“What is the difference between a billion and a million?” My Uncle Dan asked in a lecturing, questioning tone. He was pondering philosophical thoughts in his slightly tipsy state after a party. I was his designated driver for the way back home.
Without thinking too deeply, I replied with a casual smile, “The difference is only a thousand times. A billion is just a thousand million.”
He didn’t pause and asked another question. “What is the difference between a million and a thousand?”
Understanding where my uncle was heading with this conversation, I continued my initial response. “The difference is still a thousand. A million is just a thousand thousand.”
“No Sheng,” My uncle corrected me. “There is more than a difference of a thousand times when you compare a thousand and a million to a million and a billion. What is a thousand? That value may be large, but it is still small. When you have a thousand dollars, you can’t afford to buy a house. You could pay for brand new tires for your car, but that’s about it.” Continue reading
“Do you believe in God?” A missionary asked me directly after handing me a church brochure. He had a jubilant expression on his face, eagerly waiting for my response.
After coming to the front porch of my house unexpectedly due to the sound of the doorbell, being greeted with such a question made me flinch. I looked at his face for a few seconds, not sure how I should respond to him.
Then I cleared my throat and uttered, “I don’t know.”
The missionary was unfazed by my response. He continued his gospel on the bible, telling me the benefits of how accepting Jesus Christ as my lord and savior can change my life for the better. He was super ecstatic about preaching what he believed.
Seeing how the missionary was having such a good time, I went along with him. I nodded at everything he said. I smiled and exchanged some laughter with him. In the end, he told me to consider the idea of becoming a Christian; to become someone of virtue, love, devotion, and worship.
I did not reply to him. I merely said my goodbyes and gently closed the door.
Alone in the silence of my home, I shook my head from side to side and sighed. “To believe or not to believe, the results are one and the same…” Continue reading
Anger is a really fascinating emotion. On one level, it is highly unpleasant and destructive. When you are angry, your heartbeat rises and your eyelids may twitch. The adrenaline kicks in and you are in a fight-or-flight response. On another level, your senses are heightened; your voice grows louder, and your reactions become faster.
If you’ve ever been angry before, you know that there are just two elements that make up anger: energy and unpleasantness. When you are angry, you are energetic. Your energy level becomes intensified. The only problem is that when you are angry you are highly toxic and unpleasant to be around. You whine, complain, cry, yell, and do all sorts of shenanigans to express your frustrations.
However, anger doesn’t subside. It stays within you waiting for the right moment to strike. We know that being angry is unhealthy. Science has shown us that when you are angry, you are literally poisoning your own body.
If we know all this is true just by evaluating ourselves when we are angry, then why do people still get angry?
I’m afraid the answer is really simple. Anger is a reactionary response for most people. People indirectly choose to be angry; it is an unconscious reaction. What this means is that anger is happening accidentally without your consent. If outside situations are good, you are good. If outside situations are bad, you are bad. Continue reading
Just a few days ago, my cousins came to visit me. When we were conversing with one another, I shuffled through my old journals and writing pieces. Some of them were written over a decade ago. When I looked through my past writings, I was filled with joy and deep sense of longing. The events that I went through so many years ago vanished, but the lessons were recorded. My writings are my legacy.
They are my constant companion reminding me of my journey through life. I read through a few of them and, lo and behold, many of them were terrible! Most of them described the physical activities I did in those particular days. I wrote about where I went, who I met, and how I felt. There were many grammar and spelling mistakes. Some of them were even written on napkins!
Nonetheless, I was awed by my writings. Just reading what I wrote felt like traveling through time. I could relive the struggles and growth of those past moments in the present. Each and every one of them told a different story. It made me realize how vibrant, wonderful, and majestic my life has always been.
It does me no good keeping those writings to myself. I learned that the best way to honor them was to share them. I read them to my cousins. Some journal entries made them cringe like the great, awkward teenage years. Others made them mindful, because I was sharing a deep part of myself.
Now I want to share one with you. The writing is from a decade ago when I was a sophomore in high school. May you learn something from it, or at the very least, get a laugh from it. 😀 Continue reading
“People need to make up their damn mind.” My Cousin Alice spoke in a loud voice. “People always say that we are the same and that there is no difference between people. On the other hand, they also say that we are different and that no one is the same. Make up your mind, geez!”
Her face flushed with a tint of red. “I don’t know what to celebrate and believe anymore. Am I supposed to believe in our similarities or differences? Should I celebrate diversity, or neglect it? I don’t get people at all.”
I chuckled as I listened to my little cousin’s dilemma. She has a very interesting perspective on this topic. Are we similar or are we different? This question isn’t hard. In fact, a preschooler who had read the Sesame Street book called We’re Different, We’re the Same knows the answer. As the title suggest, we are different and we are the same. We are both.
You can ask, “How can we be different and the same, aren’t they opposites?”
I would answer. “Well not necessary. For example, everyone have eyes. Some people’s eyes are blue. Some are brown. And so on and so forth. The eye colors may be different, but they all serve the same function. We use our eyes to see.” Continue reading
“On July 1st, it’s Canada’s independence day! In fact, this year is the 150th year of independence for Canada. It is a really special event.” Radikha, my Indian co-traveling friend, spoke proudly in an excited voice. “We are in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada on this very special day. It looks like all of my planning hasn’t been for naught.”
It was the 3rd day in our road trip to Canada. We have driven almost a thousand miles to reach our destination. I looked wearily at her and lightly smiled. The Canadian flag dangled down vividly on the top of every light post. Between the intersections of the streets were huge concrete blocks cutting off entry from cars and trucks. Police officers guarded these posts in abundance.
Beyond the barricade was an endless stream of people flooding the streets wearing different shades of red and white attires. Even red maple leaf tattoos were visible on the faces of several native Canadians. Continue reading
“It’s not his baby!” A distraught, middle-aged woman yelled at the top of her lungs. Her brown disheveled hair concealed her face, covering up her inharmonious contours and wrinkles. She lunged forward in heavy steps by-passing me without noticing my presence.
I looked at her shockingly as she stumbled further down the sidewalk. Her arched back slowly disappeared into the dark night. I could no longer see her, but her loud voice continued on echoing in the air. It was all gibberish, nothing that I could understand.
As she disappeared into the background, I slowly shook my head and sighed. “It looks like she is totally lost in her own mind. Something unfortunate happened to her, and she kept those events alive within her. Walking by, she didn’t even notice me standing next to her when she yelled.” Continue reading
Being grateful is an amazing state to be in. It is also one of the harder states to be in because we live in a world of consistent consumption and advancement. There is marketing everywhere telling us that we need this or that in order for us to be happy. We must advance in our careers and accumulate more wealth. Everything we do is a means to an end, therefore we cannot and will not be content until our dreams and goals are achieved. Yet the moment we achieved our goals, we create new ones to replace them right away.
I know many people who believed in this. My traditional Asian family and many Asian families (Chinese ones that I know of) are like this. Nothing is more important than money. If you are not spending time making money, you are wasting time. If you don’t make a lot of money, you are useless and worthless. There is a huge emphasis and attention towards the future. We must make sure that our future is bright and having more money is one of the solutions that they found.
At first I didn’t understand why so many traditional Asians are like that. Why do they focus so much on academic success, money, statuses, and other material things? It didn’t make sense to me, but I gradually came to understand their thoughts and actions. They are driven by their conditioned survival instincts. Wealth and prosperity gives them a sense of security. Many of my family members, especially the old ones like my parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents all grew up poor.
I’ve heard stories from my parents and uncles about their past hardships. My paternal grandparents passed away early, so my dad had to fend for himself. He dropped out of school early and worked to support the family. My Uncle Chan slept in a car and had to split a burger with his wife when he first came to America. Continue reading
We live in an information age. So much knowledge is accessible right under our finger tips. We can search online for countless information on topics that are just as endless. It is a marvel sight to behold. I cannot stress enough how seemingly unlimited amount of resources are out there for free.
Just within the internet we have: websites dedicated to online courses and educational videos; forums for countless discussions; free e-books; and competitions. With so many opportunities for learning and growth, there is practically nothing that a person can’t learn.
I don’t know if you understand the magnitude of what I’m saying, but it is simply AMAZING.
Want to learn the technical skills that plumbers, electricians, and carpenters know? You can do that.
Want to learn a different language, perhaps even a computer programming language? You can do that.
Want to learn how to travel around the world on a tight budget, or learn how to be a digital nomad? You can do that.
Want to become an entrepreneur by creating your own company, hiring freelancers, or learning how to sell your own products? You can do that.
Any questions you can come up with, there is a very high possibility that someone out there already has the answer.
All that is required of you is to ask the right questions. Ask the questions, search them up, and learn. That is how the journey of a lifelong learner begins. Continue reading
“Hard work and dedication,” A blonde, muscular youth said to his slightly oversized friend. “That is all you need in order to become fit.”
His friend looked at the youth with a serious expression on his face. He nodded and said, “I understand.” There was a hint of eagerness and motivation within his eyes. His jittery hands and arms were swinging in an excited back-and-forth motion from his torso. He was ready to work out.
I gleamed over at the two friends who were conversing with one another and musingly smiled. The muscular youth was going over his regular routine workout with his friend. He clearly wanted to help his friend get in shape and was trying his best to explain his strategy and principles on body building. Continue reading