Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Active Aging"

Active Aging. My favourite new Sing-speak catch phrase must've been coined by some expensive ad agency. Who else would think of such pithy (if not always clever) taglines like "Uniquely Singapore" and "Active Aging"?

The official definition of an "active ager" is someone who embraces an active lifestyle within all areas of life: social, intellectual physical, vocational, emotional and spiritual, to the fullest extent possible ( Seems like active aging is for everyone and not just retirees. We spend our lives busily building our careers and earning money that we sometimes forget to balance our lives out with the emotional/spiritual side of things. For me - I am trying to embrace a more balanced, holistic lifestyle. So much so that I didn't have much time to update my blog.

For one, I spent an enjoyable, productive Vesak Day exploring our wonderful little island Pulau Ubin. I finally managed to visit the lovely Chek Jawa, albeit at the completely wrong time (high tide instead of low tide - when the tide pools are visible). Still, there was a lovely ocean boardwalk that wrapped around the periphery of the island, and wound its way through a small mangrove.

In the same week, I saw the young and talented Leila Josefowisz play
Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major under the baton of Estonian conductor Eri Klas. Immediately after, a friend dragged me off to Balaclava where Shirlyn Tan was playing. For the uninitiated, Shirlyn is a Singaporean who sings rock music with her band in various venues.

Over the next weeks, I attended the Giles Peterson's Worldwide Festival in the Fort Canning Park. Never having had the pleasure of attending an open-air concert in Singapore - Fort Canning Park proved to be a really enjoyable experience. High point of the evening for me was probably when a friend and I ran up to join some lively folks on-stage, jumping to the beats of Kruder & Dorfmeister.

It has been a month since my birthday, and I embrace active aging!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

On Sunday, I watched a movie on the brief life of Ian Curtis called "Control". Co-produced by his wife Deborah Curtis, the film follows the evolution of the Joy Division lead singer from nobody to post-punk cult figure. "Control" revealed Ian Curtis to be a troubled young musician, plagued by epileptic episodes, a failed marriage and depression in spite of his growing success as a performer. In the end, he committed suicide at the young age of 23.

Is life really that unbearable? Is there nothing to look forward to? Why can't we embrace life's
experiences be they pain or pleasure? Doesn't life continue to surprise us in big and small ways? Who knows what Ian Curtis might have achieved in his life had he continued living.

Wordsworth expresses happiness in small pleasures beautifully:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~ William Wordsworth

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bright Shiny Future

On this, the first day of the rest of my life - I am posting one of my favourite poems for all whose birthdays fall in the month of May.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
may there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbours seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.

without her you would not have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

~Konstantinos Kavafis

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Next 5-Year Plan

Another year older, another year wiser or so they say. Well, that remains to be seen. Certainly, I've been a lot more introspective about my life, its direction and what I would like to achieve out of it. Sometimes work takes over, blurs my perspective and ability to think long-term or far ahead. Now is no longer the time to hesitate but to grasp what is before me.

For the past few years, I have led a completely self-indulgent existence. Moving back to Singapore has certainly afforded me that luxury. With this short stretch to 40, I have decided to implement a 5-year plan to put me where I want to be - in a position to fulfill my life's goals.

As I start on my journey of self-fulfillment, one of the things I want to do is to regain a sense of my old self - focused, disciplined, and (yes! believe it or not...) fit. To that effect, I am going to start running again.

Here's a great list of inspirational (and aspirational) races that Singapore has:

31 May 2008 - adidas Sundown Marathon
8 June 2008 - The Saucony 100Plus Passion Run
29 June 2008 - The Lion City Marathon
6 July 2008 - The Citi-Milkrun
20 July 2008 - The Shape Run (all-women's)
24 August 2008 - The Singapore Bay Run
October 2008 (TBA) - New Balance REAL Run
26 October 2008 - The Great Eastern Women 10K (all-women's)
December 2008 (TBA) - The Standard Chartered Marathon

No other form of sports has given me the same tremendous satisfaction and sense of achievement than a long, slow run with my music plugged in (though an hour or so at the driving range is also not bad).

You finally have a real sense of your body - you struggle as your lungs fill with air through exertion, you hear your heart beating and the blood pumping, you feel the slight ache on your foot and calf muscles as they stretch and contract... At the end of it, you're drenched with sweat. Best of all, you've had all that time to think in solitude and quiet - something very rare in a demanding urban setting.

So this is how I propose to set off on the road to 40...with each step propelling me forward, head up, back straight - surging towards the bright, shiny future!