Monday, 20 August 2007

It's the journey, not the destination: An Introduction

This is a philosophy I have extolled often enough. Through the years, even when I practiced as a hypnotherapist, a common thread in my dealings with people has been that the present should always be our point of focus. It's no use dwelling in the past for it drags us back. No use keeping our sights on the future for we fill our lives with worry and dread.

When we live in the here and now, however, we give ourselves the chance to absorb, appreciate, and give a little something back.

Enough people have espoused this so I shan't bore you with what you probably already know... save to add that this ideal is not always the easiest to adhere to though. Life sometimes has a way of dealing us a set of cards that leaves us scratching our heads and chewing on our nails. Or worse.

It's easy to aspire to this philosophy when you've got a steady job, some money in the bank, your health, the love and care of close ones. When you're dealt a difficult hand, however, it's not quite so easy. The focus then shifts to your actions, not your situation. What do you do next? How do you respond?

It is something akin to this that I find myself in now.

Malaysia is the land of my birth and my first 21 years. Most of the subsequent 21 years have been spent away. And yet, even though the body is not there, the heart always has been. And we all know home is where the heart is.

Consequently, the last few years have not been the easiest. Like a child who is away when a parent is ill, I have read about the problems my homeland has been going through with more than a tinge of sadness and helplessness. It's true the media thrives on bad news, but it's also true - and we would be blinkeredly foolish to deny so - that there is indeed much bad news nowadays.

I am no politician, law maker, activist, whatever. I am a simple bloke with a great love for a country that is rapidly losing touch with the values the founding fathers envisioned. This simple bloke has a tiny sphere of influence so small I might as well be a gnat on the back of an elephant. I can do almost nothing to solve the social, political or economic problems I read about.

When I was young, I had close friends from all the major races - in many ways we even failed to see the differences, enjoying instead the common-ness we had. I just don't see the same integration now. And it saddens me. It saddens me too, to see the social ills that continue to plague Malaysian society whilst taxpayers' money is spent questionably.

I have struggled with my response to all this. To do nothing, to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear is unconscionable. It has never been my way and it never will. And yet, I am that gnat. On an elephant. A large expanse before me...

And so perhaps the idea hatched. Certainly I would point to one person to whom I owe the inspiration and the courage: Bill McDannell who chose to walk from one end of the United States to the other to effect change. Now, I do not have the audacity to believe I could bring about nationwide change.

But I do believe in focussing on the here and now. And right now, right here within me, I feel more than a little sad and helpless.

So I have decided to confront that head-on. Not with my typical sledgehammer approach to life, but in an altogether gentler way. I wish to be that gnat, scratching at the surface of this country, exposing what is beneath the tough hide of this mad elephant charging ahead. Not as an irritant, but rather a micro-observer. I do believe that although the big picture may appear to be an insane, headlong rush into oblivion, the micro view may be altogether more surprising.

I intend to seek and find (and I have no doubt I will find) the values Malaysia was founded upon. In the everyday lives of ordinary Malaysians, I am sure I will discover warmth, kindness, honesty, a moral sense of right and wrong and a brotherhood that cuts right through the bigotry and racism we read about all too often. The heart of Malaysia must surely beat strong and healthy and I want to feel that pulse.

My physical journey will be a slow one, on bicycle, firstly through the villages and towns of the west coast of the peninsular. I will meet people and I will write about them and share their stories with you. Stay tuned, the journey starts in October...


Velayudhan said...

I was touched by your words and impressed by your actions. Thank you for lighting a candle to dispel the darkness of despair.

Budakkampung said...

Hi Velayudhan,

Thank you for your kind words. And if I have lit a little flame, I am grateful for having been given the honour.

The great thing about candles is that sharing the light doesn't diminish what you have. :-)

Spread the light!

And do check in sometimes - I'm trying to get some ideas up on how we can continue the Celebrate Malaysia! spirit - I'm sure you will have some thoughts to contribute. :-)

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