Friday, February 18, 2011

Shattered Dreams

I could not recall when was the last time I had lunch with my elder brother and two sisters together like in the good old days. Yesterday, all four of us, including my father and niece went to a nearby organic restaurant for lunch. Ever since I had cancer, my brother and two sisters have been coming over to visit me every week. Occasionally my eldest sister would stay overnight to help me in my juicing. My brother has been very active in reading for alternative therapies and every now and then would share with me some of his findings. I consider myself to be very lucky to be able to spend time with them together with my parents, though I wish our meeting was done in healthier circumstances. We have all grown to be very close though I feel bad when they have to put up with my bad temper some of the time.

I think the last time the four of us ate together was probably at our grandfather's house. Built in the 40s, we live in a place called New Area Road in Sentul Pasar (just a few miles from downtown Kuala Lumpur) and as the names suggest, it was a new development area. The land was privately owned but the landlord has allowed us to build a house on it in payment of rent. During the 50s and 60s, that area was still wooded. There are no electricity and piped water. The house was build of wood and had attap roof. It's very cooling to stay in such a house. For lighting, we use kerosene lamps, cooking with firewood and dug a well for clean water. We only had electricity in the mid 70s but piped water remained a dream.

I had a carefree childhood spending most of my time climbing trees and roaming the secondary jungle behind my house. Two of my favorite pastimes were playing Chinese Chess and watching my neighbors gamble! By 10 years old, I was quite good with Chinese Chess and could play 3-dices, poker, blackjack, a few other card games and mahjong. As I grew up, I was still a country boy at heart and started to think about my future only when I was in Form 6. I thought it would be very nice if I could own a Mercedes Benz, a dream I copied from Patrick Teoh. In those days (1977), only the rich could afford to buy such cars, so by owning such a car, I would have sort of achieved some form of success. I still have not owned my Benz yet.

Although I am trained as an accountant, my passion lies in information technology (IT). I was 20 years old then and spent all my early years (since Apple II days) learning to program the computer. I would moonlight as a programmer. In 2000, I joined an IT firm and became a consultant for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. As the ERP market began to mature, I realise I need to look at other promising areas and started to turn my emphasis on business intelligence (BI). I did managed to dabble a bit on BI but overtime, I went back to accounting work. My dream was to learn the SAP BI system. But I could not get hold of a SAP BI system to learn. So for over 10 years I waited patiently for the opportunity.

After several years of searching the Internet, I finally managed to find a torrent where I can access the full SAP ECC6 IDES (a full demo system). A 50gb image of the full system! I managed to restore the image but found that the license has expired. After tweaking with it for a while, I managed to get the system to work. However, as luck would have it, I had cancer and the learning of the system would now have to take a back seat. There is so much reading to do, thousand of pages of documentation. To take my mind off from the daily therapy a bit, I now spend some of my time learning about the system. However, I must admit this is one of the most complex systems I encountered in my life. I do not know if I will be able to even learn 50% of it and whether I would be able to use it in the future. But I am happy to have achieved the wish of at least having the opportunity to dabble with the system.

Because I spent most of my childhood playing, I really did not study and I remember one of my neighbors said to my mother, its a miracle that your son passed his exams. Well, I scraped through my exams. Of course, I did my payback time when I had to study part-time at night while working in the day. I realised that I missed my opportunity during my early days and decided to make up for it. Several years after completing my MBA, I decided to pursue my PhD. I prepared a research proposal on whether it is possible to predict the price movements on KLSE, the local stock market. Together with a friend, we visited the Dean of Postgraduate Studies at UTAR and submitted my research proposal. That was in August 2009. In September 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer and my research proposal was approved in October 2009 and classes to start in November 2009. What a timing! At that time, I did not enroll since my doctors had only given me 6 months or less to live. Now that I have lived much longer, would I still want to accomplish this dream? Well, I think at this moment, its no longer relevant.

Over the years, I made some wrong career choices and made many mistakes. One of the thing I realised is not to turn my passion into a profession. Its not going to make it a dream job and I just killed my own passion. Some dreams are never meant to happen or be fulfilled. Now a song for you.

Shattered Dreams by Johnny Hates Jazz
So much for your promises
They died the day you let me go
Caught up in a web of lies
But it was just too late to know
I thought it was you
Who would stand by my side
And now you've given me, given me
Nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams,
Feel like I could run away, run away
(From this empty heart)
You said you'd die for me
Woke up to reality
And found the future not so bright
I dreamt the impossible
That maybe things could work out right
I thought it was you
Who would do me no wrong
(From this empty heart)
I thought it was you who said you'd die for love
Oh no no no - you said you'd die for me
Oh oh, oh oh, die for me
So much for your promises


  1. CT,

    Good gracious! Such a rich childhood and growing up years. Having said that, don't look back, keep looking forward to better days ahead.

    What you shared about not making your passion your profession is very profound cos' thats what most of us do. Related to this, can you please share how this has resulted in some wrong career choices? or was it that there are too many rats in the race trying to kill off each other. Ah! sometimes this world is crazy especially the corporate world.

    Look on the bright side, you have become much more focussed on what matters in life and I am sure its not too late to live out the years ahead.

    Awaiting your wonderful sharing soon!

    By the way, your dreams are not shattered, they have just become much more clearer.


  2. What you may be passionate about does not necessary mean you will do well in that kind of work. Previously, it was done out of love and interest but now it is a responsibility. Totally different expectations.

    The IT profession is a very specialised field. When you first enter the field, sometimes we take what we call intermediate career steps, that is working on something lesser while searching for the choice career or hoping for the break. Some do get it.

    This was not a good strategy for me because most of the elite potential employer sees you just as that, something lesser. It is sometimes better to equip oneself (like getting certification) and wait for the right opportunity and start right.

  3. Not to worry, CT, less means even more riches for you. Less means allowing yourself to be filled with much more wisdom and mindfulness about life. I enjoy your honest sharing and not many have ever pause in their chaotic run of what they call "living" to share, love and be human.

    I guess that's one of the blessings that illness shower upon us; for us to turn for the better in this life so that we earn merits for the next. On the surface, illness seem quite tragic but with wisdom, as you have shown, life can actually be more meaningful with those you love most, genuine friends who care and share.

    Computers are static and systematic - can only do so much, take so much. Life demands you be passionate and sincere in all you say and do whereas career forces you to not be you, say what is politically correct, do what is expected of you, etc, etc.

    You have become more human, for the better. More human 'being' than doing, doing, doing...

    God bless!

  4. Yeah doing doing doing
    now try more loving loving loving
    living living living
    singing singing singing
    sleeping sleeping sleeping

    Have a good night sleep

    Bee Tin