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What Do Life, Running on Bowen Road, and Starring in “Star Trek” Have In Common?
to smell the lilies, and to talk
Keith, my twin brother, and I run together weekly. We start the run at the beginning of Bowen Road, outside number 5. After stretching, we jog slowly towards Stubbs road. We greet other runners, and dogs walking on leashes along the way. We pass by lovers holding hands and elderly couples more subtly in love, sharing the same pace and smile. We often meet Mr Wong, the middle-aged chairman of V-tech, a listed technology company in Hong Kong who is training for his annual Hong Kong marathons. When he runs, he looks so much happier than when he chairs the Annual General Meetings. I often think he should run more and quit AGMs. We occasionally meet briskly walking Mr Tung, the ex-Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. He resigned in 2005, stating as reason a health problem which never bothered him, at least not to us. I think his resignation was the best thing he had done for himself during those stormy years in the history of the local government. More often, we meet limping Mr “Hello”. We never get to know Mr Hello's real name. We exchange a hearty “hello” when we cross each other during our runs and hence use that as his pseudo-name. He would probably address us as the “Hello twins”. Mr Hello limps slowly with some difficulty from a wasted leg. We are not sure whether it is caused by poliomyelitis or a stroke. However, we are certain that Mr Hello does his eight km run everyday, as if his life and happiness depends on it.
Running on Bowen Road is about inner peace, happiness and having fun. We are there to exercise, take a break from the stress of working life and family life, to smell the lilies, and to talk. We talk about a lot of things – family , work, people, etc. Lately, we talk about ambition and dreams. I tell Keith, repeatedly, about my dream to become a writer, one who writes about health, fitness and the right way to live. Keith tells me about his dream to become a more successful surgeon, competent with the state-of the-art craft, while remaining sensitive to his patients. We often agree that we are never going to arrive at a better time to get started than now, even though we don't seem to have any time left at all. We then get into fights about whether his dream or mine is more important. We often end up speeding up and work out our differences in a friendly race back from Stubbs Road. We are glad to finish off the race and smile while we pant after a close finish. “Equal champions”, we'd agree and hence both of our dreams seem equally important.
Keith is Benson's imaginary twin brother and his alter ego. Keith owns their young adulthood dream, to be a surgeon who saves lives with medicine, a gentle smile, and the scalpel. Benson embraces their childhood dream to be a writer who writes to change lives for the better. When Benson was in secondary school, he did nothing but read. He came across the dynamic new era writer, Lu-shin and his thought-provoking short stories. He also learned how Lu had given up medicine to write, as “the people of his generation were much sicker intellectually than they were physically”. After graduating from medical school, Benson has been submissive to Keith for a quarter of a century while Keith got better and better as a surgeon. In troubled silence, for the past couple of years, Benson has taken note of Keith's unhappiness hidden behind his smile. In 2008, Keith heard the bad news about Jeremy. Jeremy was a classmate at medical school whom he had kept in touch with since 1979, even though Jeremy stayed in New South Wales while Keith returned to Hong Kong. In fact, they dined together when Jeremy last visited in early 2008. A couple of months later, Jeremy was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and was given a grave prognosis. Shortly after hearing about Jeremy, Keith read about Randy Pausch, the then dying computer science professor with overnight fame after giving the famous "last lecture". Pausch's “last lecture” elevated Benson to equal status to Keith, in the duo's partnership. Pausch was born 364 days before Benson was and has now been dead for over two years. His legacy in the form of the videoed lecture and a monograph by the same name addressed the important topic of achieving one's childhood dream. One afternoon in 2008, Benson found himself in tears watching Pausch's “last lecture” played on Youtube. Keith thought that those tears were absurd but conceded, “whatever makes you tickle.” Benson started pondering how he could serve his generation more as a writer. After all, a surgeon could only heal one person at one time, whereas a writer could heal the whole, or at least a significant part, of his generation. Benson and Keith sometimes fight over the use of their energy and time, in brotherly spirit. More often, they will compromise and allow each other designated time and space to pursue his dream.
Life, just like running on Bowen Road, is about inner peace, happiness, and having fun. Both Benson and Keith smiled on reading the departing anecdote about Randy Pausch:
A devoted “Star Trek” fan, Pausch was invited by film director J. J. Abrams to film a role in “Star Trek”. Abrams heard of Pausch's terminal illness and love of “Star Trek”and sent a personal e-mail inviting Pausch to the set. Pausch accepted and travelled to Los Angeles, California to shoot his scene. In addition to appearing in the film, he also had a line of dialogue at the beginning of the film ("Captain, we have visual."). I bet he had fun and would have found it all worthwhile, especially when he donated his $217.06 paycheck from starring in the film to charity.