Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Belongings, a moment of an encounter called What Teddy Bears Do For Us, and a moment of a perspective called I am a Bird.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on my website.
Hello and welcome to Episode #28 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 Belongings, What Teddy Bears Do For Us, and I Am A Bird.
A moment of adversity called: Belongings
How can you fit all your belongings in two suitcases and a piece of carry-on luggage? This one question had me stop in my tracks to observe everything I possessed. Having lived in this one house for ten years, I had much accumulated and stored in it. I had decided to move abroad after a devastating breakup and an unforeseen financial loss to embark on a new beginning.
Before beginning the enormous task of deciding what to donate, sell, toss, or keep, I walked around the house looking at everything I owned. I worked hard and carefully saved to have all that I had. Letting go of anything felt like dumping money in the garbage can. It stung thinking about throwing anything away when I worked hard to buy it. Discarding anything sentimental would be heartbreaking. Severing myself from what belonged to me would be like stripping things away from me. And I would be left feeling like I was in my birthday suit.
Sadness overcame me. Did all my possessions mean that much to me? Are they a representation of my accomplishments? Am I devoid of more valuable things in life? This task now implored me to examine the meaning I put into my possessions. I did not anticipate packing to move to be an emotional ride, too.
Moving abroad to a new job and a new life was a positive solution to an enormous emotional and financial problem. To get there or before leaving, overcoming hurdles of settling matters had to be completed. Excited but worried about living in a foreign land, I pressed forward to do what was necessary before leaving.
My beautiful solid oak dresser, bureau, and bedroom piers were large items that had to go. They quickly sold when I priced them cheaply. The buyers saw that they were in like-new condition and wondered why I was selling. I let them know I was moving abroad and could not very well bring them with me. I watched the buyers carry them off. Ten years previously, I had carefully chosen to buy them, and now I had to sell them.
My ivory leather three-piece sofa set with an ottoman was also in like-new condition as I took good care of all my belongings. People could not believe they were ten years old! Parting with the sofas was easier as a family I knew bought them for the asking price. They knew they were getting a great deal. When I later went to their house, the father said, “Look at our new living room sofa set, doesn’t it look nice?” It was comforting to know that my sofas got a new family that appreciated them.
As I sold my furniture one piece at a time, the house got emptier, and I felt emptier, too. Since there was no profit in selling anything used, there was no great satisfaction in the process of it all. Next, whatever I could not sell, I considered donating or tossing.
Clothes, I have more clothes than I can wear. I have clothes over twenty years old! I knew it would be difficult for me to part with them, so I called my friend Selina to come over and help me sort through them. It was easy for her to tell me which to keep and which to donate. She had no emotional attachments with my things. She did not withhold her opinions and let me know what was outdated and had to go. She let me know what was best to keep for my trip to the tropical island and what I didn’t need in the foreign land. She was helpful, and I was thankful for her help.
I donated and sold a lot more than I tossed or kept. In the end, I fit my life into three suitcases and carry-on luggage. I had to pay a fee for the third suitcase as only two were the limit in foreign travel. Still, I wondered how anyone could fit their life in so little space!
When I finally arrived on the foreign island, I was busy as a bee working and exploring many new places. I quickly forgot about the emotional rollercoaster of packing. After staying at a temporary location for three months, living out of suitcases, I moved into a newly renovated studio apartment. I didn’t have much to unpack, and settling in did not take long.
I soon realized that I could live just fine for the little I had brought with me. I did not miss or need the things I sold, donated, or tossed. What little I had was enough. My life began to feel simpler and carefree. With fewer possessions, I had fewer responsibilities and things that caused worries or anxieties. Indeed, less is more.
I no longer had a car to wash and maintain. I no longer worried about getting into a car accident. No more car insurance or maintenance expenses! I got to walk more and could get all my daily living needs purchased within walking distance. Public transit was convenient and cheap; I could get to almost anywhere without a car in my new home. My commute to work was a five-minute walk, and though I worked many hours a day, I felt like I had more free time as I had no wasted time in a commute.
Travel to other countries was like a skip and a hop away as many Asian countries were nearby. It was also cheap because of joining local tour groups and going to other countries not far away. With everything priced more affordable than in the US, I got to save more than ever. With more savings, I could travel more in a few years than in all my years of life previously!
I even had more time on my hands. I didn’t have a big house to clean; I had enough living space and spent little time on chores. Since I lived where it was very convenient to get daily needs, I also did not spend much time on errands. With more time on my hands, free from chores, errands, or a commute, I had more time to relax and play!
I started with the heavy burden of reducing all my belongings and going through a range of emotions related to them. It had me analyze the value and meaning I gave to things. After shedding and pulling many things off of me, there were no longer many bricks pressing me down. I didn’t need to have a lot of possessions. I found that many things we use or need are not many; we have more wants than needs. We could live without many tangible things. Without them, we have more space and time for other things. Spending more time exploring places, interacting with more people, enjoying more hobbies are some activities that leave me with more freedom and joy!
A moment of an encounter called: What Teddy Bears Do For Us
I'm a grown woman, and I went to a store and bought four teddy bears: Two large sizes, one medium size, and one small size. They're medium brown like the usual bears, furry, and soft. The two large ones represent a mom and a dad, the medium represents a boy or a son, and the small one represents a girl or a daughter. I had a personal development class project to do. I needed to find something, draw something, or make something that represented my dream or a vision board, as they say. My dream was simple, but I have yet to realize that dream in my middle age. It won't come true now, but I have the souvenir representations.
I always wanted a family of my own. Millions of people get to have that, but somehow I never got it. Why was this my dream? Because I never felt like I had a family or at least one where I belonged. At age one, Mom tossed me over to one of my grandmothers. At five, Mom tossed me over to another grandmother. Though my grandmothers were nice to me, relatives constantly reminded me that Mom had tossed me over. The only way for a one-year-old or five-year-old child to interpret that was that my parents did not want me. Worse, I was not lovable or valuable. Still, life moved on.
I grew up, had some boyfriends, had some marriage proposals, and even married one of them. But I still didn't have any children. I was petrified to have children. I thought it was the pain of childbirth; then, I thought I would lose the freedom I valued. And last, it took me a long time to realize the real reason I didn't have children. I didn't want to turn out to be like my mother, whom I thought was a bad mother. Why bring a life into this world if you give misery and do not love it? I refused to do that, and so to this day, I have no children—what a predicament.
On the one hand, I do want a family. On the other hand, I so refuse to have any children. And I divorced my husband without remarrying again. The dream remains a dream.
I still dream, I still wish, probably until the day I die. As I write, my little Emily, a small teddy bear, sits in front of me. She is the daughter I never had. I named her Emily. She has a necklace around her neck with her name on it. She has a black string headband on her head with a bow to the side. She is the cutest thing. I pat her and kiss her all the time. I always tell her how much I love her. I wish my mom had told me she loved me. I even "gave" Emily a personality. I don't know where it came from, but here it is: Emily is smart, feisty, perceptive. She is sometimes naughty and devilish, she is noisy, but most importantly, she is lovable. Emily teaches her little brother, Richard, many things her mom taught her. She learns quickly and is a good teacher for her brother. Though bigger as he is the medium-sized bear, her brother is the little brother. He has a necklace with his name around his neck, too. He also has a cushiony gold star next to his name because he is a good boy. He is like his mom. He is quiet and brave; he expresses himself with more actions than words; he doesn't fuss and complain like his sister; he is so good. He is not naughty like his sister; he is not noisy; he is an all-around good boy and lovable.
Together, Richard and Emily bring joy to me. Every time I look at this duo, I feel happy and content. The simple sight of them, their cuteness, makes me smile. After a bad day, all I have to do is look at them, and my stress will subside. More smiles will show up on my face. So what do bears do for us? They are a good source for destressing. When you need a hug, there they are, ready to hug and be hugged, too. When you need someone to talk to, they are there to listen without judgment. They are like pets, but they need no maintenance and cost me nothing after buying them. They give me all I need - love and joy. They provide companionship too. Always by my side day and night.
A moment of a perspective called: I am a Bird
Look at the bird way up high in the sky. It looks so tiny and fragile, yet it is in such a great position. As small as it is, it can look down on our vast and majestic earth. It can fly anywhere anytime. It can soar as high as it pleases. It can soar as far as it wishes. I want to be that unassuming bird with the world under its wings.
I wanted to go skydiving, bungy jumping, ziplining, and parasailing for the longest time. I finally did all of it. I suppose it was my way of feeling what it would be like to be a bird.
Skydiving was beyond what I imagined. Initially, I wanted to skydive to overcome some fears in life, and it did do the job, but I also got to feel like a bird. After jumping out of the plane, the seventy-second drop did not feel like a bird. I was a human that had only one direction to go: down. There was no turning around; there was no going back once I went out the door. Before I could feel much or even think much, I was already floating high in the sky. The sky sure felt vast. As I spread my arms wide, I imagined myself as a bird spreading its wings. I couldn’t flap it, though. The wind pressure pushing me up was fiercely strong. I didn’t need to worry about falling. The wind was holding me up. It was mighty cold and windy, but I didn’t mind because I was completely captured by the joy of flying like a bird with my wings spread out. The descent down was so slow that I had plenty of time to enjoy viewing the scenery of mountains and landforms below me. I had much time to bask in the crispy light of the light blue sky that surrounded me.
I could hardly think of anything that I thought of on earth. All that was on my mind was the sensations of joy floating in the sky. Though my face seemed to feel hard with the coldness surrounding me, I felt my face smiling uncontrollably. I couldn’t be happier. I had no worries, no anxieties, and no fears!
I don’t know what goes on in the mind of a bird, but as a human floating in the sky, I could only feel unchained from anything the slightest negative in the world.
Bungy jumping was nothing like flying. The initial falling might feel like some organs inside dropped out of me, but quickly I am jolted and whipped upside down from the weights attached to me. My head upside down did not give a good feeling. The only bit of cheeriness was being swung side to side and feeling the wind as the rope swung me around. The only joy was swaying in the open air, but it was not flying like a bird.
Ziplining is fun. I am upright, and I can see land not far below me. Sliding on a rope, I can enjoy the wind blowing past me. My arms are not spread wide like wings. I have to grab on to cables. Like bungy jumping and skydiving, I am in the air to feel a freeing sensation. With all the activities, the strength of the wind blowing on me adds to the joy and fun.
Parasailing can be like flying like a bird. Though it is not as high up in the sky as skydiving, it is also like floating in the sky. You are not far from the ground or waters, but you are high enough to feel yourself in the atmosphere. Somehow, floating in the sky brings forth happy endorphins. It empties your mind of any thoughts. All you do is feel happy and joyous. Your mind is cleared, cleansed of everything, and all left is purity.
The closest to feeling like a bird is going skydiving. It is the most joyous and exhilarating activity of all. While afloat, I didn’t have a care in the world. All I could feel was a kind of happiness and freedom never experienced on earth.
I still dream of soaring like a bird. But I also know that back on solid ground, I can fly like a bird. I can go as far as I want to go, and I can go as high as I want to go. It is up to me to choose it, imagine it, and make it happen.
Key Takeaways: Though it was an emotional roller coaster ride to donate, sell, or trash some belongings, my life became lighter, freer, and simpler because of it!
Though I didn't get teddy bears until I was an adult, I still got to experience the joys of comfort that teddy bears bring.
Though I can only dream of being a bird, I got to experience the ultimate freedom and joy of soaring like a bird in the sky through skydiving!
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Looking Down A Dark Alley, A Stick, and Farting . If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please leave a comment, share it on your social media, subscribe or click like on Youtube, or go to www.inspiremereads.com. Thank you for listening!