- It doesn’t matter what you do, just try to do it well.
This was told to me by my father. I’m not sure what his point was. Was he saying that I shouldn’t stress about being what is conventionally seen as a success: doctor, lawyer, etc.? Was he saying that even if I was worked on a truck going house to house collecting garbage, I should try to be the best garbage collector I could, and I could be proud of myself for that?
Ironically, while still in my teens, for 2-3 months, I had a job as a garbage collector. Fortunately, it was during the winter; so, the garbage didn’t stink too badly. The job was interesting in light of my later involvement with vegetarianism, because in my garbage collector job, after we had collected the garbage (not trash, such as paper and plastic), we would taking it out to a pig farm.
- Turn off the lights. You must own stock in the electric company!
This one was also from my parents, from back in the 1960s when I was a blur teenager, oblivious to the impact of what I was doing. My parents weren’t early environmental activists; they just didn’t like to see waste. Even today, I can hear their voices when I waste water, electricity, etc. So, I guess some things that the older generations say do stick with kids.
- Life is multi-variant.
I try to remind myself and others that almost nothing occurs for only one reason. Yet, so often people ask, “What is the reason for _______?” Similarly, almost everything is context dependent. For example, in teaching, a lesson that went great in one class flops in another class, and even the same class can be different at different times.
- Most phenomena reside along a continuum.
Few phenomena are either-or. For example, most people do not either like chocolate 100% or hate it with a 100% passion. Instead, their feelings for chocolate lie somewhere along a continuum (also known as a spectrum). Personally, I like chocolate, but I can do without it most of the time.
- There but for good fortune go I.
The first chapter in this memoir is titled “Lucky”. When I do something better than others or have more of something or something of better quality than others, I try to remind myself that chance played a role. Bono, of the band U2, says, “Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.” Sadly, too many people have the bad luck to be born or to live in places plagued by war, disease, poverty, etc.
Similarly, one of the US presidents from my childhood, John F. Kennedy (I remember when in Mrs Bushhorn’s English class, it was announced that he had been assassinated) said, “From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” His family was very rich, whereas mine was just middle class, but middle class in the U.S. or Singapore is wealthy compared to people in so many other places, not to mention the farmed animals who suffer and die so terribly.