I was spending New Year's Eve in the dark outside the house with my wife, listening to the distant peeling of bells from the church and the brief sound of fireworks set off by neighbours and looking at the bright orb of light high up in the sky. It was still a full moon and it had never looked so much bigger or shone so much brighter than now.
So this is it! Life after JobStreet. These few moments without my house's perimeter, I started to wonder about all the what-could-have-beens in my life. What could have been if I had not be in the newspaper industry to start with; what could have been if I had not progressed to the banking industry and what could have been if I had not sort different pastures in the Internet-based industry. Well, all the could-have-beens.
Then I remembered the story I told my ex-colleagues only two days ago when they had demanded a speech from me during the farewell, and I had to speak at the spur of the moment. An impromptu speech, if there were was going to be one, and I couldn't talk of Sex or run away to hide in the toilet. I had to look my audience in the face. It was MY time. Then I realised that I could tell them the story of the emperor's three questions. In my own way, of course, without all the embellishments but going straight to the chase.
I told them that the answer to the first question, when is the most important time, is now. There is no point in thinking back about the what-could-have-beens. What is past is past, and what is in the future remains unseen. So, the most important time will be today, right this moment. We've got to make full use of this moment so that we can shape our own future.
Then I went on to tell them about the second question, who is the most important person. And that person, I said, should be the person you're with. If you were with your spouse or your partner, these would be the most important persons that you should give your fullest attention to. And I told them, in that little, crammed room on the first floor of Mayang Mall in Bayan Baru, Penang, that the most important people in my life at that moment were them, the people from JobStreet who had come to celebrate my leaving and who were listening intently to me now. They were the most important people in my life right at that time.
And about the third question, what is the most important thing to do, the answer is to care for the people you're with. Your heart should be filled with care and compassion for the people you're with.
I think it was the lengthiest and perhaps, most sombre and most non-upbeat, speech I've ever made in my life. But then, I've never given farewell speeches before, so I don't really know at all.
Postscript: After I had finished writing this story, I decided to do a Google search and came up with this original short story from Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy was among Russia's greatest novelists of the 19th century. War And Peace and Anna Karenina were among his most important books.