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Archive for May, 2011

I remember when I was 5, one day my grand father took me on a very long ride. A couple of hours later we arrived at a beach in Bang San. The driver pulled the Mercedes 190 over to the side and my grand father stepped out. He was not his usual self. I watched him sat alone on a big rock by the beach starring into the blue ocean.  I later learned that he was just diagnosed with cancer. I wonder, looking back, what might he be pondering. What thoughts, what feelings, what concerns? He was only in his early sixty and only lately had life been treating him well. He was a very hard working and loving man. He would travel far and give up things for his family.  He was generous and friendly. But he certainly was not a man without problems. He had four wives. He was a heavy smoker and loved his alcohol. He had a temper. And while he loved my mom dearly, she did not have a voice within his presence. She had to keep all inside of her for fear of offending him. And when voicelessness was extended through time, deep anxiety developed because there was no room for self.  I wonder if my mom’s life would or could have been different.  I think so and I do know for a fact that when a certain psychic complex is evoked, being unprocessed, it has the power to transmit from generation to generation.

I wonder what my grand father was thinking that evening by the ocean. I was too young then but I certainly would have loved to hear his thoughts. I wonder what life he had been through himself and if it was not really what he pondered that mattered to him.  I am probably more curious not about why he made the decisions that he did, but what was it like to be in that place and to live those decisions he had made.  A man is not always about what he’s pondering. He is before he ponders and it is the pre-pondering self that evokes curiosity for me.

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I have a vague recollection of my dream from last night. I was on a motorcycle (I guess because I always like riding motorcycle) and there was a big bridge that I have to cross. This bridge has many lanes. The problem was, there was no sign to give direction. I could not tell which lane to take in order to cross the bridge. I took a chance and stayed left. When I was about half way through, there were lots of cars coming in my direction and so I realized that I was on the wrong lane.  Some how I was still having a hard time figuring out the right direction and had to really thought through carefully how to get onto the right lane.  Strangely once I got to the right lane according to the flow of the traffic, I was at the same place where I came from.

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There was a time I knew how life ought to be.  So I worked at it. And life happens and now I don’t really know what I know or what don’t know or what I ought to know about life.  What do you do in the face of the unknown? One thing I know for certain, I’ve become very hesitant about teaching others how they ought to be. I am more into finding out about them and perhaps learn whatever I can learn from them. Life has a way of teaching you to be humble. To be so in tune with my finiteness, my precariousness in life’s journey. Another thing that I may be able to do is to make decisions in life. Try as best I can but there will certainly be bad decisions and negative consequences that I have to live with but perhaps that is what I’m left to do. In our finiteness we make decisions and we live with consequences of our decisions. The only essential element in the decision making process will perhaps be that we are true to ourselves, our sense of integrity. It is the only thing we have. And then we move on with life praying that God will be kind and gracious to us. And we hope that there will be plenty of  forgiveness. I believe in the midst of the problems and complexities and finite decisions making that could generate negative outcomes, God wishes that we may experience some joy along the way. A little smiles, a little laughter, and a strength to go on another day. It is a reminder of Paul Simon’s American Tune:

And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long….

But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

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I usually like to ask students if they believe they have completely fulfill their moms’ expectations. The usual response is between 30 to 40 percent of the class. The humanity of mom is so basic to the core of who we are. My mom is no exception. I know she has done her best. I know that while she is proud of us, I’m not certain if there are disappointments as well. Actually I know she has disappointments at some level and wishes for us, from the goodness of her. So last Friday I took her to a new Chinese buffet and I listened to her concerns mostly about her life and her feelings. And one of the concerns is finance. I asked her, “It is not because you do not have enough as much as there is not enough for you to give to others right?”  My mom and I are so different in our theological and religious and cultural perspectives. And while sometime it is hard to sit and talk to her about these things, I found myself deeply moved by how much she cares for others and how willing she is to give up her possessions for others. She saves most of her monthly income for others.  And more than half her retirement is given to charity.  There is that moment in our lives where sacrifices stir the depth of our humanity.

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