A Butterfly’s Dream

From The Chuang Tzu, Chapter 2

Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly.
All day long, he floated on the breeze
Without a thought of who he was or where he was going.

When he awoke, Chuang Tzu became confused.
“Am I a Man’, he thought, “who dreamed that I was a butterfly?
Or am I butterfly, dreaming that I am a man?
Perhaps my whole waking life is but a moment in a butterfly’s dream!.
This is a story of transformation”

Life is but a dream, albeit a complicated one.

Are you awake?

I was at my friend’s house some time back. He was at his computer surfing the net. I noticed that his computer was making very little noise. It was silent in fact. I was curious by this, as I had a computer at home that made this loud buzzing noise that I just couldn’t stand.

I listened intently, but couldn’t hear a whisper out of his computer. I decided to go get myself a glass of water, as I was feeling thirsty, and pondered about the silence as I did this. When I went back to his room, his computer suddenly seemed louder than it had been. Now I could hear the fans whirring inside the computer, and it was pretty loud too. Why hadn’t I noticed this before?

I realised that I had been getting too used to it. I had grown so used to the sound that even when I tried to listen for it, I couldn’t. I needed to take a step out of the room before I could hear it. Do you realise that once you grow accustomed to something, you tend to forget about it? Sometimes we get to used to life, that we forget we’re actually living it.

We forget we’re alive, that it took a miracle to get us here, and that everything around us is actually there. We get jaded. Did you notice that you have a computer? Did you notice that you have a painting on the wall, or a window, or a bed to sleep on? Have you woken up to the things in life? If not, you should.

Three Sides to Every Story

I have a niece who is five this year. I found she possesses many characteristics of girls much older than her; just looking at her reminded me of a girl I was quite close to during a stint I had in Junior College. I liked this girl (almost romantically) for while, but slowly some of her habits started to annoy me, though I didn’t know why. Now I know. After observing more little children, I realised that these were signs of immaturity.

Some would call it innocence.

I saw a man who was playing an organ along a corridor of shops, in the hope of receiving donations. He looked like he might have been able to do other forms of work, yet again, maybe he did not. I do not think he had a license to play in public for donations (the government in Singapore requires a license for street-basking). Some people who saw him, pitied him and donated out of stupidity and blindness.

Some would call it generosity and goodwill.

In America, it is common to find Dandelions in many places. In Singapore, where they are less common, they are considered by many as flowers, and beautiful. However, in many other countries they are considered by many as harmful weeds. Some insist they are weeds.

Others insist they are beautiful flowers.

Watch out before you jump to conclusions, all you’ll get is exercise.

There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.

Why Habits are So Hard to Break

Habits are things we do continually, over and over again, simply because to not do them, would make us uncomfortable. It might be physical or mental. To rid these uncomfortable feelings we carry out our habit. Take for example the (relatively) safe and good habit or brushing one’s teeth.

If one has done so consistently everyday, without fail, one would get into the habit of teeth brushing. To not brush would often lead to guilty feelings; we might feel that our mouth is simply unclean, or any other reason we might come out with, so that we will be forced back to brush.

How about ‘bad’ habits? Smoking? Alcohol? perhaps even shoplifting or other socially-frowned upon activities? What about them?

The thing about these activities is that though we know that they are not good in the eyes of many people, they ease our tension, the uncomfortable feeling that builds up from not having the habit done; we do not really realise that it is the habit itself that is creating that feeling.

Another important thing is that we often have this feeling/mentality of “I can quit anytime I want”. Of course, this is often to the contrary. We often cannot quit anytime we want. It may seem easy, but when it comes down to quiting, it’s harder than we thought.

When we fail to quit, especially when we so expected to, we sort of give up even trying to break it, making the habit even more difficult to break; and it doesn’t help that almost all of us have a habit of accumulating bad habits!What can we do then? Well, we can harness the power of habits.

Much ado about habits

If habits are so difficult to break, why not create more good habits? If we have 5 bad habits, and 3 good habits, we have a “-2” on the habits score. If we accumulate more good habits, we can have an infinite amount of good habits, and 5 bad habits, depending on whether you take the effort to break the bad ones, of course (and I assume you didn’t). This would lead to a “infinity-5” habit score!

So accumulate good habits, and don’t bother so much about your bad ones. Just let them be, and they may go away, or they may not; but remember, out of sight, out of mind. Do not think about your bad habits and they will slowly creep out of your life and be taken over by the good ones you have decided to bring into your life.

So what good habit are you going to sow today?

To Not Be a Wood-Pusher

Everything we do, be it big or small, should lead us towards our overall goals in life.

In the game of chess, there is one major rule you have to follow: do everything for a reason. Every move of a chess piece has to result in an advantage to your cause, even if not directly; but to move a piece without any reason in particular would be suicidal, and you would be nothing but a wood-pusher.

The same goes with the things we do in life. Always ask yourself, “How is this going to help me in my overall goals? Does this fit in with my plan for life?”