An email sent to a friend back in 1999


When I cleaned my old documents lately, I dug out an email that I sent to a friend of mine on 3/11/1999. I remember she just gave up her teaching job in order to join her husband. She was feeling rather depressed when she couldn’t find another teaching job in her new home. Here’s part of what I wrote to her,

“Glad to talk to you yesterday, though we didn’t finish what we were talking about…

I feel deeply that it’s difficult for us Chinese in America to be happy. We work extremely hard and we are not afraid of hardships. We live comfortably, yet, we are not as happy as we should be and we feel depressed easily. Why? …

1. We never have a sense of home here. It seems any place can be home for us, but we cannot form emotional attachments to any place, no matter how long we live there… People call it ‘sense of rootlessness.’

2. We are cut off from our family, the one we were born into, where we are related by blood and, cut off from an important source of social and emotional support…

3. Because of this, we rely heavily on our small family, the one formed by marriage. This form of family is the weakest one in a sense, the most easily broken one, considering one in two marriages in America ends up in divorce, and thus the least reliable one. We expect greatly from this small family. Yet, no matter how much we try, we still don’t feel happy.

4. Perhaps we can never feel as happy as we wish just from our small family. Perhaps it is still not enough to make us happy when we are so isolated socially and sometimes emotionally… Or perhaps the real happiness is found within each of us, no matter where we are, … and we shouldn’t expect it from outside…”

This friend of mine doesn’t have children. I further told her that “I have two lovely children who are very much attached to me and are the greatest sources of happiness. So I feel completely blessed and happy when I’m with my little ones… I’m not thinking of anything else, just enjoy what I have now. Let future takes care of itself.” I probably shouldn’t tell her this when I already knew how much she longed to have a child.

I ended the email with these words for her–
–We come to this earth to enjoy, not to suffer.
–Enjoy to the fullest what we have today, because we only have one life to live.
–Life is so short that we don’t even have enough time to enjoy. Why waste time feeling depressed.”

I can’t believe I wrote this 14 years ago and I still need to be reminded of these words today! Also, I have found how true these words are from my experience with other Chinese living in America.

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