Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanks for the inspiration always, Matthew Zachary Liu

A post by Matthew Zachary Liu, from Facebook.

Friends. We love them to bits because they bring joy and meaning to our lives – that’s the beauty of friendships. The tragedy of course, is when things go bad and we end up hating or walking out of the lives of the ones we love(d).

Sadly, friends drift apart all the time. Groups of friends we might have known from childhood, secondary school, poly or university will dwindle over time for varied reasons. You could be the "best of friends", sharing personal secrets and hanging out almost everyday but become awkward strangers the next season..

Because friendship is really just one of those indefinable words that mean different things to different people at different times. Most friendships are transient, they come and go with time, place and circumstances. Acquaintances may turn into friends, friends to something more.. and yet, sometimes, two people can just naturally drift apart without a reason or explanation; perhaps priorities changed (or we did).. and in the process, it became a mutually understandable natural separation. Friends turn into strangers again. No need for apologies or goodbyes. We just go on and get by. Are became were. Strangers with memories. Memories of a time and moment when we were once friends.

Anyway, I was just thinking about a certain something regarding friendship.. in our lifetime, we all have and will have our different expectations and kinds of friendship. 

Strangers. Acquaintances. Friends. Good friends. Close friends. Best friend. They each mean something distinctly different to each of us. Or to me at least. 

There is certain this theory on 6 degrees of separation.. this is my "6 depts of friendship". 

1) Strangers
We may only meet them once in our lives. Maybe for an hour, maybe for a moment. Maybe we won't even get or remember their names. It doesn't matter. Because the beauty of strangers in our lives is, when our paths coincide in that moment.. they make an impact or leave us with lessons that we learn. Because maybe they aren't meant to be a part of our lives. Maybe their whole purpose was to step in and step out at certain points in our lives.. to guide us, to warn us, to test us, to remind us. Like a guardian angel or the devil's advocate. Whatever it is, it happened. They happened. They walked into our lives for a brief moment but as they continue to walk away in that same encounter, they leave us with something.

2) Acquaintances
This is a level just below strangers. Acquaintances are the ones we might encounter more than once. But we don't know them and they might not know us. Or maybe they do. They know of you as you do of their existence. But you don't know each other. You know OF each other. Encounters with acquaintances are seasonal. They are people you might see occasionally around at camps, campus, your neighbourhood or the work place. You might smile at each other in recognition or acknowledgement but you don't know each other. You only know OF each other. The difference between an acquaintance and friend is that decision to get to know each other.

3) Friends
But even "friends" are complex.. there are different layers to friendship. A friend may just mean two people who met and know each other through circumstances or maybe situational settings. Same class, same department, same social network. You get along. Maybe you need to get along because you need to use each other. Projects. Work. Access to people and places. To me, the most basic and loosely used definition of "friend" merely serves a functional purpose. Two people don't really care that much about each other.. they just get along for the sake of needing each other for a certain purpose. 

4) Good friend
Good friends though are the foundations of a friendship. Besides the genuinely good times you share with these friends, you guys go deeper than the superficial. Your good friends know you. Your good friends want to matter in your life. And likewise, you want to matter to them as well. The thing about good friends that sets them apart from "friends" is that in your moment of despair, desperation or greatest joy, your good friends are the ones who will know how much it means to you and will go out of their own way to be there for you in person. They will matter and make it matter to them as well because it matters to you and you matter to them. Hmm I might not make sense but I guess my point is.. good or true friends are the ones who knows when to step in and when to step back but will never step out of your life.

5) Close friend
And then there are the rare few, the ones where conversations goes deeper than words spoken, when the laughter makes you tear and the silence is perfectly comfortable; when time seem to stop but hours pass too quickly and before you know it, you've actually grown up together through the years.. that's when you might come to this beautiful embracement that it doesn't matter where you are or what you do.. it's simply these close friend(s) that you're sharing the moment with that makes it really special. As is the friendship. 

6) Best friend
Your best friend.. is the one who is like your soul mate. The one who will be willing to go through or do everything with you. Even if lands the both of you in jail. Even if it means flying across the continent for a once-in-a-lifetime moment of yours. They will be that one friend who will cry the hardest and stay the longest at your funeral. And quite frankly speaking, they may never ever recover from your death should you ever leave them too soon. Your best friend loves you. And you love your best friend too. It's this mutual connection and acceptance and everything strangely perfect that only the two of you will ever understand. Not even your future husband or wife will get it or have this thing that bonds you and your best friend. 

You know, I write this post after much pondering on what friendship means to me.. because there were many nights before where i'd lay in the dark scrolling through my phone wanting to just call a friend up to say, "hey", but it hit me like - who can I just randomly call or message at 4am in the night and say hey and they'd be okay with it? That started a whole inward dissecting of the term friendship as well as my relationship with every individual in my life. My weakess is that i love(d) too much. So it was always very hard for me to let go and move on when the other person already has or probably doesn't even care.

To be honest, i've gone through some really rock bottom hard times in the last two years. But that awakened me. To life, to love, to friendship. 

And what i've personally learnt is not to live a life constantly trying to seek the love and approval from everyone. We don't need everyone. Just a few right ones. The right ones are good enough. And it's these few right ones that we need to let down our walls and let them embrace us with their sincere love especially when we think we don't deserve it or when we're too weak on our own.

Then, when we're better again or as soon as we realize who this someone or these individuals are who love us dearly, always remember and appreciate them for being there for you, with you, no matter how tiring or painful it may be for them.. and in turn, be there for them when they need you as well. Because it's all these little acts of concern and love in our most desperate and trying times, that will come to mean the most.

And even if people come and go, as they always will.. let them. Let it be. But be grateful. Because for every person that has every walked into our lives, we are a sum total of all our relationships, past and present, mixed together with our own peculiar personality. Every single person we've met along the way, no matter how long we've known them or how much we've shared during those times, have definitely made us who we are today in little ways we might not even have realized ourselves.

All these people are there for a reason. They give meaning and often leave an impact at various stages of our lives. And its all these special moments that are to be treasured because although friendships may not always last forever, its these memories that do.

I'm living my social life different now. I know who are the ones I love and who love me as well. And I want to live a life spending more meaningful moments with them before my time is up, whenever it happens. Because.. i'm not very good at this but.. with some of the individuals in my existing life who've always tried and always been there through the very trying times, i'm learning to try too - to be a better person and friend. For you. 


Saturday, October 19, 2013





Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Merry Christmas, Bob - by Chris Shugart

It's an article that worth to keep in mind.

"So, what are you doing for a living these days?" Bob asked me. We're sitting on the couch at one of those tedious holiday get-togethers, you know, the ones where you're supposed to be nice to family members you never see except during major holidays and funerals. I think Bob is my wife's brother-in-law's second cousin or something.
"I'm the assistant editor and a writer for Testosterone magazine," I say. Bob looks at me with a blank expression on his face, as if I'd just told him I sell handmade testicle warmers beside the freeway and was looking to open franchises across the nation.
"It's a bodybuilding magazine," I say.
Blank expression. Deer caught in the headlights. Ronnie Coleman doing trigonometry.
"Oh," Bob finally says, "I heard you were, like, one of those bodybuilder guys or something. So, what's that like, you know, working out every day and stuff? I just don't have time to lift weights all day, but I have been meaning to get rid of this beer belly." He takes another sip of beer. "What do you suggest?" Sip.
At first I was a little offended. I wanted to grab him up and say, "You can't tell I'm a bodybuilder?! Look at my ass! Now, if that's not a nice round squat-built piece of sirloin, I don't know what is! You think that comes naturally? I can crack walnuts with this puppy! Wanna see? Huh, punk? Do ya? Do ya?"
Then I realize this just might cause a scene and could cost me several Christmas presents. I was planning on returning any presents I got and using the money to buy a power rack, so I didn't want to jeopardize this gift getting opportunity. I also realized that old Bob probably had a certain preconceived image of a bodybuilder and I just didn't fit that image. I'm not gorilla huge; I weigh about 205 at 5'11" right now. (When I first started lifting I was a pudgy 159, so that's not too shabby.) Also, I wasn't wearing clown pants, a fluorescent string tank top, a hanky on my head and one of those little fanny packs. And isn't that what real bodybuilders are supposed to wear?
Bob continued to sit there drinking his Natural Light, smoking a cigarette and waiting for an answer, oblivious to the fact that he'd come this close to seeing some serious walnut- crunching ass power. I tried to figure out how I could explain to the average guy what the typical T-Man does and why he does it. How could I get him to understand what it is we do, how we feel, how we live? So I took a deep breath and told him something like this:
"Well, Bob, I guess you could use the term bodybuilder if you really need a label for what it is we do. Most of us actually don't stand on stage and compete, though. We lift weights and manipulate our diets so that we'll look good naked. Sure, it's healthy too, and we'll probably live a longer and more productive life than the average guy, but mostly it's about the naked thing. Truthfully, it goes beyond even that.
"Let's be honest here. We do it because of people like you, Bob. We look at you sitting there with your gut hanging over your belt and we watch you grunt and groan just getting out of a chair. Guys like you are our inspiration, Bob. You're better than Anthony Robbins, Bill Phillips, Deepak Chopra, and Zig fucking Ziglar all wrapped up into one. We love it when guys like you talk about not having time to exercise. Every time we see you munching on a bag of potato chips, you inspire us. You're my shot in the arm, Bob, my living and breathing wake-up call, my own personal success coach.
"You want to know what it is we do? We overcome. We're too busy to train, too, but we overcome. We're too busy to prepare healthy meals and eat them five or six times a day, but we overcome. We can't always afford supplements, our genetics aren't perfect, and we don't always feel like going to the gym. Some of us used to be just like you, Bob, but guess what? We've overcome.
"We like to watch 'normal' people like you tell us about how they can't get in shape. We smile and nod sympathetically like we feel your pain, but actually, we're thinking that you're a pathetic piece of shit that needs to grow a spine and join a gym. You smile sheepishly and say that you just can't stay motivated and just can't stand that feeling of being sore. (For some reason you think that admitting your weaknesses somehow justifies them.) We listen to you bitch and moan. We watch you look for the easy way out. Because of people like you, Bob, we never miss a workout.
"You ask us for advice about diet and training and usually we politely offer some guidance, but deep inside we know you won't take our advice. You know that too. We smile and say, 'Hope that helps. Good luck,' but actually we're thinking, 'Boy, it would suck to be you.' We know that 99% of people won't listen to us. Once they hear that it takes hard work, sacrifice and discipline, they stop listening and tune us out.
"We know they wanted us to say that building a great body is easy, but it just isn't. This did not take five minutes a day on a TorsoTrack. We did not get this way in 12 short weeks using a Bowflex and the Suzanne Somers' 'Get Skinny' diet. A good body does not cost five easy payments of $39.95.
"We like it that while you're eating a candy bar and drinking Mountain Dew, we're sucking down a protein shake. You see, that makes it taste even better to us. While you're asleep we're either getting up early or staying up late, hitting the iron, pushing ourselves, learning, succeeding and failing and rising above the norm with every rep. Can you feel that, Bob? Can you relate? No? Good. This wouldn't be half as fun if you could.
"We do it because we absolutely and totally get off on it. We do it because people like you, Bob, either can't or won't. We do it because what we do in the gym transfers over into the rest of our lives and changes us, physically, mentally, maybe even spiritually. We do it because it beats watching fishing and golf on TV. By the way, do you know what it's like to turn the head of a beautiful woman because of the way you're built? It feels good, Bob. Damned good.
"When we're in the gym, we're in this indescribable euphoria zone. It's a feeling of being on, of being completely alive and aware. If you haven't been there, then it's like trying to describe color to a person who's been blind since birth. Within this haze of pleasure and pain, there's knowledge and power, self-discipline and self-reliance. If you do it long enough, Bob, there's even enlightenment. Sometimes, the answers to questions you didn't even know you had are sitting there on those rubber mats, wrapped up in a neat package of iron plates and bars.
"Want to lose that beer belly, Bob? I have a nutty idea. Put down the fucking beer. I'll tell you what, Bob. Christmas morning I'm getting up real early and hitting the iron. I want to watch my daughter open her presents and spend the whole day with her, so this is the only time I have to train. The gym will be closed, so I'm going out in my garage to workout. You be at my house at six in the morning, okay? I'll be glad to help you get started on a weight training program. It'll be colder than Hillary Clinton's coochie in there, so dress warm.
"But let me tell you something, Bob. If you don't show up, don't bother asking me again. And don't you ever sit there and let me hear you bitch about your beer belly again. This is your chance, your big opportunity to break out of that rut. If you don't show up, Bob, you've learned a very important lesson about yourself, haven't you? You won't like that lesson.
"You won't like that feeling in the pit of your stomach either or that taste in your mouth. It will taste worse than defeat, Bob. Defeat tastes pretty goddamned nasty, but what you'll be experiencing will be much worse. It will be the knowledge that you're weak, mentally and physically. What's worse is that you'll have accepted that feeling. The feeling will always be with you. In the happiest moments of your life, it'll be there, lying under the surface like a malignant tumor. Ignore it at your own peril, Bob.
"Don't look at me like that either. This just may be the best Christmas present you'll get this year. Next Christmas, Bob, when I see you again, I'm going to be a little bigger, a little stronger, and a little leaner. What will you be? Will you still be making excuses? This is a gift, Bob, from me to you. I'm giving you the chance to look fate in those pretty eyes of hers and say, 'Step off, bitch. This is my party and you're not invited.' What do you say, Bob? Monday, Christmas morning, 6am, my house. The ball's in your court."
Okay, so maybe that's not the exact words I used with Bob, but you get the picture. Will Bob show up Monday? I don't know, but I kind of doubt it. In fact, Bob will probably take me off his Christmas card list. He probably thinks I've got "too much Testosterone," like that's a bad thing. I think Bob is just stuck in a rut, and as the saying goes, the only difference between a rut and a grave is depth.
The way out of the rut is to make major changes in your life, most of which won't be too pleasant in the beginning. The opportunity to make those changes seldom comes as bluntly as I put it to Bob. Most of the time, that opportunity knocks very softly. What I did was basically give Bob a verbal slap in the face. You can react two ways to a slap. You can get angry at the person doing the slapping, or you can realize that he was just trying to get you to wake up and focus on what you really want and, more importantly, what it'll take to get it.
If you're a regular T-mag reader, I doubt you need to be called out like Bob. But maybe you've caught yourself slacking a little here lately. Maybe you've missed a few workouts or maybe you started a little too early on the usual holiday feasting, like, say, back in September. Just remember that the time to start working on that summer body is now. The time to get rid of those bad habits that hold you back in the gym is now. You want to look totally different by next Christmas? Start now. This isn't because of the holidays or any corny New Year's resolutions either. The best time is always now.
Christmas day I want you to enjoy being with your family and friends. I want you to open presents, sip a little eggnog and have a good meal. But if your regularily scheduled workout happens to fall on December 25th, what will you be doing at six o'clock that morning?
That's what separates us from guys like Bob.