Would you like to have a walk to the trash can?

The community’s recycle trash can is about 200 meters away from our condo, which makes me unwilling to get out immediately our daily waste. Since bottles and papers can wait, I indulge myself in accumulating garbage at home while my husband sometimes cannot overlook my negligence.

It was another tropical day. He was eating his breakfast and would stay at home for work. I quickly rushed out with two bags of bottles, directing to the trash can. There were two more left in the corner of an unoccupied room, so I needed to repeat the journey.

“Where were you?” He was surprised to notice my morning disappearance.

“To throw away recyclable trash.”

“Why didn’t you ask me to go with you? You went there twice?”

This question stunned me. Why? Apparently, there was no need, because I’m not a baby and that’s just a common daily chore.

But why not? Because it’s kind of weird to be seen walking together to the trash can. A middle-aged couple, on a working day morning. Would our neighbors think that we were going to move out? Would they guess wrong about our intimacy or dependence?

This can be a common moment of everyone’s daily life. But why don’t we walk together, to check the mail box, to throw garbage, or just to have a walk.? Young couples feel happy to show their intimacy and stay eager to accompany each other. Old couples generally do things together, as their daily program tend to be the same. While middle-aged couples unconsciously diminish opportunities to be seen together, except for some special reasons.

We divide family chores. We go to grocery shop alone. We walk children or dogs alone. We do workout alone. Maybe we are so busy to lose time for a meaningless help. However, after the dinner, when it’s cooled down outside and we all have time to waste, we are still reluctant to go for a walk together. Maybe we think that we are not old enough.

However, if we walked together to the trash can, what would be different? We may talk? We may enjoy together the morning sunshine that was not yet killing? We may stay silent but feel a little cheered with the presence of another in doing such a mundane affaire?

If so, later, when I see the piles of trash at home, I would not foresee the angry face of my husband criticizing my laziness and incompetence. In stead, I would remember his warm suggestion to walk together these 200 meters.

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Exhibit your joy at the risk of gaining hatred

It’s summer. Every social media is flooded by pictures showing magnificent landscapes, stunning discoveries and huge smiles. Judging only by this array of beauty, we might believe that the whole world is on vacation. What’s more? The whole world is happy.

The nature is generous, but we seldom are.

“It’s enough! Don’t post pictures any more. Didn’t you notice that less and less friends had voted ‘like’? You are making them miserable.”

That’s a reasonable comment.

Who would remain calm seeing others enjoy their vacation without a bit of envy? Who would share others’ joy without dreaming that one day he could experience the same? For diverse reasons, many people cannot afford nature’s grandeur in summer. The daily routine appears extremely unbearable when others’ happiness confirms that the world is unfair.

However, I still love posting beautiful pictures in social media.  They have recorded ephemeral moments of our life but magnify good feelings: the bouquet of flowers that I bought from the supermarket, a free ballon offered to my daughter,  a funny drawing that the safeguard made on our receipt, the puddle that reflects my smiling face…

I love appreciating others’ pictures and their joyful discoveries: the green plants on their office desk, their resolution of daily workout, the first steps of their babies, delicious home-made dishes, some interesting graffiti that they passed by…Even we are not on vacation, we still have so many amazing things to admire and to cherish.

When we are happy, we naturally eager to shout out our joy to the world. When we share the beauty of life, we seldom care wether it would gain a consensus of “like” or accumulate “dislike” even “hatred”.

Everyday, we spend too much time on line. Unfortunately most of the news makes us pessimist and uneasy. So why refuse to diverse our eyes and mindset?  In stead of spreading heart-braking news, let’s embrace beauty and happiness in social media.

Exhibit our joy and appreciate others’.

Sacrifice

When I was young, I believed that love was pure and sacred. All those love stories where sacrifice was glorified had been touching me, shaping my own view of a perfect partner and guiding my behavior of being a lover.

Later, when it came to marriage, my mom reminded me that sacrifice was the most important quality as to maintain a long relationship. It is so common in our tradition that most women are proud of having put foreword the interest of their family or their children. For all kinds of reasons, we gave up our own dreams or ambitions. Unfortunately, the society takes it for granted.

Marriage is a long journey and love is a bewildering feeling. We need sacrifices and concessions to coordinate daily life and the long term family project. However, if we keep thinking that our motivation is selfless and that our action is a purely sacrifice, we will  soon or later encounter a stronger compulsive power, which rises from inside calling for justice. Of course, sacrifice can be rewarded. The problem is that we expect rewards so much while the moment of rewards is always delayed. Not mention that most of time there will be no sign of such expected rewards. The calculating of sacrifice from each partner, although in favor of the family’s future, undermines love, marriage, self-esteem, trust, intimacy and relationship with our children.

Now I hate this word”sacrifice”, delusive and poisonous. In every decision, I tell myself that what I will do is not a sacrifice waiting to be glorified and rewarded. What I will do is to give me another chance to impower myself, whether it is to increase my tolerance and patience or to boost my effectiveness and creativity.

A healthy love journey is not to direct a wonderful film where the main characters gain happiness and wealth while you are waiting years later to get the frame in the podium. As a family number, we should thrive with the other members, sharing the daily energy and joy.

So at the 8th anniversary of my marriage, I looked back all the important up and down moments and more detailed trifles in my life.

Congratulations! The success of this love journey is not represented by a positive answer from my husband to such naive questions : Do you still love me? Do you love me more? Do you remember and reward all my sacrifices?

I’m happy because my marriage has enabled me to meet a “better” Me.

Whose fault?

One weekend, Claire’s friend Anna made a craft with Aquabeads at our place before asking her to bring it to school the next Monday. Monday morning, we were so busy that we all forgot the thing. I felt sorry for Anna that evening when Claire was back home and mentioned the Heart of beads. “You should remember it!”I repeated to Claire.

It was three days later that I finally kept the idea of put the craft in Claire’s hands before getting on the car. That night, I received an email from Anna’s mom, who thanked Claire for the craft, which ought to be a present that Anna made for her friend. “Claire forgot to bring it as soon as promised. She was always late and in a hurry.” I wrote an email back.

That was not a big deal but the similar situation repeated.  I always apologized in the name of Claire, which seemed to be very modest and polite. However, sometimes I felt so embarrassed. There was something wrong, definitely.

Why was she always late? Who made her in a hurry? Who always forgot things? It was me. Nevertheless, I attributed the mess to her. Maybe, unconsciously, I believed that it was normal and forgivable if children did wrong things while for a grownup it was shameful. That’s a bad excuse.

Claire is only four but I’m thirty-five. If we are all wrong, the best way to avoid the polite apologies is to change my own morning chaos.

Diligence and solitude

Recently, a Chinese ordinary migrant worker, YU Jianchun, has found a solution to a complex math problem. His interview by CNN attracted my intention and struck me, as he revealed a very simple truth, which is forgotten by many of us.

“He attributed his talent to diligence and solitude. He’s also modest.” reported CNN. That’s it ! No one is easily talented. Diligence and solitude are two keys for very big success. Unfortunately, we can make ourself diligent, but we have lost the solitude.

Although a migrant work’s day ought to be very busy to keep him survive in a big city like Beijing, I suppose that he is less busy than most of us, who have a smart phone at hand or a computer in front of us.

We are so busy in caring about everything, global news, local news, social media updates.  When we are not reading comments, we are writing our comments. We are not addicted to one certain thing, but indulge ourself to enlarge our focus even we have no special reason to do it.

We did have reason. Our parents and our educators  told us that world is changing and becoming a family, that we should know others to know better ourselves, that opportunities and fortunes are hiding in the social network…

I always admire Gustave Flaubert, a nigh-teen century’s French writer, who passed the major part of his  life in a small town, in a silent house, at night, lonely and desperate, writing his perfect novels. 5 years on Madame Bovary, 5 years  on The sentimental Education, 5 years on Bouvard and Pecuchet. What supported him?  Stubbornness? Arrogance? Anger? Or Passion? Nowadays, we abuse this word “Passion”.

To fight with solitude, Flaubert wrote letters, many and long letters, sometimes only to console himself and upset others. For me, in most of his letters, he was trying to justify himself while no one needed such justification and no one took it seriously. It’s difficult and painful to be obstinate all the time. He was an ordinary man, even an idiot according to Jean-Paul Sartre. Diligence and Solitude saved him and made him one of the greatest writers.

Recently, Sari Botton has suggested to read Proust, which may cure smartphone induced attention deficit. The problem is if we really want to end our addiction to the smartphone. Without willingness, every new subject may only create a new topic, on which we kill off time. I admire Proust since long long ago, but only began to read him when I was pregnant and asked to lay down in bed for days and days to keep the baby from natural abortion. Yet, I had no smartphone.

We all have big project and small immediate missions. Sometimes, we really need solitude, the very pure solitude.

 

Bubble Fun

Beautiful day: sunshine, blue sky and cozy breeze. Claire was outside blowing bubbles. She preferred to catch them or run after them. So I waved the wand for her. A joyful laughter made the silent community suddenly alive.

For kids, it’s so easy to have fun. They can quickly enter their created world. “One bubble goes to the tree, one bubble goes to the car, one bubble goes to the flower, oh no, one bubble goes to the cactus…”she began to sing. The words were plain, describing barely the fact, but I was amazed by her rhythm. There was more things behinds these simple words.

I have played with her many times for bubble fun, but usually, I just did what I should do: blowing. Today, I asked myself to concentrate on my joy, willing to become as innocent as my daughter. “They are racing !” shouted Claire, “naughty girls.”

“Look, there are two birds enjoying the scenes on top of the tree,” I pointed out. Claire giggled as if she had accepted me to be in the same world.

But was it only a child’s imagination that counted for the joy ? No, for the bubble fun, it’s the beauty of being in middle: reality and fiction. The colorful bubbles, which existed only one or two seconds, displayed their most shining beauty and allowed us so little time to figure out their story. They each deserved a moving and unique story.

I suddenly remembered one unpublished poem written by Jean-Paul Sartre at his adolescence. It reads like this at the beginning:

“I’m a little boy who doesn’t want to grow up.

The game, the game of the wind in the trees,

The game of the leaves in the wind,

The game of the sea in the sea,

The game of the sunshine on the white stone,

And the nature which is my favorite game,

Do you think I will give them up,

As broken stuffed toys,

For the pleasure to be a grown-up ?”

In the middle of this poem, Sartre mentioned the bubble fun and wrote:

” Is there the truth ?

When I played with soap bubbles,

The truth of my bubbles, it’s their color, green or purple

And those amazing things we saw through,

And the surprising but unique way in which each of them

Blew out.”

I admire Sartre, I admire children, I admire more those who keep their children’s eyes to love the world. With joy, love and imagination, we may be very close to or just in the real happiness, although it seems like so evanescent as the shining bubbles.