The most dangerous thing to say to someone

(For someone who doesn’t have self-awareness of their own skills and goals.)

You should start your own business.

Granted, there is the courage that many people need to harbor to take the next impulsive step. The business plan, the legwork to get to the goal. Everyone you meet, especially those who are not in the business (of whatever it may be), has an opinion. Most likely, they won’t laugh in front of you—society teaches us to restrain ourselves on the surface and to let optimism/love show.

We all make foolish decisions and pursue dreams wildly.

But there is no problem in making mistakes. I believe that I have the courage to do that. Every day.

My first world problems…today

1. I am missing some TV channels.
2. My car is so dirty.
3. Why isn’t there a parking spot in this parking lot?? Now I have to park a block away.
4. Someone moved my bike in my garage.
5. I have too many devices.
6. There aren’t enough power outlets.
7. I only want to pay for gas that is under 4 dollars per gallon.
8. There’s too much good tv to watch.
9. I am running out of pens.
10. I just..don’t feel like working today.

I was always smarter

That’s what my dad said about his twin (fraternal) brother, who was born (supposedly) a few hours before him. The story was that my dad was just big and pushed out his older brother first. Then my dad came out…and essentially was the dominant one in everything.

Like brothers, they were competitive in everything. Being the only sons in a traditional Chinese family, it was expected that they would do everything to carry on the family. Their younger sisters were tormented by the two. There’s a story that one of the brothers tricked the youngest sister into believing a lie and she was only corrected by the other brother. I am pretty sure that my dad was the former.

As roommates in college after they moved out of the dorms (at Washington State University at Pullman), there’s a story that clearly distinguishes their personalities. Bills arrived in the mail. My uncle, the older brother, carefully opened each one with a letter opener, making sure not to rip the contents. My dad simply took the envelope and ran his finger along the edge, opening it. His older brother became furious because the inside contents could be crumpled and worse yet, ruined!

(Oddly enough, I am, by nature, the most messy in my family…and have always thought my dad was annoyingly too neat and organized…so the story surprises me.)

“I always was smarter and faster,” my dad said, describing his brother.

“And you have more hair and slightly taller,” I observe my dad who is in his mid-60s.

At a family wedding, I observed them both. It has been years since they lived together as teens..and in college. They each have a family. Two kids. All around my age. My uncle lives in Michigan, closer to the rest of the siblings. My dad lives in California, closer to his parents. My dad’s kids (my sister and me) are living super independent free-wheeling lifestyles on opposite coasts of the states. And my uncle kids…one is married and living in LA and the other lives in Ohio with well-settled careers. Who wins? Nobody, really. But while my mom, always very social with my dad’s sisters, I see barely communication between the brothers. They are watching my cousin get married in silence. Perhaps they think, “I can’t wait to show off again how great my kids are.”

Like a dance, as they say

‎A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back — it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

said Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I observe my cousins

It’s rare to see my family together in one place. I see my dad’s side more—they are in the states, mostly in the midwest. I used to joke that there was a significant disparity between my cousins vs. my sister and me.

But what astounds me the most is how my cousins—usually a pair (brother and sister, brother and brother or sister and sister)—are so different from each other. There is the ones that married early and had kids in their twenties. Then there is the pair that exhibit filial pity and friendliness to everyone. Then the pair who were born in the “old country” and were the first ones to marry non-Asians. Then there is my sister and me—the free-wheeling females living big on the coasts in large metropolitan cities.

Did our parents have the biggest influences? Perhaps. I can’t help but to draw comparisons and similarities. Would we have been the same if we had different parental guidance?

This is what I am doing

I hesitated slightly before I told a colleague what I currently was doing, but then I let it out.

I started off with the story of my tempered creativity. I always wanted to create, I say. And design wasn’t enough. This year is my outlet to let out that energy. So we’ll see what happens.

Then I describe the gist: I am combining three passions. Writing. Travel.

Then I pause here for the dramatic flourish.

Ice cream, I say.

There’s always a laughter of glee. Because it’s an innocent indulgence recalling simpler times. I do have the luxury of working in a happiness business and finding a business that exudes more happiness.

A photo from 3 years ago

“Do you need anything else?” he asked right before departing.

“Look!” I exclaimed and gestured to my blog post on my screen. “It’s you! There and there”

He glanced over my shoulder to the photo on my screen where he was laughing at the camera.

“I seemed more happier back then.”

Then he turned away as the sorrow descended over his face.

“You just get used to it”

In face of disrespect, I complained.

He listened and responded, “You just get used to it.”

Of course, my complaint was about something minor—my misplaced things and disruption of my usual household routine. What infuriated me and still infuriates me months later was the complacency to an imbalance. The complacency is born out of one’s own personal priorities—the perspective of values.

Will I get value of the action that I perform? If not, it’s easier to do nothing.

Ideas like:

  • It’s easier to buy a new couch than find a nicely used one on craigslist.
  • I will pay $5 ATM convenience fee to withdraw $100 because my bank is 3 blocks away.
  • I will drop my plastic cup here on the dance floor because the trash bin in the corner is too hard to find.
  • I will order a beer because everyone has one.
  • I will ignore sexual harassment and racist remarks, because I want my job.
  • I worry sometimes that I will suffer from the pedestrian effect and instead of giving a helping hand, I keep walking and walking back home.