Note from me: On the eve of the New Year, this contribution is from a good friend of mine who prefers to stay anonymous and I am pleased to post it on my blog.
A bespectacled old lady walked up to me and thrust a packet of dried herbs under my nose, and without waiting for any response from me, pointed at a date and said, “what’s this?” (in mandarin). In a flash, I looked at what I was wearing – a purple and pink sweater – and wondered if she could have considered me an NTUC staff. “Cannot be what,” I thought to myself. But then since the packet was still under my nose and her forefinger was still poking at “Nov” and she was still asking me, “what’s this ah?” I decided to heck it and told her (in mandarin) that it means the month of November 2014. She didn’t say a word of thanks and just shuffled away.
I also walked on my way but I was surprised at my subsequent thoughts. Initially, I was irritated at such an ungrateful and rude woman. Golly, do such uncouth people still exist ? However, I momentarily realized that she did not understand English and simply needed a stranger’s help. I swear I did not look like a staff member of the supermarket chain. At the least, my hair was in a mess and that would not have been part of the dress code. I figured it cost me nothing to say a few words so what’s the big deal even if she had been ungrateful.
I realized that in my younger days, the situation would have been different. I would probably have helped her too but then also probably grouched about her impoliteness and ill-gratitude for a long time. I think it would have been youthful pride.
These days, as I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I see many things differently. It’s no point “stewing” over such things. I have learnt to accept an imperfect world, because put it simply, I am also not perfect. I have learnt to accept my bodily aches and pains, my oncoming long-sightedness, my declining memory (and declining savings !), my aversion to crowds and my diminishing appetite. But I am being renewed inwardly every day, with new patience, new positivity and a new appreciation for the grace I receive.
For example, someone passed me a couple of clothes so that I could help her give them to Salvation Army. I was a little “kay poh” (dialect for being a busybody) and took them out for a look. Lo and behold, they were as good as new (and very pleasantly scented I must say) ! What’s more I could wear them too ! When I asked my friend for permission to choose some that I liked, she was happy to agree, provided I didn’t mind. Again, in my younger days, I would have turned my nose up at such hand-me-downs. As though I had no money to buy my own ! But these days, I think, why not ? There is nothing wrong, and they were still brand new. So what if they were bound for the coffers of the Salvation Army ? It would actually be Salvation Army’s loss that I “pilfered” the bounty. Have I become a scavenger ? Hardly. I believe I’ve simply grown up and learnt to view the world and the things around me with different lenses.
Sometimes, long-sightedness is good. We see farther ahead and become less focused on the inconsequential things that form the microcosm of our lives. We begrudge less and receive more. Grace upon grace, I hope that my eyes are opened increasingly to the kindness of others, despite the unkind world that we live in. In 2014, I pray that my God will continue to teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.
Happy New Year everyone ! And thanks for listening to my “older view”. Cheers.