06 September 2005

Being Positive For A Change

I promised Chris and myself that I will make a conscious effort to be more positive in my posts. Otherwise, my blog would be quite dreary for anyone to read and yes, even for me to review too. So this post is about being more positive in our outlook. I don't think anyone can be born positive or an optimist. On the contrary, I believe that one must make a conscious effort to stay positive, at least at the beginning. As with all things, if one has enough practice, being optimistic then becomes second nature. I must confess that I am still a long way off.

I remember this movie some time ago called 'Paying It Forward'. Although I have not seen the show myself, I believe the message of the show is to encourage everyone to do a good deed to someone. The recipient of the good deed would in turn do another good deed to another person, who in turn does another good deed to yet another person, and so on. As the saying goes, 'one good deed deserves another'. The good deeds will then propagate, if not in geometric progression then at least in arithmetic progression.

If everyone strives to do as exhorted by the movie, I believe that this world will be a much better place to live in. Pain and suffering, as mentioned by Chris in his recent post, will however still be around - no amount of human good deeds will ever avert the disasters which the heavens choose to inflict upon us nor the accidents which we mortal humans cannot avoid. This fact is borne out by the recent disasters brought on by the Katrina hurricane and the Medan air crash. Perhaps, (trying to be positive now) this our Creator's ironical way of showing us joy and pleasure because without knowing pain and suffering, how can anyone claim that he or she truly knows joy and pleasure? A good analogy would be: it is difficult for a person born with a silver spoon in his mouth to understand what poverty is like.

For a start, I would like to reflect on the good deeds that others have so kindly done for me. These are good deeds for which I am eternally grateful:

I have my lost wallet returned with its cash and documents intact on two separate occasions. One of the good Samaritans even came personally to my flat to hand me the wallet after finding out my address from my Identity Card in the wallet. He did it within minutes after I have dropped it in my car park, even before I realised that my wallet was missing. It was raining cats and dogs at that time too. I was extremely grateful to him and thanked him profusely. Returning someone's money and not expecting to be rewarded is, I feel, a true test of one's honesty. (Not that I was not prepared to reward him but I didn't offer him because I doubted that he would accept it. I was also afraid that he might even see a reward offer as an insult.) Although it was not a test of honesty that I deliberately put them through, these two good Samaritans had passed the test with flying colours.

But then maybe I am just being lucky. (Here I go again being negative.) I believe many people would be tempted by the cash and perhaps return only the documents, that is, if they still have some conscience in them. Otherwise they would not think twice to take the cash, throw the documents away and let some other people who pick them up do the returning. The worst people are those who take your money and still use your IC to borrow from Ah Long (illegal loan sharks) or use your credit card to buy the Rolex watch which they have pined for so long. Haven't we read these horror stories in the media often enough? However, to be fair, even if I have the misfortune to meet such people, I can't really put all the blame on them - after all it is, in a way, human nature which is prompted by my own carelessness. Dishonest people live by the motto 'finders keepers'. My elder son had lost a handphone which was never returned. Somehow, finders of handphones don't believe in returning handphones and owners don't expect them to be returned. Therefore I was very pleasantly surprised that two complete strangers would go out of their way to return my wallet. What incredible luck I had! They completely restored my faith in humanity.

I also have lesser good deeds done unto me which I will also remember no less. Like the time when a lady who bought something at an NTUC supermarket offered me to claim her rebate points since she was not a member and I was. Or the occasion when the wanton (noodles) lady offered me extra wantons at no extra cost, much to the envy of Chris.

I have paid it forward too - I once returned a pouch that I found near the door of my neighbour who stayed one floor directly below me. I didn't know how much money or valuables were inside, if any, because I didn't open it. I just knocked on the door and asked if the pouch belonged to the neighbour. The neighbour said "Yes", took the pouch and then thanked me with a smile. Now when I think back about the incident, the negative side of me asks: Oh dear, what happens if the pouch didn't really belong to my neighbour? Maybe I should have checked its contents and then asked the neighbour to name some of the contents just to verify that she was the rightful owner of the pouch? I am not doubting my neighbour's honesty but there are all sorts of people in this world and you just can't be too careful. (No, I must think positive now. It is already too late to be negative. No doubt, I will be more careful in the future.)

Then there was this occasion when it was also raining heavily. I was at my flat's void deck when I was approached by a blind man. It must be either that he was only partially blind or it was the noise of the opening of my letter box that betrayed my presence to him. He told me that he was in the vicinity to sell socks to earn a living. (What a way to earn a meagre living!) He wanted to go home to Eunos Crescent as he was not feeling well. He requested me to hail a taxi for him. Call me softhearted but this kind of request always tucks at my heartstrings. Therefore I very gladly obliged. I asked him to wait in the void deck while I went out to the roadside with an umbrella to hail a cab for him. When the taxi came, I gave the blind man $5 as cab fare which should be enough to take him home. This time, I was careful enough to tell the taxi driver that I had given the blind man the requisite cab fare, just in case the blind man tried to evoke a second round of sympathy from the taxi driver, hehe. Sigh, it is really difficult to suppress the negative and suspicious side of me. I will still try though.


Chris said...

Not to pick a bone with you Victor, but the opinion you expressed here is flawed. I quote:

" I don't think anyone can be born positive or an optimist."

On the country, I think babies are born happy and optimistic. We have no worries when we came into being in this world. But soon, as we grow, we get emotions like anger, fear and disappointment, all thanks to circumstances and the environment in which we grew.

On the flip side, I couldn't have expressed it better than you did when you wrote "without knowing pain and suffering, how can anyone claim that he or she truly knows joy and pleasure?" I have utmost admiration for people who have gone through pain and suffering. Theirs are stories of unfailing courage and unfaltering love. And these people came out stronger because of the ordeal they have to go through. Many of them are very down-to-earth and extremely resilience. It's like they have seen the worse and what's there to sweat over other small stuff? Michael Chelliah and you are two of my "heroes". Kid you not.

It's hard to imagine that you're anything but optimistic. If you're really a man of pessimism, you surely hide it well Victor.

Seriously, you don't know how lucky you are man. For instance:
1. You have a wonderful wife and two extremely intelligent kids.
2. You son is in RI.
3. You junior, who is all of 9, knows how to "hack password"
4. You're a consultant in our office
5. You drive a car that is not "compact".
6. You've no lack of secret admirers like the gal who wears colourful panties.
7. You get to have your French coat rolled all the way down to reveal the size. Lucky bugger you.
8. You have a sms stalker who "entertains" you on your lonely weekends.
9. And you have the BAGUS kakis to go out lunch with.
10. You're so charming that people at the supermarket would just stop and smil at your, hawkers would offer you free wantan, and yet other hawkers telling you to pay any amount you liked for the food you've purchased.

So cheer up pal! There are many reasons to be happy!

Erm... I couldn't quite connect the others stories about good deeds and return of wallet and the blind man with the title of your entry... But I'll comment on them some other day, some other time. Did I tell you I found $500 dollars on board a cruise during my honeymoon in NZ? Ok, stay tuned... Hehehe...

Victor said...

I beg to differ, Chris. Babies can be said to be born pessimists because they always wail loudly when they come into this world. Have you ever seen a new born laughing or smiling immediately? Such a baby must be an exception if not abnormal. And have you noticed that many of them wear frowns on their faces after they have stopped wailing? Babies only learn to smile or laugh later. Most of the time, they still like to cry.

I think you are also 'heaping too high praises' on me, to borrow a phrase from you know who. I don't deserved to be declared 'your hero' (can't say for Michael). First, I have not gone through real pain and suffering. Secondly, I can't claim to have lived my life so far like a Saint. I am only human and human do make mistakes. It's only that I have not blogged about my mistakes so far - I don't believe in washing one's dirty linen in public because I don't think it serves much purpose. What is important is that I have learnt from my mistakes and move on in life as a better person.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris said...

There's a scientific reason why babies wail when they come into this world, Victor. Allow me to "educuate" you the way I did about how the male anatomy does not always grow in proportion to the stature of a man.

See, from what I've read, the sounds in the uterus are very loud, not unlike the sound made by a vacuum cleaner. While the baby is in the womb, he is being constantly moved around, as the mummy goes about her daily routine. When the baby is brought into the word where it's suddenly too quiet and still, the baby will feel stress (but not necessarily unhappy). While in the mummy's womb, the womb acts like a capsule for the baby, making him feel secure and protected. When he was pulled out, the baby finds (or feels) himself in a different environment. Perhaps it's fear, and so he wails, but again not necessarily because of unhappiness. He needs to feel like he is still in the uterus. So the midwife will wrap him up in a cloth and he'll stop crying. Simple logic right? It also has something to do with the baby having to breath on his own when he finally comes out. So who says babies are not born "happy"?

Oh man, you sound as if you've bottled up a lot of frustrations and unhappiness inside you. It's perfectly alright if you choose not to share them Victor. Nobody's perfect. But you can always count on me if you need someone to listen to, you know. I'm a good listener. But only if you want to, my friend. Hee!

Victor said...

Chris, you seem to have an explanation for everything, don't you? Is there really always a reason for everything? Can you please enlighten me with a valid scientific explanation as to why babies frown then?