Hello and welcome to Episode #41of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Walking Blind, A Magnetic Encounter, and The Fortune Teller.
A moment of adversity called: Walking Blind
“You should take off your glasses and shoes; let someone hold on to them for you,” said the worker. It made sense to me as I didn’t want to lose them; I would be blind without my glasses!
There I was, all buckled up and ready to go. I had wanted to do this for many years; it was on my bucket list. The man didn’t say anything more. I was waiting for him to say, “Okay, go ahead!” He didn’t give any further directions, so I stood there at the edge of the wooden planks. I looked out before me. There seemed to be so much open space. It was the wide-open light blue sky, and it was a comfortable, warm, and sunny day in New Zealand. Below me was a body of dark blue water.
Since it was pointless just to stand there, I walked off the planks and immediately got hoisted upside down. Yes, I was taking a bungee jump! I always wanted to know what it would feel like, and now I finally got to experience it. I was swung side to side. Each swing was a pretty wide and long swing. My t-shirt went up, exposing my tummy. I held my shirt down for fear of anybody seeing my fair-skinned fat stomach. I couldn’t be too worried as I smiled with joy from ear to ear. The breeze was gentle as I continued to be swung from side to side. I could faintly hear my traveling companions cheering me on. I thought they couldn’t see me. I was alone in the air above the water and felt far from civilization. Any sounds I heard were from nature like the wind and the water waves below me. Swinging in the air, I was free of everything that strained me and immersed in joy. I was a child again. I was a child who found the joy of living life; I felt alive!
Suddenly, without warning, half my body got dunked in water. I did not expect this. The worker had asked me if I wanted to get wet from the water before, and I had said just a little, so I was shocked when I found my whole upper body and head wet as I was still upside down. Getting so wet was not the problem.
One moment I was full of joy, and I was full of distress in another moment. When I unexpectedly got dunked in the water, I was unprepared for the salty water going up my nose. The feeling was worse than Coca-Cola or carbonated liquid going up your nose. My excitement for bungee jumping turned into exasperation.
Soon a boat came to get me as the sways from side to side got smaller and smaller. I got hold of someone’s hand, and that someone pulled me down into the boat. Before long, the workers dropped me off by the shore.
My nightmare began here. With no shoes and no glasses, I could not see well. I am extremely near-sighted. Ask me to see or read something without my glasses, and you would know that my eyesight is very poor. Though I am not legally blind, I certainly feel practically blind. Walking blind, I was to find my way back up to the parking lot. But the nightmare quickly became more horrifying.
There was no path or signs to direct me back up to the parking lot. A look to the left or the right was all sharp gray rocks. They were not small pebble rocks and not large rocks to step on. They were mostly the size of an adult fist, and they were pointy and jagged. I could not avoid stepping on the sharp edges. Remember, I had no shoes! Every step I took was a pain to the bottoms of my bare feet. I could not find myself stepping on a smooth or flat surface. I could feel my forehead wrinkle up in distress. How much further did I need to walk? I did not know. Was I going in the right direction? I did not know. Get me out of this nightmare! How come my traveling companions are not looking for me? Haven’t I been missing for a while? How much longer before there are no more pointy rocks to step on? I did not know. Will I find my way back? I did not know. I could only guess that I had been walking barefoot for more than half an hour.
How was I going to get out of this nightmare? There was not one human being around. What about the bungee jumper that went after me? Where was that person? How come I did not see one person on this horrid walk back to civilization? Could it be that I took a wrong turn? Someone help me! No sound came out of my mouth. I could only feel the excruciating pain on the bottoms of my feet. I only knew that I had to keep moving because only I was there to save myself.
I was alone, blind, and in great pain. There was no one in sight, and there was no level ground without rocks. I guessed that I had to go left which was the direction from where I jumped off. That direction seemed to slant up with no steps or path. What would I do if I was going in the wrong direction? What would I do if nightfall came? I shuddered to think.
I finally saw soil and what appeared to be a path. Oh, it felt so good to step on the earth. It soothed the pain under my feet. Soft soil under my bare feet never felt so good. It seemed like I was nearing the end, and then one of my traveling companions came running over. He wondered what took me so long. He said it had been nearly forty-five minutes. I wondered what took so long for anyone to come looking for me! Anyway, I came out alive!
The bungee jump itself was not scary; it was fun and exhilarating. My plunk down into the water with water going up my nose was irritating and upsetting, but walking blind and barefoot on sharp rocks with no path in sight was a harrowing experience.
Despite this painful and challenging experience after the bungee jump, the sheer joy of swinging far and wide in the air embeds itself in my memory. It has been said that people have but only small moments in life in which they have absolutely no worries, anxieties, concerns, self-talk, an internal voice chattering, or thoughts even. I found one of those small moments when I soared like a bird while bungee jumping. It’s priceless; it’s precious and all worth it.
A moment of an Encounter called: A Magnetic Encounter
It was a natural yet unnatural encounter. An acquaintance from work, Sophie, asked if she could arrange for me to meet her husband’s friend who was an available and nice guy. I suppose this was the unnatural part. However, she said she would make it appear natural for us to meet by having a party of about a dozen people at her house. She did have her house party of eating and chatting, and she even created a conversation starter by saying that we both graduated from the same university even though it wasn’t at the same time. That commonality was supposed to help us engage in conversation. And we complied. I forget what else we had in common, but Sophie again attempted to bring us together by pointing out a commonality. And again, we engaged in some awkward conversation. It should have been natural, but maybe because he was shy or nervous and I was shy and nervous, the brief conversations did not flow very well. Because he was her husband’s good friend and I was a decent person to her, she decided to bring us together.
As the gathering came to a close, Sophie said since I didn’t have a car (at that time), she could ask Vinson, her husband’s friend, to drive me home. I said okay, and he said okay. Sophie had told me this idea before her house party. Sophie’s ideas and actions seemed natural, but Vinson did not appear at ease, so it felt unnatural. At any rate, it was kind of Sophie to arrange our meeting, and I was glad for this encounter.
As Vinson drove me home, which was about half an hour, we spoke quite a bit, engaging in a content-filled conversation to learn more about each other. The conversation seemed to flow when it was just the two of us, and I enjoyed talking with him. I call this a magnetic encounter because I felt drawn to him. I smile as I recall our encounter. I wouldn’t have minded being the girlfriend of this lawyer. Yes, it did occur to me as to how a lawyer could also be such a shy guy!
Soon I arrived home, and before saying our goodbyes, Vinson invited me to go to a gathering where they gave speeches. I was not clear what it was all about, but I said I would be interested in going because I was interested in him!
Before long, the day came to see Vinson for the second time. We went to the speech gathering of about a dozen-plus people. Some people gave speeches, including Vinson. I heard someone ask him why he was so nervous in that particular speech and what was wrong with him that day. It suggested to me that he was not usually so nervous giving his speeches, but perhaps because I was there, it made him nervous, but he invited me! At least that comment let me know that Vinson might have had some reactions to my presence.
After the meeting, we all went out to dinner. We sat at one of two large round tables. Of course, I sat next to Vinson and was happy about it. Again, he seemed nervous and awkward with me.
Little did I know, Vinson, who gave me this first exposure to Toastmasters International, a platform to practice public speaking, would become a relevant influence on my future. Unbeknownst to me, the silenced voice I had in me wanted to come out and didn’t know that Toastmasters could be a place for me to express my voice. As a teacher, I talked a lot without hesitation, but socially, I felt awkward in small talks. Maybe Vinson was just like me, talkative professionally, but not so much socially. Perhaps he wanted to express his voice better, so he went to Toastmasters. He did share that he had to give talks at work. I didn’t need to do that at work and did not see a need for me to join Toastmasters at the time.
It wasn’t until over a decade later that I decided to go online searching for Toastmasters International. What took so long? I was in a stable career I loved, but I was also in business part-time. Because I did some training for some business partners, they said I explained concepts clearly and wanted me to do more training. As I stood before small crowds, I found myself enjoying the experience, and it also led me into partnerships where I could make more sales than I ever did previously. The enormous satisfaction led me to remember Toastmasters and the platform Vinson introduced me to all those years ago.
Though Vinson and I only went on a few more dates, probably because he was too shy or he just wasn’t that into me, I have to say it was a significant encounter. For one, there aren’t that many people I find to be a magnetic encounter, but he was one of them. Secondly, had he not brought me to Toastmasters, I would not have known about the organization. The significance of it all is that I had a voice dying to come out, and Toastmasters was where I could express it or begin to express it.
Bits of my voice hungered to be heard, so I joined one of the Toastmasters clubs. I soon participated in my first speech competition, winning first place! This accomplishment told me that I have a voice and can empower others with my voice. It was no small feat for a shy girl like me. And who could have guessed that it was a shy but magnetic guy who led me to the place where I could begin to express my voice!
A moment of a perspective called: The Fortune Teller
She always wondered what made her the way she was and what made people the way they were. She heard or read that past experiences determined or defined people to be the way they were. So, she decided to study child psychology in college to better understand herself and others and unlock the mystery of the uniqueness of each human being.
She always wondered what was in store in her future. She wished she knew ahead of time! I don't know where she got the idea, but she believed that people had control over their lives and that each person's actions determined their lives. So, along with her values, she worked hard to build a better life for herself by getting herself to college; she developed skills to be independent and self-sufficient, and she was determined to reach her goals to achieve all that she could.
She once told a friend how she wished she knew her future. Then, finally, someone said to her that she could find out from a fortune teller. "Yes, a fortune teller can predict your future," her friend said. She momentarily tingled in delight, but she was more scared and wondered if she wanted to know because if it was terrible, who wants to know about a dire future?
After some pondering for years, she finally asked her friend, Evan, to take her to a fortune teller. He was a college friend in the USA, but he was from Hong Kong, and he knew exactly where to bring her. Before arriving at the temple, she was still scared and excited to know about her future. She was very skeptical and didn't believe that you could predict a future. More, she thought she could prove that a stranger would be unable to tell about her past, much less her future. "I'll prove them wrong and a hoax!" she said. So, at age twenty, she went.
Evan took her to the famous Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong. He was a Hong Kong native and a native Chinese speaker. There were so many fortune tellers there. One looked very old and wise, so together, they chose him. Because she didn't feel most confident with her command of the Chinese language, she had Evan sit next to her. He was undoubtedly bilingual; she so admired this ability.
As it turned out, this fortune teller spoke in poetic classical Chinese, so she needed Evan's help to translate. Such a private occasion, but fortunately, she was lucky to have Evan by her side. The fortune teller asked for her birth date and time of birth. He looked at her facial features, palms, and hands. With only the birthdate and birth time and observing this young woman's physical appearance, the fortune teller proceeded to tell what he knew. He even allowed for questions.
Instead of asking about her future first, she asked about her past first! She thought that if he were accurate in divulging information about the past, she might believe him when he talked about the future. That was how she was going to test him. The fortune teller told about the past accurately. She pressed for more details to be sure, and he gave details. She was so engrossed in listening to him and Evan (who was translating) that she didn't think about needing privacy anymore. Finally, the fortune teller began talking about her future matter-of-factly.
1. He told her that she would become a teacher, but she would not be a teacher forever. At the time, she thought to herself, "What else could I do? I don't care to do anything else!" She couldn't imagine doing anything else. But, 20 YEARS LATER, it happened; she went into business.
2. The fortune-teller said that she would get married at age 30 and that her husband would treat her like a princess. She definitely couldn't believe this one, because she was never treated like a princess and never had the chance to get spoiled! TEN YEARS LATER, at the age of 30, she got married, and her husband treated her like a princess.
3. He also told her that it would be okay if her marriage didn't work out because there would be another person. She was shocked. She couldn't even absorb the idea of a divorce in her life. 16 YEARS LATER, she did get a divorce, and she did have a next person.
4. The fortune-teller continued; he told her that she would have three children if she didn't abort one. She wondered why she would do such a thing. 17 YEARS LATER, she lost one.
5. Last, he told her that she would live to age 78 or 80. The 20-year-old said, "That is so old! I don't need to live that long!" Now in her middle age, living to age 78 or 80 seems too scarily close for her!
All this changed one BIG thing in this twenty-year-old's view of life: She used to think that she could control practically everything in her life, or at least she had the power to steer it in the direction she wanted. This belief made her work hard to achieve her goals. If she did, it was all credit to her, and if she didn't, it would all be her fault. Though she strived for excellence and accomplishments, she also induced a lot of pressure upon herself.
After hearing about her past and learning about her future from the fortune teller, and seeing one prediction after another come true, her view of life changed forever. What changed? She concluded that some things are out of our control or we have no control over some things. Like the lyrics of a song says, "Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see; que sera, sera, what will be will be."
The friendship with Evan continued for many years. He got to witness her getting married and being treated like a princess. One day, when he visited her, he said, "You should thank me!" She said, "What for?" He said, "Remember? I took you to the fortune teller many years ago, and it came true. You are a princess."
Some years later, she met up with Evan again even though they no longer lived in the same country. He discovered that she had gone into business and quit teaching. He said, "It happened again." She said, "What? He quipped, "You quit teaching as predicted."
This fortune told long ago had a friend to witness them coming true. Indeed, there is something to be said of the wonders of Wong Tai Sin in Hong Kong. Be careful, your life could be predetermined, but you have a say about how you respond and proceed.
Key Takeaways: Though it was excruciating to walk barefoot on pointy rocks without my glasses, I got to experience the sheer joy of bungy jumping.
Though my magnetic encounter didn't develop into anything, he left me with the beginnings of one of my greatest passions: public speaking.
Though the fortune teller didn't tell me everything I wanted to hear, the experience changed my outlook on life. I believed I could control or determine everything in my life, but some things are left to be a mystery or predestined.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Frozen in My Tracks, Sounds From the Throat, and Homes and Happiness. 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!