I have an uncle named Michael whom I haven't met for a good many years. I used to seek his advice when I was younger, especially during the years before I went to work in Brunei. He has a very interesting way of looking at life and perhaps more importantly, I feel he is a very "realistic" man. Well, I am a realistic person myself. So it's very easy for me to agree with most of his views.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from uncle Mike on Thursday. The first thing I did when I heard his voice over the phone was to laugh out loud. And he did the same thing too. I don't know why, but we have always enjoyed chatting with each other since all those years ago. I guess you could say that we have more or less a similar kind of sense of humour. We just sort of entertain each other with our stories without even trying to make ourselves entertaining, you see. It's not often that I can actually talk to anyone for hours and hours without feeling the time ticking away.
Well, anyway, uncle Mike was in town and was wondering if we could meet up late morning on Friday—yesterday—because he wanted to seek my professional opinion on the current property market in KK; but also to catch up a bit on old times. And so at about 11am yesterday, uncle Mike arrived at my office. We then went to a nearby coffeeshop and started reminiscing on old times. Little did I know, it must have been more than 10 years since the last time we had a proper chit-chatting session like that.
Lina, Fara and Hisham have all grown up and established themselves in KL. Apparently they're all doing well there, especially Lina and Fara. Uncle Mike is busy doing his own stuff and travels frequently between KK, Labuan and KL. The last time I saw Lina was when she was still in Form 3. I was then her private tutor for maths and science, the 2 subjects which she was particularly weak in. Now she's all grown up and has 2 kids of her own, and apparently she's earning well too! When I was tutoring her many years ago, I honestly did not think she could reach where she is today, but obviously I was wrong. I like listening to all these stories—of how people have moved on and progressed in life.
Then I started talking about some of the people in my immediate family circle whose lives have remained stagnant since like at least 20 years ago. These are very stubborn people who keep repeating their mistakes in life—they keep doing things exactly the same way and then failing to achieve their goals over and over again; and at the end of the day, they don't know what's hitting them! Now that they're within the twilight of their lives, they are getting even more desperate to show that they still have what it takes to succeed.
As I said, I am a realistic person. I don't expect everyone to be successful; that everyone will become the big boss and live a comfortable life. If these family members wanted to live their lives the way they do, then that is totally up to them. Unfortunately, because they are family members, it is difficult to just ignore these people. They are connected to us one way or another, and when there is trouble somewhere in the middle of the pond, it will generate ripples throughout the rest of the pond whether we like it or not.
Therefore, every so often one is bound to hear from these people sending out SOSes for their failed ventures. Yet every time help is given to them, it's just a matter of time that they will come back for more. Thus the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
Uncle Mike listened attentively. And then gave his advice. He said one must learn to draw the limit to everything. There will come a time when one has to be strong and deny help to these people, not even a small amount. Because the pleading for help will never stop. The simple reason is that these helps are for a lost cause. These people will never change. No amount of help can actually help them.
He said, "Always remember that when they keep coming back for help, don't blame them for what they are. Blame yourself instead. Because if you allow them to take advantage of you, then they will certainly take advantage of you!"
The kind of solution which I myself have thought of long ago, yet it's good to hear it from someone else. The only thing is how does one actually put it into practice when dealing with one's own father?