Saturday, May 25, 2013

What can we afford to lose?

A couple of weeks ago, a college friend of mine lost his teenage daughter. Cancer is not supposed to happen to someone so young. My friends and I are at the age where we are losing our parents - I lost both of mine some years ago. To lose our children is not something we even dared think about.
I attended the service the night before the funeral. At its close, my friend gave a heartfelt speech. I was struck about how positive he was. Little mention of pain and suffering. There was no blame, regrets or recriminations. He shared the good things about his daughter's life and the family's happy moments together.
It got me thinking about how little attention we pay to the important things in our lives, and how we often forget to acknowledge the good we have. A friend of mine once remarked that when a group of Singaporeans get together, they will inevitably find something to complain about. It would appear that the love of good hawker food is not the only tie that binds. Are we really so negative in our outlook?
So what is "important"? I applied a simple test for myself - what could I lose which would change my life permanently for the worse. I went through a whole list of bad events (in no particular order):
- lose my job
- lose my home
- lose my parliamentary seat
- lose my health or mobility
- lose my money
- lose my bicycle/car
- lose my phone etc

But all these setbacks can be overcome, and many people have done so. I realized that it really came down to just one thing:
- lose my family (including friends I consider part of my family)

Nothing else is really "important". They are irreplaceable, both in substance and in my heart. If we lived our lives for our family, and they did the same for us, it is difficult to think of any obstacle that cannot be overcome.

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