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Chai High

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Friendship for Real

“Real” friendship does NOT involve doing the arithmetics in calculating the pluses and minuses in your career, social life or status. In other words a relationship is not based on those self-serving measurements but purely on common interests, common values, and this is big for me – amount of fun and joy or sense of serenity and peace we get from each other’s company. A bonus might be that there’s learning from one other whether you share a similar background or drastically diverse – sharing stories – it’s always rewarding. It’s crazy but even if there’s a negative correlation or unfavorable risks, a true friend will come to support and aid at such times of trouble, when help is warranted.

In other words a diamond in the heaps of sands and debris and trash …

In a lifetime if you even manage to count such a friend with one hand, then, you are very very lucky- said my mother who comes from an era where there were no curated social networks and medias, where there were no Likes and validation through such virtual signs.

While I wonder if my friends are each a diamond or a diamond in the rough, haha, I came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s time to turn it around – change the perspective – to simply flip the focus. Instead of wondering, why not review how many people have I have been a good friend to? Have I been present? Have I really reached out? Have I said Yes to offers and invitations myself? No – often I said No. I am busy; I am tired: I am overwhelmed; I am not in the same situation, excuses abount – ultimately I was self-absorbed.

So Instead of trying to find such diamonds FOR MYSELF- think I will rather focus on polishing myself to be that diamond itself myself for others rather than wondering if I have diamond like friends ! Be the Diamond! So here’s the long winded way to come to setting a New Year’s Resolution:

1. Self-care – recommit to home yoga practice and to a nourishing sustainable well balanced diet reducing inflammations and acid. You can’t shine when you are depleted. Right?

2. Self- improvement and investing in such tools and resources. That could mean explorations in physical terms such as in simple and routine walks in nature, or in travels; or it may just be an inner travel to rediscover what’s within. Or going outward to reach out to others. You can’t shine if you are empty – devoid of insights and knowledge.

3. Forgive – judge less; do less, experience more. Forgive others and most improtantly, forgive yourself. You can’t shine if you are holding a grudge or angry.

4. Forget the negatives. You can’t shine if you are focused on the negatives – instead focus on the cup half full – then eventually my cup runeth over. Right?

5. Cherish and savior the moments with those dear to one’s heart and soul.

You can’t shine if you neglect, ignore or forget the NOW – the present moment. Right?

6. To be selective – in associations and space we choose to be in. Selective does not mean snobbery or discriminating or hallucinating one’s superiority or being egotistical in any way – I am special – I am chosen – kind of sick mentality? No. Selectivity not based on any self-esteem issues but rather on being able to set boundaries, guarding against toxicity (those who complain excessively, those who always bring up negative news, uninspired and unhelpful critiques to burst any bubbles of good will), and not to become a “therapist” or a “counselor” to those who could use a professional help unless a non-professional advice is sought. So … selective in words, time, space mostly to help protect our own mental health.

Once I had a “friend” who at bedtime will share a horrid news of the day in an alarming fashion, really setting oneself up for a sleepless night. If one tends to suffer from insomnia, definately someone to avoid as we need to protect our sleep hygine. There’s the lavendar, the perfect bedding, the warm bath, meditation, yin and restorative yoga … all that effort to create that sacred space of care and peace can come crumbling down with toxic messaging – so … mute or shut off noise and chaos, calm the anxieties, quiet the nerves from 4 hours before bedtime. True fiends – know, care and respect friends’ need to maintain health and well-being. I am sorry – I cannot process news of self-harm, violence, accidents, front-line news past dinner time and if that means I am less of a friend, that’s not friendship but a therapist without an appointment. Emergency SOS – now that’s different – if there’s something I can do to help and rescue a friend out of an emergency … I will rush over if that’s the case – but rehashing the day’s bad news that not even God can do anything about ? No more. No thank you.

You can’t shine if your energy is tapped or stolen, right?

7. Shed and purge and seek minimalism while retaining sense of humor.

You can’t shine if your mind and space is cluttered and dust covers surfaces and veils are over your vision. Right?

8. Retain or cultivate more humor; see comedy in all – smile and laugh more by fililng the mind and spirits with vibrations of vitality and good will.

You can’t shine unless you are able to laugh at the absurdity of this thing called life. Right?

9. Ah I forgot , hee hee, after forgive and forget – even in a very small way, “FIGHT” fight for what’s precious. Hate to sound corny but that would be to fight for human rights, safety, decent healthcare, democracy and security. Fight our FEARS. This is something I have to study so relates back to #2. We cannot improve ourselves if the community is in disarray. So Self vs. Whole vs. the community as a whole… something to think about. Forgive, Forget and still … Fight when necessary.

SO you can’t shine unless you are willing to SHINE with no shame; shine to preserve what’s good for all. Right?

If we care to be, we are a warrior and a goodess in one.

We are going to make 2023 a magnificient renewed year.



Not Monterey Park

I would not be truthful if I said I had no fear. And if I had no fear perhaps it’s sheer ignorance or denial for my own mental health. There is more fear especially now with the gun violence reported the day before this day we went to San Francisco Chinatown. Few blocks into Grant Street gate there were police presence.

Fire cracker sounds were heard intermittently from the alleys and were we scared? At that moment in time, Call me stupid or brave but

No. There was no fear. People went about as they do. The stage full of dancers danced speeches were heard on a loud microphone- streets were crowded with visitors like us either oblivious or even more determined than ever – all the more you might say. Perhaps many people who planned to come join the festivities cancelled. We understand. We have gotten so used to the cancel culture now so ingrained in us having lived through the Covid new normals of last 3 years.

I am not Chinese nor of Chinese descent and while my family has never celebrated Lunar New Year as a new year celebration, here we are to experience a little of other cultures and customs kept alive here in San Francisco Chinatown.

It’s tragic what’s happened in Monterey Park. Then a flashback of an incident when my son and I volunteered at a Food Bank in a marginalized neighborhood. At this food bank a long line forms when grocery bags of various foods are handed out. They were mostly black and brown skinned people – Afro-Americans and Latin Americans. Mostly. But a rare sight – an old Asian man approached the counter manned by a young lady and asked only for a bottle of cooking oil, pointing at the shelf with lots stocked. The young lady looked at him coldly and said NO with not one bit of compassion. No I can’t give it to you you need to get a blah blah. It’s just a little plastic jar of corn oil or something maybe $3-4 at a grocery store. Internally I was rolling my eyes in disbelief- why not? just give it to the poor man. It doesn’t belong to you – there’s no shortage there’s plentiful supply on the shelves- just give it to the poor man begging. Why be mean?

That – that man’s face of being told no for such a little item – just give it to him! I thought of that poor man and the daily numerous rejections and contempt he probably endures being poor and hungry treated so disrespectfully at an age when he should have been looked up to or at least not looked down upon. There’s also a racial element to this I rather not go into but … I imagine when someone’s self worth is stepped on so repeatedly sometimes harshly I can see those scars may turn a person into a monster.

This incident was probably when I felt ashamed to volunteer at this particular place – We are all human Rich or Poor, Entitled or Impoverished, Privileged or Robbed – it’s just a little cooking oil – it’s not cutting into anyone’s profit margin – isn’t this a non-profit? – give it to the poor man begging. It’s these little indignations built over time I think leads to a crackup. The recollection crossed my mind as I listened to the gun shooting tragedies- the need for mental health interventions. Otherwise … we get these disgruntled monsters and news stories casting shadows over this bright sunny week.

Gun Control. Why do people who go unhinged have access to guns in the first place? What’s this place- In the wild Wild West of the frontier days when there were not tax payers funded peace officers? The data apparently shows people living in California (due to “tighter” gun possession laws! And this?) to still be 20-25% safer from gun violence than rest of the country. It’s not enough. I hope to see improvements in my lifetime!