Sunday, January 24, 2016


January 22, 2016
Over the years, I have written many adventure stories and short essays, made countless entries to my face book and blog.  My affection of writing stems from reading; and my passion of reading springs from my innate aspiration of adventure, and endless love of nature.  

My early writings, received unexpected attention from friends and strangers, but they were “raw”, marginally acceptable; plain, full of errors and as such received countless attacks from one reader.   I never paid much attention to his insensitive and cruel remarks, for I know deep down inside he enjoyed reading my stories or he would not keep analysis them and came up with those remarks.  Nonetheless, I did begin to pay more and more attention to my writing including narrative skill, appropriate grammar, and organization of storylines.  I read more intensively, when come across some good descriptive words, skillful sentences, I memorize them and try to apply them on my next writing.  Sometimes, I find myself completely lost in my reading, unaware of my surrounding and indulge myself to a piece of good adventure story.   My friends begin to think that I am growing odd, eccentric, and even anti-social.

Their reaction reminds me of a classmate in the 5th grade.  He was a quiet fellow, average student and always sat in a corner with his head down, totally absorbed in whatever he was doing.  One day, his behavior caught our teacher’s attention.   He was asked to stand up and show his hands.  What we saw was astonishing, delicate little animal figures carved out of a piece of chalk were exposed.  I don’t remember what punishment he received, but it did not stop him from carving.  He continued to live intensely in his own world making beautiful figurines.  As soon as he had a piece of white chalk in one hand and a knife in the other, he was happy.

Writing is a lonely process but it is satisfactory one. It is this strange satisfaction, this joy of molding words into sentences that gives me the most profound incentives to writing.  It is difficult to explain and hard for others to understand.  It is similar to the joy my 5th grade classmate had; his chief delight in life was to crave a figure out of a chalk.
To my friends who think I am growing odd, all I can say to them is: they have no idea of the fun I am having!   

I may never be able to sell a story for a penny, but if I have written a sentence that “sings”, I pay myself a million dollars.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Retirement or Not

Retirement or not
January 17, 2016

The creator of Spider man, Stanley Lieber, who is 93 years old, was asked by a reporter when he intended to retire.   He smiles and says “I enjoy what I do, why should I retire?”
His reply echoes my friend Derrick’s answer to my repeated question “when are you going to slow down, Derrick?”  His answer is always the same, “I enjoy what I do Chi!” 

After he retires, Derrick works as a translator, devotes his time to help the non-English speaking Chinese immigrants for their needs and rights.  His work is admirable but keeps him very busy.  Derrick is an old friend and an excellent hiker.  Many times, I wish he could quit his busy translating work and join me for the outdoor adventures.  My motive maybe a bit selfish, but I do want to see him enjoy his retirement and return to his passion which I always assume is “hiking”, period.

33 Retirement Wishes, Messages and Happy Retirement CardsDerrick still enjoys hiking, I am sure.  But his passion is more than just that.  Helping others is also his “zeal”.  He is one of those lucky individuals who know exactly where his heart lies and is passionate enough to pursuit that desire until the end.   “Why should he retire?”  I finally understand.  Maybe next time, when I announce that I want to retire early, in stand I should say

“ I am changing my career to which I love so much that I will never ever retire!”

Thanks Mr. Stanley and Derrick for waking me up, your insightful advice and the commendable example of life. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life After Peac Corps - A Story of Guilt

A Story of Guilt
January 18, 2015

A famous Chinese writer once wrote a story about his boyhood recalling an innocuous but yet cruel act towards his younger brother.  One autumn day, the author found his brother hiding inside a chicken shed, instead of performed his duties as instructed; the young boy was making a paper kit enthusiastically.  The author was frustrated and angry, without a word, he stepped on the nearly finished kit and smashed it into pieces.  He left his brother in the shed with misery.  It probably took his brother many hours to make that kit.   

Years later, they both grew up as an adult.  The author became a writer and his brother was a successful business man.  That innocent conduct resurrected one day from the author’s memory and since was tormenting him.  Finally on one family gathering, the author brought up the event.  To the author’s surprise, his young brother had no recollection of the occasion and laughed at his brother for remembering such a childlike thing.  But that did not make the author feel any better.  He carried that guilty conscious well into his old age and finally confessed his remorse through his writings.  That story caught my attention and stay with me for many years.

I was also once a young innocent but hot tempered adolescent.  Many such shameless acts were placed upon my elder sister.  Today, my sister may not remember any of those instances or possible she has already forgiven me.   Yet, like the author, I have this enormous guilt living inside me…………….

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Not sure I can forgive myself, but one thing I can do.  We once grew up together, and we can certainly grow old together…..   

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Life After Peace Corps - Christmas 2014

December 25, 2014
Christmas Day

I usually get up at 5:00 but the holiday lazes me, now is 7:00 and I am still in bed.  Winter dawn comes later and later, and the globe seems to be slowing down every day.   I toss and turn, cannot stand it anymore, so I get up, make myself a cup of coffee and begin my Christmas day.

It is always a consoling feeling to sip hot drink and watch the winter saga playing outside the windown.  A sparrow flies in and sits on my balcony railing.  I welcome wildlife on this late December day.  Most birds already migrate to the south.  I wonder why this little creature still lingers here.   Seconds later, the bird takes a dive and disappears.  The persistent rain for the past few days finally ceases.  Sun comes out and displays a brilliant sunrise.  During the night the weather has moderated.  It turns out to be a warm Christmas morning after all.  I slide my balcony door open and let in some cool fresh air.   Instantaneously, my plants react with a positive acknowledgment.   Flashes of light scattered over them, they tilted at exactly the right angle to reflect the rays of the eastern sun.   Being trapped indoor, they have been unhappy for a long time, I know. 

My gaze turns back to the outside world.  Across the street, a tall handsome hickory tree was once thick with summer foliage now stands bare and stark, not a single leave remains on its bough.  For the past few days, with rain coursing down it and dripping down from its branches, there is now a sad beauty about the tree.  Summer diversifies, winter simplifies. Winter color is always gray and dull but yet peaceful and serene.   Winston Churchill once wrote in his wartime speeches, “O Lord, support us all through the day long, until the shadows lengthen and evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.  Then in Thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last.  Winter is the time to rest and to regenerate.  I am certain, with the first hint of spring; young leaves of this hickory tree will unfold in no time.

After breakfast, I start taking my morning walk to the Four-mile run creek.  Recent sousing rain has given the river a full force of life.  Instead of murmuring quietly, today, the brook is gashing, plunging, tumbling, in some places rumbling.  “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water”.  I have seemed what water does to the canyons of southern Utah.  The incessant water movement shapes and adds characters to the river.  Idyllic pools, deep water pockets, and singing cascade are formed.  In places, the soft river surface reflects images of the forest and blue sky.   The woods, in the mid of a cold harsh winter, still exerts a magnetic spell.  It is a delight to walk along its meandering bank and watch a Christmas morning progressing inside this urban forest.
No one really comprehends God’s intention to give the earth four distinct seasons.  For some folks winter may serve no purpose.  They dislike winter so much that they prefer to live permanently in the south.    As I increase my walks in the woods and get closer to nature, winter, like spring, summer and fall has its unique allure.  Maybe it is the crisp cold air, or perhaps it is the stillness and tranquility, quite possible the aloof and solitude. 

In a bleak and, to most, cheerless day of winter, when most people are thinking of their warm cozy home, “I come to my woodlands walk as the homesick go home” Henry David Thoreau loved his Walden Pond,  John Muir worshiped the high Sierra, I fancy my Four-mile run creek.