Dogs of different destinies

Two news stories on dogs today generated strong but completely different feelings in me.

The first one, published in a local paper, was about the ‘dog meat festival’ which took place yesterday in a city called Yulin in Guangxi, China. Animal rights activists who went to city to protest and to buy the dogs to rescue them were mocked by many onlookers and cursed by the vendors, the latter under the protection of the policemen.

The second news story was about the 2014 world’s ugliest dog contest which was held on Friday in California. According to the official website of the organiser, the contest aims to spread the message that no matter the dogs’ physical detractions, they are loving companions, and to raise awareness for adoption of dogs, since a good number of the contestant dogs have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills. This year’s winner, a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix called Peanut, is a good example. Peanut’s toothy grin and bulging eyeballs were the results of burns received as a puppy. Holly Chandler, his owner  plans to donate the prize money to pay for the veterinary bills of animals in need so that others might have the same opportunities as Peanut. She also hopes to use Peanut's fame to raise awareness for abused animals. 

It seems that, compared with the rest of the world, the civilisation of China still has a long way to go.


Moments of the Now

It must be sacrilegious, the sounds of my footsteps announcing my clumsy arrival.

This is the feeling I have as I descend from Quarry Gap to Tai Tam Reservoir every morning during the past two weeks. Treading on the trail traversing woods, streams and undergrowth of exquisite serenity, I feel like an intruder. I am not the only creature interfering with the silence and stillness - there are the birds, insects and reptiles, too, but they are doing a much better job, blending perfectly with the setting and orchestrating with the elements to add to the charm and sacredness.

Sometimes I would just hold my steps so as to let my Being become one with the silence and stillness. And those are the moments when I can truly appreciate the peace and joy of the Now.


Glitter in the gutter

Here's another lizard I saw during a another morning walk.

This one was less composed than the one I saw yesterday. It was in a gutter when spotted by me. Noticing me, it made a desperate attempt to seek shelter. The best bet would have been to scurry into the foliage on the side, but the steep walls of the gutter made it a daunting, and risky, task, so the poor thing just made one frantic dash forward after another, but still it could not get rid of me.

After following it with a sense of wicked fun for some distance, I decided to spare it of the fright and misery and walked away.


"I am invisible"

One can be forgiven for not noticing anything special in this photo of a piece of ground. But if you look really carefully, you will see a lizard there.

See the enlarged image below for confirmation.

It was what I saw during my morning walk today. I was surprised that the whole time I was standing quite close to the lizard, it did not make any attempt to run off. Except slightly cocking its head a couple of times to dart a glance at me, it just lay very still there.

Maybe it was satisfied with the job that the camouflage did, which, in fact, was a pretty good one.


Building a cross and a mausoleum

I had two strange dreams recently.

In the first one, a man, whose face I cannot remember, was working with me to assemble a cross using a few pieces of glass.

In the second one, I had just finished building a mausoleum for myself. It was huge, the measurement going something like 4 metres by 8 metres.

These dreams seem to have highly symbolic and spiritual meanings and I have been wondering what message they are meant to reveal. I realise that they do synchronise with my life in these few weeks, in which a change of rhythm and routine due to my medical leave enables me to look into my life and confront the challenges and absurdity. I can see clearly how it is a life dominated by my ego and the fear and negativity it engenders. With the help of some reading and reflection, I am beginning to experiment with some ways to strengthen my self-awareness and connect with my inner being as well as the infinite being which is God. 

I can see how a massive mausoleum is exactly what I need to bury that big, monstrous ego.


Ten things I learned from a six-week medical leave

  1. Good health is the most important thing in life. Even if you have all the time in the world, if you are immobile, in pain or short of vigour, you do not get to enjoy it.
  2. It is good to retreat from our routine life and have a taste of something different. The change of pace, style and perspective can be eye-opening.
  3. An excellent way to start a day is to take a long walk, ideally up in the mountains. It does not necessarily take much time - I leave home at 0730 and get back at 1000 after doing an 8-km walk - but still it is a luxury that is beyond most of us who have to work full-time.
  4. Siesta is another healthy and pleasurable thing to do but is equally out of reach of the working population.
  5. Things do not fall apart in my office during my absence. I wonder how many people can say that they are indispensable.
  6. A simple and rewarding life does not cost much.
  7. A life requiring medical help is another story, especially if you do not have insurance coverage.
  8. When the constraints and pressure from time are removed, life is so much more enjoyable.
  9. It follows that if we can buy time with money, that should always be a good deal.
  10. Whatever situation you find yourself in, learn to accept and move on.