Loving Myself, Building My Future

by Patrick Liew on June 18, 2011

As I sat at Toast Box in Kuala Lumpur, the nostalgic ambience brought back fond memories of yester-years. I spent a lazy morning taking a trip back to my childhood days in my mind.

I saw myself standing at the junction of Kent Road and Rangoon Road once again, looking at my old house. This is a small SIT flat – a much older and simpler version of the HDB flat.

Many parts were already badly run down, surrendered to the ravages of time and nature. The paintwork had long been chipped away.

It would not be too difficult to spot the repairs needed to make it functional like today’s houses. However, there is an old–world charm about my first home – thoughts of which would trigger beautiful memories for the rest of my life.

Behind and beyond brick and mortar, I could still see the smiles and hear the laughters. I could still recall the wonderful people I grew up with – including those that have left us – and the times we spent together.

During those days, we had no television, computers or any modern luxuries. What we had was a playful spirit and a creative mind to come out with all kinds of games and other activities.

We came out with all kinds of plans – both good and bad – and made them happened. There were enough programmes to occupy a child’s happy memories.

One day, we would be organising a relay race – with obstacles thrown in – around our ‘kampong’ (community). Another day, we would have a lot of fun catching ‘longkang’ (small drains) fishes.

Now and then, there would be some brave souls who would pop a few of the fishes into the mouth – sashimi-style – to prove their manhood. And then, we would have a good laugh when they suffered from diarrhoea for the rest of the day.

There were also endless expeditions to capture the best fighting spiders. I held on to a long standing myth I needed to find them in the deepest parts of the bushes – bushes that were taller than me – while suffering bites from mosquitoes and other strange insects.

I had to literally sacrifice blood to catch the illusive king spider. I was proud to have won our ‘‘kampong’ fighting spider championships’ more than once in my childhood days.

At the start of the kite-flying season, the ‘kampong’ kids would busily prepare for the battle ahead of and above them. Every child would have his special recipe for making the meanest strings to cut loose competitors’ kites way up in the sky.

My secret formula was to dip the strings in strong glue and wax. Then, I would coat it with finely grounded glass from fluorescent tubes.

Just to hold the strings at the end of the arduous process, I would need to wear a pair of gloves.

I would repeat the process until my strings could even cut through the door. (If you believe me, you can believe anything in the world).

My secret was a losing formula. I have never won a fight in any of the kite-flying seasons. Still, I had a good time.

As if the day’s momentous events were not enough, the ‘kampong’ kids would organise overnight activities too. We organised night races and hikes around the city (and ‘red light’ areas too but we were too young to know much about the nocturnal activities).

Sometimes, we would buy a cup of coffee for 5 cents and have a marathon story-telling session at the nearby ‘sarabat’ stall (a push cart stationed along the main road).

We would sip on the same cup of coffee for the next six hours or so. We could not afford to buy more than one cup of any beverage.

Whenever we had a new guy joining us, at the end of the session, a signal would be given. We would suddenly run in different directions.

The poor guy would be left behind, wondering how he could settle the bill.

Of course, we would return after awhile to bail him out. By then, you should see the looks on his face and hear our demeaning laughter.

I was a ‘key-less’ kid, not a latch-key kid. My parents had to work very hard and they would never entrust me with a key.

I had to climb in and out of the house by using the water pipes, ledges, and windows.

For the overnight activities, I had to wait for my parents to be asleep before I could slip out and I would return before they were awake. That made for some exciting moments, especially when I had so much fun that I forgot totally about time.

You could imagine how I had to rush back to beat the ‘deadlines’!

As in the Cinderella story, if my parents ever caught me, they would turn me into something that neither Cinderella nor myself would like.

Remember, those were the days when most parents abided religiously by the saying, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ I have always tried to hide the rod in the hope of being spared.

I might also put my school textbooks to good use by hiding them in my shorts to protect my bum. It didn’t work.

All in all, I had a happy and memorable childhood. I would not exchange it for any other childhood life.

Whenever possible, I would like to find out about other people’s childhood experiences. I would always be fascinated by what they shared with me.

Sad to say, I would usually be more excited than many of them about their childhood and life.

I wished I could have the liberty and the chance to share with them why I should be proud of and thankful for myself.

I should love everything that has happened in my life, including the most painful experiences and darkest moments. They should do the same too.

If I do not love my past, how can I build on it for a better future? If I cannot love myself, I cannot expect anyone else to love me.

If I don’t have love, I cannot share it with others. When I realised I always have love inside me and share it with others, I can impact lives.

There are many more commonsensical reasons to love myself. But of course, common sense has oftentimes become uncommon.

I am a special edition of one. There is no extra copy of me – no pirate copy nor will there ever be a perfect clone of me.

There is not a single person in the whole wide world – in time past and eternity – that is like me and have gone through my experiences.

Nobody has the same space, time, energy and materials as me. Nobody can think, speak and act like me.

Over the years, what I have gone through has helped me to learn many lessons. I believe these assets have added value to my life and they can be used to help others too.

If nothing else, I can encourage them by sharing with them about my failures. Funny enough, my setbacks have somehow inspired more people than my successes.

The more I think about it, the more I realise I can do so much more for the people and the world near me – and I can probably do it better than anyone else.

Can you now understand why I believe I am wonderfully created by our Creator.

The greatest scientists in the world cannot develop anything that is remotely similar to me. The best computers cannot perform like my brain.

All the latest advancements in medical and life sciences cannot replicate the workings in my body, mind and spirit. More likely than not, nobody will ever be able to explain to you about me and what made me the person I am.

I am one of the greatest blessings that has happened and will ever happen to my life. Nothing should make me think otherwise, especially if I endeavour to live a good life.

I have learned from the experiences in my life that our Creator has always been there for me, knows everything about me, and can help me do any good thing.

Our Creator has been there from the moment I was in my mother’s womb until now, and He will always be there for me. He knows my darkest secrets, including my deepest pain and sorrow.

He walks through every experience with me and at times, even shed tears for me. He was there leading and cheering for me at every given moment in my life.

Why then did He allow me to go through the pits of life?

If He doesn’t, He would have to treat me like a piece of machinery or a robot, and do everything for me. Like muscles that have not been put to good use, I will become and might as well be a vegetable.

Our Creator wants me to love myself and to love others just as I love myself. He has the best plan for me and He wants me to play at the highest level in the game of life.

That’s why I should love myself because He first loved me.

Want some more reasons? I have to love myself as a way to repay my gratitude to many people who loved and cared for me throughout my life.

I don’t know about you. I can certainly give you a long list of people who stood by me.

The list includes my parents, some of my relatives, many teachers and friends, and a lot of other people – some of them I have met for only a short period of time.

Just as importantly, I need to love myself because that’s one of the best things I can do for my spouse, children, partners, colleagues and friends.

You do want me to love myself, don’t you? Otherwise, I will be a pain to you and society. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

Common sense, isn’t it?

Now, let me see, how else can I love myself?


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