Act of Small Defiance


January 3, 2016
Hi Everyone,
We were taking a company car to one of our sales offices in Tokyo. It was raining and not an overly upbeat day to give a pep talk to the team of sales staff who were all eagerly waiting to hear what the leadership team had to say. I was going there just to show my support to the newly arrived Country Manager and I did not have any speech to deliver. So I was just gazing outside of the car window, getting lost in thoughts.
The car stopped for a red light at one of the traffic lights. I saw a group of young junior high school children in uniform crossing the street. It was raining a fair amount and everyone had his/her umbrella out. What struck me was that none of the children opened their umbrellas even though every one of them had an umbrella in his/her hand. They were just talking, laughing and having a good time crossing the street. It was so much fun living in the moment that opening the umbrella was the last thing in their mind. Do you remember those moments when an act of small defiance was fun and natural, and you felt free?

At a certain point in your life, you need to de-clutter things you accumulated along the way. I don’t even remember why I bought some of the things I have, but it looked like a nice thing to get at the time. It reminds of a cheap souvenir from one of my trips to Southeast Asia. Primitive, crafty, and woody. A lack of smooth lines indicated that it was made by hands… just skilled enough, but never overly trained to do more than necessary. A cool object in your first apartment perhaps, but sitting in your nice suburban living room, it looks ridiculous. It was never the level of quality that you call “art” or “collectible.” It does not even make a good conversational piece any more. It detracts from who you are trying to be at age 50.
At a certain point in your life, all those stuff you accumulated become an extra load on your shoulder. Material stuff, psychological stuff, memories, regrets and unfilled dreams. Some of these unmet expectations are not even yours. Is it not the time to stop carrying your mother’s expectations? With all that stuff around you, no wonder you feel heavy. Dead weight feels heavier, you know. If all these things have the purpose for them, they never feel heavy. Find the purpose or shed the stuff that’s making you heavier. The lighter you are, the freer you feel.

At a certain point in your life, you need to re-evaluate some of the rules you live by. Roll up the shirt sleeves six and half times. Never wear brown shoes for business. Never re-cork the wine bottle once opened. Don’t put wasabi in the soy source tray because sushi already has wasabi, etc. etc. I always thought that I don’t need to wear a good watch because when I was 12 years old, I broke a brand new watch and my mother said that a person who cannot take care of a good watch does not deserve one. After that, the only watch I ever wore was an indestructible Casio G-Shock.
40 years later, a friend of mine asked me why I did not fix it. Wow, why didn’t I? So, I decided to confront my mother and asked why she did not help me fix the watch. She said that she had no memory of the incident at all. Then it dawned on me that the reason why she didn’t remember was that I never told her. I never told her that I broke my watch. I must have imagined that, if I told her, she would have said that I do not deserve a good watch. Re-evaluate your rules, real or imagined. It’s okay to re-cork your wine bottle because you are going to finish it tomorrow.

It feels good to be free, you see. Free from all those stuff you accumulated and cluttering your life. Free from all those expectations you put on yourself, real or imagined. Free from the old rules that define and confine who you are. Sometimes I wonder how close I am to the person I have spent 59 years trying to be. I wonder whether my current endeavor is on track with my final goal or I should cut my losses and start looking for something else. Then, I hear this voice, whispering to my ears. Why are you trying to be someone you are not? I like who you have become already. Let life freely unfold and you’ll be surprised that there are more good moments than bad. It sounded like Diane…

Come to Ormsby Hill and feel the exhilaration to travel light and unencumbered…
In pursuit of a small defiance…

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