My Christmas wish-list of reflection.
1) Be grateful. This is the first on my list because the alternative is to be ungrateful. And to be ungrateful would mean that my Christmas wish-list will be endless. So, I can't complain. In truth, I have what I want and what I do not have is what I can do without. And to be grateful is to be able to live restfully without the things I can do without. There is actually no greater blessings than that. A mind at ease is always a heart at peace. This is a great reflection for Christmas as what money can't buy is not only priceless, it is also not for sale.
2) Be happy for no reason. I wonder a lot about the pursuit of happiness and I get anxious every time I think about it. Is it not a cat-and-mouse game for life? If Tom and Jerry is any indication, doesn't the pursuer always lose out big time? And I heard that a lot of people go to their grave still haven’t found what they are pursuing after. So maybe the "pursuit" is the wrong word. I therefore need to replace it with the "enjoyment" or the "savoring" or the "relishing" of happiness. Maybe I don't need a reason to be happy. Maybe happiness is just one choice away and it is about making my mind up and not so much about chasing a mirage.
3) Hope is free. Some lunches are free like when I get a treat from friends. Others cost me when I am giving the treat. Even choices have consequences and it may reward or cost me dearly. But hope is different. Hope is free. It really is. It also rewards me for my patience and trust. Having hope means never giving up and never giving up changes many things eventually for the better. I guess hoping and wishful thinking share something in common: they are both delusional. But only persistent hope transforms that initial delusion into a rewarding reality.
4) Don't judge the Christmas tree by its glitters and streamers. I have learned that you have to give a life time to bloom. If time is about patience, I should take its lead. And if failure is not final, then neither is success. The trajectory of a life from birth to death is about character growth and that is the defining purpose of life. I therefore do a life the greatest service by believing in its potential. And in believing in it, I affirm my life and my own struggles.
5) Charity is clarity. I am reminded about the Dead sea. It is a closed drainage basin that does not allow outflow. Metaphorically, it takes in and never gives out and it ends up well dead. I have to always bear that in mind. I believe that giving opens my eyes to what is truly important. It also changes me because knowing I can make a difference is always empowering. The clarity that comes with charity is a life of simplicity, hope and abounding joy. But when I keep taking, my life is mired in greed, strife, envy and bitterness. Now you don't need a new pair of lenses to see clearer than that, do you?
6) Work is redeeming. I once tried to stay at home for a week and it was draining. I felt useless and jaded. But now, I work without end and I sometimes dread it. I guess we are “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” This is where I need to see it differently. I recall a saying here: "Make a life, not just a living". I should never forget that. I should look beyond the 9 to 5 and the dollars and cents. I should even look beyond the longed-for weekends. I should therefore treat each day, whether Monday or Friday, as an opportunity to impact lives through what I do. And in return, savor the growth and experiences that come with persevering to bless lives at work.
7) Disappointment is passing; relationship is forever. People will disappoint, especially loved ones. God knows I have disappointed my wife (and children) many times over. But I love amiss if I expect more out of them than they can give. I must never forget that my loved ones are a gift to me and I must never take them for granted. In the same way that they have accepted me, I should accept them for who they are and not what I desire them to be. Recently my son did not do that well for his exams and I went into a tailspin. That is one good example of missing the "relationship" forest for the "grades" tree. I am of course wiser now. And I have discovered that when you love unconditionally, the subject of your affection will pleasantly surprise you in their own time.
8) The lighter side of life is always the brightest. I always wonder, how will my eulogy be like? What will people remember me by? Will I be eulogized as a serious person with little cause to be happy? Honestly, I dread living under the shadow of worries just to find out at the end of my life that most of what I had worried about never came to pass. What a wasteful way to live! For this reason (or fear), I choose to enjoy the lighter side of things. I choose to take life with a fistful of humor and look for the punch-line in all things. I choose to live and to let live. In other words, I choose to focus on the good that the light shines upon rather than the shadow that it casts.
9) Keeping the faith. I have resolved to hang on to my faith. It is the one thing that makes sense to me. In a recent thought experiment, I tried to strike out on my own without faith and I found out that I was indeed free to be what I want to be. However, I soon found out that what I wanted more to be without faith was to become what I had always dreaded. Somehow I noted that I was more arrogant in my thoughts and more self-centered in my actions. I am of course not saying that atheists cannot be moral. I am just saying that faith draws the line for me and it is personal to me. Needless to say, there are many ways to stand upright. But for me, I find my right angle when I am open to omnipotence.
10) The greatest Christmas gift for my children is our marriage. This is the last item on my Christmas wish-list and the one I hold dearest to in my heart. Let me start by saying that no marriage is easy. The marital vows challenge the parties to the core. But when two lives are joined together for a lifetime, this commitment is sacred and deserving of mutual sacrifices to make it work. Recently, I was one of the emcees for my in-laws' Ruby wedding anniversary. After 40 years (my own parents' is about 50 years), I observed that they still share a very special and inseparable bond. It is a bond that inspired not only their own children but many who have come in contact with them. Their love is an enduring testimony and it will always be the gold standard their children can draw strength and hope from. There is just something inexplicably magical about a love that struggles, stays and blooms together against all odds. And this magic is in the selfless devotion one intertwined soul offers without reservation to the other. It is indeed a priceless gift and the best gift this Christmas and for all Christmases for the children. Cheerz.