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Your Weakest Link

Melvyn Tan
Melvyn Tan
2 min read
Your Weakest Link

Did you know that the front and rear sections of a vehicle are weakened by design?

That doesn’t make sense to me at first.

Then it reminded me of this incident.


This was after I’ve quit smoking after more than 24 years.

I wanted to live a healthier life so I can, with God’s grace, see my children grow up.

What I didn’t know was God had other plans.

One day in 2014, after I’ve successfully quit smoking for more than a year, I had SOB (doctors’ parlance for ‘shortness of breath’) and my arms felt numb.

Sensing something was wrong, I checked myself into the hospital.

Once I told the nurse about my condition, I was wheeled away to get immediate medical attention.

At first, an electrocardiogram (ECG) was performed on me.

Not satisfied with the results, the doctor performed a cardiac enzyme test to determine if I was having — or already had — a heart attack.

While the results can be obtained almost immediately, the doctor wanted to conduct two tests, six hours apart, to establish if there were significant changes in the readings.

Those six hours felt like eternity. Since all my devices were low on battery, I began to wonder if my life will be completely changed after this.

Fortunately, the results revealed it wasn’t a heart attack but an influenza that triggered the SOB.

Exist by design

As I read more about heart attack, I found out that those very symptoms I had were an indication of a blockage in the heart’s arteries.

By design, we would experience those symptoms as a warning sign that a heart attack was impending.

Like the crumple zones of a car, as described in Universal Principles of Design:

The front and rear sections of a vehicle are weakened to easily crumple in a collision, reducing the impact energy transferred to the passenger shell.

via ResearchGate

The purpose of this design is:

To sacrifice less important elements for the most important element in the system—the people in the vehicle.

Universal Principles of Design

When you are weak, you are strong

Striving towards your goals require a tremendous amount of discipline, hard work, and even some luck.

Living in a society where we are almost constantly reminded of what we are lacking can steer us in the wrong direction.

Telling us, we need this book, software, training, tool so we can achieve our goals. Where in fact, the pursuit of such things only distract us from the real goal.

What you lack isn’t necessarily a weakness.

It can actually be a strength. If you choose wisely.

Melvyn Tan

Despite living the good life at midlife, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My aim here is to reinvent midlife, learn new skills, and understand how the world works post-COVID.