July 30, 2013

my wife’s cousin’s husband helped (who am I kidding, he did it mostly himself) us put together our “new” exercise bike.  Fortunately, he was around because we would not have much success assembling it without him.  Ease to manufacture does not usually translate to ease of assembly. During the frustrating part of putting things together, the corporation’s bottom-line is far from the consumer’s mind.  It reminds me of the question posed to the person sweeping and their answer of building God’s house.  More often than not, we do not see how our simple roles contribute to the fruition of something greater that we cannot accomplish on our own – it’s not the actual task but how this fits in the “grander” scheme of things.

We, of course, thanked him for his help.  It made me think of how this “small” act might “snowball” to something larger and what effect it will have.  We often forget how mundane and inconsequential things can have a significant impact.  Although there often is no direct causation, I can only guess at what flow on effects there will be. I am a big believer that we all make our own luck but lately I catch myself thinking the alignment of planets may have some part to play. I wonder what “dominoes” have been set in motion.

last Sunday, we took my wife’s cousin and her husband for lunch at Stamps in Mitcham.  It was to treat them for staying at our house while we were away.  Also, it was an excuse for us to eat out. I’m thrifty but I don’t mind spending on food.  The way I view food is not purely utilitarian: you eat just not to live. It’s okay not to like things if you’ve at least tried them.  That said, certain things are an acquired taste so you need to exercise some judgement.

I think delayed gratification can pay dividends.  I save so that I can afford what I want.  Little things eventually add up.  I draw distinctions on pure needs versus mere wants. I set aside funds for the future and for a rainy day – not just hoping the present will go on without some hitch.  You can’t only think of the here and now but also consider the long-term.  We are not as invincible as we think so we better be prepared.

It’s partly who I am but I think my parents and grandparents helped imbue fiscal responsibility.  Even at a tender age I was taught to use money wisely and to not just look for bargains but real value.  My life experiences also help.  In school, I saw some of my classmates practically “throw” money away.  At home, I was fortunate enough to see our financial standing improve – without the earlier days, I would be hard-pressed to be “grounded”.  I’ve heard of stories in Ayala Alabang of individuals who found it hard to adjust to “diminished” fiscal resources.

I always used to wonder why I was given a “lump sum” for uni while my other siblings received weekly allowances.  I guess it can be viewed as vote of confidence – they knew I would have a go at making the money last.  In the end, I managed the funds well enough last for my entire stay at college.  Moreover, I “stretched” my meager student’s stipend to help subsidise local trips with my now wife during breaks.  There is a method to my madness.

I’m also learing hot to “cheat” in oder to bring balance.  As with most things. moderation seems to be the key.

quality and quantity

July 27, 2013

most people think that quality and quantity are mutually exclusive – and they are mostly right.  However, that is no reason to aim for both in my writing.  Sure I may not be always successful as this may not always be the case, but I think it is worth it.  I know Yoda espouses that there is no try, just doing which is very Zen –  but I reckon that trying your best is just as important.

relax don’t do it

July 26, 2013

it’s not like I don’t understand people when they say “just” relax – no matter how hard I try,  sometimes my body has other ideas.  Not that it is so easy (as I’ve learned from experience).  My being highly strung and a control freak certainly doesn’t help matters.  It’s a skill to be mastered – for me at least.

I usually go “floppy” for physiotherapist but sometimes you’ve got to remind me.  I try to breathe to quell my instinct to offer up any resistance – most of the time it works. It’s not as easy as some people think or make it out to be.  It may sound counter-intuitive – but I have to expend a lot  of energy to get to the required state of relaxation.

it was made clear to me that I sometimes communicate aggressively or passively and even both at the same time.  I was always aware of the former but not the last two – I’m not sure what it’s a function of or how long I’ve been that way. I know that communication is much more than the message it’s also the tone and nonverbal cues – but how do you convey these using the written word; I guess that’s why some prefer video chat.  I need to be more assertive rather than aggressive.

Although typing is “slow”-going for me, at least I can be readily understood.  I appreciate having a “voice” more than ever – speech synthesis is just not the same but it’ll have to do.  Even if I’m stuck to the walker until the end of my days, it’s my ability to talk and be readily and timely be understood that eventually is gained back so that I can participate in meetings, be in the classroom again, or even hold a meaningful conversation.  Since I’ve got ears, maybe this is Nature’s way of telling me to keep quiet and listen intently to others.

this does not come naturally for me and this is reinforced by force of habit. I am told to look at things instead of negatively as I am prone to do so – that’s my default setting. I plan for the worst and often make contingencies.  I should alternatively focus on ability than disability.

I’m often told to think about others who are worse off than me – well-intentioned as it is I’ve got several problems with this.  It makes me even sadder: I’ve never taken pleasure in the misery of others – cause that what effectively it is.  And although I can empathise, you can’t just lump all people with impairments together, we all have different stories – this is made even more difficult since they’re not sure what I have.  What one can still do should instead be emphasised – admittedly this is hard for me going from two jobs to none.  I try to use my “new found” time to better myself and become  more functional.  People say I’ve got an excuse from getting out of the housework – that’s little consolation for me since I’m used to doing those things.

As expected, I went through some of the stages of grief.  I’m sort of better now but I still grapple with my situation. It’s not about bravery nor courage as others understandably assume, but rather about acceptance and learning how to do things again (sometimes differently).

I’m encouraged to be thankful and to write down at least three things I’m grateful for everyday – although I can’t always jot them down, thinking about things that way does help me.  Being more optimistic does help but the 2nd law of thermodynamics can at times complicate things.

I’ve not had a major “episode” for a while now – I’m not sure how much is due to mellowing with age or my altered circumstances (I neither drive nor work now.)  Part of is my high expectations and another is my very nature.  I try not to bottle up my emotions or expect others to do what is “right” – I still struggle with those demons but I’m gradually managing it better.  It’s difficult when your vision goes all red – I’m just trying my best to steer clear of those triggers but unfortunately  you can’t always avoid them. It was so bad that I once made a grown man cry – it’s a strange mix of pride and regret. My son sometimes refers to me as “angry dad”. It’s something I’m working on. It’s unlikely that this will disappear all together – I just need to be much more conscious of it.

Part of what attracted me to my wife is that she’s the only person that I’ve met that doesn’t  shy away from me when I’m in the midst of a black mood.