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.