Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Hurricane and a School

Sandy. A hurricane, that wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the United States and caused devastation, the likes of which had never been seen before. Sandy Hook Elementary School. The venue of more devastation but of a different kind, almost two months later. The irony isn't lost on most of us. 

While the country was still reeling from the destruction in the wake of the hurricane, musicians came together for a concert to help gather funds to assist the victims. December 12th. We turned on our televisions to watch. Some of us even gave. Then, two days later, December 14th brought with it carnage. A 20 year old, after killing his mother, went to Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot dead 26 people, many of them children between 5 and 10 years old. We turned our televisions on again. Social media was buzzing with posts about the incident. 

With a collective gasp of horror, we wanted to know more. Bits and pieces of information rolled in. News about teachers who, like mother hens, gathered their students under their wings and hid from the insanity. A teacher who told the children that she loved them, because she wanted that to be the last thing they heard. Another teacher who faced the gunman and was shot at point blank range, execution style. A president who, love him or hate him, showed his human side by holding back tears as he called for the nation to pray for the people whose lives were forever changed because of this. 

The incident sparked discussions about gun control, a topic that comes up every time something crazy like this happens. We feel so helpless and hopeless, and the need to do something about it rekindles a long-running debate about our rights versus our safety. I am not going to talk about my views here. I am only going to say that something needs to be done. I don't know what that something is. 

All I do know was that there were fathers who ruffled their child's hair and said goodbye before leaving for work. There were mothers who kissed their baby goodbye and put them on a school bus. There were parents who were planning all kinds of fun ways to celebrate the holidays with their children. Not even in their wildest dreams did they imagine that they were never going to see their child alive again. There were husbands who kissed their wife goodbye and told them to have a good day. A good day? Hardly. Some of those wives made it back home. Others didn't. 

Through this somber rambling of mine, I pray for these parents, these husbands, these innocent souls that were lost yesterday. I pray for a healing that will take a long, long time to happen. I pray that this incident will somehow bring some kind of change to ensure that this does not happen to anyone again. There is no way to guarantee that a heinous incident like this never happens, but any measure to reduce the possibility is a step in the right direction. 

I pray. Because that is all I can do.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blessings and Miracles

On New Years Day 2012, my extended family and I went to watch the movie Tintin in 3D.  This was followed by dinner at P.F.Chang's and then a round of poker at my aunt's.  Without my even realizing it, I was dealt a straight flush.  Little did I know then that evening was only the beginning.  2012 would end up being unarguably one of the best years of my life.

Two Thanksgivings ago I wrote a blog titled, "An Attitude of Gratitude".  Close to last Thanksgiving I wrote another that was titled, "Happily Ever After".  My happily ever after continues to exist in a series of events that I view as nothing short of blessings and miracles.  27 days into the New Year, another big event occurred in my life.  I got married.  My aunts, uncles and cousins made themselves available to help in so many ways.  Multiple trips to craft stores, driving the bride back and forth to Canada a few times, a lot of sewing, a lot more gluing, and several photographs later, everything went off without a hitch.  In the end, the most wonderful thing about that day was not just the ceremony and the dinner, but the people who surrounded us with their presence and their love.  It was a very small and simple affair, but we had people attend all the way from Malaysia and New Zealand.  Cousins and their families flew in from Maryland and New Hampshire. My beautiful niece, whose own marriage I will be attending very soon, flew in from Philadelphia.  I owe a big, huge thanks to my family for their love and support.

The next event was a trip to San Francisco, when I had the privilege of meeting a former schoolmate of mine and his family.  It was a very short meeting, but it brought my past and present together in the realization that no matter who and what I was all those many years ago, I am happy with whom I have become today. It may not seem like much, but that event brought closure to some personal issues that I had been dealing with.  I also had a wonderful time meeting other friends and spending evenings with cousins who were at our wedding.  I will always remember the wonderful dinner of French food and deep conversation with Santhosh, one of my cousins who used to torment me when we were younger.  So much to be thankful for during that trip as well.   I am so thankful I have been able to reconnect with so many of my former schoolmates.  I am very thankful that after all these years my cousins and I share a close bond.  We will always be family no matter where the world takes us.  

The month of June saw my return to Las Vegas after a six year hiatus.  I know, I know.  Las Vegas is not everyone's cup of tea.  But there is something about the garish opulence that I find strangely attractive.  Maybe it's the fact that the city never sleeps.  Maybe it's because I remember the very first time we went there.  Four of us drove overnight from San Francisco.  We stayed at the MGM Grand.  Those were the days when we didn't have a whole lot of money, so we made do with having to play the nickel slot machines.  We still had so much fun.  Many trips followed after that, each time as much fun as the last.  Las Vegas has, for the most part, been kind to me.  This time was no exception.

Speaking of material blessings, I had a windfall at work that can be attributed purely to luck.  How else would one explain winning a prize that had nothing to do with my job, that was a one-question contest that I win the one time in seven years that I enter something like this?  But additionally, my hard work at my job and in my business has also paid off.  I finally got promoted, and my business is taking off like I would never have imagined.  

Then came July and with it, our trip to Maui.    I could write a book about those nine days.  Every aspect of that trip was an opportunity to be thankful.  The place where we stayed, far away from the mob of visiting tourists, was a house in the quiet hills, owned by my uncle and aunt.  They were so generous in allowing us to use it.  It was just perfect!  We woke up every morning to chirping birds and cool breezes.  We would sip tea on the deck while we enjoyed the fresh morning air.  We had a full kitchen in which we could cook.  We had a barbecue on which we could grill.  We went to a luau, went ziplining, watched the sunset in Kihei, watched a dramatic sunrise on Haleakala, enjoyed the local cuisine, enjoyed the beaches, enjoyed every single moment in paradise.  I don't know if we could have had a better time anywhere else that we did in Maui.  To think that it all started with a casual conversation when I went to tell my uncle and aunt that my husband and I were planning to get married!  

I can't help but feel that the result of all these blessings is a happy heart and a grateful spirit.  By no means are the blessings my motivation for my gratitude.  I have been and will be grateful no matter what.  I am grateful even when things don't go quite the way I expect, because I know that buried somewhere in the experience is  a lesson to be learned.  I am not just talking about myself either.  Someone very dear to me has been through one of the worst crises imaginable.  Her unwavering faith and positive attitude has carried her through it and brought her over the other side.  She is a living, breathing testament to what a strong belief in miracles can do.  

I also don't mean to sound like I have it all together.  I am only human, and I continue to be a work in progress.  There are times when I falter and tend to go back to my old ways of wondering what I did to deserve what I perceive to be the bad things that are happening to me.  The only difference now is that I pick myself up when I fall, and I shift focus back from the negative and into the positive.  

Every single day of  my life is a blessing.

Happy Thanksgiving.