By Yoke-Yin Chong Purcaro
Last night, I received an
email from my friend, Shirley, who is from
I have always enjoyed reading
Shirley’s emails for she is a woman who has her own opinion and who
has a terrific sense of humor. Normally,
I would open the mail and read it right away. But this time, with the
subject “Life”, I couldn’t bring myself to read it! Instead, I
closed the mail and turned the computer off.
You see, the word “Life”
touches my heart. In the past, I’ve written many articles about life.
It doesn’t matter if it’s about my life or the life of others. I
like to ask, “What is the meaning of life”? Of course, the answers I
have received were very diverse. Different
people have their own definition of life. According to Chinese
definition, life means to live, to age, to become sick, and finally to
die. It sounds simple, huh?
To me, the meaning of life is
to be myself, and to be able to accept who I am. How often do you hear
people say, “I’m happy with who I am and where I am right now”?
Rarely, right? People like to complain, and I am one of those people!
I remember the first time I
left my family to go to
I am the oldest of four
children in my family. Being the oldest in a Chinese family, I have so
many responsibilities and pressures. I have to be a model for my sisters
and brother, and take good care of them.
I had to help my mother to do the house work and I had to obey
her all the time. Since the financial situation of our family was not
good, my mother had to work three jobs to help my father to support the
whole family. My parents had to work so hard to pay for our schooling
and our daily expenses. Often, I saw my parents’ tiredness on their
faces and that made me feel sad and guilty since I couldn’t help them
at all. Because of this, after I graduated from high school, I gave up
my dream, and decided to go to
Three days after my 20th
birthday, I said goodbye to my friends and my relatives. For the first
time, I left my family to go to a place that I had never been before -
a place that I hardly knew its culture and language. I was
nervous, stressed and helpless. I didn’t know what to do, but I
clearly knew that I was going to start a completely new life of mine.
It was during the summer when
I first arrived in
At last, someone finally came
to pick me up. I then found
out that I was hired for the bartender position. Being a bartender in
the Chinese restaurant in
During the first three months
of my life in
After working in
I came to
I had been living on my own
for eleven years until I married my husband in February of 2004. Was I
lonely before I married? No, because I didn’t have time to feel the
loneliness. When I was in school, I had a part time job as a waitress,
and went to school full time. When I had free time, I had to study.
During the spring break, I would rather work more hours to save some
money for the next semester. My life was busy and sometimes miserable.
Due to my stubborn and
independent personality, I hardly asked for help from people. For
example, I remember one time that I had cut my hand and had eight
stitches on it. My left hand was wrapped and I couldn’t move it at
all. Can you imagine how inconvenient it was when I had only my right
hand to use? I felt like I was going to die because I couldn’t do a
lot of things! One day, after coming back from the doctor’s office, I
wanted to cook something to eat. At that time, I ate cup noodles all the
time since they are easy to cook and tasty. After I cooked the noodles
and was ready to eat, I spilled the whole cup of noodles. At that
moment, I was staring at the noodles I spilled, feeling the pain on my
hand and listening to the groaning from my stomach at the same time. I
was helpless! Since then, I realized that I was still fortunate enough
to have a healthy and normal body compared to those who’ve permanently
lost any parts of their bodies.
Five years ago, I learned the Serenity Prayer from the bookstore I bought it and kept it in my car to remind myself that I have to accept my own fate. I don’t complain as much these past few years. I calm my self down when I was become frustrated. Many times, I tell myself - life is challenging and if I want to really live I have to learn how to deal with it. Life has never been easy for me, but I’ve learned in the hard way how to deal with it. After all, I realized that all these tough times that I have had in the past make me a stronger person who knows how to treasure every moment of life.
Now, I am not as frightened
as I was for I know that I have settled down. I no longer feel like I am
a piece of withered leaf that is drifting on the ocean and that will be
sunk. When I look back on the life I have had, I smile. Yes, I’ve
learned how to replace my tears with smile.