Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives.
In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called How to Kill Fear, Part I, a moment of an encounter called Sparkling Gold Up Ahead, and a moment of a perspective called The Blast of Sunshine.
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Hello and welcome to Episode #12 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan.
In this episode, you will hear about Killing Fear: Part I, Sparkling Gold Up Ahead, and The Blast of Sunshine.
A moment of adversity called: Killing Fear, Part I
I joined a network marketing business. If hearing that makes you want to run, stop! I am an introvert. I tend not to like to talk to people. So, why on earth would I join something where you needed to approach and engage in conversation with lots of people, including strangers?
I was introduced to the business and attended a convention. Hearing speeches from successful people motivating thousands of people to get out there and make sales to riches was exciting. While others were excited to go from rags to riches, I was more excited at how thousands of people could be moved, touched, and inspired by leaders who moved from being a nobody to being somebody who made a difference for others on a large scale. That was why I joined the business.
Next was the nitty-gritty work of going out to approach friends, relatives, co-workers, and strangers about my business. On the one hand, I was bubbling with enthusiasm. On the other hand, I'd think and think about it in my mind how great it would be if I had people join my business or buy the products. I had more thoughts than actions. I wanted to approach people, but I felt like it was asking for help or favor to help me make some money; I hated that. I couldn't even make my mouth open to talk to people about my great venture. I just kept thinking about it. I'll do it tomorrow, or I'll do it next week, I'd tell myself. I was full of reasons or excuses for why I couldn't get the time to do it. After all, I had a full-time job that kept me busy enough.
Thinking about talking to people was like a nagging voice inside of me that would not shut up. I knew what I needed to do to succeed, but I wasn't doing it. I froze in fear of people. So, how will I ever make any sales or recruit any business partners? If I didn't change something drastically, no hope of accomplishing anything was in sight.
Suddenly, I came up with an idea of how I would kill my fear of approaching people. Go skydive! In my imagination, I would be high up in the sky, floating and flying. I would be releasing all my inhibitions and fears. I would free myself from the chains of fear that stopped me from achieving all I wanted.
While at a friend's house, I learned that several people talked about going skydiving the next day. Four people were going, but one backed out from fear. The other three wanted to recruit a replacement. Nobody asked me. The surprisingly bold me walked over to the acquaintances and invited myself. They were flabbergasted and couldn't believe how the quiet and reserved-looking me would take on such an adventure. That's me, looking one way on the outside but simmering underneath with a hunger for adventure.
Still in disbelief that I would go, they reluctantly gave up the location to me if perchance I would show up.
Early Saturday morning, I showed up for skydiving. I was so excited; I thought I finally had the chance to go skydiving with some people. I couldn't wait; I couldn't wait to eventually overcome my fear of approaching people to sell something or make new friends in my business. I knew the fear was stopping me from becoming a success. And I knew I had to do something about it or else I would starve to death or forever work in my safe and stable job.
As I was waiting for skydiving with my acquaintance or partner, some peculiar feelings and thoughts ran through my mind. We signed waivers, watched a video about the procedures, suited up in a jumpsuit over our clothes, and wore goggles to get ready. While waiting for our turn, my partner kept pacing back and forth ceaselessly. I thought he must be so nervous. He wouldn't stop. I thought, there must be something wrong with me, why am I not nervous or scared? Why am I excited about all this? More than anything, I thought, I must be abnormal, something must be wrong with me.
Finally, it was time to board the plane to go. The wait seemed so long as I was so eager to go free myself from fear. And I was still wondering what was wrong with me as I was not nervous like my partner, who was pacing back and forth. Directed to sit in the front seat closest to the door, I sat down. The plane flew up 15,000 feet in no time, and then it just sat in the sky without moving. My heart started to beat so loud I could hear it; fear was finally setting in.
I thought I didn't want to do it anymore; I wanted to stay on the plane. Can I back out now? Overrun by fear but feeling normal like I should be fearful of being a normal human being, the plane's door opened. Before I could once again hear the loud pounding of my heart, in the next seconds, a man asked me to jump with a professional skydiver on my back as I was the one closest to the door. The voice in my head said, "No! I can't do this!" But a second later, I was out the door. I couldn't turn back even if I wanted to; I had no choice but to give in to the force of gravity.
During a 70 second drop, I could only hear gusts of cold wind blasting against my entire body, and I could only feel hundreds of smiles of joy all over my face. After the 70 second drop, the man on my back pulled the string for the parachute to come out. I was floating in the sky with arms spread out; I was like a bird hovering in the air. The strong cold winds were holding me up to float in the sky.
Sheer joy instantly replaced fear. This joy was a joy where there were no voices in the head saying anything. My mind was empty; there was no weight, no pressures of the world bringing me down. This emptiness was emptier than what you would find in meditation. This joy was more joyous than making accomplishments or being in love. My face couldn't stop smiling as I looked down onto vast mountains. Way up in the sky, it was so tranquil. I thought being alone in other places was quiet enough, but the noiselessness in the sky was the most peaceful I had ever heard. But of course, way up in the sky, there are no people, no machines, no technology, and just nothing but sky and wind. Not much thinking was going on; the most significant thing was enjoying freedom, being present to the beauty, the wonders of landforms below me, and zero worries and anxieties. Also present was zero thoughts of things in the past or future. The only thing present was the exhilarating and light feeling of joy and freedom. Floating in the sky, I slowly swooped down to the solid ground. Ah, landing on earth came too quickly because who wouldn't want to stay a bit longer in that state of ecstasy?
Back on land, I realized I had truly experienced what Franklin Delano Roosevelt had once said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." When fear did not enter my mind until I was up in the sky, I realized I had put it in there. I created fear while in the sky, and my partner created fear while waiting to go up to the sky. No doubt, fear is made up in the mind for the most part. Fear often stops us from doing many things.
I didn't want to be controlled by fear, so I found the courage to go skydiving. Indeed, I found the truth; I experienced the truth about fear. Ever since that trip, I naturally reduced the number of worries I had because I knew the secret: We create fear in our minds, and we allow it to stop us from doing many things we want to do. Of course, as a human being, I still have a couple of fears, but when I feel them coming on, I know I can control them or stop them. Usually, I will say to myself, "You made it up; go ahead and do it. Do what you want, live life, and don't let it control you." And what happens? We create more happiness and satisfaction from the power of having freedom from fear.
What happened after the skydive? Did I overcome my fear of people? YES. I began to look at strangers in the eye without fear; I began to look at people with more interest. I always thought I was alone in my fear of people, but as I looked at more and more people, I discovered other people were afraid of people, too! Afraid of getting hurt, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of being attacked, and fear of being judged are all human feelings and not so abnormal. By unblocking our obstacles, we can connect and enjoy being with more people.
A moment of an encounter called: Sparkling Gold Up Ahead
From a distance, something sparkling, something so shiny that it looked like an enormously long bar of gold, was before my eyes. The top seemed flat, so it didn't seem like mountains. Its length was an unbelievable length of over 800 km from the north to the south. I had never seen anything so long, so evenly filled with gleaming light shining on it. It looked like a land of gold where you could find treasures of gold because its color was pure gold. I asked my driver, "What is that?" He replied, "That is the Gobi Desert; we will be arriving there soon."
I soon mounted onto two-humped Bactrian camels that brought us closer to the Khongor dunes. I arrived at the largest Asian desert, where its southern part was in Mongolia. After half an hour of riding on the camels, we dismounted where we could get a close-up view and get a close-up touch and feel for the Gobi Desert. It looked clean, beautiful, and soft, but it was not fun walking on the sand where your feet would go up and down without getting a firm grip on the ground. So, we soon stopped.
I picked a spot and took off my purple windbreaker jacket to lay on it and enjoy all that surrounded me. Laying on the soft but firm sand, it surrounded me in every direction I looked. Seemingly endless dunes were everywhere. Nothing was in sight but the sand, the sky, and a traveling companion next to me, my young tour guide. It felt as if we were the only two people in the world.
The only thing that I could hear was our conversation. He laid down on the sandy slope next to me and asked, "If you could have only three wishes, what would you wish for?" I thought about how I loved questions about life. I felt fortunate to have a traveling buddy who was also a great conversationalist. Though I gave it some thought, in reflection, I only gave a typical answer. "Health, wealth, and happiness," I said. Then I asked him back. He said, "I wish to have all my dreams come true, I want to have more of #1, and I want to have more of #2. I thought, here was a man who was less than half my age, and he had a better answer. Still, my face was full of smiles for all the sand, sky, and quiet calm around me. I didn't seem to have a care in the world. I wanted to just lay there hours on end. My companion was happy to lay there in silence with me, with no urgency to break the silence or leave after a meaningful conversation.
During a one-week trip to Mongolia, more dialogues with this acquaintance were like the long bar of gold I saw in the distance; they were as precious as gold.
A moment of a perspective called: The Blast of Sunshine
After selling my three-bedroom house, I moved to Taiwan expecting to live in a rat hole, something tiny. As it turned out, the job provided me with a studio apartment.
It was one large room with a bathroom within the room. The bathroom had two halves. One was just for the toilet, and one had a sink and an area for the shower. Together the bathroom was relatively compact but workable. In the room was another area sectioned off for a closet. I was ecstatic to have a closet to put my clothes in as I heard that Taiwan does not usually have built-in wardrobes. You would usually have to buy one and put it in your room.
The rest of the room was an open rectangular space. On one side were the bathroom, entrance, and closet; on the second and third sides were plain solid walls, and on the fourth side were all windows facing the street from the fifth floor. The large openness of it made it easy to arrange things. As you enter the room, you see an entertainment center and organized shelving along the solid wall on the right. This arrangement made the room look uncluttered and organized as I placed most things in this area. In front of it would be a blue and beige piece of carpet with a swirling circular design. This piece of rug was the centerpiece of warmth and comfort in the room. To the left of the edge of the rug would be a loveseat made of beige fabric. Sitting here is most enjoyable. You could read a book, watch television, or take a lazy afternoon nap here on a Sunday. On the carpet, you could do some stretches, do Qi Gong or Tai Chi. If you wanted to do some written work, creative work, or be on the laptop, you could get to work just behind the couch where the sofa's length is a black desk. Sitting down, you would have just enough space before you hit the solid wall opposite the side of the entertainment center. I utilized space efficiently. When you sit down by the desk, you can see everything in the room. Anything you need would be within reach in a matter of seconds. This arrangement created a sense of simplicity. My queen-sized bed would be on the left when you sit down by the desk. The bed would not be the centerpiece in the room. It was efficiently positioned to the left corner of the room and used only for sleeping and laying down to dream.
Most wonderful is the feeling of spaciousness in this room. Sit by the desk to work, lay on the bed to sleep, sit on the couch to watch TV, get on the carpet to exercise, boil a pot of tea or soup with an electric kettle, do all that in one room without feeling like you are in a rat hole. The most memorable about this room is that you only need to open the curtains like 6 inches in the morning, and a blast of sunshine will enter the entire room. You need no indoor light during the day. The sunlight fills the whole room to give light and warmth to your home.
Though this may have been my smallest room, it was my coziest, warmest, and open home. One of the happiest periods of my life was when I lived in this studio apartment. I miss that simple life and that daily blast of sunshine brightening up the days of living in paradise.
The three-bedroom house, three full-bath, two-car garage, and backyard garden that I used to have no longer seemed so attractive. All the space that I had in the house no longer seemed necessary. Most importantly, the pride I once had of owning a home by myself no longer seemed relevant because what makes for a fabulous home is the feeling of warmth it emits. And I found it in a studio apartment where I had all I needed in one sweeping view, plus the bright and warm sunshine that blasted through my wall of windows.
Though I was afraid of approaching people to make sales, I went skydiving, killed the fear of people, and discovered sheer joy while floating in the sky.
Though walking on the Gobi Desert was no picnic, I enjoyed lying on the golden sand surrounding me as I savored the joy of having a wonderful conversation with an acquaintance.
Though I once owned a three-bedroom home, I found myself most content in a studio apartment that gave me blasts of sunshine and warmth on an island.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Killing Fear: Part II, The Most Powerful, and Happy Moments.
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