Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called The Flood, a moment of an encounter called Know Someone Fast, and a moment of a perspective called Don't Judge.
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Hello and welcome to Episode #35 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 am Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about The Flood, Know Someone Fast, and Don’t Judge.
A moment of adversity called: The Flood
Seen floods on television before, but when it finally happened where I lived in real life, I didn't know what to make of it. There was a hurricane. My family taped up windows with masking tape in a crisscross fashion, and we did not know much else. It didn't seem like a big deal to me. But when I stepped out to go to work, I saw that there was indeed a flood. The water came up to my knees.
How was I going to get to work? I didn't have rain boots. I didn't have the proper footwear to walk in flood. At sixteen, I was just worried I couldn't get to McDonald's to go to work. Working at McDonald's' was my escape from home. I hated home. I grew up with one set of values from Grandma for over ten years, and now I was living for two years with another set of values with Mom. I wouldn't say I liked Mom's set of values, and I wouldn't say I liked living with her even though it included my siblings and father. I was determined to get to work.
I had a job. I had to get out of the house and be away from family. I folded my pants up high as I could, as I would get wet if I didn't. I waded through the water. I was worried that I would be late for work as I had to wade through the water slowly. I didn't see many other people around walking on the streets or driving in cars. It was hard work wading through water so slowly, and more than half my legs were wet from the floodwater. I paused, but I pressed on. It was no fun ambling like in slow motion and getting all wet. I started feeling dirty as I waded through dirty water created from street dirt. Usually, walking to work was only ten minutes away and was not far. On flood day, why was it so far away? How long before I get there?
I continued, slowly but surely. Alone, no one to talk to, I continued wading through murky waters. There were areas where the water was lower and easier to walk through, but there were enough areas where water was up to my knees to make the walking tiresome. Fast walking on a sunny day could be tiresome, but slow-motion walking in water was more exhausting. Pushing against water, moving forward, I had to get to my destination.
I was ready to be there; I was exhausted and in need of a nice hot bath to clean myself up. It took half an hour to get to work, and it was so near home! Finally, I was in the parking lot of Mcdonald's. There were no cars in the parking lot. There were no lights on in Mcdonald's. Don't tell me it is closed; it can't be! I walked up close to the windows. Indeed it was closed. No one was there.
After all that hard work to get to work, I had to turn back to go home. I was not happy. It wasn't just about having to wade through all the flood water again, but I didn't like the destination and had no desire for it. Walking home or wading through water to get home took even longer as my energy level was low. I walked even slower, not because of having to push through the water, but because I didn't want to go in the direction of home. I didn't even care that it took so long to get home. I finally did get home, and the only good thing was to take a nice hot shower to cleanse myself from wading in the flood.
I persisted and waded through the water to get to work because I wanted to go to work and escape home life. I slowly waded through the water to go home because I didn't want to go home. Like other things in life, the flood reminded me that when you want something, you will work for it even if it is hard, and if you don't like something, you find little energy to do it.
A moment of an encounter called: Know Someone Fast
People have so many facets; people are complex, so how can you learn about a person quickly without spending a lifetime trying to know them? You can!
Because of a three-month encounter, I can attest to this. Before moving abroad, I decided to brush up on my foreign language skills, so I got a language partner from an online website. With this language partner in a world far from me, all we did was talk, talk, talk on the phone because the purpose was to practice speaking a language. We spent four hours a week and three months together on the phone, just conversing with one another. To my surprise, even before three months, I felt like he knew me already. He felt like I knew him already. It was a scary and exciting feeling. How could someone know you so well and so quickly? It first hit me when he finished a sentence for me. And then, in some moments of silence, he knew what I was thinking or was going to say. It was frightening, but at the same time, it was a wow feeling!
How did it all happen? We asked questions that led to important topics of conversation. After all the usual questions you might ask someone you first meet, you delve into more profound questions. The answers would not be short, simple solutions but stories of many moments of our lives. And through each snippet, we learned about each other's characters and personalities. Interesting!
From the three-month encounter, I discovered how my language partner, Everett, and I got to know each other quickly.
1. We had scheduled phone conversations, so we set aside time for it.
2. Time spent together was focused on a conversation without interruptions.
3. We took the time to prepare and ask well-thought-out questions or topics to discuss.
4. We dared to ask the questions we wanted to ask.
5. We expressed ourselves with little hesitation or fear.
6. We made an effort to keep conversations going.
Like many people who communicate online without in-person interaction, we might have shared more freely. Perhaps, because it was phone conversations and not face-to-face discussions, we were more relaxed with one another. Since there were no distractions with anyone else around or environments that would call our attention, we could focus on the chatting. Considering a language exchange situation called for talking, we could not do anything else but talk. Because all there was to do was chat with each other, we had to find topics to discuss. Probably because it would be odd to be silent on the phone, we prepared topics of conversation to keep conversations going. If our dialogues did not continue, we would not be able to practice speaking the foreign language! So, in a way, the situation made it easy to engage in much dialogue. And with more communication, we learned a lot about each other.
Though I was in a particular situation that gave me the opportunity to learn about a person relatively quickly, I believe it can apply to our daily lives. If we want to get to know a person sooner, we make time for them, spend more time with them, and take the time to engage in conversations with them. And if the talks are not interrupted with distractions of the environment, doing other things, or even looking at each other, deeper sharing could occur.
From deeper conversations, I also learned that you could learn more about the other person, discover more about yourself, gain new ideas, and learn new perspectives. With all the benefits of getting to know others and knowing what you can do, all that is left is to take the actions needed to connect with others.
Seeking even more ways to connect with others or self-express quickly and concisely, I got an idea from reading a book. It was a book basically about sharing yourself in six words, and those six words would open a window to your life for others to know.
I read many examples from the book and brainstormed six words to describe parts of my life that I could quickly share with others and summon others to do the same. The question was, can you tell about yourself in six words?
Six-word sentences or phrases could reveal so much about a person. You don't need to spend a long time with a person to learn much about them! So from there, I came up with six-word questions and six-word answers that could tell about me in a nutshell. In this fast-paced world where we have become more and more impatient, or we want to know now or yesterday, before we continue with anything, even relationships, we want to hear the gist first.
I made up some questions and answers about myself, and each statement is in six words. After hearing or reading them, you will probably know a lot about me already. You can challenge friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers to do this task. It is interesting and fun to learn about yourself and others through this activity!
Six-word questions and answers I gathered together about myself could give you some ideas to ponder and start writing about yourself or others. So, here I share some of mine.
Some career questions and answers:
Why did you become a teacher? I wanted a voice that mattered.
Why did you become a writer? I wanted a voice that touched.
Why did you go into business? I wanted to inspire many people.
Why'd you enjoy being a manager? Practiced being of service to others.
Why didn't you become a mom? Didn't want to be like Mom.
Some "love" questions and answers:
Why turn down four marriage proposals? I didn't believe anyone loved me.
Why finally choose to marry him? Like a resume, it looked good.
Why did you get a divorce? He was too anal for me.
Why is he the most unforgettable? He touched and understood my heart.
Why was that breakup most devastating? I did not see it coming.
What did I learn from breakups? Nothing is forever; enjoy the moment.
How did he describe you then? You are beautiful inside and outside.
How did another describe you then? A fighter, a fighter, a fighter
How did you meet your boyfriends? Business, school, travel, blind date, pen pal, friends
What are the most romantic experiences? Small, simple, short moments in time
What were some most heart-wrenching moments? Betrayal, abandonment, overcoming adversities, finding courage
Why was he the most romantic? Small, simple, short moments in time
How did you fall in love? He read my heart and understood.
Some "moving" questions and answers:
Why did you move to Boston? I was chosen to move there.
Why move back to New Orleans? Grandma wanted me to enjoy the house.
Why move back to Boston again? I liked Grandma's values a lot more.
Why did you move to California? Hello, I was madly in love.
Why did you move to Taiwan? I wanted a new beginning desperately.
Why did you depart from Taiwan? I was frustrated with cultural differences.
Why did you return to Taiwan? I hungered for a carefree life.
Why go to Bhutan once again? I yearned for peace and happiness.
Some college questions and answers:
Why choose Connecticut College for college? Had passions: Chinese and Child Psychology
Why did you study child psychology? I wanted to understand myself better.
Why do you keep learning Chinese? It is my passion, my joy.
How did you pay for college? My determination led to creative problem-solving.
Why did you transfer to UCD? Love of my life in California
Why did you get a Master's? I wanted to fulfill Mom's dream.
Some life questions and answers:
Who are your five most influential? Keith, Devin, Grandma, Mom, and myself
Why did you persist when failing? Winning had to be the result.
Why did you continue when failing? Failure, not an option for me.
What drives you to keep moving? Do something meaningful; leave a mark.
Why did you "kill" some off? They did something that irked me.
What is your secret to life? I have Landmark Education in me.
What keeps you sane in life? I have Landmark Education in me.
What keeps you strong and courageous? Life is survival of the fittest.
Who was I, who am I? Trapped and unhappy, then chose freedom
Who am I in the future? Inspirational and empowering writer and speaker
Who am I as a person? Resilient, determined, resourceful, fighter, free spirit
Some risk questions and answers:
Why did you travel so much? Got case of the travel bug.
What do you get from traveling? Broadened perspectives, education, a carefree feeling
Why did you decide to skydive? I wanted to overcome my fears.
Why sky jump, bungee jump, zipline? To enjoy sheer freedom and joy
Why risk going on daring adventures? To experience joy, freedom, and curiosity
Why venture from your comfort zone? To learn, grow, live life fully
Some family questions and answers:
Why leave home at age five? Mom chose me, the strong one.
Where are you in the family? Black sheep and the second one.
What is your relationship to family? Disconnected, strained, alienated, and nothing else.
Some hobby questions and answers:
What is your greatest passion now? I love learning the Chinese language.
What do you enjoy doing most? Traveling, public speaking, writing, learning Chinese
Why do you enjoy traveling escapades? Gain new perspectives and eye-opening experiences
Why do you like public speaking? A voice needs to be heard
What does your Chinese passion mean? Identity, motivator, comfort, escape, dream world
I believe, when you can come up with six-word questions and answers, you are asking and answering in a nutshell. And from there, would be inquiries into fascinating dialogues.
A moment of a perspective called: Don’t Judge
Dad was in town, and we were at his brother’s house visiting. Dad called everyone to the long rectangular dining table. Standing at the head of the table, he asked if anyone knew what he had before him. It was our first time seeing this thing. He had found it at the market and was elated as he hadn’t eaten it since he was a child in China. In those days, it was not something easily found in America.
As we were all invited to sit down, Dad proceeded to explain. He said, “You see how pokey this looks on the outside? It almost looks like a porcupine. It’s ugly-looking. When I cut this open, you will see yellow bags of mushy sacs inside. And it will stink. But you will not smell the stinky smell once you taste it on your tongue. It is refreshing and cool to taste. Who would like to try it?
I was the only one who volunteered to taste it. A minute later, Uncle Sheldon, who sat next to me, said, “If Emily tastes it, so will I.” Everyone laughed because he sounded like the cereal commercial that we saw long ago where no one would try a cereal but a little boy named Mikey did.
Dad proceeded to cut open the fruit, put a lumpy yellow sac on a small plate, and passed it over to me with a fork. Everyone else just sat there watching me eat it. I did not say a word. but I smiled. It was refreshing and cool tasting. Uncle Sheldon ate his slimy yellow sac, too. He said it tasted good. He invited everyone else to eat it, but no one except Dad did.
This seemingly uneventful occasion left an impression on me. I wondered why others didn’t try something they never tried. Why didn’t they try and find out if what Dad said was true? More than anything, they were missing out on the treat that was eating the durian fruit.
Upon reflection, quiet and reserved-looking me turned out to be the one who did many adventures and outside-the-box actions in life. Uncle Sheldon did, too. My others siblings and relatives did not.
The durian fruit also earned a place in one of my training presentations in my business many years later. Because I joined a business opportunity that many people were skeptical about, I realized how it was like the durian. It might not look like anything phenomenal at first look, but when you take the time to look into it, you will discover it is not altogether what it appears. It will surprise you with its benefits and wonders. It is like the difference between what a person looks like on the outside versus who they are inside. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We usually do anyway, but it takes the open-minded and brave ones to take a deeper look at a person, a book, a business opportunity. Perceptions of things at first glance can be deceiving. Why not look inside to learn more?
Key Takeaways: Though there was a flood, I pushed through the water to get to the job I wanted to do and lost my energy to wade through it to go back home because I didn’t want to go home.
Though getting to know a person often takes a bit of time, you could also get to know someone fairly quickly.
Though we tend to judge things by its exterior, we can learn more by looking into its interior and discover more wonders.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Physical Labor, Year Number Five, and A Contradictory Character. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe or click like on Youtube, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!