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 Unheard Voice, a moment of an encounter called Unexpected Service, and a moment of a perspective called In Search of Peace and Happiness I.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on https://inspiremereads.com.
Hello and welcome to Episode #45 of 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 The Unheard Voice, Unexpected Service, and In Search of Happiness, Part I.
A moment of adversity called: The Unheard Voice
“As I was saying, I put on piano and rain music when I start to write my stories,” I said. Leslie had put me on hold when her husband called her on another line. “To make a long story short, I recall the lawyer I met briefly but saved my life. I recall the interviewer I spoke with briefly on the phone, but also saved my life,” I shared. “Oh, did I tell you I just bought a new couch?” asked Leslie. What does that have to do with anything I said, I thought. Did Leslie hear what I was talking about at all? I felt unheard.
“What will you be doing for the holiday weekend,” Mandy inquired. “I will be busy the whole time writing my next book,” I said. “Would you like to take a day trip to this town I haven’t seen?” asked Mandy. Did she hear what I just said? I thought she didn’t seem to listen to what I said.
“Okay, class, what is an example of a force? Yes, Jeremy, you raised your hand.” “Teacher, can I go to the bathroom?” Clearly, what I said was of no importance to him, and he needed to take care of what he needed to do. Still, I felt my question landed on deaf ears.
“I went to the market to buy some fruits and vegetables today. I saw a man with a long coat on; he looked like he was stealing some food and depositing them in his oversized coat!” Leanne said on the phone. “Interesting, I went to the market today, too. I bought …” “ Sorry, I gotta go, said Leanne,” and she hung up. Cut off and unheard, how rude was she? Why did she have to go? I don’t know; I only know that I listened to her talk, and then she cut me off when I started to talk; it didn’t sound like she listened when I shared.
There are many instances where our voices are unheard even when we speak aloud. Did you ever share about something only to be cut off or interrupted with a question or statement that had nothing to do with what you said? How does it feel? I feel unheard and disrespected; it is not a good feeling. It was probably unintentional because the other person had their thoughts running without thinking about another person. Still, it hurts.
Your friend calls you to have a chat; it is brief because they suddenly have to do something or go somewhere. Why did that person bother to call at all? The brevity left me feeling dumped and unimportant since they didn’t have the time to sit down and converse.
It is an unpleasant feeling when dialogues or conversations are interrupted. Whether they are valid or invalid interruptions, that is not the point. The point is feelings are hurt. A person could be left to feel unimportant, unacknowledged, and unheard. And everybody wants to be important, acknowledged, and heard! So, the next time you cut someone off or interrupt a conversation, consider the other person’s feelings, listen to what the other person is saying in the dialogue or say SORRY if you must go!
A moment of an encounter called: Unexpected Service
I arrived alone in a land where I saw the most beautiful bold blue sky I had ever seen. It had low-hanging cumulous clouds that were so puffy. I wanted to run across the plains to where they appeared the lowest and hop on to lay in one of the soft cottony clouds. Frozen in my step, I stood before the scene in awe and disbelief. I wanted to capture the magnificence and bring it home with me. I was honored to be in the presence of such beauty from nature.
I was in Mongolia, a land with more animals than humans. I saw herds of galloping horses stop by a creek to quench their thirst just before nightfall. It was all so surreal. I never expected to see such wonders. My traveling companion, a twenty-three-year-old, was more incredible; he planted beautiful memories in my heart.
While I enjoyed many breathtaking views, what warmed my heart was the interaction with this tour guide. He astonished me with his skills as a tour guide and a human being who knew how to connect with people and leave a lasting impression.
In my curiosity, I asked many questions about Mongolia, and he had detailed answers to all my questions. I had been on over thirty tours with different tour guides, and Kenneth could win the prize for being the most knowledgeable tour guide I had ever met. Aside from his wealth of knowledge, I was most impressed with the little things he did that made all the difference in the world to make my trip most memorable.
When we went to the Gobi Desert, he laid down next to me on a slant of a dune. It was surprising, but I enjoyed our talk about our wishes in life. When we went hiking and had to first ride on a horse, an attendant asked why he was going along with me. He seemed to whisper that he had to make sure I was safe because he was responsible for my well-being, but I could hear him say it. I couldn’t believe my ears that a twenty-something-year-old could be so responsible and mature! I was touched and felt assured and protected from any mishaps.
Kenneth looked out for my safety in our unsmooth walk across rocks, water, soil, and trees. When we got to a place of water and boulders, many people took pictures. Kenneth didn’t just help me take pictures; he put himself in the pictures with me! It was fun and made me feel like I had a traveling buddy and not just a tour guide.
The driver, Kenneth, and I would be in the car for hours on end in between tourist sites. Some roads were quite bumpy and uncomfortable, but it didn’t feel bad because Kenneth occupied all my time in conversation. And I loved the conversations we had; they were all about our experiences and feelings about matters in our lives. He shared pictures of his newborn child, his dreams, time with his sister, whom he admired, and his love for Mongolia. I shared whatever he asked. He was undoubtedly not just a tour guide, but he was like one of my best friends!
After a couple of days of traveling together, Kenneth said he would see if sitting in the back seats of the car would be more comfortable for him because, in the front seat, he could feel every bumpety bump. I was surprised at this as it had never happened to me before on any other trip. As he sat next to me, he engaged me in interesting conversations, and I felt like I was traveling with a good friend. I much enjoyed his company, and we clicked very well.
On the day of my departure, there was not much to do before the driver would transport me to the airport. There was no place to visit; just waiting for three hours before leaving. Surrounded by fields with yurts and nothing else for miles, I could have just roamed around or stayed in my yurt. But Kenneth decided to spend the three hours playing cards with me and chat up a storm. After a while, he said he had never played cards that much before; it let me know that he took the time to keep me company so I wouldn’t be bored. That is what I call service above and beyond the call of duty! The greatest gift he gave me was bestowing the feeling of having an exceptional friend next to me while I was traveling alone. Though I got to enjoy the majestic beauty of Mongolia, I know that without this tour guide, my trip would not have been so memorable and satisfying.
A moment of a perspective called: In Search of Peace and Happiness, Part I
It was January 1, 2020, and I was in Shangri-La, a place in China, officially named as such after a place in James Hilton's book called Lost Horizon because it sounded like Hilton's description of paradise or utopia. Still, now it exists as a real place.
Upon arriving in Shangri-La, my tour guide led me to an old and sizeable wooden home turned into a museum with artifacts left by Joseph Rock, a botanist who lived there for nearly 30 years. He lived there just studying all about the different plant life. He learned different dialects and learned all about the various ethnic groups in the province. I was shocked to know that Rock, a naturalized American from Austria, would live in China alone for such a long time. It made me curious to learn more, so I read a lot in this museum.
To my surprise, I discovered that James Hilton read Joseph Rock's articles from the National Geographic magazines, got some ideas from them, and wrote his book called Lost Horizon. As I read the rich amount of information left at this rural and old museum, I recalled the 10-year-old me seeing the paperback on the bookshelf in my grandparents' living room. It must have been one of my uncle's books because no one else, at that time, in the apartment could read it. Though I never read the book, I read the synopsis at the back of the paperback, and it said Shangri-La was a place of paradise, a perfect place where I could find peace and happiness. That was all I remembered, but it led me to visit Shangri-La as part of my tour in China's Yunnan province many years later.
I was disillusioned to discover that James Hilton's Shangri-La was fictional. Further, Hilton never visited the Shangri-La that I now stepped foot on. At any rate, his ideas, his imagination, I suppose, of a paradise, made me curious to check out this place. My travel buddy and I had visited Kunming, Dali, Li Jiang, and Shangri-La was the last stop of our tour. We were so looking forward to this final stop. After all, who wouldn't want to visit the land of paradise, the land of utopia? We climbed many steps and walked up slanted steep roads visiting temples and mountaintops. The sights were okay but not breathtaking. Nothing looked or felt exceptionally special. Our other stops were more exciting and enjoyable. No doubt, we were gravely disappointed. Still, I bought myself a keychain as a souvenir that had the words Shangri-La on it to say that I had gone to Shangri-La.
After arriving home in the USA, a friend came by to visit. I showed her some of the places I visited from keychains hanging on my Ikea storage units for all to see. She stopped and lingered at the Shangri-La keychain. I suppose the word Shangri-La has become synonymous with paradise or a perfect world that we all yearn for its existence. Nevertheless, I can say I got to Shangri-La, and for what it is worth, any place can be great from experience or in imagination!
A few months after being in Shangri-La, I headed to Bhutan, the land of happiness. I had been to Bhutan 4 years earlier, January 1, 2016, and the trip left such an impression on me that I felt compelled to go back. I saw all the main attractions on my first trip as a tourist. Every day was a long hike from high altitudes to even higher heights. Upon reaching a destination, it was usually a monastery or temple up on top of a mountain. There are so many mountains in Bhutan. Driving to places is generally going around mountains, frequently twisting and turning. After a while, it could be nauseating. Some hills are rocky and rough-looking. Some are full of trees and soft-looking. There aren't many people around. Even in the most populated areas, they are like tiny towns in the USA. Describing it doesn't seem spectacular, and it is certainly not a trip for Disneyland fun.
So what made Bhutan so unique and memorable on the first visit? It was how it made me feel. While sitting in the car experiencing the twists and turns of the vehicle around mountains, the nauseating feeling would be endurable and forgotten with the sounds of Bhutanese music on the car's radio. Though I could not understand a word in the songs, I enjoyed the sounds of the music that just made me feel peaceful and put a smile on my face. While hiking up to the Tiger's Nest, Bhutan's biggest attraction, a monastery, on top of a mountain, I thought I wouldn't make it. It took me 5 hours to climb it round trip. I couldn't say it was fun, but it was still memorable because my tour guide wouldn't utter a word when I said, "Oh, it's hard, I don't think I can make it." His silence forced me to press on. His silence made me feel there was no judgment; it didn't matter how fast or slow I was going; he would be there accompanying me all the way.
Another time, while riding around the twists and turns of the mountains, the driver stopped for us to have lunch. Since there were no stores or restaurants in sight, he stopped in an area of a hill with a flat area to the side of the road. It was rocky with gravel and pebbles. The driver and the tour guide pulled out a large piece of cloth from the car trunk and spread it on the flat area just big enough for us to sit on. They got some food they had prepared in steel round containers, opened them all up, and said, "Okay, let's eat!" I don't remember what we ate; all I remember was that I was having a picnic lunch with two men in the mountains with not another human being around for miles on end. Never did another car pass by while we were eating. When we were eating, no one was talking. The surrounding was already quiet enough, and as humans, we didn't make any sounds other than our eating sounds, too. Strange, but memorable.
After another long drive, we stopped at a brand new hotel built on top of a mountain. We were the only guests. At the balcony of my room, I could look down on the rolling hills below me. In the distance, there would be some homes. Too far to hear anything. It was tranquil; I felt like I was on top of the world looking down on the vast earth. After all, I was on a high mountain with nothing else around. The hotel worker served me tea and nothing else. The following day we were on our way to another destination. I suppose I didn't get breakfast because they didn't have any food in the hotel, far away from everything. I wondered why they even had a hotel there in the middle of nowhere! Since this was a country with less than a million people and over 70% of it was natural landscapes, it was pretty quiet. It felt like the world had no demands on me in this environment, and I had no demands on myself to do anything. I could only feel peace and joy never experienced before.
Key Takeaways: Though I felt unheard when I spoke, I learned the need to be mindful in listening to others because feeling unheard could hurt and make someone feel unimportant.
Though I traveled alone to Mongolia, my tour guide felt like a friend and traveling companion. Aside from observing the beauty of Mongolia, the tour guide was the one that made the trip most memorable.
Though my trip to Shangri-la was not as expected, I learned of the depths to which one would take in search of utopia.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories: The Unspoken Voice, An Unexpected Connection, In Search of Peace and Happiness, Part II. 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!