Posted by: admin  :  Category: Neuro Semantics, NLP, Personal Development

He was just two years and seven months old, still very much a baby. Good natured, gentle of spirit with a radiant smile that could charm anyone. In August 2010 he was diagnosed with leukemia and by May this year, just ten short months later, he had passed on!


His name was Johnathon. I got to know him personally in November last year, the same month my mother passed on after six months of battling cancer. His father was a close friend. Both he and his wife experienced an emotional “roller coaster ride” that can hardly be imagined. Coupled with sheer physically exhaustion of frequent hospital visits and admissions, they were stretched beyond their limits. Did I mention that they lived more then 100 miles from the hospital where Jonathon received his chemo treatment, underwent blood transfusions and check ups, got admitted for serious chemo side effects and where he eventually passed on.   


Johnathon Samuel Ong


God alone knows the suffering that little Johnathon experienced. Chemo therapy itself can put an adult through hell, what more a two year and seven month old boy. Weight loss, hair loss, a loss of appetite, blood transfusions, sickening side effects, a rainbow variety of antibiotic transfusions, good days and bad days…….no one would be able to completely comprehend how a two year old makes sense of such discomfort. While kids his age were having fun, Jonathon was battling a disease which steadily took a toll and robbed him of his energy and vitality and which eventually claimed his young and tender life.


QUESTIONS! That was the only thing his parents had in mind during this time…and even now. WHY? This same question haunted me, fresh from my own Mother’s demise to a disease that not only wipes out the inflicted loved one but also the immediate care givers. It was and is a question that can never be answered satisfactorily…..perhaps we may rationalize, intellectualize or even spiritualize meanings for the experience but in the dimness of the loss of a dearly loved one, a baby child of two years and seven months, such meanings fail to sooth the loss and the emptiness felt in ones heart, soul, body and mind. 


“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”

- Elizabeth Gilbert


What I did learn from Jonathon during these seven short months? Plenty I guess. What I wish to do is to share these leanings with you, perhaps with the intention of leaving you with a glimpse of the gift that Jonathon was, is and will always be to those who knew and loved him.


EAT…” Johnathon had a profound way of engaging his food, he literally enjoyed eating his food, not in the way that he ate in volumes or at breath taking speeds, but in the way he ate, taking his time, almost “connoisseur like”, tasting every bite or mouth full. He only ate what he needed, “experiencing” his food and enjoying the pleasure of its taste, texture and feel. He did take his time eating and he did bring an element of “play” to it but he encountered his food engagingly, simply delighting in its pleasure.


“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

  -Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story


This reminded me that, for most adults today, “eating” has lost its sacredness and meaning. As adults we eat automatically, unconsciously; we eat to cope with stress or in distress, we “over eat” so has not to “waste” left over food, we eat in front of the TV, we eat on the road, we eat while driving, we eat while studying, we over eat and then refuse to eat!


We forget that eating is both a blessing and a miracle.



First it is a blessing because one needs to have an appetite to eat, which is the natural instinctive desire for food given to us at birth. When naturally satisfied, it brings us pleasure. It allows to “taste and savor” food and the eating ritual itself. It is precisely around such rituals that achievements, anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated.

The opposite of this is the dreaded feeling of a lack or no appetite! The blessings of an appetite, of food and the eating ritual have long been forgotten by many of us today. When we begin to realize this deeper reality, eating becomes an engaging experience!


“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”


Secondly it is a miracle simply because food comes to us as gift. Yes, we may of paid for it, grown it in our gardens, caught it in the sea…but think deeply enough and your will realize that it came from our Higher Power as the promise of providence! Did we really make things grow? Did we “create” the “raw materials” of food? We may have participated in the process as the “grower”, “seller”, “preparer” or “provider” but never as the source of its creation and growth. Do we recognize the Provider? Do we recognize the miracle of the energy and vitality it provides us? Or do we abuse its abundance with senseless gorging, eating in access and creating addictions?

Having an attitude of gratitude makes eating a miracle of the “answered prayer” we make everyday for providence and sustenance to live meaningful lives.     


These are simple truths that many have forgotten. Simple truths that perhaps only a child recognizes…“EAT”.

“Give us this day bread for our needs.”

-Matthew 6:11


PLAY”…Johnathon took play “seriously”, much like any boy or girl his age. The outstanding thing though was that he still had the attitude of “play” even when he was ill, down with chronic “side effects” of chemo, in distress or simply uncomfortable!


I remember my wife and me visiting him during that final week before he passed on. He still played, slowly and gently, almost surreally, totally unencumbered by the needle pokes for blood tests, antibiotic transfusions, intravenous feedings, the cocktail of drug interventions and morphine drips! Perhaps it was this frame of mind of his that enabled him to go through his ordeal almost serenely! Yes, serenely…willingly offering his thumb to nurses and doctors for needle pricks, his hands for transfusions and body for pod implant procedures ….no tantrums, drama or resistance…just Johnathon’s own brand of being fully present, in the childlike flow state of creatively making the best of his circumstances and optimistically engaging the “strange and unfamiliar” territory of cancer treatment with the attitude of play, trust and abandonment!


“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.”

-Brian Sutton-Smith


This reminded me of one of the presuppositions of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Neuro Semantic, “If you get serious, you get stupid”. Most of us “grown ups” have grown “stupid” because we believe that the attitude of play towards life, work, relationships or even spiritually is simply an irresponsible one! Somewhere between childhood and adulthood many of us simply stopped playing! We exchanged it for “seriousness”, pessimism, doubt, fear, insecurity, “being right” and perfectionism. At best, we choose indifference. “Indifference”…..that’s the name of the town we reside in right in front of our TV sets everyday!


“Whoever wants to understand much must play much.”

-Gottfried Benn


Then we commit the even greater “sin”, the “sin” of dividing life into two broad compartments: SUCCESS and FAILURE. Then we simply label all our experiences as either success or failure and dumb them into these boxes. Finally we measure our value, worth and esteem according to the amount of success we have compared to our failures. When this happens, life, work, learning, relationships, etc. simply loose their vitality, spontaneity and the ability to engage us. Creativity, innovation, experimentation, optimism, resilience, hope and the willingness to have “fun” trying and embracing change and the unknown disappears, resulting in the attitude of play being solemnly cremated at the alter of the state of boredom, stress and meaninglessness.  


“Life must be lived as play.”



 The attitude of play on the other hand, stimulates and brings us to life. It is the “flow state” of being present, absorbed and unaware of our surroundings, creativity engaged in the task at hand with all our resources; optimistically and fearlessly open to surprises!



I believe that we simply can’t have the attitude of play without having a subtle sense of hope and a big measure of trust in our own talents and gifts…and in the element of possibility! This is perhaps the very attitude that can empower us to face even the most trying of circumstances in life; I would like to call it the “Johnathon way”.       


“Play is training for the unexpected.”

-Marc Bekoff


These are simple truths that many have forgotten. Simple truths that perhaps only a child recognizes…“PLAY”.               


“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.”



LOVE”…OK, I am in no way going to preach to you about love, I am simply going to allowing little Jonathon to express his notion of it, the way he lived it.  It can be described in two simple words, “Child like”! A love that patiently accepted his circumstances, that was kind and gentle, not rude or indifferent, to whoever visited him – be it doctor, nurse, friend or stranger, that was most willing to share his goodies with his elder brother, that did not dishonor his parents, not easily angered even in pain and discomfort and which was always welcoming.. with his gentle look, smile and high fives. A love that trusted!


“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”

- Sophocles


Many an adult would call this being naïve, after all we live in a “dog eat dog” world, we have been betrayed and hurt before, been let down and disappointed, wrongly accused, insulted and robed of our due credit and recognition. On many a tiresome and trying day, I felt these very same thoughts banging on the doors of my heart, tempting me to distrust and hate, to jealously gossip and slander, to refuse help, keep score of hurts and to exact revenge…to retreat to my soul’s defensive hiding place of pain, hurt and isolation.  


“Loves makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

 - Zora Neale Hurston


But to love in a “child like” way requires one to have an abundance mentality, to believe in the “magic” of providence, to believe in ones and the other persons own beauty and worthiness even when we are gloriously fallible and to have a treasure of good memories in ones heart. It calls for a radical trust to abandon and give of ones self, trusting that there will be a good ending to life even after life.

It is the only answer to the toughest questions that life will ask us, questions that will perhaps peel away the layers of defenses we have created to keep us from being vulnerable and hurt again….questions that will lead us back to answer we have long forgotten, that we once knew as a child, which is the freedom of loving in a “child like” way…..a lesson and a reminder from little Johnathon!    


“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 18:6


These are simple truths that many have forgotten. Simple truths that perhaps only a child recognizes…“LOVE”.               

The question of WHY things happened the way they have happened can never be answered, especially in the face of the loss of one so dear as Johnathon. Perhaps the larger question that has been answered by his short life is simply this: everyone can make a difference in this life, even for one so young and tender.

If anything, “eat, play and love” was the very way he lived, approached his illness, embraced his suffering and then quietly said “good bye”, leaping into the arms of LOVE ITSELF. This perhaps offers us a glimpse of answer to the greater question of not WHY but HOW:  how one is to live ones life no matter how short or long it maybe…..“EAT, PLAY, AND LOVE”.


“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.”

 -  Elizabeth Gilbert



Johnathon’s uniqueness, warmth, gentleness, charm and loving nature will be missed but never forgotten. He will always be loved!  


“True love stories never have endings.”

- Richard Bach


I would like to leave you with this beautiful song by Danny Gokey, “I Still Believe”.  May it inspire faith, hope and love in your own journey, no matter where it takes you.




Stay committed to transcending, transforming and transferring value back to your world!

Conrad Rozario is the founder of Alchemy Resources, a cutting edge human potential and peak performance development company. He has more than 15 years experience in people development from the diverse fields of Sales, Marketing, Customer Engagement and Service, Business Management and Talent Development. He is a Certified & Licensed Neuro Semantics and Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) Trainer from the International Society of Neuro – Semantics, USA, a Master Practitioner in Neuro Semantics and NLP (ISNS, USA) and a Language and Behavior Profiling for Coaching Practitioner. He holds a MBA from Gordon University, Illinois, USA.

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