Why You Should Celebrate Your Life

FeiHsia2

This is a guest post written by Fei Chen. She writes thought-provoking pieces about life mainly for herself, and now I’m honoured to have her share some of her thoughts here.

Celebration of Life: I recently attended the funeral of our neighbor, 敬元哥 who lived to be 98 years old, or 102 years according to the lunar calendar. Instead of tears, his descendants greeted me with smiles. I was surprised, but pleased when one of his grandchildren explained that since her grandfather had passed on after 90, rather than mourn his death, our Indian Hakka community should celebrate his life.

In our conscious state we don’t spend enough time celebrating our lives. Instead we constantly plan, busily organize our calendars, and work like restless bees to acquire tangible assets. We do this to feed our physical needs, trying our best to achieve our set goals: this is what I call “a sequence of our life journey.” You see, our parents instilled in us these values of hard work and responsibility for ourselves. In turn I tell my children to follow the same mantra: go to university, earn degrees, find a good paying job, and settle down to a stable life just like the vast majority.

But we don’t have to follow the masses. I once watched a prominent actress on TV say, “What if a turtle has wings…” She made me put on my thinking cap, and I realized that humans have multidimensional brains. We think, react, and perform sequentially, but we can also step out of our comfort zone and think virtually and dream in the abstract.

Life is a Process:  I believe every one of us is born with a unique gift to prepare and equip us for our survival, challenges, and expectations.  Often we lose our faith when we battle opposing strong currents; then we are forced to take refuge to reassess our priorities.  Once we recognize and discover that sparkle and joy of life, however long it may take, we say, “OH WOW!!!”

Two Hakka Matriarchs Remembered: I immensely enjoyed reading C Fong Hsiung’s book Picture Bride recently. I appreciated the stories and the characters in the book that carried me back 35 years ago. In the scene where the Fong described Jillian’s grand-mother’s big 70th birthday bash, I couldn’t help but picture the author’s own grand-mother 亜球伯姆 and my grand-mother who were best friends while I was growing up in Tangra, Calcutta. 亜球伯姆 and my grand-mother were two matriarchs, close associates, and just like “two peas in a pod.”  When I was a teenager, I used to accompany these two old ladies during their Tuesday matinees at the cinemas. I’d overhear their conversations, and found their friendship and sisterhood truly remarkable.

Full Circle: As I stood in front of the lifeless body of 敬元哥 to pay my last respect, despite the smiling faces around me, emotionally I felt sad, and physically I felt empty and hollow. But then I wondered, “What if 敬元哥’s soul has crossed over, and my grand-mother and my dad greeted him on the other side?” Is there actually life after death?  What if there is a subconscious state where our souls fly to eternity when they depart from our physical bodies, and so on and on…

Is Retirement Over-rated?

Retoolment

Retoolment: A Real Word?

We work towards retirement like it’s a state of utopia. All our lives we save so we can retire and live happily ever after. What if I say that instead of chasing the retirement dream, we look forward to RETOOLMENT. Don’t bother looking up the dictionary for the word—I made it up.

Why Retire If You Can Retool

The word RETOOL is defined as “to reorganize or rearrange, usually for the purpose of updating.” If you retire without any new purpose, what’s going to happen? You’ll travel, you say. Right, for how long and have you saved enough to travel endlessly? And if you did, don’t you think you’ll be tired of the gypsy life after a while? What else are you going to do when you retire? Look after the grandkids, play bridge with your buddies, go to the gym…where’s the purpose?

So I’ve decided that the best way to look at retirement is not take the word literally. You retool. You learn to do things you’ve always wanted to do but denied yourself because life got in the way. You need a whole new bag of tools because your career may have ended, but a new life-calling is about to begin. You need to know how to go about living that new life.

I’m Doing It, You Can Too

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but the average writer doesn’t make enough to live on. So I climbed—perhaps clambered sometimes—up the corporate ladder to clothe, feed and educate our boys, and to save for the ultimate retirement. A few years ago, the light bulb flickered first, and then shone bright after lots of kicking around in my head and soul searching. I came to the realization that retirement is the wrong word. I’m not ready to retire and drift with whatever tide comes my way. During my RETOOLMENT years, I will have a new bag of tools. I want a new purpose and continue to wake up every morning ready to tackle my day using my new toolkit.

DON’T RETIRE…RETOOL.

A Tale of Two Bikes

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it? Yes, that’s a picture of my brand new bike. Took it for a 50 km initiation ride within a couple of days. And yes, below is a picture of a spinning bike. Okay, so it’s not mine, but I get to use it whenever I want at the YMCA.

Outdoor versus indoor riding. Same pedaling motion, and that’s where the similarities end…for me. The comparison between the two was academic until I took to the road and experienced the differences for myself.



Here’s my quirky list of differences:

  1.  Look at the beautiful seat on my bike, white with a pink stripe. The spinning bike’s impersonal seat caused me great pain in the derriere, years ago.
  2. Ride like the wind when you go downhill…oops…not so fast, watch out if you’re on the road. I love speed, only when the bike is stationery.
  3. Huffing and puffing up the hill, on my last gear. Too bad you can’t turn the crest into a valley with the flip of the fingers. Now, on that indoor machine, we’ll huff and we’ll puff, and we’ll keep going. But when no one’s looking, maybe the tension lever might just drop a notch or two.
  4. How about those cyclists who glide past you and no amount of pushing and pedaling with my little feet will make me go any faster. Now you come to my spinning class and I’ll show you a trick or two about speed.
  5. There’s nothing comparable to the breathtaking beauty of a nature ride. However, a spin class takes my breath away…literally.
  6. When you ride indoors, you never have to worry about being caught in a downpour or wonder if your water bottle has turned into an ice block. And oh…load up on the sunscreen.
  7. The night before an outdoor rendezvous, gotta pack and gear up. Helmet…check, water…check, snack…check, spare tire…check, and the list can go on and on. Now for my spinning checklist. Gym bag always packed…check.
  8. Hey, how about the treat at the end of a road trip? A loaded brunch to replenish all the calories lost. Now how about breakfast after my Sunday class? A leisurely coffee with a reward or two to replace the fat I lost in that one intense hour.

Okay, the comparison ends here. I can’t get enough of both. If you love cycling too and have an interesting comment or two about either the outdoor or indoor kind, feel free to comment and connect with me.