Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Looking Down a Dark Alley, a moment of an encounter called The Stick, and a moment of a perspective called Farting.
Hello and welcome to Episode #29 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 Looking Down A Dark Alley, The Stick, and Farting.
A moment of adversity called: Looking Down A Dark Alley
Imagine finding yourself at the end of a dark alley with a locked gate. You are trapped, and you can't find your way out. The dead-end means there is no other road of escape. You have no options; you are trapped; you have no way out. You might try to break the lock, squeeze through the bars, yell for help, find tools to get yourself out, turn back to where you came from, turn to the bottle, or do other things that could create even more trouble for you. Why would you do that? I suspect you found no other alternative; you could see no other way out.
Here is where opportunity knocks on your door. You can stretch your imagination, exercise your creative muscles, use your powerful mind, use different perspectives, solve the problem, to find freedom. Why? Because you have the power of choice to do whatever you want.
In the past, I encountered many challenges during my many years of life, and somehow I overcame or survived them to be still alive and well today. Over a year ago, the world started to face the Covid 19 pandemic, with many businesses shut down, many people losing their jobs, and people advised not to go out unless it was to buy food or medication. Lockdown was like a prison; although real prison is probably a lot worse, a lockdown felt bad enough. You lose your freedom, disconnect from people, spend money instead of saving money, and your livelihood and survival could be in danger.
It had already been eight months since I decided to quit my job and search for a new career. That meant no income and more spending. Then it was announced that there was indeed a worldwide pandemic. Luckily I was in Bhutan, one of the safest places to be, but I could not stay there long as my visa was about to expire and money was dwindling. After buying one ticket after another only to have them canceled because of travel restrictions, I finally got home safely. Hoping the nightmare would be over soon, the wait was week after week, then month after month, and it still didn't go away. You find less and less freedom.
Finding a job became more complex, going out was being limited, and I felt unsafe, and connecting with people unnecessarily was not advised. Two months later, I planned to move abroad to work and live. That was the plan before the pandemic. But in mid-March 2020, there was a travel ban. I watched or read the news daily, hoping to hear of the lifting of the travel ban, but the spread of the virus seemed to get worse and worse. A worldwide problem, a travel ban, how would I ever escape this locked gate, this jail, at the end of the alley where I would become penniless if I didn't break open the locked gate?
In April of 2020, I proceeded to apply for a work permit to work abroad, but hospital after hospital would not provide a stamp to approve my health check because that was not how to do things in the USA. But the authorization stamp was required for where I was going. After trying and trying for a month and having my plane ticket canceled by the airlines several times (as travel was not allowed), I finally learned and accepted that going down that alley would not lead me to the way out.
Soon it was May 2020. Check the news, check the travel bans for updates, no good news. I tried to apply to study abroad as a student was allowed, but the very next day, that allowance disappeared from the travel limitations. Trying to run down this alley didn't work either. All I had left was hope that the virus would go away, that the government would lift the travel restrictions. If I didn't hurry to start working and get an income, I would be in dire straits.
June 2020 came. I decided to move to another city to stay with a friend to have a rent-free place. Fortunately, I had friends and places to go temporarily. Here I would have to wait out the pandemic or find a way to move abroad with its travel restrictions. I had been so patient with so many things in life, but soon I found myself to be quite an impatient person. Waiting was wasting time; waiting was boring, I couldn't stand waiting! It was like hoping for a miracle to fall in your laps, and you know it wasn't going to happen.
But at least I knew the answer was in my hands. If I didn't stretch my creative muscles further, I would become useless and penniless. It is scary to discern that you could die of hunger and pain if you didn't get out of the gate from a dark alley!
It was already July 2020. My friend, whom I stayed with, came up with an idea within the travel restrictions allowed. She insisted that it should work and that I should start getting documents. Logically, it made sense, so I proceeded. If this didn't work, I thought I would indeed have to wait out the travel ban. At least I had a rent-free home. Still, life looked bleak. I worked on it for a few weeks, waited to hear if the consulate would approve the documents, waited to see if the visa would be approved. The wait was almost unbearable because I was out of ideas if this didn't pass through.
Would this finally be the challenge that I could not overcome? I held my two hands up toward the skies and said, "Spirits above! Are you testing me again? Have you not given me enough challenges? Have I not shown that time and time again that I can overcome? Why are you still testing me?! Have you not given out enough challenges to this one life? I can't take this anymore!
Amazingly, the agency approved the documents I submitted. I quickly bought a plane ticket hoping the airline wouldn't cancel it, got a covid-19 test within three days before traveling, and hoped the results were that I didn't have the virus. Down to the last few days, I was still worrying that the plane ticket could be canceled and worrying that I could have the virus and not know it. Finally, a day before departure, I got the test results back, and the plane was on schedule to depart. It was July 28th. I was feeling tingles in my body like, is this happening? It was a feeling of joy and worry that things could still change in a second all at once.
Am I escaping the locked gate at the end of the alley? As I approached the ticket check-in counter at the airport, I was still worried. I showed that I passed the virus test, showed my visa, and was issued a boarding pass. A sigh of relief finally came out of my mouth. As I sat on the airplane, I thought to myself, is this happening? It seemed like a long journey to escape the chains of lost freedom, lost money, and lost livelihood. I finally overcame a travel ban and a pandemic to be in another country where I could work, have an income, and wear a mask in public without any lockdowns as the pandemic continued to rage in other parts of the world.
The most beautiful thing about life is that we have choices, various roads we could go down, and freedom. And the scariest thing would be if we thought we didn't have that choice or liberty. I refuse to believe that. I demand to reclaim the power in my hands and move forward!
A moment of an encounter called: The Stick
He handed me a stick; hesitatingly, I took it, sat down on a wooden bench, and began to tap it. Unexpectedly and quickly, my face warmed up in the cold winter air. My eyes watered, and my mouth quivered with a smile. My hand began to shake a bit, and I was ecstatic. It was all too surreal to me.
I happened to be just passing by on a gravel dirt road exploring a bit after going to a small local museum in China. As I walked, I saw a group of five elderly gentlemen dressed in heavy coats, hats, and scarves. They sat playing various traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu, jinghu, banhu, daluo, and bangzi.
One of the gentlemen held out a stick towards me. He extended his hand until I took the stick. Then with a hand gesture, he directed me where to sit. It was in the front, and just like that, I was part of a traditional Chinese musical instruments group. I tapped on the bangzi, not knowing exactly how I should be doing it. They didn’t tell me how I needed to tap it. The men continued playing without missing a beat. When I joined them, it didn’t seem like anything went off-key. As I slowly tapped, my body trembled, and my hands shook a bit. My eyes watered so much that tears fell from my eyes. My mouth was slightly opened because I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t know why the different parts of my body were reacting that way.
Soon my traveling buddy, Lydia, came over and saw me. She stopped to watch this group of men play their instruments. Like me, the scene of me playing an instrument in this group tickled her. She smiled, too. Full of joy, I didn’t want to leave! But our tour guide seemed to suggest that we needed to get going. And so we ran to catch up with him.
As we ran, Lydia said, why are you crying and smiling? All of a sudden, the answer just came flooding out of my mouth. I said, “It is like stepping back into ancient times. It was like I was with a group of seniors from long ago playing old musical instruments from thousands of years ago.” I felt transported back in time; I was in a dreamlike state, and it was surreal. My tears were tears of joy, and my trembling was disbelief in what I was experiencing. For a few moments, I was living history. I was a part of it, and my imagination went wild.
While this happenstance may not be anything special to many, it was significant to me. I am a lover of learning all things Chinese: The language, the history, the culture, the traditional music, and the instruments all fascinate me. The gentleman who handed me the stick was like an ancestor reaching out and allowing me to connect to my ancestry. How can I not be moved by this encounter?
A moment of a perspective called: Farting
Farting is supposed to be a natural thing that people do, so why is it considered embarrassing when we do it? I don't know. I find it amusing. I never felt that I farted much or that it could be a topic of conversation until I discovered that my husband did it daily. I didn't know this until I married him!
He did it every day. It was loud, so you could not pretend that you didn't hear it. If you were on the first floor and he was on the second floor of our house, you could listen to him when he farted. It sounded like a trumpet; it blew like a foghorn for quite a few seconds, and you could not ignore it. Worse, it was pretty smelly, too. If you were anywhere near him, you would smell it and hear it. He thought it was funny and frequently laughed when he farted. Maybe I contributed to his fun with it. I'd say, "Oh my goodness!" and then run away to another room because his farts were extremely smelly; they were pungent. Your automatic reaction would be to run like me if you smelled it. You would not be able to endure it if you stayed.
Before you knew it, I noticed that I, too, started farting. It must be that when you live with someone, you start acting like the person in your house. I seriously didn't fart much until I married him! The good news was that when I farted, it didn't bother him. He thought it was funny, too. He said mine was not as loud as his, and if mine smelled, it was not as smelly as his. He seemed proud of the facts and crowned himself the king of farts in the house!
Most memorable was when I farted at work one time. It was very soon after lunchtime. I don't remember what I ate, but I am sure it was something I ate that caused me to fart. So, I had twenty kids sitting on the carpet, ready to hear me read a story to them. I thought this was the best activity to do after lunch. Kids were outside playing and having fun. After lunch, when they came into the classroom, they would need to calm down and be ready for class again. They loved listening to stories, and it would help them focus as looking at the pictures of a story would fully engage them.
They all sat down nicely, crossing their legs with their hands in their laps as they knew the routine and procedure for storytime. I remember walking over, smiling, and happy to see them sitting quietly and ready to look and listen. I sat down in front of them, started reading a story, and completed reading two pages when I farted. It was so quick that I didn't have time to control its release, and it all came out. It sounded so loud. I think it sounded extra loud because the class was so quiet.
What was so memorable was their reaction! They heard my fart, but they didn't make a sound. Most people would say something or laugh, but twenty kids in front of me and not a peep! I looked at them, and many were smiling without a sound. They kept their mouths closed and didn't say a word. A number of them looked like they wanted to laugh and clenched their fists and mouth so that they wouldn't laugh. Their smiles were so cute, and I was so happy with their reaction because it told me that while they may have wanted to laugh, they didn't. It was either because they didn't want to make me feel bad or were afraid of the consequences I might give them if they laughed at me. I think it was the latter, but their faces didn't look scared. They looked amused. I just continued reading a story without skipping a beat!
Farting does not need to be an embarrassing thing we do. It could be a form of entertainment, especially if you fart as much as my ex-husband did. He could sometimes fart on-demand, direct it in your direction, and control the volume of it depending on how he'd like to control it. The bottom line all depends on how you decide to view this very natural phenomenon!
Key Takeaways: Though I was faced with a most challenging situation, to overcome a travel ban, knowing that the power was in my hands, I utilized creativity and stretched my imagination to save myself.
Though it was just a stick handed to me, I trembled with joy as I felt it connect me to my ancestors.
Though farting is an embarrassing phenomenon to many, it could also be an entertaining enjoyment.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Juggling, Mom’s Influence, and Chosen and Unchosen Roads. 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!