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  wild people: Joseph Lai

Chek Jawa brought Joe and I together. I first started working closely with Joe on the very first transect study of Chek Jawa, Joe's brainchild. From it arose Joe's wonderful group, the earth-worms.

Thereafter, our paths ran parallel but crossed often, and I spent much valuable time with Joe. Learning from him, and being inspired by his down-to-earth advice and beautiful expressions of nature. Joe is a true poet, who moves with words.

Though Joe, I have gained much balance in understanding my own intentions, my own path and my determinations.
Mostly, I will always recall Joe's patient advice, to just do "my imperfect best", as that was all that was needed. Thank you Joe.

Joe's own words about himself and his work is poetically outlined in an article entitled Sound of Fallen Leaves, as expressed on his wonderfully inspirational eart-h.com website

This is my clumsy attempt to summarise:

Joe beseeches you "not to see me as a 'person', but to listen and feel for who I am in you; and not to understand my 'work' for there is none. I am simply following a path I found."

"Some people think I am a good 'teacher'. I don't know. I believe one thing though - I have a gift and it is meant to be shared. And to this end, I need to frame who I am and what I do within the context of reality and place that is Singapore. I would like you to think of me as a sounding board echoing the call of Mother Nature who is here and now, and in Her we move and have our beings. Who am I then? I am a Pupil who never grow old, a Papa who loves his son very much, a Poet at heart (and as sad as any Philosopher could be at times), a Plant-man by training ('botanist' would be a nicer-sounding name), a Poor man to the dot, a happy Pathfinder who loves to explore nature and life, and inevitably, an ordinary person who felled deeply in love with Mother Nature and became her Page."

And Joe ends with "How do you want people to remember you? Nothing at all. Only perhaps, for my son to remember his dad who had loved much, and shared all he could the gift he found in life. That within the context of a place he called 'home', he had sung native folk songs of outer freedom and inner growth that he found in Nature here. Yes, I rather he remembers me a 'folk singer' - who neither had the cold complexity and 'higher learning' of chamber music, nor the self-consuming voracity of the new age. That the stories he told and the 'soulful songs' he sang were full of hope and vibrancy for him and for all the children there be. Thank you for listening, and welcome to my world. Won't you come on in?"

Do immerse yourself in his poems, photos and other articles on his inspirational website: eart-h.com. You can also contact Joe through his website.

Posted by otterman Posted on 10/08/04 12:08
Used to objective, critical writing, I am always delighted to read Joseph's heartfelt thoughts. And he took to the internet so well and so fast, he demonstrated that it was not about being tech-savvy but more about actually having something to say!

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these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
website©ria tan 2004