I'm Getting To 40
I'm not there yet. But I'm getting there in a couple of years. How have I fared? I haven't become the roaring success that I'd hoped I would become, in my teenage years. Those were the years when my acne was a rash and I was abashed. Those were the years when suicide was often on my mind; it hasn't crossed my mind ever since I had kids. Nowadays I live for them, to try and see them to adulthood. But those were the years when the future was full of potential, yet my options seemed cut off. I did well in school, yet I knew that I would not be given the opportunity to pursue any career other than the one my parents had set for me.
And so it has been, since finishing secondary school.... one degree after another. Participating in social organizations, and serving society, without thanks or recognition. Getting into a relationship, only to drop her because she wasn't "like me", and yet, we spoke on the same wavelength. And then I got into another relationship, and it's stuck with me ever since. A relationship gives birth to new relationship, as my girlfriend became my wife, and my wife became the mother of my children. Thanks to this latest relationship, I now have new relatives, and I am a father.
I have a friend who is due to drop by my office in about 15 minutes. He got married after 40, because, as he told me, the fortune teller said that "If you get married before 40, you'll die a poor man!" And so his wife married a Dato who was rather successful and well-to-do. But I would wonder, whether it was the right advice for him... he could have married earlier? He strung his wife along for almost a decade? But who am I to say what's right for him, and what's right for her? If it's right for them, it's all right!
If 40 is the halfway mark...
Then I hope that there are 40 more years for me to make a difference in the world. The world is huge, with more than 7 billion people. I am also only a single voice. Degrees and academic accomplishment does not change the world. I have two masters degrees and I am halfway through a doctorate programme, and I have not yet changed the world. It's what we do with what we have that really makes the difference.
I had a big setback. I had hoped to practice Shariah law, in my father's footsteps, as one of the few non-Muslims who specialize in that area. But in recent years, the issue of non-Muslim shariah lawyers became politicized. And so the laws were changed, and my application was first failed, and on re-application, rejected. My father's licence too was not renewed. Under constitutional law, it would have been a "deprivation of livelihood" and a "deprivation of genuine expectation". But this is Bolehland, and anything can happen.
I've blogged over the years, on and off. This particular blog, I dedicated for my poetry and whimsical writings. My pieces have never made much sense to anyone else but me, because the context was never elaborated. Shall I maintain this blog? Perhaps as a private place for my thoughts, because I have a very small readership.
Over the years, I've also started up a few other blogs.
I have a site called Frugalism which I originally hoped to turn into a portal. But it was on frugality, and you can hardly make a portal out of thoughts on frugality. It's become my place where I write what I think about things, especially from a monetary / cost perspective. But it might include other types of advice in the future. I find it easier to write what I think, rather than to write what I think others expect me to write. If I have to type a four letter word for my pieces in that blog, I will. The readership is still small, but it is increasing.
Another site about Petrol was originally a response to the surge in oil pricing. But I am neither an industry insider, nor do I have background in oil and gas. It's become my place to learn more about that industry, and to understand the issues that they face. Perhaps one day I'll have the opportunity to serve clients from that industry -- who knows? In any case, it was started when there were very few blogs dedicated to the petrol industry. Older pieces might be of interest to members of the public.
Another site was about Patents. I had studied intellectual property during my undergraduate and masters degrees. I had also qualified as a patent, trademarks, and industrial designs agent. I was excited about patents, and wrote about one patent after the other. But today, I realise that my pieces were mostly for myself. I wrote about what I found fascinating, but neglected to add in pieces that would help make the blog useful for others. And so, I am changing the focus of that site.
There are two recent additions to my blog lists.
One is my firm's website, which needs a blog, simply because. Many leading firms have a blog about relevant issues, especially regarding work that they do. It serves as a conversation starter, and a way of letting people know that "We handle this, so look for us if you need help." I've always thought that it was counter-intuitive to give away advice for free, because advice is what we offer. But in my very crowded industry, somebody is going to do it anyway, so let's "Kill our darlings" before they kill us.
The other is a website called Maka Kami. It's focused on the Rukunegara. It's sprung out of an observation that virtually nobody cites the principles of the Rukunegara anymore. Nowadays, it's religion and other harsh laws. We tend to forget that the Rukunegara was promulgated in the aftermath of the May 13th 1969 racial riots. It is, therefore, a relatively important piece of something, which unfortunately has no legal status in Malaysia. My vision is that eventually the Rukunegara will be adopted as the preamble of the Federal Constitution, where it can finally mean something.
I was influenced by my LLM studies at Universiti Malaya, where Prof Khoo Boo Teong, in his Comparative Constitutional Law class, introduced us to the Pancasila. Even though Indonesia is just next door, not many Malaysians know about the Pancasila. It's the preamble of the Indonesian constitution, and the guiding principles of the Indonesian nation. We could position our Rukunegara as something like that. The important question is whether our national leaders want it?
I hope to finish off my doctorate. If it's not working out, perhaps I will have to consider shelving it. But it would be a pity after completing all the coursework. All that's left to be done is the dissertation.
I hope to expand my business. Perhaps it won't be more of the same, but something else entirely. I could start lecturing part-time, if the opportunity arises. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and rising household expenses creates many necessities.
I hope to collect some of my better blog posts into an outline for a bigger book, and edit the whole thing into a useful thing. But these will depend on what are in the articles themselves.
I am not entirely happy with what I have, but then again, who is 100% contented with whatever they have? The trick is to accept the limitations and work within them, and work also to expand our boundaries so that our outlook in life is broadened. Reduce costs, reduce wastes. Help others. Make life worth living, not by how much we spend but by how much happiness we have helped to create.