Appreciating The Past, Enjoying Life

by Patrick Liew on October 24, 2011

I am writing this Love Note for the young and the young at heart. In other words, I am writing it for everybody.

I was born even before Singapore became a nation. I sang three national anthems in my lifetime and hopefully, not a fourth one.

No, I did not go through the two world wars or the Indonesian Konfrontasi. This is for those who think I look like an older dinosaur.  🙂

However, I appreciated the lessons of hardships enough to value and enjoy my life.

My parents had to work and they left me virtually alone.

There were no paternity or maternity leave. Pre-marital, pre-natal, or parenting classes were unheard of.

I learned to fend for myself. I played full out and had a great time.

I grew up through the simple and carefree kampong lifestyle. I made up most of my toys and games – not with electronic chips but with things around me.

Frankly, I don’t even remember having a commercial toy. I played games that engaged not only just my eyes, brains and fingers that many youngsters do today but with every part of my body.

I roamed the streets and played with anybody and everybody.

With friends, I rolled in the mud, played in the rain, and ran against the wind… life was for enjoyment.

My world was not confined to screens: TV screens, electronic games’ screens, computer screens, iPod  screens, telephone screens… my mind had no limits to having fun.

I went to a half-day school and spent the other half – without maids, tuition teachers, and assessment books – playing and having a good time.

I grew up without CDs, DVDs, air conditioners, and washing machines. There were no hand phones, microwave ovens, and Internet and other infocommunication technologies.

I don’t remember seeing a thermometer, a first aid box, antibiotics, or a doctor in my neighbourhood. When I was sick, I survived with panadols, elastoplasts, and ‘po chai’ pills.

My parents forced me to take strange roots, leaves and stuffs just as their parents had forced them to do the same.

I did not know anything about McDonald’s, KFC, Bread Talk, designer’s ice cream, food courts, 3-in-1 instant coffee or, for that matter, anything ‘instant’.

I did not enjoy the use of karaoke, parlor games, vending machines, air conditioned bus, and MRT.

There were no shopping malls, Cineplex and Integrated Resorts, Google, YouTube, Facebook, and push-up bras.

I did not need any ‘luxuries’ (I’m not talking about bras) to survive and I survived happily without them.

I had little money. Actually, most of the time in my childhood, I did not even have a single cent in my pocket.

I did not miss anything. Nothing could stop me from enjoying my life.

I served my National Service in the army where the officers tried to ‘break you and then, put you back together in a better shape.’ Sometimes, they broke you and then let you figure out how to put yourself together again.

I survived many ‘siow on’ officers, ‘cock up’ exercises, ‘wu liao’ trainings and exercises… Despite all these, I enjoyed my time in the army.

When I went to work as an employee, I called my bosses, Mr or Madam so-and-so. There were a lot of fear about what bosses could  do to break my rice bowl.

There were many challenges at work. Know what? I still found ways to enjoy my working life.

I had my fair share of failures, rejections and disappointments. Looking back, I found meaning and significance in every event in my life.

I can go on.

We may live different lives. There is absolutely no comparison and we should never compare who lives a better life.

Everything in my life and your life happened as a learning lesson and for a higher purpose.

Please do not condemn your future by your contempt of the past. Brighten your future by being grateful for and appreciating it.

You can be happy, have fun, and enjoy your life in whatever situation you are in.

Happiness is already inside you. Live it out.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please go to ‘Notes’ found below my profile picture.

Visit my Transformation blog at

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


Question: How can we appreciate our past and use it to enjoy life?



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{ 1 comment }

Mrs Virabhak November 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

P’haps U won’t know who I am. My husband n I were teachers in RRS n JAS (1960-1967). I joined t JAS facebook hoping to get in contact with former pupils. So far, no luck as most of them are v young.

However,we’ve just had a get-together last night (at my place) with some of the last Pr 6 cohort(1965) I taught. Between my husband n myself, we taught these boys from Pr 1 -6.

There’s a photo in t JAS facebook showing some teachers at a picnic. We were in that picture.
By the way, just heard from my bro-in- law that the old boys from RRS hold a get-together annually. One of his teachers was Alex Abishganaden. Interesting to note also our present president n former president, Mr Nair, were RRS students.
Congrats, for the well written piece, “Appreciating the past, enjoying life.” I enjoyed reading it n will forward it to my grandchildren.

Regards n cheeers,

Mrs Virabhak(former Miss Goh) hubby aka Mr Gany

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