Tournaments and Happiness

The quarterly Japan Club weiqi tournament is finally over and with a bit of luck, I managed to get 3rd place in Group A, i.e. the Dan level group. No trophies but there is a cash prize, which is quite good. The top three positions were all taken by Malaysians and Ishikura-san, the Japanese rep, was quite disappointed because of the 11 players in Group A, there were only 4 Malaysians, the rest all Japanese. They will try again next time, which should be somewhere in November 2005.

During lunch time, we had a conversation with Lao Zhuang (old Zhuang) who came from Taiwan and is now 80 years old. He is still extremely strong, both physically and mentally and is a very formidable weiqi player as well. He got the first place in the tournament. Since all of us are young chaps to him, he usually speaks of his own experience while dispensing some advice, mostly on how to improve on weiqi and sometimes on life.

This time, he was speaking on the importance of financial independence for young people. According to him, young people nowadays are too idle and sometimes too idealistic without enough effort put in creating wealth and be financially independent. They are simply too lazy, living in a comfort zone because everyday passes so easily and there is enough food on the table. There is nothing much to worry about, or at least nothing that he or she is really worried. Real worry to Lao Zhuang of course means not having food to eat and to die. He has been through a lot of hard times and him pointing out this fact is completely reasonable.

Come to think of it, I am myself very lazy. Yes, I have a job that I have worked and is working very hard for. I take time to indulge in things I like, spending time and money in expanding my knowledge and experience. This is all fine and gives an illusion of a very well balanced life (except, errrr… not enough exercise which sees layers of fat accumulating).

But I am not doing enough. I am not vigorous enough. I have not given enough thought and spent enough time to DO something. I am only working and indulging. I am not working hard enough to accumulate enough money to be financially independent and the fact that I cannot fully pay for my house and car and have to take a loan from the bank is a fact that is really quite embarrassing no matter how normal and common taking a bank loan sounds to people in this so-called modern and new economy.

I still have a lot of spare time which I can use to do some wealth creating jobs or at least use it to help some people in a certain way. But instead I am using my spare time to “improve” myself by watching movies, listening to music, reading books, playing weiqi and the sort. All self-centered and not revenue generating. Instead, they contribute to the decline of my EBITDA, instead of improving it.

Now, this is all so very strange because deep inside, I do not believe in all these. I do not have a high opinion of people who thinks only of wealth creation. When someone tells me that his favourite author is Robert Kiyosaki and the greatest book he has ever read in his life is the “Cashflow Quadrant”, I look at that fellow with a certain eye, almost like a snob and I respond with a certain smirk and say “Lucky you”.

But sometimes I also do feel a certain lack of vigor on my part for my complacence in not generating more wealth from my free time to pay for my house and car and all the sort of things. I am taking it too easily and as Old Zhuang said, “Young people nowadays are too lazy. They are living such an easy life that they have lost sight on what is really important.”

I don’t know if what he said is really right but something inside me pleads that I consider and think of his remarks, at least this is from a person who has lived and survived for 80 years now. Surely there must be something right with that number of years being a human.

“The great questions about happiness are concerned with its definition and its attainability. In what does happiness consist? Is it the same for all men, or do different men seek different things in the name of happiness? Can happiness be achieved on earth, or only hereafter? And if the pursuit of happiness is not a futile quest, by what means or steps should it be undertaken?”

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