This is one of the stories that can be found in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Second Jungle Book”. The story is called “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat” and can be read free online. It is about a man who, having reached the dizzying heights of a long an illustrious career, forsook it all and took up the ochre robes and begging bowl of a holy man in India.
The message I got from this simple story many years ago was “No one can force you to do anything. You always have a choice”. It is something I have chosen to live by, and many a brickbat has been hurled my way on account of that choice. This has been particularly true when other people have felt compelled to evacuate their comfort zones because of the effects of the choice I made. I have been called “Xiao On”, meaning “excessively on-the-ball”, “Tzap-Sa”, meaning “crazy” and some other terms of endearment best left unexpressed. Others have railed “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, “What drives you, don’t be so serious!” Looking back, would I have done differently? I trow not! Oh, the brickbats didn’t just come from the world of work. Almost everyone I knew seemed to think that they ought to have some say in many of my own personal choices.
As an example, I bought my second apartment from the HDB and paid for it on the first day, thanks in large measure to the government allowing the use of CPF funds for housing. When a colleague of mine heard of it, the first thing he said was “Why so stupid! Give me the cash from the sale of your first flat, and I will service the loan for your second flat for you!” This is something most of my countrymen would have done, and many people just resemble the robot from “Lost in Space” when they hear of it, saying “That does not compute!”
I do not intend to discuss whether what I did was the best thing or not, but I do intend to tell you in no uncertain terms that it was my choice. I do intend to illustrate to you that you always have a choice, and that you will always exercise that choice, and that you will find no excuse by saying “I had no choice!” You always have a choice, my Friend. Not making a choice is also a choice.
So, remember, none of us is a victim. We’re not helpless babies slaughtered in the womb under the guise of “abortion”. We are free to choose. Always. Decide to stop being a victim. Be a victor. Choose well. Remember the story of Purun Bhagat!