Sunday, November 18, 2007

Measure of a Man

Martin Luther King once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." On the other hand, Sidney Poitier explains that his father always said that the true measure of a man was how well he provided for his children. When I ponder on the quotes of these two great men, I am reminded of how privileged I am to have someone who measures up to both these standards.. my grandfather, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Bin Mohd Zain.

When I was a child, he was like Santa Claus to me. Every time my birthday comes near, he would prop me on his lap and gently ask me what my heart desired. From garden swings, tricycles and toys to my first walkman, chopper bicycles and holidays abroad. Although he was the only family member that I know who was affluent, I never felt a need or a want for anything. He made sure that I had a little taste or experience of luxury and opulence. After my parents' divorce, he took it upon himself to be there for my brothers and I. We were never his responsibility. And there are some quarters who would add that we are not his heir. Yet, his loving concern and care for us is so astounding. I wonder sometimes what goes on his mind, what he is thinking of when he looks at me.

He believed in my intelligence way before it showed on my academic achievement records. He thought nothing of coughing up the bucks to sponsor my studies in private colleges when I failed to meet the requirements of the more established universities. Even after I flunked my first A Levels, he didn't give up hope. He pulled all the contacts and cables that he had and sent me to Swansea for a second try at A Levels. He even sent me on a 'gap year' holiday in Europe because he believes that the best university to learn from is the university of Life!

He believed I was going to fulfill his dreams for me to become a lawyer, following his footsteps. He was devastated when I dropped out of my law studies. Yet, he swelled with pride when I financed my own education in Counseling Psychology at a local university. It took a while for him to understand that I can never be him. I can only be me. As disappointing I may have been for him, he continued to love and support me. And now, he proudly introduces me to his friends as his granddaughter who is a counseling psychologist. He truly motivates me to go as far as I can.

I've seen him rise from the ashes of failures. I've seen him work hard to see his own dreams come true. He lives passionately and he does this with dignity, integrity and self-respect. Where others, myself included, fail to see any reason for him to care and love for me; he does. He sees me as who I really am. I can never make him proud of me. Why? Because he already is. He was proud of me long before I found my self-worth.

He may be a stubborn man to some. I choose to see it as his determination. He is loving in his ways, sincere in his actions and inspiring in his achievements. These are all the reasons why I truly believe that my grandfather is right up there, with Dr. King and Mr. Poitier.

May Allah bless you always, Wan. I love you.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Grey Wisdom

"First do no harm, easier said than done. We can take all the oaths in the world, but the fact is, most of us do harm all the time. Sometimes even when we're trying to help, we do more harm than good. And then the guilt rears its ugly head. What you do with that guilt is up to you. We're left with a choice. Either let the guilt throw you back into the behavior that got you into trouble in the first place, or learn from the guilt and do your best to move on."

-by Dr Meredith Grey, from Grey's Anatomy

The more I watch this series and get dished with these kind of pearls of wisdom, the more I feel like the writers of this series are watching my every move and listening into my every thought from a very remote location... like Jim Carrey's character in Truman, lah.... Paranoia? Or just simply guilt?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

To Be The Best

A few years ago, my meandering mind got hit by a bolt of thundering idea. I wanted to be the best in something. However, I was gobsmacked by the echoing question that ensued, "Be the best? In what?"

Lets see now.... I tried law, but dropped out of law school. Tried interior design, but the competition was too impossible for my humanitarian aquarian nature. I did become a professional singer but my perfectionism prevented me from being satisfied with my voice and performances. Now I am a counseling psychologist and I have yet a long way towards becoming a leading figure in this field.

At this point of muse, I found myself stuck in a quagmire. If I were to wriggle myself further into this puzzle, I know I will sink in deeper into a self inflicted despair. I know I score an average B- in being a wife to my husband and mother to my girls (This is my critical and judgmental self speaking here...). Where else, how else can I excel?

People say that a healthy competition is good. But then again, I never really believed in measuring myself by other people's yardsticks. So, how did I land myself in this predicament? Why do I need to be the best in something?

Honestly, that bolt of thundering idea came about just a few years before I turned 40. I guess I must have looked at my life and wondered where had it all gone to. What have I got to show for the years that I have lived? What achievements have I got to be proud of?

Which brings me to my latest light bulb moment. I can never be the best in something if I am opposed to measuring myself to others. Everyone is unique in their own way and its unfair to compare anyone with anybody. So, I have decided to be the best ME that I can be. After all, I do have the corner market on being me. Not even the paper dolls can impersonate me!

So, fake Johana Joharis... Move aside! Here is the real McCoy!! Ain't nothing but the real thang, baby. That's what I am. The best Me. As for the specs, well... Let my life say it all. Just watch. I'll show you. However, a word of warning... don't try being anyone else but yourself. because if you do, you'll fail. We can only be ourselves.

Note To Self: Make Peace

"The commitment to morality, or non-harming, is a source of tremendous strength, because it helps free the mind from the remorse of having done unwholesome actions. Freedom from remorse leads to happiness. Happiness leads to concentration. Concentration brings wisdom. And wisdom is the source of peace and freedom in our lives."

- by Joseph Goldstein, in A Heart Full of Peace.