Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fighting Our Daily Battles with a Smile

Dear Reader,

I think the old adage, "We know who we really are when we are pushed to the precipice of our wits." is quite true. When it comes to the final test, are we brave? What are our values? How far are we willing to fight until we fall? And finally, how much are we willing to sacrifice ourselves, our dignity, for the sake of what's right? This evening, I watched the movie "Man on a Ledge". It's about a man who was framed as a thief and was sent to prison. Upon escaping, he put his life and family on the line by using extreme measures to prove his innocence. The plot compelled me to reflect on how much my parents have sacrificed for my siblings and I. It caused me to reflect that no matter how much life could force me down, or twist around my inner peace, there is no way I could match the people who brought me into this world.

My family and I moved to the States in 1983, about half a year after I was born. Mom and Dad started their lives here on only $3000.00 and my Mom's nursing job. Dad didn't have a job, and while Mom was at work, he was busy searching for employment and raising my sister and I by himself (before John was born). To be clear, men in the Philippines are not accustomed to raise children. They are the bread-winners. Dad, to be precise, was raised as if he was the only child. Was he spoiled? Maybe, to a certain degree, but quite certainly he was not at all used to raising us kids, being alone in a foreign country, AND without a job. Just imagine living in a lonely apartment with only a mattress to sleep on. There was no television, no friends in the neighborhood, a tight budget, and a limited understanding of the English language. Dad told me he was pushed to the edge of his sanity, and yes he really did break down into tears and wished to return to the Philippines. Yet, after all this, he survived.

I guess this would be a typical American immigration story, but my point is that I have absolutely no reason to abhor hardship, despite how much life could push me around like a chess piece. Somehow, I play a role (be it major or minor), and at some point the purpose of my quirky life will be revealed. In fact, because my parents struggled and survived, they became closer. They had an inner sense of duty, and personal satisfaction from mutually achieving their goals. This was the real love they wanted- a compassionate love for each other, and love for a sense of doing what's right- to raise us kids and make life "better" in the States. Believe me too, that after my recent trip to the Philippines, although the country is beautiful, economically it's so much harder to raise a family there. That said, I have nothing but respect for my parents, and in no way can I match them. I suppose I'm just too young to know, but thankfully old enough to appreciate it. This doesn't make me a noble creature though. I'm still afraid of making sacrifices, and I don't always remember what they've done for me; but I like to hope some One up there can see that my heart seeks to be.

So here we are, back to square one. To be honest, I was not planning on watching Man on a Ledge this evening, but rather Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. However that movie just so happened to be sold out, and the only show Jess and I could grab was Man on a Ledge. How interesting that it inspired me to write this piece, hoping this reflection will bring some light on the struggles I've been having recently. The "light", I wish to say, is that it's always been there, and I must remember to be humble enough follow it.

With a Smile,
Lesley Ann

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