Trip To the Temple | My Family Travels
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As I shake the bamboo container, I try my hardest to focus, to not think about anything else at all. With my eyes closed, I keep shaking the ‘chien tung’ until one of the bamboo sticks finally falls out. Immediately, I pick it up, get off my knees, and rush to the stand with all the little pink slips.

I quickly look for the slip with the number that matches the one on my stick. It may seem silly that I believe my fortune can be told from a bamboo stick, but the art of Chinese fortune telling sticks has been practiced for centuries. Besides, there’s no harm in believing.

I finally find the little pink slip. Overwhelmed with excitement, I run over to where my dad is standing. Impatiently, I shove the slip into his hand and ask him to read it for me.

According to that slip, my life can be summed up as ‘sweetness following bitterness.’To this day, I still remember that little phrase. Those words tell the story of my life. At least, I believe they do.

‘Sweetness following bitterness’ — “ what does it mean? In terms of my life, it means that the first half will be ‘bitter,’ full of discontent, and the following half will be ‘sweet,’ full of joy. The philosophy behind it is that joy will come to those who pay for it. That little phrase has become my motto.Whenever I’m in a depressing situation, I think of my motto. I do not blame others for my sufferings because I feel that it is meant to be. Nothing is free in this world. All my tears are payments for my ticket to happiness.

‘Sweetness’ will repay my ‘bitterness.’Whenever I face an obstacle, I think of my motto as well. It motivates me. It pushes me forward. It tells me not to give up and that all my hard work will pay off in the long run. To me, the key to success is tenacity, a trait that I’ve observed as being very rare. Whenever an obstacle appears, most people will give up after a number of failed attempts, while others do not even bother to try. I stay trying.

The downside is that this does not always guarantee success. Of course failure upsets me, but it is also part of my motto. I know that the ‘bitterness’ of failure will contribute to the ‘sweetness’ of my future.

A few weeks ago, I went on a field trip to my local community college. My classmate, Kevin, asked me if I would consider applying there. The program was enticing and I was well qualified for it, but I told him ‘no.’ Kevin responded, ‘You could get in so easily! Why do you have to stress yourself trying to get into an Ivy League school?’ I then tried to explain to him my motto. In this case, it applies two ways: 1. The challenge and stress is the ‘bitterness.’ If I am accepted, there is sure to be more stress along the way, more ‘bitterness.’ 2. If I am not accepted, my failure is the ‘bitterness.’ Without my life being ‘bitter,’ how can it be ‘sweet’? Kevin looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. I laughed, not only at his expression but also at my esoteric philosophy. It seems that I am the only one who will ever understand it, but being the independent person I am, I really don’t mind.People often say that childhood experiences shape a person the most. In my case, it holds true. A short trip to a Buddhist temple has significantly changed the way I perceive things. I would not be the person I am today without that bamboo stick and that little pink slip.

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