Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Think Individual

Pictures speak a thousand words. I treasure those pictures taken of me in my younger days.  When I look at those old photographs, I try to recall my state of mind and the events around the period when the pictures were taken. I wonder what I could have been thinking and how my views had changed . I have always aspired to become an independent minded person and an individualist. Maybe some people are naturally more individualistic than others while some like  to  conform with  social expectations and naturally fit into the environment they live in. There are the others who are still figuring out things. Sometimes I wish I had figured out some things sooner. Perhaps it is better late than never.

When I left home to pursue my studies, my dad bought me a Canon camera . I believe it was a AE SLR and it was one of the must haves which I carried everywhere I travelled to. When I dabbled in some baking , my dad bought for our house a standing oven during one of my vacations. My dad bought both me and my sister  a treadmill and exercise machine in the early nineties. The camera, the oven and the treadmill are  representative of the interests that had become an integral part of my adult lifestyle. I  am not much of a cook but I am a foodie. I do incorporate regular physical exercises in my weekly routine to keep fit and feel good. I enjoy taking pictures and in this digital age, photography seems to inspire infinite possibilities. During our growing years, we were sent to piano and music lessons and the brand of our first piano was Pearl River and it was subsequently replaced by a Baldwin which my daughters used when they first started their music lessons. These were of course not the only purchases my dad had expended on. However there were some items which were not purchased but home made and I did not think I appreciated them then.

As a child, we do not want to be different from the others. Peer pressure is real. As far as my memory goes,  I was never given one of those paper lanterns which children  hand carry during mid-autumn lantern festival or commonly known as mooncake festival. Every such festival, children flock outside their houses  with their little lanterns brightly lit and they walk around their backyard or parade on the street  in the neighbourhood. These paper lanterns are usually in the shape of an animal e.g. a  rabbit, a bird, a dragon or whatever that is striking and colourful. These days the design of such lanterns may include those of the anime characters. My enterprising and innovative dad used to make ornaments for Christmas decorations; there was this one time my sister and I had asked for a lantern. Instead of spending money buying one of those colourful paper lantern which was  flimsy and probably would burn out after the season,  he made my sister and I each a wooden lantern with wheels which we had to lug along on the road; he had modified one of those Christmassy dollhouses which were left over from the previous year sale. If I remember correctly, it was a dollhouse with some glitters and sparkles. Instead of a paper lantern which is feather weight and can be carried around the neighbourhood, we each had a wooden dollhouse which we had to pull or lug along the road.  As a young child, I felt very self- conscious and awkward about my “lantern” which was significantly different from the traditional paper lanterns and  I certainly did not  ever ask for another lantern during subsequent years.

Looking back, I remember having a dad who was industrious and  had little time to idle around. For a living, he had to constantly think of producing stuff  to market. When he was in PVC plastic business, he made PVC bags printed with pretty pictures and printed stickers which bore meaningful and inspirational words which we now receive through our emails from our cyber friends . More often than not, my dad on his own   learnt the ropes of whatever business he ventured into, be it books printing or screen printing or plastic industry.  He also had to plan and strategize his marketing plan on his own. He had the ideas but he did not have the people to execute them. He was innovative but he was perhaps not sufficiently resourceful  to engage the right people to perfect what he wanted to achieve. He had very little financing so he had to make money out of these merchandises quite quickly to make his businesses sustainable. As my dad felt his way around and invest his time and  energy in making products which he thought were merchantable, he also found the time to play tenor saxophone in a music band which he had formed with his friends ; he arranged music for his band which took to perform in botanical garden during festive occasions as part of the community activities. He had married my mother and a decade later, fell for a woman who was poles apart from my mother. How he could have such contrasting tastes still baffles me till this day.

In some ways, my dad was an individualist. Somehow throughout the years, his aspirations for his children became pragmatic, conventional and earthy although  once upon a time he had cared more about virtues, intellect, artistic  and creative talents than money. Like all parents in the world, my dad wanted his children to have material success and a comfortable lifestyle. As he was caught in a race  juggling between his role as a breadwinner raising his family and his social obligations in fulfilling his commitments and responsibilities in the positions he had volunteered in various organizations, it appeared that he might have overlooked the essence of moderation . Maybe each individual will have to somehow figure out our own centre in order to find our balances. I figure it  is easier said than done.

Malapascua Island, Philippines

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