Thursday, April 20, 2006

Evanescence

I believe that God DOES send angels to cheer us up at the lowest moments and to remind us in the most discreet way that He's there and He cares.

And these angels are called friends.

*****

Out of the blue at 9:30 pm as I was walking home, I got a call from a friend in town whom I haven't seen for the whole season. "May-yi, 大忙人!Where are you?", he shouted, almost numbing my ear lobes.

"See who's calling! ... Just walking home," I laughed. 大忙人?不過在糊塗地過日子吧。

20 mins later, M showed up at my door with a big pot of 麻婆豆腐 in hand. 「晚餐煮太多了,就想拿過來給你吧!」

*****

Walking into Lamont intending to search for S, I ran into CY burying herself in the books. 5 mins later, we had a great conversation under the dim, blue sky on the stone steps of Lamont, and she for the first time shared some of the most inspiring thoughts with the greatest clarity and humor. Together, 3 of us were off to get some pho, spiced up by their 整晚的賣力搞笑。真的,連S的「耶~哦!」冷笑話都覺得非常好笑。

*****

Out of the weirdest urge I wrote dad an email in the afternoon, at first just wanting to give him my positive feedback for the article just published on udn news today and giving him heads up on the happenings in life. A few hours later, two of the most encouraging emails in history popped up in my mailbox:

"Dear May - I forgot to tell you how I have felt about your writings on various things in your blog entries. Honest to God, I think you can become a very, very good writer, besides becoming a good academic. You have the writing talent: a tender heart, a pair of very observing eyes and the discipline of writing consistently. Your third culture life experiences is a gold mine for writing. I am saying all of these not to flatter you or to encourage you as a father to his daughter when the latter is somewhat confused or feeling low. I mean every word that I have said."

"I have been reading your bloggings ever since you alerted me of their existence. I know you have been feeling confused about academic pursuits vs. creative writing lately. Most of the graduate students have become like you in various stages in their graduate school years. So, your "problem" is quite general, nothing to be worried about ... I just read that this year's Pulitzer prize for fiction went to Geraldine Brooks for her book, March. It is a book about the father of the four sisters in The Little Women, who was a pastor serving in the army during the American Civil War. I think Ms. Brooks is associated with the Radcliffe College now. The Pulitzer prize for general non-fiction went to Caroline Elkins, assistant professor in the School of African Studies at Harvard. You may wish to talk to them (if they will receive you) for advice regarding the question of studying literature vs. pursuing creative writing."

Truly the most comforting emails ever. 老爸,很 up to date 喔!

*****

Beating against the odds of a very inconsistent internet connection, I logged onto MSN in the morning and saw my friend Y online. "Mind if I steal you for an hour for coffee just to chat?" I asked. "Why not make it lunch?", she suggested. 1.5 hours later, I sat down in front of Y, feeling as if I've found my long-lost twin sisters, dumping my mind out on her.

「我知道,我完全可以理解。梅儀,如果可以,你現在最想做什麼?或是說,做什麼可以讓自己好過一點?」

(沉默30秒) ... 「嗯,好想去永康街吃小吃喔 ..."」我說,接著只聽到Y 一陣爆笑。

「還有呢?」


「還有,好想回到橫濱,和你去吃とんかつ的晚上。」我說。

「嗯,完全有同感。我也好想回到在橫濱的日子。」

「不過,不要有颱風。或著就回到颱風之夜前的那段日子吧!」我補充一句。「這樣,或許我就能選擇那晚不去吧。」

又是一陣兩人會心的爆笑。


*****

Meanwhile, a few reality checks of the day:

1) As I was yet able to tidy up my tear-ridden face today at Thai restaurant with Y, a friend's husband who happened to sit down at a table nearby informed me of a remorseful news - The new-born baby of a colleague in the department has just suddenly past away and the couple has returned back to Prague. No specific details, and no knowing of how they are doing. I can't say at all that I could even attempt to understand the enormous amount of pain and sense of loss that the couple must be going through. No, not even having read Oe's "A Personal Matter" and getting a glimpse of his struggle with a baby born of brain hernia.

2) CY told us at dinner about the passing away of one of her respected professors back in Taiwan who got his first stroke at the age of 40 and eventually died from a surgical failure. He had the choice to prolong his life in a complete paralyzed state for a few more years perhaps and he too had the choice to take the risk to give the surgery a try. The latter choice was taken and the family bore the consequence. Perhaps the only slight comfort of the story was that as the son of the professor shared, the moment before his father was pushed into the surgery room, he saw a glow of light surrounding his father and a peaceful smile emerging on a already paralyzed face. An Illusion? A divine revelation? A message from above? The answer is clear to me, at least.

The evanescence of life, together with the beauty of life always bearing the infinite possibility of dignity, honor, love and hope despite the end in sight, is the reality that we are living in now. It's not a perfect reality and there's no perfect ending. Yet within such imperfect reality I'd still like to believe that there are perfect moments of everlasting dignity, respect and love that eventually take precedence over this reality of imperfection.

Without this belief, I cannot keep on going. And without having found an answer to the source of such perfect moments, I too cannot keep walking. Pastor Gary shared with us in private the other day how he feels that without the hope for heaven - not a place for hallmark-looking angels or diseased souls dressed in white robes to frolic around above clouds BUT a place where all the injustice and wrongdoings of the world may at last be set right - he cannot go on waking up in the morning and finding the worldly injustice and suffering staring coldly at him. And today, I just want to thank all my friends, the God-sent angels I'd like to believe, for creating and sharing those perfect moments of love, care, and infinite compassion for me.

A perfect moment is possible, however short or fleeting it may be.

梅ちゃん at 4:17:00 PM

3comments

3 Comments

at 4/21/06, 1:27 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastor Gary's comments are truly great and very comforting to me. I like the statement you made that while life can never be perfect in its entire span, there are always the moments of perfection which can help us keep on going.I think those moments are like the food we eat and the medicine we take so we can continue to live. A great statement!
ymshaw

 
at 4/21/06, 1:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of creative writing, have you read Ha Jin's Waiting? He is truly amazing, having captured so many literary awards. You know that he graduated from Brandeis with a Ph.D. in English literature. When he was teaching at Emory for a course in English literature, American students entered the classroom and saw him, they all thought that they must have entered the wrong room. I think he is a very displined writer and writes consistently, a great trait that you also have.
ymshaw

 
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