Last Friday, a colleague of mine at my previous office wrote to me telling me that she had handed in her resignation and next week would be her last week. She is going back to school full-time now. I am so glad for her. I told her to keep in touch and update me of her progress. Below is what I wrote to her.
“This is the word that I am going to give you and this is what I have tried to follow, no matter where I go. It’s not easy, but trust me this is the only way for people to feel good:
Be a friend to all who know you.
Last Saturday evening, the last Saturday before my daughter leaves for college, a friend of mine invited us together with some others to her house for a gathering. It was very kind of her.
There my daugher met another incoming college girl, also a Chinese. The girl will go to Princeton University. This is the first child that I met this year who has been admitted into the school of her choice. All others have applied but was turned down by all top-notched ones like Harvard, MIT, etc.
This further confirms that academic excellence alone won’t get you to the top. A student must do something extraordinary. Here are something that this girl has achieved while in high school,
National/Regional Aspirations in Computing Winner from National Center for Women & Information Technology
Presidential Scholar Candidate from US Department of Education
Last Saturday, 8/3, we went to a friend’s house for a gathering. We talked a lot about college cost, current economy and job situation, especially for young college graduates.
To be sure, the situation does not look bright for the younger generation. Many of these college graduates, without a full time employment or having to engage in something unrelated to their education, got a long way to go before they can become financially independent, settle down, get married, have children and buy a house.
Let us hope the incoming college students will see a better economy when they graduate in year 2017.
Last Saturday, 7/20, we invited a friend and her parents to come over. Her parents came to visit their daughter from Hunan.
Last Christmas, she invited us to come over to her house. My children had a good time playing with her dog. So I thought of inviting her parents to come over for a dinner.
It was a pity that her mother cannot speak mandarin and I cannot understand Hunan dialect. Her father had a good time, though. My daughter baked an apple cake, which went down well with our guests.
Last Saturday, a friend of mine invited us together with 5 or 6 families to gather at her house as her parents were here and would leave soon.
One family is going to send their son to medical school, from there we talked a lot about the cost of going to college and beyond. My impression is most Chinese parents are willing to invest in their children’s future.
More than one people complimented my daughter’s Chinese. Some even asked where she grew up. They were surprised to learn that none of my children had gone to Chinese school, yet they all could talk like native.
We had plenty of good food there. Next morning we had to go extra miles to burn them out.
Last Saturday, while my daughter was in Manhattan, I went out doing some grocery shopping. The weather was so warm inside the car that I felt like some time in June or near summer days, which once again brought to my mind memories that I hold dearly about summer, either driving my children to summer school or myself in a relaxing mood. Oh well, another illusion.
While I was searching for a plant that I just bought, I thought of going to facebook, where, for the first time, I went to a friend of mine just to take a peep at his latest career development.
To my surprise, his facebook site consists nearly all pictures of his sons, mainly the elder one who seems to be the source of great pride to his father. In fact, I did not see anything about his career.
I thought of the facebook sites of some of my colleagues here, which display the pictures of their children. Maybe this is what facebook is supposed to be. Or maybe at our age we don’t have anything to display other than the pictures of our beautiful daughters and handsome sons. Or maybe…
I don’t know why. I just think it interesting.
This is my attempt at translating Confucius teaching posted yesterday.
Confucius says “Isn’t it a great joy when you study and review what you study? Isn’t it a great joy when friends from afar come to see you? Am I not a gentleman when I don’t feel offended when others don’t understand me?”
Students should fulfill filial duty at home, exercise fraternal love outside home, be sincere and trustworthy, exercise benevolent love to all. Keep doing so and keep learning.
Zeng Zi said, “I do self-reflections three times a day: am I honest in dealing (or doing business) with people? Am I trustworthy among friends? Have I reviewed the teachings passed to me by my master?
Zi Gong asked Confucius, “When in poverty, I don’t behave servilely. When I am rich, I don’t behave arrogantly. How about this?” Confucius said, “That is good, but it is not as good as remaining cheerful in poverty and noble in wealth.”
On 10/13, a friend of mine went out of town for her bachelor graduation ceremony. She graduated summa cum laude from the university. I am so proud and delighted for her as I think she has met a huge challenge in her life.
It is a challenge for her when she works full-time, being a single mom with two children. I sent her present, an imitation of ancient Chinese book, with the words of Confucius written on bamboo strips tied together with strings.
Of course, she loved it and asked me to translate it. Below is the original. I will post translation tomorrow.
Toward the end of September, to celebrate my birthday and to add some fun to my life, I made friends with three of my former and current colleagues via facebook, three of them in all.
When I posted the picture of my article on KCStar on 9/29, my daughter thought it useless, “How many friends do you, mom? Let’s see, two?” She meant her brother and her.
I said, “Actually, I have 8 now.” Lol… I know 8 is not a big number when some people have over 900. If I reached out more, including readers of my midwest columns, I could make a larger connection.
I didn’t do it. Neither have I let people know my blog here. There seems some irony here when I befriend people via facebook but actually excluded many of my true friends in my facebook circle. When I think of it, it is actually no surprise, considering my introvert tendency. I would like to keep a public face and also a safe distance, meanwhile reserving a spot where I can remain anonymous and be my true self.
It is Wednesday and it is a day off work because it is 4th of July. A few days ago, a friend of mine asked us to go to her house today, but I called her yesterday to cancel it as it is terribly hot today.
My sister’s son in Houston told me last week that those Chinese who had been in the country for a long time had still not assimilated into the mainstream American culture. He went to some gatherings there and found no Americans in these Chinese gatherings.
He said he cared about being accepted by others and by the society. I didn’t try to persuade or argue with him. I think it takes time for him to be mature enough not to care how others think about him or whether or not he is being accepted by American society when he should concentrate on following his own path regardless of what others think. One can argue that the whole purpose of coming to America is the freedom to follow your own path, regardless of the environment.
For me, I am going to enjoy my day off today. I am happy as long as I accept myself.
On 5/6, my daughter went to study for one of her finals at Barnes & Nobles with a friend. The other adult in the house drove to Houston, TX to leave the car to my sister’s son there.
While I was home, a friend of mine came over in the afternoon. I eagerly showed her our backyard and shared with her the fruits in my yard — xiang-chun leaves and gold-silver flowers. I dug out a few gold-silver plant runners for her. She helped me trim the xiang-chun tree. I show her how to grow the gold-silver plant.
I had a good time in my backyard with this friend. It is so rewarding working on my yard. I wish I had more time and energy working on my yard.
I am going back to China to see my mother on 6/1. I bought the ticket on 3/1, applied for visa on 5/1, and notified my family of my schedule.
Normally, I plan ahead by telling some of my friends in Beijing. This time I will go to Shanghai in early June to meet two friends there and also will meet an old colleague of mine during this time-frame before she leaves for the States, also in early June.
There is one friend whom I have not seen for many years but have been thinking of every time I go back. She has become a very devout Christian and has devoted her time to church work in Beijing. She is one of the purest kind that I have known in my life. I am going to try to get in touch with her this time.
P.S. it so happened that a friend of mine here is leaving for China today with her two children. Wish her a good trip.
Last weekend, while shopping at costco, I met an old colleague of mine back in Sprint. When I was there, she was single. Last time we met, she was a mother of two. Now she is a mother of four. Her boy has turned 5. Of course, she looks changed, too. I told her the age of my children, which, of course, surprised her. Because she remembers my daughter was about 5 or 6 years old.
She was preparing for her trip to China around the end of this month. After that, my mind ran back to the time when I worked at Sprint back in 2000 and when she was single, showing no interest in talks about children.
Over a decade has passed since that time, yet it all seems like yesterday when we worked together. I can’t believe time runs so fast and children grow up so fast.
Enjoy the moment while we can.
Last Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, a friend of mine invited my daughter and me to her house to celebrate Mother’s Day. There was another family at the gathering. That was very kind of her.
At first, I didn’t want to go as I was afraid it would take too much time. My daughter will have some finals next week. When I told my daughter of this, she said we should go. So we did.
I met another Chinese mother who was more inclined toward natural science than humanities. I shared with her my writing on KC Star on that day, not sure if she understood it. I used to believe there was not much difference between science and humanities.
One needs to be more empirical and logical in natural science. With humanities, the emphasis is more on understanding and interpretation, which is very subjective and varies from person to person. But a clear thinking ability is needed in both fields. I think there must be a lot more than this.
I have bought an air ticket to China on 3/1, the day after a friend of mine told me of the ticket sale. I have been thinking of contacting my old colleagues in China Daily in Beijing. So on 4/5, I contacted two of them who are here in the States. I was hoping they would write back to me. But it seems I have lost contact with them, too.
This reminds me of a college classmate of mine with whom I lost contact for over 20 years. We seemed to share a lot in our personality. But for some reason, we lost each other again and again. So there goes another one.
While I make new friends no matter where I go, be it in China or in Ohio or in Indiana or in Virginia or here in Kansas, I still miss those who have been part of my life, especially in my younger years.
“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” — I wish not.
During the year-end holiday season, other than a few gatherings with friends and some phone-chats, text messages, some email greetings are specially heart-warming. On 12/22/2011, I posted one. Here’s another one. It is sweet and touching. I am not going to pass without sharing it here.
Yesterday I called my son, thinking he must be relaxing in his NY apartment. But from the background noise, he seemed to be in a large gathering. It turned out he went to Boston on Friday and will go back to NY today.
I can imagine he must have a good time back to Boston meeting his old friends there. Most important he really enjoys the freedom of his bachelor’s life and his well-earned financial independence.
My son reminds me of someone here in America, who has turned 27 and still lives with his parents. I bet he must have had too much good time at high school and has not earned enough freedom when he is approaching 30.
I had a wonderful time yesterday with a friend family joining us marking Thanksgiving day. I indulged myself playing with their young children. They reminded me so much of the time when my children were this young and always surrounded me like they did. That time has gone forever.
I heard a lot of this year’s black Friday shopping. I remember some people at my office planning to start the shopping rush early in the morning.
For me, this year’s black Friday is no different from last year and the year before. I shall not buy anything that I don’t need, simply because it is cheap. I will spend some time with my children, especially my son who will leave for New York early next morning.
When I have some time and energy left, I shall continue cleaning the house today.
This is one of the articles that I read in March 2010.
I often hear in my office from these married wives — “It’s all girl’s night out” or “I will go shopping with a couple of my girlfriends.” They seem being excited over the idea of going out with friends. This is exactly what the article says — “There’s nothing like a friend’s company.”
We often take things for granted in our lives, even with friendship. Friends are not like family members. They have their own careers, obligations and commitments, responsibility with their own families. Very often, they come and go based on their needs.
Hence, it is more difficult for adults to develop and maintain friendship. And that’s why people begin to appreciate friendship more than ever after a decade or two into their marriage life.
For people of all ages, friendship is a precious gift that only we can give to ourselves by being a friend to others. Don’t go through life without it.
This is from a piece of note that I wrote on an index card long time ago. It is supposed to be an advice on dealing with people. It sounds a bit insincere, though they are totally true.
(1) Be a good listener (as if you are interested in it).
(2) Show genuine interest in others.
(3) Never hurt people’s feeling
(4) Don’t try to show others that you are smarter than them. Nobody is interested in it.
(5) Make others feel important (just to satisfy people’s vanity).
True great people never act haughty. Instead, they tend to be protective of the weak group.
Friendship means responsibility. Never view it as opportunity, though your act of friendship opens more doors for you.
Today I am leaving for America. Last Friday, 7/8/2011, I went to a McDonald’s in Beijing to meet an old friend of mine whom we had not seen each other for 15 years. I saw something familiar and I was surprised to recognize him from behind after so many years.
We talked about cancer and cancer treatment, life and mortality. In reality, we all hold some thought dearly because that thought can satisfy our needs and relieve other negative feelings. It doesn’t matter what that thought is, real or unreal. In his case, while he realizes the inevitability of life, he tries to enjoy the process. For me, it is a different thought.
On 7/6, Wednesday noon, I went to have lunch with three old classmates, two of them back to kindergarden days.
One is now working in the ministry of foreign affairs; the other used to be there. While listening to their conversation, I was both bored and amazed by the intricacies of power struggle and the total submission of one’s individuality when working there. The one who left could not stand it.
It seems like serving a life sentence to work in that environment. I cannot imagine myself working in that place for long. I was a rebel in my bone when I was young but more inclined to seek peace with the outside world.
If I were put in that situation and had to learn the ropes and the tricks of surviving there, I might become adapted and adept at power struggle. Are we the products of our social and cultural environment or some intrinsic value of our own? I wish people could forever keep something of their own no matter where they are, without total adaptation.
Early yesterday morning, the whole family went to the airport to send my son and daughter off, one to Boston, the other to Michigan. Both had transfer in Chicago. After I got back with both of them being away, I felt like having a preview of what life would be like in two years. It is really scary.
This is the first time that my daughter left home alone. On the way to the airport, I kept pumping advices into her. Of course, safety is always my top concern. Next, take good care of yourself so that you don’t get sick.
This is what I kept telling both of them — you have your parents when you are at home, but away from home, you will have to count on your friends if you are in need of help. That means you must make some friends after you leave home. Create your own circles. Parents cannot be with you all the time.
I still remember when my 17-year-old son returned home from Russia, safe and sound, excited and full of words about his experience. Hopefully, through this experience, my daughter will make a big step forward in terms of maturity, independence, and responsibility.
(a) Schedule some time — in the near future — to enjoy the company of someone who brightens your mood.
(b) Make a list. Think about people you want to contact regularly. Then, follow through.
(c) Volunteer. Working side by side for a cause may lead to a lasting bond.
(d) Join a group. Find something that intrigues you — maybe that’s a pottery class or a hiking club.
(e) Connect online. Few things beat in-person contact. But, you might also give social networking a try. It can be a good way to reconnect with old friends — and find people with common interests. However, be cautious — and, think twice before sharing any personal information online.
You call an old friend just to say hello. Rather than eating alone, you join a colleague for lunch. You hug your sister. As ordinary as they might seem, connections like these have real power. They can improve your life — and protect your health.
If anxiety or shyness prevents you from making friends, do reach out for help.
On 3/3/2011, I read an article sent to us by our company’s insurance company. “Thrive with a little help from your friends,” by Arleen Fitzgerald. Here’s part of it.
Research shows that a strong network of friends and family can help you:
(1) Live longer. Men and women with close social ties are 50 percent less likely to die prematurely than isolated individuals, according to a review of 148 studies.
(2) Feel happier. According to one study, having satisfying relationships was a key difference between very content people and less happy ones.
(3) Be healthier. Lonely adults appear to be more prone to high blood pressure and other health conditions, such as depression and dementia, as well.
Here are suggestions made by the author.
To be continued…
I received this writing on 2/15/2011 via email from an old friend of mine. It always strikes a cord with me when I read his writings, perhaps it is associated with something from a distant time and land that is deeply buried in my memory but present no more. Anyway, it is so beautifully written. Here it is, even though my translation has not been loyal to the original.
Dreams are feathers. They are angel’s white wings, enabling your soul to soar in the blue sky. Without your knowing it, your feathers of dreams could be plucked out, one by one, from you through your daily trivial routines, until eventually the day comes when you find yourself dreamless, carrying out daily business like everybody else. Hence, take care of your dreams. With dreams, you are an angel. That defines your uniqueness.
In China, festival is the occasion when people get together with their extended family members, grandparents, aunts and uncles. In America for most of Chinese who are far away from their extended families, they spend festivals with friends.
It has become a custom for us to either invite friends to come over or go to friends’ house for a gathering. When Spring Festival falls on weekday, the party will be held on the following weekend.
This year is no exception. Yesterday we spent the evening with a family friend and had a nice time chatting over self-cooked food. The topics over dinner table were politics, parenting, and Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn book, all of which were my favorites.
My son left home yesterday morning, made a transfer at Dulles airport, arrived in Boston, then took a bus to New York, where he will work for a company for some weeks before spring semester begins. He stays with his friends who are two years of his senior, from the same school. Each time he goes to New York, he stays at his friends’. This reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “My friends are my estate.”
His experience made me think of my encounter with a college classmate early last year when I went back to China. To be sure, it had been ages since we saw each other. But for some reason, probably out of his legal profession, when I called him, he sounded cold and suspicious of my motive, as if I were going to ask him for some favor or to take advantage of his position. When we met in Massachusetts back in 1987, he was still a student, friendly as before. People change beyond belief!
I wonder what Emily Dickinson had to say about this type of people. Estates are easy to find, but not true friends.
This is the continuation of yesterday’s posting, which I call it “Not Really New Concept for the Year 2011,” as we have heard of something similar before. Still, considering how short our memories have become, at least mine been shorter than before, I think it a fitting topic as we approach another new year.
One focus: all focus on health
Two fundamentals: do not take things seriously
Three facts to forgets: forget your age; forget the past; forget grievances
Four must-have: no matter how strong or weak one is, one must have someone who loves one, good friends, a promising career, and a cozy dwelling.
Five dos: sing, dance, self-decorating, laugh and slim
eat before you feel hungry;
drink before you feel thirsty;
sleep before you feel sleepy;
rest before you feel tired;
have annual physical checkup before you feel sick;
go for your dream before you are old and regretful!
On the morning of 12/23/2010, I received an email from a friend of mine with some beautiful messages. I have no idea which week is for international friendship. Still, the thought of friendship is always heartwarming, especially during this holiday season. Here’s to all of my friends.
Live your own life, eye on yourself instead of others
Take less salt, more vinegar; play less mahjong, walk more
Keep a regular bedtime. Jog, dance and exercise
You won’t run out of money as long as you can eat.
Fear not you earn little. Fear you die early.
No matter how high your position is, you won’t escape an expiration
Treat yourself nice; enjoy life
Don’t walk shoulder by shoulder if you can go hand-in-hand;
Don’t do hand-in-hand if you can hug each other
Don’t separate if you can be together
When most people watch how high you climb, only a few care about your health. And that is friendship.
Last weekend I drove to the airport twice to fetch and then to send one friend of mine. On Sunday evening while driving back from the airport, I felt engulfed in the feeling of sadness, not over her leaving but looking ahead for her and thinking of the fact that she is going by herself to throw herself into the world full of unknown, unknown to me at least. It is in human nature that we prefer to stay with the familiar and avert changes and the darkness of the unknown and insecurity, especially when gray hairs have climbed up over our heads.
One must have a strong will and an adamant determination to pull oneself away from one’s family and the familiar environment all by oneself. I was thinking of this again on Monday afternoon on my way back from work, driving the same highway as I did on weekend from the airport, the same feeling of sadness attacking me once more.
The whole experience brings to my mind Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he says that he who knows the “why” for his existence will be able to bear almost any “how.” Like all major life changes that we either choose to make or are forced to go through, if we can give meaning to our experience, no matter how drastic the change may seem, we can endure whatever it may take, overcome obstacles, adjust ourselves to the new environment, and eventually emerge from this change a new and stronger individual. We have to be motivated by some transcendental, larger-than-life meanings that we can give to this experience. Let it be an encouragement to my friend, myself and all that I care.
Last Saturday evening we went to a friend’s house for this year’s Spring Festival Eve gathering, trying to create a feeling of home-away-from-home, thanks to the hospitality of this friend of mine.
As with most gatherings with Chinese friends, the topic of conversation centered largely on the challenge of parenting. Every time I am with other Chinese parents, I am impressed and deeply touched by the love and devotion of these parents to the future and the wellbeing of their youngsters. Alas, parents with the best intentions are found nearly everywhere, but those getting the desired results are not as often seen, which only tells us that parenting demands way more than love, care, and money. It takes so much to bring up a mature and responsible individual.
I heard a parent just equipped her elementary school child with a laptop and cellphone, a classic example of showering too much love without considering the consequence. When we attempt to discipline our children, isn’t it true that we should discipline ourselves first?
Above all, instead of asking our children to appreciate what we have given to them, we should remind ourselves of the joy and blessing that the children have brought to our lives, that it is a privilege for the parents to be given the opportunity to care for them, to grow with them and to be there when they need us. If we can appreciate what we have today, we won’t feel the hurt of regret tomorrow when what we have is gone.
This was sent to me by a colleague of mine on 1/6, right before I left for China. I love it. Here it is.
This New Year…..
Mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Write a love letter.
Share some treasure.
Give a soft answer.
Keep a promise.
Find the time.
Forgive an enemy.
Apologize if you were wrong.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind and gentle.
Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love. Speak it again.
Speak it still once again.
Back in Ohio in early 1990s we had a neighbor, who brought a small Mac PC loaded with a few simple games, all in the name of learning English. Yet, she spent large chunks of time playing games, knowing too well that she should be better than this. Every time I called her, she told me she would close the game first for fear that her husband suddenly came home and found out her game addiction.
I always remember this episode as I thought to myself at that time, “You can cheat your husband and even everybody in the world, but you cannot cheat yourself. You cannot cheat your life. In the end, you hurt yourself most by this self-deceiving behavior. It is your time and your life that you game away. So foolish!”
When we met nearly a decade later, she commented how lucky I was with job, degree and two children while she had none. It is not the matter of luck. Each of us is given equal amount of time. How much can we expect to get out of our time with this self-deceiving behavior? Not much. Life is so precious. Don’t shortchange yourself with cheap games.
P.S. tomorrow morning I will leave for China for a 20-day visit. There are mountains of things that I need to attend on this last day. Already feeling exhausted inside out.
Occasionally a friend of mine mass-sends an email to a list of my high school classmates. Every time I click through these names, I remember some pieces of the far away past. However, the funny thing is for most of them, they know each other and know how to get in touch with one another, yet they choose not to. Is it because they are too busy or because there are too little in common among them or some other reasons which I cannot conjure up?
I threw up this question to my friend, who returned “The past memory were sweet and bitter. For sb the bitter part was more than sweet one, so they choose to ignore. I used to ask the same question and That is my thought.”
I agree with his bitter-sweet memory explanation since those young and stupid years seems so unflattering that some choose to ignore, as if avoiding further contact with the past will erase it from their memory.
Now that I read his input, I can come up with more possible explanations. People are either too lazy to contact or are not interested in getting in touch or cannot attach any value to these contact or are too busy with their own lives to care about anything else. Or we changed so much that our past experience has become totally irrelevant to us now.
This reminds me of an instance that occurred upon my son’s high school graduation. His friends voted him as the least likely to come back for high school homecoming. I thought it was because most of his classmates stayed local and he went farthest from his Kansas home. As it stands now, I am sure he won’t come back once we move out of this place.
Last Saturday we went to a friend’s house for a dinner gathering with a group of Chinese, all professionals from local companies and universities, wealthy and content, well-fed and luxuriously-housed. Some have children in college, some still in grade school, and some others already retired with grandchildren.
I know there is a large Chinese population in Greater Kansas City Area, yet there is next-to-zero political voice from Chinese community, if there is such a community. While sitting among a group of Chinese and listening to the passionate conversation on topics like food, stocks, real estate and all kinds of wonderful money-making mechanism, I thought of politics and ceased to wonder why Chinese are under-represented in American politics.
Chinese are such a peace-loving plus money-loving people, beyond this is beyond their dear care. I would look like a total idiot if I brought up topic like healthcare and Obama. With all the good food in front of me, I’d better waste no time thinking and wondering, just feasting myself as much as I could.
My friend from North Carolina came to visit us at the moment when she was overcome by grief over the loss of her mother in March this year. I know time is the cure-all in situation like this. Still, I wish she can move on to her life as quickly as she can. Here are some tips to her and also to myself in case I find myself in the same boat.
(1) Go out either to find a job or do volunteer work. By going out you jump out of your solitary confinement or even self-imposed house arrest. Meet new people, experience new life, broaden your horizon. All these will help divert your attention from your sadness.
(2) Have your own life and your own goal and pursuit, instead of latching on your spouse or children. This way you will have less complaint and feel a lot happier when your spouse gets back home in the evening doing something he enjoys. Live and let live.
(3) Find opportunities to do good and to be helpful to others. When you reach out and make difference, you will find your value confirmed and realized. When you are with someone who is in much more miserable situation than you are, you will begin counting your own blessings. Sometimes, get yourself blissfully busy for others is the best medicine for sadness and depression. .
Her visit reminds me of the song Lean on Me
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
Lean on me…
A long time friend from Bowling Green, Ohio came to visit us last Friday. She is now living in Raleigh, NC. We have not seen each other for 15 years, though we have been keeping in touch all these years. I had half day off yesterday and we left for airport in the afternoon.
We walked and talked for a long time twice in the evening. The more she told me about her husband, the more I rejected Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Here is a hard-to-find good man.
Once they were walking in the state park trail among wild woods, my friend saw a beautiful flower and nipped it off. Her husband said other people also appreciated its beauty. If people before us were like you, we would not be able to see this flower.
There is always value or something deeper than what we hear or see. This often makes me think. I see true beauty in his words and like to share this with the readers. Now we know how we shall behave when we find ourselves in the similar situation.
My friend from North Carolina and I took a long walk yesterday evening, talking about many things relating to human interactions.
She told me how she and her husband dated and got to know each other. One thing that strikes me as essential to their successful relationship is the respect and admiration that the husband demonstrates for the wife. Upon learning stories of her past experience, he said my friend was a super marvelous woman. I could imagine someone hearing the same story could say “That’s nothing comparing to this or that.” You can also say lack of respect and the rudeness are the factors that can lead to failed relations.
While respect is indispensable to wife-husband relationship, I see it as the key ingredient in all human interactions and relationship, including that of parent-children and between friends. Once I observed the treatment of a friend of my daughter’s. The way she was treated by her mother was almost humiliatingly disrespectful. I would not be surprised if the girl rebelled when she became a teenager.
I always emphasize to my children the importance of respectful language and sincere respect for others, especially to those dearest to them. Nowadays respect and sincerity are so woefully lacking in families, as I hear disrespectful words thoughtlessly thrown in the air.
Here’s to my children the same old teaching once again — imagine how you would feel if someone told you to “Stop farting” (in Chinese language, this is a nasty way of saying “shut up”) or “Don’t talk rubbish.” I bet you would feel hurt, right? Therefore, never ever hurt other people with foul language, friends or relatives or anyone.
P.S. one strong point that we remember our father is we had never heard him utter any hurtful word to anybody. He was simply too kind to hurt anybody. Isn’t it a beautiful world if everybody were like this? Not happening in reality.
7/21, I came upon this quote today, too nice not to share it with my dear readers and hopefully my children will read it someday. ” Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless” -Mother Teresa
Referring to my last posting — “A Close Friend Might Save One’s Life,” I talked to my daughter about that posting on the way back home from art class yesterday morning. I told her that I was surprised to learn of this research result on Psychology Today. She thought it was obvious, next she provided some of her insights on the topic, from a teenager’s perspective.
First, you don’t have the same kind of responsibilities when you are with friends as when you are with your spouse or child. You are happier when you don’t have responsibilities. Good point! In other words, you are least happy when you are most responsible. I would think responsibility must be a burden, with which you cannot relax and be happy.
Second, you meet your friend once in a while. But you are with your spouse and children everyday, like it or not. Very much true. You have a sense of freshness which you don’t have with your family members. She kept on giving more explanations, but I was driving and not able to catch them all. She surprises again and again by the insights that she provides on my writings.
Finally, I remember the Greek philosopher Epicurus believed one of the conditions of being happy was being surrounded by friends, not by one’s family. What can you say about happiness, family or friends?
Weekend started on Friday evening at least for my children when they need me to take them out. Yesterday my daughter asked me to take her and her friend to Town Center, where they could go shopping and I could wait at Barnes & Noble’s bookstore. So I did. When I was outside, wet and cold, how I wish I were lounging on a couch with a blanket over me reading by myself in a warm corner.
At Barnes & Noble’s, I grabbed some books with interesting titles and started reading. Here’s an interesting discovery, though I don’t remember the title of the book. The book cited a cover story in Psychology Today magazine. The main idea is a research carried out by the magazine reveals that people experience a higher degree of joy and happiness when spending time with their friends than while being with their spouses and child.
I didn’t realize it until that moment. This is both interesting and unbelievable. Yet, on second thought, this must be very much true in a society where rugged individualism is over-emphasized, so much so that people want to appear strong and independent, cheerful and worry-free, not needing and desperate. This often results in feeling isolated and “lonely in a crowd.” Sometimes, so lonely that they can hardly bear it and naturally they are hurt so much by their own loneliness that they have to seek therapy, which is costly and never get to the root of the problem. Or, in the tragedy of the 13-year-old suicide posted on 1/15/2009, the boy appeared so sweet and ready for smile to everyone, yet a close friend might have stopped him from triggering the gun at himself. I hoped.
From this perspective, for some people at some points of their lives, friendship is more valuable than money and therapy. At some critical moment, close friend might save one’s life.
From my own observation, I have already realized how happy my children are when they are with their friends. I wish they can treasure, preserve and benefit from these childhood friendship in the long years to come.
A family of ours came over yesterday, the New Year’s Day. We have known the family since we were in Ohio back in early 1990s, their daughter is about the same age as mine. They came to Kansas a few years before we did.
Most of the Chinese here don’t have any relatives in US. During holiday seasons, when being far from home, I appreciate greatly this saying by Confucius, “Nothing can be more joyful than having friends coming from afar.” They brought their specialty while we made extra efforts at kitchen to entertain friends. We made dumplings together, drinking red wine, chatting while eating.
Visits by and to friends’ house also made up some rare happy moments in kids’ childhood. These friends of ours literally watched my son grow up. Last Christmas when they invited us over to their house, my son helped Auntie Chen with her web page.
As always, the children had a good time, with my son chatting with Uncle and Auntie and the girls enjoying each other. I felt tired yet once again experienced Confucius’ saying on friends’ coming over from afar.