Reflection with tea

Adversity is what defines one’s character. You never know what is the flavour of the tea until you submerge it in hot water. And like different types of tea, the right amount of heat either brings out its best or spoils the flavour. Like green tea, water that’s too hot will ruin its taste. Hence it requires water below the boiling point. On the other hand, herbal tea requires boiling hot water. Yet all required a good amount of heat, an amount that we are not comfortable with.

There is also another analogy. When you boil beancurd, it softens over time. But when you boil an egg, it hardens. The situation is the same, but one hardens and one softens. So it is not about the situation but rather what are you made of. Hence performing at your best also requires you to have a good understanding of yourself.

I used to think that I understand myself very well when I was a teenager. This gave me the confidence to do many things I did. It brought me many successes and pushes me to go for even more challenging goals, until one day I got complacent and I fell. It was a hard fall, and it made me wonder if I was as tough as I think I was. Today, I am more careful and grateful when things goes well, the pain of the lesson keeps me grounded. But it will never stop me from wanting to push ahead and see how far I can go. When I took that leap of faith, I said to myself that if it is a mistake then let me learn from the mistake now. It is better early than late. What I experienced after that was very harsh, I was close to breaking down completely. Then I built myself up again. And like concrete being a solidified structure of powder, I am much stronger today. I cannot credit this all to myself but to the supportive people around me then, they were like the water that allowed me to gel up. And even as they slowly “evaporated” and left my life, the impact they made was lasting.

Of all tea, I favours the puerh. And just so coincidentally, it requires hot boiling water. I am someone who often tries to punch above my weight, a phase I have learnt from how people describes Singapore. If there is one thing I have learnt from my forefathers, our nation builders, it is to never settle for less. We could have told ourselves that we are a small nation and keep to our own place. But if we did that, Singapore would probably be still a third world country today. Instead, we challenged ourselves and strived for the best. Yes, we made some mistakes along the way, who hasn’t? But at the end of the day, we become more than who we are when we first started.

There are many unknowns in life. If we are afraid of spoiling the tea by putting it into hot water, we may never know how the tea might taste. So set sail, make mistakes and learn from it. We are all here for a limited amount of time, do you really want to leave this world without knowing how far you can go?