It’s Very Hard to Let Go and Move On…

Originally posted on Facebook on May 10, 2011:

Well it’s hard to explain but I’ll try if you let me.
Well it’s hard to sustain,
I’ll cry if you let me.
This doesn’t change the way I feel about you or your place in my life.
(Please don’t cry)
Can’t you see I’m dying here?
A shot of broken heart that is chased with fear.

Angels cry when stars collide
And I can’t eat and I can’t breathe
I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My heart burns through,
My chest to the floor.
Tearing me silently, although abruptly
Words can’t hide as I’m taking you home
And I tried to see,
Tried to understand your words as I’m taking you home.

Angels cry when stars collide,
And I can’t eat and I can’t breathe
I wouldn’t want it any other way.

~ Angels Cry performed by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

WE’VE ALL dealt with pain at some point or another in each of our individual everyday lives. I’d hate to hear anyone trying to deny that they’ve never felt any kind of pain, be it emotional, mental, or physical pain—any kind of pain that is somehow inflicted on people using any kind of medium, is, well, let’s face it…excruciatingly painful.

We all live with some degree of pain and suffering in our everyday lives. Let’s just establish this statement as valid fact right now. It’s not just some willy-nilly opinion. It’s a fact.

It’s true that there are some of us out there in this great big world we call planet Earth that are seemingly more fortunate than others. But that statement aside, we all still live with happiness and sadness, and henceforth, with pleasure and pain as well.

But it’s also rather unfortunate for the multitudes of the broken-hearted to continue to hold onto some sort of pain, even years after the conflict has ended. I also acknowledge that I have not been so easily spared when it comes to dealing with pain either, and I hope and pray that many of you can relate here. Seriously.

I may be just one guy among the crowd, but I also hold onto lots of pain and bitterness here as well.

But this isn’t meant to be a tragic sob story where I’m the ultimate victim and all of you guys have to listen to how depressed I am at the moment.

This is a story about how to overcome years of hurt, years of scars and torment, and years of frustration trying to put up with so much crap in all of our lives.

I still pose the greatest and ultimate question of the universe.

What can each of us, as ordinary human beings, do to stop the pain from hurting us and dragging us down into a deep pit, and is there really a clear-cut solution to this?

I think we all know the answer deep down in our very hearts, minds, and souls that the only way to stop the hurt is to try to let it go. But the process of doing so (or even attempting to do so) is never going to be solved with the rub of a genie lamp, at least not in this reality it won’t. Sorry guys. This isn’t Aladdin. This is the real world, and in the real world, there’s problems to be solved, mysteries to crack and secrets to be revealed.

Although letting go of anything, especially the crappy stuff that life seems to throw at you, can be extremely difficult, I know for a fact that it  must be done. It’s been proven time and time again throughout the course of human history and through personal human experiences that the people who fail to try to let go of past hurts and open wounds eventually end up experiencing high levels of low self-esteem, a major lack of self-confidence and motivation to improve themselves, and in more severe cases, life-long depression and even suicide.

I myself, although at times I’d hate to admit this, deal with struggling to let go of my hurtful past as well, but I’m positive that I’m definitely not alone in combating this very struggle.

The fortunate news is that I have found a strong support group throughout the very course of my life—parents, teachers and even close friends and the closest of trustworthy friends—these guys have motivated me to never give up in trying to succeed, whether it’d be in school, or in charting my future college career.

I have long learned from the days since I was a mere little boy who was even unable to walk independently at all until the age of seven that personal success in anything that you strive for has an extremely heavy price to pay, but that the goals that you strive for and eventually accomplish through days, weeks, months, or even years of persistent determination and hard work will one day pay off completely.

But it still takes so much effort to try to get to the pinnacle of personal success.

The same principle applies with letting go of everything—every single hurtful event that has happened to anyone—letting go takes a lot of persistent work.

Moving on from a traumatic and hurtful event, however, is a whole other topic I could go into on another occasion.

While Step One is letting go, Step Two doesn’t have to necessarily be a principle called “Moving On”, so as much as to call it “Living Life Well.”

I think a lot of people develop a strong misconception that whenever they hear the words “Moving On” from something, they automatically equate that notion in their minds with the statement “Completely disregarding the past and everything that has to deal with it, and starting a new clean slate as if none of the traumas that I have previously experienced had never ever occurred in my life.”

This is a blindly false conception that has obviously persuaded many people to believe that after the danger’s over, you’ll end up living “happily ever ever after” in Andalasia, and that Heaven has finally come to Earth.

While that’s a great ideal to strive for (the very reason we humans have long strived for peaceful utopian societies), sadly, reality is not that kind or sweet.

Sorry to burst your bubbles guys.

But nevertheless, believe it or not, there is still hope in reality.

The hope that we all need to know, tell and grasp so badly primarily emerges from personal experiences and surviving the aftermath of a trauma.

Hope comes from seeing old faded scars on your arms and legs after having a bad fall, and needing immediate medical assistance to help heal your broken arms and legs.

Hope comes from stumbling headfirst into the dirt and gravel, the blood and sweat all dripping drop by drop from your forehead onto the ground, and then getting back up despite getting all bloody and sweaty.

Hope is shown in the soldier who comes home weary from war with bullet wounds in his side, and a prosthetic leg to replace the leg that he lost in combat.

Hope is shown in the bussinessman and businesswoman, whose companies have suffered financially over the past few years, and before almost closing down their businesses, the stock prices rise again and investors are pouring in asking for more shares and investing in them as soon as possible.

Hope is shown in the teacher, who, after trying months or even years of trying to get his or her students to enjoy learning the subject in the class they’re enrolled in, finds an innovative way from other mentors to motivate students to take a different approach to learning and teaching.

Hope is shown in the single parent, who, after divorcing with their ex-husband or ex-wife and is left to take care of the kids, still finds his or her greatest joy in raising kids who will appreciate what they have, even in the absence of another parent.

Hope is shown in the preacher, whose church ministry isn’t doing so well, but finds hope and trust in God to get through the hard times, and many months later, takes on the role of preaching to his congregation again.

Hope is shown in the doctor, who, after spending years of studying medical school and graduating, opens up a small clinic but struggles to find enough patients to get the business going until recently, a new medical breakthrough in research gets his patients to start coming in.

Last but not least, hope is shown in students, including one little boy who at one time struggled to crawl and walk, is now walking, running and studying to the very best of his abilities in order to set an example for his classmates as well his high school and beyond.

From laying to crawling, from crawling to standing up and walking, and from walking to achieving, I have not given up on hope on myself either because I know that there comes a time in my life when I can stand up and face my adversaries and not back down and cower in the shadows.

I no longer pity myself as much as I used to in my past, because looking back and looking forward, I can finally see that for the first time in my life as a young adult, the surgeries and the difficulties were all worth it, even if they did have to involve loads of pain and suffering on myself and my folks.

The scars don’t just remind me of a hurtful past, but serve as an even greater reminder of an even brighter future that’s right there in front of me. All I have to do now is to take the proper steps to travel down that road.

So here’s my last faithful piece of advice: Remember that everything you’ve ever done in your life, no matter how painful and grotesque it is, trust me, it will get better and I’m not kidding here either. I’m dead-on serious.

You are a continuous work in progress, a masterpiece molded by the hands and created in the image of a God who made you for a purpose. Don’t ever forget that.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

I’m not giving up. Instead, I am going to keep striving and work my butt off, all in the pursuit of finding hope amidst the pain.

I have now found motivation, inspiration and maybe even some innovation to improve myself and the lives of others.

Take care guys. Thanks for all the support.

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.


Striving to Be “Perfect?”

Originally posted on Facebook on February 26, 2011:

Miss ‘knowing it’s all good’
It didn’t slow me down.

Always second guessing
Look, I’m still around

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than
F**king perfect

Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like you’re nothing
You’re f**king perfect to me.

~ F**ckin’ Perfect performed by Pink

WE ALL strive to be as “perfect” as we want ourselves as people, as human beings, to be. It’s in our human nature. People will all get self-critical, and sometimes in a negative sense, self-judgmental of our own physical appearances, the way we act, the way we talk and even the way we think things through. This occasionally can be an advantage for every person, since our conscience tells each of us as individuals that sometimes, we may go a bit too far and over-obsess on things or on the other end of the spectrum, we may not care enough about our physical appearances, our state of minds or our emotions and pretend like it’s none of our business to even care about. On one hand, the human conscience, the moral state (i.e. the moral mindset) helps to keep a person’s intrinsic motivation up to speed and we all try to tell ourselves that every once in a while, we all need to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Although we each, as individual people, try to constantly remind ourselves to live “healthy” lifestyles, the reality is, this obviously isn’t always true or factual.

The truth of the matter here is that there is one other determining factor that affects the mentality and emotional state of every human being on the planet: what other people say, do or think about us as individuals. Outside of our own consciences, the external remarks of other people can either do one of two things: boost one’s self-esteem and self-worth up and the said person will in time feel accepted by other people, or the opposite effect can happen here; the same said person can be hurt and forever scarred by someone else’s negative criticism…yes, maybe even just one remark like “You’re ugly. We’ll never let you join our sports team” or “You’re just stupid. You’ll never go to some prestigious school! So dream on jerk!” can start out as just a sad moment, this person may go home and sob into their pillow for a whole night, but the longer these incidents seem to multiply, the sadder this person will mentally and emotionally get, eventually manifesting itself into a life-long depression.

Have you ever felt that way before? Sad or depressed because people judge you based on your looks, your personality, your poor academics, all of the above or even none of the above?

Let me assure you that you are definitely not alone on this one.

Most of us all deal with issues, but not everyone dares to speak up and voice them. For these people, their reasons for never saying a single word about the issues that they deal with and go through are many, but I think I can perhaps guess some of the more obvious ones:

  • Some people are just very shy and have a more difficult time trying to advocate for themselves. This is especially true in young children, but can also apply to people at nearly any age.
  •  Some people have extremely deep emotional, mental, or spiritual wounds that they keep lodged inside themselves for many years and they never want to bring up the issues that caused them ever again because it might bring back haunting memories of the incident or incidents.
  •  Some are afraid that even if they openly admit their problems to other people, these other people might act like they’re listening to you, but on the inside, they could really care less about the issues that you’re talking about.
  •  Others are afraid that no one else can really relate to the issues that this person goes through.
  •  Still others are afraid to say anything because they’re not sure whether or not the issues that they might bring up will get them into some sort of trouble, and so they would rather keep their mouths shut than speak.

Though these are all understandable reasons, sometimes, it is important to have a catharsis with just maybe even one other person you can wholeheartedly trust, although I will admit that it can be rather difficult to actually find those people that will allow you to cry on their shoulders unwillingly with open arms. But that still doesn’t ignore nor undermine the very fact that you need to have that kind of catharsis, that openness to honestly share what’s on your heart and mind and what honestly bothers you.

As an imperfect person myself, I apparently still remain a strong and enduring inspiration to all of you out there that truly know me and love me for the person that you see. But here’s another shocking truth that even I have learned and have gradually have come to accept: the person that one sees on the outside may not necessarily be the true person on the inside. The only exception to this is when the said person boldly and firmly shows their true inner broken self to other people and these people, for the first time, see the imperfections in a guy or girl that these people thought were “perfect” in every way.

This is the common misconception that society seems to put on individuals, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Hollywood fame and fortune or just glancing at some random person passing by you on the street. Humans tend to have this presumption that when they look at other people, they won’t necessarily think, “That person over there must be going through some hard times too.” Instead, it’s the exact opposite. When you glance at someone else sitting next to you at a lunch table, on the subway, in a library, or even in the classroom, you’ll probably be thinking, “Dang, that person over there must be living the good life right now. He or she isn’t and doesn’t have to deal with all of the crap that I have to deal in my life!”

This is where we create this false image, this false conception that other people have lesser problems or maybe no problems at all to deal with in their everyday lives, and this is what makes them perfect in our eyes. This kind of conception is sadly, also a part of human nature, a human tendency to think that everyone else must be at a better place than you in life.

There is also no denying the fact that everyone does not think this way from time to time. I mean, believe me, I do it too, and I realize that this kind of thinking is one of the essential tenets of being human.

No one can’t and should ever say “No!” to denying this very fact because we all think this way deep down within our very hearts.

But the older I physically get, and the more I see the world—and all the people living in it—through my eyes, the more I notice that we humans are really imperfect creatures disguising ourselves as perfect beings on the outside even though we are very messed up on the inside. I have learned to teach myself to seek an understanding through conversing with my fellow peers and adults alike that I am able to see the problems that they deal with and go through and as I do, I am able to gradually see with both my visible eyes, as well as the eyes of my heart, the imperfections of nearly anybody come out and surface for me to be able to see.

Nowadays, whenever I leave an engaging and intimate conversation with someone, I always leave it with an ever greater understanding that I have just made contact with yet another human being that’s just as imperfect as me. As I have come to accept this newly acquired perspective on people and on life, I see with a brand new pair of eyes how broken others really are. The soft underbellies—the sentimental and emotional side of others—gradually emerge and for the first time, shed a few rays of light and strike a few chords deep within my heart as I can now clearly see with my newfound eyes.

My disillusioned eyes now finally reveal to me that in essence and in truth, the real world demotes our idols, not exalt them. It’s true that we have to learn how to praise our own “heroes” in life, but just remember that your heroes aren’t godly figures, and probably never will be.

They are imperfect people, just as you are.

Reread again the last few verses of Pink’s single that I quote: “Pretty pretty please if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing, you are perfect to me” (the last few lines in the entire song).

Though I acknowledge that Pink uses the f-word quite frequently in the song, I don’t necessarily view it as just random derogatory swearing. I believe that it actually brings out the true message that Pink wants to covey to her fans, that because there is no perfect person on this planet, we are all “f**king perfect”. We are all screwed up on the inside, and so the very idea of human perfection is sadly, a flawed one.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we humans shouldn’t strive for perfection, or ignore it at all for that matter.

Though we can’t necessarily be perfect in every single way possible, the goal here, I humbly believe, is to strive for the highest expectation that you could possibly set for yourself and strive for in life, and this doesn’t just apply to academics alone. It applies to nearly every aspect of human life. You have to know your limitations, so do as much as you can physically and mentally accomplish  and one by one, be proud of every goal and every milestone that you have achieved so far, and then just keep going.

Are you striving for perfection?  If you are, I can assure you that you are definitely not the only one today. I can guess that perhaps thousands of other people out there right now also try their very best and very hardest at being the “over-achievers” in life.

Therefore, I view the idea of total perfection  to be a totally overrated one in every way possible. But that should not ever  undermine the true essence of achieving, striving and most importantly, enduring to be the most successful person that you can be in life. Perseverance is the key to bringing out the very best qualities that you possess.

Now that’s what I can finally call true perfection.

Enough said.

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.

A Legacy of a Great Teacher: A Birthday Kudos to Jaime Richards (January 6, 2011)!

Originally posted on Facebook on January 6, 2011:

The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.

~ Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

ON CHRISTMAS Day, 2010, I was busy preoccupying myself by randomly surfing the Internet that evening until a particular link instantaneously caught my eye on Yahoo: Mr. Richards had just finished writing another column just in time for the Christmas season, and he appropriately titles this particular one The Greatest Teacher?

Now, why The Greatest Teacher?, you may ask? Well, he certainly isn’t writing about himself as the world’s greatest teacher, that’s for sure, since I’m pretty sure to him that would sound a bit too self-conceited to even say. But no, he isn’t writing about himself as the world’s greatest teacher. He’s writing about Jesus Christ.

Now, whether you are a Christian believer or not, I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone on this planet Earth (that’s right; nearly all 6 billion of us humans) at least respects Jesus in some way as a great healer, teacher, Rabbi, and carpenter. We all can at least say this without trying to dispute the common orthodox beliefs and messages that were either said by Jesus Christ Himself, recorded in the Gospel accounts of the New Testament of the Bible, or portrayed through Christian films like The Passion of the Christ and spoken about in various sermons by pastors everywhere across the globe.

But going back to the teacher lesson here, why do we even call Christ “the world’s greatest teacher”? Why do we even attribute this specific label to only Him? This certainly is a mind-boggling question indeed, and I’m almost certain that it could baffle even the most skeptical people out there. But still the same question remains. Why Jesus Christ?

My answer, in both secular, academic terms, as well as devoutly spiritual terms, is quite simple. Jesus Christ basically said who He really was multiple times as stated in the Gospel accounts, but only a very few really understood what He meant. Who were these few? The answer would be the twelve men that He called to be His most beloved disciples.

These disciples, in everyday terms, were Jesus’ companions, a bunch of men that He regarded to be His best buds, and He surrounded Himself with these men, and He became their teacher, their Rabbi, and they were his “students”; in fact, His only students in the whole wide world.

Now, back in the olden days, there were no such things as classrooms. Classrooms did not even exist in 1st century Palestine. But Jesus did take His disciples, his students on many field trips throughout the area: to mountaintops, to the Sea of Galilee, to Jerusalem, to the Temple in Jerusalem, to the Jordan River, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the wilderness etc. Nearly everywhere that Jesus went, His disciples would humbly tag along and learn many life lessons from this man.

Now from my perspective, I consider Him to be the Henry David Thoreau of his day, since He seemed to love nature and He traveled constantly around the areas that now comprise the modern state of Israel, and in addition, Christ constantly spoke of an unconditional love that could only come from the Father, and that this kind of love should be practiced among men, among people; hence the whole “Love thy neighbor as thyself” sort of deal, especially with His famous “Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you” line (Matthew 5:44).

Now, just from this one line alone, most people would think of Christ as a very loving guy, and He was in most cases. Of course, we should remember that He didn’t just speak of love and faith and just let that be. He also showed it to other people too through His actions, like rescuing Peter when Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee or feeding the five thousand men who had gathered to hear Him speak or even raising Lazarus from the grave.

His actions conveyed that He had faith, love and hope, and He hoped and prayed that other people could learn this lesson as well.

This was the greatest accomplishment of Christ Jesus: to teach people to love and to hope and seek for salvation, and with it, a brighter future. Now I also believe that Mr. Richards here as a teacher has planned (from the very first day he became one) and continues to plan to do just this: to give some hope and love to all of his students so that they in turn could do the same to him. Mr. Richards’ actions have also proven and inspired me to be a better person as well and that in order to seek a more optimistic future, I must try all that I can to make my dreams a reality, and that in addition, he has a very passionate faith that helps to keep him going and going and going continuously, and best of all, he really doesn’t let anything try to get in his way and stop him from doing what he just loves to do. That’s the best quality that I love about him, really.

He helps to motivate me in ways that I never thought I could, and yet, here I am, making great strides today as a senior in high school to be the best that I can be as one of his students and as a great person in general, and I believe that many of you guys out there also firmly believe in this as well.

My firm philosophical point here: In order to be a great teacher and a great person as Mr. Richards is today, one must have a good, humble heart and a humble soul, and this goodness will eventually appear through one’s actions that he or she is loving, caring and kind, and then little by little, other people will start to notice and appreciate your humble heart and soul for being that Good Samaritan type of person and just showing your unfaltering support for them.

Despite what the world may tell you, one moral always stands the test of time: love always wins (as stated in the Golden Rule). If this is the case, there must be a reason why it’s even called the “Golden Rule” in the first place because it always rings true to all types of people no matter who are you or where you’re from, and Mr. Richards has certainly got this rule down, really down.

Now, the final question is, do we, his students, have this rule memorized in our hearts? I firmly believe that we should, and I thank Mr. Richards for reteaching me this lesson as well.

As my last wish, I wish you an AWESOME HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODAY JAIME! You really are one of my many living and breathing role models, not only as a teacher but also as a great guy as well (and now with over 55 years of life experience under your belt too)! Although I don’t think that I’m the only student that thinks this.

The truth is, we all love you and we all thank you for the kind of teacher that you are. I can see that you definitely live by Christ’s moral example, and well, I am also grateful that you do.

Have an awesome day today and celebrate A LOT! YOU DESERVE IT! 😀

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.

P.S. Live by Christ’s moral example: (and God bless you)!

A New Year’s Resolution for 2011: The Importance of the “Immerse Lesson!”

Originally posted on Facebook on January 4, 2011:

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

~ Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

A FEW months back, I read one of many of Mr. Richards’ (AKA Jaime’s) columns that was appropriately and very amusingly titled, Wasting Time, in which he describes a valuable lesson on time management, and more specifically, time that is spent in doing productive and meaningful things, and learning new and valuable ideas and values which can propel the education of the said average high school or college student many times forward intellectually and spiritually.

In other words, on a simpler understanding, it is better to immerse oneself on learning about how the real world really works (the “real world” meaning the world outside of a school) and discovering a multitude of people who have found ways to not only survive in the real world just to get by and to merely “exist”, but really to LIVE for a change, and if you are asking, yes, there is a HUGE difference between these two words.

Look up the words “exist” and “live” in any modern-day American English language dictionary, and you might find striking similarities between the denotations of these two words and how closely related they might appear to be. For example, in the Webster’s New World Dictionary (Third College Edition), the very first definition for the word “live” says this: to be alive; have life. Now compare this with the very first definition of the word “exist”: to have reality or actual being; be.

While the definitions of the word “exist” and “live” at this point seem to have been swapped, another closer look at the other entries reveals a much different perspective on these mere words. So let’s have a look: the third defintion of the word “exist” says to continue being; live, while the fourth definition of the word “live” says to enjoy a full and varied life.

So there’s my point! While a mere existence on this planet Earth means that you are physically alive, it may not necessarily mean that you are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually alive. In other words, your physical body’s alive and functioning properly, but the heart is cold, the mind is a blank slate or has been dumbed down from years of watching ridiculously mindless television or pointless YouTube videos, and the soul is dead. I ask you, “Is this what being human really  means? To just live a plain and simple life wasting away every precious moment watching some person complain that some food tastes like crap at some kind of restaurant, as Mr. Richards points out with the ‘Man Angry at Subway’ videos that circulate around YouTube?”

I mean, don’t get me wrong here. I’ve seen plenty of those kinds of videos all over YouTube before, but after watching some video with that kind of content involved countless times, it actually starts to lose a lot of meaning and the jokes aren’t even hilarious to laugh at anymore. In some cases, those videos start to feel like they’re sort of a rude, tempting annoyance just waiting to lure you in just so you can see some guy acting in a very stupid manner. At that point, it starts to get very pointless and sadly, I’d hate this to say this, but YouTube is constantly filled with this kind of stuff, a visual junk food  appetizer if you will.

But on the other hand, I’ve also gone on YouTube to discover lots of intuitive and intellectual  videos that stimulate the mind, soften and warm the coldest, bitterest, and saddest heart and recharge the soul, like those TED talks for example:

Now those talks are really what I’m talking about (sometimes even in a literal sense). These kind of videos are truly thought-provoking and the speakers themselves encourage their audience to think not just with their logic-filled brains, but also to think and act on their hearts, which brings to mind a song like True to Your Heart that was featured on Disney’s Mulan, or even Mariah Carey’s Hero, respectively.

So why tie this “existing vs. living” differentiation with the Immerse Lesson? The answer is actually even simpler than you might think. The two are interconnected.

The real point of the “Immerse Lesson” then, is this: If you choose to immerse yourself with the best thought-provoking and creative stuff around, you might be inspired within your own soul to do something similar, to help change the world because of this kind of ideal (I’m pretty sure no one can blame you for these mere ideals, but if someone does, then they need to relearn this vital lesson). These people would really need to, for they would need to believe again that ideas aren’t just simple ideas, but things that can motivate people to really change the world.

I believe in this lesson very strongly, but how about you?

I just hope you guys do too.

So go be immersed in something thought-provoking, something philosophical, and stop merely existing here. The only way to start LIVING is through total immersion of mind, body and spirit. Now, this is all I really have to say. Take care guys and thanks! 😀

This is my New Year’s resolution for 2011: the Immerse Lesson.

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.


Just a reminder for everyone to read Mr. Richards’ column! 😀

My Personal Response to “Beneath Our Wings”/A Personal Take on “Three Cups of Tea”

Originally posted on Facebook on October 11, 2010:

RELATIONSHIPS: WE humans desire to have them and to hold them close to our hearts from the very beginning since we were all infants. Our parents, our friends, our teachers and someday our spouses. Don’t get me wrong. Relationships are so important in this human experience that each of us calls life on Earth. Yet, at the same time, it’s so strange to ever ponder the thought, “I’m going to college someday. That means I’ll have to leave my family and friends behind. Will I miss them, and more importantly, will they miss me?”

I wouldn’t know if any of you are currently thinking the same thought, but I do know that I am. “What will happen to all of these people that I once knew in my life, and then one day, I’m expected to just suddenly move on and get to know new people and forget my old friends?” I mean, seriously. How many of us here want to do that? Well, I’ll give you the honest answer. Nobody.

I will admit this. It is hard to move on and not think about your family and all those friends you’ve known since elementary school, the friends that grew up in your neighbohood and whom you’ve had bonding moments together. But we are expected to do it; and yet at the same time, it may be one of the hardest things that we all have to go through as we transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood (and by adulthood, I mean approximately 20 years and older).

But let me say this: I do believe in a strong, central philosophy that embodies the human spirit of friendship and the meaning of having close friends and family. Just like what Austin Jackson’s character states in Beneath Our Wings, people will always come and go in this life. The people that you’ve known since elementary school will have well moved on to different places and to different working and living environments. Well guess what? Each and every one of you currently reading this article (myself included) have also moved on in life since our elementary school days. I know many of my former close friends from my old elementary school who have moved on in life and now they’re high school seniors at Irvington High School or even at places like Foothill High School in Pleasanton or even elsewhere. Just for the heck of it, I also know many former MSJ classmates who have gone off to college all across the state and all across the country.

My point? My point is still very simple and very tangible to comprehend. Although many people that you will know today will not be with you forever in this lifetime, it is still important to treasure the most valuable friendships that stay with you for an actual lifetime. I’m talking about those people that do matter to you, those people that you love so much that you’ll reserve a place for each and every one of them in your heart. If you (yes, you) care about people like I do, you’ll treat your best buddies as extended members of your biological and spiritual family. These people are your family members ! Try and contemplate that! I mean, really!

How many of your bestest buddies are that close to you? Try to name some, and I mean really give it a shot. How many of your best buddies would you wholeheartedly trust to protect you and vice versa? Really, really think about it.

Are the friends that you know today just simple comers-and-goers, just ordinary classmates and coworkers or do you have a deeper and closer connection with certain people? If you do, these friends could be your friends for life. It’s very possible.

This is why I believe in my own philosophy of having close friendships, which by the way, is very similar to an old Balti proverb as described in the book Three Cups of Tea :

When I make a friend, he or she is first just an acquaintance to me. The more and more I greet, meet, and converse with this person, the deeper our connection grows. Picture a friendship as a young sapling slowly growing and developing over time into a large pine tree. When a person first plants the sapling, it is your first connection with somebody, let’s say some classmate you just met at school or some stranger you ran into on the street. At first, you may just exchange a simple gesture and maybe introduce each other’s names and that’s just it.

But now, watch the sapling grow. As it continues to grow taller above the soil, its roots sprout deeper and deeper into the ground. As the sapling starts to take the form of a tiny pine tree and as the roots continue to soak up nutrients and water from the soil, so does the friendship. Over time as the tree matures and the roots are now well rooted in the soil, your “friendship tree” has become a “family tree.”

~ Josh Chen (1992-)    

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.

One Person’s Influence in the World: “No More Erasing.”

Originally posted on Facebook on September 30, 2010:

IN KEVIN SHEN’S latest video Beneath Our Wings, two high school friends (Jonathan Eng and Austin Jackson) are seen hanging out together and capturing some last few summer moments before the first day of college arrives. These two best buds have been classmates and just ordinary cool guys for years now, and their friendship has seemed to last the test of time. But upon treasuring these last few moments together, viewers find that separation will be inevitable, and that, at some point or another, all friends will have to go their separate ways. It also seems unfair that this separation can have long-lasting and long-bonding friendships suddenly deteriorate and have even the best of friends drift far apart from each other. But somehow…somewhere some friendships can last a lifetime and never deteriorate no matter how far apart certain friends are.

This is the core message of Beneath Our Wings. Now, I, being a Youtube fan viewer and long-time friend of Mr. Kevin Shen, have also realized the importance of friendships since I was a little kid. Friendships are important. This is the sentence that each of us have grown up to comprehend and to imbibe within our souls. Relationships between different people usually mean the world to people. People just can’t live without having other people around them. It’s our human instinct. “We got to make friends. We got to hang out and chill. We got to party…” and whatnot. If certain people out there in this world also agree with this statement, then I applaud you. But seriously, what some life-changing and life-motivating people say is so true. Friendships are so important to the vast majority of people in the world that we couldn’t imagine living and spending time without these special friends.

To further take the value of friendship into context with the video, friendships are still tested all the time. Questions like, “Can this person be trusted?” and “Will my best bud desert me after I leave his side?” are questions that people will always ask themselves. But in order to fully grasp this concept, one must understand that if you really trust a person, you’ll be their friend even if they really are a total screw-up. Sadly, not many people understand or even pretend to care about an idea like this and eventually, these types of people will turn their back on you and just walk away.

But the message that I’m trying to get at here are two very, very important concepts: loyalty to your best bud and being that kind of true friend that so many other people need to desperately see. Now as all people will eventually move on with their lives seeking something pleasureable and sustainable like going to college, finding a job, or getting married, some people will disregard a concept like friendship to be worth of any value. But let me tell you: it’s not. When you really examine friendships up-close and personal, they are humanity’s treasures; the sustainable supplements that we feed ourselves on.

In one section of the video, Jon Eng’s character fumbles through his backpack trying to find his pencil to finish an incomplete Sudoku puzzle. But instead of expecting to touch the wood of his pencil, he instead feels the softness of a piece of paper attached to a Sharpie marker. He curiously picks up the Sharpie and reads the attached note:

Hey, look around you. All those cars going the same way, the same path, the same journey. The people in your life will come and go, but those who really do matter will stay with you and never leave. Take it easy man. No more erasing.

Let me tell you, when I first heard Austin’s character say those three precious words, “No more erasing”, it put a little spark in my soul, and a sudden joy always leaps in my heart because of these words. “No more erasing” simply means that if people were to imagine their entire life and the people that they’ve come to meet and greet as a piece of paper, people will tend to “erase” the people that these people don’t really need anymore. These people don’t really matter to us, and so we erase them off our lists and out of our lives. But how does that impact those people, and more importantly, you yourself?

Time is flying by and no matter how hard we try, it’s like grasping at air. It starts from nowhere. Is it the current that swifts us away from the places we know or is it the current that carries us forward towards new, wonderful things with our most precious friends tucked beneath our wings? I guess it just depends on how look at it, right?

I mean, really think about it. Do friendships really matter to you? Are they really important, and if so, how does that impact both you and your friends? Finally, how should each of us treat our friends? With loyalty, love and compassion? You decide.