Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Dec 28, 2010

Celebrating Friendship Week

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:21 am

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.

1, Apr 27, 2010

We Gain Strength from Having Meanings to Our Experience

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:17 am

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.

1, Feb 15, 2010

A Festival Gathering At a Friend’s House

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:07 am

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.

1, Jan 18, 2010

A New Year Resolution for You and Me

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:24 am

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.
Encourage youth.
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.

1, Jan 6, 2010

Self-Deceiving Behavior Hurt the Doer Most

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:49 am

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.

1, Dec 2, 2009

Meet High School Classmates, Mirror of Our Past

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:16 am

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.

1, Sep 21, 2009

The Under-representation of Chinese in American Politics — Yes or No?

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:26 am

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.

1, Jul 22, 2009

Jump Out of Your Personal Loss by Reaching Out

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:54 am

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…

1, Jul 21, 2009

True Beauty and Flower Picking

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:08 am

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.

1, Jul 20, 2009

Respect – An Indispensable Ingredient in Any Good Relationship

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 12:02 am

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

1, Jan 18, 2009

Happiness, Friends or Family?

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 10:51 am

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?

1, Jan 17, 2009

A Close Friend Might Save One’s Life

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 9:41 am

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.

1, Jan 2, 2009

“Nothing can be more joyful than having friends coming from afar”

Filed under: Friend — admin @ 1:24 am

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.

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