A Jar of Pickled Tomatoes

My friend, Lana, gave me a jar of pickled tomatoes which she made with her Russian recipe. I am not a tomato eater, but I had to admit that those tomatoes tasted really good. It was not only because they were prepared in a novel way, but also they came to me at the best time. When Shyi-Dong was away for a five-day trip abroad, I felt suffocated with quietness in a big empty home. How much I wished I could talk to someone, but everyone was busy and I didn’t want to bother anybody. When Lana stopped by to deliver the pickled tomatoes, I was thrilled even though I didn’t really care for tomatoes. Lana was the only person who came to say hello when I longed so badly for a company.

Living in the fast-paced world, I am used to hearing people say, I am too busy. It seems that you are a failure if you are not busy. Almost everybody I know tells me how tight their schedule is. They have no time to do anything except work. When I invited some friends to see the once in-a-lifetime World Flower Exhibition, they told me to wait until they had time. I was very disappointed; I could wait but how could the flowers wait? When I asked friends to go to see a best Blockbuster movie together, they told me that they couldn’t find time to do it, but would just watch it on the computer while they were commuting to work. How could a movie be enjoyable like that? It requires a good acoustic system and a big screen.

Everyone is so busy, and I feel sorry that friends have become distant from each other because there is no time to keep in touch. It seems that we are rushing through our life’s journey. We set up many goals and we work so hard to achieve those goals. One day we might find that we have gained almost everything we want, but we also have lost the opportunity to enjoy life.

Some friends I know started riding Harley motorbikes when they could barely push the heavy vehicles because they were too old. Some friends started to travel but their health prohibited them from going far. Some people like me started to learn dancing but couldn’t even find their balance.

There was a story about a man who was enjoying fishing on the beach. He encountered a businessman who was exhausted with all his travels. The villager asked the businessman why he had to work so hard. The businessman answered: “I want to make a lot of money, so one day I can buy a villa on the beach. I want to go fishing here to enjoy my life.” The villager was very puzzled and said: “I don’t have anything, but I am enjoying fishing here.”

My son Kang phoned me excitedly one day about an excellent job offer. He was so happy that if he took the offer he might be wealthy soon and become an influential man in the business world. I could picture him being successful. However, I just asked him: “What will you do if you finish the work that only people who are in their 50s or 60s can do when you are just in your 30s?”

I certainly would like my son to be successful, but nothing is free. You gain something, but you also lose something.

The jar of pickled tomatoes reminds me of slowing down in life and enjoy the things I want to do right away.

Bih-Hua Chen
April 13, 2010