To Be Present

Passing Down

When I was a little kid, just like the others, I hadn’t understood what money really was. Life then was simpler in my young mind, but it was just as slow and unrewarding. The difference in life then and now is knowledge, and a shorter amount of time. Before I run the family. Not stubborn, but unhopeful. Knowledge comes with a price, but maybe it’ll make the young ones in the family have that time of happiness as I did.

Honest Competition

My mother once told me a story. It was about two families in Vietnam, one in poverty, the other living in luxury, same idea as in the movie Parasite. The wealthy family in the story has the common selfish, arrogant personalities stereotyped by the common people. The poor family has a son who would soon break that barrier of poverty because of course, his indestructible grit. Later on in the story, the son asks the wealthy family for rice which the wealthy son responded by inhumanely throwing food at his face. Eventually, the son of the poor goes to university, gets a high paying job, and becomes prosperous. Meanwhile, the wealthy son panics as his long-held fortune is running out. What makes this story intriguing is that the originally poor son developed his perseverance because he essentially wanted to compete with the wealthy family for what they have done in the past. He didn’t however want to compete out of spite, but to teach the wealthy son a lesson, and have a good future life.


I lied to my family about me moving to the United States to pursue my career in engineering. Instead, I participated in an activity that became popular decades after the war, illegally stealing and selling war relics of public property. I previously didn’t think I would partake in such activity, however by being consumed by malicious influence, those people had convinced me to join. There were two members of the organization whom I got to know well, or I thought I did. 

The three of us on that day, 5th of May, decided to go to the old harbor at New Orleans. Without hesitation, we took out our equipment, skimmed through the place to check if there were any security guards, and started searching for treasure. The task that day, I didn’t think much about it. I used to be filled with dread two years back having to do something on the “DO NOT” sign. It eventually became a routine and even a hobby. Thirty minutes in, we were underwater until we felt the motion of rushing waves becoming increasingly noticeable. The three of us agreed that we should hide under a rock structure so as to not get detected by the boat. To our dismay, it was security, and they were on the lookout for us. It must’ve been that we were detected earlier, and they were able to plan out how to capture us given how hopeless we were as animals trying to flee from their predator. Imprisoned and isolated, I regret every decision I have made since joining that organization. I regret for my life and for my family who won’t see me again.

Set Off

A neighborhood friend never had been grounded. He says for a long time, he never felt trapped in his bedroom, with his closet that could pay the rent of several families. He was also the student that doesn’t try, but was actually a quick learner, like a toddler who’s gifted. He was born with everything right in his life, and a spilled cup of milk was nothing but an accident to the parents. Had that cup of milk spilled in a different house with a thrift store-like closet, those parents would have thought someone had set fireworks inside. His parents never yelled at him, unless he wasted their time. I asked him what he meant by “wasted their time”. He then clarified that by wasting their time, he meant deliberately being an annoyance, especially around money. The milk that was spilled, his parents didn’t care. He wished they cared, he wished they yelled at him over small reasons he had caused, to know what it’s like to have caring parents. He wished he was able to go outside and play sports, not just competitively to have it as a line of extracurricular. Eventually, he plummeted their money, the bell rang, his parents started caring, and the fireworks let loose.


There are three small things I hate in life, splinters, popcorn kernels, and stomach cramps. How are stomach cramps small? They happened to me too many times, that they must be quite severe in order to convince me to use the toilet. Mistakes are figuratively splinters and popcorn kernels. They seem insignificant however, they get stuck with me for an unnecessary amount of time. A small thing that I believe could be universally liked, are small events that happen coincidentally. Things that weren’t expected to happen, but they’re just right for the current situation. For example, that time when I picked up a piece of food off the ground and found my pen I was looking for, or the time when I accidentally wrote an instance of alliteration on a piece of writing. Or, a peanut shell with four peanuts inside.

Exams are splinters, popcorn kernels, stomach cramps, and a peanut shell with four peanuts all at once. Guessing will likely lead to splinters, running out of time leads to popcorn kernels, and butterflies in my stomach cause my stomach to ache. Of course, getting a good grade through luck is associated with four peanuts. But what about a good grade through commitment and hard work? I consider that the time of satisfaction after removing the splinters and popcorn kernels and when the stomach stops cramping. After trials of error and a layer of frustration, the aftermath to achieving success, creates a sense of relief and excitement.

Images from Pixabay and Unsplash

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