“Either shine or set”

 

I stumbled across this quote yesterday and found it intriguing. I chewed it over for some time and decided these words might be important to keep in mind on those days when the world seems to fall apart. Who would have known that within just a few hours a piece of my own little world would crumble and fall away. Every day we face challenges that test our personhood – our ability to persevere through the blows of living. Not all cause us to stumble, but somedays it feels like even the smallest gust of wind could topple us to the ground. I don’t know though, it seems like that is just a part of life. But as you grow up, I feel like you learn how to take all of this in stride. Or at least, you learn how to cope, how to deal. You learn how to go on; how to keep living; how to not be broken by the world. I think in life, you have to make a decision: either shine or set. Either let all the bad parts of being alive, of being human, drag you down till you’re nothing, or you choose to just keep on going. You take all of life’s hardships, all of the pain and the stress and the awfulness, and you become something more. Something better than what you were before. You live, really live, no matter what twists and turns you come across. All of life can be good, even the worse parts – the heartbreak, the loneliness, the neglect and betrayal, the guilt and the regret, the longing – all of this, all these things that torture us and tear at our souls have the potential to make us better people. Growing up is about learning that you don’t have to let these things bring you to your knees. We can choose to shine through it all, to be alive in every waking moment no matter what the circumstances. Either shine or set. Either live or succumb. We all have to make the choice.

I thought about this idea a lot today. No I didn’t experience any sort of disaster so don’t worry, but Allyson and I definitely had one of our hardest China days as of yet. I know I’m building this up far more than necessary and I’m really not meaning to do so. Our problem is really not that big at all. We planned on going to Vietnam during the holiday and we ended up having to cancel our trip the day we were supposed to leave. Typhoon headed for Hanoi, bummerfest but really not that big of a deal in the long run. Nevertheless, we both had a bit of a breakdown and spent most of the day sobbing (well, I did. Allyson doesn’t cry so I have to compensate for her). I know it seems silly and it really is! No use in crying over spilled milk, right? We lost some money and wasted a good amount of energy but, in the end, I know we will make it to Nam eventually. Either way, Allyson and I spent all day scrambling to cancel flights, cancel reservations, try and get refunds, and attempt to plan on new trip. The final verdict: we are going to Shanghai again. Both of us are content with this decision and are ready to see some new parts of the city. It took a little while to get to this state of mind, however. All the stress of moving to a new country with new jobs, new foods, new people, and a new language really boiled over today. Doing this is hard and today proved that no matter how hard we try to make everything work, life can still throw a wrench in our plans whenever it wants.

So first I cried and Allyson went to the gym, then I went to kindergarten and Allyson went to class and after a couple hours, we reconvened over a boiling dish of hot pot and we laughed about this out of control China Fail. We laughed and we made a new plan. And then we both thought about how much we have grown up in the last couple of years. Yes, we both still complain and get pissed (and I ball), but we move on a little better than we used to. It’s been a long process and we have miles and miles to go, but we are progressing nevertheless, slowly but surely. I know I used to let things in life defeat me. I always let myself set. I rarely found away to shine on. It took some time, some major re-thinking and re-evaluating (and screwing up and making a mess and breaking down and starting over) but I’m finally learning to just let go and to find a way and to always live with joy. It’s hard somedays but, God, it feels so much better to just smile everyday and really mean it. Somedays I have to force it but eventual it evolves into really happiness. If you always expect good and seek it out, I feel like you are more than likely to find it. I know this isn’t profound and I’m not trying to be. All I’m trying to do is find my own way to make it in this world. And I want to live a joyful life. I want to be happy and smile and love everything so that’s what I am going to try and do. Plain and simple. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this isn’t what I should seek in life. But I don’t know the answer. For now, however, I just want to smile and love life so that’s what I will try and do. China is and will continue to be a wonderful challenge. I know I am going to scream and want to drop kick babies into oncoming traffic somedays but I hope that after those quick fits of rage, I can find the good and use it to grow as a person.

And I hope I can freaking go to Vietnam before I die!!!

Miss you all. Shine on…

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