A good friend of mine gave me a book on my birthday for me to read. It was written by the late Dr Randy Pausch, who was a professor at the Carnegie-Mellon who wrote accounts of his life, and life’s little lessons upon knowing that he only had months left to live. I got the book two weeks before his passing, and I can safely say that Dr Pausch was one of the greatest guys ever. I have yet to finish the book but there are several lessons that I can relate to my life.
1. TIME IS ALL YOU HAVE, AND YOU MAY FIND ONE DAY THAT YOU HAVE LESS THAN YOU THINK.
I used to be early or extremely punctual…very prompt. I was in many ways a workaholic, always eager to prove my worth. And for that, I would volunteer for any operation or mission along the border, and sometimes deep inside a neighbouring country’s territory together with their personnel. After I left the service, too, I would stay back late. But it dawned upon me that my kids were growing up faster than I had thought, and I missed some important events in their life. At one point, even my son, Farhan, who was so close to me, refused to sleep with me. I soon changed that by changing my lifestyle, and now spend more hours with them at home.
I am truly guilty of not spending much time with them. I watched my eldest, Farhanah, grow until she turned 3, when her mother and I went through a divorce, and took custody of her and her younger sister, Fazira. I did not get to hear Fazira’s first word. I still do not know what it was. I don’t think the mother knows that too as she was busy herself. I am lucky that I got out of the corporate world and have been monitoring the progress of Farhan and his sister, Nisaa. I am guilty because I spent very little time with my parents when I was growing up – so much so that we do not know much about each other except from my birth through the age of 8. So I should not make my children go through the same thing too.
I have stared death in the eyes so many times and got away clean that I took for granted the importance of time. Two events changed me. One was the demise of a friend’s wife. We always take for granted that we will be home to see our spouse after work. She was overworked and had wanted to be driven to work, but he had to go for another meeting and sending her would be out of the way. He made her take the bus and she had to walk quite a distance from the house to the bus stop, then the bus stop to her office. He then called her because she was upset, and promised to see her for lunch. She never made it to lunchtime. She collapsed of exhaustion at the office and died.
Another incident was a neighbour of ours. The wife had just delivered a pair of twins, and he went to work. He met with an accident just minutes after he left and died on the spot.
So, friends, when you leave that house, or when you drop your spouse, and loved ones, in the morning, always kiss them and hug them. Do not regret later that you wished you had hugged or kiss them. And NEVER quarrel in the morning when you start the day, or settle a quarrel at night and make out before you sleep. You may never know if you will ever see sunrise again.
Another thing is, enjoy every bit of life every minute, or try to. If you have to check your office mails on a vacation, then you are NOT on vacation. I never answer office calls during weekends.
2. ALL YOU HAVE IS WHAT YOU BRING WITH YOU.
If money is what you live for, then you will die with it. If you place importance upon your family, then they will be with you even after you are long gone.
3. WE CANNOT CHANGE THE CARDS WE ARE DEALT, JUST HOW WE PLAY THE HAND.
Be in control of your own life and destiny. Look around you and appreciate the people and things you love. Never take them for granted. This is a short life that we live. Make them happy so they can make you happy in turn. This is something we always forget to do. We are so engrossed with running the rat race that we neglect those whom we thought we value so much. In the end, we tag them with a tangible value – that being the amount of pay we take home.
There are many ways to play the hand. We just have to find the best way.