My Dear Rotarians and friends, in particular my Action Presidents,
The last week was not an easy one for the family and me. I had shared my life and thoughts with some of you and I thanked the kind souls who had taken the time to listen and to console. I would share with the rest of you my hopes, fears and expectation later. Meanwhile, I need to bring myself to the start line for the mission I was chosen to carry out 18 months ago, for “I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.”
On a happier note, I am glad that registrations for the District Installation last week had exceeded 800 and that we have garnered sufficient sponsorship for a modest but dignified program. I look forward to seeing you next Thursday at the Grand Hall of the Convention Centre, with your families and friends. As I have said before, this will be an occasion for us to show the community that we profess to serve what we really are, what we believe in and why. Let us focus on facts, rather than dwelling on myths.
Talking of myths, the mythology I described in my last letter on the two brothers, Pandora and hope apparently went down well with some readers. I had some positive feedback, which had helped me through the week. Well, I would like to believe that classical mythology not only would give us fascinating stories, but also would give us insight on how the Western man first tried to understand himself and the world in which he lived. Indeed, the pursuit of the knowledge of oneself could easily be the most interesting of all human studies, notwithstanding that very few or perhaps none could ever really master the art completely and hence be in the happy position of having perfect knowledge of oneself. While mythology probably could not enhance one’s worldly possession or one’s station in society, particularly in materialistic Hong Kong, it does tend to make one happier and better. Indeed, mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.
Continuing with Pandora, Milton had compared her to Eve in Paradise Lost. “More lovely than Pandora, whom the gods endowed with all their gifts; and O, too like in sad event, when to the unwiser son of Japhet brought by Hermes, she insnared Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged on him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.” I am sorry I have not quoted the passage in the normal stanza format. Prometheus and Epimetheus were sons of Iapetus, but Milton changed him to Japhet. Poor Prometheus has always been a favourite of the poets, probably because he is represented as a friend of Mankind, for he spoke for Man when Jove was angry against them, taught them civilization and the arts, and stole fire from heaven for them. Alas, such good deeds did not find favour with Jupiter who in turn had him chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, where a vulture preyed on his liver, which was renewed as fast as it was devoured. (Now, does that remind you of parallel stories in Cantonese drama oldies screened in the wee hours?) Prometheus could have stopped this continuing grotesque and unpleasant experience any time if he had been willing to submit to Jupiter, for he possessed a secret which involved the stability of Jove’s throne, such that if he had revealed it, he would have been taken into favour by his tormentor. But he never succumbed to the pain, and hence had become the symbol of magnanimous endurance of unmerited suffering, and strength of will resisting oppression. Raymond Wong would recall that he was finally released by Hercules. Byron had also discussed such deeds in his works, but I will spare you his lines, because I have forgotten most of them, except this, “The rock, the vulture, and the chain; all that the proud can feel of pain; the agony they do not show; the suffocating sense of woe.”
Every now and then, friends would send me by email uplifting messages and stories, and I bet that many of these could have been circulating the globe a few times the way that chain letters used to do. I would like to share with you two such passages that I particularly feel for during the week. I am giving you them as I received them, complete with footnotes. It you have seen them before, just read on.
Father and Son
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah” said the son. “So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four.” “We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.” “We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.” “Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.” “We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.” “We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.” “We buy our food, but they grow theirs.” “We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
With this the boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are.”
Footnote: Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession? It is all based on one’s perspective. Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks to God for all the bounty we have been provided by Him, instead of worrying about wanting more. May God bless each and every one of you. Take joy in all He has given each and every one of us, especially our friends.
Go for someone who makes you smile
Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.
When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had.
It’s true that we don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it, but it’s also true that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives. Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they’ll love you back! Don’t expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart but if it doesn’t, be content it grew in yours.
It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone. Don’t go for looks; they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.
There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real! Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy. Always put yourself in others’ shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.
Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss and ends with a tear. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past, you can’t go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.
Footnote: Please send this message to those people who mean something to you, to those who have touched your life in one way or another, to those who make you smile when you really need it, to those that make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down, to those who you want to let them know that you appreciate their friendship. And if you don’t, don’t worry, nothing bad will happen to you, you will just miss out on the opportunity to brighten someone’s day with this message.
The Next Issues
This is my last letter to you as Governor-elect. Next week, I would be Governor. I intend to continue with these letters, for more than one reason. First, and I told you this before, I think I can handle letters better than phone calls. Secondly, I have found the exercise rather therapeutic. Thirdly, it gives me a forum to say what I want to say, without interruption, interference and objection when I am doing it. What more can I ask for?
See you at District Installation on 29 June 2000 at the Grand Hall of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre New Extension. Come at 6:00p.m. for fellowship and cocktail. The ceremonies start at 7:30p.m. sharp; dinner will be served around 8:15p.m. and the evening’s program will be over by 10:30p.m.
Talk to you soon.