On Consolation

On Consolation

My sister passed away on February 24 after almost three years of her battle with cancer. She courageously persisted, and fought till the end.

Seneca the Younger (4 BC – AD 65) was one of the great Stoic writers. A Roman senator, he was exiled in AD 41 as he went against the reigning emperor. He wrote To mother Helvia, On consolationwhile on exile to provide comfort to his mother.

In death, the comforters usually are the surviving friends and family, but as Seneca is still alive in exile, he was able to do this himself using his own words. This writing, together with his other works about the shortness of life, provided me with insights on how to deal with the death of my sister. read more

5 Things I Learned In 2019

5 Things I Learned In 2019

There’s some belief that age and years ending in 9 often result in some significant change in people’s lives. I would say that in general, this rang true for the year 2019 when we look at local and global events.

This is also true for me on a personal level. 2019 brought some hard new lessons for me to learn and I will share the top 5 major lessons here:

1. The world owes you nothing

We tend to have this notion of inherent “fairness” into the world. As long as we do good things, we also expect good things to happen to us. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. Even saints, who lived good and godly lives, often lived in poverty and died horrible deaths. read more

Would your future self thank you?

Would your future self thank you?

One day I was listening to a podcast where the host interviews a businessman. At the end of the interview the host asked, “What are the things you do that make you successful?“. The businessman answered: “The reason I am successful is not because of what I do today. I owe everything to 2011 me. All his hard work, his grit, and his networking efforts paid off.

That got me thinking: am I thankful for past me? Do my actions decades ago produce something good today?

I thank 2012 me. I accepted a job from something that I have not tried before, and I was not really expecting much. It turns out to be work that boosted my income and still something I enjoy even after seven years. read more

“Nini Ke”

“Nini Ke”

“Mommy, Daddy has a new car“, my daughter said as the new car went in our garage. Our old green car, a 2000 model Ford sedan, was left outside the gate as we only have the space for one car.

When my daughter was only learning to speak, her word for green was “nini” and her word for car is “ke“. So she calls our green car “nini ke“.

First car

We bought green car a few months before my wife and I were married. The owner was living in the same condominium building that we were renting at that time. Originally I planned to buy a second-hand Honda or a Toyota, and I was not really impressed when I first saw the Ford sedan. My wife liked it though and so we decided to buy it.

It has been our primary mode of transport through the years. My sister borrowed it after our wedding to go to the province. When my wife got pregnant, green car was there for every doctor’s appointment. When it was time to deliver my daughter, green car was also there.

My daughter grew up knowing that green car was our car.

I didn’t expect my 4-year old daughter, or my wife, to be very emotional once the reality loomed that our old car is going away. Our garage only has space for one car and we will not have the time or the money to maintain another one. We decided that we will only sell it to a relative or a close friend so we know that green car will be taken care of.


We have been with green car for 6 years, and has made some memorable events with us.

I have only learned how to drive a few months before we bought green car, and I have used it to fetch my wife to and from work. Combined with having to park daily on a multi-level single lane parking space, it forced me to increase my driving skills.

First (and only) parking mishap

One evening while parking (backing), the rear side of the car scratched the parking column resulting in large scratches. Since then, no other parking mishaps happened thankfully.

First traffic violation

One day while going to the hospital for a doctor’s appointment, I made an illegal turn on a left turn lane and got apprehended by a traffic enforcer. Since my wife is expecting, I said that my wife is about to give birth (which she did one week later). The enforcers let us go without any fuss.

First provincial trip

On our way back home from the province, there was a funeral march in the provincial road which caused very slow traffic. It forced me to level up my clutch and gear skills as not to stall on the hilly road. I had trouble learning those skills while on driving school.

Beach accident

En route to a beach resort, I made a wrong turn on the wrong resort, resulting in my front wheels being stuck in the sand. I tried everything but the car won’t move and it dug the wheels deeper in the sand. Thankfully some kind locals helped me by digging the sand around the wheel and putting water on it so it becomes compact.


Going home, I saw that the road was gutter-deep in flood. I made a risky decision to go through it. Thankfully the car didn’t stall but the next day I was not able to start the engine. It did start after a few tries though and didn’t have any long-term damage.

Screw in tire

While driving in the province I heard a loud noise from one of the rear wheels. I continued driving for a few kilometers before I was stopped by a motorcycle driver informing me that I was driving flat. Later we found that a screw has embedded itself in the tire. Thankfully no one was hurt and no damage was done on the wheel assembly.

Moving On

They say that a car is like a family member, which is true from my experience. I spend at least an hour washing the car which also serves as my meditation for the day. We made sure the car is maintained at least once a year, replacing any old or worn out parts.

When green car moved away from our home for the last time, it felt like losing a beloved pet. It was hard, but knowing that the new owners appreciated it made it better. Thank you for your service, nini ke!

Time Letter

Time Letter

Taking a quick rest in my bed one evening, I suddenly remembered about my time letter. Back in 2008 I decided to write a letter to myself that I intend to open ten years later. I quickly searched for the letter in my computer, and opened it for the first time in a decade.

July 13, 2008

Hello Marvin,

“Good morning, me.
Did you sleep well?
And did you wake up well?
Does the light and the wind,
the air and the smell,
all feel brand new?
Is each and every cell in your body awake now?
Today, you are who you are today.
You are a newer version of me.
Myself ten years from now…
That’s so far away for me that I can’t even begin to imagine.
Am I alone?
Or is there a wonderful person next to me?
Well, knowing me, I’m sure I am troubling
a lot of different people.
But that’s all right.
There’s no problem.
I will always be cheering you on.
I am no longer here
But I’m here today, and Ill always be
cheering for you right here…
Cheering for you, my only self.” read more