Being alive and living

I’m just going to go live life. I’m going to go enjoy life. I have nothing left to hide. I am kind of a free person, a free soul.

– Caitlyn Jenner, American Olympic athlete

I start this week’s column with a story.

A man walked into a general practitioner’s clinic for an annual health check.

He said to the physician: “Doctor, I hope my health is in good shape. I want to live until I’m 100.”

To which the doctor replied: “Ok… Do you smoke?”

The man said, “No.” And the doctor asked, “Do you drink?” “No,” he replied. The doctor again asked: “Do you sleep around?” The man shook his head and said no.

The doctor, chuckled, then said: “Then why on earth would you want to live to 100?”.

The point I’m trying to stress here is that there is difference in being alive and living! Of course, being mere mortals ourselves, we would crave more time on this God-given earth.

But the more poignant thing is that is what we use the time for. The Covid-19 pandemic, on a personal level, is a learning experience of sorts – it taught us the meaning of cherishing every moment before it’s gone.

Life is finite. There’s an end to it. And I think, with the lessons learnt during the pandemic, it has driven many to work hard, firstly to stay afloat amid the economic doldrums and secondly, seize opportunities whenever it presents itself.

The pandemic, while destructive to the economy causing many businesses to close down for good, it has also presented an opportunity to aspiring entrepreneurs.

It has created a void, where the supply, in several sectors or niches could not keep up with the demand.

It is also a good time to spend, or rather, invest – which is the more appropriate word. The property market, currently, is a good one to get into as the interest rates are quite low.

This is coupled with the government’s Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) initiative for home buyers to acquire their first purchase.

Car buyers too are enjoying lower interest rates. Now is as good a time as any to buy cars.

But however, I am not in the market for properties. I am also not in the market for cars, although I pray and hope that I can add another to the collection, but it’s the business side that intrigues me.

Recently I really started to think about getting my feet wet in business. Although at this moment, I am quite undecided on what I want to be doing, the prospect of being my own boss is, admittedly, quite tantalising.

But it does come with its set of challenges and issues – the ordinary what-ifs. Let me bring you through my thought process in assessing those.

What if my business tanks? I don’t think that I have a lot to lose as I am focusing on a niche industry rather and not retail or merchandise.

What if the economy collapses? I’ll improvise, adapt and overcome, as others would usually do.

What if I don’t have the time to tend to my business? I would take it as a positive, meaning that the business is booming and there are suitors. I’ll just hire a helper. Done.

What if this lands me in debt and bankruptcy? Well, I’m still young, I’ll recover and make it work, by working harder.

All these are very valid questions and the risks I have mentioned are real world risks. It is the same set of risks that goes in the minds of any potential entrepreneurs.

But then again, as I ponder about the risks and potential benefits that starting a business would bring, I am reminded of a quote by American poet T.S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

I would also share a quote from Japanese industrialist Soichiro Honda, “The value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred”.

Taking risks is the essence of life. I think throughout the few years, I have taken many risks and I’m glad most of them paid off.

But then again, although the endeavour that I am planning to undertake is not as big as other risks I have taken, it still very much remains an intimidating prospect.

Regardless, I think all of us should stop overthinking and settling on being alive – instead we should start living.

Be it buying your first home or the retirement home you have been saving all those while, or maybe a car that you have been eyeing. Live life to the fullest.