Before 30

I turned 29 this year. On my birthday, my husband came back with a DVD of the cinematography legend Akira Kurosawa’s “Sichinin no Samurai” or better known as “Seven Samurai” in English. Our youngest had been sleeping through the night and so Husband decided to celebrate the two happy occasions with a movie night. A luxury we had not had since our eldest was born.

We have since been spending weekend nights with Kurosawa’s classics – black and white movies depicting life and man’s ambitions and questioning their meaning. Despite their monochromatic colors, these classics are far from boring. In fact, they capture their audience and leave them in deep contemplation. At least for me.

Much like everyone else, I have had my own dreams of what my life should be before 30. There were lists checked: graduate with a university degree, work a steady job, get married, have children. There were lists left yet to be checked: have a third child and be done with it, travel the world, start a business, earn big dollars, and maybe go check out what all the hip of an avocado toast is about. Because, life is about that, is it not? Get successful! Have the most fun! Before 30.

Alas, or rather, fortunately! Dreams are what they are: dreams. They are not, at least not yet, the reality. Because the reality is, I may or may not even get to 30. There is no guarantee. Heaven only knows. And with such realization, I may see my reality, and therefore reorient my dreams, with better clarity and purpose.

The poor farmers depicted in “Seven Samurai” were awaiting death and destruction by bandits, their faint hope lay on the seven poor ronins‘ swords whom they paid with 3 meals of plain rice daily while they themselves ate millet. For the farmers it was their basic needs and survival, for the samurais their values and virtues. That was what life was about for them.

In “Ikiru” the protagonist learned he had only 6 more months to live. And only then did he realize that he had not really been living before. What is life? What does it mean to live?

Many have asked, and I too, have myself asked, “How should you decide to live your life, is it best to stay at home with your children and forgo career opportunities, or is it better to earn corporate status and money yet miss your children’s growing up moments?” I had grown up thinking that the latter is better, I had spent the past four and half years doing the former. But eventually, how one is to live one’s life is a matter one should honestly ask one’s self with death in mind. Time is not ours to own, “Should I die tomorrow, would I leave regretting how I had lived my life?”

It’s very inauspicious to speak of death in light of a birthday. Yet, death gives birthday its wisest admonition. Be it 20, 30 or 40, each added number brings us closer to death. May it bring us also to a truer meaning of life.

When Edmund Met the White Witch

Source: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis; Illustrated by Pauline Baynes

 Photo Source:
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis;
Illustrated by Pauline Baynes

“I don’t want to listen, I’m scared!” Our eldest ran away and cupped her ears with both hands.
“Come listen, the story is just getting interesting.”
“Is she good? Is she bad?”
“Listen and you’ll know.”
“No, tell me now, now. Is she good? Is she bad? She seems bad.”
“What if she’s bad?”
“I am scared. Let’s stop the story!”
“You are missing out on one of the best stories there ever is.”
“But I am scared!”
“Don’t be scared. Daddy is here with you, and I know how the story will end. It’s a happy ending.”
“Yes. Now, where were we..”

I, too, dear God, am scared. What if things are not the way I want them to be, what if life takes an unpredicted turn? I fear the uncertainties this life’s story entails. I do not want to have to meet any White Witch. Is that Good Days whom I see is coming? Bad Days? I want to know now, I want to be in control.

“My Child, you are missing out on the best lessons I shall teach you through this life.”
“But Father, I am scared!”
“Fear not, for I am with you and I know, no – I control how your life’s story goes, from its beginning to its ending. All things will end for My glory, and your ultimate good, that you may share in My holiness.”

And that is a promise.

One Grain of Rice, One Million Drops of Sweat

Image Source:

Image Source:

It was shocking. 786 million kilograms of food waste were generated in year 2015 in Singapore, according to the advertisement board I was staring at. That is equivalent to two bowls of food wasted by every person in this island every day for that year.

The numbers were just too mind boggling. And I can’t be exaggerating to say that it was as if all the food I did not responsibly use were thrown back at my face there in front of the ads board.

What could have been the excuses to such wasteful act? If I can brainstorm out some possible answers:

  • there’s too much food to finish
  • the food’s taste doesn’t suit my liking
  • the food has passed its shelf life
  • the food has turned bad

Those are possible excuses. What are the actual reasons? Gluttony, ungratefulness, ignorance, and laziness.

Uh oh, awful truth.

Could we do something to consciously place our food into responsible consumption instead of into the bin? Definitely!

Practice temperance, order or cook just enough, be truly thankful for the food we have and be thoughtful of the many who are not as priveleged*, be diligent to plan ahead for the use of food ingredients and be mindful of the date of expiry. Also, take the trouble to bring our own food container for any left over when dining out. These are just some ideas I can think of, what else do you think we can all do to reduce the food waste?

Let’s see to it that we leave not a single grain to waste. Because “sebutir nasi, sejuta keringat.”**

*According to the United Nations, about 21,000 people die of hunger and hunger-related issues each day, most of them being children.

**An Indonesian proverb translated as “one grain of rice, a million drops of sweat.” Indonesia is currently the world’s third largest producer of rice.