The Night I Almost Died…

The Night I Almost Died…

“One cold and dark stormy night” – these are words that my English teacher Mrs Khosa once told me not to use to start a story.

But my story did began on one cold and dark stormy night.

It should not be a night to be remembered but neither was it a night that could be easily forgotten.

It was a night when one precious life was almost lost.

Imagine with me a young man clinging on to a slippery rope.

He knew he was somewhere in the middle of a river even though he could not see the things around him.

It was pitch darkness and the undercurrent was very strong.

He knew if he let go of the ropes, he might be swept to a watery grave.

Another problem was that he could not scream for help.

It was against the rule and what he stood for as a human.

That young man lived to tell the story.

In fact, after living for 40 years, he was literally dying to tell the story.

That young man was me.

At that point, I was undergoing training to be commissioned as an officer in the Singapore Armed Forces. It was part of my National Service journey.

Together with other officer cadets in the Alpha company of the 8th SMC 1978/79, we were involved in an amphibious exercise.

We had to learn how to operate in water as well as on land to defend our country.

That night, the heavens was almost pouring everything it had to lend additional weight to the training.

The storm and rain were playing their parts to shape us to become leaders.

We were already completely soaked and shivering in the rain when the trainers ordered us to go into the water.

We were like being frozen to become Singapore’s version of the Terracotta Warriors.

The instruction was to hold on to a rope and pull ourselves across the river in total darkness.

During that seemingly endless pull, I was sure some of us became deeply religious.

The only other way to survive besides pulling for our life was to pray the most ardent prayer you could imagine.

We pleaded to the Higher Being to help us get to the other side of the river bank – alive and well.

Midway in the struggling journey, I felt my life jacket being punctured by some unknown object. Air was escaping from the jacket.

I had to kick much harder to keep my head above the murky water.

It did not take long before I found myself gasping for air.

As I became weaker and weaker, I could feel strength of the current growing stronger with every slowing kick.

It was like a thousand hands were dragging me out to the watery grave.

I could not scream for help because it did not bode well for an officer-to-be to surrender to “just water” as my trainers would tell us.

That would also have exposed my men to our “enemies” and even though it was only a peace-time exercise, we were pushing ourselves full out as if we were at war.

Soon, my mind almost went blank.

It was either frozen, or deliberately being shut down to block out the fear that was terrorizing my being.

However, survival instincts kept pushing me through the darkness and towards safety of the shores.

At some point, it was like another Force had responded to my prayer and had taken over to pull me on and on to safety.

When my feet finally touched the mushy soils on the opposite side of the river bank, my heart cheered and celebrated for the new lease of life.

I have never felt joy like I did on that grateful evening.

That incident lived on in my memory.

I have reflected about it and will continue to do so till the end of my life.

The reality is that no matter what background one comes from, every human will come face to face with death.

It can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time.

Many people do not want to think or talk about death. Some believe it will bring about a bad omen.

I humbly beg to differ.

I believe if I don’t understand death, I will not understand life.

I must be willing to face death and what happens thereafter to be able to live a better life.

It is strange but truth that we cannot fully appreciate life if we do not realise that death may just be around the corner.

In the same way, if we don’t think we will lose, we will never want to change.

If we don’t think we will die, we will never transform ourselves to live a better life.

If we want to live, we need to die to ourselves so that we can live for a mission that is much bigger than ourselves.

However, it is unfortunate that in the process of making a living, we may not remember to live life.

There is a greater fear for death than for not serving a worthwhile cause and living a full life.

A life without dreams is mere existence. Not having something to look forward to is worst than death.

We live only when we have a sense of purpose and destiny.

Knowing that there is a deeper meaning in life makes us feel alive.

It lends significance to our being and helps us live with passion and fulfillment.

Life and death should be seen from the perspective of eternity.

Living for what truly matters begins right now.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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Please visit my website,

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For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

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Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

About Patrick Liew
About Patrick Liew Patrick Liew MBA, MSc, BSc is the Managing Partner of Global Enterprise Exchange Pte. Ltd.. He is also the founder and director of Success Resources, arguably the world’s largest personal development seminar organiser and a major shareholder of a company, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. He was previously the Executive Chairman and CEO of HSR Global Ltd., a publicly listed company on SGX-ST. Previously, he was the regional director of the Gartner Group, providing strategic advisory and planning services to governments, banks and MNCs. He was also the regional head of sales and marketing operation for Dow Jones Telerate. Patrick graduated with a BSc in Estate Management from Heriot Watt University, an MSc with emphasis in global business and marketing from The City University Of New York, and an MBA from Henley Business School / Brunel University. He has also earned more than nine other professional qualifications. Patrick is arguably the first person to develop a multimedia e-learning programme on entrepreneurship. He authored a Chinese book on business systems and was also the co-author of a Times Bookshop best-selling book. Patrick has conducted both ‘brick and mortar’ and online lessons for participants from more than 60 countries. He has also conducted keynote presentations in many international conferences, including being the first Singaporean to teach at the National Association of Realtors. Through his team at Success Resources, Patrick has organised educational conferences for prominent leaders such as President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Michael Porter, Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, and many other prominent leaders. Patrick provides leadership and advisory services to many professional and charity organisations. He is actively involved in supporting humanitarian, philanthropic and charity causes. He has organised three fund-raising events and in the process, help to set three national records in the Singapore Books Of Records. Patrick won the Entrepreneur Of the Year Award For Social Contribution, the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, and six other business awards. Patrick believes the best way to live your life is to live your life for others. The more you reach out to bless other lives, the richer and better your life will become. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Personal Note to my Friends The articles that I post online; or what I term as Love Notes, are written with the purpose of inspiring readers to live at a higher plane in life. They are also meant to motivate those who are struggling in life and help them find handlers to overcome their conflicts and challenges. It is my ardent hope that we will form networks and alliances of like-minded people who will put to right many of the wrongs in our midst. Together, we will leverage on each other's resources and create a synergistic impact in making our world a better home. These articles are written as part of regular reflection about the vicissitudes of life. They are at best work in progress and at worst, grumblings, grouses, and gripings of a finite old man. I have deliberately decided NOT to delete many of the articles and pointers that I may not agree with or are outrightly wrong. This is to keep a record of how my personal ideas, beliefs, and values have evolved over time. In addition, I hope to encourage readers by letting them know that I also make mistakes and am struggling with many of the complexity and complication in life. As long as we hang on to hope and work on finding a solution, there will be light at the end of whatever tunnel we are in. I do not pretend to know everything or for that matter, anything of substance. In fact, the more I study, learn, and think about the vast wisdom and knowledge out there, the more I realised how little I know about life and the ways of life. Hence, I have always ended my article by asking readers to continue to teach me. For I, too, am a sojourner in the exploration of truth and the adventure of finding meaning, purpose, and significance for my existence. I am proud of and make no apology for being a Christian, albeit not the most exemplary one. I believe our Creator can lead and guide us to be the best that we can ever be. I bear full responsibility for the shortcoming and error in my life, including my words. The fault is entirely mine and not due to anyone else. Readers have and can exercise the power of choice. They can discard what will not work for them and adopt those that can propel them further and faster in the pursuit of better performance, outcomes, and fulfillment. If I have disappointed or hurt you in any way, form, or manner, I would like to apologise to you. Please do not hold them against me or whoever or whatever is related to me. There are much to pray about, learn, and do. And I'll work on them with a sense of urgency. I hold on to the belief that 'Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion and excellence'. I'll endeavour to live by it. Life is short. There's no dress rehearsal and neither can we turn back the clock to change the drama of life. Therefore, by the grace and power of our Creator, let's live a full life and live it to the fullest. May God bless you abundantly on the journey of life. Your online servant, Patrick Liew I hope this message will find a place in your heart. By the way, I have also recorded other reflections. Please 'Like' me on Visit my Inspiration blog at For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at Please visit my website, Please read my reflection and continue to teach me. Life is FUNtastic!

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