Our columnist hopes to enjoy life in the best way possible, and wants you to do the same


Live life to the fullest by enjoying every beautiful thing that nature provides us. We are on Earth just for a few decades compared to the multimillion-year-old universe. — Photos: LEESAN

Not long ago, my friend Wee told me something quite sad. A good friend of his did a video call with him from an ICU hospital ward, and said that he regretted not being able to enjoy life even more.

Soon afterwards, that friend passed on from a sudden illness, supposedly due to the tremendous pressures of his work and personal life.

Whenever I hear something so disheartening, I can’t help but ask myself: Do we actually have a permanent right over our own body and life? Can we possess them forever?

The reality is that we have only “leased” our life and physical body from our Creator, and there is no exception for anyone! When your time is up, your life may be instantly snatched from you without you being served any notice.

To put it simply, we only have the right to use, but not to completely own our physical body.

We are well aware of when our 99-year-leasehold property will cease to be ours, and until then we can use the property in whatever way we like. But, can we tell exactly when our life will end? We will never know this. Perhaps, for some of us, tomorrow will never come.

Life is unpredictable, and unpredictability is absolutely normal in life. Of course, many of us are aware of this and know it very well, and we do our best to enjoy our life to the fullest. This is pretty much the only thing we can do.

We should also learn how to do things we like, and not just do things to accommodate other people. Additionally, we must know how to strike a balance between “giving and taking” in our day-to-day life.

During the pandemic, business owners had to observe a very rigid economic austerity, so that both employers and employees could make ends meet.

After the pandemic, a businessman named Chang told me, “I no longer yearn to be my own boss or have any ambitious corporate plans. I no longer want to be a boss! All I want is to be a professional manager and put my expertise to work.”

On the contrary, there are business owners who are getting increasingly ambitious to expand their business empires. This is the world they have been dreaming of. They aspire to possess more, and enjoy doing so.

We can’t say whether such an ambition is right or wrong. Instead, this is a question of “giving and taking”. No matter how long we live, we tend to desire to possess everything that comes into our sight, even though we are aware that we don’t actually need all of it.

As our desire grows, so does our lust to control. This is what we call possessiveness. We are prone to possess something most probably out of sheer vanity. The thing is, will we really be content and happy after commanding the right of possession of such things?

The cherry blossoms may not bloom for long but they are absolutely glorious.The cherry blossoms may not bloom for long but they are absolutely glorious.

In Buddhist teaching, it is said that everything with form is unreal. Perhaps the best approach to life is to just enjoy and embrace something instead of possessing it. Hopefully this will make us a little happier.

Let me tell you the story of Xin and Xue. Lately, there has been a dramatic turn in the romance between the two, like a stretched rubber band that intensely strains them, plunging them into a pit of despair and anxiety.

It all started because one was a headstrong, tough, principled woman, while the other found himself to be insecure, and constantly fearing he would eventually lose his life partner.

The stronger the desire to control and possess the other party, the more a person would go overboard in what he or she speaks and does. This will mess things up and generate negative sentiments. In the end, everyone stands to lose.

Actually, there was no big issue standing in the way of the couple’s relationship initially. Everything could have been settled amicably if they were willing to put aside their differences and communicate, cherishing the moments they have shared instead of constantly thinking about controlling the other.

Moreover, all the joys and tears in a romantic relationship have a lot to do with our willingness to give and take. When any romance starts to turn sour, one will tend to be particularly fussy over the most trivial stuff. The consequences will become undesirable if either party is reluctant to compromise.

In view of this, why not turn our lust to possess into a passion to thoroughly enjoy instead?

Just think about this: Even if we have been granted the right to use something, by virtue of our short and impermanent life, we should appreciate everything that comes into our life, and treasure each moment we have spent together. When the tide rises, I learn to appreciate its beauty with a calm heart. And when the seawater recedes, I will recall the joyous moments playing with the water, as I step on the sandy beach enjoying the encounter with those adorable little crabs crawling on the powdery sand.

One day, at the farewell party for a manager, many colleagues lost control of their emotions, reluctant to part with her and wondering why they must say goodbye now. She simply said, “Don’t ever think that you can control my life. Perhaps we should think of the time we worked overtime together and the many happy hours we spent together. It’s been a great pleasure working with you guys all these years, and the momentary separation should be a win-win situation for all of us.”

It appears to me that the distinction between possessing and using, manifests the breadth of an individual’s scope of vision.

I have thought about this before – that wherever I am, all I need is the right to use something, not the right to take possession of it.

I have been travelling around the world checking into wonderful hotels, enjoying exquisite meals and five-star services. Nevertheless, as soon as I check out of a hotel, I will have to surrender everything back to the hotel owner, who will then have to start worrying about housekeeping, maintenance, staff training, as well as sales and marketing.

After leaving the hotel, I get to just move on to another cosy resort.

Of course, for certain things, specific individuals and entities will still have to assume responsibility. For example, a hotel needs investments from its owners to continue running the business. So those involved in the business should not run away from their responsibilities.

As for me, I choose to enjoy being a smart consumer. I don’t have to start a wagyu farm just because I love eating wagyu, right? Today, I have no regrets adopting such an attitude. This is the perfect timing for me to unload my possessiveness.

Anyway, as ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan said, although the journey in front of me in my continuous pursuit of truth is long and tortuous, I will keep moving forward!

It is my wish that you will find joy and freedom in making your choice between possessing and using.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Leesan, the globe-trotting traveller who has visited 137 countries and seven continents, enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored five books.

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