And of course the last post was late

27 02 2011

I didn’t post anything yesterday because I went to a wedding as well as a reception banquet, and it surprised me when I realised that I didn’t hate any of it. In fact, the homily that took place during the Catholic wedding ceremony moved me to tears, and I shed a couple of tears again when Zette’s sisters gave their speeches and sang the songs to bless Zette and Brian.

Weddings have, in the past, bored me to tears. Something has changed though – maturity? Acting ability? Reality? Maybe just age? Is a wedding the same all around, with the only thing changing being the way you perceive it? Hmmm.


On feeling encouraged about teaching

27 02 2011

At school last Monday, for the early start day, students were asked to write 3 letters of encouragement – one to a friend, one to a member of their family, and a 3rd to a teacher, which would be collected and distributed. This was a movement against the usual lack of gratitude we often demonstrate, and the intentional speaking and writing of encouragement started something amazing this morning. As students’ heads were bowed in concentration over their papers and the occasional giggle was heard, along with affectionate (and not-so-affectionate) nicknames, the task at hand seemed to consume their energy, and letters were written, rewritten, and then separated into sections to be given to the subjects.

I led one of the sessions, the one for the junior class, and the number of letters I have been receiving has been overwhelming. They were full of encouragement, and I have spent a considerable amount of time reading the notes. They would not be sold for much money as works of art; they don’t always demonstrate good penmanship; the torn edges are mostly jagged and uneven; but each and every note is perfect to me. The multi-coloured sheets of torn-up A4 paper are beautiful to me, and I feel impossibly encouraged right now. As I sat there at my workstation in room 528 of the school, some freshmen were giving presentations on the French Revolution for Modern European History, and I felt like I was in my own, separate bubble of existence, hearing the words kind students had written, and which will buoy me up in the times when I will feel frustrated or tired.

The reflection above may have been written almost exactly one week ago, but the thought of the coloured pieces of paper still encourages me and inspires me to work harder at teaching well, and not just plain teaching. I long to be a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of my students.

For now, this image will do, although I had meant to take a picture of all the letters I’d received.

Also, a big Happy Birthday to my sister, who’s 22 today and will be a freshman come September out of hard work. Congratulations!

On hindsight…

19 02 2011

If I could go back 10 years ago and have a 5-minute conversation with myself, I would say…

Absolutely nothing. I’d be scared to death at seeing myself anywhere other than in 2 dimensions.

The one that got away…

12 02 2011

I once uncovered, in a beat-up briefcase that belonged to my father when he first came out to Hong Kong with his friend to make a name for himself, a small photo of him, mid-laugh, wearing his tennis clothes (when all I had known of him for as long as I could remember was his love for golfing). After some begging, I was able to keep it for myself, and I would put it into my back pocket to have it with me all the time. Then, one day, I reached into my pocket and discovered it gone.

The guilt and regret that consumed me then still echoes in my heart today, even as I’m writing this post. I am again astonished by my stupidity and lack of foresight: how could I not have known that it would be lost? Why didn’t I keep it more safely? In my wallet, for example? What an idiot.

I have photos of my father, yes, but they’re not the tennis one. They’re not the small one from the attic. They’re not the begged-for one. And they are most certainly not the mid-laugh one. This is the one thing I will always regret losing, beyond anything else I have ever loved, and lost. This will be the worst ever.

Something to think about

5 02 2011

Not quite a post of the week, but I’ve been thinking about what makes life worth living, and one of the things I’ve learned is that you can get collections of great things like the one below, but they don’t mean anything unless they’ve been internalised. I’m on the right track, I think, but there’s still a long way to go…

These are from a book called “Life’s Little Instruction Book”, by Jackson Brown and H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  2. Memorize your favorite poem.
  3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
  4. When you say, I love you, mean it.
  5. When you say, I’m sorry, look the person in the eye.
  6. Be engaged for at least six months before you get married.
  7. Believe in love at first sight.
  8. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams.
  9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live completely.
  10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
  11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
  12. Talk slow but think quick.
  13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, Why do you want to know?
  14. Remember that great love and great acheivements involve great risk.
  15. Call your family.
  16. Say, Bless you, when someone sneezes.
  17. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  18. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.
  19. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  20. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
  22. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, his/her conversational skills will be as important as any other.
  23. Spend some time alone.
  24. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  25. Remeber that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  26. Read more books and watch less TV.
  27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll get to enjoy it a second time.
  28. A loving atmosphere in your home is important. Do all you can to creat a tranquil harmonious home.
  29. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  30. Read between the lines.
  31. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to acheive immortality.
  32. Be gentle with the earth.
  33. Never interrupt when you’re being flattered.
  34. Mind your own business.
  35. Don’t trust a lover who doesn’t close their eyes when you kiss them.
  36. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  37. If you make a lot of money, put it to use while you are living. That is wealth’s greatest satisfaction.
  38. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
  39. Learn the rules, then break some.
  40. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
  41. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  42. Remember that your character is your destiny.
  43. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

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