Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Gift of Understanding

I was cleaning up our storage room last week and I managed to dig up some old textbooks which my mom has kept and stubbornly refuse to throw away.

A lot of memories came to mind when I saw the old pile of books. It seemed like I was instantly transported back to a time when big problems didn't seem to exist and the only things that occupied my then world was video games, tv shows and homework.

One textbook I opened was the one we used in English for our Reading class. It was full of short stories. One of the stories it featured was one written by Paul Villiard entitled "The Gift of Understanding". I read it again and this time, now that I've matured enough, I fully understand the impact the story communicated. I will post the text here to share with you all the beautiful story.

The Gift of Understanding
By: Paul Villiard

I must have been around four years old when I first entered Mr. Wigden’s candy shop, but the smell of that wonderful world of penny treasures still comes back to me clearly more than a half-century later. Whenever he heard the tiny tinkle of bell attached to the front door, Mr. Wigden quietly appeared, to take his stand behind the candy case. He was very old, and his head was topped with a cloud of fine, snow-white hair.

Never was such an array of delicious temptations spread before a child. It was almost painful to make a choice. Each kind had first to be savored in the imagination before passing on to the next. There was always a short pang of regret as the selection was dropped into a little white paper sack. Perhaps another kind would taste better? Or last longer? Mr. Wigden had a trick of scooping your selection into the sack, then pausing. Not a word was spoken, but every child understood that Mr. Wigden’s raised eyebrows constituted a last-minute opportunity to make an exchange. Only after payment was laid upon the counter was the sack irrevocably twisted shut and the moment of indecision ended.

Our house was two streets from the streetcar line, and you had to pass the shop going to and from the cars. Mother had taken me into town on some forgotten errand, and as we walked home from the trolley Mother turned into Mr. Wigden’s.

“Let’s see if we can find something good,” she said, leading me up to the long glass case as the old man approached from behind a curtained aperture. My mother stood talking with him for a few minutes as I gazed rapturously at the display before my eyes. Finally Mother picked out something for me and paid Mr. Wigden.

When I was six or seven years old my family moved to a new community where I grew up, eventually married an established my own family. My wife and I opened a shop where we bred and sold exotic fish. The aquarium trade was then still in its infancy, and most of the fish were imported directly from Asia, Africa and South America. Few species sold for less than five dollars a pair.

One sunny afternoon a little girl came in accompanied by her brother. They were perhaps five and six years old. I was busy cleaning the tanks. The two children stood with wide, round eyes, staring at the jeweled beauties swimming in the crystal-clear water. “Gosh,” exclaimed the boy, “can we buy some?”

“Yes,” I replied. “If you can pay for them.”

“Oh, we have lots of money,” the little girl said confidently.

Something in the way she spoke gave me an old feeling of familiarity. After watching the fish for some time, they asked me for pairs of several different kinds, pointing them out as they walked down the row of tanks. I netted their choices into a traveling container and slipped it into an insulated bag for transport, handing it to the boy. “Carry it carefully,” I cautioned.

He nodded and turned to his sister. “You pay him,” he said. I held out my hand, and as her clenched fist approached me I suddenly knew exactly what was going to happen even what the little girl was going to say. Her fist opened, and into my outstretched palm she duped three very small coins.

At that instant I sensed the full impact of the legacy Mr. Wigden gad given me so many years before. Only now did I recognize the challenge I had presented the old man, and realize how wonderfully he had met it.

I seemed to be standing again in the little candy shop as I looked at the coins in my own hand. I understood the innocence of the two children and the power to preserve or destroy that innocence, as Mr. Wigden had understood those long years ago. I was so filled up with the remembering that my throat ached. The little girl was standing expectantly before me. “Isn’t it enough? She asked in a small voice.

“It’s a little too much,” I managed to say, somehow, over the lump in my throat. “You have some change coming.” I rummaged around in the cash drawer, dropped two pennies into her open hand, then stood in the doorway watching the children go down the walk carefully carrying their treasure.

When I turned back into the shop, my wife was standing on a stool with her arms submerged to the elbows in a tank where she was rearranging the plants. “Mind telling me what that was all about?” she asked. “Do you know how many fish you gave them?”

“About 30dollars’ worth,” I answered, the lump still in my throat. “But I couldn’t have done anything else.”

When I’d finished telling her about old Mr. Wigden, her eyes were wet, and she stepped off the stool and gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek.

“I still smell the gumdrops,” I sighed, and I’m certain I heard old Mr. Wigden chuckle over my shoulder as I swabbed down the last tank.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Get Back Up!

Grandpa Chris linked this video to me in my FaceBook account and when I saw it I really can't describe how I felt.

I was touched by this man's spirit. Despite his deformity he has managed to do things so many ordinary, normal people take for granted. He didn't use his malady as a reason to wallow in self-pity and let his life go to waste. He is indeed an inspiration to all.
I can't help but admire him.

Yet as I watched the video I also felt ashamed of myself. Here I am, thinking my life is shit because most things are not going my way, bemoaning the fact that I'm scoliotic I'll never be normal, I'm not going anywhere blah, blah, blah and here's this guy who seems to be carrying more on his shoulders without the aide of limbs and yet he was able to carry the load, not thinking it's a burden.
I too have my own deformities and maladies but I must say it's not as severe as his yet he views life more positively than I do.

At around 8 or so I too contemplated suicide because like him I felt hopeless, broken and alone.
To find the words to describe that dark time in my life is impossible. But I'm so happy that my nefarious plan didn't push through and I'm alive today. I'm slowly building my life and trying my best to make something out of it. And I'm getting somewhere, with the help of the people I love and who loves me.

Here's the video of Nick Vujicic. I hope you will also be inspired.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

China And It's Crackdown On Internet Porn. Oh Noes!

For a country that has a great shortage of girls, it's safe to assume that a lot of Chinese men get their sexual gratification from whacking their ding-dongs to girls online tackling on probably two, three or even more dicks at a time. (Where gangbangs arises from a need more than a want)
Yes, I'm talking about porn!

In a country that is so hell-bent on controlling its population, I would have thought that the Chinese was using pornography to promote this cause, then I am proven wrong. "China warned Google and other popular Web portals Monday that they must do more to block pornographic material from reaching Chinese users, the latest in a series of government crackdowns targeting Internet content." A bold move once again China but think about it. If more dudes are furiously masturbating and getting their sexual gratification online there is no need to have real sex. Without real sex that significantly lowers the numbers of your limited girls getting pregnant. You therefore have a win-win situation.

I know this isn't about porn alone. China has been trying to heavily censor its internet and blocks anything they think is poisoning their population's minds... and failing!
Many Chinese users are able to go over the great firewall and surf sites that they want. A lot of Chinese bloggers have maintained sites and publish their thoughts so many others can know of the real situation there.
And fuck it China, you really need to review your stand and know what the internet was really intended for.

In situations like these it's perfectly okay to grab your dick, double click and watch all the pornography you can handle as errr a way of protest.

On a more serious note. Banning something will always have a severe side-effect. China being also one of the biggest exporters of pirated (often sexual) videos, sales of said product would just rise. Prohibition never works because people will always look for ways to obtain what they need and want. A crackdown on child porn is always welcome but pornography involving consenting adults is something that no one else should decide for you.

And for being patient enough to have read this far. Here are pictures of Zhang Ziyi sunbathing topless. (Thank me later...)