Making tea

Hullo all,

dom here.

Some tea-cultures and sub-cultures define the whole tea experience to be a little letdown without the tea-making part. In life we make our drinks, mixing whatever it is from a formal recipe & maybe a little trial and error.

I am making tea in my life; in some sense this final year in uni describes a part of my life that is about to go away. Sure that exiting university does not spell the end to everything. But it clearly defines the end which i’ve lived as a (complete) dependent and demands a spurt of growing up.

This cup of tea which i’ve been brewing from the past 3 years has continual influx of infusions from the mundane as well as highlights. ‘Tis the what-ifs that sometimes drives me sleepless.

Imagining the taste of the dregs is kind of a steal of the present moment. The tea is not done and should not be tasted, at least in full, yet. Denying myself the taste of the dregs, which are likely to be very bitter, would be a waste of tea. My teacup is yet to be filled. The calling to wait on the Lord is still here. To continue to pray, watch, not lose purpose and focus, to pick myself up on each fall, to recollect and revive and to set upon new growth. To wait; to do many things centered on God while centering our being on God.

Even with nothing to show for it.

dom

“Let it be…zz”

Out of the many anecdotes and stories in Father Cary’s (length) homily at IHM today, I caught this amusing one which at first hearing, I couldn’t decide whether it disturbs me or relates to me. maybe both.

A lady chances upon his son kneeling beside his bed one night, praying aloud. She decides to listen in on the prayer but was puzzled why he only repeated one sentence, “Let it be Tokyo, let it be Tokyo, let it be Tokyo!” So after his prayer concluded, the lady went up to her son and asked why. The son replied, “I had my Geography exam today, so I’m praying to God that Tokyo is indeed, the capital of France!”.

Rare moments of laughter ensued as I immediately wrote this down in my phone, uncertain about the relation to me, but certain that I should dwell on it.

I had been working for more than a year, with some gaps and holidays in between but it has been quite a long time and a drag at times. My own faith journey has had its up and downs over the year and just recently, I became aware of the need to stop the slide. This is why that little boy’s prayer hit me.

1. Faith – I think as we grow older, and gain more knowledge/wisdom and skepticism about the faith and prayer, we pray very differently. We know that praying to God isn’t like dropping a coin into a vending machine, so we say “let Thy will be done”. Yet we lose that innocent faith and trust in the providence of our Lord; to be able to ask for the impossible but still look at the cross with our big, dreary eyes and believe it will be granted. After saying “let Thy will be done” for too many times, we fall into the doubt of why we say that in the first place, well, if it is already going to happen.

2. Letting it be – even though the boy’s request was ridiculous, at least he asked. Thoughts of my future job, relationships, family just fills up my mind everyday and I increasingly become more practical in my approach to planning for them. After all, I have been accustomed to say, “let Thy will be done,” and then move on to do what I think I need to do about it. The congruence between what I pray for and what I do to achieve what I want/need is slowly diminishing. Perhaps because I am only praying for acceptance and providence, and in my daily life, I am working towards something. Is this the right way? Or am I working towards what I want, and then pray, “Let it be Your will” I immediately feel like I should have signed up for the vocation discernment but oh well, perhaps that one will give me more than I already have to think about.

3. Let it be..zz – the working day drains me and time in the evening becomes precious once again. I push myself to meet up with friends, settle admin stuff for school event, for Caritas Young Adults, spend time with family and trying to keep up with commitments and to-do lists. When the day ends, I just really want to relax and do whatever I want, but I can’t – not yet at least. Why wouldn’t I seek that consolation in prayer, that used to come with the closing of the eyes while sitting in an upright posture? Perhaps I face the same hesitation because I have a long list of intercessions to do. I feel so much inertia and thoughts plague me. I haven’t had a good night of sleep on weeknights for the longest time and I pray I can, I will, soon…

 

Mark, in the words of fellow community member Jes:
“emo enough”
which says a lot, but not that much…

I Quit

I don’t know whether this following sharing is LogBlog worthy, but I have been struggling with an uneasiness for some time which primarily arose from my endeavor in doing a business with a certain few people. And here is a brief tale of it.

“Hey, I’m quitting. I don’t want to do this anymore. Just let me leave in peace. Thank you.”

That was the text message I sent to my HR personnel to tell her that I was done with the company. The next morning when I woke up, there were 64 missed calls on my phone. Some peace that was.

Well, they didn’t exactly let me leave so easily. I had to clear things up first, but that was expected. So I’ll be taking some time this week to clear things up and do some handing over. Why the decision to leave then, you may ask.

As some of you may have already known, I took this holiday to start a company with an acquaintance I met during the term. You may have known or experienced my optimism with the company. How I could finally do something big, something more than myself, and of course how I could make money. Potentially a lot of money.

As with all startups, we first have to raise funds to do all our noble work. Thus, the plan was for us to individually trade our way to financial success, with our ‘mentor’ guiding us. Within days, I noticed that our ‘mentor’ was not guiding us, but rather just leaving us to deal with the trades ourselves. He essentially was always speaking in retrospect, i.e. I told you so, even though he never did. He never once guided us through a trade, and the only topic of conversation when he was around was himself. Of course I was irked, but everyone else seemed to think otherwise.

There were other tell tale signs about his character, but I will not disclose them here online. But essentially, I chose to ignore them and carried on with the company.

How the company was making money was that the company took a share of the winning trades, and the losses were marred with the people who did them. So if everyone was doing well, which was supposed to be the case, we’d get more from the company. All losses were individual liabilities, while all profit was shared.

The truth of the matter is that some people have been suffering losses in the thousands. The ‘mentor’ always pressured us to take on unnecessary risk. Obviously I sometimes caved in to the pressure, and of course lost money. But I knew not to lose my head, because I have had prior trading experience. However, soon, some people were beginning to lose in the thousands under his ‘leadership’ – his extremely bigoted, narcissistic and obviously misguiding leadership.

As CFO, I knew the situation in its entirety. The company was obviously in a sound financial position. But I also knew that people were losing a lot of money, blindly believing that this absurd losing was integral in the path of financial success. These people were losing money and I was feeding off whatever little gains they had. Isn’t that business?

Obviously the situation pricked my conscience. I wished for the situation to improve on their part. I tried to talk to them to tell them to try to stand for themselves. But I knew that was very hard, because our dear CEO aka ‘mentor’ was extremely domineering as well. He was the ‘smartest, bravest, and bestest’ of us all right? Bulls**t.

I distanced myself from trading with them, doing my own trading. I skipped company meetings, and trading sessions. But I did their accounts for them. To cut a long story short, the final straw came when despite knowing the extent of our personal losses, our dear leader still had the audacity to court new investors promising exceptional returns from learning to trade under him.

I’m leaving this company relatively unscathed. And I thank God for that. Had I not stood my ground nor my guts, I might have been in a very bad and compromising position. There were warning signs that I had chose to ignore, but the weight on my conscience was really too much. I thought about my partners’ financial position. One of them who came into this project with the same dreams and aspirations as I, but clearly in a worse financial state than I, currently have outstanding losses of about seven thousand dollars. The weight on my conscience, the knowing of the whole situation in its entirety and yet not being able to do anything about it, and of course the lousy and tedious and demoralizing accounting – all have contributed to my decision in leaving. And of course the uneasiness within me has been lifted.

There are a few lessons that I take away from this endeavour.

1)   Trust your gut, and do not ignore the warning signs when dealing with people

2)   Listen to your conscience; it may be the only thing leading you to doing what’s morally right, even though everything else may be legally right.

3)   What is in a title? CFO, CEO? Over glorified additions to a name to give one self a bigger ego.

4)   Pray. Pray for discernment to make the right decision. I spent quite a few nights pondering over this, before finally making the decision. Almost immediately, all my uncertainties were lifted, and a resounding peace remained.

God Bless,

Raphael

Raphael just wants to endeavor in everything. He thinks he may have found his niche in trading and music, but he truly enjoys once in a while a diversion from the well-trodden path and exploring the deep dark forest. 

Coming Home

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Coming home.  What comes to mind? Warmth, comfort and people we love?

Upon returning from a 25-day holiday trip to Europe, that familiar feeling of “home” swirled within me. No one particular word can wholly encompass the gamut of emotions and nuances associated with the entity – home.

I guess we have all experienced that feeling of “home” before. Just recall: your first book-out from army, returning from exchange programme, from an arduous camp, or even after a hard day’s work. Whether returning home by car, plane, boat, foot or even a space shuttle (for those sci-fi lovers), that feeling of “home” always puts a smile on our faces.

Returning from my trip, apart from missing family, friends, church, games, food, I missed God. I realised it is paramount to “return home” to God whenever we can, wherever we can. We ought not to wait to return from a long trip, or to procrastinate till exams are over, or till some monumental event in our lives is over. Why don’t we “come home” to God now? Shouldn’t that bring smiles to our faces too? We need not wait till we’re missing home and hating the road before we yearn to come home. It can prove more difficult to pray overseas, it may seem illogical to pray when all hope is lost during dismal times, but that home is where we can draw strength from.

So how can we “come home” to God. Well, I suppose each of us has his/her own way, just like how we all take different routes to return home. At the heart of it is connecting with God. We can send whatsapp messages to our family and friends while overseas to connect with them, anytime, anywhere. In simplicity, we can do the same with God through our own means. It is a choice which entails effort.

Currently in life, I’m traversing roads which are nebulous and unpredictable.  One final year remains before I enter another phase of life – the working life. Myriad challenges await – long working hours, stepping up in the family, handling work-life balance and relationships too. I believe we are all moving through different phases of life and we’re not entirely sure what to expect. The road out there is fraught with uncertainty and caprice. We may move houses, change schools, switch jobs, alter our sleeping cycles, but our home remains steadfast and unchanged. Coming home to God, is always amazing. He is home to me for He never changes and is always there for me.

Naturally, we can’t lock ourselves at home interminably. We have to go out, venture, learn, grow, love, share, care, build, and strengthen relationships. We have to embark on journeys. And God will give us the graces to do so. That is where discernment of His will and trust come in. Also, one thing I’ve learnt from hiking in the highlands of Scotland is that the trail up is necessarily more tiresome than the road downslope. But at the peak of it all, we imbibe panorama and hope before an easier journey back home. On the other hand, an easy track downwards through a wrong path first may land us scrambling back up to get home which can be twice as painful. Thus, seeking God’s will involves climbing heights that may prove daunting but the journey will prove to be worth the while as compared to indiscriminately seeking one’s own path only to discover it to be a no-through road.

At the end of the day, no matter if the journey has been good or bad, we nevertheless relish the thought of coming home. Like how whether a long holiday trip has turned out good or bad, we would still love to return home. And so it is with our faith and God. It does not matter if our day has been good or bad, do we remember to come home to converse and connect with God at the end of the day? Well, He is there waiting patiently for you for a simple cup of tea at home (or perhaps more, haha). God is our rock, our stronghold, our home.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold – Psalm 18:2.

Coming home. What comes to mind? God and our faith? (:

————–

Here’s an apt song that just came to mind and I thought I’d share. After all, this is our temporary home where we live out our mission to build God’s kingdom.

Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home”:

Little boy, six years old
A little too used to being alone
Another new mom and dad, another school
Another house, that’ll never be home
When people ask him how he likes this place
He looks up and says with a smile upon his face

This is my temporary home, it’s not where I belong
Windows and rooms that I’m passing through
This is just a stop on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know this is my temporary home

Young mom on her own
She needs a little help, got nowhere to go
She’s looking for a job, looking for a way out
‘Cause a halfway house will never be a home
At night she whispers to her baby girl
Someday we’ll find our place here in this world

This is our temporary home, it’s not where we belong
Windows and rooms that we’re passing through
This is just a stop on the way to where we’re going
I’m not afraid because I know this is our temporary home

Old man, hospital bed
The room is filled with people he loves
And he whispers
“Don’t cry for me, I’ll see you all someday”
He looks up and says “I can see God’s face”

This is my temporary home, it’s not where I belong
Windows and rooms that I’m passing through
This was just a stop on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know this was my temporary home

This is our temporary home

Kong

Kong can appear to be a peculiar yet simple individual. He sleeps when the sun rises and loves having long days of 40+ hours.  He is somewhat a perfectionist who can’t sleep till he completes what he has sets out to accomplish.  He also enjoys his world of dreams where both interesting (or perhaps weird) and ambitious ideas blossom.