Weather Talk

My Dear Rotarians and friends, in particular my Action Presidents,

First, we had the warmest May in fifty something years; then the coolest June for don’t know how many years; and even as I was typing away the first two lines, I found that the tropical typhoon signal No. three was up. I wonder what the weather would be like by the time you read this.

In Camelot, Guenevere spoke of the lusty month of May when tons of wicked little thoughts appeared, when everyone made vows that everyone would break, and everyone made divine mistakes. Well, if kings and queens could get away with that and blame it on the weather of May, I suggest one shouldn’t really be too harsh on oneself. After all, one of the 21 suggestions for success by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. is “Be forgiving of yourself and others.”

We often come across people who are prepared to forgive themselves or others, but not both. This is very interesting. I have learned that forgiving needs plenty of practices, and my personal experience has been that it is easier to be forgiving of others than of oneself. Every time I come to this point, I recall the one liner, “To err in human; and to forgive, divine.” And if I still don’t get any joy, there is always the recourse of switching to a liquid diet temporarily, but I would not recommend you to do this on your own. Always do it with friends. That’s what friends are for.

We had a fair share of rain last week. Monday morning, we had the black rainstorm warning up for a few hours. The rain disrupted traffic, classes and the bourse. Then it became cooler, unseasonably cool, which was rather pleasant. It rained almost all week. It rained on Saturday when we were coming out of Tai Po’s Anniversary Dinner and it rained on Father’s Day, once again, rather unseasonable, for the Day was meant to reflect the warm and sunny side of the father.

Personally, I like rain. I have always liked rain. Many years ago, we had long dry spells and at the worst time, we had only four hours water every four days. That was terrible. We don’t need that, do we? I always say that if it rains, we get wet at worst, but if it doesn’t, we perish, for certain. On the MacLehose Trail, we always hope for rain. Rain would keep our cool longer and make us walk faster. We have often heard that love is Nature’s way of giving, etc., but I say that rain is Nature’s way of giving. Without rain, the earth would dry up and nothing would survive. Rain has tremendous cleansing effects. It cleans and clears the air. It gives rise to rainbows. It gives hope.

Talking of rainbows reminds me once more of the Tai Po function last Saturday. It was one of the more pleasant Rotary functions of the nature. The song “Over the rainbow” was sung once to technical perfection by a guest artiste and performed beautifully a second time by handbells. The Group actually called themselves “Gloves Handbell”. It is the only community handbell choir in Hong Kong with 13 properly trained musicians from different professions. The Group’s mission is to share with others the heavenly sound and to promote handbell music in Hong Kong. Heavenly sound indeed! In fact, if that was Heaven, nobody would want Hell; and the world would be a much happier place. Well, the Group had certainly achieved their mission last Saturday. The Ballroom at Kowloon Shangri-La was filled with jovial Rotarians and friends including many young children. They were very noisy, and quite understandably so. But listen to this, they all waited with abated breath quietly and patiently like children queuing up for candies in between performances, which is quite a rare scene at Rotary functions. I was overjoyed with the experience and couldn’t wait to touch and try one of their bells immediately after they finished their performance. That I was gently chided by the bell’s owner for my childishness was neither here nor there. I commend you to invite them to your next charity function. You won’t regret it. Full marks and hearty congratulations to Ball Chairman Action President-elect David Loie. David has certainly put a lot of thinking and effort into making the evening a difference for his members and guests. I am positive that he would make his year a difference by applying the same attitude during his presidency, and I look forward to that.

Back to my rain, The Peak held a seminar for new arrivals at a school in North Point Sunday morning. It was raining, before during and after the seminar. Young President Kevin, assisted by his successor Roy Ng, had rounded up representatives from all the government departments involved in providing services for new arrivals. Charter President C N Ma was there, as were a few members, including Assistant Governor Kenneth Chow. It was a good project and great effort on everyone’s part. However, the rain could have dampened the enthusiasm of many parents, for there were not many around. Instead, there were many children, and the number grew very fast towards the end. Well, at least the situation was well under control. There was no chaos, unlike the scenes at a number of soccer matches we have been following these days.

Talking of chaos reminds me of a favourite story from Greek mythology that is also related to weather talk. Before heaven and earth and the sea were created, all things were one entity called Chaos which was a confused and shapeless mass of dead weight that resembled nothing, but embedded in which were the beginnings of things which would make up earth, sea and water. Then, God and Nature decided to put an end to Chaos by separating earth from sea, and heaven from both. The earth sank below because of its weight; and the water sank lower and buoyed up the earth.

When the air was cleared, the stars began to appear, the fishes took to the sea, the birds took to the air, but there were no animals. At this point, the gods decided to make arrangements to populate the earth and designated two brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus, to do the job.

Epimetheus was to be the craftsman while Prometheus was to supervise his work. Epimetheus (whose name means hindsight) began with the animals to which he gave all the best gifts – strength and speed, cunningness and the protection of fur and feathers. When it came to making mankind, he discovered that there was no quality left to make mankind a match for the beasts. He went to his brother Prometheus (whose name means foresight) who in turn went up to heaven and brought down (or stole) fire to man. This made Zeus very angry. He ordered a woman to be fashioned out of clay to be sent to Man. The story had it that Hephaestus made the first woman and named her Pandora (meaning all giving). Because she was made in heaven, she had many attributes of the gods. Aphrodite gave her beauty, Hermes persuasion, Athena feminine skills, Apollo music, and so on.

On Earth, Epimetheus was extremely pleased with Pandora, despite a warning from Prometheus to be aware of Zeus and his gifts. Now, Epimetheus had a jar in which were kept all the noxious articles. He had ordered Pandora not to open it. But how could she resist the curiosity? Secretly, she removed the lid, and human ills and evils flew out one by one. Pandora hastened to replace the lid, but alas, it was too late. The whole contents of the jar had escaped, except for one thing which lay at the bottom, and that was Hope. The moral of the story is that whatever evils abound, hope never entirely leaves us, and that as long as we have hope, no amount of other evils can completely demolished us!

Another version of the story had it that Pandora was sent in good faith by Zeus to bless Man. She had a box containing her marriage presents and into which every god had put in some blessing. She opened the box accidentally and all the blessings escaped, except Hope.

Well, the history of Man or civilization as we understand it and as science can prove it goes back to about 5 000 years. Multiply this by 100 gives us half a million which would still be just a fraction of the time reigned by the dinosaurs and a far cry from the 4.6 billion years or, as some source puts it, 20 billion years the Earth has been in existence. The figures certainly boggle the mind, but as long as there is hope, life goes on, and that is what matters.

Talk to you soon.

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