Storytime: That Time I Got Robbed and Other Musings on Gratitude and Empathy

~StoryTime~

There was this one time when my parents and I were on vacation in Canada and my mom and I had gotten into a fight the previous night; I was about maybe twelve years old.   The next morning, we ate at the hotel complimentary breakfast with the expected aftermath of awkwardness in the air- I kept my eyes lowered to shield my puffy red eyes under my hat.  There weren’t many other people around, but I remember seeing two tanned men sitting near us at the next table.  I was in a foul mood, angry with the world and still upset at something my mom had said earlier; my feeling ashamed reflected clearly in my flushed face.

I was so lost in my own world of sulky thoughts that I only barely took notice that my mom had left the table to get more food.  Soon after, my dad also got up to head to an aisle leading to the men’s room, leaving me alone.  The next minute, I was whipped out of my thoughts by a man who approached me, pointing furiously towards the direction my dad had left in and jabbering in a foreign language.  His panic was infectious.  The first thing that came to my mind was that something had happened to my dad: he had a heart attack, he had passed out, there was a fire.  I hesitated and stood up as the man bolted off – confused, I wondered if I should follow him or call the police.

Next thing was my mom’s alarmed voice; she had come back and immediately exclaimed, “Where’s my bag?!”

I glanced around to the chairs around me, and only saw mine.  That was the moment  I realized that I had been hoodwinked.  The men who were sitting near us were gone.  The police arrived and questioned us, and after watching the security footage, confirmed that the two men had dashed out the backdoor.  The police told us that it was one of a few cases that had happened recently in the neighborhood hotels in the same exact fashion.  The next hour was filled with my mom calling various places to cancel her credit card accounts, phone accounts, and anything else the police advised her to do.  My mom’s camera, phone, and unfortunately, more than half a thousand dollars cash had been in her favorite bag.  She said she had forgotten to remove all the cash since her recent trip to Taiwan where she wanted to exchange some of it for Taiwanese money.

The shock that had hit all of us that early afternoon had us immediately forget, or rather, let go of any ill feelings harbored towards each other.  I remember feeling a mixture of emotions.  I felt guilty that I had not watched our things more carefully, that I had so naively been fooled by that guy, who must’ve distracted me to one side so that his accomplice could grab my mom’s bag to the other side of me.  I felt a bit regretful that so much money had been lost, especially since my younger parents worked hard to save up money.

I also felt tremendous relief that nothing in fact, had happened to my dad; he was okay.  My mom was okay, I was okay, we were all okay.  Nobody had held me at gunpoint or knifepoint threatening to kill us if we hadn’t handed over our possessions.

I also felt the weight of grudges just a couple hours ago melt into incredible gratitude, realizing by comparison the full pettiness of my sulky world.  One argument was a bad grain of sand in the spectrum of our lives.  Even though I don’t count myself as particularly religious, I remembered thinking that this incident must have been God’s reminder to me to wake up and understand that much worse things could happen at any given time.

We really tend to see what we don’t have, and what others do have.  Even on days where I’m in tremendous pain physically or emotionally, or my car broke down,  I would just think, if only I didn’t have to deal with this shit.  How much better the day would be if I just wasn’t in pain, if the car just worked and I could get to my friend or my groceries.  That’s how we see that the ordinary, “boring” events are actually extraordinary.

Today, some tragedy could’ve happened that left my family homeless.  Today, I could be so destitute that I don’t have enough money to buy dinner.  Today, I could’ve lost a loved one.  Today, I could’ve found out someone I loved didn’t love me back anymore.  Today, I could be feeling so depressed that I want to kill myself.  Today, I could be lying in the hospital again, just wishing that I could sleep in my own bed and get a hot shower.

Today, none of those things happened, and I did get to feed myself, sleep in my own bed, and take a hot shower.

I was in the car the other day and musing over the whole “glass half full, glass half empty” cliche.  Maybe we’re missing the point when we look at it that way.  Maybe the truth to finding Zen and acceptance of everything around us, including the shitty parts, is to see the glass itself.  That the glass exists at all.  That we have a glass.  That we have water at all.  It could all so easily be nothing, just empty space floating into more nothingness.


-Just a passing thought about how to find happiness and peace since that is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

Reminder though, that even though we should strive to be more appreciative and notice all that we do have, it’s still okay to let yourself feel the sad parts too.  We’re wrapped up in a society that expects us to feel fine all the time or try to get us there (“Feel better!” “You’ll be okay” “I’m sorry” other crap etc.).  Is that true healing?  No.  You have to walk through the tunnel to get to the other side, there is no shortcut.  You can’t magically Apparate or sprout wings over the tunnel.  What we can do for each other?  For true empathy, be there for one another.  Rather than a “Feel better”, I want to live in a society where we hold each other’s hand.  We offer an embrace, we tell them yes, what they’re going through sucks, but I’m here for you.  I will walk with you through the tunnel.  You’re not alone.

There’s a difference between finding pleasure in sulking in misery, and brushing off any pain like it’s nothing.  Validation, entitlement, to your feelings… I guess it’s a bit of a fine line sometimes depending on perspective.  There’s a balance.

I’ll admit that this is one of my faults too.  I’m a hypocrite, because I have told people to “feel better” before.  Because when I feel their burden, I just can’t.  I can’t even handle my own burdens sometimes.  “Put the oxygen mask over yourself before helping others put their masks on” <— wise words of a flight attendant.  But I’m working on it, and I wish more people would just give more of a shit to be honest.


Today’s Obsessions (Music):

-Heaven by Julia Michaels

-Sacrifice  by Black Atlas & Jessie Reyez

-Wait by Maroon 5

Advertisements

3 Happiest Moments

Every time I read a Harry Potter book, I would pause when Harry had to use the Patronum charm to scare away the dementors.  I would rack my brain, unsure of what I would use as my happiest memory in a pinch.  Thankfully, in the past two years I can think of three points in time where I felt absolutely nothing but 100% bliss.

1.  My last night in Taiwan, Summer of 2014.  The last night: with all the wonderful people in one place, it was definitely the most bittersweet highlight of my trip there.  I loved the friends I made who I openly shared my stories with, cried with, laughed with, and explored with; they were memories that I never thought would happen to me.  About 17 of us gathered to eat dinner together and celebrate my farewell and Sharon’s birthday. 10604046_10152605361478960_8542847123242569586_o

Maybe it was the fact that I knew this trip would only last two months that I was so free-spirited and appreciative.  It was that whole sentimentality of “We will never all be together, at this exact place, at this exact time, at this exact mo-” well, you get the picture.   We found a rooftop-ish bar near central Taipei 101, drinking a little, taking photos, and just soaking in the moment.  Sharon gave me a gigantic card with heartfelt messages from everyone, and my Swedish friend Chris also gave me some (rather questionable) Swedish candy and a letter.  If there is any direct key to my heart, it would be a long sappy letter.  Sharon, Nathalie, and I sneaked away from the group to walk up to the actual rooftop, and we lay there looking over the city and the sky.  15 minutes of unadulterated peace, where I genuinely could not ask for anything more.

2.  My co-counselor’s surprise birthday celebration at camp, Summer of 2015. When you spend months holed up, a huge part of you enters hibernation mode and lays dormant, just hanging in there.  This is a unique circumstance applicable to just me, but what it does is wake me up when summer comes, and when I am in my happy place, I become aggressively friendly to make up for the rest of the times I am not.  Even complaining about stupid, trivial things like some seven-year old kid feeling up my boob, or people I worked with, brought me its own kind of happiness, because they were ordinary, fleeting problems.  Because when you’re depressed, all you see are the times you take from others, but when you’re happy, you give. It was nearing the end of Chinese-Immersion school, another bittersweet end, and I felt so grateful for the experience of learning, especially about children.  Let me tell you, kids be crazy.  But they’re also mean.  And sweet, hilarious, inappropriate, and cute.  Somehow I must’ve stalked my way into learning that my co-counselor’s birthday was in a few days, and with the other co-counselors, we devised a plan and riled up the students to put in a real team effort to surprise him.  True to Jasmine-style with sappy ass cards, we compiled a giant birthday card; his brother bought him a fancy cake, and our boss even bought him a batman t-shirt.  She sent him to the back of the building to do monotonous work in organizing reading books, and we herded all the kids into the kitchen to wait with baited breath. 11907853_10153558106773960_9058393633543729590_oAndddd it was a SUCCESS!  His reaction was so pure and so amazing that it caught me off guard and made my emotions soar off the charts.  11878987_10153558107218960_488502593364788403_oMaybe it reminded me of how overwhelming positive moments can be when they do come along.

3.  Gondola ride in Venice, Summer of 2015.  Getting anywhere is a fucking challenge.  You’re battling your anxiety, your fears, your limitations, physically and mentally.  But let me tell you, the journey to Venice is probably what seeing your baby after being pregnant for 9 months might feel like.  I imagine anyway.  As my parents and I roamed around the city and I stood in St. Mark’s Square, images of me being proposed to here flooded my mind.  And then I went and stuffed my face with gelato, shielding it with trepid glances at the many doves fluttering above my head.  Yes, birds have pooped on me before, so no, I wasn’t being too paranoid.  But, I digress.  We communicated as best we could with a handsome, older Venetian man and before we knew it, were ushered into a gondola.  I had never stood anywhere before where any given direction I stared took my breath away. 12045804_10153669170038960_6049158632185807722_o A city built on water, Venice was surreal.  A figment of my imagination, where men looked good sporting man buns. 

What are your happiest moments?

Eudaemonics

Shower Post #1

Technically, I haven’t showered yet but it’s around that time of the day where calmness takes over and transitions from restless reality to dream world, and daytime swims into night mode.  I think best when I’m in the shower. And if you’re actually reading this, welcome 🙂

I’d put off writing my first post because honestly, I was scared of making the first step, initiating, making this too personal or too shallow, or not knowing what my niche is. But now I realize just like how I need to change the way I approach life, I just have to go for it, because my style is rant and ramble till I amble into something worth talking about. As I was brainstorming for words that may properly reflect this blog’s purpose, or some more appropriate representation of me and what my emotions are and what other people want out of life (what the meaning of life is if we want to get philosophical here), I came across this word: Eudaemonics. Maybe it’s not even a real word, since it’s underlined in squiggly red now as I type it… in that case, I am a genius and rightful owner of a made up word, and that’s special too! Googling it gives you the definition of this: the art of acquiring happiness, or the science or theory of happiness.

 This is a blog post about eudaemonics and personal related things, but you should know upfront, this is not a maudlin story. I took that from 500 Days of Summer if you didn’t catch that.  Also, I am studying for GREs and trying out a lot of vocabulary words:  if you see any that don’t make sense, call me out on it, my apologies in advance.  The perspective I stand from in life gives me a lot of time and space to ponder on the most random issues, and I think at the end of the day, all of them lead back to a central theory: everyone deserves happiness. However, the methods of obtaining that happiness manifests itself in many shapes and forms, sometimes in subtle misguided ways. We can trace it all throughout history where dictators rule the land, shackling the people they are supposed to protect, mistaking fear for respect.  When we witness corruption among high-ranking officials and leaders, people in positions of power abuse that privilege because feeling significant seem to translate into happiness- after all, nobody said the source of happiness is always pure. What a lonely and miserable life it would be to be born into a circumstance devoid of happiness; I suspect that is how serial killers fill that void by fulfilling it with an ephemeral joy from murder, and here I refer back to the misguided applications in pursuit of happiness.

That is why I decided to name my blog Eudaemonics because of my strong belief that the reason for everything we do leads back to a deeply rooted yearning for happiness, or the lack thereof.  I will attempt to debunk or analyze some of the issues we have in society in terms of gender equality, ethnicity, politics, ableism, etc., and much of it will be empirical.

In case anyone cares, I actually just showered so this post is officially legitimate now.  Anyway, it is 2:30am.  Thanks for reading.  Brownie points if you can figure out which GRE words are embedded throughout this post!