Lost In Translation V o l. III
E ssa y s
中文 Tiếng Việt Türkçe
The Pieces: Capturing Moment! …………………………………………….. Dung Tran Sapphire Midnight ……………………………...………………..
The Most Regretful Moment……………………………………. Loelle Lim Universal Right or Wrong, is it?………………………………………
A Journey………………………………………………………… Fuqin Sun O Büyük Gün Gelecek ve Ac1lar Bitecek …………………………… Tolga Kargin
The Scent………………………………………………………... Hsiu-Hui Chen Re-dream………………………………………………………... Tuan Truong About Researchers……………………………………………… Youngho Cho Parent-Children Relationships…………………………………..
Life is Like Playing Poker……………...………... ……. ………..
Nightmare in the Daytime……...……………………………….
乡愁 …………………………………………… .……………...
Blood - Note …………………………………………………...
Mùa đông không lạnh…………………………………………… Tuan Truong Letter to my daughter and son………………………………….
Capturing Moment! ~Dung Tran Sitting in an empty office late in the afternoon, looking through the curtain in the window, I saw the last light of the day pass through the snow. Forever life-long days keep going… Like my mind is wandering to somewhere, somewhere in the real world, somewhere in an unnamed world. What should a day in my life be? And what has it already been? Starting a day with a smile, I often think of such a beginning moment! Looking at the very first sunlight, smelling fresh dewdrops on trees, listening to sweet songs of birds, hearing familiar sounds of relatives, I am absorbing all the pleasure! I started to forget my beginning, my tiny fun of the dawn in a busy world. Having cereal, packing everything in the bag, rushing to my office, I force myself in the competition with time. Has a new day come? Or just a chain of days that my life will go through! I seek to capture every moment I have in my life, but I have lost most of the time. I keep working without being aware that I am the person, not a machine to function without feelings. Just reading, writing, I am working. Looking around, I see my colleagues focus on their work; I wonder what they get from their work: Pleasure, or just responsibility? And I know that there is no answer. Sometimes, the interest I get from my work is the real moment. That I know I am living, not existing. I talk to myself: “It is only you who should find your fun on the way of working.” Leaving my office after a hectic day, the last weak sunlight was following me on the way back to my apartment, not a peaceful place like my home, but a place I rest after a work day. Cooking by myself, I saw the image of my mother who always cooks for her children including me; full of love. I catch another moment! Never in my life have I been more eager to be in my home to absorb gentle and sweet voice from my mother. The voice that was always beside me but I have not ever been aware of. Because it was too common or too easy to access that I only aspire to have when I could not. I should always be a little child in my mother’s eyes. She will take care of me as long as she can. Preparing for meals, my mother often puts in them lots of love. Delicious meals that I had before, I felt fresh ingredients, warm food, and more importantly, an eternal love source. I cannot count how many different kinds of food my mother cooks for me. She is really my best cook, who always chooses ingredients carefully, who devotes lots of time to make the best dishes. For me, her cooking is an art because an authentic artist is the only personality who has their passion in their work. Packing a lot of food into my bowl every meal, she wanted to ensure that her child got all her love contained in the bowl. She often wonders why we do not have enough food as usual. It is because of her food or because we are not healthy enough? Whatever the reasons are, she always takes care of us. Asians like me rarely say: “I love you, mom!” even though I know that I love her a lot. The last sunlight did not exist now, but the night light was shining outside my apartment window. Sitting here in my kitchen, I caught this moment. “I am present, and my presence is a gift.” Someday, I will soon get the precious gift of family relationship and I will be fully respected. However, it is in my future, I need to catch this current moment as a gift I am capturing!
Sapphire Midnight ~Yi Mou Sapphire at midnight Vancouver sky sea mountain merge in deep blue soft starlight slides down along with the mountain ridge Harbor lights like scattered pearls blinking at their reflections in the mirror-‐like sea breeze ripples the surface of the water lights waltz on the rhythm of waves images in the quiet night in the peaceful heart awakened by singing of seagulls it’s the city night scene was in my dream or I was in the dream of Vancouver
The Most Regretful Moment ~ Loelle Lim “Beep! Beep!” ‘Oh, no! It’s time.’ ‘Can we just live not working? Impossible? Then what about just few days off whenever I do not feel like to work in the middle of summer? This tutoring thing just tortures me sometimes. Eurrrrr…..’ The alarm told me it was an hour to go. But I wasn’t ready at all and rolling my body in the blanket, trying to look away from the alarm clock. “Ugh……
I don’t want to go…….. ugh…..”
I stood up and headed to the bathroom dragging my heavy body, ran the cool water on my head trying to wake up. ‘I know it is boiling outside now…….’ In the summer in Columbia, Missouri where I live now, we see a lot of people in bootie shorts with tank top lined shoulders, ice water bottles are hanging on people’s backpacks, and children are playing around a water fountain in wet shirts and pants. The sun is roaring, beautiful girls in bikini lie on the lounge chairs, guys are busy glancing. Cars and buildings are playing with the waves of heat coming up from the asphalt. Korea is a peninsula. Scorching heat waves with high humidity, the moisture from the ocean surrounding three sides of small country makes breathing even harder. Many people in light dresses hold ice cream and walking here and there. Not many people want to go outside but stay inside somewhere so they can enjoy the cool air from the air conditioner. Fancy coffee shops are crowded with a lot of people sitting on the comfortable sofas, chatting, and drinking cold beverages. My favorite is ‘Red bean slush’. Sweat steamed red bean powder on the top of the grinded ice with whole milk, fruits, mini ball rice cakes, and jellies. I just can’t help thinking of it all the time during the summer. I love the alive sunshine more than dead cold wind, love walking in pouring rain more than walking on the icy roads in 5 inch heels, love wearing light and fancy
princess dresses when going out more than a thick snow-tire coat. Most of all, I love driving in a convertible car feeling fresh air touching my face more than spoiling my hair because of wet snow. It was a hot summer.
My air conditioner was set under 65℉, I kept drinking ice
water, took a short cold water shower every half an hour, lying in the bed, and didn’t really want to move. After a short shower, put a little make up but still didn’t really want to expose myself to the mad sun. ‘Please let it rain………… It’s ok, I always can use the air conditioner in the car.’ I tried to persuade myself. I started my car and drove to the place where I was supposed to meet my students. Driving along the tree boulevard in the cool air from the air conditioner, I couldn’t open my eyes because of the dazzling sun coming between green leaves but it didn’t bother me, viewing people busily walking, it was not that bad as I thought. I enjoyed looking around driving in my small cool jeep. “Oh, it is beautiful.” I was enjoying the beautiful scenery, cool air, and cozy driving. “Hmmm, what is that?” When I drove in to a small street, I saw something reflected in my eyes. It was small, brown, fluffy, and tiny walking toward my car hanging its head down. “What is that? Why is it walking toward my car? I’m driving. I might hit it. Oh man…..” I was talking to myself but there was no way to let the tiny thing get out of my way. It scared me. “Come on, get out of my way. What are you?” I still couldn’t figure out what it was but it was walking with four legs still hanging its head down until it got close to my car. “Oh, my god.” It was a really, really, small and tiny poodle. It kept walking toward me and I still couldn’t see the face but I could see its fluffy and curly light brown hair. “Come on, look up here. There is a car driving toward you.” But I didn’t want to honk because I didn’t want to scare that tiny weak puppy. It might faint if I honk. It was too tiny and didn’t seem to strong enough to resist the roar from my car. “Come on, look up here…..”
Suddenly, that tiny brown poodle raised its head and looked up my car. “Oh, thanks. Yes, here. You should move to the side. I really don’t want to scare you.” “Oh, my……” I was frozen when it raised its head. I saw its eyes and my brain stopped and I couldn’t think at all. They are small, round and had thin double eyelids with curly long eyelashes. “Beautiful.” They were beautiful. I couldn’t get my eyes off it. They were the eyes of an angel. “Beautiful.” When I got closed to that tiny poodle, I stopped the car. The tiny poodle stopped walking. We looked at each other and started a silent conversation. ‘I’m thirsty. Please help.’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry but I have to go. My student’s waiting for me.’ ‘Please…….. I got lost. I am thirsty and hungry. I am exhausted.’ ‘Oh, I am so sorry but I can’t be late to my work. You look so tired and thirsty but I can’t help now. I am so sorry.’ ‘Please…… please, help me.’ The tiny poodle moved a couple of heavy steps toward my car with a really sad face and its eyes were begging me for a little water and food. It looked really exhausted from hunger and a long journey. “Oh, my god!” I found I was already about 10 minutes late. “Sorry……” I started driving my car again and looked at its tearful eyes. Its eyes kept chasing me while I was driving past it and looked back when I become far off it. I looked at the mirror. “Damn…. It’s still looking at me.” I looked away and tried to hurry and I pressed the accelerator pushing my car forward. ‘Forget about it. You are on your way to work and already too late!’ It was painful to remove the image of it and its tearful eyes that looked like trying to say something. “Oh, my god……. I can’t do this!” I turned the car and drove back to the narrow street where I met it praying that it is
still there so I can just give it a little water and food. “Ok, I can quickly buy a bottle of cold water from the store that was right next to us where I stopped. And maybe a small piece of bread. And I can drive a little faster and will tell my student why I was late. He will understand. Please don’t move and stay there.” I prayed and hoped it would be still there. “Oh, no……….” It was too late. It was already gone. ‘I am so sorry……’ It was a really hot summer day. It was too tiny to stand that hot weather and it seemed that it has been walking at least two days with no food and water. It was really tiny and skinny. “I am so sorry…….” I was so sad. Why I could help him spending just a few minutes. ‘Stupid.’ I still remember its tearful eyes chasing me while I was trying to running away from that moment to pretend not to see anything and tried to ignore a tiny creature dying from hunger under the mad sun. I was angry at myself and sad. “Please, I will pray somebody will find you and save your life. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”
Universal Right or Wrong, is it? By Somnath Sinha What is life? What is wrong or right? Is there a connection between Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in physics with our weighing of correct or incorrect actions in our daily life? I am often intrigued by these concerns. Well, there may be other aspects worth to be brood upon like war going on in Iraq, poverty crippling the future generations of Africa, ever increasing population in India and flooding of the world market by Chinese goods or inability of “Avatar” to surpass “Hurt Locker”. But, is not human life the building block of upcoming global vitality? If it is so, then exploring the fallacies of life is more plausible. I do not know why but I do feel strongly that there is nothing wrong or right in this world. Everything is relative and depends upon the frame of reference through which we are looking. Well, that does not mean that I deny the existence of some universal attributes (or better say assumed to be universal, based on our feelings and knowledge gathered through generations), which we consider to be appropriate. Thus, whatever I feel is shaped by my present state of mind and to the context to which I am in. I feel that we should do whatever we like to do as long as we are not hurting anyone or creating disturbance to others. I also feel that idealism looks good in book only and in practical life we always have the temptation to do everything for our enjoyment and pleasure. We would have been so happy if we all were allowed to do what we want, what we like, maintain relations in whatever way we like, etc, as long as we were not posing ourselves as threat to/for others. I sometimes even condemn the way society restricts or puts limitations on the free flow of your emotions and tries us to confine within its set rules and norms. If it would have been so then the Earth would really have been a happier place to live in. For example, in some parts of the world the societies do interfere in the personal lives of its members which, according to me, does not have any logical base. Although two adults may wish to live together with mutual consent and without any nuptial bonding but the society sometimes may not allow it. I feel that this much penetration of the community does not make any sense when such an act of the couple does not bring any negative consequences with itself. Thus, standing from this point of reference I feel that our will and wishes should have the upper hand when compared to any laws and disciplines. Now, according to Isaac Newton for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction which I think does hold for situations in our life as for every half filled glass of water the other half is unfilled. It is really logical to do whatever you want until and unless you bother others. Anybody would agree to this at first instance. Well, critiques may say that my thinking would ultimately result in waywardness and chaos in society as nobody would follow any rules and regulation. Though, I tried to defend this loophole in my idea by favoring the free flow of personal will bounded by minimal interference to any other’s life, I do not know how far I do sound reasonable. However, a deep thought into this would bring about another negative aspect; we are
neglecting our own self. We are considering thinking about others, but we are not thinking of ourselves. There are actions or modes of enjoyment or ways of maintaining relations which would ultimately not affect others but eventually may harm us. For example, our drinking habit of alcohol, our craving for sensual pleasure with consent, showing indifference to our family and friends, may not affect others but in the long run we may have to face the consequences of it. The cost of enjoyment done at youth is like the debt piling up on your credit card which you have ultimately to clear up at your old age without any other options left. As it has been always, the best strategy to choose between two extremes and I would also like to take the midway. Even if you ask me now I am equally torn between the dilemma of correct and incorrect in life. Doing things according to our will and without any bindings has its own charm but on the other hand being discipline to some extent has its own rewards. If we again go back to Einstein then according to him the frame of reference thorough which we are looking does matter. Willingness to do things which makes us happy varies from person to person, Mother Teresa always wanted to help the suffering people and she found enjoyment in it whereas Hitler enjoyed in making people suffer. Both of them did whatever they felt correct but one action was favorable to fellow beings and the other was not. Thus, I think I would rather do things according to our wish but it should be weighed on the balance of humanity before doing it.
A Journey ~ Fuqin Sun A Journey with love and care Knowledge is power! Believe it? First day I came to Classroom? No, pretty green house. I was empowered With valuable knowledge. Friendly dog, Tall as pony, Black and white, Smart and quiet. Shaking her tail, Welcomed me. Sniffed around, For acquaintance. Looking and asking Whether I could give her Gentle touch or scratch. Satisfied. Lying down quietly beside me, Laying her warm thick fur on my insteps.
Purplish red square table, Surrounded by Eleven chairs. Two large shelves Stuffed with books: Fiction, nonfiction; Poetry, Drama; Philosophy and psychology… Eleven people Small class? Big family! Americans, Koreans, Chinese Sitting comfortably in circle, Started a magic journey. Strong fast wind couldn’t stop us, Heavy snowstorm had never been a hinder. We kept all promises, Fulfilled all missions. 11:00 a.m., Broadway 600, Be there and be square! Driving, Taking buses, Car-‐pooling, or even walking, each time, We shared, learned.
All ideas respected, Every family member had a say. Errors, mistakes, Arguments, debates, Allowed. Puzzles, solutions, Easy topics, esoteric doctrines. Discussed. Reading creating beautiful poems, Drawing thoughts on colorful paper; Commenting on various pictures, articles, books, Experiencing the tranquility of a silent walk. Hearing adventure stories, Sharing education methods; Celebrating different traditions, Trying universal foods; Expressing emotions with tears, Getting healed through burning fears. Individual stories? No! Eleven people Created a journey together, With care and love.
O Büyük Gün Gelecek ve Aclar Bitecek Evet, çok zordu karar vermek, hatta dönüm noktasyd hayatn. Ama gerekliydi belkide böyle bir de i iklik, devam edebilmek için hayata. Tam da onun beni brakt yerden, hiç gev etmeden elimi, Hatta smsk sarlarak hayata, acmasz olsa da. Bilmiyorum nasl adlandracaksnz bu kararm, Kimileriniz bir kaç diyeceksiniz eski ya antlarmdan, Kimileriniz de yeni bir ba langç, sonunu bilemedi imiz, Hatta bir adm önümüzü bile göremedi imiz hayata. Çok zor oldu kopmak aileden, arkada lardan, Hele o hava alanndaki el sallamalarD Anam, babam, karde lerimD Tarif edilemez verdigi ac, o e i olmayan zdrap, Ama umut i te, ac çekmeyi göze aldran ve bir parça da olsa zdraplar dindiren. Biliyorum çok uzun bir yol var önümde, Biter mi diyorum bu çile, sona erer mi bu bekleyi ! Hani derlerya eskiler, GBeklenen gün gelecekse çekilen çile kutsal,H Kim bilir, belkide bu inan beni de biraz güçlendiren, ve ayakta kalmama yardm eden. Neye benzetiyorum bu uzun ve çileli bekleyi i biliyor musunuz? Hani nasl bir anne karnnda ta r yavrusunu dokuz ay, ona kanndan kan, canndan can verir, Hele o do um annda çekti i e i benzeri olmayan sanclarD Evet, evet i te tam da öyle bir ey de il mi bizim de ya ad mz? Alt yedi yl canmzdan can, kanmzdan kan vererek çal aca z, Sonra, i te o büyük gün gelecek, en büyük snav da verece iz. Tarifsiz aclar çekece iz belkide, ama bitecek i te, bu ac da sona erecek. te o gün,o kutsal gün geldi inde mükafaatna erece iz bu ya adklarmzn. Peki ne için çekiyoruz bu acy? Vatan N millet için mi? Yoksa ailemiz için mi, ya da kim bilir belki sadece kendimiz için! Varn siz kim için derseniz deyin, bu ac büyük, bu ac e siz ve bu ac kutsal. Heyecan ve umutla bekliyorum, aclarmn bitece i o büyük günü. 03.22.2010 Tolga Kargn
~ Hsiu-‐Hui Chen It is the unique scents of the old people I smelled when I passed by the apartment next door to my friend’s place. Interestingly, an apartment in Columbia can smell so similar to the old house back home across the ocean. The apartment looks old but homey. There are small pieces of paint falling off the wall, instead of making the apartment looks rusty, they actually make it warmly humanistic. The decoration outside reveals the life of people living in there. The big deer in the yard seems to be waiting for the visit of their grandsons or granddaughters. But it is the smell, the smell that took me back to my memory of the old house. It permeated through my nose to my brain. The little odor particles took me back to the room, where my grand pap stayed. It feels odd. I haven’t thought about him for a long long time. I used to love him so much. I used to think he was the gentlest person in the world. But now, I can barely pick up any complete picture of when we did things together. I can barely describe his look. All I can pick out from the memories is that I had never seen him frown. Always carried a smile on his face; that is my grand pap I remember. Yet, it is the smell, it is the smell that stays so clear in my brain. Almost feels like there is a special storage for that sense in my head. Only for my grand pap and that old house. After the day I passed the apartment, the memories about my grand pap wouldn’t stop just like popcorn popping. Can’t even stop it from coming out. They are so vivid that I almost wonder if I made those memories up just now. It’s that smell. There was a unique odor he carried. It smelled like burned sandalwood, light but long lasting. I used to love that smell. It gave me a sense of peace, feeling like there is nothing I need to be worrying about besides being myself. I remember we always visited him during the time of the Chinese New year. Right after the moment I got out of the car, I ran to give him a bear hug, drinking his smell into my lungs till I couldn’t inhale anymore. He would just stand there and look at me with the smile. He is the one who gave me the feeling of unconditional love. I wonder, how come that elegant temperament did not pass down on me. Tiny little frustrations can make me running around like the ant on the hot pot. I remember the “broken” house. That is how my brother and me called it because there is an outdoor yard in the middle of the house, which made the whole house separate into two buildings. The front part of the house is the living room and the kitchen. The kitchen is so tiny that only one person is allowed in there. My step grand mom told me that she likes to keep it small so that she can keep people out of her territory. My brother and I used to hide under the sink just to challenge her. It smelled bad there. Smelled like a big dish-‐washing sponge had been sitting for years. But, we were children, what did we care at that time? There were two rooms in the other part of the house. One is my grand pap’s bedroom and the other one is a room for my grand mom’s altar. That is my favorite part of the house. I wasn’t allowed to go into my grand pap’s bedroom. As naughty as me and my
brother were, we didn’t even dare to violate the rule. But I loved to stay in the room with my grand mom’s altar. That room had it’s own scent. It is from the incense we burned when we wanted to talk with her. I wasn’t allowed to burn the incense if I was with myself there. The adults just don’t think children can handle the lighter. I did not really care though. I did not think I needed to burn the incense to let her hear me. Sometimes I just sat there and soaked myself into the scent. I think the wall of the room had sucked in all the incense we burned. Whenever I stayed in there, it felt like the room was hugging me with the odor, really gentle hugs. I have never met my grand mom. She past away when my mom was around ten. I don’t know much about her either. They don’t really talk about her. All I know is that she had 6 children and she past away because of cancer in her late twenties. The stories of their generation are like the films shot with a yellow lens, which are covered by the romantic beauty of sorrow. A little bit dusty but show the value of time. I gradually learned by growing up, that the smile on my grand pap’s face is not from the naive happiness. It is the contentment of the peace after the life filled up with challenges. What a powerful strength was represented behind that smile. I can’t help lifting up the corners of my mouth every time I pass by that apartment now. Haven’t been there for more than 7 years after grand pap left us. The series of memories triggered about the past have left me feeling centered again. The sent of the apartment seems to be telling me “It is going to be okay. Life can be hard sometimes, but you will get stronger everyday.” It was my grand pap speaking to me. I can just go back to that house and feel protected because now it is stored in my heart traveling around the world with me. Inhale deeply. I am all ready for the new week to start.
Re-dream ~Tuan Truong "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." ~ Walt Disney I hate when my dreams slip away from my mind after I wake up. Only my most vivid meaningful dreams stay. One I had a couple of days ago was such a dream. In my dream, I could fly. Weird isn’t it? I flew up into the sapphire summer sky. At first, I couldn’t lift myself up above the roofs of houses on the street where I was living. I encouraged myself: ‘Try, do try, come on.’ And I tried to get my legs to move in a circle as when I was riding a bike. Like a miracle, my body gradually floated and I could feel the taste of cotton-like clouds. Now I was looking down on things underneath. Oh, wow! Everything seemed far more genuine than viewing from an airplane. I turned around to enjoy a 360- degree view of my neighborhood. ‘Such a sensational panorama could only be seen in photos!’ I exclaimed. Suddenly, I had no idea why I was now drifting far far away from my rented apartment in Columbia Missouri. I opened my eyes and realized that I was flying over my serene hometown where I spent most of my childhood. I was gliding and seemed to be hypnotized by the view of my parents’ house and my neighborhood. The familiar neighborhood I seemed to be floating above was in a small mountainous region in a northern province of Vietnam. The roof of a tiny thatched house under which my family lived for almost 10 years was easily discernable. Below the roof was, I could recall, a one-bedroom house with the living room converted into an extra bedroom where I slept at night. I wasn’t quite sure if I could call it ‘my own world’, for by saying ‘bedroom’ I meant ‘a bed with mattress snuggly fit in a corner of the living room.’ I was too small to need a private space. I could not call my house an ‘apartment’ by its modern connotation. My dad, my uncles and friends assembled the frame for the house from old giant bamboos. Once the frame was erected, they made walls from clay mixed with rice trees and burned limestone. The special part of the house was its roof. The roof was a meticulous product of different layers of dried palm trees’ leaves. It was thick enough to become water-proof and prevent sunlight piercing through. I loved living under such a palm leave roof because it was so cool in summer, much more ventilating than a cement roof! ‘Oh! Yes, that’s my kitchen!’ I glided myself a bit closer to a little room, separating from the house. Again, it was made from bamboos and dried palm leaves. I could smell some smoke from the kitchen’s roof. ‘There is a little boy cooking inside. It must be me! Awesome.’ From fourth through sixth grades, after school in the mornings, I stayed home in the afternoons and helped my parents with the housework including preparing dinners. I couldn’t guarantee the quality of the meals I made; yet I believed my parents must have been happy to see that a dinner had been ready when they came home from work. I was now directing my attention to trees around my house on top of the hill. I was not sure if they belonged to the oak family. Their foliage colored the hill with a dark green curtain. My house stood alone on the hill, amid a sea of green leaves. In my memory, my neighbors’ houses scattered here and there, downhill, but I hardly see any of them now. Maybe they have all moved now. I kicked my right leg to turn left, and focused my eyes towards a fairly flat ground at the bottom of another hill, a home for all childhood games we rural kids often played. Honestly it wasn’t a playground. It’s just an open grassy yard, an uneven surface with stones of all sizes scattered about . The far side of the ground detached to the hill whose steep cliff often challenged us all to climb, though it was strictly forbidden by our cautious parents. I found myself floating a little bit above some of the kites kids were flying. I could only see the lower side of kites. I had no idea why we little
kids were obsessed by kites. We made kites ourselves from papers torn from notebooks, cheap glue, and bamboo frames. We often stuck long long tails to kites to help maintain balance. Our kites were not too as fancy as commercial kites uptown kids often got; but we were all happy with our self-made kites as long as they could fly. ‘Kids often have simple dreams,’ I smiled. “Hey, how are you guys doing? Do you remember me? It’s me, Tony. Can I join?” I shouted at the group of kids chasing one another, giggling, as I grounded. But no one seemed to hear me. They didn’t realize my existence. ‘Oh, Yeah, I’m an adult now, not a kid any more. No wonder they couldn’t recognize me. How foolish I am!’ My face got red. ‘Knock, Knock, Knock.’ Somebody was hammering on my bedroom door. ‘Hey, Tony, are you okay?’ My roommate rushed into the room for I often left the door unlocked at night. ‘I heard you were screaming and shouting. And I think you’re going to have a seminar this morning, right?’ ‘Oh God, I just forget that. Thanks for waking me up. Anyway, I think I often talk while I sleep. I’m alright.’ I replied as I threw the blanket to a corner of my bed. ‘I’ve just had a fantastic dream.’ ‘Oh yeah, everybody dreams. I thank you for waking me up!’ My friend said as he left the room. Oh, man, I was not flying any longer. I was standing in my bare feet, facing reality: a bundle of assignments and term papers, plus a doctoral qualifying exam next week. Maybe my mind had recently been too busy to give space for dreams; yet last night dream turned back time and brought me a mirror of my childhood – an important part from which my personality was mould. It slowed me down in this fast-paced changing world. I wished I didn’t have the morning seminar! I wished I could re-dream my dream!
~ Youngho Cho
A tiger watches a deer hiding itself in a bush. An eagle flies in the sky to scrutinize its live games on the ground. A hyena traces small animals and birds. They tend to focus on weak games that would be the best for them. Once they decided what to follow, they chase their targets in full strength, catch and enjoy them. After satisfied with food, they live their simple life. Do researchers lead this kind of life? Researchers are the loneliest people in a jungle-‐like world. In a jungle, all the creatures must survive by themselves and there is no helper. They get their food by hunting other creatures. They are all associated with one another by the hunter-‐bait circle. One creature’s mistake in hunting leads to another’s survival and one’s success leads to another’s death. Even though researchers’ society is not as dangerous as the jungle with risk to their lives, the principle governing the society is competition over new knowledge, which is similar to food in the jungle. Because researchers need new knowledge to survive, they have to develop a way of obtaining it. In the sense that nobody can tell them the way, researchers are lonely and must rely on themselves. Furthermore, all the mistakes and achievements they have made are what other researchers would take advantage of to develop new knowledge. Let’s imagine that researchers are a starved tiger. A tiger is grown and trained to hunt its food to satisfy its hunger. Likewise, researchers are hungry for new knowledge. Because new knowledge is their food, they will die without it. However, the tragedy is that their food must be gained by themselves. Nobody will give it to them out of generosity. The jungle’s nature is not generous at all. Sometimes, researchers see others take their food, which they have watched for a long time. They failed to get the food on time, so it is reasonable to assess that they made a mistake. Like a jungle, taking advantage of their mistakes, other researchers quickly obtain the food. When it happens, they get zealous and, sometimes, crazy. But nobody comforts them because that is the essence of nature. The large and delicious food does not last long and may have a number of hunters. Therefore, they have intrinsic aggressiveness against a background of loneliness. As a result of these evolutionary processes, researchers have developed self-‐correcting systems and have a habit of asking their peers evaluate them. Researchers are sometimes like a hyena that traces the remains of big dead animals, especially when it is a novice. A hyena is very good at finding the food that remains after the big carnivores leave. Likewise, a big research topic has so many branches that every branch can feed a significant number of researchers. Moreover, the masterpiece of great researchers leaves a large amount of future research. Whereas established researchers are too involved in their projects to pay attention to other areas of study, young researchers are relatively free to choose their research topic. Because young researchers do not have sufficient funding and reputation to initiate their own projects, they naturally become good at searching the remains, the study areas that great researchers leave. As a result, they have to begin as a hyena in their careers.
Researchers work like an eagle that flies to monitor its food on the ground. The eagle knows many potential types of food on the ground and carefully watches them move. However, because it can catch only one at a time and cannot attempt to try again and again due to its limited energy, it must choose the best item for one attempt. Even though the eagle does not have rationality as people define the term, it naturally becomes a rational decision maker. Likewise, every society wants to know many things. However, quantity does not mean important. Researchers must choose one topic they can handle best. For this reason, researchers are a natural rational decision maker like the eagle. Although labor ants are not a carnivore, they lead a hunting life. However, labor ants do not follow their individual interests but that of their group. Likewise, if researchers study only what they like, their research cannot be social but private. Private research can provide social benefits but may not be necessarily beneficial to society. Moreover, unless researchers have sufficient wealth, they must get funding from the society in which they live. Because their society is their only source of livelihood, they must please their society by exploring what it really wants to know. Researchers live by delivering new knowledge to their society. In this sense, researchers are a disciplined labor ant. Finally, researchers have one unique feature, which is different in some senses but similar in the other. Researchers enjoy many mental entertainments. They love what they study and imagine what it is like in the world they study. No other people live in such a dream. Researchers are insane in some sense because they weigh their imagined research more heavily than reality. Plato called this “love of wisdom.” However difficult and feasible our research is, we, researchers, live with the sweet taste of our research outcomes and would-‐be outcomes. For this reason, researchers are honest in that they are not so different from carnivores—they are naturally excited with their games.
PARENT-‐CHILDREN RELATIONSHIP ~ Tolga Kargin Mehmet shared with me one day, “I don’t want to go to school anymore. My parents’ pressure will kill me one day.” What was the reason of the pressure? Is that for offering a good life to Mehmet? I’ve been wondering about this. We know that parent-‐children relationship is one of the most important things in children’s lives. If there are some problems between children and parents, these problems damage the children’s whole life. Parents should give some advice to their children, but they shouldn’t make decisions for their children’s lives. People should be responsible for their own behaviors and determine their lives. I know some parents who decide their children’s future life directly and harm their children’s lives, and I know some others who support their children and try to handle their problems together. First, some parents have great expectations for their children’s future, so they sometimes ignore reality. They don’t look at their children’s skills or proficiency. According to Vygotsky, people have a limited acuity and it is changeable from person to person. After this limit, nobody can teach something to the person. My aunt has a son who is 13 years old. He took an exam to enter the best high school in Turkey. My aunt wanted this school very much, but Mehmet was not capable enough to enter the school. My aunt spent lots of money getting some private lessons at their home, but it did not work. He could not pass the exam. He was very stressful and tired because of these lessons. He is a student in a public school now. After the exam, I asked him how it was going. After my nephew said, “I don’t want to go to school anymore. My parents’ pressure will kill me one day”, I decided to talk with my aunt. I said that it was too much for Mehmet, and they were doing wrong, but she said, “We want that Mehmet has a wonderful life.” It seems they were still unaware of their mistake. Second, some people want their children to be wonderful in all parts of their lives. They should be successful in their school classes, and they should have a great social life and relationships. However, generally it is impossible. Probably people can be successful in their school classes, if they study enough. However, children cannot be successful in music and some sport activities with just studying. They need an inherent ability to be musician or an athlete. Some parents don’t trust this reality. They just want, want, and want. If their children are not successful, they cannot back down from their purpose. About a couple months ago, I watched a movie, The Joy Luck Club. There were two Chinese-‐American families in the movie. The movie was about the mother-‐daughter relationships of those two families. In the movie, there were so many examples to support my idea. For example, her mom wants June to play piano, and June takes piano lessons but she cannot play it because she doesn’t have the ability to play any musical instrument. However, a few years later, her mom gives June a piano for her thirtieth birthday. It shows us that her mom didn’t back
down from her purpose. She still wants June to play the piano. June couldn’t play, didn’t want to play and she will not be able to play it. We know that it is impossible to be successful in all parts of life. However, June believed that she disappointed her mother, so she lost her self-‐confidence. On the other hand, some parents have great relationships with their children. They know their children’s abilities and needs. They give their children suggestions, and support them always. Sometimes, they talk with each other like a friend. If their children succeed, they give them some gifts. If their children are not successful, they can talk about the problems to find solutions together. These types of parents’ children are generally successful. I have a friend who has that kind of wonderful parents. His parents didn’t put very high expectations on him. They always shared their happiness and sadness. If he made a mistake, he could talk with his father without fear. He was a hardworking student in school. Although, nobody said anything, he studied very much to achieve his goals. Finally he achieved his goal; he is an inspector in Turkish Republic Ministry of National Education right now. In conclusion, if parents want their children to have a good life, they should be so careful to make decisions about children’s lives. They should support them and give some advice. If parents want their children to achieve their old dreams, probably it doesn’t work. Therefore, parents shouldn’t urge their children to have their own dreams. They should encourage their children to choose their own ways. This is the best way to have successful children. Some Parents… Some parents ignore the reality Don’t look at skills and proficiency If your son doesn’t have enough ability Pressure probably doesn’t work Some parents have great relations They give to their child suggestions Find solutions together for problems Always share happiness and sadness
왜 그랬을까 ~Loelle Lim
왜 말하지 못 했을까 마음이….. 내 마음이 하는 말을 왜 하지 못 했을까. 내 눈에 고인 파란 하늘이 파란 하늘이 흘러내려도 말하지 못 했어, 아프다고. 왜 듣지 못 했을까 마음이…. 네 마음이 하는 말을 왜 듣지 못 했을까.
네 눈에 비친 나의 모습이 그 모습이…… 들릴까봐 듣지 않았어, 아플까봐. 들릴 줄 알았어, 말하지 않아도 내가 네 안에 있다고 믿었으니까. 나를 비추는 너의 눈이 거짓을 말하고 있다고 나를 설득시켰지, 왜 그랬을까. 지금도 기도해 네가 나를 들을 수 있게 너의 눈이 아직도 나를 비추게 마음이…… 내 마음이 하는 말 사랑합니다. 사랑합니다. 사랑합니다.
My Grandma ~ Somnath Sinah Although I am no longer fortunate to have my grandma, I still cherish the memories of her and adore her personality. I lost her unto the hands of inevitable reality an year back. This came to me as a shock because it was just before when I was preparing to get more optimistic about my higher studies in USA. She would have been really very happy to see me coming here for my studies. I regret that she did not live till the day to see me leaving for here. Well it is normal to lose our elderly relatives at old age but lately I realized that there could have been lots of things done to make her life more contented during her last phase. During her last days she was not happy and the worst part of is that I feel that there was a lack of responsibility on my part. I did not do anything to make her happy. My grandmother lived with her son. Well, there was no problem as such with her living as my maternal uncle did take good care of her. The problem was that my grandmother was not happy of the treatment she received from my maternal uncleâ€™s wife. I tried to persuade my parents to bring her to stay with us but since she was very old and both of my parents and me were remaining out of our house the whole day so they did not wanted to take the risk of keeping an old woman all alone, which is logical. I think I could have at least paid frequent visits to her and talk with her which I did not do. Actually I was very much disturbed those days and were busy preparing for here in U.S.A so I really did not thought of her at that time. But, now when I look back, I really feel guilty that I could not do anything for her. Well, in fact it is not that I did not do anything, I sometimes gave her some money from my earnings but now I feel that she needed company, love and care rather than money. Whatever it is but the fact remains I really feel bad for her and will have to carry this burden for entire part of my life. My grandma was born in a small part of undivided India but now known as Bangladesh. As were the time then, infact a dark age during which literacy of girls were not paid heed to, she did not have any formal educational degree. She received some school education and was trained to deal with house hold things. She was married at an early age, as far as I guess it was something like 15 or 16. She was married to an assistant to a Medical Practitioner, my grand father. After marriage, my grand parents shifted to India and she lived there till her last day. According to my views, my grandmother is an embodiment of all the good attributes possible. She was a very good cook, infact she had mastered the art. I cannot forget the delicious dishes prepared by her. She was the best in every proportion, right from the spicy food to the desserts. She was also a voracious reader. Well, the degree of this quality hightens when we consider the fact that she did not had any formal education. Although she had a poor vision but that did not deter her from delving into the spiritual texts at later part of her life. She seemed to like any kind of literature and went through a gamut of topics. Every afternoon after finishing her household
chores for the day, she used to read through some or the other piece of literature like novels, etc. Sometimes she also encouraged me to do some kind of readings other than the academics. My grandmother was a very dutiful person. She also had a great sense of dutifulness and patience. I learned from her the satisfaction in serving others. I learned the dutiful activities from her. The best part in her was that she never grumbled of her situation. She tried to fulfill all her responsibilities and duties. I remember her saying to me that we should always do what we are supposed to do without any consideration of any beneficial or nonbeneficial consequences. I did not use to understand the truth in whatever she said at that time but now I do realize that she spoke the right thing. Along with all these qualities she was a great house keeper too. She was tacit and patient enough to raise and maintain a family of eight children with a very low income of my grandfather. She tried to maintain relation and hold together her large family as long as she could. It is really hard to imagine today a family of that size but she raised it and saw through it that all her children are placed nicely in some or the other profession. Just for example my mother grew up to become a school teacher. Although I feel like writing about her but the more I write I would feel that much has remain untold. She is no more today, but she is very much alive in me. I can feel her presence whenever I feel depressed and homesick. I feel as if she is near me and caressing me and asking me not to be unhappy. She is alive to me through every elderly lady I see of her age. She is alive to me through her advices which have ultimately helped me to lead a contented and happy life. Gone, she may be but I still feel the warmth of her love.
Life is Like Playing Poker By Yi Mou Who will you meet around the street corner? What is the next card you will get when playing poker? Life is like playing poker, filled with excitements and surprises. We would never know what is the next card we will get, unless we cheat. At the beginning of every round, we enjoy the moment full of uncertainty, variance and hopes. We do not need to start with a big A. We can also make a straight flush even though the first card is just a small three of diamonds. We have nearly nothing but we are able to draw the most exciting and wonderful picture as we want on the blank plate. We have the most chances to create, to change, and to imagine. Isn't this just like our amazing and crazy childhood? With more and more cards held in hands, we slow down, to look around, to hesitate, to mask ourselves with a poker face, to put ourselves in the others' shoes, and to worry if others are digging our secrets... Maybe you have realized that winning a game basically depends on strategies, not just luck. You begin to tell yourself that making a straight flush may be just a dream. Instead of building your paradise on an unknown mountain of an unknown continent, you fix the roof of the house and clean the backyard every morning. You are a clerk in a company, a father of your 8-year-old son, and a husband of your wife who earns $3000 a month. Something you can do. Well, some things, you just can't. No cards are left on the table. God has put whatever cards we deserve into our hand, and we probably have already known our own destiny. Now, we are not gambling with our opponents but challenging ourselves. So, what do you want to do? Put the cards on the table and tell everyone you win, or just gently throw your secrets into that pile of discarded cards and quietly leaving? It is up to you. It is your life.
Nightmare in the Daytime ~ Hsiu-‐Hui Chen Again? back again!! Or should say that it has never left. nightmare in the daytime. there whenever I open my eyes, If I could, I would rather never wake up. nightmare in the daytime. water constantly erodes the rock smaller it gets when the time passing by just like my soul, gradually dissolving in the nightmare. like the greedy hunter, chasing the deer around the bushes, ran, used to run away, breath couldn’t even catch up the pace, never, never got rid of it, no matter how hard I tried. Still there, sticking on my back like the shadow under sun. I cried, got mad. so that I stopped. nightmare in the daytime, so that I stopped and asked, what exactly do you want? I heard no response standing there the world spins around I cry get mad get sad the world is blurred can I just close my eyes? It is the nightmare in the daytime in life.
~ Fuqin Sun
乡愁是一支动人心弦的歌， 缓缓地萦绕在游子的耳边。 乡愁是对母亲温暖怀抱的向往， 乡愁是对离世父亲点点滴滴的回忆。 乡愁是穿越马路时姐妹紧握的手， 乡愁是电话中兄长关切的话语。 乡愁是同事们临别的问候， 乡愁是学生们告别的泪水。 乡愁是朋友们不离不弃的友谊， 乡愁是邻居们依然如故的守候。 思念如果是一首酸甜苦辣的歌， 乡愁就是其中不断跳动的音符。 思念如果是久经岁月酿制的美酒， 乡愁则是长远时空隔绝的思绪。 乡愁是对受灾同胞的牵挂， 乡愁是对祖国和平的祝福。 乡愁是对家乡风调雨顺的祈祷， 乡愁是对重归故里的渴望。
乡愁是一支乐曲， 在黑夜寂静的时刻响起。 乡愁是一首激励奋发的诗， 从遥远的故乡传来，永久不息。
Blood – Note ~Dung Tran Sweet song was echoing from a deadly brown tree; sound from silence. The space seemed empty, I with myself, the tree and the sky. I stopped for a while to look around, and I saw a small bird with black feathers on its back with bright-orange belly. These colors really did not catch my interest if they appeared separately, but they were really spectacular together. The beauty in contrasted harmony of color made the bird shine gently but infinitely. Inspired observing the tiny yellow mouth, the small legs with three toes, I appeared to become another identity. It seemed like my hand bones became thinner and my palms disappeared. I felt my body getting lower. My big toes were rotating 90 degrees; my two middle toes were attaching to become one; my toenails were becoming claws. My nose turned into a tiny hole in my mouth that projected and became hard and yellow. My whole body was scaling down to her size, the size of the happy bird. Oh no! Feathers were protruding, I saw my hair turn to thicker and blacker, and they started to cover all my body, a body of black. I couldn’t find my image any longer. I became a “bird” with black feathers. Surprised and scared, I couldn’t believe my eyes; believe in what I was becoming. A beautiful “girl” was flying to me; I heard a soft voice, instead of the song. “Why don’t we go on a voyage?” Hesitating, I waved my head as an agreement; I wondered how I could travel: by car, on foot, or… Surprisingly, my hands, more exactly my wings moved and my whole body flew up off the land. Fascinated, although a little bit nervous, I was flying. Difficulty with balance and my fear of heights made me concentrate on my flying. I saw white clouds on my way without anything else. “Take it easy”, my friend said to me; I started to feel more confident. Sightseeing from so high in the sky was new to me. I could feel the clouds permeating through my thick feathers, which brought cool pleasure into each side of my body. Everything now was so tiny, I couldn’t recognize a house as a house, a person as a person. Unearthed – feeling! She took me to the world of color. Blaze of color, I could see from far distances. They were so bright with white, cobalt, orange, and black. I saw lots of fan - shape tails with colorful spots moving. They were a perfect combination of hard and soft, with dense and sparse. They began to dance. In the background of the sound of wind the beauty of a skilled dancer in glorious clothes was performing. He spread the tail like effective dancing tools. He was absorbed with his ballet. I saw the unique, the outstanding of one in a group. Sun-drops attached to the tails like diamonds in a queen’s crown. A couple was then performing; twined to make different images. I was surprised that the color of the male was brighter than the female. The male with clear-cut movements fit with the gentle movements of the female. The surrounding served as an audience to congratulate the best couple on their perfect performance. I saw the unity in the group dance as one was a part of the whole. Simultaneous, each peacock performed in the background of music, music they heard from inside. They seemed to ignore others; just danced as if they have never danced before. I saw all their devotion for perfection; my eyes were satisfied with a party of color. Departing from the world of color, the world of dancing peacocks, we flew to another. This time, I felt more confident and tried different behaviors when flying, soaring in the clouds. Sometimes, I saw a plane pass by, and I saw some passengers in it. I used to be a passenger too; had the feeling of flying, and now I was flying with my own wings. I heard the beautiful sound far away. We landed on a thorn tree. This place was not so sweet, but the sound of the song made
me forget the surrounding. The black nightingale with a high clear voice was singing a song about dawn, about the bright day, and about the beautiful environment. The peaceful melody made me remember back to my childhood when my mother was lulling with her love. A pair of nightingale was singing the song of love. The high melody mingled with the low liked a cappella band. They were so confident with their song as if the stage was for them. Chorus! I heard a wide range of voice with harmony. Included in the band was the nightingale from the first part. Like a person in a life, each really an actor in different stages, and you should play well in the stages. Red, I saw… blood. “What’s up?” The best performer thrust its body into the thorn. Blood on the body was flowing, but the voice got better than ever. The synchronizing between blood and note, each drop ran out of his body - a full note flew out of his mouth. The pain made his voice better, or the last voice of the bird’s life made it the best. Aspired by the voice, I couldn’t forget that. The voice of ideal, the voice of sacrifice! Parting from the two worlds, color and sound, we flew back into our place. I couldn’t get the memory of the fresh red blood with that last song out of my mind. I learned a lesson about different roles in stages, a lesson about sacrifice for the best. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. I reappeared to become my human identity, and the sound kept echoing on the tree.
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Letter to my daughter and son
To Olivia and Jayden, When you see this letter, I think you will be about 20 years old. As if a human being is not aware of something without thinking it, I decided to think and write this letter to see if I became a good father after you were born. It is because of my interest in you. But also take advantage of this letter to learn about your mother and father. Your mother and I met at an unthinkable place, not in Korea but in Hangzou, China. Before meeting your mother, I had been involved in a radical leftist student movement for four years of college and spent thirteen months in jail…two times. I entered Hanyang University in 1994 and was released from jail in the spring of 1999; I was totally ruined and had no hope by the second millennium. Because I had discarded leftist ideals, I became almost separated from my old friends and comrades. I had lost my ideals and directions of my life. My life flowed without direction. Actually, as I recall, it began during high school when I decided to form fundamental views and values of the world/life when I would enter college. However, my original project turned out to be a disaster. The world is much more complex and uncertain than I had thought. I realized that I was a frog in a well. After that horrible experience, I needed something else to comfort my mind and so I read religious writings such as Buddhism and Taoism. As you can guess, these writings are based on a pessimistic view about life and the world. Despite my hopeless state, the fact that I was alive made my life go forward. Your mother also went to Hanyang University in 1996. We might have seen each other but nothing remains in our memory. From what we have talked about with each other, your mother made relentless efforts to learn the Chinese language. She is a very simple, hardworking, and strict woman. She frequently went to China and traveled. If my guess is correct, she became one of the best learners of Chinese in her department. When she graduated, however, her father’s business began struggling. When she started to work at Incheon Airport, his business left a lot of debt and, thus, he suffered from a series of economic trials. Because nobody in her family could take care of this, she took responsibility for his trials and her family (especially, your three aunts). Leaving Incheon Airport, she worked at Hyundia Card and finally moved to work at Suwon University. Apparently, she had a nice job and stable life. However, a series of painful events prevented her from having positive expectations of life. When I met your mother, I think she was reluctant to marry. She also mentioned her desire not to marry in her family meeting. However, who knew that the situation would dramatically change because of me?
In 2001, I graduated and began working at a small company as an alternative to military service. Even though nothing had changed, working at the company and meeting many friends and colleagues helped me forget my previous pains. Even though I did not have any plan for my future, I was OK for the moment. After finishing the mandatory work, I decided to study abroad and abandon my original major, architectural engineering, to turn to something else. The national law exam and studying social science were presented to me. So, following my intuition and interest in politics, I decided to study political science. In 2006, after two years in Hanyang International Graduate School, the University of Missouri accepted me into their program. I think I instinctively knew that I would have a big problem if I did not marry before going to the US. Luckily, one of my reformist seniors, Roksam Park, married in February and his wife is a friend of your mother. Fortunately, she mentioned she had a friend who was very nice but did not live in Korea but in China and asked if I would go there. I had a plan to travel China, and I believed in even a small possibility. I kept asking and finally got your mother’s telephone number. Since I am such a simple-‐minded person, I contacted your mother and went to China. When I went to her cyworld homepage and saw her pictures, she looked Malaysian and was pretty. Because I came from the countryside and had many tough/country things in my attitude, behaviors, and appearance, I liked your mother, who was brought up in a well-‐off family. We began chatting in late February and kept doing so day and night until when I arrived in China. We had found many things in common and we quickly fell in love. I think the game was over before we met. Our meeting for 20 days in China was a kind of a confirmation process. In 10 days, I asked her to marry me, come back to Korea, and go abroad to the US. Hangzou’s beautiful weather blessed us. Quickly, I organized the wedding and we got married in May. This was an unbeatable record, and we flew to the US in July. As a result, I hooked your mother up but it is she that picked me up. My first year of the PhD program was so difficult that I was often disappointed and had something else on my mind (getting back to Korea). Your mother also felt disconnected and had a difficult time because there was nothing she could do. Nevertheless, we successfully secured the scholarship, went to New York, and celebrated our first year of marriage. At that time, Olivia was growing in our love. Right now, I am doing my dissertation after having passed the most difficult bar, a comprehensive exam, in the last year (congratulations!!). Olivia and Jayden!! I have six things to tell you, although I have many things. Just read the first five but memorize the final one in your mind. First, learn knowledge. Knowledge is light in the darkness. Knowledge gives us power for a better life. Knowledge of hunting was the most important thing in primitive periods. Knowledge of agriculture was the most important thing in pre-‐modern time. Knowledge of fishing is the most important thing in the coastal villages. What is the most
important knowledge in your period? Our modern society is based on a tremendous knowledge base, from basic to professional, that human beings have created throughout our history. By learning basic knowledge, you become a man and a woman. If you know better in specific areas, you will be an expert. Enjoy learning and do not be afraid of discussing what you know. And do not be ashamed of what you do not know or misunderstand. What knowledge should you need to learn beyond basic knowledge? Since we do not learn everything, we need to learn what we like. Thus, I would like you to follow what you like and learn knowledge in that field. In my case, I was interested in politics but had unbalanced knowledge about social ideology and overestimated the role of social movements. Because of that, I spent hard time. But since I like learning about politics (instead of doing politics), I am now trying to be a political scientist and will probably never stop learning politics. Likewise, you need to observe yourself, learn what drives you, and expose yourself to a variety of experiences. Without this long process, your soul does not say anything. Second, hear your moral voices from inside yourself. Human beings are so rational that they often violate morality in pursuit of their own short-‐sighted interests. Morality is like a fundamental guideline when nothing else is available. Even when everything is available, morality is the most important thing we need to follow. When your life goes and goes, you will see many situations that you can take advantage of. Whenever you see those situations, please follow your moral message. Sometimes, human beings make mistakes not to hear their moral voice. So many corruptions and deceptions are all the products of when they ignore their inside voices. Small mistakes should be socially excused but they should not be so in your mind. Please learn that the mistakes of violating morality may destroy you. Third, be polite and generous. We do not live alone. In my study of politics, there are political conflicts and disagreements even when there are two persons. In other words, conflicts and disagreements are always latent in our relationship. How can we transform these latent disagreements and conflicts into harmony? The most fundamental way is to make us all the same. But this is impossible. The realistic way is that we become more polite and generous. Politeness and generosity are not only socially good, but good for you. Politeness and generosity is a representation of your intrinsic strength. If you are polite and generous, your friends and supervisors will like you since they think you are strong enough to master appropriate social attitudes. Fourth, challenge yourself to learn and challenge your life. Everyone’s life is unique. In the whole universe, only you exist. You are not a replication of old people. You are just you. Be yourself. Human society seems to be so established and solid, but it has so many holes. As human beings, we are generally ignorant of the universe and ourselves. And we are also incapable of getting rid of many social problems, including genocide, civil wars, and famine. In
other words, we and our society are incomplete. Challenge is not only good for society, but good for you. Without challenge, how do you get to know and get sophisticated about something? Without challenge, you are just as you were. But, with challenge, you will create your future. Challenge begins from learning, but it pushes learning further and makes it more complete. Fifth, take care of your health and learn a sport. Without heath, your life cannot go well. Nobody takes care of your health more than you. Specifically, I would like you to exercise at least once a week. ”Once” means 2-‐4 hours of intensive practice. During college, I lost my health. I did not take care of my body for several years. In 1999, my weight was 60 kg. I was almost a skeleton. My friends were very sympathetic about that. It was not a good thing and I did not like it. After that, I began to play tennis. Whenever I have enough extra time, I have done exercise including tennis, walking, running, riding a bicycle and so on. I am not a sport expert and not crazy about it, but I am sensitive to my health and take care of it. Likewise, I hope you learn your favorite sport and enjoy it. Learning a sport implies more than taking care of health. From my experience of learning tennis for a year (almost 10 hours a day), learning a sport would give you many things other than knowledge: discipline, attitude, passion, a sense of fairness, relationship, and so on. Sixth, I have stressed five good things you can follow. But, Olivia and Jayden! You must know that these are not easy to follow. Even I do not practice and master these things. And there are many other good things we can follow. However, life is complex and we are not extraordinarily strong and smart. People are so diverse and the universe is so broad, too. Olivia and Jayden! Your mother would say that we need to believe in God and pray for what you do not know and are not able to do. However, your mother also agrees with my more realistic but final lesson that you must believe that we need to learn these good things and only this effort guides us to a better life. We can make a mistake since we are not complete. I have also made many mistakes that I do not want to remember. But, the relentless effort to learn and master the good things is the only way to a better life and happiness. There is nothing else. Olivia and Jayden! We love you. We do swear that we do our best for you. Believe your father and mother. We believe that if we will do our best, you will do your best. It is not fair to ask you to do your best when we do not. From this letter, your father and mother seem to have become better parents and we all have become a family in our mind. Everything begins from your mind. Be awakened. I love you.