Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lost Kairos

‘Let me just throw you a word. And you come up with a whole article about it.’

I get really scared when someone tells me this. This explains why I never take the option in English exam which goes, ‘Blue’ or ‘Water’ or ‘Sand’. Or any of the one word questions for the matter. I take too long to think of what to write. But that’s the problem with competitions. They give you one word and you’re supposed to come up with a masterpiece THAT MAKES SENSE.

And the word I got was LOST.

What shall I talk about? Should I talk about lost hope? What about lost love? Or maybe if I was feeling creative, how about the TV series Lost? But then again, lost hope sounds like a movie, lost love sounds like a teenage romance and I’ve never watched a single episode of Lost. So, where does that leave me?

And I got it. I’m going to share with you my Lost Kairos.

Now, you may probably be wondering, what in the world is Kairos? Don’t worry, I have asked many people what they thought about it and some have remarked, ‘Is it a new ice cream brand? A new fast food chain? A new shoe company?’ Well, I’ll put your minds at rest. Kairos is the Greek word for opportunity.

To put it simply, I’m here to tell you about lost opportunities. I’m sure all of us have plenty of them. Whether in our school, in our workplace, in life, we have too many of these missed opportunities. As for me, if I were able to write down all those lost opportunities into a book, I’d have a literary work of a genius published by now. So, what kind of opportunities have we lost really?

We have lost the opportunity to love someone more. We have lost the opportunity to extend a helping hand. We have lost the opportunity to give a piece of meaningful advice. We have lost the opportunity to make the best out of time. And sometimes, when we reflect upon all those lost opportunities, we wish we could erase time. And there goes that wonderful cliché, ‘If only… If only’.

Honestly, I just experienced a missed opportunity. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say ‘If only’. It certainly didn’t help when I recalled what I read in a book about a certain statue…

Picture this with me. You’re in ancient Greece now, in Athens to be precise. There are statues everywhere. Some of them look beautiful and you might be thinking it would suit your furniture at home. Some of them look hideously ugly and you wouldn’t take it with you even if you were paid. But one of them draws your attention. It is called ‘Kairos – Opportunity’. It is a statue of a person who had long, flowing hair in front of its face – but it was completely bald in the back. Weird… But guess what? That statue really exists in Athens.

Alright, let’s return from our mental fieldtrip. You might be wondering, what did that statue signify? Well, opportunity has one characteristic. You can grab it when it’s coming toward you, but you could never get hold of it once it had passed.

Imagine how that makes us feel when we’ve just missed an opportunity in life. There’s no second chance. No turning back. And thinking about all those morbid thoughts, it is easy to see why I felt depressed. But then again, I realised one thing.

A missed opportunity delivers us the opportunity to learn from experience. Let me repeat that again – a missed opportunity delivers us the opportunity to learn from experience.

Now, what do I mean by that? Well, whenever we lose an opportunity to do something, whatever it is, we are presented with to choices. One, we sit and glare at our foolishness and hence, miss even more opportunities. Two, we give ourselves a little shake, pick ourselves up and move on. Sure we make mistakes, but hey, that’s life. That’s why I admire Thomas Edison for saying and I quote, ‘I didn’t fail 1000 times. I just found out 1000 ways that a light bulb does not work!’ He could have said 1000 times before, ‘Shoot! I missed the opportunity to make this thing light up! You know what? That’s it! I’m going back to retire now.’ But he didn’t. He made those ‘missed opportunities’ into an opportunity to persevere.

So, no matter what situation we are in, always remember it’s up to us to see it in whatever light we want. After all, the Chinese character for ‘Crisis’ is danger and opportunity. In everywhere situation when we feel like it’s just too much for us to bear it, we can always succumb to the danger of giving up or seize the opportunity to press on.

I for one refuse to by the kind of person to sit and glare at my problems. I refuse to wallow in self-pity about my missed opportunity. I want to get up and learn from that experience. I’d rather one opportunity and walk away wiser than two opportunities just because I prefer to sulk.

To end, allow me to quote a conversation from Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom tells his professor Morrie, ‘Why do people always say “Oh, if I were young again.” You never hear people say, “I wish I was sixty five.” Morrie smiles. “You know what that reflects? Unsatisfied lives. Unfulfilled lives. Lives that haven’t found meaning. Because if you’ve found the meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five.”

Exactly. Lost opportunities doesn’t mean the end of the world. Lost opportunities don’t lead to unsatisfied lives, unfulfilled lives, lives that haven’t found meaning. No, lost opportunities only mean the end of the world if we’re unable to pick ourselves up and LEARN.

I’ve recovered from my lost opportunity. Though it still hurts at times, I learn to pick myself up and to move on. And that, my friend is seizing an opportunity in itself. So, what shall it be then? Do you let another opportunity slip past? Or you grab it and better yourself? I’ve made my decision, what about you?

1 comment: