Tragedy Transforms..


“Life happens for me, not to me” C.D.

Recently I had a conversation with my friend, and he came up with the saying above, that life happens for me, rather than to me. We were talking about how all things in life happen for a reason, for a purpose. Life gives what we need, be it good or bad. We can always enjoy or learn things from life.

I personally really like the saying above- how many times when we face a challenge in life, we easily become a victim of it, instead of embracing and accepting it as there will be something more valuable coming out of it?

I remember the “tragedy” that happened in my life (and family). It was back in March 2005, when a massive earthquake of 8.6 on Richter Scale hit my hometown unexpectedly (wiki info). I was very fortunate though that I was in Sydney when it happened but it did change what I valued in life.

I was also fortunate that none in my immediate family was injured. It was truly a blessing, as I lost relatives (my cousin, his wife and two young sons) and friends. And some friends lost their parents… One cousin lost his legs, but luckily he survived. 

Though we weren’t immune to the mishap. Our business property was collapsed (see image below). That’s my parents’ sole livelihood. All of their hard work went ground zero in a couple of minutes incident…

The aftermath of the earthquake. Our family’s is the second one from the right. 

I was in Sydney studying my bachelor degree when this incident happened, it was during my mid-semester. I tried to ring home but the line was really bad. So it was hard for me to reach and talk to people back at home. Luckily I was staying with my cousin and relatives at that time and they also gave me some updates on what happened back in home. As a matter of fact, my auntie told my cousin (whom I was staying with) that there was a massive earthquake that just happened. That’s how I knew of the incident. When I woke up in the morning my cousin told me the news… and I checked my mobile and glad to find out that all in my family was save. Only a couple of days later that I found out how severe the aftermath of the earthquake was.

When I learnt that our business property collapsed, I knew that we would be short of money. The costs of my study were really expensive and I couldn’t help but think that I might have to go home and quit my study. I spoke about it with my dad, and dad assured me not to worry about money and kept on studying. It touched me when he said that – it wouldn’t be an easy thing for him.

Everyone didn’t have comfortable life for the next year or so. Many people lost their houses, some were searching for their loved ones’ bodies (which were buried under the debris), fresh food was scarce (vegetables and meats were luxury), and no electricity, no tap water (water had to be supplied by rainfalls or supplier).
But amidst this tragedy, beautiful things emerged. The spirit of generosity was high – everyone helped everyone. My dad was busy transporting people’s bodies and helped searching as well. People shared their belongings with others. People gave their shoulders to those who were mourning. The community grew stronger. 

My parents hardly spoke about how the earthquake has impacted them. Though I can see that they have changed. They valued their friendships and each other’s company more. My dad is more relaxed in terms of work, he now can take holidays. He can shut the business for a few days for holiday! This was a “no!” for him in the past.

Imagine if you were there. In the day prior to the incident everything was normal. You went to work or school. You talked to your family and friends. But by midnight those people you saw in the day were no longer alive. The building you called home was no longer hospitable. The people you loved no longer were with you. There wasn’t any warning or any sign that this all will happen….

And yet, this thing can happen to anyone at anytime. But we live our lives as if we’ll live on to old age, or what we posses now will stay with us. Again and again, when we read the news or know of such incident like what happened with my family, we were reminded that a lot of things in life are beyond our control, and certainly how life turns out isn’t up to us. But what is up to us is how we respond to it.

“When life gives you lemon, you make lemonade”

When life turns sour, it’s an oppportunity to make it sweeter. We can choose to make lemonade by learning something out of it and becoming a better person.

It does take time and patience though. It took years for my hometown to rebuild. For a few years the town was full of dust from constructions. Fast forward to now, the town has been developed, more than before the earthquake. Some people even migrated in from another province. 

Because it takes time to taste the lemonade, we can easily give up. But from what I learn from my “balcony gardening”, it takes time for a plant to blossom, although before that it seems like nothing is happening, and suddenly the next day you see the buds coming out. Similarly with life, we may not see that the effort we are putting is bearing fruits, but one day you’ll wake up and realise that the buds start to come out.

Also upon reflection, I valued people more than material objects. The moment of death is so unpredictable, it can be at any moment. That’s why I cherish the moments I spend with the people I care. I endeavour to treat them as kindly as I can cause I don’t know when the last moment will be. I don’t want to have undeliverable apologies….so please let’s not take each other for granted. 

I hope this musing could help you reflect upon your own life and find a better meaning in life.

Thank you for reading.

PS: here is inspiring series of ted talks by people who have overcome their own “tragedy”.

Be well,



2 thoughts on “Tragedy Transforms..

  1. I have not had any big tragedy in my life (touchwood), but tragedies often “happen” within myself..

    I am an engineer.. who has to go offshore for work some of the times.. we take helicopter to fly across the ocean.. n we will stay offshore for days or weeks bfor we return to land..

    Life offshore is good.. food 24 hrs.. air conditioned.. single bed, twin room, private shower (cos im a female), we have satelite TV, gym, snooker, darts.. etc etc.. it is all free.. u can work n sleep n work n sleep.. nothing to worry abt bcos laundry n meals r all done for u..

    But…. prior to going offshore, each of us r suppose to take an offshore safety passport training.. the training is rather simple, divided into 4 modules
    1. How to put out fire using different types of fire extinguisher – we have to face with real fire, choose the right fire extinguisher within seconds n put it out..
    2. Sit in a mock helicopter – which it will sink in a pool, and overturned, and only that it has complete its turning of 180degrees (upside down), u can start to escape thru breaking the window and out to the surface of the water.
    3. U r put into a thicked smoked room, and u r suppose to crawl, to find the escape door.. no lights.. only smoke..
    4. U are to jump from a 10m (3stories high) deck, into deep pool – as if u r jumping off from a platform that is on fire and jumping off is the only way out..

    Easy… but each n every test, i couldnt help but imagining myself being the next victim when im offshore.. If u have watched Deepwater Horizon, u should be able to imagine life offshore, and would understand what i meant.

    Before each fly to offshore and back, i will always always tell my family, not to worry.. if i have to leave the world, please dont be upset, n they must carry on their life and live on for me..

    i wil leave with no regrets because i live each day fully as if there is no tomorrow.. and it is bcos of my job that i realised life is very fragile and that every goodbyes that i have to say always comes with tears.. bcos i duno when wil be my last goodbye.. i hug my parents n sisters n friends each time i have to leave.. not afraid of loosing them, but afraid of loosing myself..

    It gets emotional for each goodbye i said, but i couldnt helped it.. the imagination of tragedy within myself is constantly reminding me that my time is running out.. to some extend, im grateful that i was taught about letting go at any time, and ready to face my own death.. altho to some others, i may be thinking too much.

    Nonetheless, i still live on each day like any other day.. n pray that all be well n happy.. because thats the best i can do 🙂

    P/s: i also dont have much savings.. bcos.. life is too short to enjoy! Haha..

    Love, ky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that. How easy isn’t it to forget that life is so fragile? But by remembering it, it helps us put our lives into better perspectives. Life is beautiful if only we know how to live it meaningfully 🙂


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