Minimalist’s Charming Gift

Nathan Writing Here… In our journey into minimalism we have found out a lot about ourselves that we never thought would be possible if we had not taken this journey. Before minimalism I always looked at giving gifts as a way to demonstrate ones worth towards another individual. With so much commercialism today we are […]

via The Worth of a Gift —

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This Life Time

Mother’s Distress Day (I)
This Life Time

In this life time,
I wailed, most lost in emotions, twice.
Once, at the beginning of my life.
Once, at the end of your life.
The first time, I would not remember, just hearsay from you.
The second time, you would not know, it’s useless for me to say.
But in between these two times in sounds of wailing,
there were infinite laughter,
time and time again and again,
resonating exactly thirty years.
You know it all, I remember it all.

Yu Guangzhong

There was a poetry reading and piano performance to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. Inspired and deeply moved by the poet Professor Yu’s three poems on Mother’s Distress Day, the pianist Christiana Chiu-shih Lin composed and performed a beautiful piano piece.

Poetry reading and piano performance

Professor Yu is my favorite Taiwanese poet. Though he taught English and American literature, his poems are all in Chinese.Just want to share the touching poem with this translation (that may not fully convey the poet’s original Chinese words).

For Mother’s Distress Day II:World of Paradox. People celebrate births but mourn deaths. See Chuang Tzu’s quotes on life and death.

 

 

 

Real Charm over Race, Religion and Poverty

Since I read James McBride’s “The Color of Water” that touched me so much a few weeks ago, I stopped blogging and posting on social media to review my goals on peace and doing good through writing.

The Color of Water

The mother was a Jewish immigrant who was sexually abused by her own father and then disowned when she married a black man later turned pastor. She married another black man after her first husband died. Altogether she had twelve children with varying shades in skin color. They all turned out well in career and life due to her focus on their education and taking responsibilities in their upbringing.They all loved her dearly despite of her poor cooking and her having very little time to spare on each of them.

Her life of intense conflicts better illustrates the  teachings of Chuang Tzu that I have tried so hard to share on the Free Easy Mind book site, Freeasypeace blog, facebook and twitter. She just ignored any discrimination and got on with what needed to be done at the moment, providing the best examples of Chuang Tzu’s “treat the opposing as non-opposing” and the way of Zen.

Real life stories provide better insights than teachings of any kind. Though the life story of Su Shih’s conflicts, migration, love and loss or living in poverty had helped me to understand my roots in Chinese culture, tradition and mentality that I want to share with the world in the Millennium Charm book site, but the mother’s life is a better illustration.

The decapitation of a four-year-old girl near a Taipei MRT station had stirred a frenzy on local social media as well as the general media in  Taiwan from death penalties to revenge and locking up the mentally ill. Despite her grief, the mother was very sensible  and wise to state that legislation for death penalty or punishing the killer would not do any good and pleaded that netizens or the public to stop consuming her dead daughter on social media or any media. She called for all donations to be directed to charities instead of her family as well as Taiwan’s society, communities and families to work together to make random killing and violence disappear.What a strong and wise mother of charm!

I have been procrastinating on this post to wrap up my blogging until the final wake up call of the decapitated girl.Conflicts and violence affect us financially, emotionally and maybe sooner or later physically around the world. (See another post on Freeasy Peace Blog) I need to align my writing passion, bilingual competence and the real needs in the world to do good that can really make a difference and use more time and efforts more effectively.

Will stop posting and focus  on writing a novel to figure out how to do good more effectively when we don’t know what we can do to change that seems impossible for us to change. Meanwhile I will also keep my eyes open on more practical and feasible opportunities to make a difference in doing good locally or internationally as well as acquiring better knowledge on more effective social media posting and blogging.(However if I do come across a book or anything that compels me to share, I might blog once in a blue moon.)

Thanks for all your visits, likes and follows, but I will read the blogs I follow to gain better understanding of the blogosphere. May you all have freeasy peace and daily living charm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noble Think behind the Nobel Minds

The 2015 Nobel Laureate of literature Svetlana Alexievich captured my heart with her “Voices of Chernobyl”, I was drawn to BBC’s “Nobel Mind’ Roundtable because I wanted to hear what she had to say.Yet I was enlightened by the way of thinking honestly shared by other Nobel Laureates in economics or the various sciences on issues of life and the world.

There was a common thread in their research: it is curiosity or the passion to understand science, things or how the world works and to resolve paradox. Some mentioned the interest in scientific challenge. None set out to win the prize or even help anyone out of compassion. Three of them gave up their original career as doctor after a year or two. The economist Angus Deaton’s statement on the real reward that was most memorable, “it is the Aha moment when only God and I understand the process” . For Svetlana Alexievich, it is to understand human nature or history of the human soul.

When the issue of inequality was discussed, the Turkish Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. Aziz Sancar, was very direct in pointing out it was the free education in Turkey that made his career possible. He came from a family of eight children with illiterate parents. He could not understand why universal healthcare or even Obama Care would be such a big problem in his adopted country of US when everyone in Turkey has been taking it for granted for decades.

“Talk of benevolence and righteousness and the path of right and wrong are all entangled. How can I discern them? ” Chuang Tzu.

The economist Angus Deaton discounted foreign aid to developing countries, he thought the money should go to people like the Nobel Laureates in medicine to conduct research and find solutions to River Blindness or Malaria helping millions of people in the underdeveloped world. The outspoken Turkish Laureate turned to William Campbell the expert on tropical parasites and called him the hero he most envies.

William Campbell  is not only a scientist but also poet and painter on worms.

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The BBC moderator commented on the paradox of his love for worms and the success of his research in killing them. He advocated for the worm as simply “doing what they do” and not the villain out to make people blind. The program ended with his crying out loud in the worm’s shoe, “I don’t need your god damn eye, I just need a piece of skin big enough to drop a few larvae so there is a pickup and delivery.”

“All life is but simply what is and all appear to be doing what they rightfully should.”Chuang Tzu.

When asked about how Nobel Prize would change her life, Svetlana Alexievich said it would not even though the responsibility may seem greater. Imprinted in my mind are her simple lines of “you just do what you do, you do it as well as you can” and “freedom matures in ourselves” (referring to false expectation of freedom in Russia when asked about Ukraine her motherland).

The noble mind is simple and true to one’s nature or passion and not determined altruism to save the world.Good outcome are just window dressings.

Love, Charm for Living or Seed of Suffering?

Hungary is the featured country at the Taipei Book Fair last week. Though there were illustrious poet and children book author as well as interesting cultural events such as dance, arts,crafts and food, I was drawn to the film director’s talk on his first novel. It was based on his parents’ love letters after they survived the holocaust and his father had terminal tuberculosis.He defied death by writing 117 letters to women at a refugee camp in Sweden to find  a wife. “I won’t give myself up to fate.”


Fever at Dawn

He wrote it as a screenplay script originally but could not finance the production. After trying a decade he wrote it as a novel. It was “the talk of London Book Fair” and sold in a nine-way auction. The Chinese translation is available in Taiwan but English would not be available at Amazon till April. A film adaption of the story will be released this year. See trailer below.

This powerful story of love against destiny had a happy ending, the author’s father lived till 1998. Westerners and the younger generation would find it inspiring. The following quotes present different perspectives of destiny, love and loss.

“The troubled mind initially has no roots of problems; love and indebtedness are the seeds.” Su Shih.”To remove waves from the sea of suffering, dry the river of love.”

Su Shih, the millennium charm or best loved character in Chinese culture was three times a widower. His first wife and love of his life died at the young age of twenty-seven. His second wife was a cousin of his first wife who arranged the marriage so her young son would be well cared for. He did not really love his second wife but was greatly indebted to her for caring for the family, in particular he moved countless times due to his career and exile during her life time. His beautiful young concubine was only fourteen at their wedding and their infant son died on the trip when he was recalled from exile. His most beloved beauty fairy died at her early thirties in the wild south during his second exile.He fought long and hard with destiny throughout his life but did not have the luck the Hungarian couple had. His love and loss were not limited to spouse and family, he had many friends and relatives who loved him so much but lost their lives indirectly for him during his exiles.

“Life and death is a matter of destiny, just like day and night is the law of the universe.” Chuang Tzu.

My late husband fought vigorously for ten years with cancer that was diagnosed after the birth of our only son less than a year after our wedding. He won the combat only to be diagnosed with heart failure caused by radiotherapy treatment a decade ago.We struggled with heart failures on and off for another nine years until he refused life support when his heart finally failed waiting for a heart transplant. Altogether we fought for twenty-five years of agonizing medical ordeals because of our deep love for our son, my husband stayed alive so his son would have a complete family. He lived to see his son graduated from college,completed his military service and started on his first job in his dream industry.

 

 

Purpose as a Living Charm

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Picasso.

clowns and children patients Clown Heart and elderly woman

Pretty clowns in Taiwan
A young Taiwanese girl traveled to Italy where she attended by chance a Clown Heart training workshop and joined their tours of hospitals, psychiatric institutions and orphanages. She brought it back to Taiwan and founded  Clown Heart Studio with three others in their twenties to bring happiness for good causes such as visiting patients.Social work can be fun!

Kohama-Island

Closest to heaven pop queens from paradise

Japan’s grandma pop band is made up of  singers and dancers with an average age of 84 from the remote, coral-fringed island in Okinawa  with a population of just 600 and lies a mere 240 km off Taiwan. Okinawan islanders have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, their diet contains more vegetables and purple-fleshed local sweet potato. Their lyrics are about the island and nature such as whales in the sea spouting or dolphins doing somersaults.

In the news clips, I was drawn by the girlish giggles sounding like silver bells from the shortest granny (wearing gray striped kimono in the middle) who had lost her husband and son.

Despite their girl power, backstage walking frames block entrances, blood pressure monitors and defibrillators are close at hand. Hunched over a walking stick, one granny tosses her cane aside like a true rock star when she’s on stage, dancing with joy on traditional Okinawan string music given a Tokyo-style pop makeover.

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 Record breaking Japanese Centenarian swimmer

She started to learn swimming at the age of eighty because of knee problem and has been swimming two hours at a time and four times a week. After the swim she would sleep for five hours.She breaks the record with a 1500 meter swim in one hour and sixteen minutes.

“Now I’ve got my life, this is of great use to me” Chuang Tzu. Eco-parable of Useless Tree

I strove very hard most of my life fulfilling obligations to expectations of parents or society,caring for families or doing good for different aspired causes with less than desirable outcome. Now that I have got my life to solely pursue my passion of reading and writing for personal development, it has been of great use to me in terms of learning, fulfillment and purpose despite of unbearable personal loss or missing the marks of success or the good life by conventional standards.

Though I have not achieved much success or of much use to others in giving away the bilingual reading and writing gifts that I thought I found, I still feel my life has meaning and purpose in sharing the teachings of Chuang Tzu on conflicts and loss regardless if it has helped anyone else.

 

What Can We Do in Human Disasters?

We have been suffering tremendous loss this Chinese New Year from the collapsed apartment building in southern Taiwan due to earthquake. Over ninty people had died as of today’s statistics. The bright yellow lanterns with the slogan of “nation prosperous,people safe” written in red hanging in front of the collapsed building right next to the tin cans stacked up inside the pillar are most ironic. It is a human disaster surfaced by a natural disaster.

The developer and architects were swiftly arrested due to international reporters’ wide coverage of the tin cans. There were reports that the developer ran out of money before the building completion and then changed his name a couple of times to avoid the debtors, but he has been the developer for many other buildings in the area under different names. He claimed the building is over twenty years old and he cannot be held responsible for the earthquake induced collapse, the architects brushed off responsibility saying they were not involved in the building process and just loaned their licences to the developer.How can justice ever be served for all those who lost their lives or loved ones and homes even if all three were sentenced for life?

Back in 1999 another serious earthquake, pillars were also found to be made of cooking oil containers and styrofoam, yet a few days ago a professional organization leader in building construction still claimed that they were legitimate because the pillars were merely decors and would be too heavy if concrete were used. A whole wall was later found to be made of styrofoam inside.

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taiwan-earthquake (2)  taiwan-earthquake (1)

Local news also reported the landlady  who owned first to fourth floors had removed many pillars and walls to facilitate renting to large outlets.The renter, a huge chain of electronic outlets like Best Buy or Fry’s in US, made official statements that they had not changed any structures in the rented space.

Public safety has always been a big issue in Taiwan. From time to time, we have had human disasters such as the water park (June,2015) or the gas pipe (2014) explosion with hundreds injured and many dead.Yet only one person who organized the event was sentenced to just a few years but the water park owner got away without a hair touched and the penalties for those responsible for the gas pipes were probably so light that I could not even recall if they were penalized or not.

Corporations have always been generous in disaster donations, this time  ranging from a million to fifty millions (USD 30,000 to 1.5 million). There were conflicts between the ones paying and families of water park explosion victims who were accused as greedy, just hope money matters would not be so ugly this time. But over a hundred households lost their homes, some were first-time owners with mortgage to pay. It would be a very difficult legal process even though the assets of the developer and architects were already frozen by court order but they would amount to nothing compared to what all of them lost.

Many  donated food, water,clothes or volunteered to help in the rescue. The people in charge had to broadcast in the media for people to stop donating food because there was a surplus.An Italian journalist commented on the kindness of Taiwanese offering him free water and food, yet a woman volunteer from Rotary Club was attacked on social media for wearing red on such tragic occasion but in tears she defended herself for shooting a video fundraising with international Rotary clubs. There were conflicts between the family members and rescue team on strategies as well.

Medical support seemed more organized than the water park explosion(that sparked fierce accusations of an oncology hospital refusing to accept burnt patients even though they don’t have the facilities or means), but there was little mention on emotional or pyschological support and assistance.Some nearby hotels were very generous in offering accommodations for the families and rescuers.

Back in the 1999 earthquake, I had a great urge to do something to help and called up many organizations to see if I could avail myself to help but regretfully ended up doing translation for a Buddhist organization that just wanted to propagandize their relief merits internationally.Though every time I watch the news on TV in the past week, my heart cries for the deceased and family, I keep asking myself what are some needs that I am capable of offering help. I envied a seventy-year-old lady who was a victim in the 1999 earthquake she could really help with charm because she had experienced it first hand. Frankly I wrangled my brain and hated to conclude I would be more a burden than help in the rescue.

The media uncovered a report on many districts with soil liquidification problems that needs to be addressed in order to withstand earthquakes or floods. May be how to prevent human disasters in future would be just as crucial. The Taipei mayor elected last year was as popular as Bernie Sanders and went after a developer of a coliseum project like  Sanders on banks yet the whole matter is still dangling for months with insurmountable issues and continuous financial losses assumed by all taxpayers.

The key is how to restore the conscience of the developers, bankers or business people despite the need to pursue profits as well as workers fulfilling responsibility for what they are paid to do. When they have so much power in covering up that even the handful of government officials who really wanted to do something about it were at a loss and had to let it go. What can the public do even they have the right to vote or protest?

Is there a magic charm to awaken the conscience?

Maybe one heart or mind at a time. Unfortunately it might be faster through international pressure.