Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Quitting is not Giving Up and Those Five Filthy Days.
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Hello and welcome to episode #91 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. 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 Quitting is Not Giving Up and Those Five Filthy Days.
Quitting is not Giving Up
What do you mean by quitting is not giving up? I have held the belief that quitting is giving up most of my life. I lived it like it was the truth or a fact. It paid off for the most part because I refused to give up on many things. Because I refused to give up, I achieved many goals, solved many problems, and overcame many adversities.
I had a goal and refused to give up finding the funds for college, so I found a legitimate way to finance my college education. I was poor at making sales as an independent contractor, but I didn’t give up until I made a five-figure income monthly. I was in a gravely difficult situation; I refused to be jobless, broke, and homeless, so I found a way to overcome the difficulties by finding a job abroad and quickly saving money there. Nearly every time I faced adversity, I overcame it with a never give up attitude. Of course, creativity, hard work, and a perspective that anything can be made possible helped, too.
With many successes, why let go of the idea that quitting is necessarily giving up? Because sometimes, you need to know when to stop trying. This was hard to do because I am a persistent, never give up kind of person. While I firmly believed that quitting was giving up, I also wondered about the instances where my persistence and efforts didn’t pay off or reap the rewards.
Being in the sales business tested my tenacity to the maximum. As an independent contractor, I had no income if I didn’t make a sale; my livelihood depended on it. For the first year, I did not make one sale; I had zero income. During the second, third, and fourth years, I made a little bit of money, but not a five-digit income for each year. Those who knew my income questioned why I persisted. I had no answer to speak aloud. I could only say that I was not a quitter. I strongly believed that victory would be in sight by never giving up. And so, I persisted for five years. I finally made a five-digit monthly income in year five, but the company soon closed its doors. I refused to quit but had to leave when the company went out of business.
Though I made a small amount of money, or it took five years to make more than the average worker, I was left with the question: Does never giving up always give you what you want? The answer is NO. Soon I concluded that you need to learn or know when to stop trying; know your limits.
I don’t think I was ever cut out to be a saleslady, but my character persisted until I had some results. Sometimes, certain personalities are more suited for some professions than others. It took a while for me to accept that. Maybe I should have quit sooner, and then I wouldn’t have struggled for so long and put myself in dire straits. I don’t regret what I did because I learned a lot and had fun with the experience of working outside my comfort zone. Knowing that I was not suited to be in sales and then hanging up the towel would not have been quitting and giving up. In this instance, quitting would not mean giving up.
In another instance, I was with Devin for nine years. I loved being with Devin because we got along well and had chemistry. I persisted in the relationship hoping some things would change. I was patient and refused to give up on a happily ever after. He told me he had cheated on previous girlfriends, and that made me not trust him. I’ve heard the saying, “once a cheater, always a cheater,” and I believe it to be true. So, I didn’t trust Devin and was always suspicious of him. Not trusting him made me uneasy, and when he proposed, I made no reply. How could I marry someone I didn’t trust? Then after nine years, he cheated on me. He continued his pattern, and it was a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. My character of me persisted again; my tendency to never give up did not pay off this time. Had I given up on the relationship, quitting would not have been giving up. Had I paid attention to the telltale signs of a cheater, I would have left sooner, but I needed to know that quitting did not mean I was a quitter.
By now, it is clear that I am, as my first boyfriend said, “A fighter, a fighter, a fighter.” It paid off many times, but sometimes it didn’t. Lesson learned: Know when to stop trying. If it doesn’t feel right, stop. If it is not worth it, stop. Whatever it be, trust yourself. When it doesn’t feel right or if it is not worth it, quitting is not giving up.
Those Five Filthy Days
Having booked a five-day trip to learn kung fu in the mountains of one of the places where this martial art originated, I was ecstatic. Ever since I was an early teenager, I dreamed of throwing kicks and punches after watching numerous kung fu movies from Hong Kong. Little did I know that the most memorable part of this trip would not be the kung fu practice but the filthy five days endured.
As an early teenager, I had a friend who loved reading and watching kung fu stories. We went to matinees which always included a double feature of one kung fu movie and a romance movie. My friend Yasmine enjoyed kung fu, and I enjoyed the romance. But I have to say that after watching a kung fu movie, I would always come out attempting to throw a kick and a punch here and there. I’d find myself unable to do it, but it looked so easy in the movies. I dreamed I could be agile and athletic, but I never did anything remotely to get to that place.
Though I never did anything to realize the dream of becoming a martial artist, I continued to dream and see the picture of me throwing kicks and punches in my imagination. Then one day, while browsing the internet, a kung fu program caught my attention. In the faraway mountains where kung fu began, I could learn a few moves from seasoned instructors in a few days to months or years. The price was most reasonable, and I seized the opportunity and immediately registered for the program and booked a flight out of the country.
Upon arrival, one of the instructors picked me up. I was thankful to know what I booked online was real. After an hour-long drive, we arrived in the mountains, where there was nothing to see but mountains and mountains. I welcomed the peace and quiet and looked forward to a relaxing time with spouts of force practicing kung fu.
I was soon led to my place of temporary residence. I got a large room with a single bed in it. The walls were made of cement, and the floors looked the same. The doors were large wooden double doors. Meals would be a minute away in another location, about the same-sized room as my bedroom. The walls and floors were also made of cement. One round table was enough for the five of us. There were two instructors, the cook, the wife of one of the instructors, me, and another guest. The pictures I had seen on the website looked more appealing than I had noticed upon arrival. Don’t worry; this is the real thing without dressed facades, I said to myself. But the worse was yet to come.
The public bathroom to shower and clean was a minute away from my bedroom. The “hotel” stay did not come with towels, nor did I bring towels. Feeling unprepared for this situation was disheartening. Luckily, the cook had a spare wind-dried towel for me. The pictures I saw on the website showed a nice clean bathroom. I was not prepared for what I saw. Usually overprepared for any trip, I was underprepared for this trip. This trip did not provide what hotels usually provided.
After dinner, nightfall came, and I was off to an early rest before kung fu lessons the next day. The blanket I had was thin. It was January and cold outside. It felt colder inside with the cement walls and light blanket. Crunched in a fetal position, it took a while to warm up, if at all. Falling asleep was not easy because I was so cold. I could only say I got what I paid for. For the low price I paid, I got a big bedroom that had me sleepless in cold temperatures and a table light to see my way in the darkness. There was no window to the room, so it was dark even during the daytime.
On the cold dark night, I needed to go to the bathroom, so I had to go to the outside bathroom. The short trip made me cringe in the darkness as I walked over to find no toilet tissue. I walked back to get some tissue from my purse. I felt like I was brought back a few hundred years ago when people did not have toilet tissue. I suppose I got to experience the way they lived without it.
I was satisfied with the instruction on my first day of kung fu lessons. It was not too difficult for a beginner like me. I appreciated the one-on-two instruction. Even though there was only another man receiving instructions from two expert martial artists and me, I was okay with it. The day began with warm-ups by running outside. I wouldn’t say I liked running, but I was motivated to do it because it was cold, and I wanted to feel the warmth.
Next was some breathing exercises with slow movements. After that were some more aggressive moves that began to feel like the beginning of preparations for a fight that I had seen in the movies. I was excited. We never got into any heavy-duty actions for long. I couldn’t last long doing it and was not forced to do anything I was unwilling to do or try. I was more or less satisfied with the lessons that went on all day. Between classes were meal breaks and rest breaks that were one to two hours long. I certainly had enough rest time to do nothing. All there was to do was to stare at the mountains around me and walk around them.
The first night of taking a shower was a nightmare. Wrapped with the wind-dried towel I got on the first day, I walked to the bathroom. With no rain shoes or waterproof footwear, I took my slippers off to shower. The tiled floor felt like slime. It was a most disgusting feeling. It felt like stepping on a bed full of saliva; no matter how much I cleaned myself, I did not feel clean. I wondered how many layers of grime were on the tiles. With no door to the bathroom itself and my naked body behind the shower door, I feared anyone coming into the bathroom. Though there was some hot water, the cold outside air blew into the bathroom giving me chills. I hurried to shower, dry myself, and quickly leave the public bathroom.
The dirty filth of the bathroom disgusted me so much that I was not going to return to take a shower in there again. The bottoms of my feet did not forget the nasty feeling of slime under them. My shivering naked body did not forget the creepiness of a doorless bathroom that blew in cold air. The dim lights leading to the bathroom were also eerie and frightening. I did not want to run into anybody while only wrapped in a towel.
Needless to say, there was only one bathroom. So, I ended up not showering for five days. I usually shower daily, so not bathing for five days felt disgusting. I only went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. There was a bucket in my bedroom. It was strange to have a bucket there, but it became useful, and I was thankful for it. There was even a hole or drain in the ground. I used the bucket to urinate and dumped it in the hole in the ground. Luckily the room was so big that the hole was a distance from my bed, so I didn’t smell my urination. Thinking of this sounds vile, but it was better than going to that public bathroom. It was cleaner for me to go in my bedroom than in that bathroom.
The cold outside air was crisp and great for kung fu lessons. If I worked up a sweat, it would quickly dissipate. When I felt dirty, the mountain air would help me feel refreshed. Far out in the mountains with nothing else around, it was good that it did not matter how I looked or groomed myself. With a filthy bathroom, I was in no mood to care for my appearance. I could only be glad that I could brush my teeth and wash my face daily.
After five consecutive days of filth, I finally returned home to take a long shower. I soaped, scrubbed, and rinsed my body. Right after that, I repeated the process. Then I did it again. The total was five times. I needed to take the grime off the bottoms of my feet. I needed to rub off five days of dirt. After five showers, I sat on my bed feeling clean and fresh. With dirt, grime, and slime removed from my skin, the clean layer made me feel light and young again.
Suddenly, I envisioned all the bad things that happened in my life as if they had caked on top of my skin, and I didn’t know how dirty or how many layers had accumulated. I was filthy dirty, and it was about time I cleaned myself with five showers, one after another. After all the showers, I realized how much trash I had slapped on myself without getting rid of them. Physical external dirt could be easily cleaned off with a bath or shower, but what about all the other kinds of dirt I carried?
My anger and hatred of others, bad deeds, evil thoughts about others, desires to hurt the people who hurt me, and other bad thoughts or past actions consumed me. I felt so light and free after the five showers, and too soon, I felt heavy with my bad and evil thoughts about others.
The five days of filth I endured seemed nothing compared to the filth I carried for weeks, months, or years. The filthy five days were easily cleaned in a matter of minutes. But the dirty thoughts, cruel actions, and horrible feelings I carried in me were never cleaned or dumped in the garbage. They piled up, and I got used to the stench and forgot I had them. No wonder I felt heavy even on a happy day. I must work to clean off the dirt and grime I carry in my mind.
I never thought that a trip to learn kung fu to realize a dream would end up with much food for thought on cleaning up the dirt within me. I must hurry and make a list to identify them, eliminate them, and begin feeling even lighter. I must free myself. By unloading some, I may have the energy and agility to do a few more kung fu kicks!
Key Takeaways: Though I had a never give up attitude, which led me to many accomplishments, sometimes it did not lead to positive results. I came to conclude that sometimes quitting means stopping to do what will not produce positive results or is not worthwhile.
Though I had filthy grime to clean off the outer part of my body, I discovered I had more internal filth in my mind, which needed cleansing, too.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Closed vs. Opened Career Doors and Transit to Another World. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, 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!