Avary Chong as founder of code-R, a NGO promoting Purposeful Living.
RESET Chapter 8 — Peace from within
“See you next time you’re in town again,” smiled his once-regular therapist as she leafed through her notes for today’s session.
“Thanks for today,” Paul replied, as he started seeing himself out the office he’d grown comfortable in when he used to live in Hong Kong. As he turned at the doorway to nod goodbye, she called after him.
“But don’t forget what I said about looking up a new therapist in New York. I’d be happy to transfer your case file to someone who could actually see you more regularly if you needed.”
“I appreciate the advice, but you did a great enough job that I’m not really hurting for a new shrink,” he smiled, shrugging slowly and spreading his arms to indicate the lack of urgency. “Besides, I come back to Hong Kong enough that I can make it onto that couch at least a couple times a year.”
Waving goodbye to the receptionist making appointments for another client, Paul grabbed his gym bag from the cloakroom, taking out his phone to double check the address of the Muay Thai studio in Kowloon he was going to train at that afternoon. He’d been recommended it by a Hong Kong-based fighter he’d befriended at a Muay Thai retreat in Koh Samui, and who he’d caught up with for dinner the night before as they made plans for Paul to keep up with his training on his business trip. Now that he’d rediscovered his born-again love for the sport, Paul was dedicated. He wouldn’t allow himself to quit again.
Muay Thai was an initial passion he’d discovered as a teenager as a way to moderate his aggressions and love of danger. Growing up in a rough neighbourhood of Sydney, he probably would have got into much more trouble as a youth if he hadn’t stumbled across a free Muay Thai class offered at his local community centre. It was great for both his mind and his body, and he never felt so relaxed and at ease as after a hard bought of sparring. The focus, discipline and regular chances to let off steam helped him do well at school, and he got into a great university. But as he started working, he focussed all his energies on building his career and allowed himself to lapse in his commitment. He always told himself that he’d get back into things next year, but, next year never came. Before he knew it, he was middle-aged, overweight, and had replaced his physical passion for Muay Thai with an indolent love of eating.
As Paul waited for the bus to Kowloon City, he heard his name and a car slowed down in front of him. He saw his organisation’s local bureau chief Felicity looking at him inquisitively through the rolled down driver’s seat window.
“Wherever you’re going, I can give you a lift. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter where. I actually enjoy taking my car out for a spin when the driver is out on other errands.”
As Paul got in the passenger seat and turned to put his gym bag on the back seat, he showed Felicity the address on his phone. She raised an eyebrow. “You, Muay Thai?”
He laughed and explained his unusual love affair. “But not as strange as seeing the infamous Felicity Wong off work while the sun is still in the sky.”
Conceding the point with a bemused snort, Felicity admitted, “Life is too short. So I’m learning to take care of my own happiness, and doing things that I love, for me, outside of work.”
Food for thought: How can a sincere openness to others, and a willingness to embrace your own needs, serve you for the better?