Sunday February 26, 2012
What leap will you make?
By SOO EWE JIN
Impact upon the lives of others by using the extra 24 hours this year in a meaningful way.
FOR most of us, today is a day of rest. But for our fellow citizens in the states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, Sunday is actually the first day of their working week.
There is no common weekend in Malaysia, so terms like “Monday blues” or “Thank God it’s Friday” take on a different meaning when you are in a different state.
On Jan 1, Samoa, the South Pacific nation that used to be the last place on Earth to see the sun set, hopped over the International Dateline and instantly became the first country to see the sun rise.
Samoa told the world a change was necessary because the country – which used to trade mainly with the United States and Europe – was increasingly focused on commercial dealings with Australia and New Zealand. So being in the same time zone helps.
I wonder if you remember what happened on Dec 31, 1981, when at 11.30pm, all of us in the peninsula adjusted our clocks and watches by 30 minutes to march straight into Jan 1, 1982, and thereby match the time in use in Sabah and Sarawak.
Even Singapore had no choice but to make the adjustment since it would be rather odd if it had a different time from Kuala Lumpur.
As you can see, time and dates, at least the ones designed by humans, can always be changed and adjusted.
And the reason I am bringing this up is that this Wednesday is Feb 29, a once-in-four-years occurrence that gives an extra day to February.
The extra day in a leap year is necessary for us to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolution around the sun, which is actually 365 days and about six hours long. We humans may count everything in whole numbers but the celestial bodies have their own timeline.
And so we have all been blessed with an extra day this year. What shall we do with the extra 24 hours?
I have a suggestion: How about if we do things we do not usually do and add up the time as credit minutes or hours until we reach 24 hours?
We can spread out these “leap-year actions” throughout the year and see how they add up.
> Register to vote (30 minutes): For those who are still procrastinating, take a trip to the post office and sign up. You may even make it for the upcoming general election.
> Get to know your state assemblyman and Member of Parliament (one hour): Seriously, give them a call and let them know how you think they are doing. Hold them accountable and remind them your one vote counts.
> Use public transport (two hours): Leave your car at home and experience what the ordinary people have to go through using the LRT, bus and taxi.
> Take the office boy out to lunch (90 minutes): So you are a senior executive, but that should not stop you from taking the office boy to lunch on his birthday. And please take him to a nice restaurant, not just the coffee shop where he usually eats.
> Volunteer at a centre for special children (three hours): Helping a child with learning disabilities can teach you valuable lessons on love and patience.
> Go fly a kite (one hour): If you have children, this may be easy; but even if you don’t, why not head to the nearest park and relive your childhood?
> Learn to listen (two hours): The reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is so we can listen more and talk less. Visit a friend in hospital but instead of dispensing advice, hold her hand and just listen to her.
> Write a letter to a loved one (one hour): No SMS, no e-mail, no Facebook, no Twitter, but good old-fashioned snail mail in your own handwriting.
> Plant a tree (30 minutes): The shopping mall can survive without you for a little while, and you can probably save some money as well.
> Say thank you (one minute): Leave a thank you note on your postbox for the postman.
You get my drift?
Sometimes, we need to do things ourselves to experience the whole kaleidoscope of life, which is truly about how we interact with one another. And interaction is not only among our immediate circle of family, friends and colleagues, but even with those we connect with briefly.
Lives have been changed because of that one moment. Imagine how many lives you can impact if you use the extra 24 hours this year in a meaningful way.
Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin’s suggestions only take up 12 hours and 31 minutes if fully implemented. He is glad that his column last week prompted a reader to channel his RM500 BR1M entitlement to Grace Community Services to support their good work.