Sunday, August 26, 2012

My First Book, Lance Armstrong

Can't believe that (only)at the age of 25, I completely finished reading up a book. I use to claim to everyone I know on the fact that I am not a discipline person that is strong enough to end up at the last page of a book from the moment I started to flip on the first page. Other than this, my vocabulary-deficiency is another reason why I can't progress with fun in reading a book. Nevertheless, it is not entirely true. Discipline is something that can be cultivated as well as vocab-improving efforts. Not every book single book in this world has the same level of vocab-complexity. Indeed I found out that my vocab-competency is still enable me to understand at least 50% of books in this world(a short research I carried out in various bookstores and book-fairs for the past 3 months). So not-to-able-finish-up-a-book is just an excuse and voila here I am introducing the first ever book I completed the reading of it, "Lance Armstrong : It's Not About the Bike. My Journey Back to Life".

A bit of of background how this book end up in the bookshelf of mine. It was 2011, April 18, two days after  my 24th birthday. This book was a gift from a friend-boss-mentor-housemate of mine named Denis Lim. To be honest that was my only actual gift I received during my 24th birthday. Don't get me wrong, I did received  a very special celebration from my girl(Kahyee) during that year, indeed a very sweet one where she baked me a love-shaped cake and woke me up sharp at 12am 2011 April 16. Let's move on. I still remembered the words Denis spoke to me when he passed the gift, "You remind me of him.". To be honest Denis, that moment when I received it, I was like "Hmm... It must be a book.". It wasn't a disappointment(coz it was literally my only gift during that year) but not much of excitement either (coz I am not so much a reader during that time).

There were few attempts from me to kick-start the book but most of it end up with an unknown status. I think the first few pages of the book I've read up for at least 5 times. Not once out of the 5 times I manage to move on from the first chapter("Before and After") of the book. It was in the middle of the month of June 2012 I picked up the book once again and I read it. This time around things are so different. I read this book before go to bed, long-toilet moment, LRT journey moment, bus journey moment, waiting for someone to come down from office(yeah is u Ng Kah Yee) which took her around 1 hour moment, reached office before bosses arrive moment and many dunno-how-to-mention moment. Honestly speaking, this book will be around me wherever I am during the 1 and a half month duration that I took to finish reading it up. During this time I've learned that discipline can be cultivated through curiosity in an unconscious way.

As the title of the mentioned, this book is a story about a great cyclist named Lance Armstrong.  Lance Armstrong is an American road racing cyclist. He was notable as one of the greatest cyclist from a record of winning the Tour de France for 7 times. Can't really go deep about his cycling achievement coz this book is not much about that. If I not mistaken when I finished read this book, it only mentioned two times consecutively he won the Tour de France. I never really know much about Lance Armstrong besides hearing his name in Euro Sport News portal when I was in secondary school. So what I am reading from this book?

This book summarizes Lance's story from a kid to the point he turned out to be a professional cyclist. He was raised in a single mother family. His mother re-married again during his teenager time(this is how he gained his current last name Armstrong from) which ended up in a divorce. A rebellious kid at younger age which soon discover himself has certain biological advantage in doing sports. At the moment he was at the high of his career and yet growing, he was diagnosed with a testicular cancer. During this part of the story, it was a "pain" to my reading as it specified out what cancer patient have to undergo in the process of treating the disease. The word chemotherapy has never been so hard to me before I read up this book. The story moves on to the part when he has completed his treatment and how struggle for him to come back to compete again  with the rest of the world. I still remembered there is a part where he quit on his comeback to cycling when he was at Paris. What worse he cause a girl named Kristin to give up her career in US to follow him to Paris only to realize that he is quitting after a few attempts in Paris to come back to US. The story also touches the part on how the business side has turned down on him due to his illness. Sponsors taking advantage of his condition to cut off the contract or reduce their financial contribution. The climax of the story I shall say is the part when he started to gain back his momentum in both physical and mental condition. The way the author portrayed out Lance's training session really "sweat myself" out. Is kind of feeling when after I finished my football, futsal, badminton or running activities where I feel the satisfaction of sweating and rapid heart beating. At the end, Lance managed to win again but not much as a single race winner but as a complete tour winner.

This book has inspired me in a lot of way. Firstly is about discipline. Is not much about his story but is more about the time I picked up this book and read it. But what I learned the most from this man is about pain and not giving up. One of my favorite quotes from him that I found in this book is "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, it lasts forever." What this book has taught me also is how our perspective can help us to turn things in better way which came from this quote of him, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." In a way this quote is so true to me because pain is real because it was embedded in our biological system but suffering is a subjective matter. In the time when he was undergoing his chemotherapy session, the pain is so real to him, but he chose to view as a process of getting better not much of process of suffering. I got to admit that this guy is a huge inspiration behind the reason I started to do running. Whenever  in running where I felt like I am tired, Mr Lance Armstrong name will come into my mind (of coz his name still can't keep me running forever due to my biological constraint) to keep me mentally strong. One of his advice about doing sports such as running and cycling is about the pain we endured. Is always about the pain that we get coz if pain is something we don't want then is better we just sit down taking a restful moment. But pain makes us feel the world again.

"There is no need to answer to those losers, coz you are already a winner Mr Armstrong. Records can be wiped-off but never on what you have inspired me and others.", Ray Chow Facebook 2012 , on Lance Armstrong decision not fight doping charges.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Blindness Wisdom

It all started on last Wednesday morning when I was in the bus, travelling from my home to the place of work. In that morning, I saw a blind man waving for a bus from far. He just kept waving and waving as he never knew when the right bus is arriving. Every single bus that passes by will stop by him and tell him the details of the bus. Eventually he boarded into the same bus that I am in it. For a moment, I thought of that situation and asked myself that, if my life is hard how about the life these people ? If with a vision, active senses, hands and legs, I still call myself struggling in my daily life, what is the word for these people who have to move around during their daily life?

Two days later, Friday, on my way heading the bus that I supposed to board to get me home, I saw another blind man came down from a bus in the middle of the bus rail. The moment he stepped down from the bus, he started to feel the surrounding using his white cane as this the way how the blinded "see" the right direction. Spontaneously I went towards him and grab him by the hand and asked him "Where are you going ?". Then he answered "Pasar Seni LRT station." I took a glimpse at the way heading to the LRT station. Crowded, narrow and dangerous as the current building was under construction for the new MRT project. Only small wooden pass way was built to connect the train station with the bus stop. Is hard for me to describe here, but I can assure you guys that this is not the kind of so called "integrated stations" coordination that you guys expect to see in a developed city. So I've decided to guide the blind guy to the train station.

Another two days later, here comes Sunday. After such a long time never attended Sunday service in church, I finally attended my first Sunday service in the year 2012. This commitment is one of my new year resolution. So as like my previous Sunday mornings in church, usually the worship team will be preparing on the stage to lead the worship. At first, I did not realize anything special, but as the stage team is rehearsing it started to catch my attention. I came to realize that, today the worship will be lead by a group of fellowship called Agape. What so special about this fellowship was that from the singers and to the rest of the band, they all are blind. Throughout the worship session, they really amazed. They put out a great singing coordination as they knew when to sing which verse, the drummer give out a great beat, the bassist and guitarist can pluck and strum so perfectly, and the pianist played well. So I start to ponder on something.

As I look back at my life, though is not perfect but at least I am fortunate enough to see. Our daily struggle may be hard on us sometime but for them is even harder. With eye I also feel troubled how about them? Yet they choose to move on and make use on other abilities that given to them. As what mentioned by Jesus Christ in one of his parables in Matthew(25: 28-29) we are ought to grow with the talents given to us.

But does that mean God being tough on those people who are blind or handicapped? Certainly no. I still believe God loves every creation created by Him. Is just that God has different purpose on different person. Who we are and what we have always come with a reason and divine purpose as long as we believe in Him. Another thing is that, for all the senses we have, we are always subject to sin and vulnerable towards temptation. But to them, God choose to close one of the path in their life that might lead them to destruction. Is hard sometime to accept this message but try think about the time when we are fasting, ask yourself where you rather wanna be, an empty and restful place or a place where foods are everywhere? Yes exposure do make us wise but it also tempted us with devilish and selfish acts. By no mean, that God think that they are weak and not strong enough. God always knew these wonderful children of Him are stronger than they ever think and thats why He put them together with us in the same challenging world with something less on their side.