Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Chinese in Me

It's that noisy time of the year again: Chinese Lunar New Year. I don't usually care much about such festivities but this year's celebration is a much welcome break from a hectic year of work. Last year's CNY holidays was a very productive time for me, as I managed to take the opportunity to rush off a lot of outstanding work.

There's no need for me to do the same this year. But of course, out of (bad) habit, I'll still do my usual routine of making sure that every piece of software is running as it should, batch processes are executed on schedule and no extraordinary events are detected--basically making sure that "God's in his Heaven...all's right with the world!".

The good thing about public holidays is that, other people are not working; so I can be sure that I won't be troubled by urgent phonecalls and e-mails. This allows me to do my "real work" in peace.

Everytime such yearly festivals approaches, people lament how fast time flies. Of course, time flies. But time is also our ally. Our purpose in life is to make sure that time does not fly aimlessly. If it seems to fly fast, and as long as it is flying in the right direction, it also means our hardwork is bearing fruits rapidly too!

The CNY celebrations is all about reaffirming good thoughts. There's much that we can learn from the Chinese ethos. It is a culture of positive-mindedness, prudence, hardwork and success. The Chinese are always forward-looking. During CNY, we wish each other great wealth, prosperity and good fortune.

Ah, but you also see the Ugly Chinese: the kiasuism, the greed, the over-eagerness to hit it big ("the Chinese are incorrigible gamblers -- Lee Kuan Yew") and the culture of crass materialism.

When anything--even good values--is pursued to the extreme, you'll see ugliness. That is why most of the victims of Ah Longs (loan sharks) are Chinese. Of course, the loan sharks themselves are also Chinese.

Am I then the typical hardworking Chinese, driven by dreams of social and material success?

How I wish I am!

A person exercising in the gym is not "hardworking". He's sweating and puffing because he wants to shed off extra fat and also to keep himself fit. Being physically fit is a great feeling.

That is what drives me to work hard: The desire to be mentally and spiritually fit. The world is my moral gymnasium (to use Vivekananda's words). That is the true reward of work. The rest is just bonus.

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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