Gaining Perspective #140

by Sue Hawkes

Gaining Perspective #140

I was having a rough day Wednesday. Many factors contributed, but suffice it to say, when relationships are going poorly it’s disruptive in a way that feels discombobulating. I simply don’t feel good. I feel sick to my stomach, moving through my day mentally rehashing the situation and desiring a different outcome. Though that experience was clouding my mood, life unfolded once again awakening me from my fog.

I began a conversation with a colleague about her life prior to moving to the U.S. Kim is a Vietnamese refugee and has been in the U.S. since she was 21. She chose to live in a refugee camp at age 12 with her sister. Her sister was raped while protecting her and had two children by her rapist, one of the crew members from the boat they traveled on.

Kim had to sell a watch her father had given her to buy rice and water to survive while on the boat. She shared what little food she had because that’s what you did to keep everyone alive. Her sister left after a year, Kim stayed until she was 21. She left the camp once to see her parents; it was a year before her Dad died. Kim said it was her only regret, not seeing him again. He told her she would make it because she was independent and stubborn, and that she did.

She describes life in the camp very neutrally offering that “you could eat and sleep as much as you liked.” While there, she learned basic computer skills, to speak both Chinese and English and she became a translator for people in the camp. Kim wasn’t complaining, she doesn’t complain. Her gratitude supersedes any difficulties she’s experienced.

As I listened to her, I realized once again how fortunate I am. I can’t relate to the situation or horrific challenges she’s faced. My concerns are minor in comparison. Our egos are the problem and sadly get in the way of us getting along. I’m grateful for Kim and her journey, she gave me much needed perspective.

How do you gain perspective when it’s most necessary?

Sue HawkesGaining Perspective #140