I was telling my dad how I was troubled to see how many adults, while way older than I am, they live with some kind of insecurities or unhappiness and would often suppress their emotions with smoking, alcohol or other stimulants to appear calm and professional. Although I understood the stress and pressures of adulthood, I wondered why I see adults who, to put it bluntly, still behave like rash teenagers.
My dad then told me this:
"Many young people like to jump, take shortcuts or avoid obstacles altogether when they see one. For you, you take a clean and clear path, like a drill that bores through the rocks bit by bit."
Me: "So is this good or bad?" (I thought he was going to say smth like im too inflexible or rigid in my way of doing things)
Dad: "When I see you do things like that, I think about what you said- how when people choose to avoid certain things, they get to escape for awhile but in the end everything comes back again but in different forms. Even I am also like that especially when I was younger. So what you are doing- I feel that it is the correct way of life. I am also learning from you."
At this point, my jaws almost dropped. My sister and mum were both wide eyed with surprise.
Me: "You...learn from me?"
Dad: "Of course. I say nothing but the truth. If you do something good, I also let you know. So what youre doing, dont be afraid or ashamed to share with others your view even though youre much younger than others. Especially since youre following Sensei's guidance."
I...really was in a state of shock. I teared up in the car on my way back home.
Either my dad has become someone who knows how to encourage others with words or...I dont know man.
On Xmas eve, I had hearty lunch and dinner with my family. On Xmas Day, we went for a joyride, passing by the festive light ups in town while reminiscing the childhood days. On Boxing Day, my dad and I had this conversation over family dinner while my mum chimed in and agreed with my dad, elaborating on his points.
Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by my current challenges that I forgot that I have made so many steps ahead since the day I set out to fulfill my determinations and vows. Day after day, month after month, year after year- efforts are accumulated and effects are reaped.
I wont say this is a miracle because we worked so hard for it. This harmony was hard won. It took years. How many times have I cried and muttered under my breath that I hate this family? How many times have I expressed my unhappiness for having been brought up in a certain way?
And to think that recently, I got so frustrated with my inability to do certain everyday stuff without any fear or hesitation I actually blamed it on my parents' overprotection during my childhood. Maybe it wasnt the best way to raise me up, but they did their best anyway. Arent parents human too? They must have struggled so hard, figuring the best way to give me a life that they never had, to be better than they were.
And to say that they learn from me...I dont know what to think of it. This is probably the first time I have heard a genuine praise from my dad. All this time, I have always thought that I wasnt good enough, always wondering how I can be better and not disappoint them.
Im tearing as I write this because 2016 has been a really challenging year. I dont dare to reflect much on it because really, too intense for my liking. I went through so many transitions and changes, and time after time I found myself in the pits of despair. But that was also when I found my inner strength and picked myself up again. Although im happy to have pulled through many things, I wouldnt dare say that Im proud of this year in general.
So to hear this from my dad was unbelievable. I mean, this is something I got to learn from him right? How he has found things to learn from me even though I personally find myself so...disorganised, emotional and at times just not a good person.
I thought the year-end would be very hard because a week into zero contact, I started having very severe bouts of longing. It led me to cry so much for no particular reason at night, or have dreams so vivid I would wake up with tears streaming down my face.
Even walking in the drizzle made me want to cry because every little detail would remind me of the things we did together. We spent Xmas together last year, and during the first week of the new year we also hanged out. I thought I was strong enough to not be bothered by such things esp when I know you would be away for something meaningful, but the heart can be so irrational at times.
But also around the same time that I got to spend wonderful moments with my family, I started to dig deep into my dilemmas and pain, to realise some important things.
1. I know why I have been so distrustful all this time and I want to overcome it fully. I do not want my past to hold me back.
2. I know that everything goes back to being able to embrace the worst and then work upwards from here.
3. Some things are unspoken for a reason. If we are able to accept and answer the unspoken within ourselves, then we are more ready to have more dialogues, listening to each other's opinions and perspectives.
4. Everything begins and also ends with ourselves.
This year has made me a lot more humble because life sure knows how to give you all kinds of lemons and curve balls. Whatever arrogance I may have had as a student, bit by bit it is disappearing because I have been knocked hard by life.
It is interesting to also see how human beings in general can fall into great despair but also rise from the ashes if they will themselves to do so, plus some help from loved ones and protective functions.
Life can be really random at times, but it is up to us to steer its direction, being the captains of our own ships.
Also, I just cannot say more how I could have made it this far if I did not practice this Buddhism. And I wish so much for people to be able to appreciate and even practice for themselves so that they can see how their own lives and environment can be transformed. I wasnt born wise or strong; I gradually became so by continuing to manifest my Buddha nature through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Next year will be another memorable one, and I would like to score even more breakthroughs and victories then. I will remember all these times and forge ahead courageously.