Monday, October 10, 2005

How should we live this short life?

A colleague in another department in our university passed away. He was only in his 40s and death was very sudden. Apparently it was some form of cancer. Within a month it was diagnozed, he was dead. He was very successful, in his profession, as a teacher, as a colleague, as a friend, and as father and husband. His wife and daughters are very strong. It seems he has few, if any, regrets.

His death caused many of us to ask ourselves: how then should we live our lives - since a live can be short and death sudden? A common thought is that we should treasure our time, our health, and the people around us. While wealth, fame, power, etc. seem fleeting and hence less important. Actually time and health are also impermanent. But people and relationships seem more treasurable - and there is a strong sense that those who died do not really pass away. They are still around in some form, and there are possibilities of re-union with them in the future.

I believe we should use our lives, which may be very short (or very long), to build something long lasting. We may pass away from this world, but we continue to live in another. Hence personal character, people and relationships are of the utmost importance - relationships with the people we love and the God that made us in the beginning.

Friday, September 30, 2005


最 近在某地產項目上看見一個不懂的〔馬尺〕字。問了幾個朋友都不知其所以,翻查常用的中文字典亦找不到。記得日本的車站似乎是用這個字,懷疑是古漢字。但翻 查〔辭海〕、〔漢語大字典〕、〔康熙字典〕、〔古漢語字典〕、〔常用古文字典〕都找不到。最後還是在〔日漢大辭典〕找到。原來真是日語,相等於漢語的 〔驛〕字。很想問一下:既然有一個相等的漢字可用,為何要用一個日語字?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Is there a purpose to life?

There are lots of interesting snippets in Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. For example, a lichen grows very very slowly and it seems the only purpose of its life is to just keep on living. As for human beings, the whole history of our existence is very very short, compared, e.g., to the history of the Earth. If I should stretch my arms to their fullest extent and imagine that width as the entire history of the Earth, in a single stroke with a nail file I can eradicate human history. It seems so insignificant!

Yet most of us human beings feel, or believe, that there must be a purpose to life, at least to "my" life, if not the lichen's. We refuse to accept that our lives are purely a matter of chance, that there is no long lasting purpose or meaning to it. We find it hard to believe that we would exist for no particular purpose. Some people commit suicide when they cannot find the purpose of their lives; other keep on searching. Most people feel lost if they do not know the purpose of their lives. It is a cruel world indeed if we are compelled to spend our lives looking for a purpose, while there is none to be found.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Thoughts on an expected death

A few days ago a respected academic in a local university passed away after a struggle with cancer. That started many of us thinking about life, achievements, and what is really important. Some feel that it is important to have good health and to take care of ourselves. Some feel that it is important to make some important achievements before death, be an Einstien or someone like that. Some feel that achievements in research and academics in general is not as important as human relationships, family and friends. Some feel that when one dies, everything is finished and nothing remains.

I think that life goes on after death, perhaps in a different form. If not, than life is this world has no lasting meaning. An early death is no different from death at old age. A life without achievement is no different from a life with lasting achievements. For life to have meaning and hope, it must be long lasting in some way.

Is it just wishful thinking?