Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Consummation of Time

Just a few lines at the turning of the year.

The past years have been a quest to decipher the secret of work: Work for work's sake. Work as craft and vocation. Work that at times seems insurmountable but bears the promise of redemption. Gut-wrenching work that brings out the best and worst from within.

I plough on because work is my quest, my practice and my meditation. True and honest work that makes every intake of breath a moment of carthasis.

And in the dark of night, fireworks light up the sky to mark the passing of the year and the birth of another. Time teases and entices. Time tests and tires. Time stands testament to the Divine Quest.

I wake up with a fresh resolve everyday. That doesn't change. Time may test one's faith. But Time is a devil we know; and sometimes we cower behind him to seek escape and solace. Time fuels work. Work consumes time. Through the act of consumption, one finds the ultimate consummation.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Art of Being Smart

You often hear people say: don't just work hard, work smart. Unfortunately, this maxim, well-intentioned though it may be, is also the the biggest excuse for being lazy,

The problem is that there are people who think they are being 'smart' by cutting corners, taking advantage of other peoople or screwing the system. Evading work is considered smart. They spend their entire lives avoiding difficult tasks and only doing things that they like or enjoy. Any kind of work that requires some effort is considered 'low-level' or not worthy of their time.

That fact is that most people are smart enough, and that is good enough for me. As an employer, I would prefer a hardworking guy with average ability but possesses an eagerness to learn than one who thinks he is a genius and insists on cherry-picking work.

Of course, a hardworking and brilliant person would be the ideal combination. Having such a talent would be a boon to any company or team. But a manager has to plan for a system to work sufficiently well with average material. If one is lucky enough to get an outstanding talent, then that would be bonus. Stars come and go, but the machinery has to continue ticking.

No one in their right frame of mind would consciously 'work stupid'. It is a given that we have to always work as smart as we can. Hardwork doesn't mean mindlessly doing something like an automaton; instead, it implies an attitude of constantly giving one's best and never letting go of an opportunity to learn.

Hardwork is the art and practice of being smart. By working hard, one inevitably becomes smart.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Music that is Ever-Present in the Universe

I've always loved classical music. Even as a child, before I had the opportunity to acquire some basic education in music, I remember being enthralled by the classical pieces played by my neighbours on the piano. I was quite surprised to discover that even elementary students of the piano had the chance to play simple pieces by the great composers such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

One might find it hard to believe today but during those early days of FM radio in Malaysia, they used to have an hour of classical music in the morning (Muzik Klasik) and another hour late at night (Konsert Klasik). That was how I got acquainted with the great masterpieces of classical music. I even managed to record many of those radio programs on cassette tapes. I still keep them back in my hometown! And it was through the radio that I learned how to pronounce the names of the composers correctly--surprisingly our radio announcers then (they were not called DJs yet) bothered to learn the correct pronunciation of their names. ('Bak', 'Mout-sart', 'Bay-thoven').

Later when I had the opportunity to pick some basic piano myself, I appreciated classical music even more. I started my collection of classical music cassettes and later CDs. I even bought music scores so that I could read the notes while listening to these masterpieces.

With my iPod now, I carry my favourite classical music with me all the time. I have the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven and Mozart in my pocket. Lately I've been enjoying the series of lecture recitals by reknowned pianist and conductor Andras Schiff on the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven. The more I listen to Beethoven, I more layers of beauty that I uncover in its music.

I have nothing against modern music--I do love a lot of the contemporary artistes--but nothing compares to the experience of classical music. It can be enjoyed on so many levels: intellectually, emotionally and even spiritually. If you have played Chopin on the piano, you'll know what a divine feeling that is.

I've always felt that most the greatest pleasures of life do not cost a lot of money. And classical music is certainly one of them. Log on to the Internet and you can download tons of free classical music or listen to any one of those Internet radio stations that specialize in classical music. And if you can read notes, there are also so many sites that offer free sheet music.

Einstein, who played the violin, once remarked about Mozart's music: " pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master".

That sums up what perfectly what I feel about classical music. It's so pure that it is like a part of nature. When one is listening to classical music, one is in communion with Nature and the greatest composers the world has ever produced.