Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Expensive Dreams

If I’m not mistaken, it must have been almost 30 years ago when the then American President, Ronald Reagan, delivered a speech on the so-called Star Wars Program. I can’t really remember what that program was all about—I believe it had something to do with spending billions upon billions of the taxpayers’ money to develop some sort of high-tech defence system against nuclear attacks. However, it wasn’t the “star wars” thing that caught my attention; rather, it was a small part of Reagan’s speech that has found its permanent place in my brain.

Many Americans were against the idea of spending so much of the taxpayers’ money on something as ambitious as the Star Wars Program. Many of them questioned the President, “Can we really afford this?”

Although I can’t remember his entire speech in verbatim, I can more or less remember the President’s reply to that one question. He answered it by asking a question of his own: “Can the United States of America afford to dream?”, or something like that. And that response was met with a resounding applause from his audience.

Most people have big dreams. Not all of them will achieve those dreams though. But the point is that ambitions and big dreams can help in making us strive harder; they bring out the best in us.

Having said that, however, there will be costs involved—lots of sacrifices, time, hard work, and of course monetary costs too. And it’s the latter element that is always the most difficult to overcome.

Dad, too, has been having big dreams all these years. He speaks of lucrative awe-inspiring projects and investments all the time. Some of the highlights of his so-called projects have been logging and timber, oil palm plantations of numerous scales, deep sea fishing etc. Whatever business ventures you can think of, it is likely that dad had tried them all over the last 25 years—and failed. From the top of my head, the only venture that he has succeeded in, so far, is the business of making babies. Right now, he is into land brokering and should soon earn his RM1.2 million commissions.

If dad is happy pursuing his dreams, I suppose I should be happy for him too. However, over the years his dreams have been burning big holes in my pocket. Like Reagan, dad is pursuing his dreams at the expense of others.

Now, for the most part of my working life, I’ve been a fixed-income earner. So when in due course I received phone calls from dad, asking for a few thousand bucks each time, for his business ventures, I simply cringed with pain. I would be like, “Yeah sure, hold on a second, dad, let me just pull it out of my hat for you.”

A few days ago, I found out that dad’s problem with diabetes had worsened, and he is now required to take daily insulin jabs. The insulin tablets he’s been taking on and off for some years now can no longer help. It means additional maintenance cost—apart from his cigarettes, of course.

In the twilight of his life, dad is still actively pursuing his expensive dreams. Remembering Reagan and his famous speech, I’m just thinking:

Can dad still afford to dream?


Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like Dad ever could afford to dream.. Sounds like you afforded it.. Can you still afford it?


Cornelius said...


I'm thinking "affordability" is a relative term. Maybe one can't "afford" that new laptop, but he can "afford" a used car instead, because the car means much more to him for his purpose.

I suppose if I really want to, I can still continue throwing my hard-earned money down the drain for dad to have his fun living out his dreams. In that sense, I guess I can still "afford" it. But is that the right thing to do? It is almost a sin, even, to waste the money like that. So this lately, I've decided to be kinder to myself, my wife and JJ. There is no reason why I can't enjoy spending my own money.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand what you are going through.. These are discussions that go on between my husband and I quite often.

The lack of appreciation is what always gets me... Do they even know everything we do?