Personal Development

Secret to Longevity (That Everyone Has)

Longevity Reed | Where My Heart Leads


A wave of confusion swept over me when the female lead came on stage. Obviously she was a foreigner, so how in the world did she learn, or why did she even learn to sing old-school Cantonese Opera of all things? From the looks of it: back a little stooped and her small shuffling footsteps, she was probably in her 70s or 80s even?

Soon after, the ‘male’ lead comes on stage – with a crutch in her right hand! 

I was at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, at one of its Cantonese Opera evenings entitled, “Global Traces, Local Stages.” 

What started it all

Pre-show, a friend and I got dinner at the quintessential old-school diner Mido Cafe. Over Hong Kong curry rice, I was venting (just ever-so slightly) about the challenges of starting and running my business. 

My friend generously shared her experience twenty years ago helping set up her husband’s business. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but twenty years later, her husband now jokes, “Would you still have wanted me to have taken up that job with that excellent package?”

Choices: fun and destiny

At the time, her husband was doing very well in the company he was with and got offered a post overseas. The expat packages came with all the trimmings – housing, driver, helpers, and benefits. 

Although it was attractive, her husband believed he could unleash more of his potential by creating his own than to stay at the job. He knew it was “now or never” – as the longer he stayed, the harder it was to turn away from salaried work and almost guaranteed “success” up the corporate ladder. 

As her husband’s life partner, my friend witnessed his growth building his own business and the satisfaction and enjoyment he gains from it. 

She said what galvanised her husband to leave and start his own despite the uncertainties was that he was confident in what he saw as a gap in the industry, and that he knew he could make it happen.

Even now, with an established business, my friend’s husband still branches into new industries and is totally hands-on managing and trialing things to get first-hand experience so he can come up with ways to outperform peers. 

Re-connecting to Beginners’ Heart

Turning the attention back to my “situation,” my friend asked, “What’s your beginner’s heart?” 

“What do you mean?”

“Why did you leave your job in the first place to start what you wish to start? What was appealing or attractive in pursuing what you want to pursue? What do you love?”

Good point. When we see the possibilities and potentials, we are inspired to keep going – thus the longevity.

The secret to longevity is to …

The Cuban sisters performed to a full-house of mostly Cantonese speakers. Their expressive ballads and performance from the heart touched many and they received a standing ovation.

Georgina, the male lead is cheeky in the fireside chat and as animated as ever although she doesn’t speak nor understand so much Cantonese. Caridad holds Cantonese Opera close to her heart as it is something dear to her and something that her dad had passed on to her. 

Walking out of the performance hall after a much endearing encore, still mesmerized by their performance, the stories of their lives, it seemed like magic that we got to watch the two Cuban stage-sisters perform more than seven decades since they first began, halfway across the globe.

My friend said, “You know what, the secret to longevity is to do what you love.”

I nodded in acknowledgement. How pertinent.

Check out the story of the Havana Divas and the Chinese diaspora in Cuba.