I think we should all be thankful to others this year. However that’s not what I want to talk about here, which is being thankful to ourselves. Many of us don’t feel that we are being appreciated enough. Part of the reason is that we don’t thank ourselves enough. Worse, some of us even hate ourselves or can’t stand ourselves. Please don’t do that to oneself, especially not during the holiday season. So go hug and thank yourself, if not physically, at least metaphysically. Your breathing and sweating existence is a testimony of something, if not your usefulness at least your luck, if not your contribution at least your staying power.
We tend to concentrate on our wish that things will happen in our life. However we tend to forget that our life is good because many things don’t happen in our life. Just think about all the traffic accidents we are not involved in even though we drive daily, and many more mishaps that we are so unwittingly and innocently avoiding.
I just watched a movie about Mount St. Helens and its 1980 eruption. Thankfully there’s no volcano on the East Coast of North America. The strange thing is that after watching the movie, one feels the unexpected sensation of wanting to be there to watch the lava flow. There’s a tinge of glory in getting sucked in by this rare spectacle. One’s admiration for the geologist David Jackson and the bootlegging lodge owner Harry R. Truman elevated to an unreasonable degree. Anyway, we are lucky that none of those disasters in those famed disaster movies have happened in our life.
Immigrants should practice more of being thankful to ourselves. The reason is simple–we are under more pressure and facing more problems. One of the biggest issues is the fact that we are not here and not there. The hometown we left behind still likes us, but in a different way from those days when we were there. Those ancestral homes and those grandma’s jewelry won’t pass on to us. Stop fretting about it, the sooner the better, since it saves a lot of useless headache. Theoretically we have an equal claim in the hometown estate, but practically it is very rare we get a fair share, unless we take all those troubles to travel back and forth, to assign agents among relatives who oversee your interests, to create financial connections with our past. Most of us don’t have the energy to keep the tie so hot and have to give up eventually. In the meantime, here you are as an immigrant. Your accent and your Asian face mark you out as an outsider. Whenever there’s a political controversy, you are afraid that your difference makes you conspicuous in a bad way, being marked out as the target of the mob.
However I want to say be thankful to our fate and to ourselves. How to be thankful? Let me count the ways.
We have expanded our world view through all our struggles. I can just imagine how stubborn I would have been if I had not experienced things completely out of sync with my views.
We discover mini potatoes, cranberry, corn chips, not to mention organizers, and Trader Joe’s. What do I mean by discover as if I made an effort in an exploration? It’s not really a discovery, but rather an experience.
We become the true bilingual. I know people who claim to be bilingual, but only use one language in general. That’s not us. Many of us can do things equally well in both languages.
I met friends who share my interest in literature–this is truly friends traveling thousands of miles to meet; I met friends who insist on teaching me things I don’t know.