Perhaps you've noticed when your distant family, the ones you don't meet as often, talk about how different you look (or weigh) when you meet them at those not-so-often family gatherings.
Reunions between long-lost friends and family are such time capsules. At the point of the re-acquaintance, your previous memories of them instantly disappear, emerging in its place a transformed person - more mature, stronger, wiser.
However, after a few minutes of reminiscence and catching-up, you'll soon find that person who you remember growing up, laughing and crying with.
My mind was blown at my recent reunion with my batch mates from Methodist Secondary School during my youthful days in Sibu, Sarawak. A post reunion get-together in Sibu's Coffee Code unfolded stories of more than three decades of the personal growth and successes of my closest friends.
Among are now lawyers, business owners, safety auditors, civil servants and lecturers, serving in all corners of the country. They were all contributing to the different sectors that make up the fabric of our economy and society, in a big way.
They were all successes in their field, continuously growing more and more within three decades in which they left the secondary education system of the country.
Some were even working outside of Malaysia, as far as Australia or Canada. However, they still call Malaysia their home, the country that gave them the foundation to be what and where they are today.
I soon realised that no matter where we are and what we do, in some way of another we must play our role in contributing to the nation's progress. The thing is that form of contribution need not be recognised or celebrated in heroic fashion.
As long as we have the passion, determination and grit to endeavour and fulfil the requirements of the profession of our calling, we are playing our role in moving the society that will bear the heroes of our nation.
We are not just lawyers, engineers or doctors - those are just labels. For society to work, we need those who fight for justice, create infrastructure for progress, and maintain the body to achieve and persevere - the labels above are only a mere summary of how important they are to the nation.
Don't get me wrong, this article is not just about creating high level professions. Most importantly, we must understand that our success is never a product of our own efforts alone.
Every piece of knowledge, experience, opportunity, or environment we get is not a luxury that everyone receives. The more access we have to the above, the more likely we reap the potential to gain. However, it does not mean in any way that we should look down upon those who are not as successful.
In my years working in the automotive sector, be in on the production line of at policy level as I am now, we're told that a car is not a car if one screw is missing from the thousands of parts that have been assembled.
That single, minute piece of formed steel plays a role - no matter how small - in keeping the car running, and its occupants safe over its entire period of use.
Therefore, we must look to creating the best of ourselves and others, within the means that we have in order to contribute to the success of our next generation. This noble cause bridges cultural, religious or political divide, as great nations are founded on the efforts of each and every countrymen, no matter small or large.
To Azmi, Con Hock, Michelle, Sal, Sara, Bing Bing and the rest, thank you for making my trip to Sibu a memorable and humbling experience.
"Time is not measured by the passing of years, but by what one does, what one achieves".
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.