Hsiangyun relaxing in Dream of the Red Chamber

Life on the sideline

IN THE long run, we are all dead. So, the only life worth living is the laidback life, where one steps aside, relaxes and watches more energetic folks run the rat race.

Since October 1978 when I began life as a journalist in Singapore’s monopolistic newspaper, I’ve been writing not just news reports but personal-style essays, opinions and reviews (on books, films, computers and software programs). Instead of leaving them as yellowed cuttings in biscuit tins and shoe boxes, I’ve updated some of my published stories for the Web so they can be accessible to friends and sympathetic readers. On this Web site, I’ve also added the occasional contributions by others.

In three decades of journalism, I have written about practically everything under the moon (I write best at night), except fashion, golf, crime and movie stars. I’ve selected those pieces of writing I enjoyed reading back to myself (if you don’t enjoy reading what you’ve written, trash ’em). My themes are mainly loafing and leisure pursuits, pretty girls and dreams, life and the next life, and, always, Buddha’s exhortations to make the most of this human span before death hits us unexpectedly and inconveniently.

Except for Latin quotes and maxims, and excerpts from Chinese poems and the Classics, and the magisterial King James Bible (God save me from modern-day insipid translations!), there’s nothing pretentious here.

In the Tao Te Ching 道德經 it is said:

The best people are like water
bringing help to all creatures
without competing
choosing what others dislike
hence approaching the Tao
dwelling with nature
thinking with depth
helping with kindness
speaking with trust
governing with peace
working with ability
moving with timeliness
and without conflict
they get no blame.

I’m not among the best people, but I’m working on it.

Explore what I’mve got here and write your comments in the Guest Book at the bottom of this page.

– Francis Chin, January 2005, revised December 2013

Above passage is from chapter 8, Tao Te Ching,
translated by Red Pine

The heart that turned to stone 
Malin Kundang is ashamed of his mother

Wild Geese  You do not have to be good

Wild Geese Memorial Service

The Don’t-do List  when you're going broke

Art of Failure  A more forgiving lifestyle

Row you own dragon ship

Die happy

My Letter to the World
Why nobody reads your blog

Let your clone do the donkey work
Father of Internet on future world

Destination Earth 
Great places for adventure

Like the surf of great music
Review of Ting Shao Kuangs art

Growing up under the British crown
Life was tough and a squeeze 50 years ago

Ipsa quidem virtus pretium sibi
Robust Latin maxims to stiffen your conduct

Heaven and hell are real, in my mind
Devils and angels at my death

Waiting for Happiness 
Credit card, chicks and other Cs that males die for

Spinoza philosopher saint

How not to get retrenched
Adopt a godfather, always credit your boss &
other proven strategies

Digging out an old faun’s tooth
Lorenzo the Magnificent & Michelangelo

Sentimental over pretty girls 
Re-reading Dream of the Red Chamber

Places that have ponds

Changing tyres in Old Tampines Road

Tang Poems

Sound of bells from Hanshan 
Fun with Tang poetry

Yellow Crane Tower
Translating Li Bai

Song of the Pipa  琵琶行
Much-loved Chinese poem

Rainy Night in the Mountains  
Recalling a night with his beloved

Fading sun across the water
Sunset on the river 暮江吟

Song of Eternal Sorrow 長恨歌

Happiness is a pretty girl 
Unexpected encounters

In the company of beauties 

Indian beauty

Because I could not stop for death 
Meditation on Emily Dickinson

The unhurried life brings its rewards
Won the Rat Race, but still a rat

Life is more than a video-recording 
Keep memories in vignettes, not videos

The unexamined life  is not worth living

Imagine what you can do with $100 million

Getting Granny ready for home 
Celebrating life at a Chinese funeral

Once is not enough  Pleasure of re-reading

Tagore, Genji, Ah Q 
Books of the last millennium

Smile & ease of the world

Getting out of misery in old age

Is God a Taoist?
Yup, hes Tua Pekkong

Middle Age Not any richer but better

Teaching vampires to fly
Surviving the terror of the Bardo

Is money countable?

About the Bystander  Me

What women really want

Smart people doing stupid things
Google mentor couldnt swim, drowns in pool

Choose what you enjoy doing
Not what people say are nice

Last year this day by the door...

Blooms from China
Song Dynasty lyrical poetry

Wandering in my little garden
Premier Yan Shu 晏殊 on the petite joys of life

Celebrating a god’s birthday 
May all your prayers be not answered

One star aglow in a vast nocturnal sky

If there were dreams to sell
Poems of Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Janus, god of beginnings and endings
Bring him presents at the start of the year or a business venture

On a lonesome road

Jurong the charm of a frontier town in 1979

Searching for the story in my heart
Sign InView Entries
Wild geese
Follow the path of the Dharma
Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Finding true joy

Why girls shouldn’t bathe outdoors

With eyes but unable to see the mountain
Useful proverbs learnt in childhood

Those were the days  in Chinatown

Small sweet world Taipei’s mini-food alley

Another Earth, another chance
Suppose there exists another Earth and you have a chance to go there and change things

Will anyone cry at your funeral?

Confucius: At 50, I know Heaven’s will

Setting goals in lifelong learning

Reading chim, fakey stuff

In Malayan jungle Go feed the leeches

Supplication of Nebuchadnezzar

Fireflies, falling water in forest retreat

Run for your life  If youre middle-aged and heavily pregnant, start running for your life

Stop, Look, Listen 
Run for your life but dont get overrun

Fit, running and dying

An egoist looks at life & the world

Live smart and safe 
King Solomon tells how, in a dangerous world

The Man of Life Upright  Integer Vitae

China Dreams Long thoughts on a slow train

Heaven above, Hangzhou on Earth 
More thoughts on a slow train

Living in the context of eternity
Reflection on washing dishes

Love that conquers even death 
A wifes undying love

In the beginning God created greens
and the Devil created McDonalds

Chinas Guest People
Hakkas and the Great Taiping Revolution

Write thoughts, not words

Happiness is finding a scapegoat

Everyday courage of Dr Johnson

Guanyin Bodhisattva 觀音菩薩
Protection for a sickly child

Masturbation prevents cancer

Naked ladies  Oggle for arts sake

Buddhist meditation  Only workable approach to deal with old age, suffering, sickness, death

All that we are is what weve thought

The man who lost his heart

Live well, live long

Are you aging well

All I want for Christmas

Pangolins in the city

How not to be cakesim at work

Girls, don’t feel paiseh Ask for date on Feb 29

Moon at Mid-Autumn  中天月色好誰看

New ideas

A little gossip, a little chat Man of La Mancha

Saudade  Tears for lost days, lost love


Two things alone are worth a man's complete devotion

When is the next tsunami?  Experts know nothing of the future

The bucket list  Have you written yours?

We happy few, we band of brothers Henry V's rousing speech as according to Shakespeare

One equal temper of heroic hearts

May you live a hundred years

Sunset over Grandma's Penghu Bay
Foot-tapping song from Taiwan

Through tear-clouded eyes
Su Shih remembers his dead wife

Home is where the cupcakes are

Growing up with Lee Kuan Yew

Picturebook of people & places www.picturebook.homestead.com

Favourite book excerpts www.reader.homestead.com

Happiness for students
Hsiang Yun relaxing among flowers in Dream of the Red Chamber
Su Shih remembers his dead wife
Delight in reflecting on a pond
Eight immortals cross the sea
Ernest and Sam  at their cupcake cafe
Wizard of Oz dance by SIM students