My Mother, a gift wrapped in sandpaper
How a thoughtful analysis of your trials and lessons may boost your wellbeing.
My mother was a gift wrapped in sandpaper — cutting and abrasive upon contact, but when carefully examined and thoughtfully experienced, she became my most powerful and inspiring teacher.
She passed away some years ago, between Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays of light and gift giving — an auspicious time of giving thanks and celebration of life. Helping to sort out the things in her home, I found something that added significantly to my perspective of her. My mother’s home had been left basically undisturbed in her last four years while she was ill and incapacitated with no physical mobility or speech and needing 24-hour care.
Many years ago, in my last futile attempt to get her approval, I presented her with a copy of a Chinese American magazine that featured me on the cover — the Chinese American Immigrant Success story. Would she approve of me now that even the Chinese American community regards me as noteworthy? What the general American press said about me in newspapers, Fortune and Businessweek magazines etc. didn’t rate in her eyes. Here’s an opportunity to finally show her that I was not “a waste of a pregnancy” as she regularly told me. She took the magazine and laid it on her lap for a moment, then without glancing down she placed it on the coffee table and turned to watch television.
I realized then yet again that I have to approve of myself and not hope or wait for outside approval. That was my final bid to seek her acceptance. I was freed to be me, living my life as I best knew how, granting myself the recognition that I had secretly longed for from her. What a gift! To be able to fully live my life purpose, without the heavy shadow of outside expectations.
Now so many years later, on the bottom of the hoard of news clippings and articles about my brother, the Buddhist scholar, University Dean, professor and monk, was that magazine with me smiling on the cover. Maybe she did notice. Conceivably she might have actually approved, and perhaps she did feel a little bit proud of me? And equally important, it seemed possible that she might have been happy with all her children, and she was at peace with her own life. I sat there on the floor, holding the pile of papers, magazines and clippings and wept. I cried tears of joy, gratitude and love, I had been given a gift from my mother, that of acceptance.
Her life long criticisms of me have made me stronger and I strived harder to excel more than I would have otherwise. I developed deep compassion and the desire to help the less fortunate from understanding how it felt to have less and be judged as not being good enough. So many gifts have I gained from what on the surface was a miserable situation. Thank you mother for your gift wrapped in rough sandpaper. I am truly blessed.
Who or what situation in your life is your precious gift, wrapped in sandpaper? What can you gain from that? How can you share and celebrate your lessons learned?
We can choose how we regard each incident and development in our lives. When we opt for growth and happiness, we lift ourselves up with each new experience. Elect the course that brings you joy. After all it’s your life, you get to choose. Choose Happiness.
Please look up my other blogs on life, business, and food; you may find more fun, interesting and useful information to ease and sooth your daily life. I write my blogs so that you may benefit from what I learned, often through painful experience on how to be happy, healthy and have a dynamically balanced life. Happiness, good health and love to you.