grounded in reality: the prayer for serenity is quite apropos.
My personal best is 33 straight shots made at the free throw line and 7 3-pointers. But what I enjoyed most was passing the rock to help facilitate the scoring of others. My most creative pass was one that I dubbed ‘Not Necessarily Behind the Back’ which was called as travelling by the referee. To this day I am still convinced that it was valid: it was so new and different that it created confusion and understandably led to that call. In high school I was designated as a player-coach of a team that won the championship. The clash of egos was our expected downfall but to everyone’s surprise we never dropped a game despite facing fierce competition. The players were so good that I had the luxury of doing a mass substitution: replacing all 5 players on the court with the bench. Juggling playing time was difficult but the secret of our “success” was that there was no pressure on a handful of players to always perform at peak efficiency. In contrast, my last 2 years were on a team that hardly won. We were not supposed to perform as “well” being a bunch of “nerds.” We may have not been premiers but had heart and played to the best of our ability. The point is to make the best of the cards you were dealt: you may not always get what you want divert your focus instead to what is truly essential.
Do not get me wrong: I endeavour to win every time I compete – it is just not my end all and be all. I still have fond memories of eventually winning a basketball game by 5 in spite of being down by 18 points with 5 minutes remaining on the game clock. That said, I remember distinctly losing 2 games: in both cases we were expected to lose. In the first, there were only 5 of us (which we had trouble even achieving) but 12 3-pointers among us: I think I made 3 of them. We gave our opponents a good run but were defeated when 1 of our players fouled out towards the end of the game. The other one was against a much stronger side. We slowed down the pace to an excruciating tempo. They clearly wanted to run the ball and as a result were obviously frustrated with the speed of the game and made quite a few mistakes. They eventually won but not with the huge margin they expected.
Society loves winners. I am not saying you forego the rules and expectations: you have to play the game if you want to get anywhere. Just try to be conscious of the choices you make and be aware of the compromises and repercussions of your decisions. I am not saying you should abandon idealism just learn to temper it with pragmatism. Our desire to emulate certain people is an evolutionary imperative but it can be tricky given the culture of “celebrity” we find ourselves immersed in. It is now difficult to be your own man more than ever. I am not saying you should not be influenced by others; just be discerning.
June 20, 2014
I was mistakenly waiting for my son to grow up to share my thoughts and views. This allows me to do it asynchronously – even if I think he is not quite ready to take everything in but it allows him to get what he needs when he needs it. I can not wait until I change and be more expressive. I am not one to assume but I suspect the Internet will be around long enough for him to read it. I am not dying (not that I know of!) but I feel I should write while I still can – if Life has taught me anything, you can not anticipate what the future holds; all you can do is try to hedge your bets as best as you can.
I am not that wise (I am not that presumptuous!) but my advanced age has granted me some life experiences. That said, I am still learning. I have always believed that you can learn from everyone: what to do or what NOT to do. Bits of these are available to my son not so that he can avoid “mistakes” entirely but he can make calculated assessments on what to commit knowing what the consequences are. As Bill Gates once said, success is a poor teacher. I know it is hard for parents (myself included) but children should be allowed to make their own mistakes – with the proper guidance, of course. We, as a society, are so hung up on getting it right the first time that we often forget the importance of the process in arriving at the solution. They say youth is wasted on the young – I do not agree with that; they need the extra time to right the ship.
You can (and should) expose your children to different things. You hope certain things stick but in the end it is ultimately their choice. To paraphrase the poet Khalil Gibran, they come from you but are not you. They have their own identity separate from your own.
I have been raised to expect greatness and there are pros and cons to this. My expectations being so high can be viewed as both good and bad. What you can achieve is often surprising but the immense pressure can be a burden. Do not get me wrong, it can be exhilarating to accomplish things but it would not hurt to understand the reasons behind them. In the end, what you do or have done is not as important as the person you are.
I may not always say it or show it but what is paramount is that he knows that I will always love him.
May 1, 2014
Instead of the 3 Rs: Reading, ‘Riting & ‘Rithmetic, , I think it is necessary for schools to adapt what they teach in a post-industrial society. Maybe something like Communication, Logic & Ethics is more appropriate. In a world where professional ethics seems to be a mere afterthought, I think it needs to be integrated with all lessons. I am not saying we should espouse a certain way of thinking but we could better equip each individual to reflect and think deeply about matters for themselves. I think much of scientific enquiry is divorced of more qualitative aspects. I understand why people prefer more quantitative measures: after all, they seem to be more objective and directly manageable. Unfortunately, most vital things are more complicated than that. Like most things there needs to be balance: they are not necessarily equal but both need to be accounted for.
April 27, 2014
in a world of blogs, it was curious (and simultaneously heartening) to encounter a young person taking journalism – albeit part of a double major. The web is a double-edged sword: although it has granted a voice to those that would normally be able to participates, it has at times deteriorated into a shouting match and its accuracy is often questioned – look at Wikipedia. There are pros and cons of anonymity and the wisdom of the crowd. As in most things, balance is the key.
Rather than the traditional claim of a gate-keeping role, the press needs to exemplify integrity and fact-checking without the red tape associated with it. It is hard yakka in a world where it is difficult to distinguish the wheat from the chaff – I guess it is wise to consider the source.
March 30, 2014
this blog is personal – it is not meant to advance a specific purpose. I write to enhance my skill and as a form of therapy: to share and express my feelings. It is there to help clarify and develop my thoughts on various subjects. On occasion, there is a rare insight but that is more of light bulb moment rather an attempt to put forth a formal case – sometimes there is a point but that is not the sole intention of the online journal.
March 29, 2014
there is a belief that you should try to write 15 minutes a day – like exercise it can be habit forming. They say action leads to behaviour (and not the other way around as we are usually told). I am sure it is not original but thinking about it I need to start evaluating my work according to three factors (this may eventually expand based on experience):
1. Audience. Who is it meant for.
2. Argument. It may not always succeed in influencing or convincing others but it should at least try to.
3. Action. What is the desired effect or what do you intend for them to do?
This may be far from being comprehensive but it is a start.
January 27, 2014
we went to this year’s Australian Open for my son’s birthday – unfortunately it was the week of the heat wave. All in all we enjoyed despite the heat and my son not getting an autograph from Nadal.
Aside from seeing a boat-load of player practice sessions, we were able to see the second round match between Nadal and Kokanakis at the Rod Laver Arena with the roof closed. Thanis and Nick Kyrgios bode well for the future of Australian tennis.
I am not one to be fanatical but I admire Sam Stosur’s stroke – not since the backhand of Jusine Henin-Hardin have I viewed such beauty. Some people even positioned themselves at 1 pm in the sweltering sun just to get a glimpse of Federer who was scheduled to practice at 5 that afternoon. It was also nice seeing Rafter play doubles after 9 years – even if they lost during the initial match. Nonetheless, it was amusing to see and hear the Fanatics barrack for each of the Aussies for their various matches.
While there, I was able to catch-up with an “old” and dear high school friend and her family – unfortunately, we were not able to meet-up again due to scheduling conflicts. If we had known there was a kid’s day the day before, we would have booked a flight sooner.
Wawrinka had a good run towards the men’s final – strangely enough, he’s now ranked as Switzerland’s top player and at the same time is a close friend of Roger. He has a “killer” serve and backhand. The “Stanimal” won his 1st championship in 4 sets. Unfortunately, Rafa was plagued with back problems – so we’ll never really know. He fought hard to get back his number 1 world ranking last year despite injuring his knee. After missing 7 months and last year’s open, is it any wonder he showed such emotion for what seemed to me the first time in his storied career. It’s a testament to him that he finished the match when the commentators thought he would surely retire.
Maybe my interest in the sport was rekindled because my son plays the sport, we were at the Open, my view is the racket is part of the player and just not equipment,it is as much mental as it is physical, or a combination of factors.