Archive for April 5, 2007

The Courage of The Crab

April 5, 2007

As a large place of chili crab was served and placed on my table, I couldn’t help but contemplate on the life of the crab before me…

Crabs are fierce creatures. When they were first born, their shells were soft. You can easily make a dent by just pushing the outer cover of the shell. However, they soon eat enough nourishment to develop a tough exterior.

The entire body is one hard piece of armour that will challenge the strength of your teeth, should you attempt to feast on them by cracking the shell. Watch out for the sharp pricky edges too.

My favourite piece of the chili crab is the claws, or some will call it, “the gong”. Within the two gongs hold the juiciest, thickest and fleshiest part of the crab’s meat. You can crack them open after much effort and fish out the entire flesh unscattered if you are skillful enough.

Yet, it has been the defence device of the crab, its primary weapon against invasion and would be predators, like the homo sapiens. Over the lifetime of the crab, it also constantly use its claws to attack its intended prey for food. Then the attacker becomes the defender until it meets its untimely end… in the hot, frying wok.

Drenched in the appetizing chili gravy with egg after being cooked, the crab is ready for consumption. Its final moments must be something it might have expected. Its companions in the tank must have told him about it. An old legend they say in the crab tribe… that a crab captured by a creature with two legs are usually given the fiery test of survival, and none will pass it.

But the crab will not go down (the wok) without a fight. Released of the raffia string that tied its claws, it will attempt to inflict pain unto its captor with the best way it knows how… using its claws to clam. Try putting your finger near the claws of an untied crab and I assure you it will be such a tight crunching lesson you will never forget. (pun unintended)

Cooking a crab can be a struggle, the cook must be cautious, the crab will be carnivorous. Its all about luxurious living (and eating) for the diner, but its about life and death for the crab.

The crab will never give up fighting. No… no way its going to give up.

Yet, many human beings do give up. Without a raffia string to tie them up, they visualize being tied up by one instead. The self-imagined knots are so well knotted that not even the person himself knows how to untie them. All he knows is to cry out and wail, “I can’t…”

Unlike the crab that will fight and attack even in the last millisecond, many people have accepted their fate long, long ago. They acknowledge the way their life will be eversince adolescence and young adulthood, and then spend the rest of the half century of their lives justifying and manifesting it. So towards the end of their lives, when its time for the wok, oops, the box, they quietly ascend to it.

As I finish up the plate of chili crab, I not only thank it for fulfilling my hunger, I also thank it for showing me its courage that it did not go down without a fight. At least, after eating, I take assurance that its courage is in me.

Do we dare to live life with the courage of the crab?

They Play With Your Mind

April 5, 2007

Sometimes when we attempt to accomplish something, even after due dilligence, certain funny thoughts still come to our mind.

They tend to be similiar to the follow:

“What for?”

“What’s the point?”

“Don’t waste time.”

“What if you fail?”

“It’s not worth it.”

“It’s too …. (fill in the blanks yourself, eg: risky, stupid, expensive, etc, etc

“You’re too … (young, poor, old, tall, short, dumb, etc, etc)

“You’re not good enough.”

“You don’t deserve it.”

“(Whatever that fits here.)”

There you have it, the thoughts of doubts. Doubts that are not neccessary grounded in truth and facts but rather arise because of unuseful cultural habits and weak character.

Now if you don’t attend to them, they play with your mind. If you don’t suppress them, they take over your mind. And if you let them take over your mind, they rule your life.

The next time such thoughts creep into your mind. Focus on challenging them. Suppress and remove them with determination and discipline. If you want accelerated results, get a mentor.

Never let them play with your mind.

Remember Their Smiles…

April 5, 2007

Many years ago, I’ve had the good fortune of participating and helping out in The Sharity Gift Box. I was excited and thrilled as the crowd gathered at the carpark opposite Centrepoint Shopping Center for the opening ceremony. I got to be at the counter, collecting the symbolic first gift from the Guest-of-Honor and placing it to the gift storage area.

For the whole duration of the event, the gifts stacked up against one another. They accumulated in not only sizes, but also in numbers. Sweat were dripping from our foreheads and back as we transported and carried these heavy gifts of canned food, biscuits, instant noodles, giant toys and any other things that the public would donate.

Back in the Headquarters, we had to sort them out and pack them into the bags for distribution. It was done under a large made-shift tent, heaty and stuffy, not to mention the smell of sweat.

Over the days, we worked hard and kept each other going with constant bickering, even though the arms are tired and our backs were sore from the constant bending and squatting. At least we started to behave like a human being. We complained. (Hey, I was just a boy.)

Then came distribution day, I was leading a few of my friends to one of the assigned areas. Our job was to give a bag of different food and daily neccessities to each household.

The corridors of those housing estates were poorly lit and dark. The sky was filled with greyish clouds, providing warning of the rain that threatened to pour.

I knocked on the first door, no one answered. I carried on knocking and eventually the door opened slowly. My friends and I were greeted by a frail old lady in traditional blueish shirt and dark blue pants. She must have been almost eighty, a face full of wrinkles, cheeks with pigmentation that spoke of her harsh younger days. She was thin and weary, no wonder it took such a long time for her to get to the door.

Her house was small and stuffy, hardly enough room for more than a couple of people to live. In some corners, old things like newspapers and cookie boxes piled unto each other, threatening to toople, and the sink was choked with bits of previous instant noodles. (Think I noted a few ants conversing with each other.) The bed was just a simple worn-out matteress, with yellowish fading covers. She lived alone.

Then it happened. Flashed across her boney face, was a smile. A smile that was so sincere and so true in emotion that it made all the hard work at the Gift Box worthwhile. It made me forget my own sweat and toils, and reminded me of the real purpose of my effort. To bring a smile. A smile of human touch and connection.

She struggled to muster a few words of gratitude and relief in cantonese, “Oohh… so happy you are here. I’ve been waiting a long time for you.”

We unpacked the bag of food and neccesities, tidied up her house a little, and knew its time to be on our way.

When we bade her farewell reluctantly, I noted in her left eye was a twinkle of water, a tear perhaps. As she struggled to close the door she knew another bout of loneliness awaits her, but her smile was still here…

House after house, knocking on door after door. Similiar encounters unfolded before me and sincere smiles of gratitude and appreciation welcomed me.

My friends, in the midst of hard work we sometimes forget the purpose of why we work so hard. In the thickness of work politics and gossips, we sometimes sink into pools of complains and lamentations. We often just look at the minor discomfort that lies in front, that we could not see the destination that stretches ahead.

After all these years, these images still stick vividly in my mind. It always bring a tear to my eyes. Not a tear of sadness, but a tear of reminder and purpose. It never failed to keep me focused, never failed to keep me going and never failed to remind me the real purpose of my work as a speaker and trainer. To bring a smile, a smile of human touch and connection.

Remember the people you serve.

Remember their smiles…