Trying New Things… Risk and Reward
When we try new things,
there is always the risk that we will not be happy with our choice,
we might try a food we have never tried before and end up disliking it.
It could be too sour or too salty.
It could be too spicy.
We might try a new sport like snowboarding and end up falling down a lot.
We might try a new style of music and get a headache.
We might check out a different kind of art and be totally disappointed.[en]
We might try to speak or write a different language and end up embarrassing ourselves.
Who wants that? Sounds risky to me.
But if we take the risk, we might try a new food and end up loving it.
It could be sweet or have a great flavor.
It could be an experience that makes our taste buds feel like they are in heaven.
We might try a new sport and fall down but we get back up and eventually experience exhilaration, even for a minute.
We might see why people love that sport so much.
We might try a new kind of music and regret that we didn’t discover it sooner.
We might see a new kind of art and be amazed.
We might try to write or speak a different language,
and we might be a little embarrassed as first;
but we don’t let it bother us too much because we know that the only way to improve is to make mistakes and keep on practicing.
I say: Try a new food.
Try a new activity. Try to listen to some new music.
Walk into a gallery, just on a whim, and look around.
Try writing and speaking that other language more.
Try making some new friends.
There are some risks involved, but I know there are rewards too.
My brother is so lucky. Good stuff is always happening to him. Do you believe in luck? And if so, how can I get more of it?
—Looking for Luck in Louisiana
I was eating breakfast with one hand, petting my cat, Cow, with the other, and reading the back of the cereal box, when—“YOUCH!” I screamed. “Why’d you pinch me?”
“You’re not wearing green,” said my little brother, Tex. “Everyone knows you get pinched if you don’t wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day!”
“It’s true,” said my little sister, Indi.
I was mostly mad about getting pinched, but also a tiny bit glad about being reminded that it was Saint Patrick’s Day.
I panicked. “What am I going to do? I don’t have time to change. I’ll get pinched all day long!”
“Well,” Tex said, taking the old green baseball cap off his head, “you could borrow my lucky hat.”
“But it’s your favorite!” I said.
“I know,” said Tex. “Just promise to give it back after school.”
“No problem,” I said, glancing in the mirror on my way out the door. “I look like a goofball in this thing!”
“A lucky goofball!” said Tex.
“Hum.” I grabbed my backpack. “Thanks, I think.”
Now, before I go on, you should know that I’m not an overly superstitious person. I don’t believe that thirteen is an unlucky number or that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. I definitely don’t freak out if a black cat crosses my path. And when it comes to things like lucky four-leaf clovers and lucky pennies, I just never believed in them.
Anyway, I was racing to catch the school bus, and I saw a dollar on the sidewalk! I looked around to see if anyone was looking for it, but people just kept stepping on the poor thing, so I decided to rescue it. I’d found pennies and nickels before, but never a dollar! Then, I didn’t miss the bus, because the bus was even later than me—which never happens!
不管怎样，当我正拼命追赶校车 时，我看到人行道上有张一美元的钞票！我环顾四周，看看有没人在找它，可人们都相继踩过这个可怜的家伙，所以我决定营救它。以前我捡过便士和镍币，可从没 发现过一美元的钞票。随后，我没有错过校车，因为校车甚至比我还晚到——这是从未发生过的！
My luck didn’t stop there. Carlos and Jackson were sitting behind me, quizzing each other on spelling words. I turned around and said, “You guys know that test isn’t till tomorrow, right?”
“It got switched to this morning,” said Jackson. “Remember? There’s some assembly tomorrow. ”
“That’s right. I totally forgot!” I said. “I’m so lucky that I sat in front of you. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have found out till it was too late!” I got out my spelling words, studied all the way to school. And ended up acing the test!
The minute I got home, I gave Tex a gigantic hug.
“This is the luckiest hat in the world,” I said. “I’m never taking it off!”
“But you promised to give it back!” said Tex.
“I know, but…” I pretended to try to pull the hat off my head. “I think it’s stuck.”
“It is not!” said Tex.
“Please-oh-please let me borrow your lucky hat for one more day!” I begged.
“Tomorrow I’m auditioning for the school play, and I need every bit of help I can get.”
“OK,” said Tex. “One more day. But you’d better be really nice to me.”
“I will,” I agreed. “In fact, here you can have my lucky dollar!” Tex let out a whoop, then started dancing around and waving his gift in the air.
The next day turned out to be super lucky. My audition couldn’t have gone better.
“Wow, Arizona!” said my friend Mareya. “I can’t believe how amazingly you just did! You are so getting a major part in this play!”
“Thanks! You did really great, too!” I said. “But honestly, the only reason I did OK is because I had my lucky hat.”
“What lucky hat?” asked Mareya.
“This one,” I said, reaching into my backpack, where I thought I’d put Tex’s hat since I couldn’t wear it for the audition. But it wasn’t there! “Oh no!” I cried. “It’s gone! What am I going to tell Tex?”
Mareya helped me look for it. Luckily, we found Tex’s hat in my locker. Also luckily, I discovered that I could be lucky with or without a goofy-looking cap in my possession.
“So it wasn’t the hat,” said Mareya. “This is just a wild guess, but maybe it was all those hours you spent practicing over the past month.”
“Hmm,” I said. “It’s possible.”
So, dear Looking, I guess you could say that luck is a combination of being prepared, believing in yourself…and maybe just a tiny bit of magic! In other words, luck may come your way, but you have to be ready for it when it does!
Ciao for now.
When I read a book from my mother’s shelves, it’s not unusual to come across a gap in the text. A paragraph, or maybe just a sentence, has been sliced out, leaving a window in its place, with words from the next page peeping through. The chopped up page looks like a nearly complete jigsaw puzzle waiting for its missing piece. But the piece isn’t lost, and I always know where to find it. Dozens of quotations, clipped from newspapers, magazines—and books—plaster one wall of my mother’s kitchen. What means the most to my mother in her books she excises and displays.
I’ve never told her, but those literary amputations appall me. I know Ann Patchett and Dorothy Sayers, and Somerset Maugham would fume alongside me, their careful prose severed from its rightful place. She picks extracts that startle me, too: “Put your worst foot forward, because then if people can still stand you, you can be yourself.” Sometimes I stand reading the wall of quotations, holding a scissors-victim novel in my hand, puzzling over what draws my mother to these particular words.
My own quotation collection is more hidden and delicate. I copy favorite lines into a spiral-bound journal-a Christmas present from my mother, actually—in soft, gray No. 2 pencil. This means my books remain whole. The labor required makes selection a cutthroat process: Do I really love these two pages of On Chesil Beach enough to transcribe them, word by finger-cramping word? (The answer was yes, the pages were that exquisite.)
My mother doesn’t know any of this. She doesn’t know I prefer copying out to cutting out. I’ve never told her that I compile quotations at all.
There’s nothing very shocking about that; for all our chatting, we don’t have the words to begin certain conversations. My mother and I talk on the phone at least once a week, and in some ways, we are each other’s most dedicated listener. She tells me about teaching English to the leathery Russian ladies at the library where she volunteers; I tell her about job applications, cover letters, and a grant I’d like to win. We talk about my siblings, her siblings, the president, and Philip Seymour Hoffman movies. We make each other laugh so hard that I choke and she cries. But what we don’t say could fill up rooms. Fights with my father. Small failures in school. Anything, really, that pierces us.
I like to say that my mother has never told me “I love you.” There’s something reassuring in its self-pitying simplicity—as if the three-word absence explains who I am and wins me sympathy-so I carry it with me, like a label on my back. I synthesize our cumbersome relationship with an easy shorthand: my mother never said “I love you”. The last time my mother almost spoke the words was two years ago, when she called to tell me that a friend had been hospitalized.
I said, “I love you, Mom.” She said, “Thank you.” I haven’t said it since, but I’ve thought about it, and I’ve wondered why my mother doesn’t. A couple of years ago, I found a poem by Robert Hershon called “Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?” that supplied words for the blank spaces I try to understand in our conversations:
我对她说：“我爱你，妈妈。” 而她说:“谢谢。” 这件事后来我再没提过，但却始终在我的脑海里盘旋不去，我一直想知道为一分极速3d我妈妈从来不说这几个字。几年前，我读到罗伯特赫尔希写的一首诗，诗名叫《感伤的时刻或面包为一分极速3d要过马路？》，这首诗填补了我和妈妈的对话中许多我不能理解的空白：
Don’t fill up on bread. I say absent-mindedly. The servings here are huge. My son, whose hair may be receding a bit, says: Did you really just say that to me? What he doesn’t knowis that when we’re walking together, when we get to the curb. I sometimes start to reachfor his hand.
It’s a humble poem, small in scope, not the stuff of epic heartbreak, yet poignant. After copying it down in my quotation journal, my wrist smudging the pencil into a gray haze as I wrote, I opened an e-mail I had begun to my mother, and added a postscript: “This poem made me think of you,” with the 13 lines cut and pasted below. My mother doesn’t read poetry—or at least, she doesn’t tell me that she reads poetry-and I felt nervous clicking, “Send” .
She never mentioned the poem. But the next time I went home for vacation, I noticed something new in the kitchen. Not on her quotation wall, but across the room, fixed to an antique magnetic board: Robert Hershon’s poem, printed on a scrap of white paper in the old-fashioned font of a typewriter. The board hung above the radiator, where we drape wet rags and mittens dripping with snow, in the warmest spot in the kitchen. The poem still hangs there. Neither my mother nor I have ever spoken about it.
To write or not to write
Writing is not easy. I do it everyday.
And I can tell you, it’s quite a challenge.
But, the more I do it, the easier I get to just write.
Sometimes, that’s the most difficult part starting.
When people ask me about writing---how they can write---I often suggest they brainstorm first.
Writing the main ideas collected to a topic, usually produces some great things.
If the things get organized, perhaps through an outline,
then you can write something really great.
Most of the writings I do with spontaneous, I just start writing.
I just stopped and done.
But I always go over what I wrote at least two times.
The first time I go over my writing is spell-check the word,
It’s unacceptable to deliver a piece of writing with misspelling in it.
The second time, I actually read what I wrote aloud,
and add things that may I missed,
it could be a idea that seems incomplete or something else.
If you have the time, it’s good to put your writing down for a little while,
and read it again later, and to see how you like it.
You may have something you wish to add or subtract.
If you have a serious paper to write,
and you have completed all of the things I talked about,
the best thing to do--before you return your paper--is to have someone to read what you wrote and make comments on it.
There is no doubt that practice makes perfect.
or at least better, so, if you want to be a better writer in Korean or English,
I recommend that you write as much as you can.
Happiness is a journey
We always convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, than another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.
We always tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together. When we get a nice car, and are able to go on a nice vocation when we retire. The truth is, there's no better time than right now. If not now, when? Our life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to ourselves and decide to be happy anyway.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred Souza. He said, "for a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, someting to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment that you have.
And remember that time waits for no one. So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school; until you get married, until you get divorced; until you have kids; until you retire; until you get a new car or home; until spring; until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy…
Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So, work like you don't need money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching.
Occasionally, life can be undeniably, impossibly difficult. We are faced with challenges and events that can seem overwhelming, life-destroying to the point where it may be hard to decide whether to keep going. But you always have a choice. Jessica Heslop shares her powerful, inspiring journey from the worst times in her life to the new life she has created for herself:
In 2012 I had the worst year of my life.
I worked in a finance job that I hated and I lived in a concrete jungle city with little greenery. I occupied my time with meaningless relationships and spent copious quantities of money on superficialities. I was searching for happiness and had no idea where to find it.
Then I fell ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and became virtually bed bound. I had to quit my job and subsequently was left with no income. I lived with my boyfriend of then only 3 months who financially supported me and our relationship was put under great pressure. I eventually regained my physical health, but not long after that I got a call from my family at home to say that my father’s cancer had fiercely progressed and that he had been admitted to a hospice.
I left the city and I went home to be with him.
He died 6 months later.
My father was a complete inspiration to me. He was always so strong that, for a minute after he drew his last breath, I honestly thought he would come back to life. I couldn’t believe I would never again cuddle into his big warm chest and feel safe no matter what.
The grief that followed was intense for all of us 5 children and our mother, but we had each other.
But my oldest sister at that time complained of a bad back. It got so bad after 2 months that she too was admitted to hospital.
They discovered that she had highly advanced cancer in her bones and that there was nothing that they could do.
She died 1 month later.
I could never put into words the loss of my sister in my life.
She was a walking, talking angel and my favourite person in the whole world. If someone could have asked me the worst thing that could ever happen, it would have been losing her.
She was my soul-mate and I never thought I would journey this lifetime without her.
The Moment Of Deliberate Choice
The shock and extreme heart break brought me to my knees. The pain was so great and my world just looked desolate. I had no real home, no money, no job, and no friends that cared. Not one person had even sent me a sympathy card for my loss.
I made an attempt of my own life and I ended up in hospital.
I remember lying in the hospital bed, looking up at the ceiling and seeing my sister’s beautiful face. She stayed with me all night long.
I realised during that night that I had a choice. I could choose to end my life or I could choose to live it.
I looked in my sister’s eyes and I made a decision not to go with her just yet. That I would stay and complete my journey here.
I also made the decision that, I wouldn’t just live any life. I would live the life that I absolutely LOVE and nothing less.
In that moment, the clarity that descended around me was like a light shining in a dark room for the first time. As if the earth’s plates had shifted under my feet and everything suddenly looked real for the first time.