It’s so easy to be caught up in the busyness of daily life, like to be constantly evaluating your career goals, you’re constantly thinking about paying for your small goals like your holidays or for new fashion or a new laptop, and constantly thinking about saving for something big like a car or a house.
Isn’t it easy to lose sight of the things we take for granted when we’re trying to reach for more than our current status, always aiming High and thinking about the stakes that might seem important to us, the things that we could lose, afraid that we might fall behind others, especially when you find yourself caught in a train in the morning hustling and rushing to work, and it’s crowded, you’re thinking about how you compare to everyone else around you. The other person that looks like you, that dresses and stands like you.
I’m not good when I compare myself to others, I find myself just kicking myself down whenever I do so. When I think about all the times I’m on instagram, I just feel empty, like I’m killing time but also killing my self-esteem.
And then you go back out into the world, you’re constantly worried about what happens if you don’t succeed, and you’re worried that the odds are always stacked against you. It could be a boss that doesn’t respect you, or clients that don’t seem to understand what you’re trying to say, or colleagues that misread you.
But you got to keep in mind what might seem small to you now, might actually have a really big impact in the way that you think of yourself and your identity. It’s interesting to imagine yourself in a new car, or sitting at a restaurant with a beautiful partner, going on a trip overseas, but what about the things that are closer to home, like your own health, your mental health, your mindfulness of the effect you have on other people, and most importantly, your family.
So once upon a time, I was stuck in this repetitive cycle of every day, waking up and looking at my calendar, checking my notifications, seeing how many likes I got or how many appointments I had that day.
One day, I was about to step into a room to record a podcast interview, and I got a text from my brother, saying hey bro, I have some bad news to share with you. Because I was so busy, I was about to interview someone and I couldn’t let it affect my flow, I said, can I call you back later, and when I called him, my brother told me that my mom had suffered from severe heart pain and that she was being rushed to hospital in an ambulance for scans. Because of that, I cried, and it was super embarrassing, crying in the lobby of a coworking space, until finally, I felt compelled to book the next ticket to New York, where she currently was under medical attention.
It made me realize how much I had taken my family’s health for granted. And anybody who has been through something similar, where someone has fallen ill or seriously sick, or even died, you feel this instant surprise that completely turns your world upside down.
What happens if the person that greets you every morning, or you say goodnight to, just disappears, like that, click fingers. I guess what I’m trying to say is that because of that recent experience, it put into perspective what really matters to me, and that’s my family. So my mom had chest pains because her aorta, which is the biggest vein pumping blood through your body, had expanded three times the normal size it should be. So the diameter of a normal aorta is about 3 cm and the aorta had expanded to 9 cm. If you don’t treat it, you could have an aneurysm, meaning instant death because of internal bleeding. I feel so lucky for her that that didn’t happen to her, but I know some of my friends have had that happen to their loved ones, but she was in extreme pain because of the pressure against her heart from the expanded aorta was causing her to be short of breath and to be coughing.
If there’s anything that this experience has taught me, it’s that even though people around you, that you spend time with or casually see everyday, can be so stoic, they can put up such a brave front, but they may be hiding something underneath them that is extremely fragile, it could be a heart condition, it could be a recent bout of depression, but never take them for granted, and never take sickness for granted either, you’ll feel like you’re worrying about the small stuff, but it will set you free in the long term.
I was suddenly confronted with the question of what I would say to my mom, what would my final words be before she goes into open heart surgery, and I was lucky that I got the chance to talk to her over the phone before her surgery, and I told her I loved her, and I told her that before she closes her eyes, I want her to remember how much I love her, and that I’ll see her on the other side, and when she opens up her eyes, I’ll be there to greet her..
So pick up the phone, and just tell someone that they love them, it could be totally out of the blue, and I know in Asian households it can be quite a frosty and cold environment, I have friends who never tell their parents that they love them. It could ever seem out of the blue to say anything with the four letters in it, l-ov-e.
But I knew that in this moment of need, my mom needed to hear those words, despite how stoic she is, despite how stubborn she is, or how strong she is, so similar to all the Asian moms that keep their emotions to themselves, and fight the battles without letting anyone know how much hurt they’ve been through.
So put yourself in the shoes of somebody who’s just gone through a severe situation where they’ve had to deal with a loved one or member Of their family going through some traumatic medical treatment. You’ve got to identify with how deep and meaningful a situation that is, and how much that will affect all the people who are involved. How would you act in that situation, and what would make you act that way?
I was so scared, and it was a fear inside me that I haven’t felt in a long time. I would consider myself quite tenacious, nothing really scares me, I’ve jumped out of planes, I jumped off cliffs, but call me a Mumma’s boy, but there’s nothing deeper that affected me then hearing that my mom was sick.
The good news is that the surgery, although it was severe, it’s pretty standard and she woke up and I was able to see her on the other side, and she’s now recovering in a hospital in New York.
But when we talk about success, we always seem to think about career or financial success. The stakes seem to be my position in society, my ability to buy a home, my ability to save for whatever next nice thing we want. What happens if you don’t succeed? What happens if the odds are deeper than just material objects or financial game, what if it has to do with the most important people in your life, those are the real odds that are stacked against you.
If something goes wrong with someone you love and care about, you should be stoic, you should be loving, but you should be encouraging them to get the medical attention that they need, especially as people reach a certain age, they need more frequent visits to the doctor and they shouldn’t put something down to old age, so if you see any signs from your parents or your siblings, that they’re not doing too well, don’t write it off as something like old age or the weather, because it could be much deeper for them and it could be a much more serious medical situation, it could be just early signs that the body is giving you about a potential issue that could become more serious down the road.
So once upon a time I only worried about what my day’s schedule was, everyday, I thought about my career goals and how much I could save for that next trip to Bali, but one day, my mom got sick and I heard about it through a text, and because of that, I realized how much I love my mom and that I could lose the one person in the world who brought me into this very world. This very conversation I’m having with you is because of her. Because of that, I want the best medical attention for my parents and I want you to give the same to yours.
And so Mum, you may be suffering from all the pain medication you’re on and recovering from one of the biggest health scares of your life, but before you close your eyes to go to sleep tonight, I want you to know that I love you.
Music Attribution (CC/Royalty Free)
Lee Rosevere – Curiousity
Lee Rosevere – Looking_Back
Lee Rosevere – Tech_Toys
Lee Rosevere – Lets_Start_at_the_Beginning
Lee Rosevere – Featherlight