Saturday, December 25, 2010

Regarding Dongxi

For those that aren't students of the great and elusive Chinese language, 'dongxi' (pronounced 'dongshee') is the chinese word for 'stuff'. Its one of those great words you find when learning a language that fits so many holes in a building (ok, I'll admit - my chinese vocabulary is currently better defined as 'stagnant', but I digress) list of words you actually know.

Dongxi is what we get on Christmas.

Dongxi is what is gathering dust in the closet you haven't used in 3 years.

Dongxi covers just about everything.

And I discovered something this morning about dongxi that I thought I already knew.

Every Christmas I still have the anticipation of opening presents. I love getting them. The high hopes, excitement, the destruction of paper and boxes, and the carnage that follows thrills me. Every Christmas I end up sitting down with the loot, fiddling with the loot, and playing with the games wondering why I'm still not happy.

No seriously, I know its cliche'ish, but that thought process actually went through my mind this afternoon.

And I can honestly say that I have experientially learned the truth humanity has been struggling to learn for centuries: dongxi has absolutely nothing to do with happiness.

Proven by my daughter, who was soon bored of her American-sent laptop to tug on her father's arm to be held.

Unconditional acceptance. Unconditional grace. Unconditional love.

Gifts may be a part of these. Gifts are not the totality of these.

To assume so is mixing the ends with the means.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Regarding Well-Meaning Fools

Few things are more frustrating than when disaster strikes as a direct result of your efforts to do something good. Unfortunately our world seems to be filled with well-meaning people who regularly cause disaster, and I've often found myself in the midst of the mob who casts stones at well-meaning fools who have caused greater problems than those they set out to remedy. Honestly, the mob is a fun place to be. There's camaraderie in its midst, a pleasant atmosphere of feeling quite above the naiveté existing among 'common folk'.

Then, one evening, you are having fun with your foster child, causing him to laugh as he repeatedly lands on a bed full of pillows. His laughter sweetened by the reality that well-meaning fools thought institutions were a good place to raise a child, and that a 2 year old can exist off of formula and rice cereal fed 2x's a day.

And time stops when you realize that after he landed his whole arm is twisted in a way that is not natural, when this boy who never cries begins screaming in pain.

It's lonely, outside of the mob. I miss the days before I caused pain greater than that I was working to heal.