My New Mantra

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. – Benjamin Franklin

Like so many, I have been on a health journey my entire life. The most consistent factor in my journey has been a lack of consistency. Two years ago, I trained for my first half marathon. I printed up the training schedule and made it a practice to complete each day’s workout. I completed maybe 85% of the training runs. At the time, I considered it a victory. The Asheville Half Marathon in Western North Carolina is not the easiest course to run. Before the race, my friends at work were showing me videos of the 10th mile. All uphill. Running that race was one of the most difficult physical feats I have undertaken. It taught me many lessons. Did I train enough? Yes to complete it, but no to being truly prepared for it. Did I have within myself the fortitude to keep going? I struggled through it, often wanting to give up. Several times I had to walk, especially on that 10th mile. What could I have done better? So much, but the number one thing I could have improved upon was consistency in my training.

It is tough to be consistent. Life sometimes just wants to get in the way. As you get older, you have more responsibilities. You have more things that require your time and attention. If only there was a way to have more time.

What does it mean to be wealthy? Is it only for the ones born with it, or the lucky? Is it all about money, or is being wealthy mean more? Have I ever been wealthy? From a comparison standpoint to those with financial wealth, I cannot even compare. Have I been through difficult times? Absolutely! Most, if not all, of the difficult times in life came from one source. Me. Could they have been prevented? You bet. Do I still make mistakes? Yes, and yes.

I am obviously no get rich expert, but I do have an idea of how one becomes wealthy. You work hard, work smart, and you continuously learn. Many of those early difficult financial struggles in my life were a product of a lacking financial education. I would work hard. I thought I was working smart, but in truth I was really naive. I also had an epicurean approach to money, which was to serve my pleasure and my belly. It was not a good approach.

Now wisdom, above all, was the one attribute I went after. I mean, it’s pretty clear in Proverbs 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is this: GET WISDOM (caps my own), and whatever you get, get insight.” I used to look at this verse thinking “you gotta be kidding me.” That’s step one? Get wisdom? Once I really started to think about this verse, I realized the beginning is the starting point. Now it is up to me to figure how to get to that first step. And that first step is just that, it is the first step of many, many thousand steps to come. You cannot go anywhere without taking that first step. Ready. Step.

There was a time when I thought I would be some kind of philosopher. I was horrible at Geometry, but at least I could remember the most basic of shapes. I always thought my triangle was body, soul, and mind. However, there are many applications to this idea. One of them is looking at Franklin’s quote: healthy, wealthy, and wise. One by itself really is not good enough. Even two is still incomplete. All three together creates a balance that is hard to topple. To get there is not easy. It requires discipline. The discipline to work at it every day. It is not about hoping to have time to work on it. It is about making the time. If that means you have to go to bed early, so you can get up before everybody else, then that is what you do. You make the time.

Royal Lessons, what is it?

Royal Lessons Banner (Compressed)

Several years ago, I began working on The Royal Lessons. Here’s the reason for the name and its purpose:

The Name

It actually starts with my son’s name.

After 8 long years of trying for a baby, my wife, Bethany, and I finally conceived. During the pregnancy, we began the careful selection of choosing a name. Names are important. Your reputation, your true worth is tied to your name. We did not want to be careless in picking a name. We wanted a name that had meaning, but also included the baby’s heritage. We had a son. We named him Alexander Ong Fine.

Alexander is a special name. We call him Alec for short. It means warrior/defender of man. Many would first think of Alexander the Great. He certainly was a warrior king, but it is the “warrior/defender of man” that I found to be of great importance. What were our hopes for our son, that we would call him a defender of man? We wanted to raise a man that would help those that needed it. We wanted to raise a protector, not a bully.

Ong is my mother’s maiden name. The name is a reminder of a legacy, that I did not want to be lost with my descendants. My mother’s family came from Indonesia. They fled the country in a turbulent time and came to America with hopes of a better life, a safer life. They did just that. They came and did what what was needed to survive. In time, they began to thrive, and my grandparents left an amazing legacy. Ong is a Chinese name as my family’s heritage has it beginnings in China. Ong translates to king.

Fine is also a name with a special heritage. Our ancestors can be traced back to the 1300’s and came to America in the 1600’s. I am constantly amazed how often I run into someone with the same last name. Often, we can find out where our lines branch, which makes for interesting conversations.

So yes, we did name our son King Al. Of course, we don’t call him that. He is our precious little boy who is very aware of his name. He is reminded of it, often when he is not living up to it.

The Purpose

For most of my life, I have been reading from the book of Proverbs. It is almost a daily default habit for me to read one chapter every day. There is so much wisdom from this book. Reading from Proverbs has put me on a quest for true wisdom from a variety of sources.

Having this knowledge is one thing, but I think wisdom is far more than just knowledge. It is what you do with that knowledge. It is action. I have not always demonstrated wisdom. More often it has been the opposite. Acquiring wisdom is a journey. You make an attempt to apply the things you learn. You make an attempt to learn from your past mistakes. There is an ideal of perfection in my mind. Of course, I know I will never be perfect, but I can strive for a type of perfection. I imagine what the next version of myself will be, and then, I go after it.

And what I learn along the way, I can pass it on to Alec. I might even be able to pass it on to others. When I first started writing these lessons for Alec, I called it “Lessons from a king to a king.” What began with the teachings I received from King Solomon’s writing in the Book of Proverbs, are now lessons to my little king. They are The Royal Lessons.

Here we go again…

Below is the post on my bio page. After I posted it, I began to think it might be appropriate as my first post. The primary focus of this blog is for what I call The Royal Lessons. These are life lessons that I want to pass to my son, Alec. In an upcoming post I will explain in greater detail what The Royal Lessons are and why it gets such a high name.

I have always been on journey, looking and searching for something. And though something is not nothing, I have rarely been focused on one thing. As a soldier way back in the 1990’s, my focus turned to reading. I used to love reading as a child and for some reason stopped. Out of pure boredom during a field exercise, I borrowed a used Anne Rice book. I loved it. After finishing it, I read almost all of her books. Next, I looked back on the books I had a mild interest in during my high school years. I started to reread them. I started reading classics. At the time I was relatively young in my newfound reading hobby. I actually started running out of things to read, because I really did not know what to read. Back then, my reading journey took me on an amazing ride, so much that some of my most memorable times involved a book.

In time, I began to wonder if I had a story to tell. That simple thought invaded my being. It started to transform my view of what my journey was supposed to be. It was also one of the most overwhelming ideas I ever had. How could I with very little training be so bold as to assume that I could be a writer? But the idea was eating at me, and so I began to dabble.

Dabble is what I did for years. People would ask what I wanted to do in the future. I would tell them that I wanted to write. They would ask me what I had written. I would respond with a pitiful “not much.” Why, because I dabbled. I wasn’t regimented. I wasn’t disciplined. I even used to tell myself I needed to live more to be able to write the books I wanted. I wasn’t experienced enough. The truth was I was just a dabbler pretending to want to be a writer.

My first blog was short-lived. It was after the birth of my son, Alec. I felt this overwhelming need to start writing again, if not for my sake, then at least for his sake. I realized that one of the most important things I could do in my life was be a really great father. It was my duty. Part of that duty was to leave a legacy. I wanted to let my son know of his heritage. I owed that to him and my ancestors. In addition, I wanted to let him know of my journey. There were a lot of ups and even more downs, and more importantly there was a lesson for each one.

That first blog started off well, but then I lost focus. I thought I had to have a really interesting picture for each post. The pictures became as important as the writing. I also tried self-hosting. When things started to go wrong technically, I stopped writing just so I could focus on getting the website functional again. Soon, I wasn’t writing at all.

So here is my next go-around. I still have a legacy to leave for Alec. In the last two years I have stayed busy. Busy means that I was procrastinating in my writing. Hopefully, this blog will demonstrate that I am still evolving as a person. My focus has become singular. I’m locked into the idea that I need to become a complete person, and this journey will be part of the legacy I leave for my son and for those that take the time to read this blog. Thank you.