• Lijing Cobb


We enjoyed a beautiful conclusion to 2021 yesterday.

I held my daughter's hand on my right and son's hand on my left as we navigated a well populated ice rink. Plenty of first-timers maneuvered along the wall gingerly as we did 3 visits ago. Lots of parents helping their young ones. Teenagers holding hands with young love in their hearts. Many skilled skaters gliding across the smooth surface in grace and beauty. I nodded an encouraging "good job" to a man who was clearly on ice for the very first time and enjoying the new experience (I could see his smile from behind his mask), and saw him trying to take a selfie video later on when he got a little bit more comfortable. Another man who was there with a lot of his family, who clearly had lots of experience on ice, found himself on the ground screaming a few choice words when one of his feet got caught by the other and he broke his ankle. The police and an ambulance arrived as we left the rink, and the life picture in the rink resumed with its usual mix of a little bit of everything.

It is a good practice to stop from time to time and ponder. Everyone in this world, whether they choose to go to the ice rink or not on New Year's Eve, whether they broke their ankle or took a selfie, whether they held their kid's hand or held their lover's hand, has a story of pain, sorrow, despair, as well as happiness, love, and hope. We are all human beings learning to walk the earth in this life, trying to be happy and avoid misery. No matter how strong or weak we appear in a stranger's eyes, we know, in our heart of hearts, that we could use just a little bit more kindness, a little bit more compassion, and a few more hugs.

I hope the man with the broken ankle is at peace with his new situation. I hope he knows, or is told soon, the story of the Chinese farmer losing his stallion. Dear reader, if you know this man, and he doesn't yet know this story, please tell him that after the farmer lost his stallion, all his neighbors bemoaned his fate on his behalf, because it was the best stallion the village had ever seen. The farmer, on the other hand, seemed to be unperturbed by such a tragic loss. He went about his business as if nothing bad has happened. In a few days' time, his stallion returned home, and trotting alongside his magnificent self was an equally breathtaking mare. Wow, the neighbors exclaimed in unison, and congratulated the farmer on such great luck. The farmer, however, held his composure as before, as if the sudden appearance of the mare was nothing worthy of celebration. His son saw the mare and tried to ride it, but was immediately thrown off the mare's back and broke his leg. You know by now that the neighbors shook their heads and offered their sincere condolences to the farmer, who somehow still held up his stoic front. Dear farmer, how could you not be terribly affected by the loss of the use of your own son's leg? Are you ok? Are you all there?

War raged in China during the time, and soon after the son broke his leg, all able-bodied young men were conscripted to join in the royal army. Not many returned to the village when the war was over.

I imagine that the farmer did not break out in a celebratory dance because his son lost his leg but kept his life. I think that you would agree with me when I predict that he continued to react to notable moments of his life by not reacting. I think this man must have enjoyed a lot of inner peace. I think he figured out that the curve balls life throws at us are not good or bad, but just curve balls. Instead of saying, "wow, a great curve ball! The best I've ever seen! What a miracle that such a curve ball exists!" Or "what a shitty curve ball! How dare it exist? What nerves!", we might simply acknowledge that they are curve balls, something we did not expect, and now we gotta learn how to hit them.

My kids and I worked together to get our New Year's Eve meal on the table (check out the menu below. It is uniquely suited to the needs of my family). My husband returned home early from work at 5:35pm. Before we ate we all changed into fancy Chinese outfits my sister had mailed to us from China (well, except my husband had on a jacket and tie he reserves for weddings and funerals, his red Christmas pajama pants, and his favorite cowboy boots), brushed our hair (my son even wet his hair and pulled out a bottle of mousse in an attempt to tame his long tresses), put on a couple pieces of jewelry and lip gloss, and took a couple of family pictures.

We ate happily. As I cleaned up my husband educated the kids on survival skills in the wild (he was a scoutmaster for a couple of decades before he had any kids). My youngest got sent upstairs to her room for a while when she wouldn't admit her mistake. After learning that it takes courage to admit one's mistakes and that we are all here to support her, not judge her, she rejoined us as we played a game of cards, and my husband won the game because he's good at talking people into doing things to his advantage (he did take a few graduate courses in psychology and puts it to good use, but I see right through you Roy). Afterwards we retired to the living room to watch Free Guy, and after eating our delicious 2022 cake from Costco, I enjoyed a portion of the movie time in a snooze while the rest of my family found out about the rest of the story. Apparently it was a really good movie. As we got ready for bed, we heard fireworks in the distance. As the imaginary midnight clock struck and the year turned its page, we all snuggled in the bed, merry and content.

Here's to a new year where we work for these moments to happen more often. A new year full of observations and reflections. A new year spreading kindness and love. Peace to all.

All dressed up with nowhere to go: well, home is the best place to be!

My 10yo made 5 copies of this. In case you were wondering what "other beverages" were, it was a chocolate martini.

Amazing sales technique at Costco. I would not have bought this chocolate mousse if they had not thought of putting a few numbers on it. And we would not have discovered how delicious it was if I had not bought it...

In other news, the kids and I brainstormed about ways that would make our house better to live in. I think it's pretty clear who wrote what, haha.

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