• Lijing Cobb


I’ve becoming something of a car specialist these days. I mean, getting the winter tires switched out on Tuesday, getting the car inspected on Thursday, and getting the wheels aligned on Friday… those were all things my husband used to take care of and now I am. In charge. As I sat on the bench reading my book and waiting for the technician to finish his job I was feeling pretty good about myself.

But as I walked back into that office where the tech was holding my key and a piece of paper with lots of numbers on it, that feeling of good was swiftly replaced by a feeling of dismay. In order to get that $100 work done, we must first pay $2000 to get other problems fixed.

This morning one of my clients walked in, and the usual greeting of “how are you doing” turned into her telling me of a nightmarish accident that happened to her a few days ago, just out of the blue. No one could have foreseen the accident and therefore prevented it, so there it was, and she had to deal with it.

Yesterday I welcomed back another client whom I hadn’t seen for two and a half months because of a series of incidents that happened to her in succession. Through no fault of her own she was thrown into chaos and had no choice but dealing with what was her reality for that while.

My friend took me to see a concert by The Celtic Women yesterday, and the performers opened their show by saying that because of Covid they had been forced to stop touring for the last two years. Yes, the whole world was put on hold for various lengths of time over that period of time.

I’ve been reading a book on Terry Fox, the singled legged cancer survivor who ran across Canada in 1980, until his cancer came back to end his run and his life shortly after….

Trouble. No matter how much we try to stay away from it, we find ourselves in it at one point or another. All of us are subject to its whims, but when we are in it we are never really ready to accept it as is.

As I sat in the car staring at the bill, trying to digest what went wrong on the inside of that car that seemed to drive just fine to me, I started calculating how many hours I’d just worked to pay for these parts that should have lasted forever. Just yesterday I was looking at our health insurance bill and wondered why we had to pay so much money for very little, since my family never really go to the doctor’s except for the wellness visits.

Seems to me like we spend so much of our regular life making money just so that we’d have enough to dig ourselves out of trouble when we meet with it, sooner or later. If we have saved up enough to pay for the trouble, our life could be restored back to “normal.” If not, then we will trudge forth lopsided, searching for balance.

Is our life a big math equation? We get out what we put in, like filling up the gas tank?

There’s an old proverb in Chinese that translates into something like, we do not bring anything with us when we are born, and we do not take anything with us when we die. Fair enough. What we make ourselves into in this life, we get to spend it completely when we give up that life. And because of the fickle nature of trouble, that end could be any moment that we take for granted.

The good old exhortation for us to live life to its fullest in every moment instills in us a sense of urgency by this very reason. Instead of paying for trouble by our sweat and tears (ok, maybe smiles and joy as well), perhaps more of our life’s earnings should be directed towards more meaningful ends? Like Terry Fox who ran across Canada on one leg to raise money for cancer research so millions of people can benefit from it?

What am I rich in? What can I give out? How can I help?

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