Looking at the World, with Just One Eye

How someone who’s, blind in one eye, almost blind in the other, made his own life, meaningful, by helping those who are in need, translated…

On this day, we’d, met at a fast-food restaurant.  He’s a busy nine-to-fiver.  Two mornings ago very early, he wore his pharmaceutical delivery uniform to the hospital for work as a counselor; in the afternoon, he’d, switched to a plain shirt, and headed to the 101 to develop the opening positions for work.  But, every time he’d met someone’s gaze, the person couldn’t help, but focus on how his odd looking right eye, due to its, messed up lens.  On that very day, he’d, smiled at people, just as he’d done from before.

At first, I’d thought that his eyes was a prosthetic that’s been, “installed”, as he’d heard, he’d started, laughing aloud, “no, this is real, but, it looked, quite fake too, because my right eye was, completely, blind, I can’t see a single thing.”  And, all he had to rely on, was his, left eyes, and the sight on his left is, already, failing too.

He’d worked as a social worker in a social welfare agency, he’d called his workplace, “meeting place”, his job is to encourage those with mental illnesses who’d, stayed at home, to come to the “meeting place”, worked with them, to work alongside them, to sort through the things in the “meeting place”, for instance, cleaning, key entry, cooking, translations………to help the people gain that sense of achievement they’d, lacked; waiting until they’d had the abilities, then, he’d, helped them find a paying job.

“I think you have a very cool job!”  is that so?  He’d started, laughing, then, told me something he thought was, “really cool”.

Last year, a government agency had an opening for someone who’s handicapped, he’d, taken along two “members” from his office who’d shown great interests in working to the interviews.  And, those who were known as “psychologically ill”, were the members of his “office”.

He’d treated the interviews as exams, he’d, sorted through the “test questions”, and, believed that the interviewer would ask the job applicants: to introduce themselves, how they are going to, overcome their troubles, and, what sort of assistance would they need from the office…………and, he’d, guessed over ninety percent of the interview questions correctly, and, both of his interviewees will start working, I’d laughed and told him, “you have a hundred-percent success rate!”

He’d felt, that the “interview” wasn’t hard, because, all those who are handicapped, became, experts in their handicaps, and, had their own ways, of coping.  He is also, a handicapped person himself, but, I’d found, that in conversing with him, there was, that sense of empathy, that he’d felt troubled, by other people’s troubles.  Because it was his work, he’d, wanted to help the “members”, to break out of their cages even more.

He’d mentioned that he’d helped a case with bad hands, and the person can only type up eight characters with his middle finger per minute, and, he’d, slowly, increased to eighteen characters.  And, although being able to key eighteen characters per minute couldn’t help him find a job, but, because he’d gotten the cares and concerns from a social worker, he’d stopped, blaming his troubles on everybody else and his circumstances, he’d become, a brand new man.

Why did he mention this, unimportant case?

Turned out, although he’d, seemed quite confident, he’s, actually, not, he’d, managed to “overcome” that by finding the sense of accomplishment in what he does; for instance, as he’d found a job for a person, or if the person changed because of him, then, he’d, felt achieved, and, thus, his confidence level, boosted.  Just like he’d said, the handicapped, ARE the experts, of their own, handicaps.

He’d added another, seemingly ordinary image.  One day, he was working at his computer station, a member came over to him, sat next to him, the two of them started, carrying on in conversation.

“What happened to your right eye?”

“I’d become blind because I was born prematurely.”

“Must be really hard on you then?”

“I’m okay, I think, you have it worse than I had it.”

And, the two of them, started laughing aloud together.

This short conversation, brought the two hearts, closer together, and, this sort of a feeling was, hard to put into words, but, it’d, made him get that sense of achievement he’d, sought.

And, because the “members’” conditions are, quite unpredictable, and there were, challenges, everywhere, so, he’d needed to spend more time, to get in touch with their psyches, this made his job unexpected, and it’d, given him, surprises from time to time.

He’d mentioned something he was really proud of to me.

This member wanted to help him find a job opening, because he’d wanted to, help lighten his workload, he was very moved by the individual.  Actually, this particular member had made great strides during this last year.  He’d started helping out around his house this past year, went with his mother to the hospital without being asked, and stayed right by her side, and, although, he wasn’t, at all articulate, but, his actions, showed that he’s, very gentle…………he’d told how the “members” changed like it was, something major.

As we’d finished eating, and left the fast-food restaurant, some passersby still focused on his right eye that was, awkward.  But, I’d, looked deeply, into his right, the eye that can only, sense, some weak light, that’s, always helped him, see the good qualities of the “members”.  This made me recall the sculptor, Rodin’s words, “There’s no lacking in beauty in this world, but a lacking in the eyes that can, see them.”

And so, this, is how someone who’s, “handicapped” started helping others who needed him to help, and, his job as a social worker is, enriching for him, because, he’d made his own life count, made it, more meaningful, in helping those in need, and, he’s, nowhere, NEAR handicapped, despite his physical conditions one bit!


Mop & Camera Lenses

This man had, compromised his own dreams, to help take care of his own, aging mother, but he hadn’t, given up on his dreams entirely, and that, is what’s, important!  Translated…

The young man with black-rimmed glasses, curly hair, dressed very fashionably, dragged in his luggage through the doors, with all the camera, filming machines packed inside.  He’d, observed the light in the room, picked up a lens, went outside, then, changed another lens, very skillful, and quite, professional too; but, he also has, another job, he works, in janitorial.

painted by the writer, from UDN.com…圖/阮光民

He’d originally stayed in Taipei after he was discharged from the services, he’d started getting into photography in his high school years, at first, he’d set up a club with a few of his friends who shared the common interests, gone around, collected, the people, and the places, at the same time, marked down his own life too.  Reason why he’d returned to his hometown was because of his mother: once he’d arrived home, saw his mother who’d, worked in contracting janitorial work, found that he saw how aged she’d, become, he was shocked, that in the past, he’d, not noticed this.  He thought, that as he was taking pictures he’d focused on the lights, and, as he’d photographed people, he’d, found a specific moment in time, but, he’d realized, just now, that while he was out, capturing life, he’d, missed his own mother’s life.

And now, he’d worked in contract janitorial, and, if someone locally needed a photographer to document a wedding of a sort of a function, then, he’d, bent down, let go of the mops, and picked his camera back up again.  I’d asked him of his future plans, he’d, given me this, far-away look, because, the lens called the future may be, too long for him.

See how, when reality and dreams clash, people tend to give into the demands of reality, this man had too, but he’d, found a way to compromise between his dreams and reality, and now, he’d, taken care of both at the same time!

The Teachers & Children in the Distant Regions of the Philippines

a video of the local children in an elementary school in the Philippines receiving the donated items from the soldiers in U.S., found on Youtube…

What the teachers teaching in the distant regions here can take from the instructors in the Philippines, it’s their dedications, their love, and what motivates them, to keep working in their parts of the world, translated…

In 2013, I’d gotten the opportunity of having the funding, to go to Cebu, the Philippines to inspect the education forum, locally, it’s a hotspot for travel, but, the differences between the suburban and urban, the rich and the poor, is still at its, height.  Back then, our team wanted to head to an elementary school in the mountains, Lubo Elementary School to visit, as we’d told the locals, they all started frowning at us, “Are you sure, that’s where you want to go?  It’s, really far off the maps!”

At first, I’d not, paid it any mind, believed that at most, it’ll only take me, a four, to five hour ride in a car, but, as we’d, arrived to the foot of the mountain, we’d, realized, that it wasn’t, that simple, the roads locally wasn’t even paved with tar, the people there, used, a more primordial sort of a means for transportation: on horseback!

Mostly, for the Taiwanese, we only see horses at the vacation ranches, and other than the rangers, almost nobody used horses as one’s means of transportation, I was, truly, shocked.  Not mentioning how bumpy it’d felt on horseback, the four-hour roundtrip, we’d, ridden all over those, bumping mountain roads, and, we’d needed to, hold on very tightly, to the reins, to not fall off, plus it was, too hot locally, there’s, no shades anywhere along the way, I, being, highly adapted, couldn’t, escape getting a heatstroke.

After we’d, lost half of all our lives, we’d, finally arrived to the Lubo Elementary School (it was, truly, too FAR off the grid!!!), as the teachers took us into a classroom with the younger grade students, all of the students in that class suddenly stood up all at once, flashed their smiles at us, then, greeted us all in one synchronized voice in English, “Good morning, our honored guests, welcome to our class!”, then, we’d gone to several other classes, and gotten, the royal treatments from each and every one of those classes.  We’d, looked closer, the clothes these children have on, are beyond worn out, some of them don’t even wear shoes, they go to school, barefoot.

Later, the teachers started their classes, it was, another shock for us all.  In the elementary years, other than the mother tongue courses, all of the other courses were, taught in English (it’s a wonder, that most Filipinos have amazing English abilities!), and the classes placed great emphasis on the interactions of teachers and the students, as the teachers posed a question, they’d not needed to call the role, because ALL of the students in the classes raised up their hands, wanted to be called on, compared to how the children here are, passive participants in the classes, and fell silent, at the teachers’ inquiries, it was, totally, different.

The school teachers in the Lubo Elementary School don’t receive enough pay, they’d only earned about a little over $10,000N.T. per month, and because of how far off-the-map this school is, all the teachers rode up on horseback every Monday morn, then, stayed in the dorms, and goes home on Fridays for the weekends.  The environment of their dormitories, met their bare minimum needs, and they’d needed to, chop up the wood for cooking, and bath water too, and, all of their entertainment every evening consisted of having conversations with each other, playing on the cell phones, and, looking up at the stars.

The group of teachers are quite young, mostly between twenty and thirty years of age, I’d asked them why they were, willing to give up their lifestyle in the city, and come to this, so-far-off-the-maps school to work?  A teacher’s reply stayed with me, “All of the children here needed to be educated, that is why, we’re, all here!”

The children born locally, already lost at the starting lines compared to the children in the cities, education became, the only WAY for them, to go somewhere in their lives, without the passing of knowledge or schooling, all of these children will, end up living in poverty, in the distant regions as they were, born into it.  And, this group of teachers, is the ones that, brought hope to all of these, children.  I hereby, dedicate this article, to ALL the teachers who’d, stayed in the distant regions, to give their times and energy, to educate the children there.

And so, without the motivations from within, there’s, NO way that these teachers can, or are, willing to, teach long-term at a school like this one, but, this also showed, how much hard work, love, and dedication these school instructors, are putting in, to help turn these children’s lives around.

Langenfeld & Dog

Making the adjustments, to living in a foreign land, until this foreign place felt, more like home to you, translated…

Choosing the hotels, I’m used to living in the cities, or closer to the stations, for the sake of convenience.  As I’d, walked toward the Rhine in Germany, I still, couldn’t decide whether to find my stay in Kohn or Dusseldorf.  My friend suggested, that we should, find a small town close by, we’d already, bought the monthlong fares, we needn’t worry about the charges of the transportation, and, it’d, saved up on the city taxes, and, close to the ordinary citizens’ lives.

I’d, pulled open the map, trekked along the railroad, from Koln to Dusseldorf, there were, two mid-size towns on the east side of the Rhine, one was the famous headquarters of the soccer team of Leverkusen, made famous by Bayer, the other, was one town I’d never even heard of, Langenfeld.  As we got to the middle of our journey, it’s time, that we added in, some sort of a leisure of the vacation, and, without a second thought, we’d, picked Langenfeld.

There were two stations locally, both were on the same linear line, the southern one was closer to the center of the city, and got its name of the city, and it’s, also the transportation center for all the busses in the region.  And, on the northern side of the town, there was another, and, it took the name of the highway that intersected with it, Langenfeld-Berghausen , the app of the railroad app on my cell abbreviated this place as Langenfeld-B, made it look like a spare door, so easily missed out on.

I’d gone out in the morn, walked to the northern side of the town to catch a bus, and on the evenings, I’d, gone to take the bus on the south side, and, although, it’d, doubled my way to the bed and breakfast, I could, have the opportunities to shop locally at the supermarkets.

And I’d selected the south side station at night, other than it being where all the shopping marts are, there’s also a personal reason.  As I’d walked along during the daytime, I’d heard the loud barks of viciously sounding dogs.

The first day, and the second day too, I’d only heard the bark, but didn’t see the dog.  And, although I knew, that there are, NO strays on the roads in Germany, that the barking must be from a house, with a pet, but, I couldn’t, get that image of a vicious dog out of my mind.  Like there’s, a huge breed of dog that is going to, run out at anytime toward me, especially, in the darkness of night, all the impossible, became, a possibility.

The bed and breakfast was a three story building, the top floor, was a special place, a one-person bedroom, with the bath and the kitchens, I’d originally wanted to use it for when my parents came visiting, that the lighting was great, it’s, comfortable too, and we wouldn’t, step on each other’s toes.  And, as my parents didn’t come, I could, rent it out, for some extra cash.

The owner of this B&B is the energetic woman, lived with her four, five-year-old son, she worked two jobs regularly, with a steady boyfriend who’s an architect, the three of them got along very well.  And, as I’d found the place, the family of three were about to head out.  The woman told me, that she’s dropping her son off to spend the weekend with his father, then, she and her boyfriend would go to the Netherlands, to have some alone time together.

On the third day, I’d walked on that same path to the station.  And, I’d, gotten to the station, without much trial, and felt, that something, wasn’t, there, oh, the dog had, stopped barking.  Turns out, as he’d, looked upon me, an outsider, day in and day out, he’d finally, gotten, used to me now.  On the fourth day, he’d, played cute with me, and started, whimpering at me as I passed him by from the other side of the road, like wanted me to go and introduce myself to him or something.

And, I’d finally, gotten a closer look at his features, he was, an intelligent looking shepherd, not as huge as I thought it was, but, we were, separated by the fences, and, I can only, look at it from this side of the fences, we were, separated, by a small garden.

On the last night, I’d contemplated that if I have another serving of cheese and sausage, I shall got NUTS, and that if the dog wasn’t a problem anymore, perhaps, I should, get off on the north side.

The moon was bright, like a silvery plate, very circular, it’s, that season of full moon that came during autumn.  As I’d, walked across the forest, there wasn’t any passing car, the branches and the leaves blocked out the lights, then suddenly, the wind blew down some leaves, made the shadows come alive, and, I’d, felt scared.

Looking at a city, from being unfamiliar with it, to becoming, accustomed with it, which way to turn, which way to stop, it all became, habitual, but, the side effects of that was, I’d become, hyper alert of the shapes, and the changes in air, any small movement, can make me jump.  Especially, on a full moon’s night, everything mystique, seemed to be, coming to life.

Thankfully, that shepherd sounded its bark, very low and settling, like it was saying to me, Hey, what are you afraid of, welcome home!

And so, this, is how this person had, gone from a stranger to a new place, to becoming, totally, familiar with it, and now, this place that was, once foreign to her/him, became, home…




These Bald Creatures…

Seeing these rare species in abundance, translated…

On the “bald creatures in Africa”, all that came to mind were, the vultures, but the very first time I got up close and personal with a bald bird, it was, with a marabou stork.

The long beak, the pinkish head and neck, covered up, with the loosely grown in feathers, then, there’s, the white chest, and the black-brown wings.  It’s said, that because of how they were, scavengers, they had little to not feathers on the head, to prevent from getting messy, that it’s, best to keep themselves cleanly that way.  They’re, bald to the point of being logical, not a sight for sore eyes at all.

photo, courtesy of UDN.com…

The marabou stork staring into space, it’d looked like, a portrait, painted of a noble person.  Although they’d felt, that they weren’t something rare, due to the world wide web, and yet, it’d taken me, a total of THIRTY years, to, finally see on in person, and it’s also, the first time I’d, heard of its, name, seen the way, it’d, appeared.

After I’d left the national park, we’d met back up again, in the cities.  Such extravagance it was, there were, sighting of these huge birds in Nairobi.  But I’m thinking, in the cities of my own country, there are such rare species of creatures living there too?  And, I’d, felt that need, that drive, to keep the species around for someone, for another, thirty more years too.

And, this, is what you came to, as you saw the species of birds, and, because of how rare it is from your own home country, that is why, you were, so excited to see it, but, it’s, normal for these animals to be all over the places locally, and, you’d, realized, that there are, so many ordinary species that we take for granted in our own home countries, just like these, marabou storks.

The Wave Blockers of Love

She was, led on by him, or maybe, she was, just, having a CRUSH???  Translated…

I’m from the oceans, I can’t sing, only know how to transpire my love through the written words, other than that, I’m, practically, deaf, because before love, I can’t, speak a word aloud, only that sense of love’s happened to me, that’s, pressed up against my chest tight; you are, my harbor, but you’d said, that you’d, wanted a ship, sailing, into the oceans.  You know what?  You’re like, that piece of land, a place, to set my foot on, and, you were, unwilling, to get seasick for my sake, turned me, into the sea witch, Ursula, full of hate, from this young and naïve, princess.

On that evening, at the place where the ocean came in, we walked, underneath that same umbrella, I’d guessed, that this, is how big the world gets, and you’d, smiled at me lightly, I’d never known, that a middle aged man’s smile can look, so attractive, and, I’d wanted to, light up those, firecrackers, to rip off those silks, and, you’d, smiled toward me; then, slowly, we’d, run out of words of exchange, you’d, pointed to the stacks of rocks and asked me, “you know?  Those are called, wave blockers!”, your words had, killed the mood, and, I’d, immediately, bore witness, to what blocks out the waves of love so quickly.

what the wave blockers looked like by the seaside, photo from online…消波塊 的圖片結果
In actuality, my waves, will NEVER get onto your shores, so, why would I need the wave blockers?  You’d always said due to our age differences, we are better of, as friends; and what made me hated you more was, you’d told me that you’re, old enough to be my dad already, and, these words, to someone who’d, loved you, was like, the poison-dipped arrow of Anti-Cupid.

blocking out the waves of love 的圖片結果from before, how she’d, felt about the man…photo from online…

Those years, I’d, often sat by the shores, gazed up at the moon, and, as I’d, watched the moon, I’d felt, disappointed, of how long, I’d, waited, if our love had the ups and downs, it would’ve been, better, but, there’s none, just, this thick fog that’s, come between us; I know it too, nothing mattered, to a life, that’s, currently, receding out.

This sense of intimacy you’d, experienced, may not have been love at all, but you’d, wished it was, but, he knew all along, that he can only be a sort of a father-figure, a mentor to you, someone who can, give you advice on life, nothing more…

and after…photo from online查看來源圖片

The Seaside Town She Grew Up in

Missing her “home”, translated…

Everything about the oceans, I’d, learned from her.

I called her Aunty, she was the daughter-in-law of my next-door neighbor, her body changed from slender when she was younger to fuller figured in her midlife.  The only thing that’s unchanged was her IQ and her slurred speech, she’d often said to me, “I’m not an idiot, why do they all cuss me out?”

“They” meant the neighbors in our village, who’d, enjoyed, making fun of this woman who’d, married over from the oceanside—back then, the family lied, she didn’t say a word, that was why, the match was made, and she’d, married her husband, with polio.

She’d often, pulled up a chair, and sat outside from front door, and, shocked me with the stories, “when my parents were, putting the fishes out to dry, I’d always gone to the beaches, to chase down the small crabs, sometimes, they’d bite, and I’d, bled too!”, as she’d talked about the seas, her dark complexioned face shone of that light, it’d, resembled the fish scales underneath the sun.

a place, like this, maybe???  Photo from online…查看來源圖片

“My dad is coming to see me next month, he will bring me tons of fishes!”, her father was a fisherman, after he had her, and found she had Downs’s Syndrome, he’d, stopped having children, and, in the matchmaking, he’d told aunty to not talk, and, married her, into our, small village, this village, without, the slightest scent of, the oceans.

I’d asked her, do you want to go home to see the oceans?  She’d looked at me, said foolishly, “The ocean in my hometown is, the most beautiful.  The fishes would get washed to shore, and I’d, caught them, and put them onto my front porch.” Then, she’d started laughing, “my dad would inquire, why they didn’t, ring our doorbell?”

Looking at those, shiny eyes, I’d started to imagine, that maybe, she’d, never, actually, left that oceanside village she grew up in after all.

And so, this woman misses her hometown by the seas, and, all the memories she had, of her childhood years there too, and, she can’t go back now, as she’s, already, someone else’s wife, living, so far away, from the oceans, what she knew the best, what she was, most, familiar with in childhood…