Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Life's Most Basic Pleasures

Life's Most Basic Pleasures

"We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarily, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens...The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment"

- Johannes Kepler

Isn't Monday a great day? It's the start of a brand new week and there's always a sense of urgency on the first day. I always get lots of e-mails on Monday. Almost half the day will be spent replying to them, not to mention attending to that other type of communication that's gaining equal if not even more importance: SMS.

Finally all the noise of the day has subsided and I'm safe and sound in my cluttered little room in Subang Jaya, ready to blog and do a checkpoint before I go to bed.

I'm sure, we all have been asked this question before: What is it that makes you want to get out of bed every morning?

Well, I'd rather remain in bed but I have to go to work and make a living.

I'll be in serious trouble if I don't go to work. I'll lose my job.

I have no choice.

These are some of the typical answers. Perhaps once in a while, you'll hear that highly motivated salesman who'll tell you that he wakes up every morning with a great sense of anticipation that he's one day closer to his million dollar deal.

For me, I don't belong to either extreme. My personal motivation is simple: It's the thought that I will be a better person today compared to who I was yesterday.

It gives me a thrill everytime to know that I wake up everyday richer in life's experiences. But how can I be so sure that I'm "richer"? To me this is something inevitable: We have accumulated another day of data to be extracted and analyzed. What was it that we did right yesterday? What mistakes have we made? What can we learn from them? So we will act today with more information and knowledge compared to yesterday. Every experience is a learning experience. Even the mundane ones.

Some people tell me that they don't learn anything from their job anymore. It's so boring and routine. I already know everything that needs to be known to do my job.

But how is that possible? Why must we allow ourselves to degenerate into such a state? We can always stretch our boundaries if we choose to, can't we? There's always something to learn. Don't tell me you know everything about the industry that you are working in. You might be an expert in your narrow little field, but why should you be contented with that? Even if you are completely disinterested in the work that you are doing, there are other areas that you can pursue. For example: How well do you know God?

Well, maybe you are not interested in that either. That's OK. Then ask yourself: how well do you know your colleague sitting in the next cubicle? What can you learn from him or her? Or your spouse? Or your children? Do you know them as well as you should? We can learn so much from the people around us because they are "interactive books".

There's always something to learn in life. Today we hear leaders preach about life-long learning because we are living in such a competitive world. We must be constantly acquiring new skillsets to survive. But I don't like to look at it from such an economic angle. Learning to me ranks together with the other basic biological functions such as eating (and defecating), sleeping and mating.

I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: to live is to learn. Period. Have I learned anything new today? You bet. Will I learn something new tomorrow? Definitely.

What's so great about learning? Of what use is it?

Let me answer that with another question: Of what use is eating, sleeping or mating?

I don't really care. It's simply pleasurable.

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