Keep good company, read good books

That was the advice given to me and Jing today during our tête-à-tête with Fr. Frans. And I remembered, on a tangent, that I had read the exact same phrase years ago in Louisa May Alcott’s Rose In Bloom. I was impressed with the simple idea all those years ago, and when I heard it again today, it didn’t sound any less wise.

Do you choose who you keep company with? Ever since we were children, we have been told that we become the company we keep. That is no less true with adults, and I believe if you looked around, you would find evidence in support of this maxim. They say birds of a feather flock together. In life, there is much company that we cannot choose – we cannot choose what family we are born into, or who our colleagues are. But what about the people we choose to spend social time with? What about our friends? Are they people whose lives inspire us to become better versions of ourselves? Do we care if our friends make us better or worse people?

I do. I have never underestimated the power of social influence. Even while I have my convictions and I believe I have some strength to abide by them, I know that there is much that goes on beyond the conscious level. I know that if I don’t keep reflecting on where I am heading, I will get swept up by the tide of the majority. It may not happen all at once, but little by little my convictions will be chipped away until I lose my bearings.

That is why I am especially grateful for friendships (both human and literary) that keep me honest and that continue to challenge me to live by my convictions. I’ve got to confess I am partial to counter-cultural friends… in particular those people who in different ways march against the culture of ego and materialism. Rebels, I sometimes think of them. I appreciate having these rebels to look at. They remind me that many things are possible. They challenge me to critique my priorities in life and to reconsider my many wants and desires.

I wish the same to you, that you will keep good company and read good books. May they nurture your heart and mind and soul and make you all the richer for it!


  1. That’s a compliment coming from you! i am trying to be one and stay one lah… tt’s why it’s good to have rebel friends like you! ha ha ha

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