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When I was eight years old, I lost my voice and became a mute overnight. My beautiful picture

It was one of the toughest times of my life and I was constantly getting into trouble at school from one fight to another.

At the time, my dad found a new job so my family and I left our hometown and traveled thousands of miles to San Francisco.

I started fourth grade at Redding Elementary School, a small redbrick schoolhouse that smelled like a combination of instant coffee beans and refried beans from burritos. It’s a distinct smell that I can still vividly recall today.

During my third week into school, the kids at my table noticed that I don’t speak so they decided to play a prank on me.

A skinny boy with dark long hair who sat across from me asked, ”Can I see your Mazinga Robot paper pad?”

I nodded my head and slid over my favorite cartoon character across the wooden desk. He grabbed my pad, took a look at it and stuffed it into his backpack.

I was shocked to see what just happened. I wanted to ask for my robot back but I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t even raise my hand and said, “Teacher, he took my pad.” I left home pretty angry that day.

Days go by and these bully kids would find new ploys to pick on me. They know that I can’t speak and therefore threw me under the bus for the things I didn’t do. I became the kid that gets blamed for everything.

Anything that went wrong, “Allan did it. He’s the guilty one. Shame on him,” as a fair skin girl points her index finger at me. I became the class’ mascot, The Sacrificial Lamb.

I find myself in detention hall every other day and I have to stay an extra hour after school sitting there at my desk wondering what I did wrong.

My teacher would send me home with notes like “Allan doesn’t pay attention in class and he is always causing trouble with other students.”

The misunderstanding and scapegoat pointing became a vicious cycle because I would fight back against these bullies for the things I didn’t do. Most times, I would visit the friendly principal’s office followed by more scolding from Mrs. Chen.   

Six months in to school, I got into a fight with a freckle classmate wearing a blue plaid shirt during recess. Fists were trading back and forth as he and I duked it out while other kids watched us at the schoolyard. He grappled me into a headlock with his right arm and around and around we turn as I tried to free myself. During the wrestling match, I slipped and my right blue Adidas shoe came loose.

When I untangled myself from his vise, the boy ran towards my shoe.  He picked my sneaker up, hurled it across the schoolyard, pass the 7 foot red metal picket fence and onto the adjacent one-way street.

One of the teachers came over to break our fight up.  Soon after, the recess bell rings and everyone except for me went back to class.

I looked for a near by green wooden bench and sat there dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to get my shoe because kids were not allowed to go outside the fence without adult supervision. At the same time, I watched 5 passing cars driving down Frank Norris Street crushing my shoe.

Metal Picket FenceI felt defeated and I thought to myself how much I hated school.

As I sat there with my head down, a woman in her early 40s with blonde hair comes over and asked, “Why are you not in class? Why are you sitting here?”

I shrugged my shoulders and I couldn’t speak. She asked me again but this time her voice was firmer and louder.

I lifted my head, looked up at her with my teary eyes and said, “I don’t speak English.

I don’t speak English”, was the only English sentence I knew.

The woman custodian said something else I couldn’t understand so I pointed m finger at my shoeless foot.

She asked me, “Where is your shoe?”

I pointed my finger towards narrow ally of Frank Norris. Together, she held right my shoulder and we hopped across the schoolyard, open the rusty metal picket gate and fetched my right blue Adidas.

I went home that night upset and told my dad what happened at school.

I said, “Dad, I’m done with school. I am not going back. I hate the school here and I hated it here.

In Taiwan, I was getting straight A’s. In America, I was getting straight F’s in every subject except for Math and Art.”

Dad looked at me with kind and compassion eyes. He knew that I was in pain but he doesn’t know how to quite help me.

Instead of telling me I have to go back to school, he said, “Son, what can I help you with so that other kids can’t pick on you anymore?”

I said, “I feel like I’m always the one to blame even when it’s not my fault.

Dad says, “I’m going to teach you these two words so listen carefully.”

He paused for a moment and said, “Not Me!”

I repeated after him several times saying, “Not me!”

A few weeks later, I found myself in the center of attention again. Someone had opened a broken window at the back of our classroom when we weren’t supposed to. Our teacher was furious and wanted to know who opened the window.

One of the kids pointed at me and said, “Allan did it.”

My teacher stormed towards me, leaned over my desk, looked at me with her fury eyes and started yelling at me.

That was the day when I stood up and said, “Not me!”

My teacher took a step back.

And again I said, “Not me!”

I took her and the rest of the class by surprise that I actually spoke. I have a voice and I am no longer the victim bullies easily picked on.

Since the incident, I still got into fights, but those bullies had to think twice before picking on me again.

And a year later and a new teacher, I was still a regular attendee in after school detention program. Except this time, I got in trouble because I can’t stop talking in class. 

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Almost exactly a year ago, I was crying my eyes out while my ex-girlfriend drove me to Los Angeles International Airport. 

As a man, I can count the number of times when I broke down and cry uncontrollably with only five fingers.

I said to myself, “Be strong Allan. Things will get better. Just get through today and tomorrow is another day.” I repeated that mantra over and over to help me get through that day.

“Where did our relationship go wrong? Have I done my best and gave her everything,” I asked myself.

My inner voice said, “You have given your all and you have done your best. You gave her everything and done you could have. That is something you should be proud of.”

I was really torn. I was really broken.

My heart was in pieces as I left LAX wearing a pair sunglass at night for the first time. I didn’t want the world to see me like this, weak and fragile.

I was free falling towards depression and I knew I needed to somehow pick myself up fast because I support my mom and dad and I still have a hectic corporate job to do.

I needed to stop the bleeding so the very next day, I went to a power yoga session. I felt physically better after class, but I know my heart was still mangled.

Many times throughout the day, I would feel all sorts of heavy emotions from getting very angry, to missing her, to wondering what went wrong. This perpetual figure eight loop keeps circling over and over in my head.

The worst part was that I still have to work 14 hour days and on weekends to catch up. Heck, I even had to work during Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas writing statement of work.

By January of this year, I was burnt out with my super stressful job. Last year, I had logged in over 75 hotel nights and over 80,000 airline miles for work. Everything about me fell apart.

I asked my Manager to take time off from work. He gracefully supported my decision.

I felt like I had to get away from everything so that I have a better perspective. I took that opportunity and traveled so that I could pick up the pieces of my heart and to get away from ever piling emails.

I booked a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Savusavu Fiji, Sydney Australia, Ubud Bali, and Heifei China. It was a one and half-month trip and I’m not sure where I wanted to go after China.

Even thought I was suffering in deep depression and burn out, I committed myself to help people that came across my path.

I met many amazing people that simply needed someone to listen to and I was there to help support them if they wished. I asked for nothing in return.

I met a dog trainer who lost her dog, her best friend.

I met a man who’s parents looked down on what he loves to do in life.

I met a mother that was extremely depressed.

I met a dad that was overwhelmed with his job and didn’t know what to do.

I met a father who beats his wife because he felt trapped and angry.

I met a yoga teacher that could use a little confidence.

I met a woman that is working on her depression after a divorce.

I met a woman that finally forgive her brother after 20+ years

And I have met many others.

The profound thing was that I saw bits and pieces of myself in everyone that I had helped out.

The best part was that I met a young man who’s passion is to spread love and joy.

I learned that his mission in life is to inspire others to spread love and joy to their family, love ones, friends and even random strangers. Together everyone can make a difference in the world, one person at a time.

I found that young man in my heart. By serving the amazing people that I have met and by giving them my unconditional love, I was able to help heal my heart in return.

This year, I found what I was made of.

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Live.Love.Journey!

“No,” I did not reach enlightenment as the title might indicate. Well, sort of. I have received some insights but it’s not exactly holy. It is more of a hole to be exact.

Recently in the last few months, I have been finally able to do better balancing handstand poses now that I feel a lot stronger. I also feel like I can push myself a little more and learn to teeter around the edge a bit.

When my yoga teacher said to get into tripod headstand, I was a bit hesitant because of the previous neck injury caused by headstand two years ago. The pose caused bad compression on my neck and it took months for my Chiropractor to realign me.

Fast-forward two years later and here I feel like I am stronger now and I want to give headstand another shot. I had setup my arms like dolphin pose and gently rested the top of my head against my mat. Once I found the sturdiness of the pose, I slowly used my core to bring up my legs. I was also very mindful of not compressing my neck again, so I concentrated on the lifting part of the neck and spine. To my surprise, I was able to get up and balance with ease, well for a few seconds anyways.

“So far, so good,” I thought to myself.

Next thing I know, I felt the weight shifting forward and started to tip over to the front of my mat. The problem is that I know exactly what I am going to collide into. It was a large stereo amplifier with a bunch of sharp knobs.

What I heard next was a loud bang against the metal box after drop kicking it with my right knee and the other students’ loud gasps. I recovered from my fall and my yoga teacher immediate comes to me and asked if I was ok.

I felt fine and didn’t feel much pain so I just laughed it off and said, “I’m ok!”

I slowed everything down to assess the fall and I looked around my right knee since I did feel a bit of pain. To my surprise, I saw a dime size hole in my right leg, about ½ inch from my right knee cap.  I also noticed blood all over my mat, and some blood droplets near the stereo as well.

“It looks pretty bad,” my yoga teacher said.

From my Army medical training days, the first thing I did was to stop the bleeding. I grabbed my hand towel and firmly pressed it against the laceration. From there, I walked to the near by medical kit, taped myself up with gauze and medical tape and went back to the class to pack my things up. Then I rode off on my motorcycle and headed from the nearest hospital.

Since I had a few hours to kill at the hospital, I decided to reflect what just happened so here I am at the ER writing this blog on my phone.

I remember one of my favorite trainers, Scott Harris from Tony Robbins, talked about his concept “Feather, Brick, Truck.”

What does feather, brick, and truck have to do with my injury?

I have been experiencing some tenderness in my wrist from doing too many arm balance poses in the last few months and the soreness from my wrists are trying to tell me something. This is known as feather. It also doesn’t help that I am typing away for months now on a non-ergonomic laptop. I have noticed the pain in my wrist but I have been kind of ignoring it. Key word is “ignoring ” it.

“If you don’t pay attention to the feathers in your life, then you’ll get hit by a brick,” Scott says.

Bam, I get a deep laceration on my right kneed or AKA brick.

Since I understand feather, brick, truck, I realized what my body is trying to tell me. If I really don’t pay attention after this incident and continue to do what I’m doing, I will eventually experience truck and that will be some kind of a major injury.

I am fortunate that I did not injure my tendon or I will really be out of commission for a while. Even though I kept a real positive attitude by smiling all the way to the ER, I need to take care of my body. Due to this knee injury, I won’t be able to do yoga or chi gong for a while.  I also limp around my house from one chair to another and I can’t go out for a walk or drive my car or my motorcycle.

It’s the little things that we take for granted that we should always appreciate.

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Live.Love.Journey.

My mom had spoken about an four-year girl who had traveled over 3,000 miles in China to avoid political persecution during the spring of 1948.  At the time, China was still recovering from the previous 10 years Sino-Japanese war that had caused an estimated 6 million lives.

Shortly after the Japanese leaving China, a civil war broke out in which the country had suffered another 5 million lives in approximate. It was the Nationalist, KMT, against the Communist and created havoc within the nation. Many of the KMT fled to Taiwan for safety, including this little girl and her family.

When her family realized that the Communist was overtaking the country, they began to escape starting from the northern part of China, Nanjing province, to the southern part of China, Guangdong province. During the 3,000 miles of treacherous terrain, the family went from having everything – wealth, status, and three generations of family members – to having nothing. Overnight, all of the real estates they own and the acres of land across multiple provinces where all gone. The Communist had torn up all the deeds and occupied the properties with guns. Worst of all, the family of three generations were separated. Some were able to flee to Taiwan. Many stayed in China and were either tortured or starved to death.

The family had no change of clothes by midway of the trip because they had to give up everything to travel light. It was all about survival at that point. They wore the same clothes day after day. They had no change of dry clothing after the many rain. When the rain stopped, they just wore the same cold and sodden clothes until it dried on their bodies.

When they finally reached Guandong, the Communist scouts captured her family and put everyone in a concentration camp. In the camp, the Communist leaders segregated everyone into three groups, men, women, and elders with kids. The men were force into conscription. The women cooked and did laundry. The elders looked after the kids. Even at night, the families were not allowed to stay together as everyone was mandated to sleep in their own designated groups.

Fortunately this family had a very smart uncle. Under the darkness, somehow he found everyone in the camp and quietly sneaked everyone out of the compound by bribing the Communist guards with 5 ounces of gold bullions. They quickly left the camp under the moonless night and ascended a near by mountain. The dad was afraid of losing the little girl in the darkness so he tethered her with a 5-foot rope.

“What happened next is what no four years old girl should ever experience in her life time,” as my mom sighed and continued with the story.

While walking in the darkness, they smelled a horrific stench in the air. As they ascended up the mountain trail, the decaying smell, the sweet flesh scent, became stronger and stronger. In pitch black, the little girl kept tripping over what seemed to be logs everywhere on the ground. She quickly realized that it wasn’t the logs that she was tripping over. They were dead people she was stepping on. The family had walked into an open grave full of dead people that were executed by the Communist soldiers not too long ago.

She would carefully walk over the dead bodies but often times she would step on dead carcasses. The blood from the body would splash all over her hair, her face, her chest, her arms and all over her small body.

The escape seemed forever as they walked all night in the mountain to escape from hell. When the sun came up in the distant horizon, they realized that they had walked in a full circle. The family had walked back to where they had started in the first place. The Communist soldiers saw them through the binoculars and recaptured them back to the concentration camp.

The uncle did not give up. He would gather the family at night again and bribed the Communist guards with gold bullions to get out of the camp. This time however, the guards pocketed the gold, walked them out of the camp just to redirect them back into the camp. They were separated into three groups, men, women, elder with children again.

The uncle finally found a reliable source, his old army friend that was a Nationalist before switching side to become a Communist. He bribed them in gold and the family was able to finally escape. From Guandong, they traveled by boats from Hainan Island, Hong Kong, and finally settled in Taiwan.

My mom said, “They walked into the concentration camp – three times in, and three times out in search of freedom.”

That little girl vividly recalls every detail of that night. That little girl is my mother and she can recall everything even after sixty-four years later.

“Things like that you can never forget,” she said.

Before my uncle passed away fifteen years ago, he asked me to take care of my mom.

“Take care of your mom when you grow up because she has gone through a lot in her life,” my uncle told me.

I have never forgotten about that conversation and I am proudly supporting both my mom and my dad. For me, family comes first.

For this Mother’s day, share with your mom with your heart by telling her how much you appreciate what she has done for you because chances are she too had suffered much in life.

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P.S.The picture above was taken on March 2012 and was my grand father’s land before the Communist took over in 1948.

I had attended one of Jennifer Prugh’s Foundation of Flow/Meditation class recently and the theme to her class was to dedicate the practice to someone we know who is suffering and to wish them well.

I had asked my heart to whom I should dedicate this session to and he reminded me of a recent road rage incident. Gordo, a nickname whom I have given to the middle age Mexican man, taught me a life lesson about compassion and forgiveness.

A few weeks ago, I was driving my Nissan, “The Un-Prius,” as I called my 15 miles per gallon V8 truck, on the freeway heading going home. I usually have the music blasting to the tunes of my favorite Black Eye Peas songs while driving. However, I wanted some peace and quiet that day because I was really angry. I wanted to calm my mind through silence and breathing and that was when my rage boomerang back at me.

As I exited off the freeway, I looked up my rear view mirror and noticed a dinged up 1975 silver Toyota Celica fast approaching me. When he came close enough for me to see his face, I saw a Hispanic man in his early 40s screaming and waving his arms ecstatically and yelling at me.

My first thought was, “Is he trying to warn me that there is something wrong with my vehicle because I have a flat tire?”

I had ignored him and continue to drive after the light turned green. At the second stop light, I saw the mid age man screaming at me again and now I know for sure he was upset at me.

I thought to myself, “What the heck did I do to you? I was minding my own business. Truly you got the wrong person. So what gives?”

When we both came to a full stop at the red light, Gordo got out of his car, started to run towards me with his large belly giggling up and down. He got right next to my car door and started screaming something in Spanish as he stood in the middle of the street. I told him, “I do not understand what you are saying and if I cut you off, I’m really sorry.”

Gordo did not care what I had to say even if he could understand me. Just then he wound up his left arm getting ready to punch me through the driver window. During that split second, I wanted to punch him first to protect myself. However, for some reason, my heart told me not to extend my arm because he wasn’t angry. He was just really hurt inside.

Something strange happened. He unwound his fist, withdrew his anger, and walked back to his car. When the light turned green, I drove off and continued to send thoughts of compassion and forgiveness to him.

Before Jennifer’s class, I didn’t understand why Gordo was so upset at me other than I might have cut him off on the freeway. After the meditation session, I had another prospective where that Toyota might have been Gordo’s only transportation, and he might not have auto insurance let alone medical insurance. If one does not have auto insurance in California, the driver is at fault and will also lose his driver’s license.

If Gordo had gotten into a car accident, he would have lost his driving privilege by three years, and not have the money to repair his car. If he was hurt from the accident, he won’t be able to cover his medical expenses. More importantly, he may be the only breadwinner in his family supporting his wife and three kids. If he is injured, who will be supporting his family?

I realized that underneath the anger, he was really afraid and hurt. Everyone has his or her own suffering underneath it all. Often times we use anger as a façade to protect ourselves as a form of self-defense mechanism.

When we are in an angry state, we are walking through life as if we have blinds covering the side of our eyes like the horses pulling the carriage in New York’s Central Park. We only see what is wrong with our lives and what is wrong with others and nothing else.

When we’re in that un-resourceful state, we blind ourselves from gratitude, compassion and forgiveness that empower us. The feeling of hate just makes us bitter in life, a life that hurts everyone around us, and even random strangers.

“Choose gratitude, compassion and forgiveness,” my heart says.

Spread Love, Joy, and…Peace.

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Live.Love.Journey!

There is an old fable about a young fisherman named Captain Jace who lived in Piraeus, a city south west of Athens 1000 B.C. ago. His philosophy in life was ahead of its time as he focused on living life instead of avoiding death because he believes that everyone has their time on earth.

“Anyone can die anytime, at any second, and even choke to death from a sip of water. If it’s not time to die, it is not time to go,” he always says.

Many wise elders thought he was purposely chasing after death.

His response to them was, “I am living life! What are you doing wasting yours?”

Although Jace seemed confident on the outside, he did have a dark side to him. He drank mead as if it was water. In his mind, bliss was getting drunk so that he can escape to another world, another dimension of “made up” happiness, because he was in so much pain. It did not bother him if he would wake up face down on the cobble stones in an alley somewhere next morning after drinking all night. He thought he can drink away his pain so that he can forget about the loss of his parents to the Mediterranean Sea when he was eight years old.

When Jace was in his early twenties, he had a very successful fishing business and all the locals wanted their hands on his catch because he would always bring the best seafood. He would voyage to parts of the dangerous sea, strong currents and hidden corals, where no other fisherman would risk their lives to go to find the catch. A few others have tried to compete with him only to have drowned.

“You won’t die as long as you stick with me. It’s not time for me to go yet. Therefore it’s not time for you to go either!” as he boasts to his First Mate, Matthias and his crew.

One autumn day while he is singing his same usual tunes coming back to port, a beautiful blond woman at the port caught his attention. Elena was a tall and slender 5’8” sixteen year old with bluish green mesmerizing eyes to match the color of her dress. Without hesitation, he approached her like as if he had approached many other women before. Except this time, he knew she has caught his heart. They quickly got married within the few weeks of meeting each other despite of Elena parents’ disapproval. She was madly in love with him and there was nothing her parents could do to talk her out of it.

Life was splendor for the first few years of the marriage and his business quadrupled. Elena even convinced him to stop drinking as well. Since his business was doing well, he and Elena lived comfortably where he had a choice to retire to stay home with her.

Instead, he tells her, “I love the sea too much and I don’t want to give it up.”

For him, it is always a hunt, a conquering of man against nature, and to test his immortality against the angry seas so he thought. Deep down inside, he was really looking for his lost mom and dad all these years who’s ship capsized somewhere around the north of the Cyclades Islands.

Elena would always wait for him at the dock on the days of his return except for this one day in summer. When Jace did not see his wife, he went into a fury, a rage that no one can control him or calm him down. He kicked every wooden boxes, woven baskets and barrels that were in his path as he walked on to the dock. After he was done kicking, he ran back to his fishing boat, grabbed all of the twenty two baskets of fresh catch and tossed all of them overboard. No one was able to stop him, not even Mathias.

On the sprint home, past arguments with Elena and negative images of his wife flashes before him. In one scene, he re-lived the event where she yelled at him about how she haven’t felt love from him for a long time.

“All you care about is your fishing expeditions,” she screams.

He yelled back, “I’m trying to provide you a comfortable living. How can you say such things? Why can’t you just appreciate what I’m doing for you?”

In another scene, he imagined her cheating on him with another man in his bed. The more he visualized them together, the more exacerbated he became.

“How could she cheat on me after I risk my life providing food on the table?” he had thought.

These negative thoughts kept stacking one on top of another as he ran towards home.

When he arrived in front of his house, he kicked the front door open with such immense force that doors just parted and fell into pieces. His three servants quickly ran to the side of the house as they know his temper well. They did not want to be in the path of destruction. He searched every room to find Elena but she was not home. He grabbed everything that was breakable in the house and smashed them all on the ground. His was so focused on his rampage that he didn’t notice the shrapnel from the porcelain vases and pieces of limestone from statues on the floor had lacerated multiple places of his feet. He picked up all of the fifteen bottles of mead in his house and left alone with a trail of bloody foot prints towards his boat, alone in the dark.

Within an hour of his departure, dark clouds rolled into the port of Piraeus. The storm brought with a heavy down pour and thunderbolts lit up the sky as if it was day time. Under normal circumstances, even Jace would think twice before sailing out in such foul weather, but he did not care whether he lived or not. His intent was to drink every bottle dry. Jace was in so much pain that he just wanted to be somewhere else but here.

The storm progressively picked up and a fierce gust of wind snapped the main mast in half as if it was a thin twig from a tree branch. The break of the mast did not even flinch him at all. Jace was determined to drink his pain away. The large waves continued to pound his ship over and over as if a blacksmith was trying to shape an amber sword with a mallet. The final wave, a 55 footer, came in and smashed the boat into multiple pieces. Captain Jace went overboard and was sucked into the turbulent wave. The last thing he saw before leaving this world was the dark blue color of water as he slowly drifted to the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

Elena was supposed to come to the port that afternoon but she had lost track of time while praying at the temple. The night before Jace’s return, she had a nightmare that her husband was swallowed by the sea. She went to the temple that morning to pray to the Gods for her husband’s safe journey home. By the time she was ready to leave, the heavy rain blocked her path from returning to her home safely.

After the storm passed later that night, she hurried home next morning to find Jace’s best friend inside her house.

Matthias said, “Where have you been? I have been looking all over for you.”

He told her that he was not able to find Jace and the only things he could recover were the remains of his boat washed ashore. Elena’s heart dropped and broke into pieces like the shattered porcelain and limestone on the floor.

Even though many years have passed since Jace’s death, Elena had always felt his presence around her as she aged into her twilight years. She always felt that he was there to protect her as a guardian angel. Elena could still feel Jace’s presence at the side of the dock where she would always wait for his return.

Jace has been chasing after the past, the lost love of his parents. He never realized that love has always been in front of him and within him. If we constantly chase after what we think is missing in life, we would miss out on what we already have right in front of us.

Had Jace took the time to appreciate Elena’s love, would this story have unfolded differently? Had Jace stopped blaming God for taking his parents away at a young age, would he be able to see that God was trying to teach him a lesson of independence?

– If today was your last day on earth, what would you do or say to the people that you love or had loved?

– Would you still hold your grudges against them?

– Would you still yell at them?

– Would you forgive them and send love and light their way?

– How would you live if today was the last day of your life?

– What if we were to try and live like this everyday?

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Live.Love.Journey!

Thank you Katy Perry for inspiring me to write this story.

 

I was walking to a local 7 Eleven near my house a few weeks ago with my yellow Labrador, Tiger, to buy my winning lottery ticket. During my journey, I bumped into an interesting mid-twenty years old man. He wore a gray beanie with snowflake print, a black jacket, and a satchel from Symantec. He greeted me with a smile and said, “Hello, I like your doggie. I used to have a golden retriever.”

I smiled back and went on with my mission into 7 Eleven (I’ll talk about my mission of starting a nonprofit company at another day) and handed one dollar to the clerk for a lottery ticket. Before the clerk gave me my lottery ticket, he said to me, “I will only give you the winning lottery ticket if you smile.” I smile and kindly received the ticket and said “Thank you!”

As I walked out of the store, Mr. Beanie approached me for some help with his current monetary situation. He asked for a cup of coffee and I told him that I was happy to buy him one. “Would you like anything else, like a doughnut?”, I asked and he said, “No, I am just happy with coffee.” I can tell from his demeanor that he wanted both, but also he did not want to impose or project that he’s greedy. I knew Mr. Beanie was of a different person so I was determined to help him.

I said, “Instead of coffee and doughnuts, would you like Subway instead?” He gave me the gesture of unsureness with his should up to his ear and he mumbled “I haven’t had Subway for awhile.” I said, “C’mon, let’s get you some food” and the three of us walked into Subway. The clerk said “What would you like to order today?” as I look at Mr. Beanie to see what he would like. “Ham and cheese please,” he said.

While the clerk was making the 12 inches sandwich, I asked Mr. Beanie if he had enough money for a bus ride. He took about .85 cents in change out of his pocket and said, “Probably not.” I reached in my pocket and gave him what was left in my wallet and said “Here, please take this for your bus ride.” He hesitated for a few seconds, dropped his head and started sniffling. I had to admit, he got me teary eyed as well at that moment. Just then, he gave me one of the warmest hugs I have ever felt in my life. I could feel how much he was in pain as I said to him, “Everything will be alright. Everything will be alright.” Afterwards, he thanked me and we parted.

I cried the whole way driving to the office later that day, and I couldn’t figure why. “Was I sad for Mr. Beanie or was I touched by his genuine gratitude from his heart?” I had pondered for answers but none came to me.

The answer came to me a few weeks later during my meditation practice. I realized that he and I are not very different from one another. We both are going through a winter season of our lives as we walk in the path of darkness. When I helped Mr. Beanie that day, I had offered a flame of hope to ignite his own torch so that he knows he is not alone in this world. On the same token, I could not have done this without the help of my yoga teachers, friends and family in lighting my own internal flame.

It takes a huge amount of courage to ask for help. Showing our vulnerability does not mean we are weak. We are all human and we all need help at different times of our lives.

As I continue this journey inward of the human experience, I am seeking for answers to my own question – “What is the meaning of my life?”

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Live.Love.Journey!