Relationships are like a garden

Had a counselling session this morning.  Shared a bit about relations.

Sometimes relationships are described to be like a pot of plant.  How well the pot of plant grow and bloom depends on the active participation of all or both parties.  If only one party is actively contributing, the other party will feel neglected or unwanted.  In the long run, it feels like a one-person ride.

I think relationships can be further described to be a garden, with multiple pots of plants contributed by the parties involved.  In the picture above, person A has an ordinary pot of plant (ok looks bare!) and person B has a pot of cactus.  Each person visits the garden to enjoy the plants and eventual flower in it and participate in water the plants.

The type of plants can represent the personality type or the needs-type at that point in time.  So for an ordinary pot of plant, daily watering and tending may be needed while the pot of cactus from person B may only require weekly watering.

Can you spot the problems that may arise?

If person A start watering both pots with equal regularity, pot A will thrive while the cactus may well rot.

Whereas if person B were to water pot A only weekly like the way the cactus only require limited watering on a weekly or monthly basis, then pot A will wither over time.

Similarly, if there is a disparity between the needs of individuals in a relationship, it can lead to miscommunications, anxiety, uncertainty and fear.  Unfortunately, without communications and understanding, then person A may start watering even more and person B even lesser or even resort to draining both pots of water.

This may lead to a vicious cycle that is unnecessary and can well be avoided.

Where the disparity is mild, most couples can deal with it.  If the needs disparity has widen and both party must swiftly communicate and very importantly take simple but active steps to work towards mutual trust and understanding.

Granted, if the pots in the garden have already withered or rotted, then a choice has to be made.  To replace the potted plants with new ones and start afresh together or to find a new garden.

In this day and age, sadly, fewer and fewer people are into repairing things when they are broken.  Most people prefer to just throw them away and get new ones.

So will you simply throw away your pots and find a new garden or work together with your partner to bring in new pots and start afresh?

Helping Others with Our Heart and Wisdom

So one day I was at lower pierce and saw some insects skimming along the surface of the water.  All was fine until I saw an insect struggling in the water.  Being kind and selfless, I reach out to save it.  Ok, it was probably not so heroic.  I just thought it was drowning and merely tried to fish it out … hehe

Photo I took of the mayfly scuttling around in the water.

I’ve dished out plenty of ants, houseflies, bees, tiny wasps from basins, toilet bowls, and yes mugs of water, so I was no stranger to insect rescue operations.  As I waited for the insect to recover, do some cleanup, I looked at it closely.

A picture from the internet of the insect that was resting on my finger.  Not taken by me … hahaha … This is more or less how it looked like, except that it’s wings was slum over my fingers and it didn’t look like it was in a rush to do cleanup.

Hmmm … … after a few seconds, something struck me.  It was like one of those Hollywood movies where the main character has a suddenly realisation of what actually happened!

I was not rescuing the fly.  It was quite happy cruising along, and as I discovered, it being a mayfly, it would breed in the water.  It was not drowning and didn’t require any rescue from me.  -.-”

That morning I learn something.  I learnt that we can sometimes make mistakes in our assessment of a situation and conclude wrongly that people need help.

Just as on the surface, the insect really looked like it was struggling, sometimes we may think that others have a problem and we have or are the solution.  The truth cannot be further from it.

When it struck me what was happening, I quickly put the mayfly back into the water and it didn’t drown.  I continued to buzz along, in the world of its own.

Sometimes when we go overseas to do humanitarian work, we hear of projects to build a modern toilet, to build this and that.  Is this an example of us looking at others as struggling in the water, when in fact they are doing just fine?

I’m not suggesting that we should stop our humanitarian works, but instead we should continue doing them, just to give more thought to them and not presume that we always have all the answer, or as a friend commented “What makes us think that transplanting our system to their country will help them when we ourselves are not necessarily happier?”.

Reminds me of the saying “A mud Bodhisattva crossing the stream cannot save oneself” … much less others.

泥菩薩過江,自身難保。

Reserved Seating

 

Every now and then, there would be a STOMP posting of someone occupying a reserved seat and refusing to give up their seat for someone who needs it more.  Or it would be a post of some young person occupying the seat with empty seats nearby.

These posts quickly find their way on facebook and are typically flooded with outcries of disgust and contempt.  The mob calls for a witchhunt.  Hysteria ensues.

Lost in all these noise is the curious question of what “Reserved Seating” is and why it exist.

In December 2013, the “Land Transport Authority (LTA) installed new reserved seat designs in the new DTL1 trains … to encourage commuters to give up their seats whenever someone else needs it more than they do.

http://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=273a47b4-f414-4583-b61d-7226179bd47d

This is part of three ideas that came from a study conducted by LTA and the Singapore Kindness Movement between February and July 2013.

It is a wonderful idea and is aimed at promoting kindness.  With the seats in place for the past 2+ years, we do see people giving up their seats for others.  But does it mean that people were not giving up their seats before?  No.  There were people who give up their seats and those who simply won’t.  Not even with the reserved seats in place.

Short of passing a bill to fine those who do not offer their seats, commuters have started featuring those who fail the kindness bar.

No, passing a bill will not get people to be kind.  Kindness must come from within.  Passing a bill will only get people to pay the kindness “tax” of giving up their seat.  Like giving to charity, it must come willingly.  Once enforced as a rule, our intent gets warped somewhat, and it becomes a mechanical act of following a rule rather than doing it because we want to, or because it is the right thing to do.

Which brings us to the matter at hand.  Doing the right thing.

What is legal is not always ethical.  What is ethical is not always legal. Read More …

40 Things In Our Life

Hello my friend.  How’s your day so far?  It’s the 6th day of the Chinese New Year, and the 44th day of 2016.

How has 2016 treated you so far?  How have you treated 2016 so far?

One day late last year, I was on my way to the toilet when I was thinking through the various items on my plate.  (Readers, do not try this at home.  haha)  I thought about how each of these projects would take a certain duration of time to reach fruition.

In particular, there’s this mini project that I’m writing (Leave and OT claims system that is slowly becoming a mini-HRM!) and I was thinking about how given that each program requires a certain amount of time to write, that there is a certain limit to the number of programs or apps that I can write in a year.  This is what I fondly call my little ECA (Extra-Curricular-Activity … what Singapore schools called the activities that students took part in, outside of classroom time).

That got me thinking.  By inference, there is only that many programs I can possibly write in my life!  And in turn, if we apply this to the other aspects of our life, after all, not everyone write code, then there is a finite amount of things that we can do.

No rocket science here really.

But I wondered, how many things in my life?  In our life?  Given that the average person is most effective between 25 – 65, assuming that our early years are spent learning things and honing our skills, and our post 65 years, we may find ourselves dwindling in health, energy and mental faculties, so we have the magic number 40.

This has a close proximity to 42, which as we all know, is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.  However, it is a mere coincidence.  Either that or, there’s a miscalculation in Deep Thought.  But I digress.

If we consider any non-trivial major event or thing we set out to accomplish, it would probably take up anywhere between 3 – 6 months, some even taking up to a year, or years.  So, if on average, each item take up a year, then we would have about 40 things that we can do in our life.  Things that matter that is.

Things like bathing, eating, sleeping, etc, is what I call utility activities.  Things that we need to do to get by.  Essential but not quite our life goal.  Now, for those of you whose childhood dream is to do that when you grow up, I’m not judging you.

Another major utility activity we engage in is work.  It is something that we do to pay the bills.  Great if you also like it, especially if your colleagues are nice and your boss is amicable.  But if you don’t get any of these, remember, the contract T&C is about you producing work / results, and the company compensating you for your time.  Ever wondered why the salary is also called compensation?  haha

Don’t get me wrong.  By all means, find a job that you have passion for.  But don’t fret if your job is not something that you have a lot of passion or interest in.  There’s a term for that.  It’s called a hobby.

When people come to me for work / career counselling / life coaching, and they tell me that either the pay is lousy, or the work is tough, or the boss is demanding, etc, I ask them this.  If the pay is good, the work is easy and the boss is easy going, why hire someone to do it?  The boss can do it himself!

Anyway, like it or not, we spend approximately 2/3 of our wakeful hours at work.  9-11 hours out of 16 hours (assuming 8 hours of sleep).  And guess what, we mostly work from 25 – 65!  The effective and productive years of our life!

There’s no crime and shame in earning our keep.  But it means that we are spending almost 2/3 x 40 = 26 units of the 40 things we can do on work.  We are left with around 14 things to do.

So on one hand, we should try to find something we have passion and interest in, on the other hand, if we can learn to take interest in what we are doing, and find ways to make a difference, then the 26 units of work don’t go to waste.

We can limit ourselves to just doing X things in the 9 – 11 hours per day at work.  Or we can ask ourselves, how can we learn something new everyday at work?  If we can do more, why not?  It is our precious human life, our 26 units that is spent, whether we while our time away at work or we learn something new, or we help someone through our work.

And beyond work, what are we doing with our remaining 14 units?  If all we do is work, then it is like buying a car just to wash it and pump it with petrol, driving it just to burn the gas so that we can pump more petrol into it.  If one were to buy a car, drive somewhere.  The car is a tool to get us to our destination.  Work is likewise, our tool to bring us somewhere.  Don’t get caught up with the tool.

But what about life itself?  What is the destination of our life?  Is it simply to use up all the gas in the tank?

My dear friend.  I used up a bit of my gas writing this blog.  I hope it will help you to think about the 14 or 40 things in your life.

Oops, I have about 22 things left to do.  What 40 things are you gonna do with your life?

The Cycle

~ A short story written by Ven Chuan Guan.  An adaptation inspired by The Lotus Sutra and The Egg.

You passed away in your sleep, leaving behind your two kids.

Then you saw me. Or more like you noticed that I can see you.

“Am I dead” you asked.

“Yeap.” I replied.

“Is this the after-life? Am I in heaven or hell? … ” Read More …

Handle or not, that is the question!

Ullambana is just around the corner, and every year, kind and thoughtful devotees would do offerings to the sangha to support us in our basic amenities and in our Dharma work.

One item that is often donated is shavers. In most cases, it is better to simply donate the refills, ‘cos we most likely already have the handle and just need shaver cartridge refills.

If you look at the packing, look out for the one with refills. Else we end up with a lot of spare handles and limited shaving cartridges.

Thank you so much!