By Hans Ebert

The older one gets, it’s not about getting wiser, but more about being able to join the dots better. Of course, there are more dots to join and practice makes perfect…

Sleep apnea can be a harrowing experience to go through where though you’re wide awake, but your body is paralysed. Chinese superstition says it’s a ghost walking on your body. Maybe…

You try to wake your partner up to let her know what’s going on, but you just can’t move. You’re in deep freeze. You’re “there” with loud, uneven breathing. The brain goes into survival mode to try its damnedest to get you to snap out of it. Either that or you just say, “Well, that’s enough. I’m just giving myself up to the next destination in this journey of life”.

Doctors say sleep apnea can be cured by checking into hospital for a few days or else move an oxygen tank type contraption next to your bed and have one’s throat muscles “thinned out”. Something like that.

The other problem about sleep apnea is being unable to go right back to sleep. That same feeling of paralysis usually takes over. But by now, your brain is hurting from being overworked that you look for something to do- go to the fridge and check what’s in there, do some stretching exercises, do some reading and then…BANG, you read that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna are gone in a helicopter crash.

I met Kobe Bryant a couple of times during some of his visits to Hong Kong to promote basketball. I know little about his personal life and don’t need to. But if not for Black Mamba, I wouldn’t still be following basketball. That had almost ended after Michael Jordan retired.

Roger Federer, Lewis Hamilton, Frankie Dettori. These are now my only sporting heroes left. What was tough to grasp about losing Kobe Bryant is that at a time in his life when he should have been enjoying being with his family, he and his daughter are now separated from those they’ve left behind.

It made me think about family and what a breakdown in everything it is when one can still celebrate being with family, but, for whatever reasons, this doesn’t happen. Blood is not always thicker than water. There’s the mantra about “Give it time”, but you know that time has run out and not to expect the impossible to happen.

Thinking about Kobe and Gianna Bryant was still in my head while I watched the Grammys. But other than a salute to father and his daughter by the amazing Alicia Keys and Boyz11Men, nothing was really connecting with me. It was too LA and just two million light years away from home- home where we’re wondering where this coronavirus is taking us and how finding the answer is not in our hands.

Monday, Hong Kong time, had just started and it wasn’t a good day.

As for the Grammys, everyone seemed to look the same and it was no surprise to see Billie Eilish and her songwriting partner and brother go home with most of the awards. Let’s just hope that Billie Eilish is not the new Lorde, another seemingly talented young artist, who had one huge hit and then rather mysteriously disappeared from view.

There are just way too many awards shows, way too much often hypocritical political correctness and way too much thought given to clutter.

It’s like publicists working overtime to create a celebrity rabid world about “Meghxit” or whether Brad and Jenn might get together or who won what award for something or another. That’s all collateral clutter. It’s all meaningless in a nanu second. Where’s Meghxit today?

The problem is the relentless onslaught of clutter. It’s tough to escape from it all. It probably leads to sleep apnea. Who knows?

All this reminded me of one of the dullest and most dumbed down dinners I have had in a long time.

This was the night earlier and I was meeting someone I thought to be fairly attractive after a brief meeting at a club. I felt I wanted to get to know her better. Wrong decision. For almost the entire night, she was checking her phone and sharing what she found to be interesting with her friends.

There were others with us and it was obvious that what we had was a failure to communicate. A friend visiting from Beijing and working in the tech sector could only look at me and say that for someone in her thirties, it was like dating a teenager.

This friend is 39. By now, I had tuned out and was trying to numb her nattering about how huge Instagram is in Russia, how it’s a way of seeing the world if one didn’t have the financial needs to actually travel and a way to get very rich and famous. Again, a woman doing the maths, always doing the maths and living in an Instagram bubble.

I had travelled from suffering from sleep apnea to finding out about Kobe and Gianna Bryant to thinking about family and then revisiting a dinner on Saturday and being reminded just how wide the generation gap is today and what a waste of time it is trying to bridge it.

The Australia Day races were starting and I watched a few races at Sandown and Warwick Farm. Because of all the restrictions taking place to contain and eradicate what’s known as the Wuhan Coronavirus, in Hong Kong, the HKJC had made it possible for the annual Chinese New Year Day race meeting to go ahead at Sha Tin- but without the banging of gongs, lion dances etc and, most of all, a severely scaled down number of people allowed on course and with all Off Course Betting Centres closed.

It was what it was. It was nothing much really except for what could have been an invitation only tea party. The one Feel Good story was the team of trainer Francis Lui, jockey Vincent CY Ho and galloper Golden Sixty winning the Group 1 Hong Kong Classic Mile. This trio looks like going much further.

With the new “playing field” at its disposal and forced on the HKJC through government restrictions, there was a fleeting thought that, just maybe, there would be some recognition by the jockeys on course for everything Kobe Bryant has given the world. You know, sporting heroes showing some respect for one of their brothers? Perhaps this would have meant rewriting the script and something at loggerheads with horse racing, but it never happened.

While thinking of how, well, boring and expected things are these days and with there being such a lack of inspiration, I read something someone had sent me about The World’s Biggest Asshole.

It’s a thought-provoking two minute PSA- Public Service announcement- produced by the non-profit organisation Donate Life America. It’s clever and tackles selfishness and selflessness and what goes on behind whatever personality one chooses to exude in public with humour pathos.

The World’s Biggest Asshole: Brilliant Advert is going viral for all the right reasons – GOOD THINGS GUY

It’s those moments of inspiration that matter in the world today. It’s what makes us want to do something that’s not always about us. But something which makes us feel good for just doing it.

Having finished a personal project a few days earlier and undertaken after being inspired by a poem- “I Am Odd”- written as a homework assignment by young Benjamin Giroux about living with autism, it hopefully reaches those who can take this small gift further.

Working on it had me look at where else this might lead. How all it takes is a nudge in the right direction. How doing something special to help others makes us feel better about ourselves.

How this isn’t trying to be famous on Instagram or TikTok, but working with things and people and emotions happening in the real world- and doing these for all the right reasons.

Your heart will tell you it’s right.

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