Friday, September 28, 2012

Random B&W of Penang.-J.Krishnamurti Exerpts

Beyond the noise of words
Listening is an art not easily come by, but in it there is beauty and great understanding.
We listen with the various depths of our being, but our listening is always with a
preconception or from a particular point of view. We do not listen simply; there is always
the intervening screen of our own thoughts, conclusions, and prejudices...To listen there
must be an inward quietness, a freedom from the strain of acquiring, a relaxed attention.
This alert yet passive state is able to hear what is beyond the verbal conclusion. Words
confuse; they are only the outward means of communication; but to commune beyond the
noise of words, there must be in listening an alert passivity. Those who love may listen;
but it is extremely rare to find a listener. Most of us are after results, achieving goals; we
are forever overcoming and conquering, and so there is no listening. It is only in listening

that one hears the song of the words.

To inquire and to learn is the function of the mind. By learning I do not mean the mere
cultivation of memory or the accumulation of knowledge, but the capacity to think clearly
and sanely without illusion, to start from facts and not from beliefs and ideals. There is no
learning if thought originates from conclusions. Merely to acquire information or
knowledge is not to learn. Learning implies the love of understanding and the love of
doing a thing for itself. Learning is possible only when there is no coercion of any kind.

Most people think that learning is encouraged through comparison, whereas the contrary
is the fact. Comparison brings about frustration and merely encourages envy, which is
called competition. Like other forms of persuasion, comparison prevents learning and
breeds fear.

Wisdom is something that has to be discovered by each one, and it is not the result of
knowledge. Knowledge and wisdom do not go together. Wisdom comes when there is the
maturity of self-knowing. Without knowing oneself, order is not possible, and therefore
there is no virtue.

Virtue has no authority

Things do change in time

The year of the Dragon is slowly winding down and the events that had dominated the Global scene has been no less  an indication of what was expected for this year. The dragon has woken up and now it is flexing its muscles testing all the waters around the globe.
The days of parades and floats used to be enjoyed by one and all young and old but not so anymore. These days it is more like show of power when everyone decides to have a get together, Street protests and long runs are the thing of the future. 
This unique picture shares the Buddha's moment of compassion pouring the elixir of  life upon the multitude to sooth the suffering and ease the pains.
The old still stands in the foreground while the new fills up the horizon. The need for the old ways is still valid as the new has yet to discover itself.
The guardian at the gate stands ever vigilant making sure what enters is of  auspicious nature and those that leave  left with a blessing.
How time flies, the old looks back at what was while the new keeps reaching up into the skies. I have done my part in this life and am ready to leave it up to you to continue my legacy. Keep peace and prosperity, love and respect for all.e 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Safety - 2

Malaysia more than most countries hires foreign worker for her labor intensive projects like constructions ans the agricultural sectors and as such I found out the hard way in dealing with a mixed group of workers working alongside each other on a single project. Indonesians rub shoulders alongside a Vietnamese and an Indian (from India) works alongside a Chinese from Malaysia or a Phillipino may be working under the supervision of a Malay Supervisor; they all have their own ways, their habits and cultural conditioning. Trying to give a 'Tool Box" talk to the whole group of workers at one time can be nerve wrecking as each will display their own attitude towards what you have to say to outdo the other group. It is a challenge to be able to address and capture the attention of the whole work force on a site without some form of personal presence that they will have a respect for.
Show of knowledge alone will not cut the chase, one has to be one hundred percent present  in the moment delivering straight from your heart your care and concerns for Safety. Most employee no matter the country of origin will sit and listen to the your talk if the topic and manner of delivery is genuine and sincere and what you talk about hit their hearts.Throwing the book at workers most who can hardly read or write is not the best of means, but touching on subjects that is of their innermost concern will grab their attention.
I was once asked to address a group of Chinese workers whose job it was to install the main beams to the ceiling of a warehouse in Kerteh because the Petronas health and Safety Officers had caught one or two not wearing Safety Harnesses or even a hard hat, one or two did not even wear shoes as they perform their job at great heights I was lost for what to say to these guys when I had them in the meeting room. They were most arrogant and defiant showing contempt much less respect for my position as a Safety officer.
I then remembered a conversation I had very early in the morning with the security guard at the gate and we were talking about seeing ghosts every now and then at night. I thought nothing of it till the moment i opened my mouth to talk to these group of die hard daredevils. "Look! You believe or Not?!" I asked them out of the blue. 'Apa itu?" one of them asked in Malay, I continued in Malay to the effect."You belief in Ghost and other spirits living in the area?" Don't tell me you don't otherwise why you have that little shrine with incense and oranges and apples in the corner there? I got their attention.
If you fall and break your neck and die it would not be so bad but if you don't and are forever paralyzed I have allot of paper to do and your family suffer more than I do. I can say simply say you slipped and fall, but you felt someone pushed you off, even ghosts don't like those who show off. At least if you fall following all Safety Procedures you stand to gain something from it. So i went on and on  and after that all procedures were fully observed with no more problem from this group. It was a last dish for me but by using the most ignorant of reasoning I managed to gain the upper hand over the situation. In Buddhism it is called the use of Skillful Means.
Your words, thoughts and deeds have to be intelligent and how you approach an employee will have to be with no thought of who or where the person is from but just another soul in need of your help; you are there to ensure his safety. Once you have recognized your role and act with genuine interest to the issue at hand, you will act with that authority that has been relegated to you. Your authority will prevail without having to show any form of pressure the demand for respect.Being a health and Safety Officer was a role that i enjoyed very much as it allowed me to practice what I have come to understand of human nature and the need for compassion. No employee wish for himself or anyone to be hurt on the job but sometimes due to unforseen circumstances an accident occurs and the cause may be not just equipment or human error but a whole gamut of causes right from not getting paid on time, living conditions etc.
I made it an effort to visit as many of the employees as i could at their homes and when I realized how hard a life most had to endure especially those foreign workers I felt more closer and understood their work performances aptitude better. To most there was no joy for the work they do as it did not reflect upon their living conditions. They worked purely to survive always hoping for a better job or better offer elsewhere; Their hearts were not committed to what they were doing. Most main Contractors at a job site pays little or no attention to the well being of workers for the sub- contractors; it is not their issue to solve. A company i knew once did not pay its employees for three months and it came down to near violence when the employees had had enough. These kind of situations reflects upon the whole project from the highest management to the employees and its is for the Main Contractor to take skillful actions to resolve such issues. Seldom do we find satisfied employees involved in accidents and these employees serves their employer with pride: you can never have a better crew than those who work for you with pride.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ON Work Safety

To fit in to blend in to become a part of the crowd to feel like you are what the universe is without pretensions or assumptions, without your ego getting in the way;just you and the rest; the Whole, this is awareness I did not say that so don't quote me, they say! Can one be aware of every thought and actions of the day to day existence, what was right or missing, genuine or false, what came from the heart and what from the stomach or the head? This is the practice of mindfulness. To be responsible for your every words, thoughts and deeds as you share this life with others, can you be fully aware? To be compassionate is to be fully awakened to the suffering of others while you deal with your own, liberation from suffering in yourself liberates the universe...Insha'Allah!! ( With the Lord's Will).
It is a very rainy day today in Penang, has been raining for the last few days non stop, the feeling of the old days Penang is in the air, you can catch it while standing under large trees and feeling to soothing coolness of the air. The people are a little more relaxed and tranquillo. Rain does that to the mind, it helpless to provide a cooling effect for the tired and weary minds; it is embalming. But one has to worry for those living in the Jalan P.Ramlee area and those living on the high rises build at the foot hills of Ayer Itam, they must be worried about this prolonged raining phenomena, it can be very destabilising to the nerves.
On the other side of the coin, the rivers and streams are cleaner and there si ample amount of water stored up for the sunny days; we have it covered water supply wise for now. Look at the water mess in the Klang valley area, sad sad situation, I hope Penang is more proactive in handling the water issue than Selangor.Taking things for granted we react when shit has already hit the fence; Safety is Action Taken Prior to an Accident...Reaction is an after effect of an accident.
Upon return to Malaysia with my family I chose to live in Terengganu, the East Coast of Malay Peninsular where my late wife was offered a teaching jod at the tthen Kolej Tuanku Zainal Abbidin  or better known as (KUZA) from 1998 - 1004? How I Forget easily things I dont want to remember, she was an ESL Lecturer and also was a Japanese language Teacher. I got a job as a Health and Safety Officer for a Construction company called Ibai Bina based in Kuala Terengganu. The project was at the Petronas Refinery Facility in Kerteh and later Gebeng, in Pahang. I was recommended for the job based on my background as Site and safety manager for an American Hazardous Waste and Ship Services Company in San Francisco for a total of six years. (Re;H&H Ship Services). I was instrumental in the writing of the Underground Fuel Tank Dispossal as instructed by the Environmental Protection Agency of California back in 1984? I was responsible in explaining in detail every single step and procedure that had to be taken prior to the "burning of a Tank", I had to explain all these to a Professor from the University of Berkley, California who noted it all down and most probably has claimed it all his ideas.
But that be it, Safety became my passion for the duration of time that I served as a Safety Officer of which I spent three years at the Petronas Facility Project working for various World companies like Van Seumerren and Auto Balst. Over the three years i had a first hand opportunity to observe how Malaysians work with regard to Safety as compared to the American Companies.  One oft the Main Contractors for the Project I was BECTEL from the US and the Sub Contractor was Lynde/Samsung Engineering; three of the world's major construction players. I was hired by Auto Blast a painting company specializing in pipings. All the white, grey and other colored pipes you see if you ever have a chance to walk through the refinery in Kerteh was probably painted by Auto Blast. One my first day at my job I was facing a grouped gentlemen representing these companies along with the Site safety Manager, an American build like Rambo and with voice like Arnold S. And he was demanding what I am going to do to break this impasse they were having to get started with the painting job. After making promises and assuring everyone that i was their man for the job, the painting job was okay misery too began.
For five thousand a month plus lodging it was a salary i could not refuse and the fact that I had wanted to experience the feeling of working in a construction site was fulfilled in the best of ways. While I was working in Gebeng, Pahang for one of the the world's ;largest crane company, Van Seumerren Romstar I was able to learner what it was like to work with the Brisitsh mentality as most of the Project managers were from England. The British I found holds the Safety Issues of a Project Site to be Sacred; No one should get heurt while working, not on this site not on my watch. Centralised Facility Utilities (CUF) was the main Project Manager and my job had me in close contact with each and everyone of them on a daily basis. I learned from the best. I learned from the safe officers of Premba Costruction Co., Ho Hup and such companies like Ibai Bina, and Petronas while we sat in meeting rooms or coffee shops.
In Yesterday's paper there was multiple tragic accidents involving lorries and cars somewhere in the country, this is a serious Safety Issue as the well being of the public is in jeopardy; usually it gets allot worse before it gets better. Perhap because we are too busy with out political fate,we have no time to make sure that these accidents does not happen again. The Department of Road and Transportation (DOT) in California is one of the most strictest agency when it comes to using the Highways. The ccertificate for the Bill of health for both the Lorry and the Driver is mandatory to made available upon demand by the law and enforcement agencies. This is especially so for long haulers and those involved in the transportation of hazardous material. ( This would include the hauling of timber). I am positive Malaysia has already implemented all these rules to date or at least in the process of looking into it.
Safety is a concern to all especially those who are involved in major construction works and this includes the mode of transportation from source to destination; it is the responsible of all parties involved to ensure safety on the road.I have helped move one dead body too many in my line of work and on looking back one or two was pure work related events. Cutting corners, procrastination, not giving good care to the well being of employees are a few of the major causes of work related accidents.
To be a good Health and safety officer I felt one has to be able to become a part of the whole site and have the passion for learning from others of their needs and complaints, their shortcomings and what makes them tick. I have to become, blend in and assume my role wholeheartedly and make sure the pay is good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Open Heart - Ceremony

I was chatting SMS with the pilot in Dubai last night wondering how he was suffering! One of the things I told him was no more Ice Hockey as his shoulder was troubling him, "No way my friend , never!"...That is passion and I am very glad my son still has great passion for what he enjoys, the flip side is looks like I am never going to see a grandchild; Not in this lifetime!
Went to the bank to pay up for my long overdue car payment, something that has been nagging at the back of my mind the past few months, wondering when it will be towed away by the "Repo" man. Having soem extra cash now i decided perhaps I can talk my way out by paying whatever areas I had left. When I told the lady at the counter my car registration number she said my car is all paid up for! Wow! meaning to say all these months I was walking around with a false worry on my mind!? Yep sometimes we more than bring bad karma upon ourselves by simply being ignorant and with no desire to find out the simple truths.Ah, what a relief it is, the small car that I have been driving ever since I moved to Penang is at last my very own; now i can the paint job. I told people that my car is a disguised Mercedes actually, not wanting to show off my wealth in this world. So it is masked as a Kancil with one side of its front part is rusted from haveing had no paint for the past year and a half.. My way of saying try not to grow too attached to any form in this life and that being wealthy is relative. The Kancil has been mode of transportation all these years with four trips from Penang to Kuala Terenganny with no problem; ask my daughter. I love my (Merscedes in disguise) Kancil.

"Our practice of the Dharma should be a continual effort to attain a state beyond suffering. It should not simply be a moral activity whereby we avoid negative ways and engage in positive ones. In our practice of the Dharma, we seek to transcend the situation in which we all find ourselves victims of our own mental afflictions, the enemies or our peace and serenity , These afflictions - such as attachment, hatred, pride, greed and so forth - are mental states that cause us to behave in ways that bring about all our unhappiness and suffering. While working to achieve inner peace and happiness, it is helpful to think of them as our own inner demons, for like demons, they can haunt us, causing nothing but misery. The state beyond such negative emotions and thoughts, beyond all sorrow, is called Nirvana."
                                                                  The Dalai Lama
                                                                   "The Open Heart"
One regret I would have is not to be able to meet the Dalai Lama face to face in this lifetime, it would be like meeting the Pope: the Reverend Thich Nat Hahn was a teacher of mine at Green Gulch in Marin County California and so was Dainin Katagiri Roshi the Late Abbot of Minnisotta Zen Center. I had a few great teachers including my first teacher Junpo Kelly, the Abbot of Hollow Bone Zen center.(?) There was Edward Espe Brown or better known as Ed Brown, the Zen Chef of San Francisco's "Greens" Organic restaurant. Norman and Kathy Fischer great parents and teachers of life.
What would I say if I meet the guy? Oh I like your lifestyle dude! Cool! So sorry about what China did to you and your country, you were the first of the victims of Chinese expansionism. Nice weather we got here, you know I like to visit Tibet one day, see what is left of your great culture, the seat of Tantric Buddhism,

Oops. got carried away there a bit, back to what is; Timo plans on visiting us in the next few months! Like wow! My son the Swiss is going to have blast of a cultural experience if not shock! I hope he is prepared to squat and shit and get his finger introduced to his own butt to wash after his big thing! Yes Malaysians wash their butts, most do not use toilet papers. So wherever you go on your out of the city trips make sure you have your supplies ready. And that is the beginning of your list of what to expect and not be caught with your pants down.
Malaysia is still one of the most beautiful country to visit in the world for she has plenty to offer if you know what you are looking for.Here the people are as unique as the environment and there is so much a visitor can learn by interpersonal communicating with locals that are usually made up of the Malays, The Chinese and the Indians in the West Malaysian States while in Sabah and Sarawak the number of different ethnic groups is even more so.You visit Germany, chances are you only talk to Germans, learn German culture or sing German songs, but here you have many ethnic/cultural choices for you to taste from.
If you enter the country with an Open Heart, the country will open its heart to you.


Monday, September 24, 2012

A Man who Justifies does not Convince

My justification of why I write this blog will never convince me or any others the fact it is a waste of time and energy; not to mention the psychological input that is in the nature of my Blog. My last entry was  scrambled and cannot be read as it involved, maybe a U.S.government document that I had downloaded to go with it. No harm done, but my intentions were not to add fuel to fire but to share my two cents worth on a subject that has been a part of my psyche; I love my Malaysia and I love the U.S.
IN my 21 years of living in the U.S. I have met the best of man and the worse same as I have done so here in Malaysia, but none can I say is any reflection of the society as a whole. It is when you have not really and truly felt the pulse of a nation that you create your own perceptions of what that nation is and how you should face it in times of confrontation. The former President J.F. Kennedy did a program that worn the hearts of many nations all over the world, including this country and myself personally. In my secondary education while living in Terengganu on the East Coast of the Peninsular Malaysia, I was fortunate to have had several great teachers who hailed from Iowa, Colorado and Michigan States; they were Peace Corps Volunteers.I am sure most of us who had the opportunity to be taught by these teachers in those days would have to admit that they added spice to schooling. Those teachers who came over too cannot deny having had the best experiences living among the locals for a year or two of their lives; we tend to forget these positive achievements we shared and sadly enough dwell on the negative much more so to accuse and to judge.
The fact that the other guy could think better than we do is unacceptable especially if he is not one of us by race or culture; we have the incessant need to compete, to be the best; el Numero Uno.This obssessive nature has led us into becoming possessive, never enough, dominating and exploiting every means and actions to be the Number One.
When The Old Boy, 'Lao Tzu said that a man who can stop thinking for three minutes can rule the world; he meant that, that is how long our lives are worth in this realm.(My take).
Yet we cling to this life with all our hearts and mind, clinging to it possessing it and being possessed by it, so much so we are willing to gladly 'win the world and loose my soul'.  At what cost? Why can't we stop and take a deep breath and feel how fragile we are; "shortness of breath cause you to death" Pink Floyd.
As the Muslims pray five time a day, they have an automatic built in system to make sure that remember to stop and take a breath...time out! I am with my Lord...five times a day.or as the Buddhist would look at it I am Bodhicitta; I am consciousness Itself; I am Compassion; I am the all Forgiving...Bodhi Svaha!
There is more power in giving than in receiving I think the Prophet of Allah(Blessed) might have said this, I read somewhere, the hand giving is always above that of the receiver. In Buddhism the Buddha taught of receiving alms from the Sangha, the society the World so that we are always reminded that we are servants in this world and interdependent in our needs, to live. What is stopping us from opening our hearts and allowing for this teachings to manifest themselves in our daily thinking, our daily actions; as we communicate with our fellow man.
It is not my intention to compare Islam to Buddhism in a competitive manner but to build similarities  in concept as one takes a look from a different perspective; from a neutral angle. I grew up within both religions and have made my life's passion to understand of these two religions of my ancestors. I consider myself a richer person by virtue of the fact that i was born and raised as I was given the circumstances; a Buddhist and a Muslim both at the same time. I was forced to deal with the issues of faith and belief at a very early age and it hit home when I was in standard two and someone called me a Khafir at school. The shame and the pain sank in deep and till this day I made it my passion to find the truth, for lack of better words, to why was I born in the first place...who am I?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Open Heart -

" In a sense the concept of "us' and "them" is almost no longer relevant, as our neighbor's interest are ours as well. Caring for our neighbor' interest is essentially caring for our own future. Today the reality is simple. In harming our enemy we are harmed...War seems to be part of the history of humanity. As we look at the situation of our planet in the past, countries, regions and even villages were economically independent of one another. Under those circumstances, the destruction of our enemy might have been a victory for us. There was a relevance to violence and war. However today we are so interdependent that the concept of war has become outdated. When we face problems or disagreements today, we have to arrive at solutions through dialogue. Dialogue is the only appropriate method. One sided victory is no longer relevant. We must work to resolve conflicts in the spirit of reconciliation and always keep in mind the interests of others. We cannot deny our neighbors! We cannot ignore their interest! Doing so would ultimately cause us to suffer. I therefore think the concept of violence in now unsuitable. Nonviolence is the appropriate method...It is most important that we have a warm heart. As long as we are a part of human society, it is very important to be a kind, warm - hearted person."
"An Open Heart"
The Dalai Lama.
As tensions builds up between China and Japan,( China and the Phillipine,)   over the rights to a group of small islands and as Muslim countries all over the world is again incited to an uproar over a stupidity on the part of a few ignorant sensation seekers in creating a movie that insults the Prophet and the religion, as civil war rages in Syria and various other parts of the planet, one is made to think of what the future holds. Israel is ever ready to strike at Iran and North Korea and the South stands on battle stations expecting one to make the wrong moves with the United States having its fingers dipped into every conflict; we are bound for the the Nuclear glory. Some idiot somewhere is bound to trigger the big show sooner or later; its a bleak future indeed for all of us.
The prophecy that at the end of 2012 the planet as we know it would come to an end is not far fetched after all if one ponders upon the state humanity is in right now and it seems like there is nothing that stands in the way of its demise save prayers and wishful thinking. Sad as it is it seems we will never learn no matter what is written on the walls we will keep on building higher greater and more powerful effigies to stand out above others all in the name Our Gods, our beliefs, our countries, our principles and doctrines; we have become what our ancestors have set out to accomplish for themselves; Masters of Destruction..
Man has become worse than the lower creatures in many cases so much so that it is a shame to be considered a human being on this planet today. If not for the relatively few who still strive for sanity and the peaceful coexistence of the whole human race, mankind would have self destruct itself a long time ago. We have lost our humanity, our care and devotion towards our fellow man, towards the sanctity of life itself; we have given up the right to be the vicegerent of this planet. Instead we have become the cancerous virus that is eating away at the very core of the planet's existence. Where is our compassion, our loving kindness towards each other; our awareness of how temporal our existence is? Our individual existence on this planet is fleeting where time is concern compared to the planet's but during this short period in time we have created all kinds of havoc short of  bringing the whole roof down upon our heads.
Spurred by greed, hate and ignorance man has lost his sense of equanimity, we have squandered our inherent capacity to love and forgive; our sense of tolerance and conciliation towards one another; we have become trigger happy and the taking of a life is no more sacred than stealing a car. In Malaysia it has become a common news to discover a new born being dumped into toilet bowls and thrown out of windows; such is our lot as we step forward into the so called global age, and we pride ourselves having become more civilized than our ancestors. Our environment is being desecrated with impunity like there is no tomorrow; while in the pursuit for wealth and power; there is never enough; those who have more than needed cling to what they already acquire and striving for more. Sharing, wealth distribution and sustainable economy has slowly become not such a good idea if one is to remain ahead; we would rather waste than give away. We would rather analyze and judge our fellow man than accord him our sense of compassion and loving kindness; how have we lost our humanity?
While our scientists are adamant in their efforts to deny the existence of a Higher Being or God, our politicians are more and more vigorous in their efforts to divide and rule. While our religious minds harp upon what is right and who is wrong, our younger generations are getting lost in a limbo seeking every form of escape from the pressures of simply being alive.
They are the losers, those who make the religion hard and tough. They imperil themselves who enforce tough practices of Islam. They destroy themselves, those who are extremes.

——— Prophet Muhammad (s) as reported by Ibn Masud in Sahih Muslim.

 If God is taken out of the equation of existence man can kiss his spiritual nature good bye and that would leave him no better or worse than an animal or a machine as man still has the capacity to think; to distinguish between right and wrong; the human mind is the only thing left that can save him from himself. It is a sad day if and when man thinks he is the center of all creation and act through his ego rather than his spirit with impunity for his knowledge of the Universe is still minuscule in comparison to what is out there yet to be unravelled.

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
… Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
… Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
… Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
… Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
… Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
… Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
… Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
… Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”
——— Mother Theresa.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Raja Petra Kamarudin
One million people commit suicide each year: WHO
(AFP) - One million people die by their own hand each year, accounting for more deaths than wars and murders put together, the World Health Organisation said yesterday, calling for urgent action to address the problem.
“Data from the WHO indicate that approximately one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds,” the organisation said in a report launched ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday.
And while the number of deaths by suicide is staggering, the number of attempts each year is 20 times higher, the WHO said, pointing out that five percent of people in the world try to kill themselves at least once during their lifetime.
And the problem is getting worse, the organisation said, insisting that “given the magnitude of the public health problem of suicidal behaviours”, urgent action was needed.

Yes, I have attempted suicide at least twice in the course of my life and the first one was sometime in 1979-80 while I was a student at the university in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I had just returned from my three month long trip through the South West States of New mexico, Arizona and Colorado as a part of my semester's project; Art in Quest of the Universality or living on the street as an artist. It was a program introduced by the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a program called 'The University without Walls" and I was of the few selected to do the pioneering of this course of study.
At the beginning of the semester I made all the necessary arrangements with four faculty members from my art department; writing proposals and making commitments as to how i would be graded and what I am expected to do; my goals and intentions.This was not the first trip i took with similar intentions as my first trip was to England where I started keeping my journals in 1978-79.
Back to my story, I had just arrived from this long and eventful journey of the Southwest States living out of a 1965 Chevy Impala bought for two US dollars from my former girlfriend who got the car from her grandma. The car was parked in the driveway with one half of her passenger side flatten out from an accident i experienced somewhere on Highway 666 between Gallup and Durango on the border between Colorado and New Mexico.( I wrote about it somewhere sometime ago in my blog about this accident.)I was sitting on the front steps of my closest friend Francis Wilson's home facing a willow tree in the small yard. Upon my return I had found out that Fran was in the process of separating from his wife and so no one was home and the event was a shock to me as I loved them both like my family.
I also came to realize that my son and his Mom had left for Mannheim, Germany where my former wife had a teaching job and thus I would not be seeing my son for sometime and this too was a shocker as I had totally forgotten about their plans. Missing my son was not an easy thing for me to dealt with as he was all I had to remind me of who I was and why I needed to be where I was. I felt an emptiness deep within and no one to turn to and all I had to my name was in the battered car.
I entered the house as Fran had left it unlocked for me when I called him to let him know of my return.I stood in the kitchen with a sick feeling in my stomach from hunger as well as depression. As I went through the kitchen cabinets to search for food I found a bottle of Jack Daniels still unopened and without thinking much started pouring it down my throat. By the time I stopped I had finished three quarters of the bottle and I began to feel the burning sensation in my stomach making me almost collapse to the floor but I hung on to the counter and with my mind going in warp speed from pain and fear I saw the knives stuck in the rack and decided to end it by slitting my wrists. Before i made the move to grab a knife I saw the telephone and my immediate thoughts were of my home and my eldest brother. If anyone could help me I figured he was the one as he had often talked me into some senses in the past.
I reached into my wallet and found his home phone number in Terengganu, Malaysia and started dialing even as my mind was doubtful as I had never called anyone in Malaysia after my seven years in the States; I had burned my bridges with my past including my family.The phone rang and I was surprised and then it was answered by a young lady and again my heart fell into disappointment. I asked who she was and when she told me she was a housekeeper and that my brother was at work, I said 'Shit!."  She came back with 'Oh but your father is here, cant't you talk to your father?" It was as though she felt my disappointment and chastised me. So she got my father on the phone and all this while I realized that the line was so clear it was like I was in the same country as he was.
When my father came on the phone I unloaded all my pains and sorrow on him telling him of my grieve and that I was about to do a stupid thing. After a short silence father did something which I loved and hated him at the same time, he laughed! Only those who are close enough to him would know this laughter; a humorless laughter of an old man.He said, " It is your son's Karma that he has to leave you and live away from you, it is my Karma that you left me to live away from me and now it is your Karma-la so what are you whining about? Accept your Karma-la! Go on and live your life like a ma,." he said with the most gentle voice like  only my father could. There was no anger, no judgement only flat out, 'don't worry be happy.'
I felt warm tears flowing out of my eyes down my cheeks and felt the greatest relief and an exuberant warmth    engulfed my whole being; three quarter of a bottle of jack Daniels Whiskey in my stomach and I was clear headed and sober like I had never been before. I left the house and drove to the nearby Pamperin Park, at Duck Creek where I used to live in Green Bay. I sat at a picnic table and got out my typewriter and decided to write a thank you not to my father for saving my life.Later i showed the letter to my close friend at the International Student Center at the University and after reading it she asked to make a copy of it to share with her husband and kids. She said this words came from your heart and I wish more children would think of their parents like you.Later in the evening as I sat listening to a Pink Floyd album I had a strange feeling of elation; I felt all my aches and pains from the whole journey to the Southwest and my bouts of suicide lifted and separated from my being; like it was all hanging in front of me. I said Alhamdullilah and thanked the Lord for His saving grace. I thanked my father for being laconic and being there when I needed someone most.
 That semester I had had a solo Art Exhibition at the University Faculty Art Gallery and I was the first student to be accepted to exhibit there. I got four straight 'A's for my courses and found a very decent place to live out on a farm, my housemate the owner was as unique a man as they come.The Chevy Impala met her final days at the hands of a few Malaysian students who borrowed her for ride up north to Door County in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. On their way back the engine finally blew up ; they forgot to add two quarts of oil as I had advised them to do before they left. I never asked for any compensation for the car but got 40 dollars for her tiers which were sporty donated to me by a rich Thai student. Fran Wilson remarried and we played many rounds of golf together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is my passion in Life?

One of the planes I used to do delivery runs from Island to island in the Bering Sea flown by my friend Dwight Blackburn who would ask me to accompany him on these runs mostly delivering liquors to Native Aleuts.
You are never too old to reminisce about what has been nor are you too young to become passionate about your cause in life.
Unfortunately several of my Journals related to Alaska has gone missing during my global transition from the US to Japan and then to Malaysia. The Iceland was a wooden boat some 65 feet in length and was one of the twelve boats built by the Norwegian Paul Martinez.
To be passionate about how we feel towards the fate of our Nation one does not need to stand on a soap box in the town square and scream at the crowd about it; we just have to look within and untangle the tangles that has been inherent within us from the day we were born. At birth sometimes even our umbilical chord can be all tangled up and the midwife has to free these tangles or we would die of lack of supplies to our brain. Then the chord has to be cut to free us from our mother's womb and in place we are placed at our mother's breast to continue on getting our nourishment and safe comfort; our attachment to her is still closely maintained till we come of age; til then the food we ate the cloth we wore the friends we were allowed to hang out with the religion we belong to etc. all are handed down to us from her and the rest of the family members.
Our sense of freedom comes only after we have broken away from this circle of influences; when we leave for boarding school or college or to work away from our city or village. Even then most of us carry with us our baggage, our back pack containing our past connection to the family and society we had just left but to few this freedom becomes an opportunity to explore the unknown. To seek for what it is that we are truly passionate about in life and how with this inborn passion how we can serve our extended family; the Nation. It is only with absolute freedom from the bonds of our past conditioning can we find the truth about our true passion and hence serve without fear or favor. This journey towards self discovery and understanding of who we are can never be overstated for those whose desire in life is to be of service to the whole.

Flying the Reeves Aleutian Air can be an experience in itself especially when the gales hit these areas of the Pacific Northwest. The plane would fly from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor and then stop at Sand Point on the return trip.
Sometime in 1982-83 after graduating form the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay I left for Alaska tagging along with an artist friend who I had just met when we had a two man show at the Belin Hospital in Green Bay. After  much persuasion and convincing I managed to talk my friend Robert Sergei to take me with him for the summer fishing season in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska in the Pacific North West. I had no idea what i was getting into much less of what was in store for me but after three days of making our way to Anchorage, Alaska, i discovered that I was short of 87Dollars to pay for my plane ticket from Anchorage to Sand Point, the harbor where Rob was to fish from; I had to borrow it from Rob.
On looking back at my actions I am still amazed at how dumb if not reckless i was to have taken such a venture with no back up plan or worse with not enough resources to even make a return trip: I had burned all my bridges behind me without realizing it. Little did i know that at sand Point where we finally landed there was one hotel, one policemen, one post office one restaurant; it was a one horse town with only eight trees standing, the res was Tundra vegetation. It was cold as the wind carried the cold Pacific current even though it was summer. My saving grace came when upon landing the Captain and the rest of the crew for the Iceland met us and the first thing that came out his mouth was the fact that one of the crew members could not make it; I raised my eyes to the grey skies and said, thank you Lord!. I became the fifth member of the Fishing Vessel -The Iceland; I had never fished before and the closest i came to fishing was when i was invited to fish with a fishing rod under the Ibai Bridge in Kuala Terengganu on the east Coast of the Malay Peninsular.I was far from home; I was pursuing my passion not fishing but to travel the world and do things not commonly done and then some. For a brief period of time I was in the Bering Sea doing the "Deadliest Catch" of Halibut ( I had no idea what a Halibut looked like before this) something i could never dream of even if I had tried and all I wanted to see and experience was the out of this world pictures that Rob had taken for his Art exhibition. These days whenever I watched Astro's Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest catch"? I say to myself, I did that, perhaps the first Malaysian to have done it.( The record is still 1982-83)
I spent two years of my life living on Sand Point, but that would mean having to tell a whole episode of how i got there. Suffice to say that with passion and lack of fear for the unknown it is not impossible to achieve beyond one's dream thus making life that much more worth living and living to tell about it makes it more passionate as i kept an on going record in my sketchbooks of most of my travels. One of the reasons why i kept writing this blog is to be able to share my past experiences with a wider audiences around the world which the Internet has allowed me to do. It is also my way of continuing keeping an ongoing journal or 'Self Discovery', having did this and done that is not enough without a good story  or fish tale to shoot the breeze with and sketches and pictures to look at.