I was six when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength. It was a strategy for winning arguments, respect for others, and eventually thought neither of us knew it at the time, chess games... Come from the South, blow from the wind -- poom!-- North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen.
A girl is like a young tree, she said. You must stand tall and listen to your mother standing next to you. That is the only way to grow strong and straight. But if you bend to listen to other people, you will grow crooked and weak. You will fall to the ground with the first strong wind. And then you will be like a weed, growing wild in any direction, running along the ground until someone pulls you out and throws you away.
Seeing her this last time, I threw myself on her body. And she opened her eyes slowly. I was not scared. I knew she could see me and what she had finally done. So i shut her eyes with my fingers and told her with my heart: I cah see the truth, too. I am strong, too.
I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you're in control.
If I look upon my whole life, I cannot think of another time when I felt more comfortable: when I had no worries, fears, or desires, when my life seemed as soft and lovely as lying inside a cocoon of rose silk.
And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song.
Then she told me why a tiger is gold and black. It has two ways. The gold side leaps with its fierce heart. The black side stands still with cunning, hiding its gold between the trees, seeing and not being seen, waiting patiently for things to come. I did not learn to use my black side until after the bad man left me.
I felt foolish and tired, as if I had been running to escape someone chasing me, only to look behind to discover there was no one there.
If I now recognize evil in other people, is it not because I have become evil too?
And for all those years, we never talked about the disaster at the recital or my terrible accusations afterward at the piano bench. All that remained unchecked, like a betrayal that was now unbreakable. So I never found a way to ask her why she had hoped something so large that failure was inevitable. And even worse, I never asked her what frightened me the most: Why had she given up hope?
Too many good things all seem the same after a while.
I had always assumed we had an unspoken understanding about these things: that she didn't really mean I was a failure, and I really meant I would try to respect her opinions more. But listening to Auntie Lin tonight reminds me once agian: My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other's meanings and I seemed to hear less than what was said, while my mother heard more. No doubt she told Auntie Lin I was going back to school to get a doctorate.
If you are greedy, what is inside you is what makes you always hungry.
And then she had to fill out so many forms she forgot why she had come and what she had left behind.
What is true about a person? Would I change in the same way the river changes color but still be the same person?... And then I realized it was the first time I could see the power of the wind. I couldn't see the wind itself, but I could see it carried water that filled the rivers and shaped the countryside.
I let one thing result from another. Of course, all of it could have been just loosely connected coincidences. And whether that's true or not, I know the intention was there. Becasue when I want something to happen-or not happen- I begin to look at all events and all things as relevant, an opportunity to take or avoid.
In It's Only Temporary, Evan Handler confronts the ambiguities of life backward, forward, and in between. With hilarious honesty he reflects on the realization that we can start over again. It's Only Temporary is a heartfelt book for all of us who are getting younger and older at the same time.
At first, I thought it was because I was raised with all this Chinese humility... Or maybe it was because when you're Chinese you're supposed to accept everything, flow with the Tao and not make waves. But my therapist said, Why do you blamd your culture, your ethnicity? And I remembered reading an article about baby boomers, how we expect the best and when we get it we worry that maybe we shoudl have expected more, because it's all diminishing returns after a certain age.
What use for? asks my mother, jiggling the table with her hand. You put something else on top, everything fall down.
I saw a girl complaining that the pain of not being seen was unbearable... Now I have perfect understanding. I have already experienced the worst. After this, there is no worse possible thing.
Isn't hate merely the result of wounded love?
Because I think to myself, even today, how can the world in all its chaos come up with so many coincidences, so many similarities and exact opposites?
When you lose your face..., it is like dropping your necklace down a well. The only way you can get it back is to fall in after it.
I think now that fate is half shaped by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.
It means we're looking one way, while following another. We're for one side and also the other. We mean what we say, but our intentions are different.
But he was so attuned to my every movement I was sure he was reading my mind. HE had no inhibitions, and whatever ones he discovered I had he'd pry away from me like little treasures.
Yet part of me also thinks the whole idea makes perfect sense. The three of us, leaving our differences behind, stepping on the plane together, sitting side by side, lifting off, moving West to reach the East.
I thought about things, the pros and cons. But in the end I would be so confused, because I never believed there was ever any one right answer, yet there were many wrong ones.
My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other's meanings and I seemed to hear less than what was said, while my mother heard more.
But later that day, the streets of Kweilin were strewn with newspapers reporting great Kuomintang victories, and on top of these papers, like fresh fish from a butcher, lay rows of people - men, women and children who had never lost hope, but had lost their lives instead.
More Amy Tan Quotations (Based on Topics)
Life - People - Mind - Time - Mothers - Success - Fate & Destiny - Art - Hope - Money & Wealth - Failure - Age - Pain - Memory - Light - Family - Belief & Faith - Arguments - Custom & Convention - View All Amy Tan Quotations
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