No Thanks


I remember September 24 2016 like it was yesterday. Exactly two year ago, I was in Taipei for work when I received a phone call that my father had suffered a major stroke. The news hit me like a bullet had punctured through my heart and the bleeding wouldn’t stop. With tears running endlessly, I returned to my father’s bedside in time to say I love you and say my final goodbye. I held his hand, my mother’s hand and as a family, we joined together for the last time. The tides were shifting and at that moment I realized life as I knew it was ending. What I didn’t know then that I know now, the ME that so many of you knew me as was also ending. A million pieces of me shattered and over time, I’ve learned to put the pieces back together, just in a different form. The end of a chapter was the beginning of a new chapter. If only closing the damn book was as easy as shattering a few pieces. Not to mention, nothing made sense and waiting to close this chapter seemed like a million years.

Loss seemed to be a constant theme in my life leading up to the pinnacle loss of my father. As they say, when it rains, it pours and in my case, loss became a very familiar concept. I was never comfortable with the concept or rather, I chose to forgo all reasoning when it came to loss. It wasn’t a major player in my life. I look at my life as a combination of different pillars – family, relationships, work, health, passion and spirituality. At times certain pillars will take on a priority position in my life and the pillars continue to shift. There are times some will also succeed and move at a faster pace than others. In my case, all seemed to be taking a spiral downwards. Thinking back, I felt like a hamster in a wheel at work, I had suffered a cancer scare and I set aside my passion, choosing to live vicariously through someone else’s passion. Needless to say I do not advise! As each pillar came crumbling down, I lacked the strength to think rationally and take ownership of my life. Instead, I allowed others to dictate my life and the level of anxiety I attributed to this stage was at it’s peak.

I tried hard to silence the noise that was surrounding me and the noise in my head. It’s not a surprise to people that know me well that at times I need to be left alone to wrap my head around the idea of loss. When the time came, I realized I was already embarking on a new journey of discovery. It didn’t take me long to identify my core pillars of strength and those I would lean on during my darkest hours. The range of emotions I felt from anger to anxious to sad fluctuated on a daily basis like a rollercoaster and yet, not once did they give up on me. On the contrary, they continued to lift me up and remind me of my potential. Potential I never embraced or had the confidence to believe I had as I’d always been told that I was lucky. For them, I am eternally grateful.

It’s easy to slap a label on someone when you fail to understand the deeper emotions and anxiety just bubbling beneath the surface. To categorize an individual as emotionally challenged, weak and sad is a sign of ignorance. It is the very thing that drives those individuals down a rabbit hole. Remember this, allowing yourself to break down, to cry, to collapse and to surrender to your emotions is ok. I allowed myself to let my emotions run it’s course. This isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of being human. Afterall, we are only human - this you and I have heard a thousand times like a broken record. I would find myself falling asleep with tears running down my face but I always said to myself, tomorrow is a different day and it’s now my turn to retake ownership of my life. Throughout the process, don’t forget those that stood by you and listen. Listen to what they have to say. There’s wisdom there, no matter how hidden. We’re not always right, we don’t always know better and that’s ok. We are here to learn. To be better. Don’t be afraid to admit your vulnerabilities. Stand toe to toe with your fears and with each day, little by little the fear gets chipped away until one day, the fear is gone. This I tell myself everyday and the very reason I am still here today.

For this, I dedicate Kaizen, and every day to my father. My eternal teacher whose wisdom was cast upon me when I didn’t even realize. No matter what happens, everything will be ok.

Kaizen Truth

Everything will be ok.

Narrative: Kaizen

Photography: Kaizen


  • John,

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