Sunday, 24 September 2017

Jason's gold - an incredible spirit!

Jason Chee won. He really did. The news read: "Jason Chee has no legs, no left arm, is missing one finger and parts of two other fingers on his right hand and has only one eye. Yet a man who has lost so much still finds a way to win."

He beat his old nemesis, Thailand's Thinathet Natthawut, whom he lost to two years ago. He was denied the gold then. But not yesterday. He won it at the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Para Games.

Jason exclaimed: "This gold mattered the most to me. I have waited so long to win the gold, and I am relieved. It is a blessing."

In 2014, Jason won bronze in Myanmar. In 2015, he won silver on home ground. And yesterday, it was the coveted gold.

In the papers today, his coach, Chia Chong Boon, 66, said that "even the Thais were amazed at what he had achieved. He had just returned from another setback (his eye cancer), yet he could beat the opponents who had beaten him two years ago."

Lesson? Just one, and I have written this before, but I feel there is still much to be inspired by, and learn from, Jason's life.

Jason said: "In this lifetime, you face many difficulties and it is going to be tough, but you have to overcome them and stay positive."

Let's face it, most of us will not live our life as traumatic or suffer a fate as tragic as Jason's.

Most of us are living our lives nowhere close to the fate of people like Jason or Nick Vujicic or the "armless" Jessica Cox who still managed to drive a car, ballet dance, fly a plane and play the piano with her feet. 

Yet for the vast majority of us, with our body parts still intact, the struggle we face has a familiar ring to that of Jason's. It is a struggle to overcome the tendency to take life (or living) for granted.

You see, you can be deprived of childhood, be tormented at birth, yet live a life of overcoming, and flourish with meaning.

People in this category make the most of what is given to them. They take nothing for granted.

Conversely, you can be given the best of childhood, padded by wealth, yet live your life struggling to find meaning - even toying with suicide.

People in this category are wandering unrooted because they make the least of what is given to them. They take life in general for granted.

In the same way that there is a resource curse for the oil-rich countries, where the majority still struggle below the poverty line despite being blessed by natural resources, there is also the curse of status quo where many take most things for granted despite living reasonably comfortable lives.

You can call it the I-complain-I’ve-no-shoe-until-I-see-someone(like Jason?)-with-no-feet syndrome.

In other words, you can have almost everything you want and still feel that life is unfair, hopeless and unbearable. Or, you can lose almost everything you have and yet feel passionate about life, hopeful and determined to rise up again.  

So, life's paradox is this: we can feel that we have failed miserably even when we are rich, or we can be driven by the hope of success notwithstanding our poverty. 

Jason said: "I'm a fighter and I never give up - that's my strength and that's what I have within me."

For Jason, the natural route is to give up and live a life with little or no hope. Yet, the many setbacks in life, that is, the death of his mother, the navy accident and the lost of an eye to cancer, in fact transformed him and he sees only a future of hope.

He therefore turned his mourning into dancing, his sorrow into joy, and the unspeakable tragedy into surmontable victory.

Jason thus takes nothing for granted. His fight to win the gold medal is a fight to demonstrate that the loss of limbs and sight has taken nothing away from his love for life and his passion for living.

Let me end with an encounter I had yesterday at Tampines Mall’s playground.

While my girl was playing there, I noticed a few kids riding on the horses as shown in the picture. These horses were stuck to the ground.

At this time, one of them shouted: "Let's compete. Let's race. See who wins!"

And the girl on the horse replied: "How do we even race if we are not moving?"

That interesting remark kept me thinking.

Maybe the same applies to our life here. The same question can be asked of us with some tweaks:-

"How do we even enjoy what we have if we take them for granted? 

How do we even begin to value our life if we refuse to see any worth in it? 

And how do we move forward in life if we choose to stay where we are, moping and complaining?" 

Despite the odds, Jason took one painful step at the time towards his goal. Every day since then brought him closer to his goal until he finally realized it on Friday. It was no doubt a difficult journey for him. But he made it eventually. His spirit is infectious and inspiring.

I salute his life. It will always be the beacon of light and hope for me. Whenever I am tempted to gripe, to compare, to mope or to commiserate, I will be reminded of Jason's struggle with what little he had, and with how much he has achieved even with what little he had. What is my excuse then?

Let me then end with Jason's words to start off this morning: "I've lost a lot of things and been through a lot of pain, but I have to fight on and remain optimistic." Incredible spirit bro. Cheerz.

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