People pose for pictures with decorations made for New Year countdown celebrations outside a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

If anything, 2020 which is coming to an end, or rather coronavirus, taught us how unpredictable life is.

Who would have thought that global travel has basically grind to a halt, over 81 million people infected around the globe and 1.7 million killed and counting?

In Thailand, 61 died over the past 10 months and less than 7,000 were infected, a very low figure compared to the fact that 43 people have been killed in road-related accidents on Tuesday, one day alone, in the kingdom.

The economic toll has been massive with three million rendered unemployed in 2020, however. Also, as the countdown begins, the government is hinting to the public to be prepared for another possible nationwide lockdown. Many look forward to the New Year with less hope and more gloom.


I am reminded of the Buddhist saying that nothing is permanent. Again, my rational faculty urged me to wonder if nothing is truly permanent, then how could the above particular Buddhist teaching be permanent? Is that not contradictory? Well, I will leave that philosophical examination for yet another time and column and will focus on the loss of both lives and livelihood of many over this passing year instead.

For those who have lost their loved ones, you have my empathy and condolences. For those who are still alive but either became unemployed or have had to shut down shops, I feel your pain.

In hope we find a reason, a raison d’e tre, to continue our transitory existence on earth. Yes, we all shall die, sooner or later. But it’s what we do while we are still alive that counts.

One can look at this fact both ways. Some take this transitory nature of life as a reason to not care about anyone or anything and become nihilist in a most negative sense. Others could take this as a reminder in finding inner peace and happiness in what they do in their livelihood and what they can do for others while they’re still around. Life is short, do what you think is beneficial to society and the world at large, enjoy yourself a bit along the way, and then sooner than you realize or want, your time on earth will be over.

I do not know if there’s life after death, I am a skeptic and do not count on being reincarnated, so to me, life in the here and now is precious, priceless and pretty much all I have on the brief journey on earth. We can make a little or more than a little positive difference, make the world a little better, if we try.

Be prepared as 2021 for Thais and many people will likely be yet another tumultuous, challenging and unpredictable year.
Treasure in what you have. The ending of the year 2020 is a good time to reflect, mourn and gather strength to face 2021.

I saw many shops shut in Bangkok and beyond due to COVID-19 in 2020, some for good others with a lingering sign stating that they are under ‘temporary renovation’. A put a sign promising to be back after the first business lockdown but clearly have never managed. Many individuals and families are on their financial last straw and another lockdown may just be the last nail in their coffins. I feel sorry for them and let us who are still afloat be compassionate and do what we can to help those in need. It’s time to think less as an individual and more as a member of society.

The unpredictability of 2020 reminds us to treasure whatever we have while we still can.

Like the falling autumn leaves, short-lived cherry blossom flowers, some won’t be with us in 2021. They, humans as well as businesses, shall be sorely missed by those who love or know them.

For businesses gone, my regular watch repair man, an elderly gentleman, suddenly closed down his small shop on BTS Chit Lom station weeks ago without any announcement on what’s left at the place after a long bout of fighting the economic impact of COVID-19 and the decline in the number of people strapping mechanical watches on their wrists. I will miss the conversations I had with him about whether Germany or Japan can make better mechanical watches than the Swiss.

Another, Oscar Denim, selling selvedge jeans from Japan and pricey US-made cordovan-leather shoes from Alden at Siam 1 closed down on Dec 13 after years in business.


In its farewell note on its Facebook page, the proprietor stated that it was due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and changing sartorial preference.

“The shop would like to thank you all for your past support,” Oscar Denim stoically stated with no drama.

For the rest who are still in business, healthy, financially and health wise, we should be grateful. Treasure and appreciate the here and now, treasure what we still have and be thankful. We shall never know if our meetings with someone, our visit to some places faraway or not, or our time on earth may be the last today.