What’s Your Story?

Here’s mine.

13 years ago today (5 July), my father passed away.

It was a hot, humid summer afternoon when my mother rushed into my room and told me about his death. She was crying. I remember I cried upon hearing this unexpected news. At that time, it was funny to me that I couldn’t stop crying, because I hated my father, who had gotten divorced with my mother when I was 10. I hadn’t been in touch with him after they had gotten divorced.

Why did I cry when someone I hated passed away? At that time, I simply couldn’t remember why I hated him, because all I could remember about him was some of the good memories I had with him or nice things he did for me.

The divorce of my parents as well as my father’s death influenced me a lot. I think there were more positive influences than negative influences, especially when I decided to turn these experiences into something positive.

These experiences may have made me bitter and cynical for some years, but they made me more mature and also gave me things to reflect on when I got older – that is, now. If you want to know what kind of influence I got from these experiences, look at me. Or you can read on and know more about what I got from them.

If you are wondering why I hated my father, I’ll tell you why. He was short-tempered, dismissive, abusive and occasionally violent. Not that he punched me or physically hurt me on a regular basis, but he would yell at me often and I didn’t like it at all. He didn’t show much affection to me.

But, here’s a question I had never thought about, until my mother told me about my father’s father last year. What was it like to be my father?

I didn’t know much about my paternal grandfather. I still don’t know. But, according to my mother, he was, apparently, a player. He was the kind of guy who would spend his money on gambling, drinking and buying women. All I know is that much, and this is my imagination, but I guess my paternal grandfather wasn’t really a good father to my father at all. I’d rather imagine my paternal grandfather being a jerk to his family members, including my father.

What if my father didn’t get enough affection from his father? What if my father didn’t know how to love his own children?

What these questions bring to my mind is a man who wasn’t loved much as a child and didn’t know how to express his emotions. When I realised this possibility, I felt relieved and forgiveness towards my father. This was last year.

I believe that loving is something you need to learn and to cultivate rather than something we innately know. Perhaps my father never realise that. He probably didn’t know how to listen to his emotions or how to express them either. Perhaps he didn’t have a great relationship with himself or perhaps he was afraid of loving and being loved.

Now… I choose to break this chain. Sure, it’s very plausible that my paternal grandfather didn’t love my father and my father didn’t know how to love me because of his upbringing, but it doesn’t mean that I must be tied to this chain.

I have a better story to create, to live and to tell, and I am 100% committed to that. It’s a personal fight for bringing love back, but on a larger scale, I’m here to change the status quo about the lack of better understanding about love and the lack of deep connections among people. I bet this status quo has been around for ages – for as long as human beings have been here on earth. It’s my choice to do something about it. Remember, you have a choice too.

By the way, I wasn’t like this at all 13 years ago. If love is about giving and sharing, I was far from it. I was more selfish and didn’t realise the importance of giving and sharing. To be honest, it took me more than a decade to understand it. So, the importance of giving and sharing as well as the importance of loving are fairly new to me, at least beyond a theoretical understanding of these.

To this day, I’m still amazed and inspired when I meet caring and loving people like Pam and my new friend Jamie. I’m glad I met them during my recent trip in the US.

Experiences I had through couch surfing in the US reminded me of human kindness as well.

While I was in the US, all I did was pretty much walking around, getting lost, and meeting people. To me, meeting people… meeting amazing people brings me joy and delight.

Again, given what I was like 13 years ago… or even 7 years ago, it’s funny how I’ve become a people guy. It’s not that I always talk to strangers in any situation, but when I talk with people, I’m genuinely curious about them and wonder if there is anything I could do for them. (If you are new to this site – hello! What’s your story? Please do leave comments below, subscribe to this site, and interact with me, because I’m curious about you.)

What I could do for them might be simply to listen to their stories, and I know that could make a difference to some extent.

For the last couple of days of my trip, I stayed at a hostel in Inglewood, California. The reason why I stayed there was simply because the hostel was affordable and close to Los Angeles International Airport.

On 28 June, I got to Union Station in Los Angeles around 11pm. I took an Amtrak train from San Diego, where I spent 9 days. On my way to Los Angeles from San Diego, I dropped by San Juan Capistrano, to meet up with Shayla and Colin (check out their artworks here and here). They are amazing people and I look forward to seeing them again.

To get to the hostel from Union Station, the best way for me was to catch a bus from the station to Los Angeles International Airport and to use a free shuttle bus to the hostel.

Let’s cut and skip what happened after I got to the station and how I got to the airport, because nothing noteworthy happened. (Well, there was a traffic jam, but I figure that’s not a surprise…)

Fast forward.

I want to talk about this shuttle bus driver. He was in his 50s. He was originally from New York City. He talked and swore a lot. He made a lot of inappropriate comments after he failed to catch potential customers for the hostel. He was funny at times, but he may not be the best driver when you just want him to take you to the hostel, because it’s after midnight and you’re tired from you trip. He had to pick up other people who called for a shuttle service and that’s fine, but he kept looking for potential customers (I believe he gets commission for bringing people to the hostel) and I’m sure I was in the shuttle for more than 1 hour when it was a 10 minute drive from the airport to the hostel.

But, the thing is, I enjoyed talking with him. He told me that when he was little, he had a Japanese friend. My name sounded similar to his Japanese friend’s name too (well, his name was Masayuki). And the way he talks was amusing to me.

The best thing was when I asked him what he would do if he could do anything. He started telling me about what he wants to do: to write a book on parenting. I didn’t have any guess about what he would say, but I surely didn’t expect that answer.

A book on parenting?

He sounded very passionate about it and I’m glad I asked him that question. I asked that question towards the end of our ride, so I didn’t get to hear his whole view on parenting, but even just learning the fact that he wants to write a book on parenting was fun to me.

How fascinating is it to learn about what others are passionate about? It’s ridiculously fascinating!

On that note… what would you do if you could do anything? Share your passion with us and write about it in the comment section below!

If there is anything I could help you get closer to what you want to do as well as who you want to be, please do let me know as well.

I believe you are capable of living your life the way you really want to live it.

As Charlie Gilkey writes in one of his recent posts, there may be a lot of nay-sayers, but remember that there are people who believe in you as well. Instead of focusing your energy on proving nay-sayers wrong, why not be grateful for people who believe in you and prove them right?

For those who believe in me and aim to live a romantic life – thank you. I would have been a lone nut without you. (Check out Derek Sivers’ 3 minute TED talk on How To Start A Movement)