Wednesday, August 1, 2018

the Light and the Way

 Image result for the light

Today, I had lunch with a lovely lady. We met a year ago in the hospital where I work at. She was an inpatient and we had a very interesting conversation about her near-death experience. Here is what I wrote about her in a previous post. 

. . .
This lady is an inpatient, she had her injury only a few weeks ago. She is a new comer from China, she doesn’t speak a lot of English. My colleague Ivan asked me to translate for him and become her peer support. I will call her Lee.

Lee told me that she was hit by a car while crossing the street. She had a head injury, a spinal cord injury, a wrecked shoulder and a broken pelvis. The doctor didn’t think she would make it and asked her husband to fly to Canada to prepare for her funeral. Her husband took the very next flight and didn’t even pack a luggage. As she was describing the chaos, I asked her, “did you see a light when you were in the coma?” Her eyes were wide open, “Yes! I remember, for a very long time, I saw this blinding light above my head, I was in this place that was just so, so, so bright, to a point where my eyes were hurt.”

“Did you see a colorful world?”
“No, it was just a place that was really bright.”
I asked again, “did you see a man?”
“I saw a figure wrapped in light. I think it was a woman.” 
“You sure it wasn't a man?”
“It was a woman.” (My Catholic friend told me that it was Mary)
“Were you at peace?”
“I had no fear, I just felt normal.”

What amazed her was, for days, she had been telling people about this experience, which she could not explain. Everyone around her kept on telling her that she was in a confused mental state. I was the first person who told her what she had experienced before she even brought it up
. . .

We reunited for the first time since her discharge. I could not even recognize her as she was walking toward me without any aids. Though people might not be able to tell if she has a disability, she told me that she still has a blood clot in her brain that can potentially trigger a stroke. One of her arms is partially paralyzed and her entire body is stiff.

We were having lunch together. And very quickly, we began to talk about her supernatural experience again. This time, she had even more to share. . . .

“When I first came to Canada, I really didn’t have any friends. My roommates were Christians and they brought me to a church retreat. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge about God and I was an atheist growing up. During the first and second day of the retreat, I was really bored and didn’t understand what they were saying. On the third day, I wanted to head back home, but my friends said that the agenda on this last day was the highlight of the entire retreat, in fact it was what others came here for. We had a preacher from the States, she was about to pray for everyone, one by one and she was going to give each person a prophecy of their life. I wanted to leave early so I lined up early and sat in the front row. Everyone had their phone out to record what the preacher was saying to them. Out of respect, I pulled out my phone but I realized that my battery was low. My friend used her phone to record my “session”.

The preacher is a white lady and she only speaks English. Both of us couldn’t understand a single word she was saying and she talked superb fast. We played the recording to another friend afterward. Her English was a little better, but all she could understand was the phrase ‘you will enter a deep sleep.’

At the time, I really didn’t believe in anything like that and didn’t give much thought. The retreat happened on the 2nd of that month, and I got hit by a car on the 21st of that month. I was in a comma for nearly 14 days.

While I was in the comma, my friend was completely overwhelmed by the fulfillment of that prophecy, she asked her son to dictate the entire audio word by word, and over and over until it was translated to its entirety. Basically, the prophecy was saying that I will enter a deep rest, I will be placed in an uncomfortable situation, I will be troubled, but I will be okay and I will rejoice again and God will protect me.

When I was out of the hospital, my friend came to visit me and brought up the audio tape and told me everything that she knew. That’s when I remember that when I was in that really really bright place, I heard a powerful voice rumbling and said, ‘you will be alright, you will rejoice again.’ Now that I have a better understanding about God, the “figure” I saw in that bright place was an angel with giant wings.

My friend and I are forever changed by this experience. Though I have so many problems with my health and I might die any time because of that blood clot, I have no fear, I am happy every day. My old friends in China always tell me how much they worry for me and how sorry they feel for me, I am so tired of explaining to them that I am fine, I am so joyful. They won’t understand it and I cannot even explain fully. ”

We had a superb long conversation that the diners sitting at our neighboring table changed three times. I also shared my experience with her and stories of other people that I know of.

I used to refrain myself from writing anything too “religious”. I don’t want to turn my readers off. But now I think that this is something that I must share freely and widely. At the end it is the most important aspect of one’s life and afterlife. If you are still with me at this point, please continue to read to the end.

One of my Mom’s friends made a very interesting comment the other day. He said that at his age, he has no drives, no aspirations, no dreams and no goals in life. There is no point fighting for anything, living for anything. The only thing that he hopes for is a good death. He hopes that he won’t be so sick when he gets even older, he won’t have to suffer before he dies, and he can die in his sleep. That is really sad. If you think about it, if this life is all you have, if this life is all that you believe in, then once you surpass the prime of your life, every day is a downhill, every day is closer to the day of your death. But for us who truly believe and live for God, we have hope in every life’s stage and situation. When we are at the end of our life, we have even better things to look forward to. As I said before, who cares if others say what we believe in is a delusion, we have already made the most out of this life by having a heavenly mindset.

Last week, 60 Minutes had a segment that talks about the Hubble telescope. It’s about to be replaced by the latest technology, another space telescope that will see even further into the vast universe. The program was sharing some of the photos that Hubble took. The scientists concluded that the number of stars and planets in the University is more than the grains of sand on earth! To the Creator of Universe, we are even smaller than an ant. Yet, He knows each of us by name. He looks after us, He cares for us and He died for us. That is a very humbling thought.

I guess my goal in this article is to help you become more aware of what is more than just this life. That’s an exciting thing to ponder over. And Jesus said, “Ask, you will receive; Seek, you will find; Knock and the door will open to you.” If you will just have an open heart and attitude to know God, try Him in prayers for all the right reasons, He will for sure reveal Himself to you. 


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Naked and NOT Afraid

This was a beautiful Saturday in June. The sun was radiating just the perfect amount of heat; the breeze made every girl's wavy long hair flow like Queen Bey's. If anyone was still depressed on a day like this, the weather was not to blame.

Chris took a stroll in Coronation Park. This would be his last stop before heading home. He knew too well why he was under the weather. He crossed the border to Toronto Canada to attend a conference that promised to be "inspirational" and "uplifting". Speakers shared their stories about overcoming depression, addiction and abusive relationships. Surely, their messages were powerful to some, but it didn't do much for Chris. He felt like no one could relate to what he was going through. His situation was rather, unique.

Chris had always been a fat kid growing up, but it never bothered him. He was fat in a proportional and adorable way. He really enjoyed eating, he was part of an exclusive foodie group that travels the continent searching for the most unusual cuisine. He was extremely popular, everyone thought that he had a wicked sense of humor. When he smiled, he had two deep dimples that girls like to poke playfully. His grandpa happened to be a rich man with "all the money in the world", bandits are well aware that fat people are hard to kidnap. He was so happy and proud being plus-sized, he could make a career by motivating others to love who they are and stay true to themselves. Who knows, he might stir up a revolution, become an inspiration, a sensation, an icon, a legend. . . But, everything changed about a year ago when his doctor gave him the ultimatum to lose weight. He had a fatty liver and he was borderline diabetic. At first, he was excited about the idea of a physical transformation. He was turning 28, perhaps it was time to let his "cuteness" go. In just eight months, he lost about 100 pounds with healthy diet and exercise. He was impressed by his own will power. But recently, he realized that he had become increasingly unhappy about his new body. First of all, he was still a fat person at heart. Whenever someone complimented him on his new look, he wasn't used to it. He thought that people were just being nice, and giving him credits for such "amazing" accomplishment. Secondly, he got kicked out of the foodie group since one of the membership criteria was to have a Body Mass Index of at least 28. Because he was on a lean diet for so long, many of his favorite food became too greasy and too meaty to him. His popularity also dropped when he made a few fat jokes on someone else's expense, it was funny before, but now he was accused of being fat shaming. His signature smile also degraded as his dimples became less remarkable. His new resting face was described as “mean” and “unapproachable”. The only seemingly positive thing was the unprecedented attention he received when he hit the club. But he never got to the point of leaving the club with someone, because he was insecure about what was hidden inside his garment. He hated his naked body, all the loosen skin, wrinkles, blemishes and imperfections. What was worse than a pair of ample man boobs was a pair of saggy man boobs. He never really cared about how he looked when he was fat, but now, he spends way too much time in front of the mirror, loathing what he sees. He really missed his Jonah-Hill days, that is, before Jonah Hill lost weight and is no longer Jonah Hill...

It was time to head back home. Chris walked toward the parking lot. All of the sudden, he heard a big commotion from the other side of the park. People were screaming, laughing and playing loud music. Chris went over and was dumbfounded when he saw a large group of naked cyclists congregated under the large Canadian flag. Some were doing body painting, some were decorating their bikes, others were taking group selfies, and the rest were just dancing and partying. There was a crowd of fully-clothed spectators engulfing them, having the best time ever. But honestly, shame on the two-dozen bikers who were overdressed: some might not dare to bare, but a handful of creepy-looking guys were feasting on the few girls with the perkiest figure. They were like wolves wearing sheep skins, sneaking into a flock of sheep that have just been thoroughly trimmed.

“Hey man, what is this about?" He asked a spectator standing closest to him.
“It's World Naked Bike Day, raising awareness about bike riding and other means of green transportation."
“Oh yes, hence the slogan on that man's back ‘less gas, more ass'."
“Dude, some of them should not be allowed to do this. In fact, 60 percent of them should keep it to themselves, for the sake of the public." The man chuckled. Chris totally agreed. Everywhere he looked, he saw sags and droops. Those were not your typical parents and grandparents. Compared to them, Chris's body is a wonderland. . . hmmmm. . . oh, hmmmm. . . ha! All of the sudden, Chris was intrigued by this crazy idea of joining the bikers. It could be exactly what he needs to overcome his problem. Really? Do I have the guts to pull it off? Why not? No body knows him in this city. And one thing he was grateful for was the fact that not every body part had been downsized. Oh, F*ck it, I am gonna do it! 

Chris went up to a man who looked like he was one of the leaders. “Can anyone join this? Do I have to register or something?"
“Of course, anyone can join. You don't even have to be an environmentalist. In fact, I drive a Hummer."
“Where are we heading to?"
“All the hot spots in downtown area, basically where the people are. There is a Bikeshare station over there, just take one of the Bixi bikes."

Chris was all pumped. He paid $12 and purchased a 24-hour bike pass. After entering the code, he took out the last bike from the rack. He hesitated for a good ten seconds, before stripping down to his birthday suit. Since he had no pockets on him, he locked all of his belongings in his car and tied his car key to his wrist. He Purelled his bike saddle before taking a seat. After a few adjustment, he finally found a comfortable position.

“ARE WE READY???!!!"
“YES!!!" Everyone honked at once and took the party to the heart of the city. Right away, Chris knew his boldness was rewarded. This nude army sent shock waves across the city. This wall of flesh was too overwhelming that people needed a moment to process. Eyes were popping, jaws were dropping, kids screaming, adults laughing, democrats cheering, conservatives judging. . . it was insane! Chris had not felt this happy and free for almost a year. It was like getting away with a crime. . .

An hour later, the fun still had not died down. But all of the sudden, Chris felt a jolt that almost knocked him off his bike. UH-OH, this is not good, not good. He got off to investigate and found that two of the spokes in his rear wheel had come off. He had a major equipment malfunction! This is bad, really bad, like, historically bad! He looked to his fellow bikers for help, but they just gave him a grim and moved on without even slowing down. Before long, everyone had passed by and he became the only nudist in the middle of the street. This corner of the city went silent. It dawned on him that his previous so-called “problem” was nothing compared to the here and now.

Christopher, breath, breath, think! don't panic, think! There must be another Bikeshare station nearby that he can switch bike. Chris lifted the rear wheel off the ground and carried his broken bike forward. He dared not confronting the looks of bystanders, he dared not tune into the laughter and honking. He tried to conquer his fear of “public presentation” by imagining everybody naked in the audience. He tried to “own it” by not displaying any panicky in his eyes. One thing for sure, no one was looking at his eyes. This was literally the worst day EVER!

After 5 minutes of brutality, he finally saw a Bikeshare station. There were plenty of bikes in the rack. Chris felt like he was stranded on an island for years and suddenly a rescue boat appeared on the horizon. He picked up his speed and reached the station in one breathe. Panting like a dog, he forcefully yanked the broken bike into its rack. After it was secured and locked, he let out a long and deep sigh. He went to the next bike. . . but. . . but. . . he couldn’t remember the 6-digit code that he purchased. He only had a two-second glance at the code, it never entered his memory! NO, NO, No, can this day get any worse?! Think Christopher, think, you dumbass!

When he had the stupid bike, at least 50 percent of the people understood the context, but without the bike, no one gets it! He was just a lunatic wandering on the street. And speaking about wandering on the street, he had no idea where he was and how to get back to Coronation Park, he got no phone, no money, no ID and literally nothing . . . endless sessions of psychotherapy were awaiting in his immediate future.

“Hey buddy, how’s hanging?” A powerful and joyful voice broke his misery. Chris turned around and saw a nudist in his golden years. His bike was the type of bike where the rider is reclining and paddling with their legs in an upward rotation. Basically, the same position when a woman is in labor. He looked like a Santa Claus on his sledge, taking fat and proud to another league.
“My bike is broken!” Chris cried out loud.
“It’s okay son, calm down. Let me help.” He got out of his bike. This was Christmas in June for Chris. “We should get you another bike.”
He turned to the crowd that congregated around them, “Does anyone here have a Bixi bike membership? Can we borrow it? It will be a quick ride. Anyone?” He was totally comfortable in his own skin; it actually made people turned away in embarrassment. Soon, a lady pulled out a Bixi key from her purse and unlocked one of the bikes. . .

On the way back to the park, the two were riding side by side. Chris was dead silent. He was traumatized beyond repair.
“Are you alright son?” The man asked.
“No. . .”
“Well, that’s not the spirit of a Nudist. Why do you think I was so behind everyone? I didn’t wanna share the glory! Ha-ha-ha!”
“I am not a Nudist. I am not an Environmentalist. I am just a loser.”
“Oh? Do you wanna talk about it?”
“Not really. . .”Chris paused, “I hate myself, more specifically, I hate my body. I just lost a lot of weight and for some reason, I am not happy, I don’t even know why.”
“You hate your body? What is it to hate? Son, I am a life-long Nudist, I have seen it all. Let me tell you, you are in the top 30 percentile!”
“Yes! How would you rate yourself in relation to everyone who is doing this today?”
“I would say 6.”
“Oh, you are so modest. You are a solid 8! In fact, you are stealing my thunder right now!”He continued, “The people in this event are a great representation of the general population. I would say you are well above average.”
“You cannot be serious.”
“Oh, I am. And besides, your eyes are beautiful.”
“Thank you! Really, thank you!”

Chris felt a lot better, not because he really believes he is an 8, but after this experience, he didn’t think it matters anymore. He realized that he could still enjoy life and do crazy things without looking fabulous; besides, he’s not even ugly or short or fat, what was he complaining about all along?

Chris finally crossed the finish line and couldn’t wait to go home. As he went back to his car and checked on his phone, his phone was flooded by missed calls and text messages. People were texting him and told him that he was trending on every social media platform. His mom was yelling at him with all letters in caps. He thought for two seconds, and replied to his best friend, “Can you get me an agent?”

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ms. Grinch's Christmas Luncheon (Fiction)

Image result for ms grinch

Karen got down to the party room about 10 minutes to noon. "Anything I can do to help?" She asked Tara, the head of the social committee. "Oh, how lovely Karen, I guess you can put the centre pieces onto each table." Tara pointed to the dozen Poinsettias on the floor. As Karen knelt down, she quickly took her wrapped present out of the grocery bag and shoveled it under the Christmas tree. . .

Coworkers started to show up at the party. Everyone had a wrapped gift in their hands. Karen lurked behind a tremendous pot of Poinsettia and observed. She tried to remember which gift belonged to whom. She paid particular attentions to the ones coming from people who contributed the most at the Halloween Potluck Luncheon. "Oh hey Karen, look like we are assigned to the same table." George from Tech Support beamed at Karen with a jolly smile. Minutes later, Xiao Min from accounting and Vivian the student interim also joined the table. Xiao Min was a newcomer, apparently it's her first Christmas in Canada. Vivian claims that she is 21 but looking like 12 with her watery eyes and pore-less skin. This was a table with an interesting mix of demographic, we have someone who still believes in Santa Clause, someone who never believes in Santa Clause, someone who, believe me, looks like Santa Clause, AND Karen, who never ever ever wants anything to do with Santa Clause, like ever.

The CEO was giving a toss: "Thank you for coming to this fabulous Christmas Party. I want to thank the lovely ladies in the social committee; I want to thank everyone for your passions and dedications in 2017. I want to thank blah blah blah. . . Let's line up for food and get the party started!" Karen launched out of her chair. She had not had anything substantial since yesterday's breakfast. She was very generous at giving herself a full plate of every thing, chicken, spring rolls, short ribs, salmon, etc. Though it was a lunch, she was tackling it like the last supper. At the dessert table, she saw a pile of fortune cookies. She said to Frank who was next to her, "Will you give me a fortune cookie?"
"Huh?" Frank was puzzled for the fact that Karen was literally standing between him and the cookies.
"Oh, it's a thing, you cannot pick your own fortune, someone else has to pick for you." Karen said with dead seriousness.
"Oh, my pleasure." Frank picked the best looking one from the bunch.

The food was extremely delicious. Karen savored each bite and sucked the juice out of every molecule. George had a different approach, he needed to shovel down as much food as possible before his brain sends the "full" signal. Xiao Min and Vivian didn't come with a particular strategy. They were just eating, smiled awkwardly, and feeling insecure as the newest members of the company.  For a good ten minutes, no one really said a word at the table while the rest of room was as noisy as a Christmas market.

"Okay everyone, we gonna play an ice-breaker game." Tara continued, "You have a sticker on your back.  It has the name of a famous person or a cartoon character. You have to guess 'who you are' by asking your neighbors a series of 'yes' or 'no' question. . . Does that make sense? Yeah?"
"I have a sticker on my back?" Karen couldn't remember when and how.
"Yes, do you wanna start with yours?" George asked.
"Sure. . ." Ain't her thing, but she just wanted to get it over with. "Live, dead or a cartoon?"
"Karen, you have to ask a yes or no question." Vivian said.
"Fine." She rolled her eyes. "Is it alive?"
"Yes, he is."
"White, black, brown, yellow or orange?"
"Again, you have to ask yes or no questions."
"Seriously." Karen rolled her eyes again, but this time, she made sure that they landed on Vivian's big and watery eyes.
"Orange..." Vivian said quietly.
"Trump, Ed Sheen or Prince Harry."
"Wow, you are good." George said, "It's Ed Sheen".
"Although technically Ed Sheen is a Ginger. It's a new thing, he started a new category. Isn't that cute that instead of naming the color, we describe it as a beloved produce? I mean, we should do that for black, white, brown and Asian people too." Vivian carefully put it in a politically correct way.
"We have that for black, white and brown already, it's chocolate, milk and caramel." Karen said.
"What about Asians?" Xiao Min finally broke the ice.
"Asians are a bit complicated. You see, we use 'banana'. But, banana is a term that only describes Asians who are actually White at heart." Vivian explained.
"So, you wanna find an appropriate fruit that is inclusive for all Asians?" Asked George.
"No, Lemons are sour, it's not technically edible." Xiao Min protested.
. . .
Not only was the ice cracked, it melted like the North Pole. "Let's do Xiao Min's". Vivian was all pumped up. She turned Xiao Min around and the sticker on her back reads --- Neil Armstrong. "Who's that?" Great, it's gonna take a while. Karen drifted away. Her thoughts took her far, far into the galaxy and landed her on a planet called "the Dead Star". . .

May 17th, 1992, Karen turned sweet 16. She awoke from a dreamless sleep. She opened her eyes and saw the world in a completely different light from the day before. The very first thought that flooded her conscious was, "Santa Clause is not real, neither was Mrs. Clause, the Alf, the Reindeer, and the Grinch." There, she figured it out, she did, all by herself. Sixteen was the turning point for her, the curse of naiveness was finally lifted. She couldn't believe that the whole wide world would work together to prey on the innocence of little children by telling them that Santa Clause is real. Every single Christmas, Karen would write a 200-word letter to Santa and tell him about all her proud accomplishments, the tantrums that she did not throw, and the physically tiresome chores that she did for allowance. She'd do everything to land herself on Santa's Nice List. Every year, when she sat on Santa's laps in the mall, she would tell Santa exactly what she wanted for Christmas and he would nod and nod and said that it would be delivered. But she never got a present that she asked for. Many times, her present showed up only after her parents came back from their Boxing Day frenzy. "Santa was too busy delivering gift that he couldn't make it on time." Though Santa never kept his promise, she always believed. Her faith was renewed annually in time for Christmas. If Santa is not real, then what else is fake news? Is time linear? Is Earth really rounded? Is climate change a hoax? And most recently, is Old Taylor really dead?

"Is he a scientist?" Xiao Min asked.
"Finally we are getting somewhere. Yes!" After Googling, Vivian knew Neil like a friend.
"Cut to the chase, he walked on the moon." Karen was now drowning in the Arctic Ocean.
"Is it Michael Jackson?"
"No, Michael Jackson did the Moonwalk. But this person literally walked on the moon." George became inpatient as well.
"Really? Did Neil Armstrong really walk on the moon? I mean, you actually believe that?" Karen was visibly upset.

"Okay, everyone, it's time for our Gift Exchange." Tara shouted with excitement. "Thank you for bringing a wrapped gift, I saw some very fancy and creative wrapping techniques. If you are new to this game, this is how it goes: at the back of your name tag, there is a number. I will call each number chronologically. When it's your turn, you will come up and pick a gift for yourself. You will unwrap your gift, make sure that everyone knows what it is. The people who come after you will have a chance to steal your gift and if your gift gets stolen, you can pick another gift, which might be stolen again, and you will have to pick another one. . . until everyone ends up with a gift. Does that make any sense? Yeah? Okay, let's get into it. Number 1!" Karen turned her name tag around, it says "35." She hit the Jackpot! It's the last number, which means she could steal anyone's gift. She could choose anything she wants!

Jeff from Marketing was the first to pick a gift. He pulled all of them into the open and chose the biggest and tallest gift. He unwrapped it, and it was a three-tiered high tea tray, beautiful and shining. "Wuuu", "Ahhh", everyone was amazed, everyone wanted it. Jeff walked to his table to pick up a dirty napkin, he then wiped his DNA all over the tray. Message received. Karen didn't think the three-tiered tray was very ideal for her. She doesn't entertain much. . . One after the other, Karen evaluated each revealed gift based on its market value and practicality. She liked a few of them, but she was still waiting for "the One". 

Vivan's turn was up, "hmm, I think it's an apron." Tara stopped her while she was unfolding it, "It's okay sweetie, no one wants your apron". . . George got a steaming tray, but apparently he preferred his food fried. . . When it was Xiao Min's turn, there weren't that many options left. She picked the one that was the biggest among the rest. When she opened it up, it was a beautiful piece of wall decor. Though the wrapping was torn off, it was still in its original cardboard box. Karen smiled with the smile of a Shopping Mall Santa. She found the One. This gift would be the perfect gift to re-gift. (She is playing Secret Santa at her knitting club on Saturday).

"Last but not least, number 35!" Karen didn't even have to get up from her chair. She grabbed the gift from Xiao Min's hand. "I want this." Xiao Min didn't seem to be upset, because there was still one gift left, one hope for an even better surprise. She went back to the Christmas tree and took out the last gift. It was kinda small compared to other packages, but car keys are small, diamonds are small, and the tweeting hands of the President are definitely small. "I love the wrapping paper and the bow." Xiao Min was giving her commentary along the way, since everyone was attentively waiting for a grand finale. "It's. . . it's a . . . it's a can of cat food. " A nightmare wrapped in a day dream. "I don't even have a cat." The room went LOL and triggered an artificial earthquake. "Thanks to whoever it is that gave us the gift of joy and laughter." Karen shouted out her commentary. Xiao Min laughed too, trying to make lemonade out of her lemons.

"Hey honey, let me cheer you up with pictures of my cute cats." Karen put her arms around Xiao Min like her new BFF. "This is Pikachu. . . this is She-nay-nay. . .this is Bokchoy. . . this is Bazinga, and this, well, the others don't know, but this fuzzy little dude is my favorite, his name is Berbie, not Baby, but Ber-Bee."
"Is it name after someone, like Bieber?" Vivian really wanted to know.
"No, it means baby."
Xiao Min said, "Oh, you have this many cats, do you want this cat food?"

The luncheon was a huge success. As Karen was cleaning her table, she saw her fortune cookie. She opened it up like a present. The words were delivered right on time "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Now."