Wednesday 7 September 2022

Paid for Doing Nothing

Has Shoji Moromoto (“Shoji”) found the ideal job? His dream job? Maybe. He gets pay for doing nothing. Yes, nothing. And it pays rather well, $99 per hour (10,000 yen). 

Talk about working smart, or not working, but still earning. His parents must be beaming with pride. 

In any event, the lanky and nothing-much-to-look-at Shoji is in the rental business. He said: “Basically, I rent myself out. My job is to be wherever my clients want me to be and to do nothing in particular” (maybe I can consider renting myself out for a chat?)

In the last four years, he had handled 400 sessions, and mind you, Shoji has a quarter of a million followers on Twitter. He is basically a celebrity doing practically nothing. Where did he get his inspiration then?

““Before (Shoji) found his true calling, he worked at a publishing firm and was often chided for “doing nothing”.” That was his eureka moment. So he effortlessly mused: “I started wondering what would happen if I provided my ability to “do nothing” as a service to clients.” 

That was the birth of the idea of doing nothing. And will Shoji patent the idea, hire and train staff, and build an empire on just doing nothing? Stay tune...

Anyway, there is a catch, because “doing nothing does not mean that (Shoji) will do anything. He has turned down offers to move a fridge and go to Cambodia, and does not take any requests of a sexual nature.” He has about one or two clients a day, until the pandemic struck. 

It is reported that “last week, (Shoji) sat opposite 27-year-old sari-clad Aruna Chida, having a sparse conversation. The data analyst wanted to wear the Indian garment in public but was worried it might embarrass her fiends. So she turned to (Shoji) for companionship.”

“With my friends, I feel I have to enter them, but with the rental guy (Shoji), I don’t feel the need to be chatty,” Aruna said. 

In another rental, Shoji accompanied another to the park as the person wanted to play on a see-saw. “He has also beamed and waved through a train window at a complete stranger who wanted a send-off.” 

Well, there are friends with benefits, and here we have strangers with benefits, but for a small hiring charge. 

Shoji’s philosophy (for now) can be summed up in these words spoken by him: “People tend to think that my “doing nothing” is valuable because it is useful (for others). But it’s fine to really not do anything. People don’t have to be useful in any specific way.” 

Lesson? Just one. 

I am reminded of Adam asking God for a helper. He had everything, yes everything, even God. But he wanted something different than the everything he really had (or God had given him).  

What Adam was really asking for was company which became his companion for life, his wife. Eve was not Adam’s do-nothing companion. Her presence filled a void in Adam’s heart. 

They connected and both of them completed each other. The two became one in their life’s journey, notwithstanding that one memorable couple’s tiff concerning a fruit biting session.

In any event, it was the first romance on earth, though by default, but was consciously made. 

From Adam and Eve to Shoji and his many strangers-who-turned-friends, with one “stranger” hiring him about 270 times, the void we struggle with is universal and timeless. And the novel and sensational headlines of “getting paid doing nothing” is nothing new, actually. It is just a marketing tactic, and Shoji has a temporary first mover advantage on it. 

From courtships to marriages, from friendships, social escorts, sugar daddies to Shoji’s rental business, they only vary in degree. Other than that, it’s all about the age-old Adam-and-Eve issue. And in a crude way, they also vary in the value one party offers to the other. 

If you put a price on everything, marriage is not exactly free. It comes with a price. The price tag is supposedly ”paid” over a lifetime, and a divorce can wipe out half of your fortune. But the material cost is one thing, the emotional and mental cost can be far more damaging. 

So, look at it that way, it is indeed a costly companionship. Walking down the aisle and unveiling your bride is like entering into a joint venture that is definitely not costless. But if it works out, the so-called investment is worth every “cent” put in, and so much more. 

We thus return to Shoji. As far as his rental business is concerned, he is imparting value. In the market economy, value is whatever you are prepared and willing to pay. And Shoji is paid $99 per hour for his company, whether it is a silent or less-than-silent one. 

Some may even unabashedly see tying the nuptial knot as a lifetime hire. But the rental is paid by both, with varying rates, however, not in coins, notes or currencies, but in time, devotion and sacrifices.  

So, who says you have to do something in order for the payer to consider that something as one of value? Value can come from doing nothing, and in that case, I won’t consider what Shoji does as doing nothing, because it pays to do something that is, well, nothing. 

Shoji is specifically useful to his hirers for just being there as and when he is needed. His calling is therefore the ministry of presence, but with an hourly charge. 

And that nothing is not nothing since the sari-clad Aruna hinted to that trading value by saying: “With friends, I feel I have to entertain them, but with the rental guy, I don’t feel the need to be chatty.” 

Or maybe, it is the idea of a “Twitter celebrity” that Shoji is renting out. It is not for nothing though, because it takes lot of work over time to get there, from conception to implementation. 

And that is the price of novelty, innovation, fame and companionship.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

A letter to myself - Be life's steward.

A letter to myself,

Mike, what if you are just a steward? I am sure you have heard of that concept. You are not the owner of what you own. It’s not yours to claim or keep. You are just its steward. You are a trustee, safeguarding what is entrusted to you. 

As a father, you are a steward of your children’s well being. As a husband, you are a steward of your marriage. As a worker, you are a steward of what you receive at the end of the month. In legal-speak, what is legal title is not beneficial interest. 

And as who you are, you are a steward of what happens to you. Your experiences, good or bad, they are not to be taken personally. For stewardship is not ownership, and you deal with what happens with a calm, third-person perspective, instead of allowing it to swallow you whole, part by part. 

Yes, when failure happens, I know it’s hard to accept. It can be scary too. The future can be uncertain. The pain unbearable. And the grief takes a tight hold. 

But if you are a steward, you are therefore managing the experiences. For they did not happen to you as much as they happened for you to deal with, like a lesson to be studied and learned from. That is what a steward does. He handles them. He manages the crisis, however long it takes. 

He is there from the start to the end. In good times, a steward joins in the celebration. In bad times, in tough times, a steward tarries with faith and hope. He stays put. He never leaves the life behind. 

For this reason, he does not take the pain personally. Yet, this does not mean he denies the pain, the hurts, the emotions. No, there are as real as the blood that bleeds when you cut the flesh. A steward knows that intimately. He is soul deep with the life, but still keeps an arm’s length from it. In other words, he identifies with it, even affected by it for a season, but will not allow himself to be paralysed by it. 

For he knows better than to be in the eye of the storm. Instead, he is the eye looking at the storm, never losing sight until its energy is spent; and it will, eventually. 

He is there when the tears flow. He is there when the nights linger. He is also there when darkness looms. A steward takes responsibility for the experiences he manages. He is accountable to the life. That is his calling, a ministry of presence; most times, a quiet one, unseen. 

But, he also knows the many seasons that a life has to go through. A season to cry. A season to rejoice. A season to be born and a season to bury. Even a season to wait patiently for one season to pass while another lies in wait. 

That overarching season is for a lifetime and the steward readily adopts that perspective because that is the full range of a life’s experience under his oversight. 

And because he sees further, a steward never let the experience of one season overwhelm him. He does not take the hurts and pain to heart. He will not let them distract him. He keeps a distance. He stands firm on what he is called to do. And he strives to fulfill that calling to shepherd the life. 

Even for the experience of success, the steward does not take it personally. He does not let his guard down. He does not let it go to his head. He manages, remember? He does not allow complacency or pride to mar his judgement. He knows a neglect in one season will affect the other. 

Like domino effect, a season in the valley not managed well will spill over to the next. And a season at the summit if allowed to self-indulge in excess will also spill over. A steward will thus fight to keep the balance at both experiential peaks, that is, in the valleys and at the summits. 

That is what the steward is called to do. He plays his role as a third person, taking a long lens’ perspective, and is faithful to see the life through, come what may. He is a shepherd for all seasons, a steward for life. 

So, be life’s steward, Mike. This is the letter’s message. Be one for your own life. And don’t take things so personally. For this too shall pass. Life ought to advance, not shrink. From one season to another. Learn from it, and grow. 

Expand your land, not be trapped in it. Release your grip and don’t hoard it jealously, thinking that it’s yours to keep and rule. Mind you, one day you will be buried in it. And it is an errand for fools.

And let me end by saying that the fruit a steward reaps is maturity and resilience from a lifetime of overcoming, whether in the valley below or at the mountain-top.

Signing off,

Life’s Master-steward. 

(Image by Simon Berger).


Procrastination - the sojourners of life.


I think when it comes to procrastination, we have to be kind to ourselves. Don’t beat ourselves up over it. Take stock and try again. Keep on keeping on right? 

The article this morning maps out why we procrastinate and how we can beat it. Written by Dr Andree Hartanto (SMU) and Tina Ng Li Yi, a 3rd year student majoring in psychology, it gives us some good tips on how to overcome this sometimes dreaded (stationary) monolith in our life.

But first, the authors differentiate laziness and procrastination. “Laziness simply means being comfortable and satisfied with not achieving anything, whereas procrastination is more complex. Procrastinators want to accomplish something, but their actions prevent them from doing so.”

And there are a few reasons for procrastination. It may be a “lack of clarity on your goal.” Or you “set goals that are too vague and abstract.” In other words, you have no concrete plans to get there, except for a few platitudes about being the best you can be.

It may also be our endless struggles with the initial inertia. As first cut is the deepest, the first step is the heaviest. 

The authors wrote: “Finally, we sometimes procrastinate simply because we can't get the ball rolling. The resistance we have to a task is usually highest before we begin, but once you start acting on it, it's a lot easier to keep going.”

Other factors may be that “at other times, fear, self-doubt and anxiety are the obstacles aligning our present and future selves.” That present and future selves part is explained as follows: -

“Procrastination is fundamentally the result of a disconnect between our present and future selves. When we procrastinate, we are indulging the present self in immediate, short-term pleasures while leaving the future self to suffer the consequences.”

“We do this because humans have a present bias that makes us shortsighted in our goals, wiring us to value instant gratification such as from funny TikTok videos over far-off rewards like the satisfaction of productivity. Thus, procrastination comes from prioritising the present self.”

You will have to read the article about the steps to take to overcome procrastination. As a summary, they suggest setting concrete and achievable goals, be time-specific, and visualise what you want to achieve. That is, to see yourself removing the obstacles, one boulder at a time. Such mental exercise is a form of self-persuasion and self-encouragement. A self-pick-me-up. 

As for the laden first step to a rewarding journey of change, the authors advise: “To overcome the inertia of getting started, identify the very smallest action. Something that's so easy you can't not do it.” And then, do it. If it’s running, well, wear the running shoes first. That’s achievable right? If it is going for a study course, sign up. Press that button or key. Enter. 

But of course, things get more complicated when we are embarking on something that takes a longer time, requires our diligence and commitment, and there are distractions and temptations along the way. Yet, at every intersection of our endeavours, midstream or otherwise, we have to ask ourselves: how much do we want it, and how much we are prepare to change ourselves to get it. 

Bearing in mind that the road to a rewarding journey is not just about taking that heavy first step, it is about a change of heart. That is the first step of the soul of the journey, and it is usually the longest - that is, from the head to the heart. 

And when we embark on the journey with the first step, that changed heart has to keep being emboldened in that same direction from strength to strength to drown out the siren calls to quit, give up and run from it all. This goes beyond not procrastinating. It requires a steely will and a sense of meaning and purpose for the journey ahead. 

Alas, let me end with what time as a whole should mean to us. I recently read a book entitled “When - the scientific secrets of perfect timing” by Daniel H. Pink, and he ended the book with this observation: -

““Taken together, all of these studies suggest that the path to a life of meaning and significance isn’t to “live in the present” as so many spiritual gurus have advised. It is to integrate our perspectives on time into a coherent whole, one that helps us comprehend who we are and why we’re here.””

Make sense? 

I guess it is ultimately about the stories we tell ourselves when we are stuck at a crossroad. Is it a story of awe or dread? Is it a story of hope or despair? Is it a story of faith or fear? 

We all need to be awed by life, once in a while, like a pit stop a car takes to recharge; that is, awed by the birth of life, by the steps a life has taken to come this far, by the love a life has received and the love the life is able to give, by the hope of a meaning beyond a life’s daily grind, and by the joy of the most ordinary a life can savour. 

In other words, do we storify our life, collaborating with it to write our own script, or are we terrified by it, groping in the blank, unwritten pages? 

The reality is, we do not just live in the present, but driven by awe, even in the simplest pleasures of everyday living, we draw upon our past the story of nostalgia, of how we have come so far, against all odds, and we imagine our future, of the hope we can draw from it, of a journey we will eventually complete to enjoy the fruits of our labour, and our perspective of time in the present is therefore widened and deepened by all that. 

By doing so, we see the clarity of our purpose, and why we are here on earth. That is the awe we need, the common thread that joins our past, present and future together. 

That is also what author Daniel Pink is talking about when he said: “ integrate our perspectives on time into a coherent whole.” That coherent whole is our life’s story, different and unique from others, yet, it is scripted by us, on a blank canvass of endless possibilities. 

So, ready, fellow sojourner? For life awaits, let’s go.


The Khaw Boon Wan Interview.


Men in white. The curse of incumbency. Status quo arrogance. Pretentious consultation when minds and decisions are already made up. Patronising to the masses. Paying lip service to open-mindedness. Poisonous groupthink. Elitism or meritocratic aristocrats, and this, ”is he illiterate?” 

I guess most of us in Singapore are familiar with the above description of our governing authority - PAP. People’s Action Party could even be seen as People Action-only (show off) Party. We often forget the results produced, because the fish will be the last to discover water - but yes, not always stellar, but at least, predictably stable. 

The water flow is however never smooth sailing. We all know that. Sometimes, it is stale (uncreative), still and dead calm. Sometimes it is rushing with pandemic urgency and even the leaders are stumped. Most times, we just go with the flow, too preoccupied with bread-and-butter issues to be bothered with what the big boys or bad boys are doing at the head of the tide.

Anyway, Sumiko @ LunchWithSumiko has managed to fish out a quiet and humble leader amongst the mainstream current, who once described himself as such: “I think I am boringly calm.” 

Khaw Boon Wan was a big fish enjoying retirement after 42 years of public service (22 as a civil servant and 20 as a politican). He spent his time sending his grandkids to school, devoting to Taiji and meditating on Buddhist sutras before he was persuaded to return back to public service. The last straw was a lunch appointment with PM Lee on May 10, and the rest is, well, newspaper history. 

Well, after a heart bypass (2010), an arm operation due to a fracture (2019), and enduring dengue fever for two days last year, this vegan-diet retiree with almost zilch anger management issue may be taking up his swan song project before he goes quietly into the nocturnal starry skies.

You can read about the interview with Sumiko in today’s paper for the interesting bits about Khaw’s story, how he disliked long meeting, the 300 experts he met up to prep up for the job, and that quirky “twirls of his right foot”. 

In one part, you read about what he was reading before coming out of retirement. Anyway, maybe this trivia can be fleshed out here. “He spent several months engrossed in tomes about 500th anniversary of the Reformation, for example, and immersed himself in a book about Egyptian archaeology and European colonialism.”

But, for my post this Sabbath morning, I just want to focus on one small bit, that is, leadership and humility. I read somewhere that leadership is “the art of inspiring others in a team to contribute their best towards a goal.” 

And in 42 years of public service, I can’t say that Khaw had been lacking in that department. 

In the interview, he however described his new role as “my toughest assignment” and said: "I spent many years in healthcare, so I was not daunted when then Minister Howe Yoon Chong asked me to lead on hospital restructuring.”

“Housing, I volunteered to do the job as I knew the problems on the ground and had clear ideas on how I could fix it. MRT was a bit scary but I understood the engineering problem. I was confident that given time, we could turn it around. With media, I am out of my depth."

As a grandfather, he is no less the grandfather type in leadership, that is, ponderous in thoughts, careful with words, and taking a long lens’ view in perspective. But, what drew me to this leader is his unspoken-for humility. 

I felt that that was the freshwater spring point of inspiration a leader today urgently needs to move his team towards a common and mutually enriching goal. 

Skills and competency are one thing, but leadership as an art, is a demanding discipline calling for a profound depth of interpersonal touch only those who have worked with people, all kinds of people, have the courage, wisdom and strength to muster up for the long haul. 

And holding this bond together is humility, that is, not thinking less of yourself, but as CS Lewis puts it, thinking of yourself less. Because you still have to treasure yourself, before you share your treasure (gift) with others. 

Khaw said: “Civil servants can remain faceless, even nameless. I like that more. I was happiest when I was just a senior civil servant, senior enough to make a difference, and did not need to tell the world how I had improved their lives.” 

Well, this Mr Fix-it has proven himself on that, and using a train analogy, he prefers to fix it at night, when it is all quiet, with zero traffic and crowd, so that when day breaks, you won’t even know it’s fixed when you travel on it. 

That’s humility in the way it is defined - “a humble person is marked by a willingness to hold power in service to others.” (Humilitas by John Dickson). 

I guess the world needs more people of that caliber, who in the interview said this before taking up chairmanship of SPH, “my main consideration was whether I was up to the job”, and then took it up, and braving the storm ahead not with a I-know-better attitude, but one where he told Sumiko (technically, his subordinate) this: - 

“We are a team and if we can pull together in the same direction, there are no problem that we cannot collectively solve. My job is to support all of you and cheer you along.”

Alas, I have come to know this leadership process as “re-personalization”. That is, taking a person for whom you are leading out of the cogwheels of an impersonal organisation, and then giving him or her a good pat on the shoulder, with this assurance, “we are in this foxhole together, no bullet that comes your way would not also come my way first.”

In the book, “The Power of Giving Away Power - How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go”, by Matthew Barzun, he wrote about a legend of leadership, and no, it’s not a man, but a woman, whom even the father of modern management, Peter F Drucker, modeled after. 

Her name is Mary Parker Follett. You can google about her amazing leadership style chariot-led by sheer humility, that is, giving power away and sharing it to empower others towards a common goal, whether corporate or for social justice. 

This is what was written by the author Matthew about her leadership as I end this post: -

“...Follett called for re-personalization - to bring the right kind of struggle into each encounter. In what became her standard presentation, she encouraged leaders to allow all members of the team to share their view and study the problem at hand from many angles, with each person bringing their knowledge to the table.”

““If you did this with your teams, then you could avoid the traps of arbitrary personal power and the twin danger of depersonalized power - you would still have power, but it would be what she called “power-with,” not “power-over.””


The name ungagged is Colin Chua Yi Jin.

Colin Chua Yi Jin. That’s his name. He’s 23. He’s a student from a top British university. I trust he’s from an affluent family. He faced 11 charges of filming voyeuristic videos of several women. He had also pleaded guilty on July 29 to seven counts of insulting the women’s modesty and an offence under the Films Act. 

Today’s news however is about a gag order being lifted. It was lifted by CJ Menon. More on that later.

Here is a sample of what he did. 

On Dec 2, 2015, in a hotel at Orchard Road, he “placed a recording device in the toilet and it recorded a video of her showering.” On Dec 23, 2016, he was hosting a celebration at his then residence, and he placed the device in the toilet and “filmed the second victim relieving herself.” 

When he was first charged, altogether close to 20 charges, a gag order was imposed to protect the victims’ identities. That gag order extended to hide his name and Colin had anonymity by his side. 

Altogether, there were 12 victims. 10 of them supported lifting the gag order. They wanted Colin to be known. But, 2 of them did not support it.


Subsequently, one of them changed her mind. And some of the charges were also withdrawn, which included the only victim remaining, objecting to lifting the gag order. 

With the revised number of 11 charges preferred against Colin, all 11 victims unanimously asked for anonymity to be removed. Now, Colin stands “naked” before his victims, the law and in the public eye. 

Colin however was not happy. He instructed his lawyers to object to the disclosure of his name. With a bright future before him, he dreaded the exposure of his past with his name and face on it. 

CJ Menon heard the objection and dismissed it. He said that gag orders are to protect the victims. “A gag order has nothing to do with the benefit of accused person...His interest counts for nothing.” 

Colin was then ordered to pay $2000 in cost for the objection. Quite a rare order for cost. 

Lesson? Just one. 

I have written much about redemption. I have written about inmates serving their time and promising to change, and they did change. They proved themselves admirably and were duly reintegrated back to society, contributing to it in exemplary ways. 

But, Colin is different, at least for now. If you read some of the victims’ statements, you get a sense of the person Colin was (or is?). 

One victim wrote: “I felt very worried and powerless when I saw the accused posting on social media with other female friends. I could not warn them because of the gag order on the accused’s identity.”

Another victim wrote: “In the days after the news came out about the investigation, I distanced myself from him without knowing that he had filmed me too. He had the audacity to ask if we still wanted to be friends.”

Here’s another. “Not being aware of his crimes, I even encouraged him to meet my friend (the 11th victim), which (resulted in her) becoming another victim. This made me feel very guilty.”

Posting on social media? Still scouting for female friends online? Still wanting to meet victim’s friend, ending up with her being the 11th victim? This crab just wouldn’t walk straight, right? Even after being investigated or charged? 

Indeed, it is Colin’s objection to the lifting of the gag order that shows how he had sorely mistaken (or conflated) his interest for (or with) the interest of his victims. For the heart speaks when the hand performs the deeds. 

As Asian culture would have it, he wanted “face” by hiding his face from the public glare and the victims’ ire. Yet, what good is a face if he just wants to satisfy his own carnal desires on unsuspecting victims, and not face up to what he has done? 

Alas, redemption does not come cheap. It comes with a price. And it is a price that is set beyond just restricting your freedom behind bars. For that’s your physical freedom of movement. And that is externally imposed. 

In fact, the price of true freedom (leading to redemption) may be one you are still paying even after you have served your time in prison.

For that freedom is the face of a repentant heart, and no prison bars can guarantee that depth of transformation in a person, save for that person himself resolving in his heart to turn his life around and make amends. It is also the freedom the scripture talks about - “for you will know the truth and the truth will set your free.”

That is the conscious freedom of change, or true redemption. And that is internally imposed.

So, I fully support the lifting of the gag order. Indeed, his interest counts for nothing. Because, for some people, as long as they can hide their actions from public attention, their interest to self-gratify with impunity will burn brightly in the darkness of their heart. 

And the freedom people like Colin relishes is often realised at the expense of the lives of innocent victims, who may still think he is a gentleman, a faceless one.


The heart of Grace - PSLE 276.


It’s an interesting read. Senior Political Correspondent Grace Ho was definitely at the top of her game when it comes to PSLE. She scored 276. Let that sink in first...

That number would be any parent’s dream here. Because that number will get you anywhere in the Singapore School System. And not just anywhere, you will be able to apply to the best schools (even if it may be a considered as a lousy school). 

Imagine Simon Cowell slamming on the golden buzzer for your extraordinary performance on stage. And Simon knows talent when he sees one. An endorsement from him is as good as PSLE scores hitting above 270 in our local academic stage. Mind you, Grace got 276. 

Well, there was no golden buzzer for Grace. Although she was overjoyed when she showed her form teacher her results, her teacher however said: “We think you could have done better.” Yes, 276 is just not good enough. 

Grace’s reaction is best captured in her own words. ““This was because two years prior, the school had produced a national top pupil with a score of 288. I was too stunned by her remark to consider that by “we”, she might have meant only herself or the school principal.””

“Instead, I thought I had fallen 12 points short of society’s expectations of me. I felt like a failure.”

Imagine that again, you have topped the school, with 276, but you feel like a failure. Well, maybe even in the best school, if you fall below their expectation, instead of feeling self-validated, you are made to feel lousy.


While Grace wrote that “life is not defined by PSLE results”, the truth is that the Freudian slips are deafening if you do not make the mark. Parents may give your child a sympathetic ear for her or him not making the grade, but that same sympathy would turn to unreserved rage when their own child fails to make the mark. 

I know this, because I was one of the parents I am talking about, when my son handed me his PSLE results many years ago (he is now taking his A levels). 

Can we blame the teacher? Can we blame the parents? Can we blame the school system? Can we blame meritocracy? Can we blame me? 

I think we are all running the same one-track race towards a unidimensional definition of success in a hyper-competitive society that is obsessed with economic growth measured by a myopic metric. 

Simon Kuznet, the award winning economist who revolutionised econometrics, once asked: “What are we growing? And why?”. 

Most times, our governments get caught with the first question, and forget about the second, because growing for growing sake can be all-consuming and highly addictive. What’s more, when you are at the top, your resounding achievement blinds and deafens all. Who doesn’t savour that mountain-top high, right?

Alas, this race starts from the home. The child will compete for their parents’ attention. The parents will compete with other parents for their attention. The school will compete with other schools for attention. The government will compete with other governments for attention. 

And this endless, hyper-competitive cycle goes back to the child. It starts all over again from there. As he or she grows up, and enters the workforce, this cycle gets even more demanding, at times, soul-sapping. But it never stops, because, like they say, you snooze, you lose. 

The unspoken toxicity in our meritocratic society is not that our children don’t try hard enough. It is how their hard enough is just not enough by way of comparison no matter how hard they have given of their best. Such society defines them by one ruler, that is, their grades on paper, and not by how different they are from one another, and how such differences, if placed on a kinder clock of development, would blossom at their own time. 

This is somewhat similar to what Grace wrote: “In school, as in life, and work, you will face pressure from people who say 276 isn’t enough even if they can’t hit the mark themselves.”

She added: “More than 20 years ago, my best wasn't good enough for my teacher. There are days when I still don't hit the mark, but I'm okay. No matter what your results are, no matter what anyone says to you, hang in there. You'll be okay, too.”

Well, that’s good, timeless advice from the heart of grace. And it is an advice that will always hit the mark because it is based on building the relationship rather than keeping scores. 

And as long as we as parents bear that in mind, and in our hearts, our children will flourish at his or her own time. This is because it is not run on society’s undifferentiated clock of development, one that is always in a hurry, but by one defined by unconditional love, where relationships are always placed above grades.


What if I could see a day through the eyes of God?


A Sabbath Morning Meditation.

What if I could see a day through the eyes of God? I wonder, what would I see...?

I guess I would see the beginning of dawn, the first light of day. And I would see everything is uncovered by the light. From the darkest corner to the edge of the expanding universe, light chasing light, nothing escapes His sight.

I would see the rich and the poor, and everyone in between. I would see them taking their first and last step, their first and last breath. I would also see their lives stripped bare, nothing is hidden, beyond humanity’s thoroughfare.

I would see the fig leaves they cover themselves with; some are made of royal cloth, others are worn and torn. But, whatever the coverage, they all return to the buried soil just the same. Naked they come, naked they go. God sees them all. 

I would also see their struggles, the rich and the poor, with success and failure. I would see them paying the same price for it, the price of a heart unsettled, unhinged. 

Through God’s eyes, I would see the rich building their babelian towers. I would see the sweat of many offered up at the altar for those crowned at the top. I would see their ambitions, their hunger, their turmoil and pain. I would see their desires to race to the top, some striving to be god. 

Maybe at this point, God’s sight would take a subtle turn and allow me to see their desires through their own eyes. And I would see what they see, and see that the more they possess, the more they see what they want to see rather than what they need to see. 

Alas, at the speed they are travelling, everything around them is a blur. I could see that too, though it’s a sight of limited clarity. And I could also see many being pulled by the undertow, driven and riven by a chaos from within they can’t fathom or control. 

Well, at this time, I could see the poor too. I could see that their lives are largely defined by what others have and what they don’t have. It is an existential gap they are constantly struggling to bridge; most times, in vain. 

But here’s where the sight of the rich and the poor converges. They are driven by what they want to see, not what they need to see. And their drive is fueled by the same heart, a heart that is never enough, unanchored too.

And yes, I would also see how they live. Between the rich and the poor, the contrast is heartbreaking. 

I would see their worries, their anxieties. I would see their tears. I would see babies left to die. I would see the innocent groping for justice and the guilty escaping from it. I would see wars, in homes and in public. I would see daily abuses and grief unspeakable. I would also see those who take their own lives, by the reassuring nudge of death, and that moment they take their last breath. 

Peering into what God sees, the light of dawn indeed unravels all. Nothing is hidden. Not the pain nor the sorrow, neither the grief nor the joyless tomorrow. 

But at every corner of despair, I would also catch a flickering light. Even in sheer darkness, the light still shines, refusing to give up. And I sense this is the part of the day where the tears of God turn into rivers of hope. This is the part where the light of righteousness uncovers what the heart longs to see, or needs to see.

This longing opens my eyes to a world where the darkness is wavering because the light is unwavering. A world where the darkness is retreating because the light is advancing. 

At this point, the first light of creation becomes clearer. I could see that it is doing His work, pressing on, never letting up. I also see hope rising and pain overcoming. Most of all, I would see lives restored and reconciled, over a lifetime. For even the shadow of death gives way to what is resurrected light. And as I behold it, I tell myself, “Oh, what wondrous sight!”

As the world is unveiled, through His eyes, I see the struggle to finish the good race is unyielding. Light and darkness pitting against each other, but darkness eventually bowing to the light. Indeed, at this point, the horror of the fallen has given way to the awe of the risen. 

I guess that is what I would see in a world fallen into darkness. It is a world illuminated by the light. A world struggling towards the light. A world redeemed by His love through the eyes of His son. 

Indeed, from the heights of Golgotha, I see the world through His eyes. I see what he meant when he said it is finished. His finished work is taking the world towards the clarity of a new morning. Through the lens of Calvary, I see enduring hope emerging.

And amidst the chaos and darkness, the first light of dawn has always been there. It has never left. We are not forgotten. We are all held together by it. That first light that unravels all. That first light that enables me to see what the eyes of God see, and so much more.

And that light is still doing the good work. It is still journeying with us. For no matter how dark the night, it still shines. For the darker the night, the brighter the light. And it pierces the darkness to light even the darkest night. 

Like a lamp unto my feet, it is enough for me to take that first step of faith, followed by the next step, and the next, until I finally see the full light of Day. It’s hope undimmed. It’s truth unfolding. It’s love unyielding. 

Indeed, while my flesh and my heart may fail, but He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.